What's Up With Sennheiser? I Asked The Sennheisers.
Feb 23, 2021 at 2:51 PM Post #31 of 119

Mediahound

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 22, 2009
Posts
4,015
Likes
1,483
Location
USA
Today it's a lot more difficult to be profitable in the headphones space. There is way more competition since over a decade ago when the Sennheiser HD800 was king and really market-setting as one of the first high-end audiophile headphones at a price point that many were willing to spend , and many headphones costing less at the time sorta sucked.

These days most headphones being released by anyone actually sound quite good.

The unfortunate reality is that Sennheiser set the high bar, then other makers raised it, but now Sennheiser is struggling to raise it further.
 
Last edited:
Feb 23, 2021 at 3:06 PM Post #32 of 119

Malevolent

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Dec 18, 2011
Posts
5,132
Likes
3,528
Location
Singapore
I'm not even a huge fan of Sennheiser's headphones (or IEMs), but they are a legendary brand that commands a certain level of respect for the work that they have done throughout the years. This announcement appears to be a corporate realignment to ship off an aspect of its business that has proven to be less profitable.

Whosever wings the company ends up under, I hope that they share the same passion for audio - from an audiophile's perspective - that Sennheiser does (or did).
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 3:08 PM Post #33 of 119

Slaphead

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 28, 2011
Posts
859
Likes
638
Location
Zürich, Switzerland
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?
No, not really. All of the studios I've visited are using high end monitors as their reference point. Headphones are primarily used for tracking and occasional monitoring use where I see an abundance of BeyerDynamic phones, mostly DT770s and 880s, plus a few Sennheiser HD25's - these phones tend to survive musicians tantrums hence their popularity in studios.

Yeah some studios do have the likes of the HD600/650/800 plus FOTM headphones kicking around, but they're really for checking mixes to see if they translate on HiFi headphones - Remember that the vast majority of the public listen on the things that came with their smartphones so that's the priority when mixing and mastering for most popular music.
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 3:21 PM Post #34 of 119

Art Garfunkel

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 9, 2014
Posts
137
Likes
66
Location
London
The unfortunate reality is that Sennheiser set the high bar, then other makers raised it, but now Sennheiser is struggling to raise it further.

I think the only bar that was set and subsequently raised was for high pricing. Sound has been a total mixed bag with TOTL flagships IMO.
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 3:54 PM Post #35 of 119

dadracer2

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 27, 2017
Posts
218
Likes
183
Location
Livingston, Scotland
I think the only bar that was set and subsequently raised was for high pricing. Sound has been a total mixed bag with TOTL flagships IMO.
I think you are right in this respect and it feels as if new TOTL headphone makers think they won't be taken seriously unless their products start at 3500 €/£/$. I wonder if Sennheiser might be better placed to concentrate on the audiophile consumer market and leave the middle ground to all the competing brands who are driving prices down and margins with them.
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 5:27 PM Post #36 of 119

EOSHD

New Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 17, 2019
Posts
9
Likes
9
Location
UK
It does seem like another Olympus has fallen to me.

I feel Sennheiser are too big, of course there's plenty of profit in the enthusiast headphone market. Maybe just not for a giant corporation. Not now anyway. And that is not always such a bad thing. The smaller companies are doing fantastic things, look at ZMF, Hifiman, and others!

Sennheiser made a few mistakes, I feel. No Sony or Bose competitor in portable NC cans. Momentum just wasn't quite it. Flagships too similar, not enough variation or ideas, all the same tuning. It all seemed to end with the HD800. Fine tuning from then on, not really innovating. I have the HD800S and they're technically very impressive but just don't excite me like Audeze, Focal, Hifiman do.

Their neighbours Beyerdynamic are ahead too - Sennheiser have never had a closed headphone to compete with the T5 range and don't really offer anything around 150 euros to compete with 770 or 990 either. Yeah ok HD-25 is fine and has sold well in professional fields, but it's no like-for-like DT770 is it? And very uncomfortable for longer sessions.

It just seems to me there are a lot of HUGE gaps in Sennheiser's strategy and product line up.

Besides, it has become clear China is huge price competition in the consumer market, dumping such highly specced stuff at minimal profits (or even as loss leaders) onto Amazon globally! Gone are the days where you can sell a mediocre IEM for $500 when Chifi IEMs exist on Amazon for $70.

