Sennheiser has taken an extremely minimalist approach in operation. Pairing, volume, battery life, basic control of tracks, and even basic telephone operation, are all operated by one button, with a second simply in control of power. Fortunately, your in-head assistant is there to help; a softly spoken woman speaking in ‘received pronunciation’. Nevertheless, you still need to know the right series of button presses to navigate the headphones, and if you are the kind of person who thinks manuals are for wimps, remember there is no shame in referring to that Quick Start guide.
From a purist perspective, the Momentum Wireless is best used in a wired connection, although the difference between wired and wireless is slim. When used with a Mac (for example) there was just a bit more authority to the bass when used wired, but in fairness some of this was the wireless connection was not as robust using this pathway as I would have liked. Royals by Lorde [Pure Heroine] had a good solid back-beat and that deep ‘thwump’ of bass is covered well in both modes, but my Bluetooth connection on my Mac is not ideal and the connection was a little shaky. This is something of a worst-case scenario (my Mac periodically ignores my Bluetooth keyboard for a few days in a fit of pique, so the fact the Bluetooth connection didn’t fall over completely after five minutes represents a feather in the Momentum Wireless’ cap). Certainly when using both Android and iPhone Bluetooth connections, the Wireless was completely glitch free. Pairing was quick and painless, and using NFC to touch connect to a device was extremely easy.
Bluetooth (or just powering up the headset) adds in noise cancellation, which works surprisingly well. I’m relatively used to NoiseGuard (my preferred noise cancellers are Sennheiser PXC450s) and the cancellation on the Momentum seems every bit as effective. Like any active noise cancellation system, it works on constant noise sources (like the rushing sound in the cabin of an aircraft), not so well on repeated, percussive noise (like the sound of a jack-hammer), and not at all in drowning out the sound of an office at work (you’ll still hear the gossip and the keystrokes, I’m afraid). But, with that universal caveat that applies to any active noise cancellation system, the Sennheiser version seems to suit fellow troglodyte London tube-train commuters extremely well, with its high-pitched squeals and low rumbles; Sennheiser arguably does better than the Bose system at this, although I still think Bose scores better when it comes to attenuating the pink noise of an aircraft’s cabin.
All of this means the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless receives deserved high praise for looks, comfort, Bluetooth connectivity, and noise cancellation. But what about sound quality? Here, too, the Sennheiser does well. The Momentum sound is preserved well here; strong, deep bass, but not so strong it gets overpowering. And where Sennheiser wins over many style-led rivals is that deep bass does not overarch the midrange, which is clear and open and extremely good with vocals. I dug out ‘Glory Box’ from Dummy by Portishead, because it’s a strangely sophisticated test of a pair of headphones. 21 years ago, Beth Gibbons contralto voice was weird and wonderful, but the intervening years have thrown listeners something of a curveball, because on less than good equipment, she just sounds like Lois Griffin from Family Guy. Fortunately, through the Momentums and the Momentum Wireless, Beth Gibbons is restored and her voice leaves Quahog, RI.
The Millennium Wireless treble is not as well extended as more studio-orientated headphones at the price and higher-end designs, but this could be a blessing in disguise as its top end doesn’t shriek and scream at you. It’s extended and detailed in the treble without drawing attention to itself. In fact, the only downside to this is high-hats lose some of their sizzle, and this is more a reflection of the overall balance of the headphone than a criticism per se. This is a headphone pitched toward delivering a deep bass, good treble and clean high frequencies; not a ‘boom-tizz’ sound or a lumpy-thumpy sound. That means it might not be the ‘instant gratification’ award winner, but it’s exactly the sort of headphone I’d want with me on a long trip, where those more immediate sounding headphones soon pall.