The headphone market is a crowded space of options, but there are certain manufacturers that have stood the test of time. The German audio manufacturer, Sennheiser, is one of those brands that has a lengthy history and is highly regarded among those serious audio listeners.
As of late, its Momentum lineup of headphones has been the company’s effort in bringing audiophile-grade quality into the mainstream market, and it’s done well. In keeping up the momentum (pun intended), its newest over-ear flagship packs the latest headphone trends – no wires and active noise-cancellation technology. Let’s find out if this is the headphone to beat in our Sennheiser Momentum Wireless Review.
Price: $419 on Amazon
Available: Jan. 2015
Model: Sennheiser Momentum Wireless/M2 AEBT Ivory
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Bluetooth and active noise-cancellation functions with audiophile-grade sound quality.
Summary: The Sennheiser Momentum Wireless manages cutting-edge headphone technologies while staying true to the line’s superior audio quality. Although, this top-notch pair does cost a pretty penny, and its noise cancellation is shy of what Bose can do.
What We Liked
- Premium materials and smart design
- Comfortable ear pads
- Collapsible design
- Capable of wired use if battery runs out
What We Didn’t
- Could use more cushioning on the top
- Glossy finish on the Ivory model feels cheap
- Bose Quietcomfort has the edge on noise cancellation
Momentum Wireless Specs
|Frequency Range||16 - 22,000 kHz|
|Impedance||Passive: 28 Ohms
Active: 480 Ohms
|Bluetooth Standard||Version 4.0 + EDR, apt-X|
|Bluetooth Range||33 feet|
|Battery Life||About 22 hours|
|Colors||Black or Ivory|
The Momentum Wireless is a 2nd-gen version of the over-ear Momentum headphone. Sennheiser keeps most of the same materials and styling, only bringing enhancements to the original design. The most obvious changes are the addition of wireless playback and active noise cancellation, but users of the first-gen Momentum users will notice a couple subtle tweaks for the better, such as the hinged headband.
Yes, one complaint of the original was that it couldn’t collapse into a more travel-friendly shape. Sennheiser now lets the left and right sides of the headband snap in/out of place, allowing the ear cups to fold onto themselves. This doesn’t dramatically reduce the size of the headphones, but it certainly helps when your travel bag becomes tight on space. Also, the footprint of the included carrying case isn’t so unwieldy.
For those unfamiliar with the Momentum line, Sennheiser takes a simplistic but stylistic approach to the design. The frame of the entire unit is a thin, circular steel headband. The top of the headphone is wrapped with premium leather and a thin and firm cushion for head support. At first, the minimal padding is questionable, but Sennheiser feels that the headphone is so lightweight that it’s sufficient.
The ear cups are neatly attached to the headband through a cutout. It’s slick that the slot in the metal serves as the rail in which to adjust the headphone size on your head. Friction is what keeps the ear cups where you set them. And the end is capped with a glimmery, ridged Sennheiser logo.
The Momentum Wireless comes in either Black or the two-tone Ivory model that we have. We were a little disappointed that ear cup’s glossy plastic housing on our model doesn’t quite feel as premium as the rest, so if that’s a point of contention for you, we’d recommend the matte plastic Black model instead.
The supple leather-wrapped ear pad cushions are as comfy as ever, however, Sennheiser recognized that the size of the openings were originally a tad too small for some folks. They should now adequately fit the majority of ears out there.
Although the Momentum Wireless drops the wire, an attachable cable is still included in the packaging. It’s considerate when manufacturers do this, because a Bluetooth headphone should still be able to function if the battery runs out. The cable plugs into a 2.5mm port on the bottom of the right ear cup, and like Momentum-fashion, it can be twisted upon insertion to lock it in place. Alongside the cable connection is also a microUSB port, as standardly used for charging the internal Li-ion battery. And because this is a wireless headphones, you’ll also find a power button and volume switch on the side.
The fit of the Momentum Wireless is as nice as they come. The ear pad material on the original Momentum was a winner, only, many ears would struggle to fit in the openings. Sennheiser’s size correction on the new models is just right; the pads now engulf the ears rather than squish them in. However, on the top, we would’ve liked a bit more cushioning. The Momentum Wireless gains a little weight compared to the wired version (about 75 more grams), so the same amount of padding doesn’t necessarily fly. I noticed a slight pressure point at the very top of my head after lengthy use, but nothing unbearable.
Noise Cancelation and Function
Regarding passive noise isolation, you should expect performance like other leather cushioned over-ears on the market. They get you halfway to noise isolation, but the active noise-cancellation (ANC) – learn how noise canceling headphones work – feature takes it a substantial step further. Speaking of which, the ANC begins as soon as you power on the headphone. There’s no toggle to switch between passive and active noise isolation. And Sennheiser does not allow you to use ANC with wired use; it is automatically disabled when you plug the cable into the headphone. Some folks may be bothered that there’s no control for ANC, but a healthy battery life rating of around 22 hours should help.
Getting started with the Momentum Wireless is fortunately an easy task. Holding the power button for a couple seconds powers on/off the headphone, and it will be discoverable at first start up. The button can also change tracks, by moving forward with a double press and back with a triple press. A small LED light nearby provides some indication, such as the paired status or battery/charging level.
Of course, ANC is the star of the show with the Momentum Wireless, and many would be interested in how Sennheiser’s first crack at it performs. It doesn’t cancel noise out quite as well as Bose’s implementation of the technology, but it certainly works. Like many of these headphones, the ANC blocks out the low-end noise (i.e. humming of computers or rumbling of airplane engines). Even on Bose’s ANC headphones, high-pitched sounds still get through. Only, Bose can almost completely block the low-end while you can faintly hear it on Sennheiser’s headphone.
I think that it’s fair to assume that Sennheiser tried to find the right balance between noise attenuation and sound quality. I’d like to think that that’s why the ANC is not more aggressive. And after giving the Momentum Wireless a fair shake, I’m convinced that that’s the case. To my ears, Sennheiser overcame the tough challenge of maintaining its high standard of audio quality while throwing in wireless and active noise cancelation capabilities. Bravo.
As a fan of the original Momentum’s sound signature, my ears were overjoyed to still hear a balance of frequency ranges and a satisfying amount of details. Sennheiser’s forte in audio reproduction is a realistic tone and depth to sounds, which take immersion to another level. Additionally, the engineers are careful that all the frequencies are able to shine – the Momentum’s low-end response is lovingly deep, vocals in the mid-range are crisp, and high pitches are present and sparkly. I was worried that the headphone’s translation to wireless would compromise Sennheiser’s superb clarity, but I’m happy to say that the sound is still Momentum-grade through and through.
The Momentum Wireless is definitely one of our top recommendations for a cutting-edge over-ear headphone today, that is, if your wallet has some moo-lah to spare. We’re not talking about a budget-friendly headphone here, at a retail price of $499. But it often is that you get what you pay for. If you want a headphone with latest technologies, but still maintains audiophile-grade sound quality, then look no further, as these might be one of the best noise canceling headphones of 2018.