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Sennheiser AR 2011

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  • 8/13/2019 Sennheiser AR 2011


    2011 Annual Report



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    0 20 Hz

    To use a metaphor, sound like light can be visible

    or invisible; it can be audible or sneak by completely

    unnoticed. Whereas one listener might find a sound

    loud, another may not. At the other end of the spectrum, an

    animal can hear sounds that would go completely undetect-

    ed by the human ear, such as a rogue wave, miles out at sea.

    Infrasound and ultrasound are just such sounds.

    Simply put, acoustics is the study of sound. Its scien-

    tists, or acousticians, measure how sound waves are gener-

    ated, transmitted and received. An acoustics engineer then

    uses this information, for instance, to improve the sound

    quality of a concert hall. To decrease the noise level in a

    building, he can lower the level to reduce generation, put

    barriers in place to hinder transmission, and increase back-

    ground noise or suggest earplugs to block out reception.

    Sometimes, an acoustician is simply interested in studying

    the loss of generation and reception in order to predict the

    strength of generation.

    Psychoacoustics studies the psychological and

    physiological responses associated with sound its

    emotions and associations to better understand how

    sound is perceived. For instance, what is it about the sound

    of a Harley that makes it seem powerful or expensive?

    To unravel this mystery, the acoustician may have to factor

    in inaudible components such as its vibrations and very low-

    frequency sounds.

    It may seem like a paradox after all, acoustics is

    generally involved in measuring sounds we can actually hear

    but infrasonic and ultrasonic acoustics measures sounds

    that have little or no acoustic perception, generally those

    within the frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 KHz (cycles per

    second). Frequencies outside this range are either ultrason-

    ic (above 20 KHz) or infrasonic (below 20 Hz) and though

    generally considered inaudible, this is open to debate. For in-

    stance, the frequency range of infrasound can vary accord-

    ing to its intensity and rate, and factors such as age, gender

    and noise exposure can also play a role.

    Infrasound is often accompanied by audible sound

    emitted from the same source. Lets take the boom box

    car as a case in point. The reason we can hear it coming

    down the road for miles is that air does not absorb low-fre-

    quency sounds as well as it does high-frequency sounds.

    Thats also why a plane produces white sound (a mixture of

    sound waves over a wide frequency) when flying directly

    overhead, and more bass (low f requency) as it moves away.

    Low-frequency sounds not only travel further through air

    than high-frequency sounds, they penetrate physical struc-

    tures. The reason why a plane flying over your house will

    sound very low and rumbling is because the building has

    filtered out the middle- and high-frequency sounds.

    Although virtually inaudible, infrasound and infra-

    sound vibrations can have a dramatic physical impact. As

    intensity and frequency increases, infrasound and its vibra-

    tions can cause symptoms similar to what divers call the

    rapture of the deep: nausea, dizziness, a loss of equilibrium

    and disorientation, impaired judgment, speech and vision.

    Infrasound can also increase blood pressure and heart

    rate, or give an adrenaline rush. Theres good reason why

    national and international standards have been put in place

    to specify permissible levels of whole-body vibration and


    Tossing and turning at night? Could be infrasound.

    For instance, research is being conducted on the infrasonic

    effect of wind generation. Though initial findings would




    We may not be able to hear sound frequencies below 20 Hz, but we can feel

    them. Sometimes they rob us of sleep, sometimes they drive us into a frenzyand sometimes they save our lives. An essay on infrasound.

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    0 20 Hz

    found that infrasound can im-

    pair whales hearing.

    In building acoustics,

    we normally measure frequen-

    cies between 100 Hz and 5,000

    Hz. My company tests the

    Sound Transmission Class (STC)

    of all types of architectural

    materials from walls, to

    doors, windows, building fa-

    ades and special barriers. Even though our own state-of-

    the-art, 200-cubic-meter reverberation chamber is accred-

    ited to 80 Hz, thats still way above the infrasound range.

    Clearly, new procedures are needed to measure infrasound

    in buildings.

    Scientists and governments have long been looking

    into whether infrasound can be used to detect weather pat-

    terns and predict natural disasters, such as volcanoes and

    tsunamis. By studying the invisible in this case, the

    inaudible we might better understand our environment

    and save lives.

    argue that the impact is likely low, there is some evidence

    that wind farms may cause insomnia.

    We went to the Metrodome in Minneapolis to better

    understand the effects of subwoofers and their low-

    frequency sounds at major concert venues. Pink Floyd and

    the Steve Miller Band, for instance, have their sound cranked

    up as high as 130 dBA peak. The tremendous volume makes

    it hard to hear so the musicians have to rely on feedback to

    feel the low-frequency sounds so that they can s tay togeth-

    er. And its the infrasound and vibration blasting from the

    subwoofers that makes the crowd feel the music.

    Animals are tremendously sensitive to sound, and

    there are some fascinating studies being carried out in or-

    der to understand acoustic communication between mam-

    mals. Elephants and whales, for instance, can hear over im-

    mense distances. Following the Indonesian tsunami in

    2004, researchers wanted to find out whether the ele-

    phants were able to sense the coming disaster and then

    communicate it onward as they tried to break free of their

    chains. Important research on the impact of infrasound

    that is generated by naval submarines on whales has


    HD 700The HD 700 uses its amazing frequency range topaint soundscapes on widescreen.

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    9.4Steven J.

    Orfield is

    the found-

    er of Or-

    field Laboratories (OL) in Minneapolis,

    USA. OL provides design, research and

    testing services for the architectural

    and research communities. OL designed

    the first American Sound Quality analy-

    sis system, which included evaluation of

    major professional audio headphones.

    After conducting thorough tests, OL de-

    cided to use Sennheiser headphones for

    all its studies on sound. Currently, Or-

    field is using the new Sennheiser HD 700

    whose specially tuned, high-

    efficiency converters deliver high

    sound-pressure levels and a vented

    magnet system that minimizes air tur-

    bulence and, with it, distortion. The

    American is also known for his anechoic

    chamber, which was awarded The Qui-

    etest Place on Earth by the 2005 Guin-

    ness Book of World Records. The sound

    level in this chamber is -9.4 dBA.


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    12 13

    0.0000000000000016 Hz





    British-born Andrew Fabian is one of the foremost astronomers inthe world. His specialty? Listening to the murmurs of the universe and

    observing its black holes. In doing so, he has discovered sound wavesa million times below the limits of the human ear.

