A Southeast Asian Debut
Successor to the Legendary Orpheus: Sennheiser HE 1 shapes the future of audio
Bangkok, 4 July 2016 – Audio specialist Sennheiser is re-defining the limits of audiophile sound. With the successor to the legendary Orpheus, and one that shares its famous name, Sennheiser is presenting the Southeast Asian debut of its new reference headphone system that promises an unprecedented audio experience at the Marina Bay Sands Singapore. This electrostatic headphone system combines a unique amplifier concept with carefully selected materials and highest quality craftsmanship. A frequency response that extends beyond the range of human hearing and the lowest total harmonic distortion that has ever been measured in an audio reproduction system are just some of the technical highlights of this milestone product. Sennheiser leaves no doubt that the exclusive HE 1 is the best headphone system in the world.
At the exclusive Southeast Asian debut of the HE 1, Sennheiser co-CEO Andreas Sennheiser, said, “Southeast Asia is a dynamic region on the rise and home to many audiophiles. The HE 1 is an exemplification of how we once again push boundaries, show that we can repeatedly set new benchmarks in audio excellence and continue to shape the future of audio.”
Building high-end headphones which sound so brilliant that you feel that you are in a concert hall; creating acoustics that surpass anything that has been heard before: this has always been Sennheiser’s vision. And in 1990/1991, the audio specialist achieved precisely that: Sennheiser took the audio world by storm with an engineering masterpiece that eliminated all previous ideas about the performance limitations of headphones. The Orpheus, an electrostatic headphone system with an impressive 500 V tube amplifier, became an icon of the audio industry and was recognised as the best headphones in the world – until now.
In order to craft a successor to the legendary Orpheus as a reference product for the industry itself, Sennheiser worked tirelessly on innovative technical solutions, consistently putting previously used acoustics approaches to the test and exploiting every conceivable possibility when it came to selecting the optimum materials.
For almost a decade, a core team of developers, engineers and designers dedicated themselves to producing a successor, and they have now created a headphone system that is beyond comparison.
A patented amplifier concept for incomparable sound
Reproducing sound that is as natural as possible and precise in every detail: with the HE 1, Sennheiser has come closer to this dream than anyone ever before. “No other sound reproduction system in the world is able to deceive our senses like the HE 1. It creates the absolutely perfect illusion of being directly immersed in the sound,” said Sennheiser co-CEO, Daniel Sennheiser, describing the audio experience.
At the heart of the amplifier are eight vacuum tubes that process the incoming signal. “The advantage of tube amplifiers is their superior impulse processing,” said Axel Grell, Portfolio Manager Audiophile at Sennheiser. “However, one challenge is their sensitivity to air-borne-noise.” For this reason, the amplifier housing was crafted from granular, inhomogeneous Carrara marble and is freely suspended with the amplifier. The marble chosen for the amplifier housing comes from Carrara in Italy and is the same type of marble that Michelangelo used to create his sculptures. The decoupling of the tubes in combination with the damping properties of the marble has the effect of reducing structure-borne noise to an absolute minimum. The tubes themselves also have a high-quality patent-pending enclosure consisting of quartz-glass bulbs that perfectly shield them from their surroundings.
The tube amplifier stage is followed by a patented ultra-high impulse amplifier stage that is directly integrated into the cups of the headphones. The result is impressive: a 200 percent rise in efficiency compared to other products. The great advantage of this design is the extremely short distance between the amplifier and the diaphragm, which is less than one centimetre in the HE 1. As a result, the headphone system requires far less power for charge reversal, as the current capacities are much lower.
Meticulous attention has also been paid to every detail of the material selection for the HE 1 in order to fully exploit the sound potential of the reference headphones. Each of the more than 6,000 individual components was carefully chosen, their acoustic characteristics were evaluated and finally the optimum combination was put together. For example, to ensure the outstanding performance of the acoustic unit, Sennheiser uses gold-vaporised ceramic electrodes and platinum-vaporised diaphragms. The thickness of the entire diaphragm is precisely 2.4 micrometres to be optimal for allowing controlled vibration of the diaphragm – the result of extensive testing by the team of developers. The eight wires of the high-performance cables are made of oxygen-free copper and plated with a coating of silver, which provides optimum conductivity for perfect transmission of the audio signal. The wires are sheathed in an insulating layer that has a mixture of differently structured materials which eliminates the sound waves acting on the cable.
