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Sennheiser Momentum Free

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Sennheiser Momentum Free


The Sennheiser Momentum Free would have made a lot more sense had it been truly wireless; even apart from that, it underwhelms in terms of performance, and even though it is fairly reliable, it is hard to recommend at a price of Rs. 14,990.

Sennheiser Momentum Free Rating
70100100

Our Verdict

The Sennheiser Momentum Free is not a bad pair of headphones, by any measure. It delivers pleasant, sweet audio, with decent frequency distribution. It is built well, is light and offers decent battery life, too. That said, elements like the marginal distortion at peak volumes, the lack of fine details, the relatively unexciting audio performance and the low maximum volume bogs down what could have been an excellent pair of premium in-ear headphones.

Or maybe, Sennheiser should have simply gone the extra mile and built a pair of truly wireless headphones. That way, the novelty would have buoyed the product up the pecking order.


PROS

  • Well built
  • Light, easy for prolonged usage
  • Sweet, warm audio

CONS

  • Max volume is way too low
  • Timbre is too demure
  • Lacks fine details
  • Takes way too long to charge
  • Not as momentous as other Momentum siblings

Sennheiser Momentum Free: Detailed Review

Products from Sennheiser’s famous Momentum lineup have been ever-present in lists of best headphones in respective categories, ever since they were introduced. Now, with the entire world going wireless and with the influx of truly wireless headphones in the market, you wouldn’t imagine Sennheiser to be too far behind its competition in introducing a truly wireless Momentum. That’s exactly what I had imagined the Sennheiser Momentum Free to be when I’d heard of its name first, but that’s not to be. Yet.

However, calling the Sennheiser Momentum Free to be a neckband-style pair of wireless headphones would be wrong. The earpieces are attached to each other with a single, thin rubberised wire, and at most times, you wouldn’t even really notice its presence. While it is indeed convenient, does the Momentum Free manage to live up to its family’s lofty standards, all the while fending off the novelty of truly wireless earbuds?

Almost truly wireless
The reason why I’m emphasising on the Sennheiser Momentum Free not being truly wireless is because of the product coinciding with the rise of truly wireless earbuds, and its conflicting name. Look no further than Bose – just like Sennheiser’s Momentum 2.0 wireless IEMs, Bose too had the SoundSport Wireless catering to those looking for a pair of wireless IEMs. With the SoundSport Free, Bose introduced a second pair of wireless IEMs, but in the truly wireless category, and that actually makes a lot of sense in terms of its product portfolio. In my opinion, Sennheiser may have done the same, too.

Yet, the only difference, at least in the build and functionality departments, is that the Momentum Free replaces the neckband-style format of the Momentum 2.0 wireless IEMs with a thin strip of rubberised wire that is much lighter to wear in the long run. Does it make that big a difference? Well, not really, and that’s what makes the Momentum Free not truly wireless.

Audio performance
While the Momentum lineup has traditionally hailed commendable respect among audio enthusiasts, Sennheiser’s Momentum Free somehow falls short of the tall expectations. To begin with, the Momentum Free is not very loud – despite the 118 dB rated maximum sound pressure level, the peak volume is discernibly low in comparison to other in-ear headphones. While the maximum volume of output is sufficient when you are in a quiet room, step outdoors and you find it very audibly low, particularly when you’re travelling in public transport. This also reduces the overall impact of the sound, and makes the overall audio output less wholesome.

To dissect the performance, the Sennheiser Momentum Free fares reasonably well with the lows. The slightly amplified bass frequencies help produce a reasonably strong backbone for tracks, somewhat compensating for the lack of solid timbre. The basslines are prominent and clean, but unlike the original Momentum 2.0, is not very well-detailed. There are a few details that very audibly go amiss, like the intricate mid-notes of Flea’s bass in Give it Away by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Momentum Free fares better with more conventionally laid out tracks, like Mr. Big’s To Be With you. It holds composure well in ‘quieter’ tracks, and that makes the sound pleasantly enjoyable.

