Buyer’s guide: Sennheiser Momentum Free vs In-ear Wireless
Shopping for headphones is more confusing than ever, with so many high quality (and not so high quality) designs competing for your cash. Today we’ll make it easier for you with a buyer’s guide on the best in-ear headphone in the Sennheiser Momentum range. We’ll look at the new Momentum Free, Momentum In-ear Wireless and the original Momentum In-Ear. To keep things simple we won’t look at the over-ear and on-ear Momentum designs, but if you’re keen for that drop us a comment and we’ll write a follow-up.
Momentum Free is the new kid on the block
Let’s start with a quick rundown of the series as a whole. The Momentum Free ($199) is a new wireless design with a big focus on portability and compact design. The Momentum In-ear Wireless ($134) is a neckband design, which is the main point of difference from the Momentum Free. The In-Ear Wireless also boast 10 hours of a battery life, which is four hours more than the Free. The original Momentum In-Ears ($99) are the cheapest in the range by a big margin and feature a tangle-free cable design.
2018 Update: Read the new Momentum Free review
Momentum Free vs Momentum In-ear Wireless
Most listeners are either wireless or wired fans, so we’ll compare the Momentum Free and the In-ear Wireless first up. The two wireless headphones are very similar, with the same included accessories and the same frequency response. The 15Hz – 22000Hz response is broad, as you would expect from $130+ headphones. The In-ear Wireless runs Bluetooth 4.1, while the Free features 4.2. The upgrade to Bluetooth 4.2 is mainly focused on net speed and privacy upgrades, so it’s not that big of a deal for headphones users.
The Free is a very minimalist design, with only a thin cable tethering the two earpieces together. The In-ear Wireless has a rigid neckband build, so this is the main point of difference. The Wireless has the advantage of having a longer battery life, but the feel and look of a rigid neckband is not for everyone. If you’re not fussed with that, then the In-ear Wireless is likely the way to go in terms of Bluetooth builds. But if you’re more fashion conscious or hate any kind of extra weight on the headphone, then you’d probably be better served by the Momentum Free. The In-ear Wireless is on the weightier side for neckband designs, so this is likely one of the reasons Sennheiser followed it up with the Free.
Momentum In-Ears keep it simple with wired design
For those on a budget or people aren’t yet sold on wireless, then Momentum In-Ears ($99) will right be up your alley. They have similar accessories to the other designs (including four eartip sizes) and also feature a 15Hz – 22000Hz frequency response. You get a 1.3m cable with an angled jack and integrated remote/mic. There’s different versions available for iOS and Android users to maintain remote functionality.
The Momentum in-ear models feature a ‘fun’ audio profile, with noticeably boosted bass and treble. The bass is pushed without being excessive, while the treble is bright and has plenty of presence. The treble can get a bit harsh for some users, so if you’re sensitive to that they might not be the cans for you. Like most consumer headphones with boosted highs and lows, the mids do get somewhat recessed. The Momentum in-ears are balanced enough to sound good across a range of styles, including hip hop, pop and rock.
Read the Momentum in-ear review
Momentum in-ear range not suited to sports applications
Now we’ve covered what the Momentum range is, let’s cover what they aren’t. They aren’t sweat resistant, and the older two wouldn’t be particularly suitable for vigorous movement. The Momentum Free would likely be better on the movement front but still aren’t sweat resistant. The range has passive noise isolation, but it’s not a huge focus of the design, and none of the headphones have active cancellation. Some users also found the ear-tips on the older designs fell off the earpiece too easily. It’s easy to buy replacement eartips online but at this price you probably should expect the originals would stay in place.
Sennheiser CX headphones good for buyers on a budget
If you’re looking for cheaper options from Sennheiser, the CX series starts at around $20 and has quite a few models below $100. Our summary below is ever expanding and will continue to be updated with new models being released.
You can read our summary of the best in-ear headphones in the CX range here.
What’s the best Momentum in-ear headphone?
The Momentum in-ear range is a good buy if you want a solid, consumer headphone and don’t mind making a bit of a dent in your wallet. At this point the Momentum In-ear is the winner for affordability and a no-frills approach to quality in-ears. The Momentum Wireless cuts the cord and is easier when out and about, but you’ll pay twice the price. The Free is an excellent lightweight design that’s very comfortable and easy to wear, although you’ll have to get by on six hours of battery.