Well it is certainly all go at the moment, after being whisked off to Paris with Devialet last week next up was an invite to an exclusive event in London held by Sennheiser where we would get our first listen to the mighty HE 1, the natural successor to the Orpheus system from many years ago considered by many to still be the best ever made, the main headline I guess is this is going to cost around £35,000 when launched in the summer, so can any headphone setup really be worth that? Well I have to say if it can give something that has never been experienced before and really is a huge step above the competition then I would say the answer is definitely yes, but it would have to be absolutely perfect and as of yet I still haven’t found the perfect headphone, even the awesome Stax SR-009′s have their flaws even though I would consider them the best available at this time, well for me anyway.
So we managed to get into London after work for around 8pm and went straight to the event where we were met with a glass of bubbly and the Sennheiser representatives, initially we were booked in for our 15 min listening slot at 10.15pm but luckily as soon as we arrived we were asked if we would like to go in early which was an opportunity I wasn’t going to miss, so in reality Wendy and myself had one song each to listen to, not ideal but long enough to get an real feel for what the HE 1 had to offer.
Firstly it really is a beautiful piece of equipment, you just can’t fail to be impressed, perfect German engineering as you would expect, what makes the Germans so good at this type of thing? So after admiring the fit and finish which ate 5mins of our allotted 15mins Wendy sat down to listen to her song of choice by Radiohead ‘How To Disappear Completely’ which she seemed to enjoy but I was just wishing the song would hurry up and end, then soon enough it was my time, in popped Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ into the T+A CD Player and off we went.
Firstly the first box that was ticked was the imaging, I love a headphone that can give some width and a sense of a soundstage, something like the HD800 and SR-009′s do this really well and the HE 1 didn’t disappoint. Being that the HE 1 is an electrostatic design you get that agility and speed like Stax offer but where the HE 1 destroys the opposition is the solidity to the bass, this is a very powerful and solid bass, like you would expect form a planar but with the speed and control bought on by the electrostatic driver, it really can’t be stated enough how impressive this is. Needless to say you get plenty of detail which is refined with no sign of harshness but it is on the mid range that the HE 1 really wins its stars, if I had one criticism of the Stax SR-009 is that the mid is a little clean, the HE 1 adds the warmth and naturalness of something like the Audeze LCD-4, it sounds so right, so after to brief a listen it is obvious that the HE 1 is extremely good.
So to sum up I would say that the HE 1 gives you the best attributes of the best planar headphones mixed with the best electrostatics to create the best headphone experience in the world today and to be fair probably one of the best sounds you are ever likely to hear as with conventional hifi you are not fighting your room, so you get great soundstage, really solid and fast bass with a mid range to die for, £35,000 well spent I would say :-)
Talking to Sennheiser at the event it sounds like they have sold out for this year and most of next year but I am still hopeful that we will have a HE 1 system on permanent demo late summer, fingers crossed anyway as headphone listening will never be the same again and I really do want to explore more of my music on the HA 1 as only getting chance to hear one song was almost torture as I could have sat there all night.
As ever please find some pictures and a video below of the HE 1 springing into action.
Very Cool! Link To Video Of HE 1 Coming To Life