Sennheiser HE 1

The next milestone


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Marble, gold and leather: These are the materials that dreams are made of. That includes the dream of Sennheiser’s new Sennheiser HE 1 headphones.

  • Author: Simon E. Fuchs
  • Photos: Sennheiser
  • Video: Sennheiser/Philip Peine
  • Editing / Post Production Philip Peine

Dark stones fall from the sky and form the building blocks for a major monument of sound. This monument is the Sennheiser HE 1 – headphones made with the finest materials. A new way of listening. And as with so many good things, it’s worth waiting for. Once you bring the Sennheiser HE 1 to life, it takes a few seconds before the amplifier tubes stand to attention and the black lid opens to release the headphones within.

The Sennheiser HE 1 was introduced to the world from the stage of London’s Westminster Central Hall. The presentation was preceded by English singer and Grammy Award-winner Imogen Heap and the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie orchestra under the baton of Jonathan Stockhammer, performing classical pieces as well as the Sennheiser HE 1 song, “Tiny Human.”

With this Sennheiser HE 1, Sennheiser has created another milestone in the search for the ultimate sound experience. Sennheiser set out on this search for the perfect sound under the motto “reshaping audio excellence.” But really, it’s a journey which began decades before. For 70 years, Sennheiser has stood for German engineering, for quality products, excellence in sound and unconventional innovation. Sennheiser has shaped the future of audio.

The predecessor: Orpheus HE 90/HEV 90

A major leg of this journey toward true audio leadership came with the launch of the electrostatic Orpheus HE 90/HEV 90. These headphones were presented to an international public in 1991 – and are still regarded as ground breaking headphones, the best in the world. Headphones which are regarded as a sign of an unconventional innovation culture. It takes the turn of a key to bring them to life, and about 20 minutes later the tube amplifier is ready for action. A wait rewarded by excellence. The press is unanimous: these headphones offer sound “as if from another world.” It’s a sound made possible by a 500-volt tube amplifier and two platinum-vaporized diaphragms which oscillate between gold-vaporized glass electrodes. Limited to just 300 units, today it is considered a collector’s item.

The new milestone: Sennheiser HE 1

With the highest quality standards, the legacy of the first Orpheus was taken to the next stage, and the result is the new Sennheiser HE 1. Each of the 6,000 individual parts in the new headphones is the product of manufacturing excellence, selected and processed by hand. This is work which demands precise craftsmanship. The headphones cover an ultra-wide frequency range of between 8Hz and 100kHz. It would take a bat and an elephant together to perceive the extremes of this spectrum. The distortion level of just 0.01 percent at a sound pressure level of 100dB is the lowest ever measured in a sound reproduction system. The headphones use gold-vaporized ceramic transducers to guarantee outstanding electrical and acoustic performance. The vacuum tubes are wrapped in high-quality quartz bulbs to prevent any sonic influence. The 99.9% silver-plated copper cables ensure there is no loss in quality. This is technology which makes the ultimate sound experience possible. But it’s not just the technology which is first class; the design, too, uses only the finest materials. The result: a work of design art. The ear pads are made from leather and velour. Each control dial is made from a single piece of brass beneath a layer of chrome. The housing of the Sennheiser HE 1 is made from fine Carrara marble which can withstand any vibration.

The Sennheiser HE 1 visionaries:

Prof. Dr. Jörg Sennheiser
“For me it’s a wonderful feeling being able to present the new Sennheiser HE 1. But then I have to say, you get used to it. In the last few decades we have launched so many of these iconic products. The new Sennheiser HE 1, too, will soon be very special. It is a significant step toward the future.”

Dr. Andreas Sennheiser
“I’m very proud of the new Sennheiser HE 1, because so many people have worked on this project. It is wonderful to watch the first listeners, to see how their eyes light up. Twenty years of technological progress were needed in order to manufacture these headphones — both for us internally and for our suppliers. That was the only way we could be certain of creating something unparalleled.”

Daniel Sennheiser
“For seven decades, Sennheiser has set the tone in the audio world and constantly redefined the limits of what is possible. In “reshaping excellence” we are announcing a new era, one in which we will surpass anything which has come before.”

The parents of Sennheiser HE 1:

There is a team of developers behind the Sennheiser HE 1. They represent a culture of innovation. The core team of 30 Sennheiser employees worked on this new model for over six years. From the transducers to the ear cups and transport cases – everything was designed and built in-house by Sennheiser.

Axel Grell, Product Manager
“I have no doubt that these headphones will truly shape the future of audio. Finally holding the Sennheiser HE 1 in my hands and presenting it to the public is like walking on air. We’ve worked for years to get to this point. All the energy and precise craftsmanship that has been put into these headphones is rewarded by the excitement of the people who see and hear it. The Sennheiser HE 1 makes new ways of listening possible. If you ask me, these are groundbreaking headphones.”

Mirko Hausen, Mechanical Design
“The headphones are a masterpiece of German engineering. They are made for an incredibly intense sound experience. I think the housing works particularly well. It is something which is only possible with precise craftsmanship. It’s made of Carrara marble, not at all conventional for headphones. A rock of ages.”

Oliver Gelhard, Acoustics
“I’m very happy. We have managed to deliver visionary audio. Getting to hold these headphones in your hand -- that’s something only a team can make possible. It is wonderful to see how innovation culture works. We had a vision for creating new ways of listening, and we put it into action.”