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Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 review: Over-ear headphone sequel gains comfort and slightly better sound

Thanks to some design tweaks, the second-generation Momentum is now more comfortable to wear, folds for storage and has arguably improved a little on the sound front.

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David Carnoy Steve Guttenberg
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David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.

Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
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Steve Guttenberg

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.

3 min read

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).

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8.2

Sennheiser Momentum 2.0

The Good

The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 offers more spacious and softer earcups, making it a more comfortable headphone. It offers excellent, refined sound, high-end build quality, and a new folding design. An inline remote/microphone is included for cell-phone use (Apple iOS and Android friendly versions are available) along with a nice carrying case.

The Bad

Somewhat pricey; should include cables for both iOS and Android devices in the box.

The Bottom Line

While we'd like to see it cost a little less, Sennheiser has fixed the original Momentum's one weakness, making the new 2.0 Momentum not only sound slightly better but fit more comfortably.

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.

The earcups on the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 are softer and been enlarged. Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

The headphones now have a folding design. Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

Performance

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.

The plug has been redesigned. Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

The included protective carrying case. Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

Conclusion

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.

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8.2

Sennheiser Momentum 2.0

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Sound 8Value 8
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