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Day 4 - IFA International

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Exclusive Interview

Exclusive Interview Joint CEOs Daniel & Andreas Sennheiser In the end, the product bears our name, so that's a very personal commitment Creativity and Determination Not just at the heart of Sennheiser’s latest campaign This year keynoting at IFA, the flamboyant but down to earth Sennheiser brothers are forging new territory for their iconic brand. Speaking of iconic, we asked them which, for them, have been the most iconic products to date Daniel Sennheiser: The most iconic headphones definitely are the HD 414s – these started headphonemania as it were. Launched in 1968, the HD 414 was the world’s very first pair of headphones to work on what we now call the “open” principle. Before, hi-fi headphones used to be sealed, closed models, and now these headphones provided a completely new listening experience: the systems were open to the ear and the outside world, and thus reproduced a very natural and, well, open sound with a good bass response. The HD 414 opened up a completely new market. Andreas Sennheiser: Another milestone in headphone design is the Orpheus. The Sennheiser engineers had set to work with the intent to build the best headphones in the world, and the result was a set of electrostatic headphones combined with a magnificent tube amplifier. Named Orpheus HE 90/HEV 90, this system was launched in 1991, unanimously praised by the specialist press as the bestsounding headphones ever. DS: The youngest iconic headphones are the HD 800s, launched in 2009. These are Sennheiser’s current top-of-the-range headphones, with natural, detailed sound of unique spatiality. At its heart is a 56mm sound transducer in a patented annular design. By this special design it became possible for the first time to have a really large diaphragm – which results in a very pure sound reproduction at low frequencies – without having the disadvantages of undesired resonances at high frequencies that large diaphragms usually cause. How are you planning to keep up your innovation culture and continue finding new ideas? DS: The most important thing to keep innovation culture going is to accept that whatever was successful today is built on an achievement from the past and is building towards the future. We call this creative dissatisfaction, and it is the core of what we do. What we try to do is to observe our existing customers: how they work and what they do, and really try to figure out what problems they are confronted with in the way they work, and to find smart solutions for that. The cultural part, which is the core of all this, is to go beyond what exists. With more and more manufacturers in this space, how do you differentiate? AS: We are in the privileged situation in that we have some of the smartest people in the audio space, so we always have significantly more ideas than we can bring to market especially as a privately owned, independent company that we are, so we always want to be a step ahead and to anticipate what the consumer wants and needs. Sometimes that's easy and sometimes that's not so easy but we believe that by making better products, not only on the performance side, but also when it comes to quality, the materials, the whole package, and in this respect, Sennheiser aims to deliver more, and more consistently, than anyone else in this space. For the MOMENTUM family, your social video project “What’s Your MOMENTUM?” features 100 stories from people working with sound. What makes this project so special? DS: Some people seem to be ahead of others. They have a certain push, a fire that lets them go further. They do what others don’t do - what no one has done before. These are amazing stories of creativity and determination. The campaign spotlights people who are not followers but develop their own ideas, and are basically changing the world, and it mirrors our philosophy, it's the message that we aspire to. It's an attitude that drives all the people working at Sennheiser and all the artists and other inspired people who use our products. How involved do you personally get in your company’s projects? AS: That depends a lot on the type of projects. Right now, for example, we are building an innovation campus, and of course we are heavily involved in this. When it comes to product development, our involvement depends a lot on the products themselves. If it's not a key product, we might not become very involved, but if it's a flagship product like the Digital 9000 in recent times we’re very involved; or the Orpheus in the early 90s – there, our father was heavily involved – so it depends a lot on the type of project. DS: When it's about landmark or flagship 16

Exclusive Interview The HD 800s are the ‘youngest’ iconic headphones and Sennheiser’s current topof-range product. The Orpheus HE 90/HEV 90 system, launched in 1991 and renowned for being the most expensive headphones in the world Sennheiser HD 414 – the first headphones to work on the ‘open’ principle and the start of Headphone-mania – they’re core company values … being able to give a keynote at IFA is a huge privilege… projects, which have also a very strong brand aspect, we are deeply involved in order to ensure that it really reflects our name. In the end, the product bears our name, so that's a very personal commitment, so my brother and I really try the products ourselves, every single new product that we bring to the market. So you have the golden ears. But are there other people around you who have golden ears as well? AS:Actually, there are better golden ears at Sennheiser than ours. We consider ourselves as very demanding users, but we have people who tune and tweak the products to the quality they need to be. What are the key product trends at the moment? DS: : We see several key trends. One is obviously the combination of lifestyle and substance, which we also manifest in the MOMENTUM series. Lifestyle was there for a while, and then we saw people moving back to substance and higher quality. We see also announcements from companies that they are moving to a higher bit rate and higher audio quality. Obviously, on the playback side, you need to have higher quality as well, but you also need better build quality, better materials and sustainability. The other trend is the modularity of systems like we manifest in our cooperation with PhoneBloks. It's in my opinion a trend towards independence. People don't necessarily want to buy into a closed system; they want to be able to change the design and modular components of the system, in order for them to have more longevity and to be a more personalised product as well. The third trend is that of connectivity which is very much through wireless products but also through the wire-bound products, and obviously at the moment, the biggest challenge with this is the standards. No one really knows where they’re going; but we are completely neutral in that as well, we are independent and can meet whatever standards there are. The consumer should not actually have to worry about all this; it should all be seamless and intuitive. How will people listen to music in ten years’ time? What’s changing? AS: High-resolution audio is one change that we see happening right now, and it's going to accelerate. People will also increasingly start valuing the emotional impact that sound can bring to their lives. For the emotion, the feeling, it comes with the sound, and you can test this yourself very easily. If you watch a horror movie without sound, it looks ridiculous but if you turn on the sound and switch off the picture, it will still be scary. People will still be using their ears but people will have much more personalised and immersive sound requirements, meaning basically the emotional connection will be much more present – be it in live performance, be it at home – but also through headphones. And we are working on technology that allows the user to be completely immersed in sound and to obtain a completely different emotional experience. That is something where the value will significantly change. DS: People in Berlin for the IFA should go and see the David Bowie exhibition. It's an absolutely unique exhibition with unique immersive 3D audio but also with interactive tracks. This is the kind of thing we are talking about. The final question is about IFA, because as you are giving a keynote at the show it must be a big step in the promotion of your company. How do you feel about delivering this keynote and how important is IFA in the promotion of Sennheiser? DS: IFA is one of the most important electronics shows in the world. It's basically in our backyard in Berlin so we feel very connected to Berlin. AS: For many years already it has always been a highlight for us, to present ourselves to our customers, but also to the end consumers and obviously being able to give a keynote at IFA is a huge privilege and a platform we don't want to miss! IFA International • Monday 8 th September 2014 17

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