I realize I haven't done much geeking out over audio equipment, but I recently acquired a product that totally floored me with its excellence – the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 over-ear headphones.
It was a slow process, but for more than a decade, my relationship with music was steadily declining.
I went from playing full albums via CD over a stereo receiver and gigantic floor-standing speakers to listening to a random assortment of compressed audio files on tiny laptop speakers and free earbuds.
One day I realized that I didn't give a shit about music anymore!
I didn't pay attention to lyrics, wasn't captivated by the instrumentals, and simply used music as background noise to get me through work and lifting sessions.
It wasn't that I stopped liking music, it just became less and less impressive. But the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 has restored my love of all things audio.
Now I get lost in music, hear details that were previously hidden (even on my home stereo system), and have rekindled my appreciation for this audible art form.
Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Review
After purchasing completely wireless earbuds, I realized that I'd hit the pinnacle of convenience and portability. But while the sound quality was perfectly acceptable, it left something to be desired.
So I embarked on a mission to get the absolute best sounding headphones I could find at or under $300. That meant they had to be both over-ear and wired.
And of course, with the way my brain works, I had to be able to appreciate the styling to truly love the headphones. I refused to buy anything I'd feel like a goon wearing or that I had to hide away in a dark drawer to spare myself from looking at them when not in use.
Fortunately, the most well regarded headphone matching my criteria also happened to be one of the best looking on the market.
The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 is an improved version of the already excellent original Momentum, which was a nearly perfect headphone.
Upgrades to the Momentum 2.0 model include:
- Larger earcups and better memory foam
- Hinges for folding and portability
- Slightly improved sound (may be due to more spacious earcups)
- New cable design
- Some updated color combinations
I wasn't able to listen to the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 before ordering but I was able to demo the competition.
Headphones from Beats, Bose, JBL, and Sony all sound great and were a huge improvement compared to my current rotation of earbuds.
But even these great (and, in some cases, more expensive) headphones are consistently bested by the Sennheisers in reviews and shootouts, so my expectations were extremely high, as was the anxiety of the blind (or deaf) purchase.
Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Sound Quality
Remember the scene in Full Metal Jacket when the drill instructor is screaming at Private Pyle but the recruit can't wipe the shit eating grin off his face no matter how hard he tries?
That's how I feel while listening to the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0!
While lying on my couch with my eyes closed, I have to struggle to keep the smile off my face because I'm so impressed with the sound quality and am rekindling my love of music.
Until listening to the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0, I'd never experienced what is known as soundstage.
Basically, when listening to high quality headphones, it sounds like the music is taking place around you rather than inside your head, as is the case with earbuds. For example, you can get a sense of where different instruments were set up during a live recording.
With my music collection, this is best experienced with Nirvana Unplugged in New York. Kurt's voice is up front, the applause is in the distance, and the drums and guitars are completely separated. It becomes a totally transcendent performance.
The treble with the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 is plenty detailed but not overly bright. This means that you get the full experience of the the entire sound spectrum, but the highs don't become grating at higher volumes.
For the most part, it seems to be the highs that reveal parts of the instrumentals that go undetected in lower quality headphones.
In my youth, I only cared about bass and treble. I couldn't care less about vocals. As long as the walls were shaking and the sparkly highs were piercing my eardrums, I was happy.
But that's all changed. While the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 does all frequency ranges very well, they places the mids slightly out in front.
The result is that I've fallen in love with female vocals.
Take the song Royals by Lorde as an example. I've heard this song hundreds of times in passing on the radio and thought it was okay but wrote it off as just another pop song…until it came up on a playlist while wearing my Momentums.
Beautiful and captivating are words I'd use to describe the vocals. The soundstage is expansive (I visualize a massive, empty, and dark music hall), the bass is powerful and is dispersed so that you get split seconds of silence making you want more.
I find myself turning the volume to 11 when this song is on.
These don't emphasize bass as much as a trunk full of subwoofers, but if you're used to listening to laptop speakers like I was, the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 will make you realize that you've been missing at least 20% of the frequency range.
The bass on these isn't pumped up and there aren't any vibrating motors (used by lower end brands) to trick you into thinking that you're hearing bass, but the delivery is more than adequate.
It's fast and tight enough to keep up with Metallica's Battery, deep enough to do justice to Eazy-E's Boyz-n-the-Hood, and punchy enough for dubstep.
And if you are a true basshead with the more-is-better attitude, all you have to do is bump up the low frequencies with an equalizer on whatever device you're using for essentially limitless bass.
In summary, the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 sounds like it should cost $500+ vs $200-$300.
And they're great for movies!
I was watching the fight/chase scene in Terminator 2 where the T-1000 and the Terminator are fighting and shooting it out in the shopping mall highway.
The hissing of the door hydraulics, crunching of the roses, and the pop can fizzing are all true to life. When the two terminators are slamming each other into opposite sides of the hallway, the sound pans from right to left and provides a true surround sound experience.
These would be excellent for watching movies on a long flight.
Sennheiser Momentum Features
I intentionally got the wired version of this headphone (even traded in my iPhone 7 for an SE) to limit the features and focus on sound quality.
I simply didn't want these headphones to have batteries, Bluetooth, or Active Noise Cancellation.
While this wired model doesn't have electronic active noise cancellation, the earcups do an excellent job of passive noise isolation by blocking out ambient noise.
I can even hear my music on the lowest setting my phone or laptop has and it's perfectly clear.