    As an X-ray astronomer, Im interested in studying

    processes in the universe that release tremendous

    amounts of energy energy whose electromagnetic

    radiation is dispersed across the universe to be recorded on

    Earth after its long cosmic journey. Though it might seem

    similar to the study of stars, there is a huge difference be-

    tween stars and the heavenly bodies I observe. The radia-

    tion sources I study have temperatures in excess of 1,000

    times that of stars. Using the law of physics, we know the

    radiation they emit also has a frequency of more than 1,000

    times that of stars. Whereas the electromagnetic waves

    emitted from a stars hot surface make it possible for us to

    admire them against the dark expanse of the universe, the

    shift in frequencies takes black holes out of the visible spec-

    trum and into the range of invisible X-rays.

    One possible source of such X-ray radiation is giant

    gas clouds, which become extremely hot as they are drawn

    into black holes. Black holes are the remnants of stars that,

    after having consumed all their combustible fuel, collapse

    under their own weight, as it were, into an extremely con-

    centrated mass. If the same thing happened to the Earth,

    we would have to squeeze it into a ball with a diameter of

    less than two centimeters! Such an extremely concentrated

    object has an incredibly powerful gravitational pull, suck-

    ing in anything that wanders by never to be seen again.

    The so-called Perseus

    Cluster is around 250 mil-

    lion light-years away from

    Earth and comprises 1,000


    Such is the case with electromagnetic radiation and light.

    Nothing is emitted from a black hole.

    As a gas cloud approaches a black hole, it s gas par-

    ticles reach a very high velocity and begin to collide violent-

    ly against each other, creating temperatures in the tens of

    millions, which are then emitted as X-ray radiation. These

    X-rays, however, are absorbed by the upper layers of the

    atmosphere and so never reach the Earths surface. What

    that means for astronomers is that we are only able to ob-

    serve X-ray sources from outer space for instance, with

    the help of satellite telescopes.

    The most powerful X-ray telescope right now is

    Chandra, which was deployed by a NASA space shuttle in

    1999. The Chandra is equipped wit h the most accurate mir-

    rors ever polished, at the time costing some 400 million

    dollars. By directing X-ray radiation onto a detector, much

    like the sensors of a video camera, the Chandra has helped

    us learn some truly amazing things about the universe in

    recent years. One of them is that black holes emit an ex-

    tremely low murmur.

    The most powerful source of X-ray radiation ob-

    served so far is a cluster of galaxies in the constellation of

    Perseus. Some 250 million light years away from Earth, Per-

    seus is made up of thousands of galaxies immersed in a hot

    gas cloud. At the center of the Perseus Cluster is a black

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    0.0000000000000016 Hz


    And what is the fre-

    quency of these sound waves?

    A bubble that detaches only

    once every ten million years or

    so has an extremely low fre-

    quency. To give an example,

    lets use Middle C as a refer-

    ence point. A Middle C gener-

    ates 262 shock waves per sec-

    ond. Based on our readings,

    we can conclude the tone gen-

    erated by these space bubbles

    is something like 57 octaves lower than Middle C. More

    precisely, they produce a B-flat with the unimaginably low

    frequency of 0.0000000000000016 Hz the lowest note

    ever registered in the universe.

    Other than setting such outer-worldly records, our

    observations have high scientific value. For instance, we are

    now able to explain why gas clouds in the Perseus Cluster

    remain hot. Over the course of

    time, after having expended so

    much X-ray radiation, gas clouds

    should have cooled down. Howev-

    er, with sound waves continuously

    replenishing their energy, the

    cloud temperature remains high.

    Our findings have other

    practical implications. For in-

    stance, cold gas clouds should give

    birth to new stars; however, this is

    prevented by the heat generated

    by sound waves. In other words, if

    it werent for sound waves, there

    would be many more stars and

    galaxies illuminating the universe,

    making the skies a lot brighter!

    Sound waves help us resolve these

    types of cosmological questions.

    Literally speaking, its enough to

    make you open your eyes and

    your ears.

    1. Chandra is the most powerful X-ray telescope of all time

    2. Shock waves in the Perseus Galaxy Cluster


    1000The 64-year-old Brit Andrew C. Fa-

    bian has witnessed sights most

    Earth-dwellers might consider in-

    conceivable. A professor of astron-

    omy and head of the X-Ray Astron-

    omy Group at the University of

    Cambridge, he has received numer-

    ous scientific awards, including a

    Gold Medal from the Royal Astro-

    nomical Society its highest

    award. Fabian has been working in

    close collaboration with NASA and

    its Chandra mission for many years.

    hole that constantly pulls in gas from the cloud. As the gas

    plunges disk-like into the black hole, two jets of matter

    shoot out in the opposite direction. The exchange can force

    a part of the gas cloud outwards, creating two giant bub-

    bles, each roughly the size o f our Milky Way. The Chandra

    gives us a front-row seat on the action. As the hot gas in

    the cluster begins to emit a very bright X-ray radiation, the

    bubbles appear as two dark circles.

    The bubbles grow larger with time. After, say, ten

    million years, they detach and move away from the black

    hole. Just like air bubbles in an aquarium: as its aeration

    system pumps air into the water, it forms bubbles that

    grow, eventually detach and rise to the surface. Every time

    one of these giant cosmic bubbles detaches, it acts like a

    gigantic loudspeaker, sending out a spherically shaped

    shock wave into the surrounding gas a shock wave that

    decays further out into sound waves. Sound, after all, is

    nothing other than a pressure oscillation in a material me-

    dium of which air is but one example.

    Of course we cant hear these sounds on Earth:

    most of the universe is a void and so does not carry sound.

    However, we are able to record the shock waves at the

    Chandra Observatory. Density is higher in areas with higher

    pressure, resulting in more X-ray radiation. Thats why sat-

    ellite pictures taken of black holes reveal bright circular

    structures similar to the concentric ripples that form on a

    ponds surface when you throw a stone into the pond.

    In outer space, a

    powerful bass drones:

    with the help of the

    space telescope

    Chandra, it was possible

    to detect sound waves

    from a supermassive

    black hole


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    0.1 Hz




    They are the superheroes ofmeteorology. From atop a high

    mountain, the German AerospaceCenter warns the world of storms.

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    0.1 Hz


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    10hertz: thats how deep the

    booming bellow of the

    male humpback whale can

    reach. During mating sea-

    son, the males use the power of song to

    woo the females they fancy. That makes

    the male whales sea leviathans, up to 15

    meters in length and severely scarred

    true virtuosos of the ocean. They compose

    songs using up to 622 sounds, spanning animpressive range of ten to 8,000 Hz.




