Sennheiser, one of the top high fidelity headphone makers in the world, has launched in India what they call the world’s best headphone. Best doesn’t come cheap - at a whopping 45 lakh rupees, it is definitely the most expensive headphone mankind has seen. Or heard.
As the drum rolls and the orchestra picks up on the first track I listen to on the HE1, I can very well believe the hyperbole. Even being prepared for something exceptional doesn’t match up to the real outcome - the effect that you are not sitting in a hotel room, but at the best seat in the concert hall, as the orchestra strikes a crescendo around you.
“We approach this from a neuroscience perspective,” explains Andreas Sennheiser, CEO. “If we give the brain the perfect illusion of reality with the input sound signal, then we won’t be able to say that we are actually wearing headphones.”
How Sennheiser engineers managed this, simplistically speaking, is by using tube amplifiers suspended in vacuum to avoid air borne noise, the units housed in granular Carrara marble to avoid structure-borne noise and an ultra-high impulse amplifier transistor directly integrated into the cup of the headphone. The result? A 200 per cent rise in sound efficiency!
And this is for the serious music listener, someone who approaches listening to music like ‘meditation’, to use Sennheiser’s words. With a marble housing for the amps and gold-vapourised ceramic electrodes in the headset, this is not your regular issue headphone that can be taken on the metro or the airport. Who is it meant for? “People who love to surround themselves with excellent products, who collect (stuff with)…great craftsmanship, they are the target,” he offers. But the company has no sales target. Obviously, this is part of a strategy to scale up the premium perception of the Sennheiser brand. Part of the larger strategy, company sources reveal is that over the course of the next few years, Sennheiser will exit selling economy products and position itself as a purely premium sound devices maker.