A Headset for Everyone: The Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear

Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear ($229)
On-ear headsets are a tough category. They're small, so it's tough to get really good sound from them. They bare a huge ergonomic burden: on-ear headphones can be uncomfortable, and difficult to get a good fit and acoustic seal; and they need to be compact enough to easily fit in a briefcase and desk drawer. And these days, with so many headphones sporting the bling, all headphones need to be good looking. I'd say Sennheiser pretty much nailed it with the Momentum On-Ear (MOE).

Gorgeous...simply gorgeous! I've been scratching my head for the last 20 minutes trying to think of an on-ear headphone as good looking as the MOE, but I keep coming up empty. Seems to me the V-Moda M80 is about as close as it gets, but its styling will likely not have the broad appeal the MOE has. The Momentum On-Ear just plain looks terrific. The single-piece, brushed stainless steel headband is a split at the top and covered with color coordinated Alcantara—a very high-quality synthetic suede material. Earpads are likewise color coordinated Alcantara covering a two-layer foam cushion, and are removable with replacements available. Ear capsules are plastic with apparently a very high quality painted finish. Six color schemes are available (brown, blue, green, black, ivory, and pink), the black has a high-gloss finish, the rest are a shimmery, semi-gloss finish, somewhat reminiscent of a fine metal-flake, but I don't think that's quite what's going on.


The Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear is currently available in six very tasteful color schemes.

Sennheiser very wisely side-stepped the gum-ball bold colorings usually found in headphones, and have carefully designed the MOE in six very tasteful color schemes. The gloss black version comes with a red cable, the remainder have black, 1.7 meter long cables with metal Apple-compatible remote and very slim and sexy 90 degree angle 3.5mm plug. The included carry case is a black, velour-like, zippered clamshell that's also terrific looking. In the styling department, I'd give the MOE an A+!

Comfort and Ergonomics
Comfort is not an area where on-ear headphones generally excel. Ear-pad compliance, pressure, and angle on the outer ear are the usual culprits. I found the Momentum On-Ear quite comfortable for a headphone of this type. While the padding on the headband is pretty spartan, the MOE is very light weight and tends not to put much pressure on the top of the head. Also, because the headband is stainless steel, it's fairly easy to carefully bend the headband around to conform to the top of your head and deliver the desired caliper pressure inwards against the ears. The Alcanara ear-pad covers and dual-layer foam of the ear-pads provide a remarkably comfortable fit against the very sensitive outer ear, as well as delivering a surprisingly good seal for low frequency response.

The only place I'd say the MOE falls a little short is that they don't have any folding mechanism. I can't fault Sennheiser in this regard, however, a lot of the beauty of these cans is in their simple and elegant design. If a folding mechanism were used the headphones would, of necessity, been somewhat more complex, likely less durable, and surely wouldn't have the clean lines seen in the finished product. Yes, they may have been a little more compact, but the small size of the MOE—even within its carry case—is convenient enough, in my opinion. (If you do want something really small, take a look at Sennheiser's PX 200-IIi, which folds up like a pair of sunglasses, and sound quite good for their size.)

Build Quality and Accessories
I've been to the Sennheiser campus in Germany and have had a look at their materials analysis lab—it's quite impressive, as is the build quality of Sennheiser products. While Sennheiser (and every other headphone maker) can be hit or miss at times regarding sound quality, there's simply no doubt in my mind that Sennheiser is a world-class manufacturing outfit, and every product I've seen from them has excellent build quality. Why do I mention this? Because with the Momentum On-Ear I think Sennheiser has taken their already stellar build quality and stepped it up a notch. The materials and finishes and construction of the MOE is superb; in my view, the only headphone of its type that surpasses in this department is the B&W P5. The big surprise is that the MOE somehow looks better to me than the Momentum...must be the proportions, or maybe the little chromed ring on the ear-capsule next to the pads.

