A few months ago Sennheiser got in touch as they wanted to advertise their Reshaping campaign on Headfonia. Who at that time would have thought the launch of the new Orpheus was linked to that. A few weeks ago however it all became clear Sennheiser was launching the new Orpheus and Jude got some kind of premiere with his listening session and video. From that day on I was hoping to get invited to one of the Orpheus events and luckily for me that happened. What an honor.
It’s no secret: I’m a big fan of Sennheiser headphones. Ever since I got into headphones, the HD650 has been one of my favorite units and I (not so) secretly call it the King of all headphones. Some will agree and some won’t but for a lot of people the HD650 is an end game headphone. I still use it on a daily basis myself. Next to the HD650 I have/had the HD25, Amperior, Momentum, HD600, HD700, RS220 and HD800 in my personal collection. That’s a lot of Sennheiser but for a fan, it’s normal. Isn’t it?
When I last week got my invitation for the private listening session I was a bit worried. You see, I last Saturday got married to my lovely wife and I – only three days later – was about to interrupt our honeymoon to go listen to a headphones setup in another country. Luckily for me she understands that I, being the headphone enthusiast I am, can’t reject an invitation to such an event. I mean, this is like the Champions’ League soccer final or the Superbowl for headphone fans: it just can’t be missed. So I have to thank her for that. And just to be sure she was OK with me leaving for the day, I got her some shoes just in case. It worked. We’re still married.
Back in 1990/1991 Sennheiser presented the HE90+HEV90 to the world a.k.a. the Orpheus. Only 300 units were ever made and with specs like 500V and a whole bunch of other impressive numbers, the Orpheus became the world’s best sounding system. 25 years have passed and since then a lot of new technology has found its way to the headphone market. I guess Sennheiser figured it was about time to set a new standard and my dear Lord, they did just that. November 2015 will from now on be remembered as the month Sennheiser showed the world the very best headphone system on the planet. Well, and of course the month I got married in. The missus might be reading after all.
I have to say I was very excited to go to Sennheiser in Almere (of all places). Not often do you exclusively get to listen to the world’s best headphone system. Actually only about 20 or so journalists got invited over the two days. I have listened to the original Orpheus quite a number of times during shows and while it certainly is a very good system it has never really wowed me that much. After I listened to it for the very first time, I wrote I expected angels to come down from heaven but that just never happened. It probably would have had I listened to it in the nineties though, at that time the original was just as astonishing as the successor is today. The “old” Orpheus still is good but with the new technology available today the differences between the Orpheus and the high-end gear available on the market today – such as the Stax 009 in example – isn’t that impressive any more.
The new Orpheus is impressive. It’s a completely new amplifier design which combines the best of tube and transistor amplifiers to provide the ultimate audio experience. Patented high-voltage amplifiers, which are integrated directly into the cups of the headphones, increase efficiency by 200% over other solutions currently available. It’s superb, believe me. The only downside of this is that the ear cups kind of get warm. It’s awesome though during winter and great for those cold Belgian nights. No, no no. Who am I kidding? With a sound like this I really don’t care about the cups getting warm. Orpheus is comfortable. Orpheus is sensual. Orpheus rocks.
High-quality quartz bulbs around the vacuum tubes eliminate all acoustic noise from the outside world, while an amplifier housing of the finest Carrara marble offers an unshakeable solid foundation. So far only three prototypes have been built, two of them are located in the European Union and the other one is somewhere in the US of A. When production starts in 2016 only 250 units will be made and it takes a full day to build just one unit.
Click here or below to go to page 2, the “tech stuff”. The Orpheus Experience itself continues on Page 3.