SENNHEISER were one of the first companies at Oshkosh to draw its line in the sand with the formal launch of its new S1 digital ANR headset.
The headset has been four years in the making and was designed from scratch, with the help of BMW Design Works (who also design products and packaging for Coca Cola, Microsoft. Puma to name but a few).
The development in the S1, and the features included, shows that Sennheiser want to make an impact and compete with the likes of Bose and Lightspeed.
Dr Heinrich Esser, tech boss at Sennheiser, said: "It will be the best in class." Before development of the S1 started, Sennheiser hosted lots of pilot focus groups to find out what they wanted from a top of the range headset. And judging by how rich of features the headset is, Sennheiser listened to its client base.
The clamp pressure can be altered to suit any wearer, "This headset will fit egg heads, block heads and anyone in between." said Dr. Esser. "We have included a switch on the headband that can be set to either five, six or seven Newton Metres depending on the size of the pilots head, this will make it comfortable for everyone to wear for long periods of time," he added.
The headband itself benefits from a-symmetrical padding to alleviate any hotspots of pressure. The earcups are made from memory foam, with a softer part by the temple so spectacle wearers won't have their classes pushed into the side of their head.
The earcups are also shaped to help with better clamping around the ear, with the oval being 'pointed' at the lower end - this will help with the passive noise reduction should the batteries run out of power.
Then there's the sound side of the headset. Sennheiser has included a treble-boost to help with clarity of speech.
"We have added this, because as people age they start to lose the ability to hear the higher frequencies. So with the three-stage treble-boost pilots will able to hear better," Said Dr. Esser.
The digital ANR cancels out feedback and feedforward sounds. Sennheiser say that a cockpit is a dynamic environment and sounds will change, which could raise noise levels in the headset.
To counteract is Sennheiser has included a button on the outer earcup which, when pressed, will reassess the noise levels and change the frequencies in the ANR to make the environment quieter again.
The audio box takes two AA batteries and Sennehiser claim a lifetime of 40-45 hours with lithium batteries. It also has separate volume controls for each ear, Bluetooth conneciivay and a mono/stereo switch.
All this technology doesn't come cheap though. Sennheiser has launched the headset with an introductory price of aroundr $995, until the end of the year. It's available now and ready to be shipped. We'll be doing a mass headset test imminently, so the retail version will be included.