The Sennheiser HE 1 offers a frequency response that goes beyond the range of human hearing and the lowest total harmonic distortion that has ever been measured in an audio reproduction system
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Sennheiser has launched its HE 1 headphones in India at Rs. 45,00,000. The headphones is the successor to the Orpheus and the company claims them to be the world’s finest and best headphones. The Sennheiser HE 1 offers a frequency response that goes beyond the range of human hearing and the lowest total harmonic distortion that has ever been measured in an audio reproduction system.
Read the complete press release below
German Audio specialist Sennheiser, today re-defined the limits of audiophile sound in India as it launched the world’s finest and the best headphones - Sennheiser HE 1, successor to the legendary Orpheus. Sennheiser HE 1 is a proof of that Sennheiser is truly shaping the future of audio in the Indian market. The new audio miracle combines a unique amplifier concept with carefully selected materials and highest quality craftsmanship the world has ever seen before. The HE 1 will be available in India from May 2017 for INR 45,00,000.
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 are just some of the technical highlights of this milestone product- Sennheiser HE 1.
Building high-end headphones which sound so brilliant that you feel that you are in a concert hall; creating acoustics that surpass anything that has been heard before: this has always been Sennheiser’s vision. And in 1990/1991, the audio specialist achieved precisely that: Sennheiser took the audio world by storm with an engineering masterpiece that eliminated all previous ideas about the performance limitations of headphones. The HE 1, an electrostatic headphone system with an impressive 500 V tube amplifier, became an icon of the audio industry and was recognized as the best headphones in the world – until now.
Almost 25 years after the legendary Orpheus, Sennheiser is once again surpassing the limits of what is technically feasible and is opening a new chapter in audio excellence. The new HE 1 represents a unique combination of meticulous engineering skills and technological brilliance. The result: an unprecedented sound experience with the ultimate in reproduction precision and unique spatiality.
Commenting on the launch Dr Andreas Sennheiser, CEO, Sennheiser, said “To craft a successor to the legendary Orpheus as a reference product for the industry itself, Sennheiser worked tirelessly on innovative technical solutions, consistently putting previously used acoustics approaches to the test and exploiting every conceivable possibility when it came to selecting the optimum materials. For almost a decade, a core team of developers, engineers and designers dedicated themselves to producing a successor, and they have now created a headphone system that is beyond comparison. We are very proud of this exceptional product for the benchmark for the Indian market. The HE 1 stands for the innovative capabilities of our company and the joint commitment of our workforce to the pursuit of perfect sound.”
"For a decade now in the Indian market, Sennheiser has shaped the industry and has been at the cutting edge of audio by continuously re-defining the gold standard of what is technically possible,” said Sennheiser CEO Daniel Sennheiser. “With the HE 1, we are once again pushing the boundaries and are showing that we can repeatedly set new benchmarks in excellence and reshape the future of the high-end audio world.”
Commenting on the launch, Mr. Kapil Gulati, Director Consumer Segment said “We are very thrilled to have launched the World’s finest headphones, now in India. India has emerged as one of the biggest and fastest growing markets in the audiophile industry and with the launch of these headphones we have managed to set a new benchmark yet again. We at Sennheiser always thrive for excellence and are reshaping the future of high-end audio world in pursuit of perfect sound. “
A patented amplifier concept for incomparable sound
Reproducing sound that is as natural as possible and precise in every detail: with the new HE 1, Sennheiser has come closer to this dream than anyone ever before. “No other sound reproduction system in the world is able to deceive our senses like the HE 1. It creates the absolutely perfect illusion of being directly immersed in the sound,” said Daniel Sennheiser, describing the audio experience. To achieve this, the headphones use 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. The advantage of tube amplifiers is their superior impulse processing. However, one challenge is their sensitivity to air-borne-noise. For this reason, the amplifier housing was crafted from granular, inhomogeneous Carrara marble and is freely suspended with the amplifier. 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 impressive: a 200 percent rise in efficiency compared to other products. In electrostatic headphones, most of the amplifier power is lost in the cable between the headphones and the tube amplifier. Only around one third of the power generated is used to produce sound waves, Sennheiser’s approach was therefore to amplify the alternating voltage to high voltages not at the beginning of the cable but at the point where it is required – directly at the gold-vaporised ceramic electrodes in the headphones themselves. The great advantage of this design is the extremely short distance between the amplifier and the diaphragm which is less than one centimetre in the new HE1. Thus, the headphone system requires far less power for charge reversal, as the current capacities are much lower. At a voltage of only around 5 Volt, the music signal is transmitted balanced to the high-voltage amplifier integrated into the headphones and is amplified there. This ensures extremely high impulse fidelity with relatively low power requirements. Just like the tubes of the tube amplifier, the system’s MOS-FET transistors have a square characteristic curve to prevent the hard distortion that occurs in amplifiers with bi-polar transistors.
