Trying out the best headphone system in the world, the Sennheiser HE 1

At CanJam Singapore 2017, I have the opportunity to try out the best headphone system in the world right now, reborn of the legendary Orpheus, the Sennheiser HE 1. The slot is limited, with CanJam attendees must reserve for a slot beforehand. I got to reserve a slot, along with a couple of my friends. Each slot is about 5 minutes long, so it is a short experience. But how good is it? Is it worthy of the £55,000 price tag?

The Sennheiser HE 1 demonstration is done in a private room, far away from the CanJam exhibition floor. Splitting into a group of 4, a Sennheiser rep escort us to a room, in one of the highest floor at the Pan Pacific hotel where CanJam was held. At the room, we are greeted by the previous group (that was all leaving in awe) and two other Sennheiser rep, one that is responsible at handling the HE 1 and explaining to us what it is, while the other is a photographer that took photos of us when we are listening.

Props to all Sennheiser rep that is all friendly and welcoming, even to us attendees that is usually not a potential buyer. Listening to the HE 1 is one thing, but the whole experience is what counts and Sennheiser deliver it very well. As the 4 of us take turn listening to the HE 1, it is finally my chance to sit down and listen.

Looking at the system itself is already a sight to behold. There is two huge black box visible on the top, one for storing the headphone when not in use and the other is a house to 8 vacuum tubes, that will retract when turned off. The rest is housed within a solid block of marble that simply looks gorgeous. There is this mechanic that will retract all tubes and knobs when turned off, although I didn’t have a chance to see that in action.

The headphone itself is quite light and sit comfortably in my head. The Sennheiser rep sit beside me and start selecting the demo track. It is finally here, in my ear, the music start flowing.

And there, in an instant, 5 minutes gone, 2 songs and that’s it. I have to take the headphone out from my head and I’m very reluctant to do so, I want to spend more time with it… but I can’t, the next person is already waiting, and the next group too.

Describing the sound of the HE 1 is surprisingly very simple. No, I won’t talk about how warm or cold is it, how wide or narrow the soundstage is, or how the bass, midrange or treble is. No, it is very simple to describe how HE 1 sound, and that is it sounds real, very realistic. There is no other headphone that I have tried so far, that could give me the sense of realism like the HE 1 delivers. It sounds real and natural, that’s it. And for that, I have to give my hat to Sennheiser. It is indeed, the best headphone system in the world.

Before giving up my turn, I asked permission to take a couple of photos, which you can see in this post. When each of of us is done listening, we are given a paper to write our impression, along with name and email. The Sennheiser rep promises us that they will send the photos they took of us to our email, however I have yet to receive it at the time of writing this. The next group is arriving and is now our turn to leave, with similar response to the group before us, we are all leaving in awe.

And that concludes my short experience with Sennheiser HE 1 at CanJam Singapore and what an experience it is. I planned to write more impression on the CanJam exhibition floor, but I think this experience with HE 1 is worth another article itself. I found myself trying to find headphone that could replicate the sound of HE 1 for the rest of the day and found nothing. Then again, is it worth the £55,000 price tag? If I have to answer, then yes, yes it is. Unfortunately that is a sum I might never been able to afford.

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