This year’s International HiFi Show in Melbourne gave me the chance to have a private demo of the Sennheiser HE1, a top-of-the-range, ‘price-is-no-object’ kind of design, powered by bespoke tubes and MOSFET amps integrated into the headphones themselves.
I am not a great fan of headphones in general, but these blew me away! They could well be used as a reference system for people who design speakers… or other headphones for that matter. Mind you at $81,400, it is an expensive reference, but also a magnificent object carved out of Carrera marble no less. It apparently took 10 years to design as a ‘back burner’ project.
Sennheiser says the HE 1 are the first electrostatic headphones to have a Class-A MOSFET high-voltage amplifier integrated into the ear cups. This eliminates the capacitive reactance of the cable, which Sennheiser says means they're able to deliver an ultra-high impulse fidelity 200 per cent more efficiently than if cable or any other solution were used. The diaphragms in the headphones are 2.4-micrometres thick and coated in vaporised platinum. The ear cups are precision-machined from solid aluminium, feature handmade ear pads of finest leather and a soft, allergen-free velour/microfibre construction.
It’s worth visiting the show just to hear Sennheiser’s HE-1s, which you can do in Room 1201/C1.