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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear review:

A classy and lively midrange contender

The Momentum On-Ear is no slouch, the pulsing beats that run through Thom Yorke's "Eraser" album are given their full due, there's plenty of punch and definition, but the bigger Momentums reach lower into the deepest bass frequencies. Orchestral music was given its full due on the Momentum On-Ear, but the stereo "picture" is larger and more spacious on the over-ear Momentum.

We next compared the Momentum On-Ear with the Bowers & Wilkins P3 on-ear headphones, and they couldn't be more different. The P3 sounds soft and mellow, with much less detail from the deepest bass up through the treble. Where the P3 is laid-back the Momentum On-Ear cuts through the murk. Sound is immediate, bass feels deep and precise, you hear individual bass notes the P3 barely hints at. Vocals have more body on the P3, the Momentum On-Ear thins them out somewhat, and they sound a little less prominent in the mix. Back on the P3 the treble is hazy and diffuse, the Momentum On-Ear is bright and clear. We can't say the Momentum On-Ear trounced the P3 on every count, but adding up the pros and cons we felt the Momentum On-Ear won this contest.

The Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear may not fully match the larger Momentum's sonics, but it gets you 80 percent of the way there for $120 less. It's also worth noting that this headphone's sure-footed low bass performance will please listeners of EDM, rock, and hip hop.

The headphones feature a sturdy metal headband -- but they don't fold up or flat. Sarah Tew/CNET

As you can probably tell, we liked the Momentum On-Ear. It delivers the type of sound you'd expect from a headphone in this price range and has a nice look to it with good build quality. My only small reservation is the fit. It's tricky to make a very comfortable on-ear headphone and I think Sennheiser's mostly gotten it right, but some users might not find this heapdhone comfortable enough. Then again, it may be perfect for other users.

Overall, it's a very good headphone. You just might to try it before you buy it to make sure the fit is to your liking.

CNET contributor Steve Guttenberg contributed to this review.

Editors' note (June 13, 2014): The rating on this product has been updated (raised from 3.5 to 4 stars) to reflect changes in the competitive marketplace.

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