    10 Hz


    In the dark abysses of the sea, whales send out low-frequencysounds that can be heard halfway across the ocean basin. British

    biologist Oliver Boisseau sails the Atlantic in search of thesewondrous sounds and to protect their leviathan vocalists.

    10 Hz 10 Hz

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    Centuries ago and late at night,

    as rum-sodden sailors lay in an

    exhausted stupor in the ships

    hold, listening to the planks creaking

    and the wind whistling through them,

    the strange sounds coming from the

    depths of the sea must have been hor-rifying. For these superstitious sea

    dogs, there was only one logical expla-

    nation behind the melancholy groans

    that seemed to reverberate as if from

    some supreme soundboard: it must be

    a chorus of seamen, sobbing from

    their watery graves. Riddled with fear,

    some nights the sounds were almost

    too much to bear. Worse yet was the

    knocking. The spirits had more on their minds than singing

    their hair-raising song of woe. They wanted in.

    Sporting oval, wire-framed glasses and an ordinary,

    no-nonsense haircut, English marine biologist Oliver Bois-

    seau, 36, seems well so normal. That is until he begins

    to revel in telling horror stories of the deep seas. His haunt-

    ing tales, however, do serve a purpose. Recounting such old

    sea lore is an excellent illustration of mans ignorance ofthese, his most favorite of creatures the ancient masters

    of the sea. It wasnt until the 1930s, when dolphins first

    went on show in aquariums, that man began to observe

    marine mammals; it took another 10 or 20 years before sci-

    ence slowly began to get itself into the act.

    But it wasnt until a good 40 years ago that man

    began to analyze the whales poignant sounds. And as un-

    derstanding grew, so too the realization that the ghostly

    seamans lament were actually poetic songs used by some

    species of whales to woo their female mates. The songs

    broadcast relevant and detailed information as to their

    size, strength and matrimonial intentions. And the knock-

    ing sounds? A special sonar toothed whales use to locate

    their prey.

    Though research in this field is still in its infancy,

    there is another reason why so little is known about

    whales. Most of them tend to keep out of sight, preferring

    to romp about in the unfathomable

    expanses of the ocean. Relatively

    easy to spot are the large baleen

    whales. As Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick

    would say, There she blows! The

    white whale. And indeed, a huge

    fountain of water shoots into the airas they exhale; a sight Boisseau can

    see for miles.

    Its a completely different

    story for the most mysterious of

    these large marine mammals: the

    beaked whale. Though they make up

    almost 25 percent of the approxi-

    mately 80 whale species, only four

    species have been studied in any de-

    tail. For some beaked whale species, the only proof of their

    existence is their skeletal remains. But how many are there?

    A question still in search of an answer, it will take more lis-

    tening in on the deep to fit the different pieces of the puz-

    zle together.

    At 18, when Boisseau finished school, he took a year

    off to do voluntary service. With his brother already work-

    ing with wild animals in Africa, Boisseau was looking forsomething completely different to do. And so began his

    love affair with marine mammals. Over the course of the

    year, Boisseau worked on whale-watching boats off the

    Azores and assisted American doctoral candidates with

    their research. The subject was always dolphins and whales.

    But it wasnt until fourteen years

    later, in 2008, that Boisseau finally

    spotted a live beaked whale. Surely

    a baffling fascination given that the

    object of his obsession remains so


    Today, a Ph.D. himself, Bois-

    seau conducts his own months-long expeditions, now con-

    sidered the most important in the field of whale research.

    At the end of March 2012 and sponsored by the environ-

    mental-protection-organization International Fund for Ani-

    mal Welfare, Boisseau set sail to obs erve the Atlantics blue,

    1. The 36-year-old marine biol-

    ogist Oliver Boisseau on the deck

    of the research ship Song of

    the Whale.2. Screams, piping,

    whimpers and grunts: hump-

    back whales sing their songs in

    verses of diverse sounds.

    10 Hz

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    fin and sei whales. This summer,

    he and his team will be traveling

    from the Azores, a major inter-

    section for whale traffic, to the

    American East Coast and the

    last of the North Atlantic white

    whales, and then on to Iceland.

    Laid back and easygoing, his

    boyish looks seem out of place

    for a doctor of marine biology.

    But whether standing on the

    deck of the Song of the Whalewith his binoculars in hand or

    sitting in front of LCD monitors

    where green, blue and red

    curves flitter across the screen seemingly at random, his

    meditative calm and patient determination never falter.

    In contrast to his usual T-shirt or solid-colored hood-

    ie, Boisseau sports state-of-the-art headgear: black

    Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones. The headphones are as

    indispensible to his work as are his computers and binocu-

    lars. Not only do they offer uncompromising quality, spare

    parts are available anywhere in the world and they are ex-

    tremely robust. The environment onboard a ship is abso-

    lutely unforgiving. Sea water sloshes around, equipment

    gets dropped or slammed against the walls, says Boisseau.

    Completing his equipment is a 400-meter (1,300 ft),

    thumbs-width cable fitted with two microphones, a depth

    gauge and direction sensor, which is lowered into the water

    1.The crew lowers the 400-meter-long cable into

    the water. The hydrophone is attached to the end

    of the cable.2. The expeditions also serve to pro-

    tect the endangered finback whales. 3. In summer

    2012, Boisseau sailed to Iceland via the Azores and

    the east coast of the USA.

    and pulled behind the research ship. Though

    these hydrophones or as Boisseau calls them,

    my window into the underwater world have

    been around for decades, they are still the best

    technology around for localizing whale songs.

    The Song of the Whale is a modern21-meter (70-foot) boat that is powered by

    both motor and sails and packed with scientific

    instruments. Its hull is painted sea blue; its su-

    perstructure and sails are brilliant white. Working onboard

    in a mix of scientific res earch and animal preservation, Oli-

    ver Boisseau and his team of marine biologists listen to the

    whales and photograph the few less timid spe cimens, such

    as the sperm whale.

    Since sperm whales are uniquely identifiable by

    their characteristic markings and scarring on head, body

    and tail fin, their course can be tracked and each whale can

    be positively identified. This helps them prove that whales

    spotted off the mid-Atlantic islands of the Azores were re-

    cently sighted off the coast of Norway. Once their migrato-

    ry patterns have been established, the scientists put on

    their animal-advocacy hats. The Song of the Whale is

    headed for Iceland this summer to promote a ban on whal-

    Whale there she blows!

