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.