Nov 4, 2016

What Would You Ask Sennheiser’s Axel Grell?

We’re excited to have Sennheiser’s Axel Grell here to answer your questions about all things sound. One of the world’s top headphone engineers, he’s responsible for the acclaimed HD 800, HD 650, Orpheus I, Orpheus II, and many more.
Wondering about past designs? Driver technologies? What got him interested in audio in the first place? Tell us what you want to know!
[UPDATE] Interview is up here https://www.massdrop.com/talk/989/community-interview-axel-grell! Sorry for the delay and we want to give a special thanks to Axel for taking the time during the holidays to answer questions from the community.
What an incredible response from the community! We are currently compiling all questions received prior to last week’s deadline. Our current plan is to send them over to Sennheiser this week with the final interview releasing before Christmas. Thank you for your participation and continued patience!
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T̶o̶ ̶s̶u̶b̶m̶i̶t̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶q̶u̶e̶s̶t̶i̶o̶n̶s̶,̶ ̶c̶o̶m̶m̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶b̶e̶l̶o̶w̶ ̶b̶y̶ ̶1̶1̶:̶5̶9̶ ̶p̶.̶m̶.̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶W̶e̶d̶n̶e̶s̶d̶a̶y̶,̶ ̶N̶o̶v̶e̶m̶b̶e̶r̶ ̶9̶t̶h̶.̶ ̶T̶h̶e̶n̶ ̶s̶t̶a̶y̶ ̶t̶u̶n̶e̶d̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶i̶n̶t̶e̶r̶v̶i̶e̶w̶,̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶p̶u̶b̶l̶i̶s̶h̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶f̶o̶l̶l̶o̶w̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶w̶e̶e̶k̶.̶
Please note that, while we love reading all your questions, Axel will only be able to answer a limited amount at this time.
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Hey everyone. Interview is up here now: https://www.massdrop.com/talk/989/community-interview-axel-grell

Sorry for the delay on that one and hope everyone enjoyed their holidays.
" with the final interview releasing before Christmas."

How long? >_____>
StaxSennHifiAudeze
Today! Sorry for the delay on that one
Has the interview been released yet?
Dellwolf
No, not yet. We are still working on it and it should be out soon. We'll give you an update once it's published.
Is this still going on, haven't seen any replies so far. Did I just missed out? The big question I wanted to know if Sennheiser is working on new flagships after HD800S?
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huang
Hopefully, the price is under $2000
huang
pls, dying to find out
A pleasure to speak with you Axel. Will Sennheiser endeavour to engineer wireless in-ear headphones that are also waterproof? I know from a marketing point of view these are all the rage right now, but if they are on the cards, now is the right time! Also, considering that fashion is considered more often in headphone purchases these days, is it possible that Sennheiser could produce a sleek, colourful version of the Momentum 2.0, perhaps with the strength of stainless, and with the colour scheme inclusive of Sony and Beats? Again, this is really from a marketing point of view. Thanks very much for your time!
are there any plans to release a new flagship after the hd800 not counting the orpheus?
Tyll Hertsens wrote a glowing review of your HD 202 headphones. Do you have new models coming in the under $100 segment? Your warranty is impressive and nearly unique in the headphone marketplace. Suggest you include a replaceable cord option in this price range, as Monoprice does.
What are your thoughts on the "Sennheiser veil" that has been the object of many an argument on the internet? Is it a desired effect? Is it an artifact of tuning out something worse? Or is it, as many have claimed, not really there?
Heefty
HI . In 2003 I bought the Sennheiser HD 650 when it came out. I was a big fan of Sennheiser. To be honest I simply "hate" my purchase and regret it. Veil sound awful bass even with a proper headphone amplifier. Also the paint on the headband cracked. I discover Grado at that time SR 325is and love the clarity detail fast bass that was not present in my HD 650. But I continue by the years to read reviews about the HD 650 and absolutely don't understand those positive reviews. So one day (last summer) I stop at a dealer place to try again the Sennheiser HD 650 and I immediately notice that it was much lighter. I borrow it for a weekend and as I discover it has nothing in common with my 2003 version. Bass was faster and you know what ??? no more veil sound. Detail clarity appears also. So it seems clearly that this headphone was improved. My understanding is the veil problem is part of the first years of production. So did you saw the criticism about the veil problem ??? and react by correcting those flaws. By now I used my 2003 for video and my recent purchase for music. The color of the drivers on my 2003 are white the new version is grey (kind of stainless steel color). The actual version is a wonderful headphone. I can live with this one alone. Like to hear your explanation. The veil story of the HD 650 need to be clarified now by Sennheiser.
In theory, part of the reason enthusiast products are important and necessary is to fund development of technology that will inevitably trickle down to less costly consumer products making them better than their predecessors where. There it can and probably does make the manufacturer more money over the long run.

