What's Up With Sennheiser? I Asked The Sennheisers.
Feb 23, 2021 at 10:03 AM Post #18 of 119

Wiljen

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I am wondering why isn't the Audiophile stuff being wound into the Pro Audio segment; don't the HD600/HD650 get heavily used by studios due to their accuracy?
not really as they are more expensive than most studios are willing to pay for something that is seen as basically a disposable. Most studios I have had the privilege of being in have used models costing <$100 as they have to replace them fairly frequently. Also most studio models are closed back. I've seen AKG 551, Sony 7506, Beyer 770, ATH-M40, Shure 440s. The Senn I have seen are things like the 280 and 25.

I'm hopeful that Jude's conversation with Sennheiser is genuinely the path that will be followed, but only a fool would come out and say we intend to close it down and sell the division to the highest bidder as that would create a fire drill at Sennheiser and tank their market for existing products as I know I wouldn't be in the market for a $1500 headphone where the warranty was called into question immediately. Time will tell.
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 10:36 AM Post #19 of 119

tkddans

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It sounds like they will need investors to keep going strong with consumer development, which is scary for us audiophiles if no one invests with them. But....it also sounds like they are motivated to keep the consumer division going. They simply need funds to sustain and grow it.

They’re not Apple. They don’t have the huge piles of cash and assets available to further develop everything as desired. They have to do what they must to grow from where they are. Their pro business has made more revenue or profit, and their consumer probably not as much by the sound of their circumstances.

While an intimidating situation perhaps for us, the audiophile consumers, and them...it sounds like they want to keep their consumer headphone interests up - if only they can get an investment partner to assist in funding.

I would think they will find a partner. They’re such a long-time respected name. Maybe they will have to rethink production and R&D pipelines to optimize profitability, so maybe flagship development could look different than what we would dream for them in ideal conditions, but I’m more hopeful for their long term than pessimistic. As long as they get an investment partner, their Sennheiser vision for sound quality will still be developed and manufactured for consumers.
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 10:37 AM Post #20 of 119

CantScareMe

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Not sure "Innovation" is what chinese manufacturers in personal audio are known for.

Sennheisers competition is much more likely apple, beats, bose, sonos, UE, JBL etc rather than chinese brands populating amazon with paid/fake reviews.

Sennheiser have a strange approach to consumer audio and their marketing is generally poor - M&L group who they use as their agency are dinosaurs (I work in digital advertising including previously for an agency and I'm surprised they still exist).

Has anyone here heard the Sennheiser AMBEO soundbar? I'd like to know how successful that was since going into market with a soundbar twice more expensive than anything else (@£2k) and an expensive marketing campaign to go with it must have been a risk. I've heard it and I'd take a ~£500 sonos soundbar over it any day (But I've KEF LS50W's and LSX's which are obviously superior for audiophile ears).
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 11:12 AM Post #22 of 119

tudedude

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As an outsider to the audiophile world, until just recently, I used to only associate Sennheiser with their pro-equipment. I never really felt they had any significant presence in the consumer world, so this move makes sense. It's just not what they're good at.
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 11:21 AM Post #23 of 119

tkddans

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As an outsider to the audiophile world, until just recently, I used to only associate Sennheiser with their pro-equipment. I never really felt they had any significant presence in the consumer world, so this move makes sense. It's just not what they're good at.
Don’t knock it till you try it 😉

Their consumer audio sounds great. The issue may be more on their side of things and market pressures from more and more competition.
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 11:24 AM Post #24 of 119

XERO1

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I think it might be a good idea for Sennheiser to split it's Consumer section into two semi-independent divisions: one smaller division that remains focused only on the high-end audiophile products that are designed and made in Germany, and a second, larger division that is primarily focused on the mass market, which can use some of the technologies developed by the high-end division in it's products. Sort of like what a lot of high-end sports car companies do. They have a cost-no-object race car division, as well as a sports car division that will often use some of the same technologies developed by the race division in their more consumer-friendly sports cars.
 
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Feb 23, 2021 at 12:03 PM Post #25 of 119

DrGonzo11

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With some background in corporate speak, let me put this in Plain English:




- Consumer audio division is bleeding or not bringing in high enough profits and the prospects of competing against Apple/Samsung-Harman/all of China look bleak to Sennheiser
- They are looking to outsource or divest or license the brand of consumer audio. They will reduce their own investment in consumer audio significantly. Everything else is just flowery words not to scare off customers
- Their professional ranges are doing better, with better growth prospects and better profits. So they will concentrate on that in terms of channels, R&D, sales and marketing.
- Audiophile is part of the consumer audio, not professional line, expect it to to be reduced/downsized in R&D and just branded/outsourced just like the rest of the consumer audio

Personally, as a long-time consumer and fan of Sennheiser consumer audiophile products, I find this move disheartening, but understandable in the face of the competition and how the landscape is evolving.
I agree completely, I heard more CYA in that interview than in the article I previously read.

Chi-Fi has long since finished devouring the entry level HP business and has just about polished off the midfi tier as well, undercutting the R&D revenue stream for these large diverse legacy companies. The result IMO will be an innovation shift to boutique companies and companies like Audeze who have stuck primarily to the high end market with a very focused and efficient production model. The consumer audio market will largely be left to Chifi companies or at the very least shift completely to chinese manufacturing and massively stunted innovation because of lack of significant R&D money. With few exceptions (hifiman) most chifi companies seem to just go with the flow and do minimal incremental changes to drive more sales through dragging designs out over large series of similar headphones before starting the process again on the next borrowed design.


