Post updated May 27th, 2016 at 11:08 am
Comfortable, stylish, portable and feature-packed. Combine that with excellent sound quality and you have yourself a truly formidable pair of headphones in the Sennheiser Momentum 2 Wireless (M2 AEBT) headphones. A follow up to its popular predecessor, Sennheiser appears to have captured the same essence that made the first-gen Momentums so desirable while also improving on several key areas, especially in sound quality and design.
Retailing at RM2,399, the Momentum 2 Wireless boasts a plethora of lifestyle-driven features such as Bluetooth wireless technology, active noise cancellation (ANC), as well as volume and playback controls for seamless smartphone integration. Its updated features open up a wide range of possibilities for the user to incorporate the headphones into their daily lives, whether it’s for work or for leisure.
I’ll get straight to the point: as far as full-sized closed back headphones go, the Momentum Wireless are as attractive as they come. Steering away from the more functional, sporty or futuristic approaches that dominate the majority of the headphones market, Sennheiser opts instead for a more stylish and sophisticated look which is complemented by retro-styled colour combinations of – our review unit is decked in ivory, brown, silver and black.
I quite like the minimalistic approach Sennheiser employs by keeping its branding low-key and its colour theme reasonably muted. It’s a great way of adding a subtle touch of style without drawing too much attention to itself. While there is nothing particularly loud about its aesthetics at first glance, there is a lot to be appreciated when you pay closer inspection, such as the contrasting yellow stitching on the headband and the light brown driver cloth that pops out nicely against the two-tone dark brown and black ear cushions. It all adds up to a pair of headphones that appreciates the attention of the user, not those around them.
Build Quality, Design & Comfort
Apart from looking good, the Momentum 2 Wireless feel great in hand, an attribute contributed by its build quality and use of premium materials such as leather, stainless steel and soft cushion ear pads. The use of high quality leather, which fully covers both sides of the headband and the ear cushions, is especially noteworthy as it serves several functions of providing extra comfort and texture while also giving the headphones a more refined look. Definitely a league above from its plasticky and cheap feeling counterparts. It is especially worth mentioning that the leather on the ear pads are exceptionally soft, making it really comfortable to wear for long periods.
The headphones feel sturdy and well-constructed without coming off as too stiff or clunky, while the moving and adjustable parts offer just the right amount of tension and resistance. They’re not too rigid or restrictive, nor are they too loose and flimsy. The headband readily flexes and the shape is contoured nicely around the head, allowing it to gently rest without pressing down or being too tight on the skull. The ear cups are able to tilt back and forth on a pivot and are height adjustable on the metal hinges to assure a custom close fit.
There are also welcome improvements from the Momentum 1. For example, the height adjustable metal hinges are now foldable. This feature makes the Momentum 2 much more compact for storage and ideal for carrying around. In addition, the issue with poor fit due to somewhat smallish ear cups has also been addressed – Sennheiser introduced larger ear cups and ear pads that fully envelope the ear. The ear cushions are noticeably softer to touch and are flat-edged for a better fit and the drivers are now housed deeper into the ear cups for more clearance.
It is also worth mentioning that the effect of ‘warm ears’ normally associated with closed-backs is significantly less prominent with these headphones, making it possible to wear them over long periods of time without feeling discomfort. I must say that the comfort provided by this pair of headphones is outstanding and given how feature-packed the headphones are, it still manages to stay impressively light and compact, making it ideal for on-the-go listeners who seek good sound quality while not wanting to be bogged down by the sheer weight or bulkiness normally associated with full-sized headphones.
The headphone comes with a 1.4m detachable cable with an angled 3.5mm jack. The cable, while thin, feels sturdy and is not prone to tangles. Unlike most wired headphones, the microphones and controls are located on the right ear cup for ease of use when listening wirelessly. It also comes with a hard carry case and soft pouch for portability and protection – I have to say, I’m pleased with the inclusion of both seeing how headphone manufacturers tend to exclude one or the other. The package also includes a micro-USB to USB charging cable and an in-flight adapter.
Although the soft leather ear pads are not as air tight as the previous version, the Momentum 2 Wireless headphones come equipped with NoiseGard, a proprietary ANC technology that uses 4 microphones. This is a useful addition for those seeking more listening privacy or simply wish to isolate themselves from the outside world for pure music immersion.
As far as noise cancellation goes, the Momentums are probably the most natural sounding ones I’ve heard. I found it does a really good job at cancelling out external sound in the low frequency band while being gentler on the upper frequencies, which greatly reduces most background noises while allowing you to still be aware of your surroundings and conversations in close proximity. As a result, the ANC comes off as less disorienting, which is always a good thing.
Microphone & Controls
I like the idea of having the microphones built into the ear cup, as it simplifies the process answering calls on the go and never having to worry about losing voice proximity if your head is turned away from the cable. On call, I was told that my voice was heard clearly and there were no issues with inaudibility. The 3-way multi-function button gives a wide range of control over volume, playback and calls. I found it very versatile and intuitive.
