What do you look for in a pair of headphones? If it's for them to be big, cushy and borderline obnoxious ivory-coloured over-ear cans then, well, the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless second-gen - also known as the M2 AEBT headphones - may be exactly what you're looking for.
Ok, so they're available in other less “look at me” colour schemes, but there's no escaping how enlarged these over-ears will make your lobes look. But while ensconced in these comfy over-ears there's great noise-cancelling technology to keep the outside world's audio madness at bay. And for £279 that might not come cheap, but it's not as sky-high as some premium competitors will charge.
We've seen a whole bundle of headphones of late, chopping and changing between AKG, Bang & Olufsen, Bose and more besides. Sennheiser has always stood up well against its near competition, but can the Momentum Wireless maintain the, um, momentum that the brand has established?
Sennheiser Momentum Wireless review: Design
These Sennheisers slip over the ears with ease; and while we may have a rather large noggin compared to many, we suspect the adjustable earcups - which individually slide along the metal band each side for size adjustment - will make them fit heads of all shapes and sizes.
And they're oh so comfy. The first time we put them on at home we could have dozed off in them; they're lightweight considering the size, but avoid “the pinch” that some other Sennheiser over-ear headphones can be known for. No skull-crushing to speak of here.
Plus the Momentum Wireless - as the name rather poignantly suggests - don't need to have a wire trailing from output device thanks to Bluetooth connectivity. So no annoying cable to hide in the inside shirt, or trail down your sleeve like some kind of wire-smuggling genius. Nope, here it's all wire-free - if, that is, you want it to be, as there's a 3.5mm jack (albeit a slightly adapted one, so some third-party cables with protrusions may not fit) for a wired connection too.
No wire means no on-cable controls though, right? Wrong! The Momentum Wireless come with controls on the back of their right earcup (assuming you've put them on the correct way round). Well, some controls: there's a press-and-hold Bluetooth button and a volume up/down toggle that's really handy to flick should the volume be a little too loud or quiet (it works independently to a connected device's volume too).
Ideal for that calm moment when the train doors open, a group of nuns board and you're listening to Iron Maiden. Again. Although, even if you were listening to a bumblebee brass band or something (who knows, could be the next big thing?) we suspect there'd still be glances due to the Momentum's inherent eye-catching scale.
Sennheiser Momentum Wireless review: Sound quality
Of course the primary reason for buying headphones - one would hope, anyway - is for sound quality. It's here that the Momentum Wireless perform well, but just not exceptionally at all times.
There's plenty on their side though: volume is plentiful, even via Bluetooth; quality isn't disrupted by wireless transmission thanks to apt-X technology; bass resonates happily without going overboard (no surprise given the 16Hz low-end best); and the battery life is good enough to last for a couple of days straight (well, working days - think 20-hours) without needing to plug back into the USB port to recharge.
The lacking side to audio is, somewhat surprisingly, in the top-end department. Having just switched out from some Bang & Olufsen H8 on-ears, the Sennheiser simply lacks the same clarity in the mid-to-high frequencies. It's not that they're absent, more they're just absent of sparkle - there's not the same snap, crackle and pop to drum tracks, slight as it may be.
The solution is pretty simple though: make a bunch of personalised equaliser presets, software permitting, and the Sennheisers will match the competition more-or-less equally. Still, that's not much cop in terms of tuning: really there should be more richness at this price point straight out of the box. Or an associated app. Maybe both. Certainly something.
Sennheiser Momentum Wireless review: Noise-cancellation
However, that moderate blip brushed aside - and as we write this review plugged into iTunes, equaliser happily set to our preference, tunes blazing - and it's hard to ignore the other key feature of the Momentum Wireless: noise-cancellation.
Everyone hates the hum of a train or the whistle of a plane engine. The Momentum Wireless can blot that sound out almost entirely - to the point we've sometimes sat with them on with no music playing. It still catches surrounding peoples' voices, but gives them a “miniaturised” sense, like little ant people. It's a decent NC system, albeit not as immense as, say, AKG's top-end N90Q (but they are £1,000).
With the Momentum Wireless external wind noise can occasionally catch the external microphones used for noise-cancellation, but we've found that a rare issue. Better than we can say for even the Bose QuietComfort 25 over-ears, for example, where “tearing” wind noise can occur.
The Sennheiser Momentum M2 AEBT over-ear headphones do a grand job of looking rather excessive in their ivory colour scheme. Good job there's brown and black colour variants then. But such aesthetic doesn't really reduce from their high points: ultra comfort, rumbling bass, ample volume, on-device controls and decent sound.
Sure they're big, and their high-end frequencies could sparkle with greater richness, but with a touch of equalisation there's quality audio in abundance. Add great noise-cancellation and long-lasting battery life and, assuming you can cope with wearing them out in public for extended periods of time, these are well-rounded Bluetooth over-ears worthy of consideration.