The History of Sennheiser



The world of sound is always evolving. Year on year, we see huge changes in the devices people use to listen to music as well as in the music itself. The digital age has brought with it a whole new realm of possibilities, providing us access to music from a range of new sources. The introduction of new technologies often drives us to look back at its history with the hope of being able to contextualise the cutting edge. A quick look at the history of one of today´s foremost headphone manufacturers – Sennheiser – can help us understand the speed with which new technologies have progressed. The technologies which we take for granted today, such as noise-cancelling, wireless headphones, are a long way from the products first conceived by Sennheiser when they were established in the weeks following the end of the Second World War. Here, we take a look at how Sennheiser – and its outstanding product range – developed over time from these humble beginnings.

The world of sound is always evolving. Year on year, we see huge changes in the devices people use to listen to music as well as in the music itself. The digital age has brought with it a whole new realm of possibilities, providing us access to music from a range of new sources.

 

The introduction of new technologies often drives us to look back at its history with the hope of being able to contextualise the cutting edge. A quick look at the history of one of today's foremost headphone manufacturers - Sennheiser - can help us understand the speed with which new technologies have progressed.

 

The technologies which we take for granted today, such as noise-cancelling, wireless headphones, are a long way from the products first conceived by Sennheiser when they were established in the weeks following the end of the Second World War.

 

Here, we take a look at how Sennheiser - and its outstanding product range - developed over time from these humble beginnings.

 

                                                     

Sennheiser Momentum Headphones in blue - £169.95

 

The early days

 

Sennheiser came into existence just a number of weeks after the end of World War II. Stationed in a University of Hannover laboratory in Germany and accompanied by a small group of seven engineers, the 32 year old Fritz Sennheiser worked on what would be their first product - a voltmeter.

 

The very next year, the laboratory produced something closer to what we'd expect - a microphone. Over the next few years, the lab would work on miniaturisation, creating the DM3 'invisible' microphone in 1949 and a set of magnetic, miniature headphones in the early 1950s.

 

                                                      

Sennheiser DM3 'invisible' microphone from 1949

 

Ten years after the creation of their first voltmeter, the group had grown in size to over 250. Their output now saw a considerably larger range, comprising microphones, headphones, mixers and geophysical equipment. In 1958, they would rename themselves to become 'Sennheiser Electronic'.

 

After Fritz Sennheiser was named an honorary professor by the Hanover Technical University, the group went on to create a number of innovative designs through the 1960s. These included a stereo microphone, an answering machine for Telefunken and the world's first baby monitor, known as the 'Babysitter'.

 

The big time

 

The first open headphone unit to be released to the market came from Sennheiser is 1968. The HD414 headphones sold more than 10 million, remaining the world's best selling headphones of all time. It was around the turn of the decade that Sennheiser became a household name, certainly recognisable to anyone with even a passing interest in electronics or sound.

 

                                                           

World's first open headphone unit from Sennheiser

 

By 1980, Sennheiser were supplying headsets to the German airline Lufthansa. However, their foray into providing for the corporate world had in no way stymied their ability or desire to innovate. While we consider wireless headphones to be a modern phenomenon, Sennheiser have actually been working on them since the early 1980s at roughly the same time that management was passed onto Fritz's son, Jorg.

 

After receiving an honour at the 59th Academy Awards for the MKH 816 shotgun microphone, the company went on to expand throughout Europe. By the middle of the 1990s, Sennheiser were conducting operations in France, the UK, Ireland, Asia, and the United States of America.

 

It was during this time that the company released a number of their most influential headphone designs. 1991 saw the electrostatic Orpheus headphones released, which came with a tube amplifier for added volume and sound quality. In 1993, they released the world's first digital, infrared headphones (IS 850 system).

 

Modern day

 

The RF wireless headphones produced by Sennheiser in 1995 won them an Emmy Award, marking a real change in the industry. The following decade would see this successful RF wireless technology brought to the microphone industry. Even then, Sennheiser wireless headphones were leading the pack.

 

The company's continued success has since led them around the world. At the time of Fritz Sennheiser's death in 2010 he had been decorated with many of the industry's most prestigious awards. The company had extended its reach far beyond Europe, with outposts in China, Japan, and Russia.

 

Today, the Sennheiser name is one of the largest in the sound industry. Both for entry level, affordable in-ear headphones and audiophile quality over-ear headphones, Sennheiser are considered one of the foremost manufacturers.

 

                                                       

Sennheiser MM450 X Travel Headphones - £219.99

 

The history of the Sennheiser company highlights the extent of their passion, ambition and achievement. Beginning nearly 70 years ago with fewer than a dozen employees, the Sennheiser group was able to develop and grow into one of the most highly respected names in the industry.

 

It did so on the strength of its innovative product range which continues to amaze and astound today.

 

Sources for client reference:

http://en-uk.sennheiser.com/about-sennheiser/at-a-glance/animated-history/