Ultra-wide frequency response and the world`s lowest total harmonic distortion
With its unique transducer system, the HE 1 has a frequency response of 8 hertz to more than 100 kilohertz. This is a frequency range which far exceeds the limits of human hearing ability. Nevertheless, this extremely wide frequency response does have an effect on the sound experience, as it ensures that, in the audible range, the sound of the headphones is virtually free of distortion.
At one kilohertz and a sound pressure level of 100 decibels, the total harmonic distortion of the headphone system is a mere 0.01 percent, which means it reproduces the sound of the audio source with greater fidelity and in more detail than any other product in the audio world. Therefore, in terms of sound purity, Sennheiser is venturing into areas that have never before been measured in a sound reproduction system. Even the slightest nuances of the music become audible. “In some music pieces that I had known for years, I suddenly became aware of details which I had never perceived before,” said Axel Grell, describing the listening experience with the HE 1. “I found this really moving – and every other listener will also be overwhelmed by this unique audio experience. After all, music is all about emotions.”
The HE 1 can be operated with a wide range of analogue and digital audio sources. Apart from balanced inputs, the headphone system also has unbalanced input sockets; the incoming signals are balanced before being further processed. Digital audio sources are connected via S/PDIF (optical and coaxial) or USB. To convert the digital music data into analogue signals, the HE 1 uses the ESS SABRE ES9018 chip – a reference in the field of digital-to-analogue converters. In the HE 1, its eight internal DACs convert audio data with a resolution of 32 bits and a sampling rate of up to 384 kHz or DSD signals with 2.8 MHz and 5.6 MHz into balanced analogue signals. For each stereo channel, four DACs are connected in parallel for noise reduction. As a result, the entire frequency spectrum of high-end audio sources is reproduced without distortion. The circuit was optimised for the fully symmetrical design of the HE 1.
The unique HE 1 experience begins long before you start listening. When the on/off-volume control is pressed, the controls at the front slowly extend from the amplifier housing, before the vacuum tubes with their quartz glass bulbs rise from the base and start to glow. Finally, a glass cover is automatically raised, allowing the headphones to be removed. The rotary switches for the source and the volume controls are milled from a single piece of brass and chromium-plated. The positions of the four switches are controlled by a microprocessor and activated by high-quality relays. Each element can be remote-controlled and will follow any adjustments that the listener makes. For example, if the input switch is changed by remote control from USB to Balanced, the respective button will also rotate.
The combination of outstanding technology, exquisite design and the highest-quality materials is also continued in the headphones themselves. The genuine leather ear cushions are crafted in Germany and ensure the highest possible comfort even over several hours. At the inner side of the cushions, hypoallergenic, breathable microfiber fabric provides additional acoustic absorption.
All these materials form an ingenious combination of design, comfort and function – for a unique audio experience that appeals to all senses.
The HE 1 was developed at Sennheiser’s headquarters in Germany. The new reference product will also be manufactured there. It is available for pre-orders in Southeast Asia and will cost around € 50,000. To immerse yourself in the unique world of the HE 1, please visit www.sennheiser.com/sennheiser-he-1.
Audio specialist Sennheiser is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of headphones, microphones and wireless transmission systems. Based in Wedemark near Hanover, Germany, Sennheiser operates its own production facilities in Germany, Ireland and the USA and is active in more than 50 countries. With 19 sales subsidiaries and long-established trading partners, the company supplies innovative products and cutting-edge audio solutions that are optimally tailored to its customers’ needs. Sennheiser is a family owned company that was founded in 1945 and which today has 2,750 employees around the world that share a passion for audio technology. Since 2013, Sennheiser has been managed by Daniel Sennheiser and Dr. Andreas Sennheiser, the third generation of the family to run the company. In 2015, the Sennheiser Group had sales totalling €682 million. www.sennheiser.com