The MOE comes nicely accessorized with firm-sided carry case; fabric storage bag; and a second 1.7 meter cable without remote and a straight 3.5mm plug. Unlike its big brother, the Momentum, the carry case for the MOE is a lovely black velour, zippered clam-shell that is strikingly handsome.

Turn the page and we'll have a listen...

Sennheiser USA
1 Enterprise Drive
Old Lyme, CT 06371
(860) 434-9190

Bill B's picture

I agree, and have been happy with mine.  My best comparison (that I own) is with the similarly priced Phiaton MS-400.  That also has a slightly elevated bass, which I actually like in both headphones.  The MOE's bass seems slightly more boosted, but with better impact.  The Phiatons are definitely more comfortable for me, due to the size & softness of their leather(ette) earpads, tho the MOE's are still pretty comfortable.  The MOE's beat the Phiatons in the reproduction of voices.  The Phiatons seem slightly lacking in the higher treble compared to the MOE's, which have a litte more air.  I'm happy with both, and glad to have them - they're both very pretty, too.  Tyll, thanks for this review, it's more comprehensive and useful than others I've seen, and good integration between listening and relating measurements to the listening experience.

georgelai's picture

Hi Tyll,

A great review. Ignoring price differences, even though that might be impractical, could you say a few words comparing it sound-wise to its big brother, the Momentum itself? I know you reviewed that sometime ago but hopefully your memory is still fresh. Thanks. 

XVII's picture

Hello Tyll!

At first of all thanks for review.

While reading this part:

In some of the threads I read about people's impressions of the Momentum On-Ear, some listeners claimed the treble was "splashy" sounding. I didn't hear this at all.

I decided to ask you... How do you think this tiny headphones (HD 25, MOE, M80 and so on) gain from "Burn-In"?

Jazz Casual's picture

Sennheiser are really nailing it in the style department. There are so many cool looking options in portable headphones now. When I started out in this this hobby, all I could get was a pair of unremarkable Bose on-ears. They sounded bassy and congested but they were very comfortable - must have been the memory foam. When I moved up to the (then) exotic Audio-Technica ESW9's, I was disappointed to find that they weren't as comfortable. 

Beagle's picture

....as Tyll, but the bass eventually got to me and I let them go. Too bad because they had a nice on-ear fit and lovely styling.  I much preferred the B & W P7, although it costs a lot more than the MOE. Similarly priced, I like the Paradigm on-ear and the Beyer T51p.

Tyll Hertsens's picture

The P7 is a full size headphone. And the extra bux sure buys you into a beautiful pair of headphones. I'm considering them for review right now. 

chadzees's picture

I know they're a different type of headphone, but as they share the same name and driver. How does the Momentum Over the Ear compare to its little brother?

melvin's picture

I like very much that you compared them with other good on-ear cans as it gives us  more info in terms of what to expect with them and whatnot.

I have the DT1350 and also the MOE. I'm just curious, aside from resolution in treble, what do you think are the other differences between the two? I was one of those who find the MOE's treble splashy but I feel that DT1350 is superior in terms of bass (and tightness) and midrange. Although DT1350 is more forward-sounding and tends to be too closed-sounding too.

Someone above also mentioned ESW9 w/c I find to be a warm-sounding headphone. Is the headphone not good enough to merit a review?

woody's picture

Hi Tyll,

I'm a bit confused over this review, and the review you did for the amperior. You said in your amperior review: "While the HD 25-1 II is a good sounding headphone, I would characterize its performance as "very good mid-fi," while my experience with the Amperior reached what I would consider "entry-level audiophile" performance. The Amperiors are the best sounding supra-aural sealed cans I've heard to date, handily besting the DT1350, V-Moda M-80, and, of course, the HD 25-1 II. I love these headphones."


