Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sennheiser Momentum Over-Ear Headphones Review: Part 1

Moving, bulk, and neighbours
Moving sucks. Thank goodness that I have not had to move in a long while. But that doesn't mean I won't have to in the very near future. Yes, the thought occurred to me recently that I would have to move at some point in the next year or two. To accomplish that while maintaining my lifestyle -- or whatever you call the crap that one owns -- I would have to lug my hi-fi stereo system around town. At the moment, that consists of two bookshelf speakers, one receiver that's bulky and heavy, and a subwoofer the size of the two prior items combined.

It's not just that I'd have to pack and unpack all these items, I would also need to disconnect and reconnect them. In the case of the bookshelves, the connections are not snap-in, easy to do wires. They are bare wires that I had to strip down, twist, and screw into the post terminals. I doubt they exposed ends would survive a move, thereby necessitating restriping. Did I mention that I hate and suck at stripping wires even with the proper tools and it takes me an hour to do four ends?

All that complaining only affects me up to this point. My future is probably in a condo, apartment, or house where I rent out an apartment or two. That means neighbours. I doubt I would be able to blast music all day and night and get away with it -- especially with a subwoofer cranked up.
Sennheiser Momentum Over-Ears unboxing
Headphones: One, two, three and keep it to yourself
What I decided after that freak-out -- I mean brainstorming session -- was that I needed headphones. To be honest, I tried to go the headphone route before: it didn't work out. What happened was that I bought some Sennheiser HD 439 Headphones and hated them because they started stinking (shower curtain, new car, off-gassing smell) the moment I opened the package. The package itself was also annoying being the clamshell design. After about half a year, I think they finally finished airing out and can be put to use. But I wanted more...

Sennheiser HD439 or Momentum Over-Ears?
I wanted more, as in more expensive and higher quality earphones. Not the best because the best was more than I felt like paying, but good. The decision came down to the Sennheiser HD 598 and Sennheiser Momentum Over-Ears. Both were roughly the same price during a sale at CAD$ 250-ish (regular prices for HD598s is US$ 200, Momentum Over-Ears is US$ 350) and very highly recommended.

Since the debacle with the HD439, I lusted after the Momentums because of their sleek design and leather -- not because leather is nice, but because I know I can get the smell out if there is any. Recently, the HD598 showed up on my radar. These are actually cheaper than the Momentums at regular price and supposedly among the best headphones out there at a moderate price. Unfortunately, they use velour ear cushions. I started worrying that they would also stink like the HD439s and require a 6 month air out.

Then luck took over with the sale bringing both pairs to almost identical prices: CAD$ 250 for the HD598s and CAD$ 260 for the Momentums. The HD598s I heard were built more for at home use with a 3 metre long cable, higher impedance, and an open design, whereas the Momentums had a shorter cable, lower impedance, and a closed design. It ultimately came down to the fact that I wasn't moving yet and I really wanted something with noise isolation, so the Momentums were the only option. Maybe I'll score the HD 598s at a later date.
Sennheiser Momentum Over-Ears unboxing
Sennheiser Momentum Over-Ears Overview: Do they fit? Are they "on-ear"?
The Momentums are a closed design and should go around the ear. A new version, the on-ears of the same name, came out a few months ago and are getting pretty good reviews. They're also cheaper at around CAD$ 250 regular. However, I "need" noise isolation and/or something that cups around my ears. This was one of my biggest concerns initially because I kept reading about how the cups were supposedly really small. I saw some reviews saying that people returned them because their ears were too big.

With the size issue on my mind, I got some dimensions off the internet, did some measurements, and still wasn't confident on whether I should buy them or not. I then went to a store to try them on and yep, they were cupping on my ears. For a few weeks, I gave up and started checking out the HD 598s. I even went back to the store to try again with the same conclusion. Then there was another sale and I circled right back to the Momentums. I said "screw it" and just bought them -- that and I realized that I "origami-ed" my ears on a regular basis while using protective ear muffs.
Sennheiser Momentum Over-Ears with 3.5mm adapter attached

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