Sennheiser gave guests and press the merest glimpse of its new top-of-the-range super-expensive headphones and amplifier combo at a company 70th anniversary at London’s Central Westminster Hall last month.
According to Dr. Andreas Sennheiser, joint CEO of the German company who co-presented the sneak preview with his brother Daniel, the (so far unnamed) headphones are “the best the world has ever seen” and the “biggest leap in headphone technology” for the company since the Orpheus electrostatic headphone of 1991 (which can still be found fetching $30k on ebay, according to one report).
Detailed information on the items was scarce, the brothers revealing only that the headphones use a super-sensitive platinum-vaporised diaphragm, which gives them an “absolutely flat” frequency response from 8Hz to 100kHz, while the chassis for the amplifier is hewn out of marble from the same Italian quarry where Michelangelo selected his slabs.
Guests at the evening, dubbed 'Reshaping Excellence', were allowed to view the technology in situ for just a few brief minutes: the full extent of the specification is promised later in the year. (As for prices… well, the figure ‘35,000’ was mentioned during the evening…)
“We have been working for this now more than 20 years, and we will bring it to the market when it’s ready,” Daniel told PSNEurope. “Right now it’s almost ready so now you can see it… and it will come to the market when it’s really REALLY ready!”
The technology preview was followed by a concert double-header: first the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie orchestra, performing pieces by Adams, Ligeti and Glass; then songwriter-performer Imogen Heap (right), who has worked for several years with technologists including Sennheiser UK to develop her ‘Mi.Mu’ gesture control gloves.
Heap topped her only (dazzling) live appearance this year with her trademark 'keytar and vocoder' song, Hide and Seek.
The event was mixed and recorded in the company’s nascent 9.1-channel immersive audio format, early working title ‘Sennheiser 3D’. Andreas noted that technology for the desired immersive playback of the format would be available in “12 to 18 months”.
The product’s unveiling will continue on a dedicated website, www.sennheiser-reshapingexcellence.com, which will announce additional facts about the milestone product. “There is much more to come and we are looking forward to revealing more information over the coming weeks,” said Daniel.
As a final aside, PSNEurope enquired as to how Andreas (right) and Daniel – who took over the company from their father, Prof. Jörg Sennheiser, two years ago – were finding their new roles.
“We’re still getting along as you see!” said Daniel. “It’s very interesting to run such a company with your brother, because we can have different views on things, but we trust each other 100%, we have the same value system and together we make it happen.
“I think it’s a privilege to be not alone in such a situation.”
“I have nothing to add!” smiled his brother.