It is a tough claim to make to say that you created the best headphones in the world. Many stars have to align, and the maker of the worlds best headphones truly has to master the nuances of technical innovation, comfort, and above all, value proposition, in order to truly claim supremacy. Even then, given the very specific preferences that audiophiles tend to have, it is often difficult to please everybody. Now to say that you created the best headphones in the world…twice? Well that it is a claim that Sennheiser makes with the Orpheus, and if there ever were a pair of headphones worthy of that label, we would bet put our money on the the Germans.
In 1991, Sennheiser asked its engineers to make the best headphones ever. The result? The Orpheus, each retailing for $16,000 and touting to be the pinnacle of private listening. Fast forward over two decades, and Sennheiser does it again, bringing back the Orpheus like a phoenix rising from the ashes. The brain child of Axel Grell, Sennheiser’s top engineer, the Orpheus promises to be the best electrostatic headphones ever made.
Unlike ordinary headphones, electrostatic headphones are far more sophisticated, creating sound via a thin film placed between two metal plates within the headphones. In the Orpheus, this film is just 2.4 microns thick and is in fact lighter than the air around it. When audio voltage is transferred to the plates, the film, suspended, vibrates without ever being touched directly. This results in tonal clarity par excellence, producing a level of sound clarity that dynamic systems can never emulate.
In creating the modern Orpheus, Sennheiser spared no expense, taking its time over 10 years to perfect every detail. The Orpheus comes attached with an integrated amplifier which uses eight vacuum tubes, freely suspended in a block of Carrara marble in order to combine the superior audio processing powers of a tube amplifier with the low distortion of a transition amplifier. In essence, the amplifier allows the Orpheus to maximise its fullest potential, enjoying the best of both worlds in maximising clarity and minimising distortion.
Every detail has been meticulously thought over, to give the listener a truly special experience. Pushing the power button, the marble comes to life, revealing the operational buttons that were previously flushed within the marble base. As for the tubes, they rise from the base, warming up to the atmospheric temperature before becoming ready to go. This fully integrated design is fantastically unique, and rivalling only that of the listening experience. Do not be mistaken, the Orpheus does live up to the hype. They ARE good. Startlingly clear, the Orpheus allows each instrument and vocalist to be put into a spatial perspective, allowing for precise listening. Listening to the Orpheus, one can only sit in a state of total wonderment, finally understanding the hype and appreciating details that you had never perceived before. Sennheiser, you have truly delivered.