By Kien Lee
The world's most expensive headphones make its debut in Southeast Asia today, at an official unveiling at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, attended by media from the region including Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.
The latest high-end headphones from the German label is the successor to the legendary Orpheus model, a bestseller first launched 25 years ago and still remains highly coveted by audiophiles.
In all aspects, the new Sennheiser HE1 even more superlative than its predecessor.
Made with gold, marble and leather, the electrostatic headphones is the epitome of luxury. Containing more than 6,000 individual components it is the most technologically advanced headset available, providing 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.
Taking more than a decade to develop, the new generation HE 1 comes with a completely new amplifier concept that combines the superior impulse processing of a tube amplifier with the low distortion of a transistor amplifier to perfection.
At the heart of the amplifier are eight vacuum tubes that process the incoming signal. To reduce sensitivity to air-borne noise, the amplifier housing was crafted from granular, inhomogeneous Carrara marble and is freely suspended with the amplifier.
In addition, 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 an impressive 200 percent rise in efficiency compared to other products.
To ensure the outstanding acoustic performance, Sennheiser uses gold-vaporised ceramic electrodes and platinum-vaporised diaphragms.
Ceramic a a material whose internal damping and granular structure make it much more resistant to resonances than glass, whilst a layer of gold vapour-deposited guarantees optimum electrical conductivity.
Inside, 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.
With its unique transducer system, the HE 1 has a frequency response of 8 hertz to more than 100 kilohertz, a frequency range which far exceeds the limits of human hearing ability, and ensures the headphones are 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.
The Sennheiser HE 1 is unprecedented in terms of sound purity.
The amplifier is housed in a marble sourced from Carrara in Italy and is the same type of marble that Michelangelo used to create his sculptures. Meanwhile, the rotary switches for the source and the volume controls are milled from a single piece of brass and chromium-plated
When the volume control is pressed to activate the on function, the controls at the front slowly extend outwards horizontally from the amplifier housing, before the vacuum tubes with their quartz glass bulbs rise vertically from the base and start to glow. The glass cover then automatically raises to allow the headphones to be removed.
Leather ear cushions lined with hypoallergenic, breathable microfiber fabric provides additional acoustic absorption, and is comfortable over hours of wear.
Truly a luxurious product for the best of audiophiles, the Sennheiser HE 1 is handcrafted in the company's headquarters in Germany with production of one unit a day, and limited to only two hundred a year.
It is now available for pre-orders in Southeast Asia and will cost around € 50,000.
Find out more at www.sennheiser.com/sennheiser-he-1