    Whales are rarely as easy to

    spot as this one shown here.

    10 Hz

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    ing. Using the argument, for instance, t hat the

    Azores have built a whole tourist industry based

    on whale-watching, they plan to make a case t hat

    there are more humane ways to cash in on whales.

    For animal rights activists, the often sensa-

    tionalized, brutal whale hunt is just one of the

    whales many tribulations. Incredibly sensitive

    hearing makes them particularly vulnerable to

    noise. Noise is as irritating to a whale as blinding

    lights would be to us when we try to read or drive a car, ex-

    plains Boisseau. The steady increase in shipping, the noisefrom pipelines and drilling platforms, the infernally loud

    acoustic cannons used to conduct seismic studies of the

    ocean floor, not to mention the sonar used by different mili-

    taries to scan the floors of 80 percent of the worlds oceans

    are pure torture to whales. The noise causes them to lose

    their bearings, and drives them away from traditional feed-

    ing and mating grounds. In the worst-case scenario, noise

    can even kill them. Whales are so sus-

    ceptible to noise that beached whales

    are often found to have suffered cere-

    bral or inner-ear hemorrhaging. Its a

    tragic development that some species

    could have died out before we ever

    have a chance to get to know them,

    says Boisseau.

    The team has another special

    project planned for this years expedi-

    tion. Using the latest soft-

    ware, they will be able to re-

    cord frequencies below 20 Hz.

    Though usually inaudible to

    the human ear, infrasound can

    have a negative impact on

    peoples moods and psyches.

    Not so for other animals, such as giraffes and elephants,

    which use these frequencies to their own advantage.Whales use frequencies as low as 10 Hz; though fin whales

    tend to use frequencies around 20 Hz and blue whales, 16

    Hz. The sounds carry over truly mind-boggling distances.

    Boisseau gushes, A sound transmitted off the coast of Af-

    rica can theoretically be picked up in the Caribbean. Male

    humpback whales are the masters of these infrasound con-

    certs. Recent studies show that, during the mating season,

    the male humpback whale uses up to 622 sounds to com-

    pose distinct, multi-strophic songs. And the frequency

    range 7 to 8,000 Hz is staggering. Life on the

    the Song can be lonely. Day in day out, nothing but blue

    water. Nothing to hear, let alone anything to see. Its a

    seemingly endless waiting game. While the crew switches

    out at regular intervals, Boisseau remains on board, watch-

    ing, listening, waiting until finally he hears the groan,

    cry and knocking that terrorized seamen o f yore. The song

    of the whale.


    14years long, the

    marine biologist

    and bioacoustician

    Oliver Boisseau

    traveled the oceans before he

    caught sight of one of the extreme-

    ly rare beaked whale. Boisseau re-

    ceived his Ph.D. from the University

    of Otago, New Zealand. Since 2004,

    he has been traveling the world

    with the IFAW research ship Song

    of the Whale.

    1. On board, Boisseau listens to the

    depths with his Sennheiser HD 2802. The

    research ship is equipped with the most-

    modern technology3. Blue whales com-

    municate with each other over thousands

    of kilometers, using infrasound noises

    HD 280 PROSturdy companion for loud environments. Afavorite of researchers, DJs and sound technicians.

    Frequency response 825,000 Hz

    P ic k- up p at te rn D yn am ic , cl os ed

    Total harmonic


    0.1 %

    Weight 220 g

    Sennheiser HD 280 PRODynamic stereo headphones


    15 Hz


    15 Hz

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    S OO O O

    110million: thats

    how many

    albums Stuart


    has sold with the band Sade alone. Other

    successes for the producer and multi-

    instrumentalist include soundtracks to

    films such as The Astronaut Farmer

    and Indecent Proposal. As Cotton-

    belly, Matthewman plays jazz and

    reggae. Whatever the genre, the power

    of deep tones fascinates him as does

    musics ability to make people laugh.

    When Stuart Matthewman, aka Cottonbelly, makes music, you dontjust feel it. In an interview in his New York studio, the Brit talks about

    how his fascination with low tones converted him from punk toreggae and how he uses psychoacoustics to inspire his listeners.


    15 Hz 15 Hz0,1 Hz

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    30 31


    Stuart Matthewman hit the

    international music scene

    in 1984, when Sade Adu,

    the most successful British artist

    of all time, made her debut al-

    bum Diamond Life. Since then, he

    has worked with Sade and herband as (co-)producer, songwriter, saxophonist and guitar-

    ist. Matthewman also performs under the pseudonym Cot-

    tonbelly. His latest work, Twin Danger, which he produced,

    is soon to be released. In addition, Matthewman composes

    film soundtracks. The Englishman has been living in New

    York since the mid-80s. We visited him in his small record-

    ing studio on the 6th floor of a large office building right in

    the middle of Manhattan.

    Matthewman:Welcome to my s tudio. Were on 29th Street

    in Manhattan. Sometimes, you can hear the sirens of police

    cars and ambulances. It adds to the vibe of New York City.

    Apart from my studio, there are only offices in this build-

    ing: management companies and lawyers. I try to keep qui-

    et during the day and ratch it up at night. So far, nobodys

    complained. But my musics good, right? So why would any-

    one complain? (Laughs)

    Schnell: Youre a Brit - why did you move to New York?

    I grew up in Hull, a small town in no rthern England. In 1980,

    I moved to London. I didnt have any money and moved

    from squat to squat. Back then, I was so broke that I was

    actually stealing food. Luckily during my first year in Lon-

    don, I met Sade and the rest of the band. After we got a re-

    cord deal, we were on the road all the time and were often

    in New York. I fell in love with the city and stayed on. Every-

    thing I need is right here in New York.

    The transformation from struggling musician to selling mil-

    lions of records as part of Sades band went pret ty quick.

    It was luck and determination. The most important thing as

    a musician, or as an artist in ge neral, is to not have a back-

    up plan. You have to know what you want. You cannot have

    a second job or you will never follow t hrough.

    By now, youve worked with Sade

    for almost 30 years.

    We take off for ten years here

    and there to do other stuff.

    (laughs). We wouldnt have last-

    ed 30 years together if we didnt

    have room to do our own thing.

    What other projects are you currently involved in?

    I write music for movies. Scoring films has a very different

    dynamic from writing songs because youre writing for

    specific scenes to help the audience understand them.

    My alter ego, Cottonbelly, dubs music, and produces and

    remixes for other artists like Janet Jackson and Gregory

    Isaacs. My latest project is called Twin Danger. A jazz proj-

    ect (dont be scared, its good!) with an amazing singer

    from New York named Vannessa Bley. Weve got something

    very cool going on. That will be happening soon.

