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How much hype is too much?
On the 4th of January 2024, Sennheiser came out with a promoted front-page post on Head-Fi, urging the world’s largest headphone enthusiast community to “save the date” and not miss their “debut” product announcement on the 8th of January. This provoked a major storm of speculations about what Sennheiser had in store for the headphone-hungry netizens.
But, while quickly drowned out by the bustle of the hype train, there were also some more level-headed guesses.
Sennheiser’s Big Day
On the 8th of January, large tech news outlets were the first to spill the beans. According to them, Sennheiser will release a trio of smart wireless headphones. This includes an update to their Momentum True Wireless lineup, as some predicted.
Because of this, the first embers of the firestorm on Head-Fi were lit. Many spectators were disappointed that there’s still no news of a much-awaited upgrade to their flagship HD800S or at least a new audiophile-grade headphones option.
As this was before the announcement stream the thread was originally about, some still had hopes that the big news was left for dessert. So, the Head-Fi community braced for the video stream for which they had saved the date. But, after the stream started, the already dire situation changed for the worse.
Hundreds of audiophiles tuned into one of the biggest audio companies’ product announcement streams at the CES 2024. But the disappointments piled up as they got their ears assaulted by the stream’s horrid audio quality.
The initial disappointment about being teased by their hero company and then being presented with pedestrian audio gear quickly escalated into outright anger. The situation wasn’t helped by the absence of Sennheiser reps from Head-Fi, who could have defused it. These reps had been active on the platform for years.
In an attempt to save some face, Sennheiser also quickly set the stream recording on Youtube to “Private”, which means it cannot be viewed anymore. The CES announcement was also pulled from the Head-Fi front page.
Yet the thread was still active, and the communication meltdown continued. Some members even started concluding that Sennheiser had abandoned the audiophile market.
Others also pointed out that the Sennheiser consumer audio division was sold to Sonova in 2022. Apparently, the Swiss hearing aid manufacturer is more interested in pursuing the business of smart consumer headphones.
According to some members of Head-Fi, Sennheiser’s mistake was not so much their choice of products to release but rather the misreading of the audio market.