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What Would You Ask Sennheiser’s Axel Grell?
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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.
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.