THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME
Sennheiser is driven by discovery. It’s driven by innovation. And it’s driven by passion for excellence. Here’s how it’s shaped the future of audio throughout its history
It isn’t enough to just reproduce music. If you want to enjoy a history as long as Sennheiser’s (the company is 71 this year), you need to be able to reproduce music exactly as the artist heard it in their head.
Part of that means knowing how the music is produced in the first place – at its creation, in the studio or concert hall. You might know the company as an Award-winning headphone maker, but it started life at the other end of the signal chain. Its first microphone, 1946’s DM 1, led to a series of successes in studio and measuring equipment, before its breakthrough interference tube microphone in the early 1950s transformed Hollywood film and TV sets with its hyper-directional pick-up characteristics. Since then, Sennheiser has excelled in producing studio and stage microphones (its sister company, Neumann, makes the legendary U 87 condenser mic used in top studios all over the world). Capturing sound correctly the moment it leaves the instrument, guitar amp or lips means the listener is far more likely to hear it correctly at the other end of the chain – through speakers or, in Sennheiser’s case, headphones. Quality in, quality out, to turn a popular phrase on its head.
The company’s deep understanding, and massive success, in those two extremes (and all the points in between) means that when Sennheiser says it has the vision to shape the future of audio, it’s not kidding.
Take 1968’s HD 414 – the world’s first open-backed headphones. They promised (and delivered) far more natural sound than anything before, and remain history’s best-selling headphones. Or 1975’s infrared wireless headphones. Or 1991’s tube-amplifier-powered Orpheus hyper-high-end headphones. The high-end IE 800 in-ears… the list goes on.
The pursuit of perfect sound drives the company – and creating emotions is its goal. “We can talk about technology as much as we want. The true test is whether you get goosebumps or not,” says Andreas Sennheiser. He, along with brother Daniel, runs the family-owned company as CO-CEO today.
It’s just unveiled new technology that is promising to be the ultimate goose-bumps-raiser. AMBEO is immersive audio, and it’s increasingly becoming a format of choice in professional recording, mixing and listening. As well as the standard 5.1 surround set-up you might already have at home, AMBEO uses four speakers placed at height to create true 9.1-channel sound.
“It’s the perfect representation of reality in the audio spectrum,” says Daniel Sennheiser. “It’s a journey for us with artists and with our engineers to break down the perceptive barrier between what is reality and what is just reproduction.”
The aim is to have the speakers working in tandem with your own senses – fooling them into thinking that what they’re hearing is real objects in the room with you.
“When you’re in a room, and you see a screen, you see the walls… the effect is there. But if you close your eyes, suddenly the room disappears. It becomes very, very large,” says Daniel.
The company is developing the technology further. It’s working with artists, recording studios, equipment manufacturers and more at all parts of the audio production process.
Gaming, movies and music are all getting the AMBEO treatment. And soon, Sennheiser says, you’ll be able to get the effect in a pair of headphones.
How’s that for shaping the future of audio?
1968’s HD 414s