    Do you use Sennheiser microphones for your productions?

    For recording the tom-toms on this drum kit here in the

    back, I generally use the Sennheiser MD 421. It sounds

    warm and round. For my Saxophone, I use a Sennheiser clip-

    on microphone both live and in the studio. Also, I havetwo Neumann KM 184s. They are amazing for drum record-

    ings as overheads on the hi-hat and they are great for

    recording the acoustic guitar. I use them all the time.

    Do you record your music in this small studio?

    I do. Since its so small, I usually use headphones to mix the

    music. I dont trust the sound of this room, but I trust the

    sound of the Sennhe iser HD 640. Theyre great! You hear a

    lot of low end and theyre not too bright. You need a very

    natural sound for mixing and the HD 640s have a very ac-

    curate bass and high end. Also, I love to walk through the

    madness of New York or ride on the subway with head-

    phones on.

    Does Sade record her vocals in this studio?

    No, but she also uses Sennheiser equipment. For her vocals

    in the studio, she uses the Neumann U 87 Ai. When we play

    1. Cottonbelly sets up

    his Sennheiser MD 421

    microphone. 2. The

    sound of Manhattan sur-

    rounds him with every

    step he takes.

    15 Hz


  • 8/13/2019 Sennheiser AR 2011




    live, everything is Sennheiser:

    all the microphones and radio

    packs everything. Since we

    dont have any monitors on

    stage, we use in-ear-head-

    phones from Sennheiser. The

    bass player also needs to phys-ically feel the low end of his

    playing. He has a little thing

    that clips underneath the stage

    and vibrates the floor so that

    he actually feels the bass.

    Is the bass particularly important for Sades music?

    Our records are very deep. We use a very low bass. Almost

    no sub-bass, but sounds that can actually be heard and if

    you have a nice sound system feel. For live performances,

    we add sub-bass sounds; for instance, for sound effects at

    the beginning of the show, when you can hear explosions

    and stuff. We put 16 subwoofers on each side of t he stage

    so that the audience can physically feel the low tones.

    When Paul [Paul Spencer Denman] plays his bass live, the

    subwoofers provide a much bigger sound live than what we

    use for recordings. For us, its essential to have a very sepa-rate, clean, low-end bass sound.

    That reminds me of the low frequencies used in movies.

    Ultra-low frequencies are used in movies all the time to

    evoke certain emotions. The big dramatic low bass sounds:

    Ta ta taaa to arouse fear. Psychoacoustics are able to

    manipulate the audience. Not just sound, but the music

    they hear also affects the audience. I have always been in-

    terested in how to make an audience laugh or cry. Ever

    since I was a litt le kid. You can do that with music. I am fas-

    cinated by film scores that are able to impact how the audi-

    ence feels about a certain character.

    In pop, low bass is usually used for positive effects. What

    drew you to these feel-good low frequencies?

    When I was 18 or 19, I played in a punk rock band in the north

    of England. One night, we supported the reggae group Steel

    1. The Neumann KM 184s is Matthewmans favorite

    microphone. 2. Measuring just 15 square meters,

    Matthewmans studio is a very cozy space.

    Pulse. I managed to get on stage when they were playing

    and sat behind t he drummer. He had two massive subwoof-

    ers on either side of him. All we could hear were his drums

    and the bass, which must have been well under 15 Hz. It was

    an incredible feeling - one that completely changed my life.

    The title of Sades album Lovers Rockis also a reference to

    a 70s reggae genre of the same name.

    Youre right. Living in London at that time, you heard reg-

    gae everywhere. When I was a kid, we went to clubs that

    played reggae all the time. Often, the rooms were filled justwith bass speakers and tweeters. The sound was amazing.

    It was physically impossible to stand still. The bass was so

    powerful that you felt sick if you stood still. You just had to

    dance. The bass took you to another place completely

    physically and mentally.

    Is there anyone else in Sade that likes reggae that much?

    We all like very different kinds of music. Sade really likes

    hip-hop; Andrew Hale, the keyboardist, likes es oteric dance

    music. Paul still loves punk and Im into film music. But , we

    all love reggae. Reggae is simple; it is stripped down. The

    music is about getting the soul across instead of musicians

    who are showing off. You do not list en to a reggae song to

    be impressed by an amazing guitar solo. What the guitarist

    does is simple and it sounds RIGHT with the song. That is

    exactly what were about. Sounding right as a band and

    not showing off as musicians.

    KM 184On the studio scene, the kidney microphone haslong been considered the quality standard.

    Frequency response 20 20,000 Hz

    Directional character Kidney

    Nominal impedance 50 ohms

    Weight 80 g

    Neumann KM184small microphone


    18 Hz

  • 8/13/2019 Sennheiser AR 2011





    Canadian artist Kristen Roos connects sofas to droningmachines and uses subway trains as deep-frequency drums.

    For him, working with sound is a visual experience.

    Two black sofas vibrating in the lobby of an art galle-

    ry. Though subtle at first, the low-frequency thrum is

    almost like listening to a lullaby. That is, until an

    escalating quiver suddenly surprises the people sitting on

    it. What is that sound? Is it emanating from some machine

    close by? Is there something wrong with the building?

    For Kristen Roos, such reactions are music to his

    ears. The Canadian artist is obsessed with the resonance

    of these deep sound waves. I love catching people off

    guard, he admits, and making them think.Take one of his earlier installations, for example:

    subwoofers rock empty subway trains in a long-aban-

    doned ghost station. Im fascinated by the deep dro-

    nes, laughs the 36-year-

    old as we sit together on

    his latest creation at the

    Surrey Art Gallery just out-

    side Vancouver . They

    make me feel good. Its

    very meditative. His curator feels the same. Roos use of

    infrasound has a decidedly otherworldly effect. The sofas

    make it tactile, explains Ross Birdwise, but it isnt the same

    feel as, say, holding an electric toothbrush. You feel the

    sound. Its ghostly. As if spirits had been released from

    their graves and have possessed the couch.

