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OnSight: the HEDDphone’s development process

  • Berlin’s HEDD Audio, manufacturers of active loudspeakers, have this year turned their hand to headphones. The Air Motion Transformer (AMT) developed by company co-founder Klaus Heinz once again takes a starring role. Take note though: the HEDDphone (€1700) isn’t simply one of the company’s tweeter’s strapped to an over-ear assembly and headband. That’s how the story started.

    Heinz and Dr. Frederik Knop – his son and co-founder – tweaked the depth of the AMT’s ridges to optimise its frequency response for a headphone. They then installed thick ear pads – that put a decent-sized air gap between driver and ear – to further improve the HEDDphone’s measured response and to widen its imaging. At 700g, a weight-distributing headband would also be a must.

    As the HEDDphone’s year-long development process drew to a close, HEDD asked if I’d be keen to tackle their new baby in a home-based review. After all, its squeegee-clean clarity had impressed me both at Munich High-End 2019 and then again during a much longer listening session at the company’s headquarters. Alas, the HEDDphone’s weight went well beyond my own comfort limits – we all have them – and I’d found the Audeze LCD-4z at 610g too heavy for all but the shortest of listening sessions. Only a small percentage of gear coming to market each year can be given the review treatment. Reviewers have to make choices and headphone weight is one filter applied by yours truly. Besides, headphone review samples from Final and MrSpeakers had already landed for 2020 coverage.

    That said, I still wanted to cover the HEDDphone in some capacity. The technology angle remained of sharp interest – we can count the number of other AMT headphones on one finger – and HEDD’s determination to bring this product to market could not be ignored. That HEDD is local to me would make light work of another ‘point a shoot’ video. Here, CEO Knop shows off the very first (2kg!) version of the HEDDphone and explains how they went through many iterations before arriving at a retail product:

    Further information: HEDD Audio

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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