Sennheiser today announced a new Orpheus electrostatic headphone system that claims to offer the best headphone sound in the world for those audiophiles who can afford a jaw-dropping €50,000 (~$55,000) price tag. It is capable of producing frequencies across the spectrum from as low as 8 Hz right up to 100 kHz — well above and below the range of human hearing. This is truly bat listening territory – no joke!
Almost 25 years after the original Orpheus — which also claimed to be the best headphone in its day, the new Orpheus will push the boundaries and set new benchmarks in audio excellence. Sennheiser says the new Orpheus surpasses every other headphone system in the world by offering the ultimate in reproduction precision, exceptional spatiality and a frequency response that extends far beyond the range of human hearing ability.
“It is able to deceive our senses in a completely unique way, creating the perfect illusion of being directly immersed in the sound,” explained Daniel Sennheiser. Even the slightest nuances of the music become audible. Alongside star producer Steve Levine, Grammy award-winner Gregory Porter was one of the first to be invited to an exclusive listening trial. “When I record my own music, I always try to convey my emotions. I don’t know how exactly, but these headphones really do succeed in getting those emotions across,” said the jazz musician, describing his listening experience with the Orpheus.
To make this possible, a team of Sennheiser experts spent almost a decade continuously working against the limits of what is technically possible – and once again created the best headphones in the world. The Orpheus uses an innovative amplifier concept that combines to perfection the advantages of a tube amplifier with those of a transistor amplifier. “I am very proud of this absolutely exceptional product,” said Sennheiser CEO Dr. Andreas Sennheiser. “The Orpheus stands for the innovative power of our company and our joint commitment to the pursuit of perfect sound.”
The unique Orpheus experience begins even before you start listening. When the system is inactive, the components are all retracted and the Orpheus has the serene beauty of a sculpture. Gently pushing the on/off-volume control brings the sculpture to life: the control elements, each of which are crafted from a single piece of brass and then plated with chrome, slowly extend from the marble housing, before the vacuum tubes enclosed in quartz glass bulbs rise from the base and start to glow. Finally, a glass cover is raised, allowing the headphones with ear cups finished in genuine leather to be removed.
The selection of all materials consequently supports the acoustic excellence of this milestone product. Each of the more than 6,000 components was meticulously chosen. To ensure an outstanding acoustic performance, the audio specialist used exclusive components such as gold-vaporized ceramic electrodes and platinum-vaporized diaphragms. The marble that Sennheiser chose for the amplifier housing comes from Carrara in Italy and is the same type of marble that Michelangelo used to create his sculptures.
“The properties of the marble optimally protect the amplifier’s core and its unique optics and structure turns each Orpheus into an individual work of art,” said Maurice Quarré, Director of Select & Audiophile at Sennheiser.
The Orpheus, Sennheiser’s new audiophile milestone, promises an unprecedented audio experience with oustanding technical innovations that make it the best headphone system in the world.
Price and Availability
Each new Sennheiser Orpheus HE 1 headphone will be hand-crafted in Germany from 2016 onwards, and will cost around €50,000. Order at: sennheiser-hearing.com/sennheiser-he-1
FEATURES & SPECIFICATIONS
Integrated amplifiers – patented technology
The purest of all audio, shielded from the outside world, emerges from the heart through the Cool Class A MOSFET high-voltage amplifiers. These are integrated directly into the cups of the headphones using Sennheiser’s unique patented process.
Digital to analogue conversion
The monument to sound converts digital music data to analogue signals using the ESS SABRE ES9018 chip. When you experience Sennheiser’s best ever sound, you’ll be converted too.
Hand-crafted for ultimate comfort
The genuine leather ear cups are designed and built in Germany ensuring the highest possible comfort. Immerse yourself entirely in an audio experience which can be felt with all your senses.
The best of tube and transistor amplifiers
The patent-applied-for circuit design combines the best of tube and transistor amplifiers, to provide the ultimate audio experience.
A vault of pure silence
At its heart is a vault of pure silence, locked in with Sennheiser technology and heavily guarded against interference of any kind. Measuring just 0.01 percent at 100 dB SPL, Sennheiser has created a product with lower distortion than has ever been measured in sound reproduction equipment.
A golden audio experience
In order to create truly outstanding electrical and acoustic performance, Sennheiser utilizes transducers crafted from gold-vaporized ceramics.
A testament to craftsmanship
To create a visually stunning design, control dials are painstakingly crafted to the highest quality. Each dial is milled from a single piece of brass before being plated with chrome.
Ultra-high impulse fidelity
The monument to sound ushers in a new era of audio excellence. Its ultra-high impulse fidelity patented amplifier stage in the headphones increases efficiency by 200% over other currently available sound reproduction equipment.
Crafted without compromise, the sound rises from the amplifiers through the 99.9% silver-plated cables, chosen for optimum conductivity. When it flows to the ear, a sound never before experienced is born.
Isolated from airborne noise
Nothing stands in the way of the listening pleasure created by this monument to sound. Not even airborne noise: High-quality quartz bulbs around the vacuum tubes eliminate all acoustic noise from the outside world.
Made of marble
An amplifier housing crafted of finest Carrara marble of the type once used by Michelangelo to build his sculptures. Due to its mass, purity and solidity, it is an unshakeable foundation for the ultimate sound.
When the monument to sound makes itself heard, 2.4 micrometer, platinum-vaporized diaphragms will set a new standard in perfection. As our research has shown, the optimal size for sound reproduction.
A monumental sound takes shape: an unprecedented, ultra-wide frequency range from 8 Hz to more than 100 kHz will exceed the human auditory range – and would be only perceivable by the combined hearing abilities of bats and elephants.
Decoupled tube amplifiers
The foundation on which the perfect sound experience rests: perfect silence. At the heart of the monument to sound is a vault of pure silence, locked in with Sennheiser technology and heavily guarded against interference of any kind. The lowest harmonic distortion ever measured in a sound reproduction system, patent-applied-for circuit design that combines the best of tube and transistor amplifiers, and the quartz barrel around the tubes all eliminate acoustic noise from the outside world. Leaving you to enjoy perfect sound against the perfect backdrop.
A foundation of finest Carrara marble
The monument to sound rests in a foundation of the finest Carrara marble. Stone from Carrara’s mountains has been crafted into some of civilisation’s most precious treasures: in sculptures, such as Michelangelo’s David, and monuments including the Pantheon. The material’s beauty transcends the visual: anchoring the amplifier tubes to this block eliminates structure-borne noise thanks to its high density. The block itself is suspended to protect it from the noise and vibration of the outside world. High-quality quartz bulbs shield the vacuum tubes from airborne noise. The controls on the front of the monument to sound are painstakingly engineered to the highest quality: each is milled from a single piece of brass before being chrome-plated. For generations, artists have moved mountains to work with high quality materials such as these. Today, with a commitment as enduring and unshakeable as the Carrara marble itself, you have joined their ranks.