Dean Clough

May 7, 2021

Portico Darwin: New Headphone Review(s)!

Have you ever heard about Imelda Marcos and her shoes?  Truth be told, I'm a bit like that with audio headphones.  OK, not a bit:  more like eerily similar.  While I don't have 3,000, I do have - um - more than most. 

I don't care:  I must be able to reproduce music, on my own terms, in every circumstance, at all times.  Obsessive?  YOU BETCHA!

To demonstrate this and before I dive into the actual subject of today's review, my newly arrived Sennheiser Momentum 2 truly wireless Bluetooth earbuds, let me list - in no particular order - the headphones I presently own.   You might want to sit down. 

The list itself is a mini-Gear guide in its own right.  Anything Killer or higher gets my hearty recommendation (at least very good sound, and good battery life and USB-C charging, where applicable) should the specs of a given 'phone fit your needs (and they're still available - some have been replaced).  There's even a little story before the Momentum 2 review!

AKG Y500 (Bluetooth, on-ear, no Active Noise Canceling [ANC]):  Serviceable; their sound is fine, their comfort is not.  It also uses the disgraced USB micro port for charging.  I bought these for my daily walks, but they sucked for that, because of their heft and general lack of comfiness.  Fun fact:  these are what we now use here at home in SF when a guest wants to shred even beyond the ear-bleed levels our dance rages typically reach - they are synced with my main home audio system.

Koss PortaPro (wired, on-ear, no ANC):  Killer; yeah, I know portable wired headphones are a relic of a different time, but if there's anyone out there that wants to know what good sound is like, and has literally no money, these are the cat's pajamas (hey, maybe that should be a new rating?).   At $35 they're an almost comical value.

Sony WH-1000MX3 (Bluetooth, over ear, ANC):  Diamond Certified; let's be clear, I was in a high-end part of the A/V industry for almost 18 years, and I learned early "Friends don't let friends buy Bose."  Bose is an amazing brand and marketing company.  Full stop, with apologies to those who buy and love their products.  Thus my going with the major alternative to Bose in the status-on-airplanes ANC game.  I did my research, and most respected sources point towards Sony's WH-1000MX3 (and now, MX4) to be #1 for both ANC and sound quality.  They are.  I put these on when on airplanes and they can even drone out being in coach, at least for a while.

Sennheiser HD-650 (wired, over ear, no ANC):  Diamond Certified; these (with able back-up from the Sony's below) are my reference headphones, and considered by many in the audio field to be a benchmark in sound and build quality.   I've had a pair for over 10 years (just replaced the ear pads for the first time) and I fully concur.  You can spend thousands on other audiophile headphones but why when these are well under $1,000?

Sony MDR-7506 (wired, over ear, no ANC):  Diamond Certified; these are among the most widely used headphones in professional recording studios.  Why?  They are extremely neutral in their sound, with no artifice in the low, middle or high frequencies.  Just what one wants as a recording is mastered in the studio - yeah, like I know what goes on in a recording studio!  But I do know how very sweet these sound connected to my turntable, and they're only $130?  Huh?  Wot? 

Sony WF-1000MX3 (Bluetooth, truly wireless in-earbuds, ANC):  Killer;  I want to give these a Diamond Certified rating.  In terms of the ANC, build quality, and most importantly, sound quality, they are.  I love(d) them for months on my daily walks - the role for which they were purchased.  But they get only a Killer rating because neither Julie (who also has a pair) or I have ever been able to get the fit quite right (I even tried third-party, memory foam tips to no avail).  So there's a nagging concern that never really fades about one or both of the earbuds simply falling out of one's ear(s).

And that leads to the story and to the review proper.  What led me to owing a pair of the new Sennheiser Momentum 2's?  Well, I was out walking yesterday with my Sony WF-1000MX3's and BOING!  Out pops my left ear bud, never to be seen again, as it bounced into the dense grass and weeds that line Lover's Lane in The Presidio.  RIP my left Sony WF-1000MX3 earbud!

So on to the main course, the Sennheiser Momentum 2 truly wireless in-ear monitors with active noise canceling.  Yeah, a mouthful and but let's not worry about that and see what's in the box:
  • A nicely diminutive charging case
  • The earbuds (duh)
  • A stupidly-short USB C cable (why bother?)
  • 4 different sizes of tips (a good fit is important to the ANC), but alas, no memory foam options

But I digress, because this review is short.  Here it is.  Do you like the best quality sound?  Do you want Bluetooth active noise canceling headphones, in the truly wireless, earbud format?  Are you prepared to spend $250?  If it's yes to all, have I got a pair of headphones for you.  

I listened to a wide variety of music over the course of a few hours, including
  • New Pornographers' These are The Fables (this tested the sound systems in the homes of untold millionaires and billionaires during my Casa Integration run)
  • The new-ish Diana Krall album, "This Dream of You"
  • Steely Dan and another reference, Babylon Sisters
  • Rush and the 2013 remastered version of Ceiling Unlimited (the band supposedly found the originally released mix "unlistenable".)
  • AC/DC and their return to form "Power Up"
  • Paul McCartney and a song that hits me, Deep Deep Feeling -  note the Momentum 2's specifically do an amazing job capturing, without any fatness, the depth of the bass drums that open this unusually heartfelt song

True to Sennheiser form, these new tiny wonders sound marvelous across all of those and other genres.  The default medium tips fit my ears perfectly and never felt like they'd fall out (take that, Sony left ear bud!).  Best of all - after the superb sound quality - is the active noise canceling.  It is the equal to my ears of Sony's - high praise indeed.

No doubt the rating here:  Diamond Certified.  If you're in the market and can swing the $, go get a pair.

About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.