Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sennheiser Momentum Over-Ear Headphones Review: Part 2

Good news: They fit... kind of
When I first tried my newly bought Momentums on, I strategically mashed my ears into the cups right away. That is, I put them over my ears and then moved the ear cushions around until my ears were enveloped by the outer rim of the cushions. After a few tries, it became effortless and they now mostly fit my ears. The first time I wore them, I kept them on for about an hour and my outer ears -- not the hearing part -- were in pain afterward. This was surprising because it felt like the cushions were going around my ear.
Ear cushion width measurement: ~34mm
I found out upon closer inspection that the ear cushions were resting above the top of my outer ear (helix), so properly inside, but pressing down on the lower part (lobule). The second time I wore them for two hours straight and there was still pain, but less. It became apparent that the upper ear pain in the helix was likely due to the weight of the headset being supported by my ears -- the headband was barely touching my scalp so not providing much support. This was soon corrected and after a third session for another hour, only my right ear was in slight pain at the bottom lobule and less at the top helix. It seems like my ears might be getting used to the headphones, the band is loosening, and/or I'm learning to wear them better.

Ear cushion length measurement: ~56mm
The only comparison I have is the wearing of safety earmuffs for hearing protection. I occasionally sleep with them on because of a noisy house. One pair has huge cushions and a relatively small opening to fit my ears -- still larger than the Momentums -- while the other has an even larger opening that fit easily. If I make sure to jam my ears into the smaller set, I can wear them for hours comfortable. I have actually worn them on top of my ears and woke up to agonizing pain in the middle of the night. The clamping force for both of these earmuffs is significantly larger than that of the Momentums, so the compression itself might be providing more support than the headband. 

Review so far
I'm going to give the Momentums a week before forming a better conclusion. But so far, the sound has proven to be exceptional. It is probably on par with my hi-fi setup using Paradigm Atoms, a receiver, and a Velodyne subwoofer. There is definitely more bass with the Momentums likely due to the closed system. I'm not the most familiar with technical terms for sound, but I think the Momentums are on the warmer side. I've owned bright sounding speakers before and these aren't it. My ears don't feel fatigued after listening for over an hour -- they were irritated after a few minutes with those bright speakers.

Noise isolation is also pretty good. They block a notable amount of outside sound and have allowed me to turn the volume significantly down while being able to hear quite well. I don't think they are on par with the protective ear muffs I have rated at an NRR of 25 dB, but they do approach them.

Sennheiser Momentums 

So far, the headphones have been plugged into my computer through an X-Fi HD USB external sound card and a 2012-ish iPad Shuffle. It's funny because I have to set the volume in Windows down to 7% to maintain a roughly 60 dBC output when I jam my SPL meter (never calibrated after purchase) into the headphone -- Windows Media Player is set to around 35%. I usually set it to 33%, but that doesn't matter since I have a separate receiver with its own volume setting. With the iPod, I set the maximum volume through iTunes to about 1/3 to get 60-ish dBC max (highest volume on device) out of the louder songs.

Oh right, I swapped out the headphone's cable to the bare basic one and ditched the one with the remote and microphone. Simpler is better? Idiocy struck again, unfortunately. With the HD 439, I tried removing the line from the headphone without reading the manual and kept pulling with no success. This time, I skipped the cable removal part again and tugged twice before giving up. Turns out that the jack on the Momentums screw-locks in. Hope I didn't break anything.

Most importantly: the leather cushions don't stink. The leather is very soft and cushy, it's just that it hurts for me to wear them for more than 30 minutes at a time. If it weren't for the fit issue and my outer ear pain, these would be perfect. I just wish Sennheiser added a few millimetres to the radius of the inner ear cups.

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