If you fancy a pair of headphones with great sound quality -- ones that don't pummel you with bass -- and a lightweight, stylish design that's good enough to turn heads, then step this way.
With their leather earcups and lightweight stainless steel headband, the Sennheiser Momentums are undeniably attractive and offer sound that's sure to bring a smile to even the most dedicated travelling audiophile.
They're available now for £250 from the Apple Store.
Design and build
The Momentums are the first in Sennheiser's new headphone range to emphasise style for the street, rather than being designed solely for wearing in the home studio or via your hi-fi. Gone are the usual shades of functional black and silver on the earcups, to be replaced by dark brown leather pads with a brown/grey casing.
The headband is made from a single piece of brushed stainless steel with the same brown leather padding on top. The earcups simply slide up and down the metal supports, rather than bulk out the headband with an extending mechanism. It's a very minimal look.
They're certainly more style-focused than you'd typically see, but they won't suit everyone's tastes. If you're keen on soft leather bags, minimally-designed brown jackets and the subtle stitching you'll find on an Aston Martin's leather interior, then they'll be right up your street.
Build quality seems every bit as high as you'd expect from the £250 price tag. The leather pads feel very firmly sewn in place and they are made from -- I'm told -- high-quality leather from a traditional English tannery, which should keep them looking good months down the line. I didn't have long enough with them to judge this, but they didn't mark during testing, so I'm confident they could take some punishment.
The ear casings also feel very sturdy and there's no awkward plastic clips to snap off with the sliding mechanism, as you'd find on cheaper headphones. Sadly though, the one-piece design of the headband means they can't be folded up, which greatly reduces their portability. They come with a protective carry case for shoving in your luggage, but it's huge, so you might want to consider a lighter pair for your air travel.
The headphones aren't over-sized though and are, in fact, much less bulky than a lot of over-ear cans on the market. The headband design means weight is kept to a minimum, so they're perfectly comfortable for out-and-about use. I found I could happily wear them for several hours without discomfort.
The cable is made from a flexible rubber that's removable, meaning you can swap it for a new one if it gets mangled in your chair wheels. I initially didn't think it was removable as it's very awkward to take off, but it's not something you'd need to do every day and therefore isn't really something I can hold against them too much. It feels fairly sturdy though and features a three-button remote for controlling your iPhone or iPod or taking calls.
A standard 3.5mm jack is in place for connecting to regular MP3 players and can be angled to lie flat against your device when it's in your pocket. It's perhaps not a stand-out feature, but it's the sort of attention to detail you'd hope to see when paying such a price.
If you're spending £250 of your hard-earned on a pair of headphones, you won't just be looking for a nod towards sartorial elegance -- top-quality sound is crucial. Thankfully then, the Momentums deliver a great performance here too.
They present a very balanced tone overall, without undue emphasis placed on the high or low ends. That's not to say the tone is flat -- far from it. High-end sparkles cut through the mix, while low bass kicks are powerful and punchy. Both ends of the sonic spectrum are very clear, without muddying the mix by dominanting one another.
On Deadmau5's track Maths, the kick drum was extremely punchy and the bassline was powerful and warm, without being too boomy or overpowering the rest of the mix. It also avoided distorting when cranked up to stupidly high levels -- certainly louder than you'd ever want to listen to.
Muse's new track Supremacy was handled excellently by the Momentums too. The kick-drum, timpani and deep basslines that dominate the low end were recreated well, while Matt Bellamy's falsetto vocal tones, the string section and the snare drum sliced through the mix clearly and accurately.
They don't, however, deliver quite the level of openness you might hope for. That's due to the fact they're closed-back cans, so they naturally aren't able to produce as wide a soundscape as open or even semi-open models like Sennheiser's HD 700s. If you're a classical music fan and want to feel like you have the centre seat in the Royal Albert Hall during a performance by the London Philharmonic, then there are better options for you.
The closed nature does, however, mean that they leak very little noise -- good news for your bus passengers or your colleagues in the office.
The Sennheiser Momentums achieve that great combination of stylish looks, comfort and excellent all-round sound. If your musical tastes begin and end with skull-crushing bass, then other headphones will be more suited to you, such as the Beats by Dr Dre brand. If high-end sound with an open, airy nature is your thing, set your sights on open-backed headphones hooked up to a home hi-fi system -- not these closed-back cans.
But if you value excellently clear, balanced sound with a design that's equally at home in your leather-clad living room as it is on the bus, then the Momentums would be a superb choice.