Now, you are saying the MOE is better than Amperior, yet, at the same time, you lump M80 with the MOE in terms of direct comparison. So is Amperior still entry level audiophile? If that is the case, what does it make for MOE, or M80 for that matter, which you said the Amperior handily beat? By your logic, Amperior would handily beat MOE also, but that is not the case in this review. Does newer released headphones just get the love that way? I am hoping for some elaboration from you. Thanks.

Tyll Hertsens's picture

In my review here I say, "I could delve into these comparisons a bit more, but the Amperior and HD 25 Aluminum are DJ headphones and really not as well suited for a general purpose, every day headphone, so I think they lose out quickly to the Momentum On-Ear for its intended purpose." So I didn't go into too much detail about the sonic qualities--I did find the MOE marginally preferable however, but please remember that I write about these cans knowing that the broad consuming public is reading, and their interpretation will be a bit different than an audiophile's..

I compare the MOE and M80 mainly because they're the same type of headphone (on-ear portable headset), and in that comparison, the M80 sounded better through the mid-range, wasn't as refined in the treble, but had bass the was more neutral. If I compare the M80 to the Amperior, they're more tonally similar, but the Amperior is much more refined--in other words, in direct comparison, the Amperior does sound clearly better than the M80 to m ears. Both lack sub-bass however. When I compare the MOE to the Amperior, I hear both as having a refined treble, the MOE as having a strong--maybe too strong--bass, both having a slightly withdrawn mid-range, and the Amperior as having too little bass. Given that option, the MOE is likely preferable for most, and among the consuming public, the MOE would likely be strongly favored for the warm bass.

Um...I'm not sure that I've answered your question well...not sure I can. It's a subjective thing and what I hear in comparisons can be different depending on which headphones are being used when. Didn't have the MOE or HD 25 Aluminum when I did the Amperior review...throw them in the mix and things change a bit, I suppose. I'll also admit that there's likely some bias towards new things...it's human nature, you know. 

Additionally, I do think my tastes are slowly changing towards a fuller bass over time, which means the Amperior would likely not get quite as enthusiastic a review from me now as it did then.

woody's picture

Hi Tyll,


Thanks for taking the time to reply to my questions. It is a bit clearer. I think both Amperior and MOE are good headphones; I have not heard the MOE yet. But this does show one thing, that any audio review is still rather subjective. I still remembered your review on Momentum over the ear, that you thought they were good, but not as audiophile tuned. Some of the reviews that I saw over the net, are proclaiming Momentum over the ear as clearly better than MOE. And we have guys at Headfonia quite enthusiastic over Fidelio L2, whereas your preview of things to come, may say that slightly otherwise.


One other thing though; I do have to disagree with you that the Amperior is geared more towards DJ style. I think Sennheiser made an effort to really make the Amperior more mainstream. From its 18 ohm driver design to make it easier to drive through portable devices (same as MOE ohm rating), down to the included inline iDevice remote cables, they were really trying to make it mainstream, but perhaps it did not sell as well as they thought it would be, hence they are being discontinued. With HD25 aluminum, they went back to their "DJ" roots it appeared, going with 70 ohm drivers, and do away with inline remote cable. So I think they did try, but did not work as they expected. Hence the birth of MOE I believe.

Rtrt's picture

Have a pair of the overear phones and enjoy the sound.

Unfortunately they're to small for my ears.  As the pads for these on ear models are replaceable does anyone know if it's possible to fit them to the overear versions that I have?














Onix's picture

Tyll, how would you rate the MOE vs the Onkyo ES-FC30. I am considering both cans, but while the MOE seems to be very good the Onkyo appears to be very nice also. Which one is the winner for you?

ScaryFatKidGT's picture

Hmm better than the P5's or DT 1350's? I thought that the DT 1350's and Amperiors were pretty close but here you seem to say P5 and DT1350<Amperior and HD 25 Alu<MOE?

Condocondor's picture

I just bought a pair of Thinksound ON2 headphones which about the same price as the the Momentum. I got them for a street price of $90 on Massdrop.com and I have to say that they are remarkable. They are CRYSTAL clear.