Sennheiser HE-1 Orpheus 2 impression set – absolute clarity without the clinicality

Tl;dr: Lives up to its billing as the successor to one of the greatest headphones ever manufactured. Extremely clear, yet extremely engaging sound

Pros: Everything but the price

Cons: Price

Stopped by Bay Bloor Radio this weekend to audition the Sennheiser HE-1 Orpheus 2 set. Only had 15 minutes, so the following impressions are very much stream-of-consciousness. The Sennheiser rep played snippets of three test tracks, and I had time to play two/three more snippets of songs of my own choice (all lossless, TIDAL quality or higher). Here’s some notable open-back setups I’ve had experience with as a frame of reference in addition to my current setup of Andromeda + Mojo. Admittedly, my source gear experience has been pretty crap in the grand scheme of things but school doesn’t free much much disposable income for amps + DACs:

HD800 + Burson HA160D
Hifiman HE-X + Chord Mojo
Audeze LCD-2 pre-fazor + Burson Conductor
HD600/HD650 + Aune T1

Build is great, as it should be. Sennheiser’s work on their in-house pots paid off, as they are extremely smooth and nice to work. Comfort of the Orpheus 1 is extremely good, same level as the HD800 but with a slightly looser clamp. However, I wish the headphone design would be a bit more high-end through the use of a better finish.

Can confidently say Orpheus is the best sounding headphone I’ve tried yet, as it should be. Has great speed and clarity, yet with a balanced sound sig with a slightly warm tilt. No glare like the HD800, I’d liken the sound signature more akin to HD650 but with much better speed, definition, separation, positioning and soundstage. Track-by-track impressions are below:

Rep’s demo tracks:

Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah: Really shows off Orpheus’ chops at handling male vocals. Captures Buckley’s excellent vocals with a great sense of space. Melody provided a nice backdrop to vocals without getting in the way.

Norah Jones – Come Away With Me: Honestly, see above but replace male with female vocals.

Some world music which I don’t have the ID of – Highlights the phone’s strong capability to keep vocals + instrumentals separate. Beginning was a choral section where it was easy to pinpoint each member’s contribution. Second part was a percussive swing song which got me tapping my toes, demonstrating the great PRaT (**** term I know lol).

My personal picks:

Kendrick Lamar – Backseat Freestyle: Much better bass slam than I expected. Hit hard for a headphone with no bleed. Kendrick’s sometimes mumbly rap style was as legible as it’s ever been. The bells in the intro had a great sense of sparkle.

Kaskade & Deadmau5 – Move for me: Mau5′ intro in the song was extremely rich and enveloping. Really breathy vocals, this track demonstrates the Orpheus 2’s strong ability on highs without being fatiguing like the HD800 while keeping good bass slam.

A classical piano piece I can’t remember: You can pick out the coughs of the audience in the recording. Good tone and timbre of the keys. However, I still think for piano, the $75,000 CAD asking price of Orpheus 2 would be better spent on a Yamaha grand and the services of a national-level piano player,

Ultimately, these recaptured the magic of my first exposure to a high-end headphone set. Can’t say the same about the other setups I’ve encountered. Definitely interested in owning a set if I ever hit big on the Powerball lottery.

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