The Momentum is Sennheiser’s series of premium portable headphones for the fashion-conscious crowd. While there is an undeniable whiff of Beats envy in the series, as that’s pretty much the same target audience that Beats caters to, being Sennheiser, the Momentum products didn’t at least sound terrible.
The company originally launched the around the ear circumaural headphones, which were later followed by the on-ear supra-aural model. The latest entrant in the series is the Momentum In-Ear, which, as you can guess, are a pair of in-ear earphones.
The Momentum In-Ear comes in a carry case with an earphone holder inside with a wrap-around design. I personally am not a fond of such holders as it makes wrapping the earphones more of a puzzle than a simple task. This is especially true if you are a bit obsessive with details, as it’s hard to get the wrapping right the first time around with everything fitting in its right place. It’s easier to just remove the holder from the case and place the earphones directly inside. The case itself is nicely made, though.
The earphones also come with four different silicon ear tips (XS, S, M, L). One of them is on the earphones, one on the back of the earphone holder, and the remaining two in the box.
The Momentum In-Ear has a simple design, with a Y junction and two symmetrical speaker cables on one side and an L-shaped gold-plated 3.5mm TRRS jack on the other end. The jack configuration depends upon the model you choose (more on that later). The right speaker cable has an in-line remote control with playback and call buttons and the omni-directional microphone. The total cable length is 1.3m.
There are some design details worth noting. The speaker cables, for example, have a red and black color combination. The remote controller is black with red color buttons. The speaker body is made entirely out of steel, finished in black and a gorgeous deep wine red and subtle chrome elements on the back with the multi-color Sennheiser logo. The speakers are asymmetrical with a 15 degree angle pointing towards the ear canal. The left speaker has the traditional Sennheiser three dot pattern to identify the left speaker but it’s not quite easily noticeable. It doesn’t really matter on this model though as the angled speakers and the microphone on the right side make it easy to distinguish the left speaker from the right, even without looking.
The build quality of the earphones is good. The cables seem durable and go through a loop near the speakers to prevent direct stress on the joint. The cable also remains straight even after looping around the holder after you unwrap it and the microphonics are well under control so no amount of rubbing against your shirt will be audible in your ears.
Comfort is a subjective issue when it comes to in-ear earphones. Some people are not comfortable with them and others seem to be okay with them. I personally don’t mind them usually but I did find the Momentum In-Ear exerting a lot of pressure on my ears when I first started using them, which made me take them out a few minutes of wearing them. Over time, I got used to them but I still can’t seem to wear them for too long and removing them is always a relief.
The Sennheisers are known for their warm, dark sound and this is especially true for the Momentum series, which are particularly bass-heavy. The Momentum In-Ear are no different; the low-end has a significant heft to it, making them sound fairly bassy, if not overly so. The mids and highs, on the other hand, aren’t as prominent, with the mids being recessed ever so slightly. The highs seemed to be dialed in just right, with a fair amount of clarity and brightness without seeming harsh. The bass does tend to dominate over the two, which won’t be a problem if you’re into genres that emphasise bass but if you’re looking for a more neutral sound or something with emphatic vocals and highs then you will be disappointed.
The overall sound is still enjoyable though, and it’s not just another bass-heavy earphone. There does seem to be more thought put into the sound than most other $100 earphones. Considering this is aimed at the Beats crowd the sound is practically audiophile grade. But those looking for a more nuanced and mature sound should look elsewhere.
The sound isolation performance is quite respectable on the Momentum In-Ear. You can comfortably use these on the street or in a flight and not be bothered by the ambient sound.
The microphone performance is adequate. It’s not particularly high quality but is better than what you get with stock mobile phone earphones and should suffice for calls.
The Momentum In-Ear come in two variants, one is designed for Apple products (iPhone, iPad, and Mac) and the other for Android devices. The basic audio will work regardless of which device or version you have but if you intend to use the remote control, you need to get the right version for your device. I had the Android version during testing and it worked with every Android phone I tried, regardless of whether it was Samsung, LG, Motorola, HTC, or Xiaomi. Being a TRRS connector, it obviously won’t work with standard TRS connectors designed to output to a simple headphone (without mic), such as your laptop headphone jack (the ones with separate headphone and mic ports).
The Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear are priced at $99.95, regardless of the version you buy. For the price you get a well-built, good-looking pair of earphones with good audio quality and good noise isolation. Comfort was an issue for me but again, that’s subjective so I don’t want to complain too much about it. The sound signature is not for everyone, especially people looking for a more neutral, balanced sound, who’d do better with something like the Etymotic HF5 or the Shure SE215. But if you’re looking for a bit more oomph in your bass, this should do the trick.