When Sennheiser relaunched the Orpheus amplifier and headphone combo last year, they slapped a $55k price tag on the combo. When I first heard, I reacted like many of you, and probably ruptured something important.
Look — I don’t want to take anything away from the sonic (and brazen marketing) accomplishments from Senn, but for realz? That’s Porsche money.
Now, there’s a long history in high-end audio of going balls-out with pricing, and admittedly, I predicted this sort of thing a couple of years ago. But wow. That’s some big, brassy, clanky stuff going on with Orpheus.
Which is — maybe — kinda why HiFiMAN is targeting them directly with their newest on-the-horizon, game-ending, ultra-fi kit they’re calling Shangri-La.
Again, pricing is still TBD, but that’s being coy. The Shangri-La, as a system, is unapologetically targeting the Orpheus in not only performance, but in price, so set your expectations accordingly.
I’ve heard that the Shangri-La is supposed to be available this year, but no timetable was shared. Assuming that what was here will in fact be the final form, what we’re looking at is a 300b-based electrostatic headphone amplifier (!!! say wha —?!?!!) with a “matching” electrostatic headphone that bears a striking similarity to the magnificent HE-1000.
My time with the Shangri-La was short, but I was very impressed — there’s a lot of promise in this combo. But as to whether or not it’s a product (that is, one that can justify its price enough to convince the market to invest in it), well, that’s another thing entirely.