Again, just my opinion.
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 1:15 PM Post #27 of 119

AmericanSpirit

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Our brain: "oh yeah...the numbers speak itself, the economy of scale, laborforce, labor laws and working environment, et Cetra, sigh.."

Our heart: "Live strong! Sennheiser! We still love you"
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 1:16 PM Post #28 of 119

3Putter

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I agree completely, I heard more CYA in that interview than in the article I previously read.

Chi-Fi has long since finished devouring the entry level HP business and has just about polished off the midfi tier as well, undercutting the R&D revenue stream for these large diverse legacy companies. The result IMO will be an innovation shift to boutique companies and companies like Audeze who have stuck primarily to the high end market with a very focused and efficient production model. The consumer audio market will largely be left to Chifi companies or at the very least shift completely to chinese manufacturing and massively stunted innovation because of lack of significant R&D money. With few exceptions (hifiman) most chifi companies seem to just go with the flow and do minimal incremental changes to drive more sales through dragging designs out over large series of similar headphones before starting the process again on the next borrowed design.


Again, just my opinion.
Anyone with eyes can see what the Chinese are doing. It's a competition they're set on winning.
 
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Feb 23, 2021 at 1:48 PM Post #29 of 119

MayaTlab

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The result IMO will be an innovation shift to boutique companies and companies like Audeze who have stuck primarily to the high end market with a very focused and efficient production model. The consumer audio market will largely be left to Chifi companies or at the very least shift completely to chinese manufacturing and massively stunted innovation because of lack of significant R&D money. With few exceptions (hifiman) most chifi companies seem to just go with the flow and do minimal incremental changes to drive more sales through dragging designs out over large series of similar headphones before starting the process again on the next borrowed design.

I can't believe I'm reading this. The consumer audio market innovates far, far more than anything you'll see in the audiophile space. It's precisely because Sennheiser doesn't have the resources to compete with the speed at which successful companies in the consumer audio business innovate that they're reaching for a partner.

Putting aside the question of wireless audio, If you look at what the challenges to improve sound reproduction for personal listening applications are, it's the general consumer space that's tackling them head-on, not traditional, supposedly high-end audio companies. So what are they ?
- Ensuring that frequency response in the lower frequencies doesn't change depending on seal. That's addressed by active headphones with some sort of feedback mechanism (some ANC headphones do this up to a certain frequency, generally somewhere between 700-1000hz).
- Correcting for FR curve issues in a very precise way, sufficiently so that an all passive, acoustically tuned pair of headphones simply can't do. It's difficult to know whether that is a byproduct of its acoustic tuning or DSP but it's no wonder that one of the smoothest measuring pair of closed back you'll see, at least below 4000hz, is the AirPods Max : https://www.head-fi.org/threads/apple-airpods-max-measurements-brüel-kjær-5128.951184/
It also has among the lowest THD figures you'll see but THD probably isn't that much of a concern to start with given the capabilities of current headphones in general.
- And the big one : tailoring the FR curve that the headphones output across the entire spectrum so that a) it's invariant at your eardrum even when the position of the headphones shift on your head, b) it's different for each listener, particularly in the upper mids / trebles, to take into account each listener's specific anatomy and its influence on their own HRTF. The latter is crucial for accurate surround sound simulation anyway. This one remains to be tackled in any significant way, but some companies have tried some attempt at it (AKG with the N90Q, Sony with their 360 Reality Audio individual tuning). It's possible that in the future over-ears will be capable of making an image of your ear (think Face ID for your ear) and use algorithms to derive your own custom profile from this data in real time - to take into account positional variation.

There simply isn't a future for passive, entirely acoustically tuned headphones, if accurate sound reproduction is what you're looking for. Future "high fidelity" headphones will all be active, smart, full of sensors, and with a lot of computing power.

Well that is until personal sound reproduction moves into your skull (that's Neuralink's territory, and won't happen for a long while still).

That doesn't mean that the end products are all that successful, and IMO the way most BT over-ears are tuned these days is a disgrace given that they all feature the sort of DSP that could easily shape the FR curve any which way they'd like, at least up until 4000-6000hz or so, but the fact is that it's in the consumer space where you see happening the sort of innovation that's going to solve the above problems. It isn't because most of them currently suck that the proper groundwork isn't being laid right before our eyes for the next significant leap in audio reproduction for personal listening applications.

This is also inaccurately dismissive of Chinese companies' capabilities. Huawei is one of the very few companies that, like Apple, had the resources and know-how to develop their own audio over bluetooth chip instead of using one from a third party such as Qualcomm's, for example. The internals of their Freedom Pro is one of the few TWS that can remotely hold a candle to Apple's AirPods Pro's in terms of packaging innovation (in contrast the Momentum TWS's internals makes it look like a dinosaur), and the Freebuds Studio's internal packaging is one of the few that makes a significant departure from the sort of layout you traditionally see for BT over or on-ears headphones and feature a lot of custom components. Teardowns available here : http://www.52audio.com/archives/category/fix/bluetooth_anc and here : http://www.52audio.com/archives/category/fix/bluetooth_002
I wouldn't be surprised if in a short while Huawei's consumer audio business exceeds the revenues of Sennheiser's entire consumer division (if it isn't already the case).
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 2:28 PM Post #30 of 119

der luda

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The really big topic is, currently and in recent years, S has participated well from the good name and a few hi-end products.
So far, the expensive devices have been good and important to put the brand on a strong footing in other areas.
... the actual strengths have been neglected lately, as well as knowledge / resources in the form of manpower.
 

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