THE MOST EXPENSIVE HEADPHONES ON THE PLANET, THE SENNHEISER ORPHEUS COME WITH THEIR OWN AMPLIFIER, AND AUDIBLE BRAGGING RIGHTS
BY EVAN MONROE
There’s every reason to be proud of your $199 Beats by Dr. Dre Studio 2.0s, and owners of the $999 Ultimate Ears UE RM need never be anything other than exultant, but for those blessed by perhaps more money than sense and/or for whom everything but the mountaintop is the basement, we present the most expensive headphone system on the planet: the Sennheiser Orpheus.
The brainchild of the We demark, Germany-based maker’s chief engineer, Axel Grell, and the product of no fewer than 20 years’ work, the Orpheus includes not just the headphones, but an integrated ampler utilizing eight vacuum tubes suspended in a block of Carrara marble (the tubes ascend majestically from the stone when the power button is turned on). Its excruciatingly detailed design is of an electrostatic type; unlike ordinary dynamic headphones in which a magnet moves a diaphragm that generates sound waves, these create waves courtesy of a vapor-thin film (just 2.4 microns) placed between metal plates in each ear cup. When voltage hits the plates, the film vibrates, resulting in, according to Sennheiser, a level of clarity and expansiveness of soundstage simply without parallel.
There better not be one, because the $55,000 asking price comes within about 400 clams of the Chevrolet Corvette we also had our eye on this spring.