Sennheiser places the new amplifier concept in a class that the audio specialist calls Cool Class A. In the low-frequency range, Cool Class A provides Class A power at any volume. In the high- and ultrahigh-frequency range, the amplifier switches from Class A to the usual Class AB operation. That will, however, only be the case when listening to a very unusual frequency spectrum.
Gold-vaporised ceramic electrodes and platinum-vaporised diaphragms
Meticulous attention has also been paid to every detail of the material selection for the HE 1 to fully exploit the sound potential of the reference headphones. Each of the more than 6,000 individual components was carefully chosen, their acoustic characteristics were evaluated and finally the optimum combination was put together. After all, it is the interaction between all components that is ultimately responsible for the audio quality of the headphones. For example, to ensure the outstanding performance of the acoustic unit, Sennheiser uses gold-vaporised ceramic electrodes and platinum-vaporised diaphragms.
It goes without saying that the cables too have been specially designed and built. 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.
Ultra-wide frequency response and the world`s lowest total harmonic distortion
With its unique transducer system, the new HE 1 has a frequency response of 8 hertz to more than 100 kilohertz. This is a frequency range which far exceeds the limits of human hearing ability. Nevertheless, this extremely wide frequency response does influence the sound experience, as it ensures that, in the audible range, the sound of the headphones is 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. Therefore, in terms of sound purity, Sennheiser is venturing into areas that have never been measured in a sound reproduction system. Even the slightest nuances of the music become audible.
Technology beyond the reference
The HE 1 can be operated with a wide range of analogue and digital audio sources. Apart from balanced inputs, the headphone system also has unbalanced input sockets; the incoming signals are balanced before being further processed. Digital audio sources are connected via S/PDIF (optical and coaxial) or USB. To convert the digital music data into analog signals, the HE 1 uses the ESS SABRE ES9018 chip – a reference in the field of digital-to-analog converters. In the HE 1, its eight internal DACs convert audio data with a resolution of 32 bits and a sampling rate of up to 384 kHz or DSD signals with 2.8 MHz and 5.6 MHz into balanced analog signals. For each stereo channel, four DACs are connected in parallel for noise reduction. Thus, the entire frequency spectrum of high-end audio sources is reproduced without distortion. The circuit was optimised for the fully symmetrical design of the HE1.
Unrivalled sound experienced for all senses
The unique HE 1 experience begins long before you start listening. When the on/off-volume control is pressed, the controls at the front slowly extend from the amplifier housing, before the vacuum tubes with their quartz glass bulbs rise from the base and start to glow. Finally, a glass cover is automatically raised, allowing the headphones to be removed. The main aim was to provide a sensual experience by using highest quality materials.
The marble that Sennheiser chose for the amplifier housing comes from Carrara in Italy and is the same type of marble that Michelangelo used to create his sculptures. The rotary switches for the source and the volume controls are milled from a single piece of brass and chromium-plated. The positions of the four switches are controlled by a microprocessor and activated by high-quality relays. Each element can be remote-controlled and will follow any adjustments that the listener makes. For example, if the input switch is changed by remote control from USB to Balanced, the respective button will also rotate.
The combination of outstanding technology, exquisite design and the highest-quality materials is also continued in the headphones themselves. The genuine leather ear cushions are crafted in Germany and ensure the highest possible comfort even over several hours. At the inner side of the cushions, hypoallergenic, breathable microfiber fabric provides additional acoustic absorption. All these materials form an ingenious combination of design, comfort and function – for a unique audio experience that appeals to all senses.
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