Sennheiser HE 1 - Orpheus Returns

Sennheiser HE 1 - Orpheus Returns

New $62,000 Headphone Paradigm Meets Vanguard Art Design

Sennheiser HE 1 OrpheusYes, audiophile headphone dreamers - the stories you've been seeing in major press outlets like The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald and from your geeky audio friends on the internet are all true. The new version of the Sennheiser Orpheus now dubbed the Sennheiser HE 1 is coming to North America soon.

And due to our long-standing close relationship with Sennheiser dating back over three decades, our lovely little shop here in Montana is already patiently in line to receive several (hopefully!) of these leviathan hotlines to bliss that promise the best, most perfect, most beautiful sound ever realized.

Nope, we’re not exactly sure when they are arriving or how many HE 1 systems we’ll actually receive, but we can say we were the first shop in North America to place an order for these extremely limited units. Given our unmatched history with the original Orpheus system back in the early 1990s - sold more Sennheiser Orpheus units than any other retailer in existence - our team is beyond stoked awaiting an opportunity to get our thirsty ears on what promises to be the best headphone system ever in the history of recorded sound. 

Allegedly priced somewhere around $65,000 - again, we’re not totally sure on the final cost - the Sennheiser HE 1 is a perfectly synergistic amp and headphone system that promises to put the lie to the idea of “musical realism” as touted by every other audiophile headphone.

Early field reports cast the HE 1 electrostatic presentation as totally past the usual descriptive boundaries of ‘totally immersive’ or ‘precisely accurate’ and into the realm of an unearthly musical dream coming feverishly alive in a tactile 3-dimensional field that’s not just inside your head, but one that you fully inhabit right along with the musicians.

Judging by the world-beating sound quality of the first Orpheus, we can only fantasize about what the HE 1 delivers in larger-than-life resolution and holographic ‘you-are-really-there’ sensation as the music radiates through the nervous system and nestles deep into the pleasure centers of your brain. Oh man, we can’t wait!

Sennheiser HE 1 OrpheusAmong the ridiculous technical innovations of the Sennheiser HE 1 are a frequency response that extends well beyond the range of human hearing (8 Hz to over 100,000 kHz), the lowest measured total harmonic distortion [THD] ever in any audio reproduction system, a 100% completely new amplifier concept that combines the impulse processing of a tube amp with the very low distortion of the best solid-state designs, eight discretely isolated vacuum tubes serving the incoming signal and an amplifier chassis crafted from a heavy block of Carrara marble hand-quarried in Tuscany Italy that freely suspends all amplifier internals within its impermeable housing. The decoupling of the vacuum tubes in tandem with the extremely thorough damping and isolation properties of solid marble completely minimizes any structural-borne noise to an unhearable threshold.

Digital input music data in the Sennheiser HE 1 gets converted over to analog signals using eight internal DACs within an ESS Sabre ES9018 processor. Each of the four HE 1 amp control knobs is milled from a single piece of brass before being deep-plated with chrome. And that is merely the beginning of the scientific breakthroughs and exquisite luxuries that comprise the HE 1. Without a doubt, the Sennheiser HE 1 is to be a singular locus where pioneering high-end audio expression intersects with sumptuous architectural art design.

Sennheiser HE 1 Electrostatic HeadphonesConstructed from over 6,000 individual components including gold-vaporized ceramic electrodes and unique platinum-vapor diaphragms, the avant-garde advancements of the Sennheiser HE-1 naturally extend to the headphone design itself. The HE 1 headphone is part and parcel of the holistic system and like the classic Stax electrostatic headphone/amp combos, it can only be used with the HE 1 set-up. But that’s where any engineering similarities with previous electrostatic, planar magnetic or dynamic headphone concepts stop.

The Sennheiser HE 1 is the first electrostatic headphone featuring a cool-running Class-A MOSFET high-voltage amplifier integrated directly into the earcups. This eliminates the normal capacitive reactance of the headphone cable and delivers an ultra-high impulse fidelity that rates, per Sennheiser audio engineers, as being 200% more efficient than any other solution currently found in the headphone industry.

The large open-back HE 1 headphone earcups are precision-machined from solid aluminum and feature choice earpad materials hand-sewn with the finest Italian leathers and super-soft, allergen-free velour/microfiber pads. Safe to say the HE-1 has absolutely no microscopic finish, fit or minor detail that’s been spared from keen Sennheiser analysis.

All of its 6,000 harmonious parts have been designed and engineered without compromise of any sort - as the HE 1 price well indicates - and stringently manufactured to deliver the best sound ever produced. But all those details are also taken to the far extreme of opulence as well, and not just for mere show. In this case, the rarefied aesthetic form decidedly contributes to the function. We fully expect the Sennheiser HE-1’s revolutionary sound will undoubtedly match its awesome visual impact.

So who do we think will actually buy a Sennheiser HE 1? Well, it’s a pretty safe bet it will not be any of the employees working here at!

Jamey Warren listens to Sennheiser HE 1

'Hotel California' never sounded so good!

Clearly, the real target demographic for the HE 1 is the obviously well-heeled music lover seeking the god-like ultimate in sound quality, in over-the-top audio design and in gorgeous palatial cosmetics. Sennheiser has plainly spared absolutely no expense taking each of those acoustic, visual and emotional qualities to an almost incalculable degree of perfection and execution. It’s like wondering who actually buys a $4.5 million Lamborghini Veneno or a $3.5 million Bugatti Veyron automobile. The only answer is the person that can buy it, will - and they undoubtedly will not look back wondering if maybe they should've extended for that shiny brass (or in this case, marble and chrome) ring.

Sennheiser HE 1 Electrostatic Headphone SystemSo please sign up for our 'News & Updates' newsletter below and stay tuned for the arrival of the heralded Sennheiser HE-1. As soon as we learn any more details on availability, performance or price, we’ll make sure to let you know right away. Meanwhile, our nightly headphone reveries have become the stuff of champagne wishes and caviar dreams... Did we already say, “We Can’t Wait!!”

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