Sennheiser should probably go ahead and completely sell the division, license their name, keep it in Germany and go on an engineer recruitment drive to make some great artisan cans for a niche of music lovers. Whoever runs this new division can probably give up on the consumer market and just go for audiophiles instead. Or simply allow Neumann and their pro audio division to market new stuff to audiophiles and music lovers?
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 5:43 PM Post #37 of 119

Odin412

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 20, 2014
Posts
965
Likes
1,353
Location
Los Angeles, CA
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'm sorry to say that I agree with your assessment. Fortunately I bought a spare HD 650 to keep in storage just in case my current one breaks.
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 5:53 PM Post #38 of 119

CantScareMe

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 22, 2011
Posts
1,250
Likes
106
I've bought headphones and equipment that cost anything from a tenner to £3k, £4k and even £5k+. Some of them very popular here and on YT.

Regularly they suck, in sound and in build quality/design. One manufacturer, which shall go unnamed, uses dodgy glue in their "lifetime guaranteed" headband adjustment mechanism that is like something from a pound-shop toy. Abyssmal.

Some manufacturers are synonymous with shockingly high failure rates (focal with their dodgy elear drivers). I doubt they've even a QC inspection process in place, if they do their effective AQL must be sky high.

Others have poor QA mechanisms which do little to ensure you're getting the sound you expect.

The list goes on..

But Sennheiser's audiophile products are the only place I know of where I'm getting my money's worth - regardless of price point. Build quality, availability, fair-pricing relative to the market, sound quality matching expectation and service center repairs; none of their competitors offer the same high level of performance across all.

-------------

As I said before though, Sennheiser with their mainstream money-sapping lines seem confused in my opinion. Perhaps internally the team isn't totally united or easy to work with hence they ended up with Mullen&Lowe (one of the worst "large" media agencies out there).

M&L's first ad campaign for Sennheiser was "would you take advice from a basketball player / supermodel.." swipe at beats. Yet no one on the ads I saw, not even the audio engineer saying these lines was even wearing the Momentum Wireless which the ad was for (instead wearing HD25s). Strangely inappropriate.

Sennheisers USP in these product lines is simple: The best sound quality on the market. Every reviewer says it and it's almost unanimously accepted. No argument. Maybe going with that line is worth a try for their wireless earphones/headphones?
Also if Sennheiser are asking people to trust them, they need to boast their super impressive audio heritage, giving the brand a better identity for general consumers.

Of course, dynamics at play are much more complicated than messaging and ads. The agency / internal marketers needs to be smart and efficient in media spending. M&L is anything but that. Macro decisions the company makes are of overriding importance such as whether to launch in new geo territories or new markets....

--------------

Anyway, as with Jude, I'm glad Sennheiser say they're continuing their Audiophile division in the same way for at least a few more years. Hopefully that continues long into this decade.
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 6:20 PM Post #39 of 119

talan7

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 8, 2009
Posts
1,365
Likes
409
I'd like to pose the question "which companies would be a good partnership for Sennheiser?" Obviously, competitors like Beyer, AKG, Focal, wouldn't be viable. I think Harman could be a good partner, Optoma Nuforce maybe. JVC? Samsung? Marantz would be cool. Klipsch also.
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 6:30 PM Post #40 of 119

AmericanSpirit

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 9, 2008
Posts
118
Likes
110
Location
USA
I'd like to pose the question "which companies would be a good partnership for Sennheiser?" Obviously, competitors like Beyer, AKG, Focal, wouldn't be viable. I think Harman could be a good partner, Optoma Nuforce maybe. JVC? Samsung? Marantz would be cool. Klipsch also.
Like @MayaTlab mentioned, Huawei. AKG is under Harman, and Harman is under Samsung, basically many brands we see today are already consolidated under Multinational capitals, of which the one with fewer affiliations with renowned brands yet is a solid contender, Huawei.
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 6:46 PM Post #41 of 119

iDesign

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 12, 2004
Posts
1,118
Likes
418
Last edited:
Feb 23, 2021 at 8:23 PM Post #42 of 119

Khronos

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 8, 2019
Posts
127
Likes
74
Location
United States of America
While Axel was a driving force there until his departure, there were (and still are) scores of engineers and product specialists at Sennheiser. If you ever have a chance to tour their campus, you’ll see it’s a very engineering-focused company, still with tremendous capacity to develop products for the likes of us.


Wait, what about the HD820?
 
Feb 23, 2021 at 8:27 PM Post #44 of 119

Audio Fun

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 26, 2020
Posts
184
Likes
305
Location
Australia
The only problem for me with sennhesier consumer products, is definitely it’s price. I agree the design language and tuning are great, but for everyday carry, I’d prefer to get something way more cheaper.
 
Last edited:
Feb 23, 2021 at 9:15 PM Post #45 of 119

Edric Li

Formerly ThaNRL
Joined
Oct 14, 2014
Posts
1,102
Likes
379
Location
CA, USA
This is why Sony is Sony and has a fan base like no other.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top