Sound sur­round

Esquire (Singapore) - - Man At His Best -

Sennheiser’s Or­pheus was al­ways the jewel in the crown. First launched in the ’90s, only 300 of the Or­pheus HE90 were cre­ated, and even to­day, the re­sale value of the model on eBay is worth more than its orig­i­nal re­tail price. So it makes per­fect sense for Sennheiser

to re­visit the Or­pheus, to craft a wor­thy suc­ces­sor—the Or­pheus HE 1.

The am­pli­fier has eight vac­uum tubes, with en­closed quartz-glass bulbs, that process in­com­ing sig­nals. Its hous­ing is made from gran­u­lar, in­ho­mo­ge­neous Car­rara mar­ble, which re­duces the am­pli­fier’s sen­si­tiv­ity to air-borne noise. In a reg­u­lar elec­tro­static model, most of the am­pli­fier power is lost in the ca­ble be­tween the head­phones and the

tube am­pli­fier. To counter that, Sennheiser di­rectly in­te­grated the ul­tra-high im­pulse am­pli­fier stage into the cups, thereby boost­ing the al­ter­nat­ing volt­age to high volt­age, not at the start of the ca­ble, but di­rectly into the head­phones them­selves. But all this jar­gon is

white noise to the av­er­age user.

The price tag def­i­nitely didn’t hook us. At EUR50,000, in­ter­ested par­ties need to reg­is­ter and make a down pay­ment. Nor did the heft and the look of the de­vice, with the slow as­cent of its vac­uum tubes and lights com­ing to life. But dur­ing the demo, when we turned to look over our shoul­der be­cause we mis­took a trum­pet as be­ing be­hind us in­stead of through the head­phones, that was the clincher. The mu­sic didn’t feel like it came from the head­phones; it was all around us. For that mo­ment, for that first time, we

broke into a smile.

The Sennheiser Or­pheus HE 1 can be or­dered at sennheiser.com/sennheiser-he-1.

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