    It all taps into Roos artistic calling: to make the

    inaudible audible. For his show, Underground, Roos was

    able to achieve his vision using tactile contact combined

    with Sennheiser MKH 8020 microphones. Ross used the

    ultra-sensitive microphones, which can record frequencies

    beginning at 10 Hz, to record the machine and electrical

    rooms hidden in the gallerys basement. The sound rife

    among archaic-looking gauges and copper coils was first

    sculpted and sequenced before being hardwired to the

    sofas via tactile transducers and speakers. Even though

    the sofas muffle the noise somewhat, with the help of mi-

    crophones, the underlying sound is transformed intosomething more intense than they would have been in

    situ. The result of the 15-minute-long loops? Think: musi-

    cal compositions. Theres no doubt that Im turning it into

    something more pleasing than it actually is, he continues.

    I think of it as manipulating the drone into a sound that

    pleases me.

    For Roos, its the idea of the underground writ

    large. Reminiscent of the futur-

    istic film Brazil, these industrial

    behemoths may look bizarre,

    but in his mind these ma-

    chines are real beauties. In

    his 2007 exhibition Ghost Sta-

    tion, Roos recorded the moan-

    ing and vibrating of subway

    cars and sequenced them into

    rhythms using subwoofers and

    On the couch with a psycho-acous-

    tician: Distorting perception and the

    sense of uncertainty it evokes are just a

    few of the instruments sound magician

    Kristen Roos likes to play.


    6haptic adapters, 8 laptop out-

    puts and 2 times 3 subwoofers

    in 6 empty subway cars. Kristen

    Roos uses the equipment to

    conjure up modern-day ghosts. Just as

    he does in his project Ghost Station,

    the sound artist uses deep bass sounds

    to keep his audience trembling. We live

    in a surf of low-frequency waves, says

    the Canadian. Many indigenous peoplesbelieve them to be sounds from the

    spirit world.


    18 Hz


  • 8/13/2019 Sennheiser AR 2011




    shaking nuts, bolts and springs on rods hanging from the

    ceiling to create something akin to an eight-piece drum

    kit. Bringing sounds that people are usually not even

    aware of to the surface, he insists, amplifies sound and

    creates a whole new world.

    Its a world he has longed for all his life. What with

    cars, hip-hop and the experimental music scene, society is

    already flooded with lower frequencies. But there is more.

    Its that depth of sound that attracted the father of one,

    even as a toddler. I used to press my head up against

    washing machines and dishwashers, explains the gradu-

    ate of both Victo ria and Concordia Universities. They com-

    forted me.

    Whatever the reason, over the past 15 years,

    sound has brought him into collaborations with musicians

    and dance troupes and into honing the

    sounds of the city to produce soundwalks.

    In the Micro Radio Project he carried out inQuebec City, Roos created a counterpoint be-

    tween residents voices, and recordings of

    trains and church bells. Thinking back over his initial flir-

    tation with silkscreen, in which he would have to push and

    pull multiple layers, Roos can see a similarity to using a

    multitrack to layer sounds. Sound is a visual experience

    for me, he concludes.

    Back at the art gallery, were still enjoying the ebb

    and flow of his installation. Ross plans to take the con-

    cept even further in future projects. Repurposing more

    objects such as a refrigerator that hums rhythmically in

    tandem with a stove, for instance to explore the tangi-

    bility of their seductive and captivating low frequen-

    cies. It changes people because all of a sudden they can

    actually feel something that they have never heard, he

    says as the sofas leather seats rise as if on cue to punc-

    tuate our conversation.

    1. In the bowels of the Surrey Art

    Gallery, the MKH 8020 is used to

    pick up sound.2.Roos roams the

    machine room with microphones

    in hand in search of infrasound.

    3. A ghost stop at the Lower Bay

    Station in Toronto, Canada.

    MKH 8020The perfect microphone for organ, piano, doublebass and possessed machines.

    Frequency response 10 60.000 Hz

    Pick-up pattern omni-directional

    Nominal impedance 25 Ohm

    Weight 55 g

    Sennheiser MKH 8020condenser microphone


    20 Hz


    City as subwoofer: the droning

    of traffic, air conditioners and

    other machines keeps people

    awake. Especiall y in the

  • 8/13/2019 Sennheiser AR 2011



    Its like some mysterious music of the night. Around theworld, a deep vibrating bass is robbing people of their

    sleep. Humming to the beat of air conditioners, cities arethe worst offenders. As researchers studying this

    phenomenon are discovering: our hearing is much moresensitive than we ever realized.


    canyons between buildings,

    such as here in Tokyo, a regular

    sound wave can occur.


    20 Hz



  • 8/13/2019 Sennheiser AR 2011


    40 41

    At night, when the roaring city traffic comes to a halt

    and the construction noise dies down. When the

    worlds metropolitan areas finally turn down the dial

    on the throbbing street life, most people are sound asleep.

    Others, however, are being tortured, tossing and turning in


    Sleepless in the city. Around the world, from SanFrancisco to Auckland, from Sydney to Calgary, and in con-

    gested urban centers like the five-million-strong Ruhr Val-

    ley, theres a deep hum that only 2 to 5% of the population

    can hear. Like a power drill boring through their heads, an

    uncomfortable sensation of pressure also builds up in their

    ears. Some feel a vibration course through their bodies, ex-

    perience tremendous anxiety and even shortness of

    breath. Its audience has long known the title of this night

    music: infrasound. At levels of 20 Hz and below, why are

    they able to register frequencies so low that, in the field of

    acoustics, it would be considered absolutely impossible?

    Does infrasound really cause such harmful side effects?

    In the outskirts of a city somewhere between Dort-

    mund and Bochum, a teacher named Anne Friedrich returns

    to a home she was forced to flee during the night of Febru-

    ary 23 last year. She couldnt stand the hum any longer.

    Prof. Detlef Krah of the University of Wuppertal has at-

    tached a microphone to the headboard of her bed and con-

    nected it to a sound-level meter. The mic is so sensitive, it

    can record sounds down to 5 Hz. Every time she hears a low

    tone that bothers her, she jots it down and then protocols

    to what extent. Fuelled by his

    scientific curiosity, the profes-

    sor of communications engi-

    neering is using her bedroom

    to conduct research. Is what

    the teacher hears measurable?

    And if so, when do the sounds

    appear and at what levels?

    In 2005, the 59-year-

    old teacher with dark curly hair

    bought a townhouse in the

    Ruhr Valley. It wasnt until mid-

    September 2007 that she was

    torn from her sleep for the first

    time. Wummwummwumm, she

    growls in a low voice. It was like

    there was a truck parked right in

    front of the house, and the driver

    was gunning the engine. Whats

    more, she could feel vibrations go-ing straight through her. The mad-

    dening bass tone is sometimes

    weaker during the day, but she only

    completely escapes it when she

    leaves the house. Odd that none of

    her neighbors seem to notice.

