Axel Grell quietly leaves Sennheiser

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by iDesign, Mar 21, 2019.

  1. iDesign

    iDesign Almost "Made"

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    It hasn’t been widely reported but Axel Grell, Sennheiser’s Audiophile Portolio Manager and the designer of the HD 580, HD 800 and Orpheus family of headphones, has quietly left Sennheiser after 27 years. He started a new consultancy called Grellaudio (grellaudio.com). Is this the end of an era for Sennheiser?
     
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    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019
  2. TwoEars

    TwoEars Friend

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    Interesting, Sennheiser has indeed made some pretty weird design choices in the high-end audio segment over the last decade or so. I suspect what Mr Grell does over the next couple of years might shed some light on the matter. Was Sennheiser holding Grell back or was it the other way around?
     
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  3. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    Or sennheiser has contracted grell audio as a full time consultant and this is just a tax game.
     
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  4. TwoEars

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    @Taverius

    You don't need any websites to play tax games.
     
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  5. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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  6. Thad E Ginathom

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  7. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    ...or perhaps AG wanted to:

    1. fly solo
    2. work on risky stuff beyond Sennheiser's scope
    3. earn more via consultancy (if you don't know what's up, money)
    4. all above
    5. none above
     
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  8. supertransformingdhruv

    supertransformingdhruv Almost "Made"

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    Checks out
     
  9. iDesign

    iDesign Almost "Made"

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    I suspect Sennheiser will focus on mass market consumer headphones that use technologies such as Bluetooth and Ambeo. I get the sense Axel Grell preferred a purist approach and audiophile products only constituted a small percentage of Sennheiser’s total sales. Will we see another flagship successor to the HD 800S? Only time will tell but they’re headed into a new era.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019
  10. Lurker

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    Oh, I'm his biggest fan.

    The original 800 ad in HD (the version on youtube is only 480p and some of the scenes with AXEL were cut [blasphemy :eek:]):


    One of the last (and one of my fav) interview with him: https://www.crutchfield.ca/S-DrQ4wvBIKl4/learn/interview-axel-grell-sennheiser-headphones.html

    -> The first headphone he was involved in was the HD 580 which apparently was an advancement of a previous headphone (probably 560)
    -> He bought Sennheiser's HE 90 demo unit
    -> He wanted the new Orpheus to have more bass (nice harman shelf :rolleyes:)
    -> Soft diaphragm materials >>>> scrap metal
    -> They have 9 engineers in görmany
    -> The 800 driver is the greatest transducer ever created

    My favourite picture of him: https://av.watch.impress.co.jp/img/avw/docs/727/258/sen01.jpg

    :bow::bow::bow::bow::bow::bow::bow::bow::bow:

    Sennheiser is actually going through some tough "restructuring". They had a rather massive wave of layoffs recently and are considering closing the Ireland factory. I suppose daddy is leaving before things become too ugly. Could also be that he was tired of his more marketing focused job as a portfolio manager.
     
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  11. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Wow. Never knew I had all that on my head :D :cool:
     
  12. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    Sennheiser restructures every few years. They have done some good things recently in the pro realm by improving the Klein and Hummel brand speakers and mass producing them but a lot of their newer consumer and audiophile oriented stuff is what the hell are they doing? I like the HD 800 S much more than the stock HD 800 but their attempts to compete with Beats, Koss, and replace the HD 600/650, HD 280, and HD 25 with newer, more expensive models that do the same thing, sometimes worse, have fallen flat on their face. What the hell was the closed back HD 800 thing with the glass and the consumer HD 25 versions with the cup slider issues that were less consumer friendly than the real, indestructible HD 25?
     
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  13. Ash1412

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    I feel there's a weird divide within Sennheiser, with the 6xx co-existing along with the 660S. Changes to products like the black to silver baffle revision didn't call for a price increase and renaming before Sennheiser started talking more about its marketing efforts than R&D. Looking at Sennheiser's patents, you see that they're still doing a lot of R&D work (they have a patent on planars: https://patents.google.com/patent/DE102016108598A1/en?inventor=Axel+Grell&sort=new), but then increasing the price for a small change like HD800S or more than doubling the price for bigger change thats not even good like the HD820. This is kind of equivalent to Canon in the camera industry if anyone's been keeping up with that, and here's that Jobs speech about the problem, except Sennheiser is also chasing the casual market monopoly Beats and Bose have while at the same time while dropping the audiophile market monopoly they had:
     
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    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
  14. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    Not sure how many of you met A Grell in person. I was fortunate to have a chat with him in Munich about two years ago. Very cool guy, very calm and clearly he knew his onions. When I told him what match I had back then with my HD800 he smiled and said "Makes sense". :D

    They used T+A with Senns back then.
     
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  15. iDesign

    iDesign Almost "Made"

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    Great post here. And you make an excellent point about the more recent planar dynamic patents Axel Grell filed. Will the phoenix rise again after his departure or will those patents fall to ashes? I sense Sennheiser has to chase consumer market headphones, Beats, and Bose because its become a dollars game for a company that is struggling financially.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
  16. Ash1412

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    I personally have a lot of faith in the ring radiator driver topology and believe it can be perfected with less overengineering (gorilla glass cough, perfect 40khz extension with a soft driver cough) and better tuning. However, Sennheiser has a patent on that which they just renewed until 2029, so HD800S's the best we're gonna have for another 10 years not taking into account the used market and ongoing non-commercial mod development (im surprised the SDR mod hasn't been attacked yet, they have a patent on the resonator in the HD800S https://patents.google.com/patent/US20180332401A1/en). But the bigger loss we're gonna have is losing one of the most consistent manufacturing and R&D companies in audio to the consumer market. If Axel ends up working on a new headphone project, it's probably gonna end up being similar to the MySphere 3.1 costing $3000 and not have a ring radiator driver.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
  17. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    Hey! You! Leave the gorilla glass alone will you?

    :p:p:p

    On a more serious note, I really like how it looks like. Goes rather nicely with black. I'm on-board with everything else you wrote.
     
  18. 8man

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    Damn, that is sad news for Sennheiser, maybe for the rest of us as well. Kinda' concerned now as HD650's have become my all time favorite piece of audio. Whatever I do, I always end up going back to the 650's. If there were anyone worthy of modernizing them (instead of the alternative stuff like the 660S), that would have probably been Grell. Plus he seems like a really awesome dude judging by the interviews around.
     
  19. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    That's all right, because he already made them! Along with the HD600 and the HD800. And one or two others that won hearts and ears before my wife put an end to night-time speaker listening.

    Seriously: maybe he didn't need to do more?
     
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  20. 8man

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    Yeah I can understand that point, I'm just saying. It's a personal opinion, but I'll admit I was hoping for them to do something different than most of what they did recently.
    It wasn't bitching that more was expected, but rather, I'm still amazed that a piece that's more than a decade old can do everything you throw at it so well. Either way I wouldn't just leave it at he did enough, who knows what great stuff he might have in store next!
     
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