Once in a blue moon you get to experience something special, something magnificent, something exclusive. Of course, there’s normally a reason it’s so exclusive and that’s the price. This was one such week, when I got to sit and listen to John Farnham through the Sennheiser HE1 headphones – the best headphones ever.
Like getting the key to a Rolls Royce, sitting down to enjoy something so special as Sennheiser’s best ever headphones isn’t something that comes without a touch of trepidation – I mean heck, these are pricey.
And if you’re thinking that’s ridiculous, just wait – it’s more than just a set of headphones folks.
The HE1 is a system. You provide the music, it provides the amplification and output.
About the size of an old record player from a Hi-Fi set, the HE1 base is made from Marble – sourced from a section of mountain Sennheiser own for this very purpose.
Made to order, the first step in this audiophillic process is to make an appointment at the Sennheiser store in Sydney, Out the back in a small room made to showcase things like their AMBEO soundbar is a desk where the HE1 sits.
Bring your own Vinyl, or use the vast library of music available on their computer, you can then sit and enjoy this masterpeice.
And it starts with the power button. A hefty high-quality remote triggers the power sequence, which sees the volume dial and input dials slowly extend outward from the marble presenting themselves for use.
Each one of those dials is milled from a single piece of brass before being plated with chrome. Yep, that much detail.
On top, on the right-hand side, eight stunning hand-selected vacuum tube valves rise from within the marble to glow knowingly ready to deliver you sound.
Finally, on the left side on top of the unit, a glass case slowly opens to expose your headphones. Attached to the HE1 base unit amplifier by a remarkably long and thick high-quality cable, the headphones are something to behold.
So big they don’t even touch your ears, so light you can barely feel them, you actually don’t realise they are on you because they are also open-backed and thanks to the style of speaker they are, there is sound flowing through to you so you can hear the person next to you like you have no headphones on.
Instead of the standard “speaker” (Driver) you might find in a set of headphones, the HE1 uses advanced electrostatic technology. This uses a piece of high-quality metal run down through the headphones, through which electrical energy is passed creating the sound waves you hear.
Crazy stuff – but – stunning.
Inside the ear cup is a Class A MOS-FET high voltage amplifier which eliminates the capacitive resistance of the cable – allowing the cable to be longer, but also more efficient.
The HE1 amplifier can receive digital signals via optical or coaxial inputs, a USB input or high-resolution PCM and DSD data from your PC.
There are eight – yes eight internal DACs to convert the music to analogue signals.
Honestly, this was a delightful experience.
Anyone who loves music should experience this sound, and you can – you just need to call the Sennheiser Store in Sydney and ask to book in to hear the HE1 – there’s no pushing sales pitch, they know their market so don’t let that put you off.
Trevor Long visited the Sennheiser Store in Sydney as part of a paid partnership to produce a podcast episode. Getting to hear the HE1’s was a delightful surprise as part of the tour, they didn’t ask me to write this, I was simply blown away by the experience.