    Friedrich had all the build-

    ing equipment and appliances thor-

    oughly inspected. Nothing. The first

    hunch came from a building biolo-

    gist: infrasound. The teacher points

    through her front window: There

    it is. The bane of my life. During

    the summer of 2007, a new cooling

    system had been installed in the warehouse across the

    street and thats exactly when the torturous sounds and

    physical ailments first appeared. By February 2010, she

    couldnt deal with the insomnia anymore and fled her

    home. Today, she only returns to water the plants or let

    Krah in to take measurements.

    In Germany, Denmark and Canada, hum hearers are

    banding together, forming associations, community groups

    and Internet forums. They are getting environmental au-

    thorities and scientists on board, and keeping up with the

    latest scientific research. Its not just about bringing an end

    to their suffering. They want people who dont hear the

    noise to know they arent just some crackpots, imagining

    sounds that arent there. In the 1990s, the long-suffering

    residents of Taos, New Mexico were even able to get the

    U.S. Congress involved in what has become officially known

    as the Taos Hum. But its genesis was just as elusive in

    Taos as it was in Munich and Bristol: Its like trying to solve

    a crime, says Krah of his difficult investigation to find t he


    Krah has finished studying the mea-

    surements he took at Friedrichs house: I regis-

    tered distinct peaks of 33 dB at vibrations of 20

    Hz and 40 Hz. But there were also noise compo-

    nents below 20 Hz. Noises? Frequencies below 20 Hz are

    generally considered inaudible. Are official reference levels

    misleading? Krah adds with a sigh: According to DIN

    45680, these infrasound values are well below the thresh-

    old of perception.

    Acousticians at a university located in the Danish

    city of Aarlsborg have come up with the same type of re-

    sults. They have been conducting measurements in an in-

    frasonic pressure chamber for years, looking to find out

    how infrasound affects people. Their surprising result,

    which has been confirmed by many other international

    studies and experiments, is that people are able to per-

    ceive sounds well below the previously defined threshold

    of 20 Hz. If they are especially sensitive, they even react to

    frequencies of just a few hertz. Its a bit like the fluttering

    heard when rolling down the window of a moving vehicle.

    With sounds below 20 Hz, there is no sensation of pitch,

    but there is a sensation of sound. At least, for some people.

    Despite all the studies, there are still many open questions

    and there will have to be more research. Foremost of all:

    Are there any negative health effects from infrasound?

    What is the difference between infrasound and the

    noise caused by high frequencies? Acoustician Volker Mel-

    lert of Oldenburg University has been researching infra-

    sound since the 1980s. As he explains: Contrary to high

    frequencies, the threshold of perception between barely

    hearing something and hearing it loudly can be minuscule.

    Especially at very low frequencies. Thats why frequencies

    in the infrasonic range can quickly morph into a major an-

    noyance. Mellert discovered how low frequencies can af-

    fect the body the hard way. He and his team ran an experi-

    ment on themselves. As the 5 Hz emitting from

    low-frequency loudspeakers in their anechoic chamber be-

    gan to generate infrasound, they started to feel an un-

    pleasant sensation of pressure and ran out of the room.

    They all felt terrible some were even about to pass out.

    Mellert is convinced that artificial infrasound is

    more disturbing than the infrasound produced by nature.

    Machines generate isolated single-frequency sinusoidal

    low pressure fluctuations, which can be very unpleasant.

    Natural infrasound on the other hand, such as the low-fre-

    quency sounds of the ocean or wind (or, as Mellert de-

    scribes them, broadband) are simply more pleasurable.

    Infrasonic waves up to 300-meters long can travel

    almost unimpeded over large spaces. However, unlike high-

    frequency noise, they are not absorbed by air or insulation.

    As Prof. Krah describes it, It cuts through glass like a hot

    knife cuts through butter. In an experimental chamber,

    Krah demonstrates how infrasonic waves intensify sound

    pressure. He hooks up his Sennheiser KH 870 subwoofer








    UNMUFFLED. 1. Air conditioners often generate resonancesthat resemble those of deeply tuned organ pipes

    2.Night in Hong Kong: cities in particular are

    susceptible to infrasound, due to their geometry


    0.1hertz is the lower

    threshold frequency

    that a high-frequency

    microphone can mea-

    sure. Professional Sennheiser micro-

    phones of the MKH series work according

    to this process, which is today used only

    by Sennheiser. It enables the construction

    of measuring devices for extremely low

    frequencies. Thus, in the 1960s, the l ow

    frequency microphone MKH 110 was

    created. The acoustician Volker Mellert

    used this microphone to detect infrasound

    sources. Its lower threshold frequency was1 hertz. The sister model, MKH 110-1, can

    even go as low as 0.1 hertz.


    20 Hz

  • 8/13/2019 Sennheiser AR 2011



    and uses it to emit low frequencies of 20 Hz in the 36 m2

    (387 sq. ft.) room; what acousticians call a standing wave

    quickly forms. All of a sudden, the indicator shoots up to

    more than 20 dB. Indoors, the pressure level produced by

    infrasonic waves is much more intense than outdoors.

    Acoustics expert Rdiger Borgmann, author of a

    book on infrasound, confirms: With their geometry, cities

    are especially vulnerable to infrasound because the high re-

    verberant building facades of urban canyons create stand-

    ing waves. So, too, the bedroom.

    There are countless sources of artificial infrasound

    in cities: almost every tall office building, residential com-

    plex, hotel and hospital are equipped with air-conditioning,

    ventilation systems and pumps. Heap on other factors such

    as planes, railroads, subways, power stations and all the

    electrical equipment companies use: As technology in-

    creases, so will infrasound, says Bo rgmann. Infrasound in-

    teracts with the solid-state vibrations of cooling equipment

    and machinery that, at levels below 20 Hz, emit airborne

    sound. Some researchers believe it even amplifies it.

    The Oldenburg acoustician Mellert once ran a test in

    which he took repeated measurements of air conditioners

    in open-space offices. He found that the long ventilation

    ducts and shafts used in tall buildings create resonances

    similar to those of low-register organ pipes, forming a

    standing wave. Using the Sennheiser high-frequency con-

    denser microphone MKH 110, we were able to measure

    sounds waves below 10 Hz, says Mellert. For him, t he ver-

    dict is still out on whether urban canyons can also produce

    the same type of standing waves: That needs to be stud-

    ied further.