That said, the overall sound signature is not very bright, and tends towards the warmer side. The mid frequencies, once again, sound smooth, are reasonably well-pronounced and are very accurate in terms of the pitch, but there is a slight lack of detail that can make the Momentum Free sound underwhelming, particularly at this price point. One perfect example of this is Ben Howard’s Oats in the Water, where the quiver of his highly tensed voice fails to quip the pensive mind owing to the lack of the finer details. You would spot the same if you listen to Salim Merchant’s Kajar Bin Kare.

The highs fare well – holding good composure and refraining from overpowering the mids. Pitch is on point here as well, there is no sibilance of any nature, and harshness is kept in check as well. This merges well with the sweetly pronounced mids, particularly evident in tracks like Skid Row’s I Remember You. The overall sound has the signature sweetness of the Momentum lineup, which makes listening to tracks like Johnny Cash’s Hurt the aptly pensive affair that it should be. At peak volume, however, the Momentum Free feels a bit pushed, and there is audible distortion at peak volume levels, evident in tracks with clean vocals and heavy instruments, like Opeth’s Soldier of Fortune, or Dream Theater’s Misunderstood.

Soundstaging is decent for a pair of closed-back in-ear monitors. The instrument separation is not the best in class, but does well enough to ensure tracks with a wide stereo separation range (like Charlie by the Red Hot Chili Peppers) sound aptly wide and do not induce giddiness. The passive noise cancellation is decent too, but fails because of the low overall volume output. To sum up, the Sennheiser Momentum Free actually delivers decent audio, but is bogged down by the low volume, the lack of panache and excitement in its sound, and considering its price point, not delivering fine details in the sound.

Build, design and features
The Sennheiser Momentum Free continues the black-red theme of the Momentum 2.0 Wireless, and comes packaged in a super premium circular black leather package. Extracting it from the package is fairly easy, and on overall terms, the Momentum Free does exude the feeling of an expensive product. The earbuds are constructed out of lightweight stainless steel, and are built to ensure that they remain non-intrusive through the fit.

There are three additional pairs of eartips for you to find the right fit, and the inconspicuous build means you can wear it for long hours without feeling the need to take the earphones off. While not being truly wireless, the wire joining the earpieces is truly light, and has the remote control to the right and the microphone to the left. The remote control includes all playback controls – fast forward/rewind, next/previous, play/pause, volume up/down and call receive/reject, and is quite easy to reach. It also acts as an easy way of identifying the left earpiece from the right without having to pay close attention. The buttons offer good feedback, and is a pretty easy-to-use piece on overall terms. The microphone is fairly adept in picking up what you speak, with the occasional noisy jitters that are usual when in a crowded place.

On overall terms, while the design is not much to really exclaim about, it is neat and minimal. This lends it a classy look, although the lack of heft in the construction of the unit may make some exclaim that it does not feel premium. Nevertheless, in the nearly one month of exposing it to harsh treatment, there is not a single blemish to show for it, and that is commendable in terms of the build quality of the Sennheiser Momentum Free.

In terms of battery life, the Sennheiser Momentum Free lasted an average playback/usage duration of six hours and 45 minutes at 100 percent volume, which is not too bad. That said, it takes a whole two hours to charge, which seems rather slow for a pair of in-ear headphones that deliver roughly seven hours of playback time.

Bottomline
The Sennheiser Momentum Free is not a bad pair of headphones, by any measure. It delivers pleasant, sweet audio, with decent frequency distribution. It is built well, is light and offers decent battery life, too. That said, elements like the marginal distortion at peak volumes, the lack of fine details, the relatively unexciting audio performance and the low maximum volume bogs down what could have been an excellent pair of premium in-ear headphones.

Or maybe, Sennheiser should have simply gone the extra mile and built a pair of truly wireless headphones. That way, the novelty would have buoyed the product up the pecking order.

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