I didn't take heed to a pair of $fifty five,000 headphones
I used to be presupposed to check out Sennheiser’s new Orpheus headphones yesterday. Priced at $fifty five,000 and a decade within the making, they seem to be a reimagining of the corporate’s 1990 mannequin of the identical identify. However simply as I put their opulent band over my head, earlier than even a single notice had performed, the prototype headphones stopped working. I used to be crestfallen. However the extra I give it some thought, the extra it does not matter.
I arrived at a lodge within the middle of city, soaked by way of from the London rain. After talking with a Sennheiser consultant, I shuffled right down to the basement to start my listening expertise. Forward of me lay a barren room. Within the middle, underneath the proverbial and literal highlight, was the Orpheus, flanked by a pair of luxurious armchairs. Nothing else was within the room, aside from the Sennheiser consultant and an enthusiastic banner proclaiming the corporate was “reshaping excellence.”
I might write a 1,000-phrase piece of gadget erotica to elucidate what occurred subsequent, however I am going to maintain issues brief. I sat down, stared longingly on the big Orpheus in entrance of me, drooled barely on the T+A media participant it was related to, selected a track, after which sat their patiently for a demo that might by no means start. Through the wait that adopted, I had the chance to examine the Orpheus intimately. It is a beautiful piece of hardware; a worthy replace to the corporate’s 1990 basic.
This is not only a pair of headphones. The Orpheus package deal is a big marble block with an enclosed headphone compartment on the left and a mysterious smaller field on proper. Simply turning it on can be sufficient to drive your inside gadget freak wild. Press the facility button, and its 4 aluminum knobs glide out from their marble sockets, adopted by eight vacuum tubes that emerge from the thriller field on the best. Then, the glass lid of the headphone compartment easily swings open. The entire course of takes round 20 seconds, however that is one thing Sennheiser has designed for. It is presupposed to heighten the anticipation, and make every listening an occasion.
The cans themselves are lovely. Principally aluminum, they’re truly pretty mild regardless of their behemoth proportions. The scarf is properly cushioned and coated in an expensive velour, whereas the earcups are clad in a tender black leather-based. Like the unique Orpheus, these are electrostatic headphones, which suggests fairly than conventional drivers they’ve an extremely-skinny electrically charged diaphragm. I’ve tried a pair of electrostatic headphones made by Stax, a Japanese firm virtually synonymous with the class, they usually sound fantastically balanced. The rationale you do not see them round extra typically is that they’re very costly. Properly, that and the truth that due to the excessive voltages they require to work you’ll be able to by no means actually use them away from an influence provide.
Considered one of Sennheiser’s (very useful and apologetic) representatives makes an attempt to diagnose the prototype Orpheus’ challenge.
I waited round forty five minutes for Sennheiser to make my day. The employees have been extraordinarily apologetic, and labored non-cease to diagnose the difficulty. The issue appeared to be that both the amp or preamp wasn’t detecting that the headphones have been plugged in, and so no energy was being despatched to them. After hushed telephone calls with the German engineering group, and lots of many “flip it off and switch it on” fixes tried, the representatives conceded defeat, and I packed my bag and left. For what it is value, this should not mirror badly on the corporate or the headphones. The mannequin in London is a prototype, in any case, and it had been used extensively the complete day earlier than my arrival.
On the journey residence, I contemplated what to do concerning the state of affairs. Sennheiser has now fastened the Orpheus — it was a calibration challenge, apparently — and I have been invited again to pay attention one other time. However I started to consider whether or not I actually need to take heed to them. I’ve inspected the headphones — which the corporate readily admits are a press release that it may make the world’s greatest headphones, slightly than a product it is notably critical about promoting tons of of. I’ve seen how lovely they appear. I’ve sat, awestruck on the workmanship concerned. What extra can I inform you?
Fact is, I do not know what anybody can inform you about this pair of headphones after listening to only a few tracks. I am in all probability barely forward of the journalistic curve relating to audio merchandise. I’ve had the pleasure of demoing $5,000 CD gamers, I’ve listened to $four,450 headphones — I’ve an honest quantity of expertise with “audiophile” gear. However I definitely do not have a reference level for what $fifty five,000 ought to sound like, and I definitely could not decide one thing’s value in quarter-hour.
The brand new Orpheus are in all probability among the many greatest headphones ever made. The audible distinction between them and a $5,000 pair might be not large. Until my boss out of the blue decides to multiply my wage by itself, I am in all probability by no means going to purchase these headphones, and neither are you. All we have to know is that they exist. And all we will hope now’s that the developments Sennheiser has made to create them will trickle right down to the remainder of us over the approaching many years.