CES 2013: Sennheiser Will Display Legendary Orpheus Headphones

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CES is normally all about the new, the shiny, the things to come. Heck, chances are good that some of the products on display will never even make it to the market. So, for the contrarian in me, it’s refreshing to see that Sennheiser is bucking the trend by dusting off one of its most classic, legendary products and displaying it on the show floor. There’s no word on whether or not we’ll get to touch them (probably not), but the company’s positively legen(wait for it)dary Orpheus model will at least be visible in the company’s booth.

Originally released in 1991 for a staggering $12,900 (not a typo), the Orpheus was actually a headphone/amplifier/DAC combo, consisting of a gorgeous electrostatic headphone (also not a typo), paired with an HEV90 vacuum tube amplifier.

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.

Rumor (okay, press release) has it that when the Orpheus does show up on the market, it brings three times its original asking cost. And given that only 300 units were ever made, it goes without saying that I’ve never seen one myself. So I’ll definitely swing by the booth for a look — if not a listen.

So, what’s up with this? Is Sennheiser potentially teasing a new version of this holy grail for headphone enthusiasts? Or are they just recalling glory days? If any new news comes out of the show, I’ll let you guys know.

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  • Loren Roetman

    I was working at Buzz Jensen’s Sound Advice in Phoenix when these came out and Sennheiser brought a set to a weekend technology showcase at our store. We fed them from a Proceed transport and Kind of Blue was transcendent! It felt like I shouldn’t listen too long or I would be ruined for all other HiFi gear, it was a highlight of my audio career, I was so lucky to have heard them. So cool!