These cans have an impedance rating of 18 ohms, which means they're perfectly suited to mobile devices vs. requiring a dedicated headphone amplifier, as many high end audiophile set-ups do.
For convenience, the cable has an in-line mic and multifunction controls which are designed specifically for Apple or Android. Be sure to select your preference before ordering.
The 2.0 version of the Sennheiser Momentum adds hinges to the headband which increases portability.
Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Build Quality
The build quality of the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 reminds me of the interior of an Audi or Mercedes.
In my mind, a general indicator of quality in any product is whether or not parts are replaceable.
If not, you just have to throw away the entire product if one parts breaks or wears out, which hints that the manufacturer doesn't think their product is worth the time and expense of replacing components. Not exactly confidence inspiring.
But the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 has:
- A replaceable cable
- Replaceable ear pads
- Visible machine screws for disassembling
This is DEFINITELY NOT a throw-away product like all the other crap that dominates the market.
The leather covering the plush memory foam earcups is as soft or softer than my lambskin gloves.
The steel headband is flexible but strong. It snaps right back to its original shape even if you stretch it out almost flat and twist back and forth.
Covering the top portion of the headband is more genuine leather. The side that contacts your head utilizes a smooth leather covering and dense but still comfortable padding.
The outside of the headband (high wear area) is covered in a tougher, coarse grain leather which provides an interesting texture and is sure to be more durable than the buttery soft leather on the earcups.
The hinges are robust with absolutely no excess play. When unfolding they give a reassuring “thunk” as they snap securely in the fully open position.
The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 feels like it should cost every bit of $500, even though the price is closer to half that.
The only thing that doesn't match the premium feel of the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 is the cable. The cable is soft and flexible, the controls work perfectly, and the connector is sleek enough to fit in tight cell phone case ports. But it just feels mediocre.
Luckily, the cable is removable with a quick twist and pull.
I replaced mine with a braided copper cable that I think makes the whole package look and feel more high end.
Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Style
Of course, sound is Number One when it comes to audio equipment, (that box has already been enthusiastically checked) but that doesn't mean style and sound have to have an inverse relationship.
In just a couple words, the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 is absolutely beautiful.
The buttery soft leather and laser straight stitching scream luxury while the exposed metal headband hardens the overall look with an industrial element.
The entire design is quite minimalist. Sennheiser didn't add layers of unnecessary plastic and fittings to hide the skeleton and there isn't much in the way of added embellishment (except for the “chameleon” logo on the earcup).
They simply did a great job finishing the exposed components and added the appropriate leather to the areas that contact your body.
I wish more consumer goods were made this way.
Color Choices – Ivory, Brown, Black
Reading up on nearly every headphone in this price bracket and crowning the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 as the winner was the easy part of my search. Choosing what color to buy took forever because they all look fantastic!
Originally, I was dead set on getting the ivory because it really stands out and has a vintage quality. Then I convinced myself that the black was more sleek and exciting.
Finally, I choose brown for it's perfect combination of character and refined looks.
Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Comfort
These are the most comfortable headphones I've ever worn!
Earbuds tend to make my ears ache after an hour or so and on-ear style headphones press my ears flat against my head, which feels pretty awkward and uncomfortable.
But this over-ear design is just about perfect. There's nothing in my ear and there's nothing pressing my ears flat against my head.
The main downfall of the original Momentum was the tiny earcups. I'm 6′ 2” with proportionally sized ears and I have plenty of room inside the improved Sennheiser Momentum 2.0.
The earcups slide up and down in the headband to adjust for size but are also attached via a ball-and-socket type joint so they pivot and tilt in any direction to adjust for head shape and wearing position.
The crazy soft leather and memory foam earcups are super comfortable as they conform to my head, even while wearing glasses.
The steel headband has just enough clamping force to hold the headphones secure but places almost no detectable pressure on my head.
The only downside to the over-ear design is that my ears tend to get warm after a while. But I've found that if I take them off and hang them around my neck for a couple minutes every hour or two it completely solves the problem.
(the genuine leather earpads can soak up sweat so these headphones aren't ideal for working out)
After I got used to totally wireless earbuds, going back to wired headphones was a slight step backwards in bodily freedom but the single wire coming down from the right earcup is much less intrusive than y-shaped earbud cords.
However, if you absolutely hate wires…
There's a Wireless Sennheiser Momentum 2.0
If having a wireless set of headphones is a must for you, check out the Bluetooth version of the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0.
They're renowned in the audiophile community as being amongst the absolute best in terms of sound quality (without spending thousands).
Besides Bluetooth, the wireless version also features Active Noise Cancellation to further distance you from ambient noise.
Also, a 22-hour battery life is surly enough to get you through even the most demanding days.
Despite all of these bonuses, I chose the wired version to ensure that I was getting the best sound quality possible via a cable rather than sending compressed audio files wirelessly, but the choice is yours.
Have You Been Missing High Quality Audio?
I'm all for progress, but some things can get lost along the way. For audio, more compact and convenient isn't always better.
Take cars for example. A continuously variable transmission beats a manual in almost every objective way, but you lose the “connectedness” of a proper stick shift.
How many mpg is that sacrifice worth?
In my eyes, with this particular purchase, big and wired were the features I needed to get the desired sound quality.
If you've found yourself caring less and less about music, maybe it's time to upgrade your kit.
Rather than running out and spending thousands on a home stereo, try out the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 plugged into a device you already own and be prepared to be blown away!
All the best,