Finding a high-quality pair of headphones at a mid-range price point can be quite the chore, mainly because there are so many options. The $300-400 range is excellent for over-ear headphones, presenting the sacred “sweet spot” of value.
Two such headphones are the Bowers and Wilkins P7s and Sennheiser Momentums. Both pairs sport a classic and elegant aesthetic, hellbent on producing great sound and looks at a great price. While both succeed at this goal, read on to see which edges out the other.
|Bowers and Wilkins P7||Sennheiser Momentum|
|Frequency response||10Hz – 22kHz||16Hz – 22kHz|
|Impedance||22 Ω||18 Ω|
|Cable length||1.4m (Detachable)||1.4m (Detachable)|
Bowers and Wilkins P7
The P7 series of headphones are legendary and this top-range model shows why. Elegance in both design and sound, the P7s are a great pair of headphones.
Design and Build
If you’ve seen one pair of Bowers and Wilkins headphones, you’ve seen them all. These cans sport the same classic look like the others, with smooth black finish and silver accents. In many ways, the look is “classic” but still with enough flair for the modern-day.
The headphone frame is crafted completely from aluminum, making it extremely rigid. A padded headrest means that you’ll stay comfy in them despite how much they can handle.
And, they can really handle a lot. Even though they look like an art piece, these headphones are not against a beating. While I certainly wouldn’t recommend ruining how good they look, you can definitely warrant a few drops before these headphones break.
You can fold the headphones down completely to take them out with you. It certainly isn’t a new feature, but one that’s totally welcome. The headphones collapse naturally in on themselves which is a feat considering how cumbersome this process can be.
The looks of the P7s are commonplace for Bowers and Wilkins, but the build is exceptional. These speakers look pretty but can handle a good beating as well.
There aren’t many features on the P7s. In many ways, the headphones are meant to serve one purpose and serve that purpose very well. Because of that, there aren’t any features like Bluetooth or remote functionality, but there is some interesting design choice.
The first is the inclusion of magnetic ear cups. Four even placed magnets hold the ear cups, including the grille, onto the headphones. When you take them off, you’ll expose the drive that sits beneath.
This serves two main purposes. First, you can always replace the ear cups should they come damaged. Since Bower and Wilkins allow the entire cup to become detached, you can replace torn grilles or worn-out foam without buying new cans.
They also hide the connection, though. Arguably one of the coolest ways to connect a 3.5mm jack to a pair of headphones, the P7s hide this connection inside of the speaker driver itself. An angled cord ride under the ear cups and plugs in, so you get the benefits of a detachable cable while still getting the look of a hardwired one.
It would have been nice to see some sort of wireless functionality from these headphones, but it’s hard for me to complain considering how well thought out the design is and how solid performance is.
Which leads nicely to the star of the show: sound quality. These headphones sound incredible in every way. Bowers and Wilkins devotion to great-sounding pieces of audio equipment is apparent with the P7s.
The low-end takes a nice bump over other headphones in the line. Both the P3s and the P5s are an on-ear design and, while there is still plenty of bass, not nearly as much is present as on the P7s.
The over-ear design goes a long way in really accentuating the bass. They don’t pump quite like Sony headphones, but they really shouldn’t. Instead, you get a consistent low-end that hits without overpowering.
Mids are very good, too. These headphones don’t circum to the “peak and valley” symptom that many others do. Instead, the midrange feels natural throughout without too many dips in bad areas.
Treble is lacking a bit, but not by any margin that breaks the overall sound. When all things are considered, these headphones sound fantastic across the frequency spectrum. A variety of genres can be enjoyed in a variety of contexts.
Bowers and Wilkins P7 Overall
The P7s are a fantastic pair of headphones that manage both stylish looks and great sound under the same roof. While lacking in features like Bluetooth, these cans are still worthy of your attention.
Sennheiser doesn’t have the same aura that Bowers and Wilkins do, but the Momentums still try to compete, at least in terms of looks. Outside of that, you’re getting very modern headphones with a ton of features to boot.
Design and Build
The Sennheiser Momentum design feels like a rethought B&W one. The headphones still have that classic look, but go in a bit of a different direction in how it portrays that.
The main difference is how the ear cups attach to the headband. Sennheiser uses an adjustable system with screws securing the cups to the headband. The slider system makes them for customizable to your head, yes, but also completely changes the look of the headphones.
Really, this comes down to taste, but I find the Momentums far more attractive than the P7s. That isn’t to say that the P7s don’t look great because they do, but the Momentums seem to rise about a stock “classic” look into something that really brings the old and new together.
Like the B&W headphones, these can be completely collapsed, though not as elegantly. While the headphones fold in on themselves, you’ll often need to adjust the earpieces in order for them to be portable. It’s a small issue, but an issue nonetheless.
Other than that, these headphones are beautiful in every way. A lot of the distinction comes down to preference but, for my tastes, the Sennheiser Momentums slightly edge out the P7s.
However, they really edge out their competitor in terms of features. Despite the classic design, the Momentums are packed full of modern features, leaving P7 users desiring a lot more than B&W is giving.
This starts with Bluetooth, glorious Bluetooth. Yes, I know, many audiophiles turn their nose up at wireless listening, but I’m happy to see the inclusion here. For a pair, an everyday pair of cans, including Bluetooth is a feature that seems too big to pass up.
Another modern feature, there’s an in-line remote as well. The basic controls are here, only volume, play/pause, and a button to answer calls, but it’s still included which is more than the P7s can say.
Outside of that, there really aren’t many features. Unfortunately, the wire still sticks out of the bottom and the earcups aren’t magnetic. If those design choices are pertinent to you, then the P7s are probably a better choice. For me, wireless listening and an in-line remote are too much to pass up.
Sound quality, however, isn’t the same story. The Sennheiser Momentum sounds excellent, but far slightly short of the bar set by the P7s. The change is subtle, so much so that casual listeners probably wouldn’t hear it, but these guys fall ever so slightly behind.
This is really true in the midrange. Sennheiser manages great clarity in this area, and any audio-loving buyer would be more than satisfied, however, it just doesn’t meet par when compared to the P7s.
Bass is better, though. Sennheiser manages a huge low-end that’s tight and refined while still giving plenty. It pumps with each hit of the kick drum and demands you notice, but without overpowering the rest of the frequency spectrum.
Highs are gorgeous, with immense clarity and definition. I’m not sure how Sennheiser does it, but every detail can be heard up here, a feat that many other more expensive headphones have yet to accomplish.
Noise isolation is a big win over the P7s, though. Sennheiser’s ear cups have quite a bit of passive canceling and are more than suitable for listening, even in fairly crowded settings.
The overall tone misses the mark by just a hair, but don’t let that turn out off to these headphones. They sound great, with a clear midrange and exceptional top-end.
Sennheiser Momentum Overall
In terms of features and design, the Sennheiser Momentum leads over the P7s in nearly every way. However, the sound quality leaves just a bit to be desired.
While both headphones are excellent choices, it’s hard to go away from this comparison not recommending the Momentums. They bring modern features that the P7s simply don’t have inside of a beautiful body with great sound.
If wireless listening doesn’t matter to you, or maybe you favor the looks of the P7 more, then it’s probably a better choice for you. These headphones are so closely matched in terms of their sound that either is sure to be a great choice.
Which one do you plan on going with? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.
Further read: Top 9 Best Headphones for 2020