Monday, August 26th, 2019

Sennheiser to Display Legendary Orpheus Headphones at CES 2013

By editorJanuary 6, 2013


In celebration of its relentless ‘Pursuit of Perfect Sound,’ Sennheiser [Booth 20500] will display its legendary Orpheus headphones at its booth during CES 2013. Also known as the HE90, the Orpheus debuted in 1991 and was immediately recognized in audiophile circles as the best sounding, most innovative headphone system ever made. Indeed, it is still considered by many to represent the very pinnacle of audio reproduction.

With a limited production run of just 300, the Orpheus originally carried a retail pricetag of US $12,900, making it the most expensive headphone ever made when it was introduced at the Berlin International Radio Exhibition over two decades ago. Now a unique collector’s item for the audio community’s most absolute purists, the Orpheus can sometimes be found on today’s auction sites for nearly triple that amount.

sennheiser_orpheus_060113The Orpheus originally consisted of an HE90/HEV90 electrostatic headphone and amplifier system, and was intended to reproduce uncolored and undistorted sound with high accuracy and clarity. The HEV90 vacuum tube amplifier – a striking visual feast of audio componentry – utilized an all valve analog signal path and an onboard dedicated digital to analog converter (DAC).

The HE90 headphone design itself included a microscopically thin, platinum-coated diaphragm and electrodes made of special glass — which proved helpful in establishing a superior time response and reducing acoustical losses in the audio frequency range. The ear cushion, meanwhile, was instrumental in defining the overall sound balance and was optimized for both sound quality and comfort.

When it was introduced in 1991, the Orpheus was unsurpassed in its masterful design and uncompromising sonic purity. The essence of this perfection is still reflected in every product that Sennheiser manufactures to this day. 

Orpheus Accolades:

“The Orpheus is the most musical sounding headphone I have ever heard. It is so involving – so realistic sounding – so pathos-filled, but most of all – it is transparent.”

 David Solomon (DavidMahler) on

“Its Art Deco design is simply striking. With its polished aluminum surfaces, six visible tubes covered with shiny tube shields, black accents, and wood trim, it would look equally at home in a listening room of almost any period or in a Flash Gordon movie—it looks expensive.”

– InnerFidelity

If looks could kill, the Orpheus would be deadly.”

 – Stereophile

Frequency response: 7-100,000 Hz (-10 dB); 14-85,000 Hz (- 6 dB); 25-75,000 Hz (- 3 dB)
Frequency range: diffuse field equalized
Transducer principle: electrostatic
Ear coupling: circumaural
Contact pressure: 4.6 N
THD at SPL of 110 dB (94 dB) < 0.1 % (< 0.01 %)
Nominal sensitivity: (V = 100 V) ≥ 98 dB/1 kHz
Polarisation voltage: 500 V
Weight (without cable): 365 g
Connector: 5-pin HV plug
Connection cable: 3 m, 6-core; OFC copper cable with gold-plated contacts
Dimensions: 19 x 10 x 21.5 cm

HEV-90 Amplifier

Frequency response: 10 – 20,000 Hz (- 0.25 dB)
THD (1 kHz) < 0.01 %
Unweighted S/N ratio ≥ 80 dB
Sensitivity/impedance: 10 kΩ
Talk-over muting: (1 kHz) ≥ 80 dB
Output voltage :400 Veff
Line inputs:
– (switchable) optical, digital (Toslink)
– co-axial, digital (RCA phono)(automatic recognition of incoming sampling frequency)
– co-axial, analogue(RCA phono)
Outputs for 2 HE 90 headphones
Weight approximately: 13 kg
Dimensions: 53 x 34 x 15.5 cm

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