My quest to find the perfect sub-$300 closed, over-ear headphone had started some months ago when I got tired of my previous pair, the Soundmagic HP150. While they had good isolation and excellent sound, they were a tad big for my needs, with questionable build quality which always made me a cautious user.
I started looking for a pair of cans to replace or at least complement them with something smaller, but still in the over-ear range. I ended up choosing 2 headphones, the Beoplay H6 second generation and the Sennheiser Momentum 2. In this review, I will be focusing on the Momentum 2 and how they feel and compare to my other pairs.
- Stylish look and premium materials
- A real nomad headphone: Lightweight, good isolation, foldable, carrying case
- Warm smooth sound perfect for non fatiguing sessions
- Very average comfort with hurting headband and small earcups
- Congested soundstage and separation
- I would have traded some of the boomy bass extension for a bit more upper treble
The construction of the Momentum 2.0 is well made with mostly metal and leather features on the surface.
The headband is made of real black leather and has some nice gold-colored stitching. I find the padding very thin on the part where it will come in contact with the head.
Tracking down the sides of the headband, you will find a metal patch on each side with the « Sennheiser » and « Momentum » inscriptions respectively. The headband adjustment system is very smooth, it’s done by moving a round pivot through the metal groove. Due to the adjustment system, the cable is apparent between the earcups and the headband, and I’m not a big fan of that.
The earpads are made of real leather and are bigger than the Momentum 1, but I still find them a bit small. They’re angled with a difference of 0.4cm between each side and the inside is of some thin yellow fabric.
The Momentum 2 comes with a 1.2m basic black cable, thin and fragile, with inline remote control that has iOS and Android support. (I don’t use these buttons but most mobile users will find it handy). Both ends are 3.5mm jack and there is a locking mechanism when inserting them into the headphone, by pushing and swiveling. This is helpful because the cable stays in place where there is any torsion.
Out of the box, you get a storage pouch, an inside foam for keeping the cushion in shape for long storage, and a nice semi-hard carrying case. The headphone needs to be folded to fit inside the case, and it is very portable. I think any manufacturer who does not provide a traveling case for a nomad headphone is making a mistake. Thankfully, it is not the case here.
We arrived at my biggest issue with this headphone: Comfort is just not good for me. I have 3 issues with them :
- The headband! It makes my skull suffers after 5-10 minutes of use. I think that the combination of the angle of the headband, the 2 parts structure and the thin padding, makes it uncomfortable for my head. I tried to place it in different positions, and no matter what, the pain was still there, at best slightly reduced.
- Solution: I covered it with a wool strap (see the picture) which I bought from eBay. This greatly improves comfort and annihilates that pain.
- The cushion pads are not very big. I don’t have big ears and when I put the Momentum 2 on, they barely fit in there. Depth is just okay since the earpads are angled, but I have a feeling of having my ears trapped when I put them on. Also, the foam padding is very thin and my ears touch the drivers. This does not cause me pure pain but it can become unpleasant over time.
- Overall fit and seal. It works not so well for me. I find that it’s difficult to have a good seal with them. If I put them on without careful adjustment, the seal won’t be good and the isolation (which is normally great for a closed-back headphone) suffers when the earpads don’t circle well around your ears.
The sound tonality is definitely warm and relaxed. It can sound slightly similar to some open-back Sennheiser units such as the HD650 but with a slightly boosted bass, present mids, and reduced highs. I must say that the HD650 is obviously in a whole different level in terms of resolution and dynamics.
The bass features an appreciated midbass bump that is definitely above my personal idea of a “neutral bass” quantity-wise (and I like it since I prefer a bit more bass). However, it’s nowhere as close as some bassy cans that I have owned in the past (e.g. Ultrasone HFI-780).
The bass extension is definitely there but when I compared it to another open headphones which I personally find somewhat bassy – Phillips Fidelio X2, I was very surprised. The Momentum 2’s sub-bass is much more powerful than the Fidelio X2.
The Philips rolls off at around 50Hz as a dynamic open headphone, but the Momentum 2 goes lower and at that point, on most bassy tracks, it becomes a muddied the overall sound balance. The Momentum 2 is no planar headphone (bass-wise) and there is still some distortion, but I was expecting it from a sealed headphone at $300.
The mids are surprising because they are extremely present, more than average. I can feel the same intimate and frontal mids that I hear on the HD600/HD650. For music that are not accentuated under 60Hz, the bass is well separated from the lower mids and the whole 200 – 4000 Hz region is very natural.
Vocals and mid-centric recordings are very pleasant to listen with the Momentum 2. Fortunately, there is no emphasis on the upper mids which can sound really harsh to my ears and is something that I pay attention to. The HD600 can be too strong at 3 kHz to me but the Momentum 2 (or the HD650) are more relaxing while having no dip at all.
The treble is very calm. In the lower and mid treble (4 – 10 kHz), I don’t hear any sibilance at all. This deserves extra cookies as I dislike headphones that have strong peaks in that region (the stock HD800 is famous for having a strong peak there).
However, there is also a big absence of peak and lack of good extension after 10 kHz, which can cause the tonality to lose a bit of sparkle and airiness. I always prefer some presence here since it gives a better impression and feeling of details to the overall sound. On the positive note, they will not destroy your ears on some modern recordings that can be very hard on the treble.
I appreciate the sound of the Momentum 2 for its laid-back tone in most cases. Still, there are two points which I will pick on: soundstage and imaging. For a $300 headphone, I was expecting something better.
The soundstage feels a bit congested and narrow. I had heard better close-back headphones in the soundstage department that cost the same or less, like the AKG K550 or Soundmagic HP150, which are very impressive for the $150 – 200 range. Since the highs are not very well extended, the sense of detail and transparency are not super great.
- Impedance: 18 Ω
- Frequency response (Headphones): 16Hz – 22000Hz
- Sound pressure level (SPL): 113dB (1 kHz/1 Vrms)
- THD, total harmonic distortion: <0.5%
- Jack plug: 3.5mm straight
- Cable length: 1.4m (Detachable)
- Transducer principle: Dynamic, closed
The Sennheiser Momentum 2 is a nice-looking headphone. It is a true nomad closed set that has everything one should expect from a portable can:
- good isolation (if it fits your ear),
- easy to drive at 18 Ohm,
- light, small and with carrying case included.
The tonality is warm / mid-centric and some will like it, others won’t. For a headphone in the $200 – 300 range, they are absolutely not impressive in dynamics and soundstage. Most closed headphones I have owned in that price range were at least similar or better on that point.
The comfort is hit or miss. Unfortunately for me, it was almost a fatal flaw since I could not wear them for long periods (as I would like to for traveling since I like their sound). If not for the wool strap which mitigated my comfort issues, I would have sold them quickly.
It is a good pair of headphone but not great for its price. They are not a reference-sounding headphone but it provides a pleasant experience outside the home but can potentially come at the cost of your comfort.