Sennheiser has always been one of the perennial favourites in the audio world – the IE series of earphones, which includes the renowned IE8, IE80, and the more current IE800 are all excellent earphones, but the more modestly priced Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear is no slouch either.
Priced at 99USD, the Momentum In-Ear provides a very competitive sound for its price and for the users who desire a design with a handsfree microphone and volume control, and are uncompromising in their love of solid bass, it’s a great earphone product. As per Sennheiser tradition, this is a product using just a single dynamic driver – despite the ongoing trends of multi dynamic driver, multi balanced armature, hybrid and all sorts of different configurations, the engineers at the German audio powerhouse have decided that dynamic driver configurations are still the best. Whatever their reasons, I have to agree that they’re good at bringing out the best out of the single dynamic driver design.
|Frequency Response (Microphone)||10-10000hz|
|Frequency Response (Earphones)||15-22000hz|
|Sound Pressure Level||118 dB (1kHz/1Vrms)|
|Total Harmonic Distortion||<0.5 % (1 kHz, 100 dB SPL)|
|Jack Plug||3.5mm angled|
|Mic Pick up Pattern||Omnidirectional|
|Microphone sensitivity||– 44 dB V/Pa|
Low impedance and with typical amounts of sensitivity, the Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear is perfect for smartphone and portable device use. As you can see, it also has the typical Sennheiser designed for bats frequency response that goes to frequencies out of the range of human hearing. This earphone also comes included with a microphone for hands free usage as well as music control, so it has three buttons on it for convenience.
Design and Ergonomics
The Momentum has a very sleek and modern design. There’s evidently been a lot of attention given to each and every detail – a slick combination of glossy plastic and metal gives it a very modern appearance – a little showy, but with restraint and at the same time gives off the feeling of a finely engineered package. The plastic shells are sophisticated looking with a comfortably rounded organic shape should fit all ear shapes and sizes and come in either a glossy yet metallic looking black or red. At the butt end of each earphone is a small metal capping disc with the Sennheiser logo lightly etched into it with concentric rings around it, which also serves as the cable strain relief point. The sound nozzle is a finely made stainless steel tube, and according to their website, the interior housing is also made of the same.
The cable is a very generous 1.3m long, way more than enough for the average person and probably just right for the very tall. It’s probably one of the least microphonic cables I’ve tried. Made of a soft and very flexible plastic insulation that has a slightly flattened profile, it is black all the way through from plug to the earphones themselves, but if you bought the red version you’ll find that it has a very cool looking dual coloured red and black cable that connects from the Y-cinch to the earphones.
Unlike many of the current modern IEM designs, the Momentum is designed to be worn cable down. Even though the housing is slightly cylindrical shaped and sticks out a little, it’s been designed to be light enough that its weight wont pull it downwards and out of your ears, so it’s comfortable even though it’s worn cable down.
The nozzle is not too wide and should fit most ear canal sizes, but if you have any trouble fitting it in the package comes with 4 different ear tip sizes.
The Momentum In-Ears are dark and bassy, but at the same time have surprisingly good detail retrieval at the high frequencies and quite a decent sense of soundstage for its price point.
If you’re a trance or hip-hop head, the first thing that you’ll notice when you put the Momentum in is that it doesn’t hold back when it comes to bass – incredibly thick, weighty bass notes hit with authority.The bass is very solid and hits deep inside your head, so the bass notes really take the centre stage most of the time. However, give them another moment, and you’ll find that it also has very lively highs with great detail retrieval and soundstage in them that really shine through from all the hardhitting bass. When I listened to even in the most complex and layered passages of Chimp Spanner’s Mobius pt.1, I could hear the crash of hats and cymbals ringing crisply and clearly. Somehow, the excellent positioning of the highs is especially distinct among the frequency range as they shimmer with the sense of quite a wide soundstage and come through loud and clear. Some people more sensitive to the high frequencies may find the highs to be slightly bright and sibilant, but when mixed in with a more complex passage of other sounds, I find it to be just the right amount of inoffensive clarity.
After a longer listening session, I began to discover some flaws in my great experience with this pair of earphones (although it’s quite nitpicky and subjective..but then again this what this whole hobby is about). The midrange, which is where things like vocals and guitar solos really shine, is a bit recessed and don’t share the fullness of the bass or clarity of the highs. On tracks with mainly vocals and not a lot of other instruments, the mids are actually not too bad. They are decent at creating a sense of body, but lack a little clarity and air in the upper end, and are a little quiet with male voices especially sounding a little veiled and somewhat nasal. I would have preferred the mids to have a little more emphasis on the high-mids and have more bite and a bit of and edge to it, instead of its focus on the lower end of the mid range. Listening to more complicated tracks with more layer instrumentation will immediately show how the separation of the mids is quite lacking and will get covered up by the overwhelming bass. I struggled to pick out the intricacies of guitars, and vocals struggled to stay relevant behind everything else. The bass, for all its strength, actually lacks a little bit of finesse. Bass guitars actually seem a little dull toned and definitely lack some texture and bite to them. Fortunately, the Momentum’s excellent highs keep sounding great no matter what you throw at it.
Bass is less impactful on the IM50, with a subtle difference of sounding more warm than dark. I also feel that the IM50 has more detailed and better texture in the low frequencies, and there is definitely a difference between the IM50 and Momentum’s mids. Vocals are much more intimate and richer sounding in the IM50. However, the Momentum wins out in terms of soundstage as it sounds much wider. Its highs are also much brighter than the IM50.
Xiaomi Pistons 2
They actually have a very similar sound signature, and you may ask – why would I want to spend 99USD on something that can be had for 99HKD? Well, apart from the fact that the Momentum has differences in designs that make it lighter and more comfortable, and also designed to work specifically with ios / Android (the Pistons 2 don’t work perfectly with iOS as far as I know), the Momentum’s sound is also more refined than the Piston 2’s. Bass quantity is very close, but the Momentum’s is more solid and powerful, and while the Piston’s mids are less recessed, its highs are not as sharp and clear, and also overall has a bit of graininess to the whole sound.
In terms of the quality of the highs, it’s quite close as both have very clear and lively highs, but taking into account the entire sound, they’re entirely different beasts. The Macaw is all about having an open sound – massive soundstage with much more subtle rumbly bass, whereas the Sennheiser focuses on high impact bass attack and will in comparison sound muddier.
I was very surprised to find another entry level priced earphone that I enjoyed so much. I would recommend the Momentum In-Ears to anyone looking for a casual easy listening experience that loves very strong, pounding, solid bass but still wants to experience great high frequencies, and also needs the convenience of a handsfree microphone and volume control. I would have liked it even more if it was designed to be worn over-ear as it sticks out a little long and would feel even more secure, but overall I really enjoyed using the Momentum despite its minor flaws.