Let me start by saying, if you can afford these headphones, they are definitely worth it. On the other hand, most of us will never even come close to seeing a pair. Luckily, I had the chance to give them a test drive and the experience was everything I thought it would be
The Ferrari of headphones is here, but as you can expect, they are expensive. The Sennheiser Orpheus headphones with run you $55,000. That's more than a brand new BMW.
With that hefty price tag the question begs to be asked; are they really worth it?
I was able to actually listen to one of the 3 existing Orpheus headphones in the world and let me say this... I was absolutely blown away. I am an audiophile, I listen to music almost all day and have listened on almost anything you can imagine from iPhone headphones to Genelec 8351As and beyond, but I can honestly say the Orpheus experience was euphoric.
I first walked into the room and noticed the closed casing, made of marble from Italy that Sennheiser specifically and personally chose for acoustic perfection. Pressing the volume knob initiates the experience. Looking like something straight out of a science fiction film, the glass casing that protects the headphones opens as the eight tube amplifiers rise up. By the time the opening sequence is finished, which is about 20 seconds, the tube amps are warmed up and fully ready for instantaneous listening.
The headphones fit comfortably over my ears and as you can see from the picture above, I have a lot of hair. I was then asked what I wanted to hear and I simply replied, "surprise me." I listened to everything from Radiohead, to Michael Jackson and even Beethoven. The most amazing thing about the experience is that I clearly heard new parts in songs that I had listened to hundreds of times. It was as if it were my first time hearing them. Everything in the mix was crystal clear, I closed my eyes and completely immersed myself in the music.
So what makes these headphones so amazing and how did Sennheiser do it?
Sennheiser has built this masterpiece through relentless innovation and research over the past 10 years, spearheaded by Portfolio Manager Audiophile Axel Grell and his team in Germany.
"The electrostatic headphone system combines to perfection the most innovative technology with carefully selected, luxurious materials and highest quality craftsmanship."
Here is the simple version of the specifications:
- The best tube and transistor amplifiers
- integrated amplifiers for ultra-high impulse fidelity
- 8 Hz- 100kHz frequency range (human babies hear about 20-20k)!
- Crystal clear digital to analogue conversion
- Marble amplifier housing
- 2.4 micrometer platinum-vaporized diaphragms
- gold-vaporized ceramic electrodes
- Vacuum tube that isolates from airborne noise
- 0.01% distortion at 100 dB SPL at 1kHz (lowest ever measured)
- hand-crafted for ultimate comfort
You can find more specifications here.
Taking 400 man hours to craft 1 pair of Orpheus headphones and with this price tag, you can ensure they were made with care. With multiple people working on assembly, Sennheiser will be creating 1 pair a day starting next year. Each pair is completely customizable, with interchangeable colors or engravings specifically to the buyers wants and needs. Most of us will never see a pair of these in our lives, but if you ever do get a chance to listen to them, make the most of it! I can assure you it will be an experience that you will never forget.
More info here: Sennheiser Orpheus
Lastly, a HUGE thanks to Jeff over at Hummingbird Media for having us!