Performance & Conclusion
We are not huge fans of the supra-aural wearing style. In all honesty, we prefer in-ear headphones for their portability and circumaural cans for their comfort. But putting our personal preferences aside, we will, like always, try our best to bring you an objective analysis of this product’s comfort levels.
The Momentum On-Ear headphones, like most, if not all, supra-aural headphones, feel quite “clampy” when worn. This is due to the fact that the ear pads rest on the ear as opposed to resting around the ear. However, the ear cups have a good bit of swivel thanks to the ball-and-socket joints that Sennheiser has employed. With extended use, the pressure exerted by the headphones should go down and become milder.
With regards to the cushioning, the Alcantara fabric feels soft. It must also be mentioned that the foam used seems to have a higher density when compared with the standard fare. In Sennheiser's own words, the pads are filled with "two layers of special foam". This makes the cushioning more robust but less plush.
For our listening tests, we paired the Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear headphones with our 7th generation iPod Nano. However, we also used both PC and smartphone as a music source to get a better understanding of its capabilities. Since the headphones only have an impedance of 18 ohms (and a high SPL), bringing a dedicated amplifier into the mix was not necessary.
As far as supra-aural headphones go, the Momentum On-Ear offers good levels of noise isolation. However, sound bleeding out is still a problem. This is a pitfall of utilizing supra-aural design and there is no easy fix for it. If you choose to use the Momentum On-Ear, be prepared to serenade those in your surroundings with your music selection.
Many manufacturers like to state the frequency response of their products boldly and make performance claims based on those numbers. With frequency response being extremely hard to measure for a regular end user, it is difficult to verify these claims. However, audiocheck.net has some simple files which can help you 'ear-ball' a headphone's frequency response. In our tests, we found that the lows of the Momentum On-Ear headphones extended to the 10Hz to 20Hz range, which matches up favorably with the stated 16Hz bottom end. For the highs however, the headphones were only able to reach 17,000Hz, as opposed to the claimed 22,000Hz. From these findings, one can start to build a preliminary picture of the headphones' capabilities. It certainly suggests that the Momentum On-Ear’s strengths lie with bass reproduction.
Playing right into the hands of this Sennheiser headphones, we started off our listening testing with Elements of Life by Tiesto. We were treated to deep, extended bass with well defined low notes. The distortion on the synth parts was also controlled, which added positively to the experience. But the real shining feature of the Momentum On-Ear’s playback was the great staging. The changes in tempo and the movement of the composition were brought forward with an extremely good stereo soundstage (despite its closed-back design) and immaculate rendering of the mix.
Next up, we gave Sail On Soothsayer a whirl. Once again, the distortion on the guitars was kept under control without it losing any of its aggression. The Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear also began to show its solid middle register. The notes had a good sharp attack and the only fault we could find with the audio was the lack of prominence given to the highs.
Once again, the great staging of the Momentum On-Ears was evidenced with our live, acoustic rendition of Hotel California. Hefty and strong mids helped to deliver the melody beautifully. The great presence of these tones also brought the guitar picking in the track to the fore. The transient response of the headphones was also spot on and the alternate percussions used sounded vibrant and realistic.
The only hiccup for the Momentum On-Ear headphones, in an otherwise impeccable performance, came when we listened to Melt My Heart To Stone. The headphones displayed a good warm tone and strong mids were also present. But since the song does not boast many bass melodies, focus was shifted to the trebles which highlighted its weak suit. Highs lacked sparkle to be considered above average, but did possess sufficient clarity to receive a passing grade.
I personally spent a good portion of a weekend using the Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear as my primary pair of headphones. The product actually did a very good job of covering the fact that its high frequency reproduction was not top notch. On tracks such as Tame Impala’s psychedelic Apocalypse Dreams, the great stereo soundstage, excellent instrumentation and prominent basslines made me almost forget to notice that the highs did not meet the same levels of quality.
At the end of the day, we will classify the Momentum On-Ear headphones as “percussive”. Its great sense of rhythm and pacing leads to excellent rendering of a song’s overall mix. Very rarely does a pair of headphones do justice to the eclectic discography of The Knife, which taxes even the best audio products. But this Sennheiser product did a good job in bringing forward the tribal, weird tracks from the band.
If you ask us, the Momentum On-Ear is a good step up from Sennheiser’s previous supra-aural headphones, the Amperior. While the latter sounded punchy, the Momentum On-Ear comes across with a much fuller, deeper sound. However, we would still give the HD25 a slight edge over it, due to the older product’s neutral tone. The performance levels of the Momentum On-Ear and the Momentum Over-Ear headphones however are extremely similar.
|Melt My Heart to Stone - Adele||8.0|
|Elements of Life - Tiesto||9.0|
|Sail on Soothsayer - Buckethead||8.5|
|Hotel California - The Eagles||8.5|
The main competition for the Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear headphones in the market is ironically, the Sennheiser Momentum Over-Ear headphones. Representatives from Sennheiser were able to confirm that both products share similar hardware characteristics but were unable to give specific driver size numbers due to confidentiality matters. From our listening tests on the two headphones, we found the performance of the two products to be extremely similar as well. Both delivered good bass notes, robust sound but slightly faltered when they came to the highs.
However, there are design elements which differ on the two products. The Sennheiser Momentum On-Ears have Alcantara trimmings while the Sennheiser Momentum Over-Ears come coated in leather. The latter also has a bendable 3.5mm connector, which is not available with the On-Ear model. The On-Ear comes with a soft case, while the Over-Ear has a hard case. The main difference however, as their names suggest, is the form factor of the ear pads.
It may sound cliché, but choosing between the two Sennheiser Momentum headphones is really a matter of personal choice. This particular reviewer is not a fan of the supra-aural design, and prefer the circumaural fit to attenuate external noise. But another may find the On-Ear's lighter weight (160g vs. 190g) to be important.
The final factor at play is price. The Momentum On-Ear has a price tag of S$299, which is a full S$190 less of what Sennheiser charges for the Over-Ear version. According to Sennheiser, this is due to the Over-Ear model featuring more premium materials and the fact that it has a bendable connector plug. With very similar performance, the Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear thus presents very good value for the money. So if you are fine with a supra-aural wearing style, be sure to check it out.