Attended Sennheiser International Gathering in Ireland
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From mid last week through that weekend, I was in Ireland on an invitation from Sennheiser to join them in an international event they were hosting with the purpose of introducing those invited to visit their state of the art production facility in Tullamore, Ireland; celebrating Sennheiser Ireland's founding about 12 years ago; viewing and auditioning some new Sennheiser products coming down the pike (don't ask me what they were, as I can't say anything about them at all yet); and being introduced to some of the company's executives and product teams. Those invited included Sennheiser customers/business partners, journalists, and, well, me (as a hobbyist with a headphone web site, I'm not really sure exactly where I fit in). An insanely good time was had by all -- actually, it was the most fun I've had in quite some time.

Some of the Sennheiser people I met included:
  1. Katrin Bode, Business Area Manager Consumer, Sennheiser electronic (Germany)
  2. Edelgard Marquardt, Teamleader Public Relations, Sennheiser electronic (Germany)
  3. Heinke Hahn, Market Manager Northern/Eastern Europe (Germany)
  4. Rolf Meyer, President Marketing and Sales, Sennheiser electronic (Germany)
  5. Peter Callan, President, Sennheiser International Manufacturing GmbH (Ireland)
  6. Robert Douglas, Manager Consumer Electronics, Sennheiser Electronic Corp. (USA)
  7. John Sandell, Sennheiser AB (Sweden)
  8. David Smith, National Accounts Manager - Consumer, Sennheiser UK Ltd (United Kingdom)
Of course, I also met a nice lot of journalists and Sennheiser customers/business partners, including Todd Green of HeadRoom, and a bunch of great folks from several other countries.

Some of the highlights of the trip that I can discuss at this time include the visit to the new Sennheiser factory in Tullamore, Ireland. No question about it, it was extremely state of the art, and very efficient. Some of the headphones are made almost entirely by machines before the last testing processes (which almost invariably include human interaction). The higher line headphones (like the HD-580s and HD-600s) actually receive much more human attention and handwork than I would have ever imagined, from beginning to end. The more sophisticated transducers of these higher end headphones are lavished with human attention from the very start.

At the factory, we saw voice coils being wound and then pressed into the magnet assemblies; Duofol transducers being laminated from two different materials; the diaphragms being shaped; earpieces being assembled; tiny connections being soldered; many different headphones being tested in any number of ways (including wireless and infrared transmitter/receiver testing for the wireless headphones -- RF testing is actually done within a completely RF-sealed chamber); and, finally, many different models being packaged and made ready to ship around the world. This collection of processes was truly a fascinating thing for a headphone hobbyist like me to experience. They also gave each of the guests a nice factory souvenir -- a clear memento box containing some of the parts we saw being assembled, with each part labeled and glued in place.

Presentations by Ms. Bode, Mr. Meyer, and Mr. Callan were also very interesting, providing us with a thorough background and history of Sennheiser, as well as giving us a clear look forward to where they saw the company and its products going. For a headphone enthusiast, it was all very encouraging -- especially the part about Sennheiser seeing and projecting continued growth of the headphone market.

I was also able to acquire (thanks to the help of Katrin and Rob) a new pair of HD-600s fairly fresh off the line from the Tullamore factory. I can't think of a more fantastic way to acquire another set of what currently are my favorite dynamic headphones.

I have some photos of the factory that Sennheiser provided for us in a press kit. As you can imagine, they are quite guarded about their production processes for competitive reasons, and so we weren't allowed to take pictures ourselves within the facility. I'll scan and post the factory photographs they provided soon.

In addition to the factory tour, we, of course, did some other fun things. As you can imagine, being in Ireland, multiple pub visits were in order. We also had an opportunity to do Irish whiskey tasting. Live, unamplified Irish music was provided, allowing an Irish-music-loving Head-Fi'er like me to hear it the way I try so hard to recreate it with my headphone rigs. And we also had our hand at competitive clay pigeon shooting, archery and four-wheel ATV'ing, all on the grounds of an old castle. And did I mention the pubs? I don't think my body will ever be completely clear of my new favorite drink -- I think I'll forever bleed Guinness Stout.

Again, we did learn about -- and even had the chance to try -- a few upcoming Sennheiser products. Please don't bother asking me at this time what they were, as I can say nothing about them yet. I will say this much -- I feel very confident they have some future big hits on their hands. As the press embargos are lifted, I'll be sure to post about them here, including photos, specs, and more information.

My private discussions with a couple of Sennheiser folks were also very encouraging, as they told me they are very aware of the growing, international Head-Fi community. Just so you know, they do pay attention to, and seem very interested in, what we're up to here at Head-Fi.

A big thanks to Sennheiser (especially Katrin Bode and Rob Douglas) for inviting me to this big, unbelievable event and party. I had an astonishingly good time!
 
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RickG

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Very cool, Jude. I wish I could have been there too...Thanks for the report.

Can't wait to hear about the new stuff!

 
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Sol_Zhen

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Sounds like a truely awesome trip.

Did you take a camera?
 
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grinch

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this is such great news. the headphone market really has been stagnant for a couple of years now (every model we listen to is now a few years old). i can't wait for an hd700 or something equivalent.

and guiness rules. the stout is quite good as well. i want to go to ireland almost solely to try non-preservative-packed guiness.
 
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Magicthyse

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Coooool! Has anyone else invited you like this?
 
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acidtripwow

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A friend of mine just came back from a vacation to Ireland and said it was the most beautiful country she has ever seen. I'll have to go someday when I can drink again. Do they have any topless bars?
 
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eric343

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LOL!

I just got off the phone with Todd, and he pointed me to this post... Sounds like you guys had fun


And please post pics ASAP
 
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arnett

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Quote:

Originally posted by jude
As you can imagine, being in Ireland, multiple pub visits were in order. We also had an opportunity to do Irish whiskey tasting. . . And did I mention the pubs? I don't think my body will ever be completely clear of my new favorite drink -- I think I'll forever bleed Guinness Stout.


sounds like you were drunk constantly, jude.


i've heard they're no longer serving cellar-temperature Guinness in Ireland.
 
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CaptBubba

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Part of me is jelous and another isn't. On one hand I would love to have seen the factory and meet all those people. On the other I would probably fall in love with one of the upcoming products and have to spend my days in nervous anticipation for its release.

Ignorance is bliss is some cases.
 
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MacDEF

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Talk about a dream vacation: Ireland, live Irish music, and a Sennheiser factory
 
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disturbed

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You Lucky Man ....

What the ...



I seem to be turning green ....



I can't wait to see what they've got up their sleeves
 
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andrzejpw

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Wow jude! I think I speak for all of us here: you suck.
kidding of course, but it sounds like you had an awesome time! Was this an "open house" type event? What was it's purpose?
 
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dhwilkin

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Very cool, jude, sounds like you had a great time! Did they happen to talk about the 700, BTW?
 
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andrzejpw

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Quote:

Did they happen to talk about the 700, BTW?


I think he said that he's not allowed to talk about the new products he saw. (NDA, I presume?)
 
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