Open-back headphones were apparently a 1960's innovation of Europe's oldest headphone brand, founded in post-war Germany. But Sennheiser's Momentum headphones here are a radical departure for the respected company, and not simply because they're a sealed closed-back designs. See all audio reviews.
Still relatively lightweight, their small earpieces didn't really surrounded our ears, and depending on your head you may find them half on, half off too. The Momentums are pitched as circumaural ‘street' headphones, with a firm clamping action that nonetheless makes them very secure and reasonably comfortable on the head. If you wear glasses you may find them more painful after some use though. See also Group test: What are the best headphones?
Construction is around a single sprung-steel band, laminated with leather on top, and with earpieces that can slide up and down in Meccano-like slots. They're deliciously retro-looking, especially if you plump for the natural brown coloured option rather than the nondescript black with red details we were sent. Take a look at our review of the KEF M500 headphones too.
Construction quality is first-class, and combined with their cool looks and useful accessory case, it makes a great-looking package.
Sennheiser Momentum Black: sound quality
In our listening tests, what really marked these Momentum headphones out from usual Sennheiser fare is how different they sounded. In our experience the company has made insightful, open-sounding headphones that present detail aplenty. The Sennheiser Momentum sounded warm, muted and constricted.
Our first and enduring impression was of a bloated bass-focused headphone, tuned by – or for – a tone-deaf DJ or rapper. We found the excessive level of bass would simply blur instruments together, confusing the entire mix.
And when presented with electronic music with synthetic bass content, the Momentum headphones could adopt a thumpy one-note bass tune that further obscured the overall sound.
Dynamic compass seemed a little limited, as if the rhythmic lifeblood of music had been drained somewhat. Vocals were usually audible enough but pushed down in the mix, and without the space and air required to breathe naturally.
In their favour, the dull sound of the Momentum headhones meant there was no brittle edge or wearing treble that could cause listening fatigue.