Establishing a wireless connection via Bluetooth is easy enough once you get the hang of it. It requires you to familiarise yourself with the various modes and LED light indications once you press the power button down for varying amounts of time; this is where the instruction manual comes in handy. The NFC (near field communication) feature is also particularly convenient for pairing the headphone with other devices, where a simple tap of the left ear cup to a device was enough to pair it with the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 that I tested it with.
As the LED light only blinks blue for a very short moment to indicate it’s switched on, you will have to be careful not to accidentally leave it on when not in use for long periods or it will drain the battery unnecessarily. Pressing the power button activates both the Bluetooth and the ANC, and there is no way of independently switching one on without the other. I feel this is a bit of an oversight by Sennheiser as not every situation calls for noise cancellation. I would have liked the flexibility of choosing between the two, but it’s not really a deal breaker for me.
In terms of wireless range, results will vary depending on your environment. At home I was able to get as far as 12m without any signal interruptions. However, in a crowded office I experienced signal dropouts at a distance of just 1.5m. At that length, if signal loss becomes unbearable, there is always the quick solution of plugging in the cable for direct listening.
I was genuinely surprised at how dynamic and detailed the sound quality was via Bluetooth. The performance was not too far away from listening to it wired. The headphones maintained much of the rich bass response, clarity, brightness and spatial definition that you get when using it wired, which was fuller sounding and more detailed in the highs.
When using these headphones wired, these headphones are without a doubt one of the best sounding consumer range headphones I’ve ever heard. I would describe it as fun, dynamic and expressive with a sound signature that really grows on you the more you listen to it. Compared to the warm signature of the original Momentum, the Momentum 2 Wireless is brighter with an enhanced bass response and a more open sound stage.
The bass is rich and pronounced while staying relatively tight. I was impressed with how deep the low frequencies extended, where tracks with deep subs and bass drops like The Chainsmokers’s “Don’t Let Me Down” can be appreciated in its full glory. I found the low-mids slightly recessed for a consumer targeted pair, and this is especially evident on tracks like Bring Me The Horizon’s “Drown” which is heavily driven by distortion guitars and snares; they feel slightly thin and lacking in energy. However, this does help in reducing muddiness and boom on certain bottom-heavy tracks.
The midrange is where the Momentums really shine. The mids are focused with lots of clarity and detail which brings out a lot finer details and nuances in songs that will keep you hooked. Vocals parts are expressive and upfront, while guitars tracks are well articulated and dynamic. So too are pianos, strings and other acoustic instruments. There is peak at around 2-3kHz which can be slightly overwhelming on vocals with mid-focused tracks like Andra Day’s “Rise Up” or Adele’s “Water Under The Bridge”, but for the most part I would say that the effect is negligible. The high-mids are a bit more laid back which keeps tracks from sounding brash and sibilant, though I did find myself wishing there was a little more bite in there.
The Momentums are bright without sound harsh or piercing. The high frequencies have good air and sparkle which brings out the brilliance in hi-hats and cymbals while vocals sound breathy and expressive. While not the most open sounding, which is understandable for a pair of closed backs, the treble frequencies do a good job at representing the timbre of acoustic instruments and bringing out subtle detail in spatial effects.
This is probably my favourite thing about the Momentum 2 Wireless. The sound stage is wide and detailed, while depth and spatial separation of individual instruments is impressive. This is especially noticeable in densely layered tracks like Chrvches’s “Leave A Trace” and “Clearest Blue”, where constantly revolving synths and widely panned electronic elements can be clearly picked out.
The detailed soundstage also reveals subtle spatial elements and textures running in the background of tracks, like reverbs, delays, sound effects and ambiences, which are normally hidden in the song to add production value. This is evident in effect-driven tracks like “Shallows” by Daughter. The headphones invite the listener to appreciate the little things producers and sound engineers do in making the track exciting.
The Sennheiser Momentum 2 Wireless takes all the functionally and practicality of a modern lifestyle product and packs it into a classic looking pair of headphones. Though RM2,399 is a pretty hefty price tag, the general consensus when it comes to investing in quality audio gear is “you get what you pay for”.
Sennheiser’s done a really good job of creating a sound signature that works well with a variety of tracks, and retain a classic look that is unique to this model. The price is definitely not loose change, but if you’re willing to live without wireless and ANC functionalities, I would strongly suggest taking a look at the more affordable Momentum 2 which retails at RM1,699. However, if the functionality of a full-fledged wireless headphones attracts you and you don’t mind investing a little more for the right set of features, design and functionality then really, the Momentum 2 Wireless are a great choice.
This review was contributed by Adrian Yew, an audio engineer whose past experience has brought him to various jobs from mixing engineer in studios to location sound mixer on sets. In his free time, he can be found researching on the latest audio equipment and manly man boots. A part time lecturer, he previously reviewed the Xiaomi Mi Headphones and Mi In-Ear Headphones Pro for Lowyat.NET.
Sennheiser Momentum 1 courtesy of Intan Syuhada