This year at CES — as always — there’s been waves and waves of new technology. Not everything of interest is always white hot, though. We’re talking about the above pair of headphones — the Orpheus HE90 from Sennheiser. Those in the know will be somewhat familiar with these headphones, as they made their initial debut in 1991. Yeah, 1991. The limited run of 300 pairs has secured these exclusive cans a special place in audio folklore. The electrostatic headphones combined with a companion all-valve amp are what many consider to be a reference point in hi-fi. As a small example, most consumer headphones offer a frequency response somewhere in the region of 60 - 20,000 kHz. The Orpheus offer from 7 - 100,000 — we’re guessing even some bats could struggle to hear frequencies that high. Of course, audio can’t truly be measured in pure numbers and specifications. There’s some clever custom technology, such as the dual-electrodes the HE90 have between the diaphragm that is the cornerstone of the push-pull principle, that go a long way to helping these cans use to produce their sound.
And what about that sound? Well, we were lucky enough to get some quality time with them, and what can we say. The first thing that hits you is the clarity. Bright, plucky, light audio dances its way from the large and comfortable ear-cups. In fact, these things are so comfortable that you could wear them for long, long periods of time and we’d wager you remain comfortable, without any ear fatigue. The build is wonderful, and the leather cushions on the cups changes to a cloth material on the part that rests on your skin. The size of the ear-cups is also a major factor in the overall luxury of the Orpheus, and the ovular design means your ears sit snuggly inside, while they dish out the delicious audio. We’d normally tell you about price and availability at this point, but in the case of the HE 90s, it’s a bit of a misnomer. These were priced in the double-thousands of dollars at launch, and with only 300 pairs produced, that price will have increased somewhat over time. If you can find some though, even if it’s at a trade show, we recommend you take the opportunity to have a listen.
Gallery: Sennheiser Orpheus ears-on
Billy Steele contributed to this report.
Filed under: Home Entertainment