Can you give any examples from your experience of this happening? Are there any specific design points from the legendary HD 580/600/650 series that have found their way into other Sennheiser designs during the decade or two of their lifetime you can speak to?
Dear Herr Grell,

The original Sennheiser Momentum was a fantastic headphone and in my opinion nudged the headphone design trajectory towards a more mature design note in both shape, function and perhaps foremost in terms of materials. The leather on steel with a somewhat understated design really appeals to me, much in the same way as the B&B P5s did a few years ago and more recently the P7s. The momentums was the first pair of headphones, other than the B&B P5, that could be worn with the business uniform. Walking around an airport with a pair of Audio technica M50s was never an alternative for me. Today there is a slew of alterantives for the business traveller and casual everyday fashionado. My one big gripe with the momentums was the fit, for my ears the cups were to small to be over-ear and as a pair of on-ear they did not really work. The half on half off design confused me and I wanted to take this oportunity to ask if this was a conscious decision in the design process? Did the design restrict the comfort process in this case? A followup to this question would be if Herr Grell thinks that a focus on design usualy leads to sacrifices, comfort or soundquality generally seems to take a hit as soon as the look and feel of a headphone takes presence.

I also wanted to ask a few questions about wireless headphones, this is a hot topic at my workplace. Many consider the ease and simplicity of Bluetooth headphones and earbuds to benefit the listening experience to the degree that the loss of soundquality is negligible. I strongly disagree, I use a portable DAC with my smartphone and a stationary DAC at my desk at work. I prefer vinyl or high quality files such as ALAC or FLAC and there is no doubt that using such devices and such files lead to a different (to avoid the word better) listening experience. Now to my question... In this age of streamed media, noise-cancelling headphones and cordless equipment where do you see the market leaning. Is the market size of people who prefer "low quality sound with ease of use" big enough to bump "cordlovers" to a nisch? I fear for the future of sound when the average end-user is unable to experience the sound upon wish a technician and artist spent many hours, resources and money. Could you put my mind at ease? :-)

Will there be another Momentum style headphones with an over-ear design and a, I would like to call it, less mature sound? I listen to a range of genres and prefer a headphone like the V-Moda M100  (or LP) that is able to hit a sweetspot where many genres sound perfect.

Stay Brilliant
Rozenkreutz   

Rosenkreutz
Great questions. One of them is easy to answer though.

Cord lovers have been a niche market for a long time. The majority of people easily value the convenience over quality in general and that does extend to headphones. See Apple's recent decision to nix the 3.5mm jack from their most recent phones for example. See the shitty white earbuds/earphones people have been listening to since the iPod became a thing for another. See how awful highly compressed audio sounds and yet it's completely taken over to the degree that I have a hard time finding hard copies of CDs for some groups to rip to my own FLACs.

It's not hard to see where the market is going. It's sad that so many people don't even know what they're missing out on when they don't hear what the musicians/engineers worked so hard to make sure was in their favorite music.

It does provide fun experiences for those of us who have actually done the leg work and started down the rabbit hole though. I always love the shocked expressions I get when I take someone's shit earbuds or beloved beats or skullcandies away and sit them down to hear my rig playing their favorite song. That open mouthed WTF look is priceless.
When is Senn going to develop new hi-fi headphones and replace the lackluster HD800? When are they going to design new mid-fi headphones to replace the ancient and also lackluster HD600?
Will there ever be automatic digital "room corrrection" equalization for headphones? Especially in ear monitors.

2 way dual driver in ear monitors are common. Will that trend transfer too full size headphones?
Can you finance an Orpheus System?
giff hd 666 priced at 200$ that smokes 540/580 versions and k501/240df. stop making hd800 or orpheus price point stuff tyvm