|Far too many companies these days (not only car companies) focus on "me too" marketing. The companies are driven by marketing and not design and engineering. Say all you want about Sennheiser, I guarantee you that marketing did not push for the Orpheus or the new possible Orpheus II. They are more concerned about the possible immediate seasonal sales figures and what color it will be.
Marketing has no place in design and engineering, and I've seen it put many companies down the sh1tter.
Any company that lets Engineering decide what to build, what to charge for it, when to go to market with it, how to build it, how to package it and how to sell it, is the company that is doomed for the "sh1tter". You have to know your customer and understand them to know how to build your product. You work for *them*, the customer dictates what you build, it's not all about throwing money around to build vanity projects for your engineers that no one wants (or at a price no one can afford). I wouldn't invest a penny in an operation like that, and neither should you. If Marketing isn't involved in the conception of the Orpheus 2, Sennheiser has a lot of problems. (*If* there even is one in the works. We don't even know that except for one reported rumor, let alone what an "Orpheus 2" might actually be.)
Edwood, you are assuming there is no reason to build a flagship headphone or that Marketing would be automatically opposed to the idea, I think these are incorrect assumptions. If ever there was a time to get cracking on a new flagship, that time is now. If you've been around long enough on these boards, you've seen the exponential growth in headphone interest, meetings (proto-"conventions") and most importantly an explosion of headphone related products. For example, only 4 years ago, you could count the number of headphone amp makers on both hands, now we have a new entrant every week. What's more, the number of upscale/high end amps is growing at the same rate as the entry level stuff, further evidence we are willing to invest in qyuality. We're a rabid market, an area of audio (albeit a relatively small area of audio at the moment) that is actually growing and booming NOT declining and ossifying (and aging) like the rest. What's more, we are a new market for the most part made up of younger people just getting into audio. As you know, younger people are very attractive targets to any manufacturer, they become customers for life. If your product line is composed of turntables being sold chiefly to aging listeners, the long-term outlook for your company is cloudy at best.
OK I'm babbling. The point is, of any time to be working on upscale headphones that time is now. IMO, the headphone makers are lagging the market-- we have all these pretty amps and no headphones to plug into them.
There are a million good reasons to build upscale statement headphones right now. However, IMO, it's a mistake to price them out of the market like the original Orpheus was. I see a larger opportunity for upscale cans than simply using an Orpheus 2 as another halo product for the trade show. If you price it right (which assumes you are able to build to a certain price point which means a few compromises here and there, no two ways about it), you have a real product not a show piece, that people will actually buy. It's an actual money-making, customer-pleasing opportunity for you rather than a vanity exercise.
IMO, the headphone market has a real problem in that after you want to graduate from the HD650, your choices of where to go dwindle even more, and in most cases, you have to make a leap from a $350 product to a $3500 one. This doesn't make any sense to me. I'd love to see products at every price point (and performance point) in between an HD650 and an R10; if I was Sennheiser, *that's* where I'd be putting my R&D money right now, not on another (we presume) $12K Orpheus 2. If Senn is hell-bent on making a newer faster better more expensive Orpheus, I really do hope they use this opportunity to use it as a platform for developing a new line of lower-priced electrostatics that we can all more readily enjoy.