There has been a profound change in the portable audio market, thanks to Apple abandoning the headphone jack in the iPhone 7. The result is – understandably – sales of wired headphones have fallen away. What’s perhaps less understandable is sales of wired headphones have fallen away even to people who use smartphones with a headphone jack. This drop is not an insignificant one: it is estimated that by the end of this year, sales of wired headphones to smartphone users will have shrunk by somewhere between 60%-75% compared to the pre-iPhone 7 level. These sales are going to wireless Bluetooth headphones and earphones… and the Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless represents one of the best examples of the breed at this time.
It’s probably best to think of the Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless as the original Momentum In-Ear, with a wireless collar in place of the original wire. The earphone is a single-driver, dynamic design, with a metal sound tube ending in a 4mm nozzle, with a pair of red/black rubberised cables leading to the collar. The most visible outer part of the earphone is a highly polished metal disc with the Sennheiser logo, the rest of the outer body being plastic. There is absolutely no change to the specification and design of these earphones between the Momentum In-Ear and Wireless.
The collar has a rear covered in sheepskin nappa leather, with an elegant red thread stitching it to the frame, and two polycarbonate ‘business’ ends. The red thread marks ‘up’. This is a rigid collar with limited flexibility, but is large enough for even the broadest of neck: I’m a relatively neck-free individual thanks to a combination of birth defect, years of rugby, and a propensity to ‘winter well’ all year round, and I had no problems, so unless you make Mike Tyson look swan-necked, the Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless will fit well. The neckband is not the lightest example of the wireless breed, but not too heavy either. The earphones themselves are light, curved to fit many a ‘lug hole’, and the cable and strain relief are kept far out of the ear thanks to that long sound tube, so they are comfortable for most users. I wouldn’t recommend using the Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless for the full ten hours of battery life at a stretch (I tried using the unit as my computer headset for a day and after a while, the joy of having the strain relief away from the ear is countered by having them lever themselves loose over time), but they are more than fine for commutes and daily use.
The collar itself has two key sections. The one that falls to your left hand houses the track handling, volume, power, and the USB charge connection. The other side features the aerial connections for Bluetooth and NFC connections, and pairing is very quick and easy (if you are using Bluetooth, it comes up ‘M2 IEBT’ on your pairing list). The controls also operate basic call functions as well as track and volume handling. These are fairly comprehensive, given that most of the time, they are operated by touch alone. The centre button and the power button can be clearly felt under your fingers, although the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ keys feel functionally identical. The cables for the earphones exit through the bottom of the collar, and the whole package neatly folds away into a small travel case. Medium, translucent, single flange, soft silicone ear tips are pre-fitted, with with replacement tips in three additional sizes (XS, S, and L) supplied in the case. There is also a charging USB cable provided, and a handful of quick start and health and safety manuals in a range of languages in the box. The one potential omission is any kind of Velcro cable tie for the USB cable once the cardboard insert is removed, but the rest of the Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless sits comfortably in its case. Fortunately, you don’t need that USB cable too often; 1.5 hours of charging will return a good 10 hours of normal use.