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The one knock against the Momentum , Sennheiser's generally highly praised over-ear 2013 headphone, was that it just wasn't all that comfortable to wear for long periods. Naturally, the fit varied from person to person, but there seems to have been enough griping for Sennheiser to make some design changes to its second-generation Momentum, which goes by the name Momentum 2.0 and carries a list price of $350 (£270 UK, AU $400).
In fact, Sennheiser has tweaked the designs of both its Momentum over-ear and on-ear models, both of which now come in wired and wireless versions and have a new folding design that gives the headphones a little smaller footprint when they're in their included carrying case.
Both the Momentum 2.0 and its wireless sibling have larger earcups, so they fit over your ears better than the original Momentum and don't pinch anything. The designers also made the earcups softer and the end result is that the Momentum 2.0 is clearly a more comfortable headphone than the original.
The other small design change is to the plug. The original had a fancy plug that had a hinge in it that allowed it change angles and go with the flow, so to speak. The new 2.0 has a simple L-shaped plug that's slim enough to be used with a phone that's covered by a protective case.
It's also worth mentioning that this model comes in versions that are designed for Android devices or Apple iOS devices. The only difference is the cable -- and precisely, the inline remote/microphone -- that ships with the headphones.
Personally, for $350, I think you should get both an Android- and an iOS-oriented cable in the box, but I happen to use both Android and Apple devices, while other people may be truly dedicated to one platform and not care.
At launch, the headphone is available in two colors, black and ivory, but expect more colors to be available in the future.
As for sound, well, the Momentum 2.0 oozes refinement and seems to bring out the best in all types of music. While the biggest difference between this model and the original is the improved comfort and folding design, the sound has also changed, though not drastically. This new version is less bright, voices are more fleshed out, and bass impact is more viscerally felt.
The Momentum definitely proved its mettle with vocals. Everyone from Amy Winehouse's soulful pipes to Frank Sinatra's sophisticated swing sounded natural and clear.
The NAD Viso HP50 is another superbly balanced headphone, and when we spent some time comparing it with the Momentum we heard significant differences. With Aphex Twin's "Syro" album of densely mixed electronica, the Momentum opened up the soundstage a bit more than the Viso HP50. Also the treble was pulled down, so full-blast synthesizer whooshes were less grating on the ear with the Momentum.
With Jonny Greenwood's orchestral score for "There Will Be Blood" we noted the same tonal shift: The Momentum fattened up the massed strings while the Viso HP50 pushed the strings away a little and made them sound thinner and brighter.
At this point we brought another headphone, the Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 , into the comparison mix. It added some fullness to the cellos and basses, but the Momentum was even richer-sounding than the ATH-MSR7.
A Tribe Called Quest's "The Low-End Theory" album had very satisfying bass oomph on the Momentum, but the Viso HP50 delivered superior pitch definition and texture in its low end. The ATH-MSR7's bass plumbed the depths quite well, too, and percussion instruments popped out of the mix more.
Of those three headphones, it's hard to declare a decisive winner as far as sound quality goes because everyone's audio tastes differ and we all have different ears. The Momentum is the warmest- and richest-sounding, the ATH-MSR7 is the clearest, and the Viso HP50 splits the difference.
For those looking at this over-ear Momentum vs. the more affordable Momentum On-Ear 2.0, this headphone is a significant step up both in terms of comfort and sound quality. The on-ear pushes a little too much bass and despite offering an improved design, is an average sounding headphone for its price.
The Momentum 2 is a strong contender in its price class and well worth considering if you're looking for a premium over-ear headphone that's designed for both home and mobile use. At launch, it's a bit pricey, but hopefully it will dip below $300, where the original Momentum lived before being heavily discounted after the Momentum 2.0 was announced.