    Back in the Ruhr Valley, Prof. Krah is trying to crack

    his latest infrasound case. Fitting a tiny Sennheiser MKE-1

    onto Friedrichs ear, he hopes to better identify the low-fre-

    quency sounds that are causing her so much grief. Krah al-

    ways comes up with new ideas to catch the culprit. Maybe

    the key lies in the brain. Thats why he is running a series of

    EKG tests in his anechoic chamber. He wants to find out

    whether infrasound alters brain waves. If it does, then he

    would be able to show how infrasound also impacts people

    who arent able to hear the hum and finally prove that

    the vibrating city is not a figment of the imagination.

    1. After dark, for some people, a mysterious night concert

    begins in the megacities 2. Professor Detlef Krah researches

    with a Sennheiser KH 870 subwoofer

    KH 870The newest electronics and eight analogchannels make for dry bass tones to 18 Hz

    Free field frequencyresponse

    18300 Hz, 3 dB

    Bass 7.1 bass manager with80 Hz crossover

    Impedance electricallybalanced

    XLR, 8 x 13 kiloohm

    Weight 47.1 kg

    Neumann KH 870 Active studio subwoofer


  • 8/13/2019 Sennheiser AR 2011


    44 45

    JEKYLL & HYDE Munich pho-

    tography duo Jekyll & Hyde,

    who specialize in still life and

    interactive photography, felt

    like they had been on a trea-

    sure hunt. How could they con-

    gruently x-ray the layers of a

    headphone? Not the usual

    project, it called for a new ap-

    proach. In the end, all present

    were convinced that after a

    roughly eight-hour x-ray ses-

    sion they would either have su-

    per powers or have achieved

    the maximum recommended

    lifetime exposure to radiation.

    Figuratively speaking, howev-

    er, they couldnt prove either

    one or the other. Even if they

    had tried it on themselves,

    above proof.



    tographer and filmmaker John

    Kroemer and Vanina Feldsztein

    have lived in New York for al-

    most twenty years. Shootings,

    like the one they did with the

    Sennheiser musician Stuart

    Matthewman, are something

    like the perfect workday. The

    producer of the music group

    Sade was cool, nice and acces-

    sible and his neighborhood

    full of surprises: Before the

    shoot, Kroemer photographed

    possible locations to take the

    portraits. On Bleecker Street in

    NoHo, he snapped a picture of

    an old man sitting in front of

    his loft. It wasnt until later

    that they realized that this

    man was none other than Rob-

    ert Frank - the father of mod-

    ern documentary photography.

    LUCY HYSLOPFor Lucy Hyslops

    interview with Kristen Roos, it

    was a case of artist and writer

    mutually inspiring each other.

    After a day spent test driving

    the rhythmic hum of his new

    installations in Surrey, British

    Columbia, our author intro-

    duced him to the word thrum,

    now the working title of his fu-

    ture sound work. For Hyslop

    following a 20-year career in

    print from Londons Telegraph

    Magazine to National Geo-

    graphic Traveller Roos has in-

    spired her to venture into the

    world of sound herself as a ra-

    dio reporter for Monocle 24.


    wont be able to sleep well said

    our author Paul Philipp Hanske,

    who was visiting atmospheric

    scientists at the environmental

    research station Schneeferner-

    haus on the Zugspitze. The al-

    titude of nearly 3,000 meters

    has the effect that the organ-

    ism is constantly under strain.

    It was just the same at night.

    The lowlander was only able to

    doze off after three movies

    and two beers. Down in Mu-

    nich, Hanske works for the

    Sddeutsche Zeitung, the

    Bayerischer Rundfunk, Nido

    and Arte.

    MICHAEL MEIER Michael Meier

    has been publishing comics, il-

    lustration books and prints in

    his own independent publish-

    ing house Rotopolpress since

    2007. This is also where he pro-

    duced his first comic Die Men-

    schenfabrik (The human fac-

    tory) based on a narrative by

    Oskar Panizza, for which he

    was recognized as the best

    newcomer at the 2009 Frank-

    furt Book Fair. His second major

    comic book, The Inferno, has

    just been published. As a free-

    lance illustrator and cartoonist,

    Michael Meier has drawn for

    Ehapa, Le Monde Diplomatique

    and GQ.

    CHRISTIAN BUCKSound waves

    from the cosmos? Sounds that

    travel through the void of the

    universe? Author Christian

    Buck was immediately on fire

    about this topic after all, in

    his first life, the journalist was

    a physicist and, even as a child,

    was fascinated by the incom-

    prehensible majesty of the

    universe. All the more that his

    interviewee was not only fa-

    mous, but also had a typical

    British humor.













    0,1 Hz


  • 8/13/2019 Sennheiser AR 2011





    Am Labor 1, 30900 Wedemark, Germany,

    CONTACT FOR PRESS RELATIONS AND PUBLICITY:Global Corporate Public Relations Manager, Edelgard Marquardt,

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    PUBLISHED BY:Sennheiser electronic GmbH & Co. KG, Wedemark, Germany

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    PHOTOS: Cover: Martin Klimas; p. 03 Tom Haller; p. 04-05 Tom Haller (7); p. 08-10 500gls; p. 11 Jekyll & Hyde; p. 12 corbis/

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    Minakuchi; p. 25 IFAW, Olivier Hess, gettyimages/Tui de Ray; p. 26 Olivier Hess, IFAW, gettyimages/Flip Nicklin; p. 27 Jekyll &

    Hyde; p. 28-32 Johannes Krmer (6); p. 33 Jekyll & Hyde; p. 34 Angela Fama; p. 36 Angela Fama (2), Sarah Fay; p. 37 Jekyll &

    Hyde; p. 38-39 gettyimages/Michael Hitochi; p. 41 Look/H + D. Zielske, gettyimages/Imagemore Co.; p. 42 action press/Zuma

    Press Inc., Albrecht Fuchs; p. 44 Jekyll & Hyde; p. 45 Michael Meier, Benno Snger; p. 50 Tom Haller


    To date, Sennheiser annual reports have been recognized with 17 Corporate Publishing Awards.

    FINANCIAL REPORT 2011FINANCIAL REPORT 2011[email protected]:[email protected]://
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    101musicians from 33 countries uploaded videos on YouTubelast year in a bid to join the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. The best of themdemonstrated their skills at a concert held in the Sydney Opera House and

    supported by Sennheiser technology.

    26,660,000people watched the 2011 Grammy awards on television. Sennheiserendorsees collected the music award in the five most important categoriesat the music event.

    46.51,000 guests can be seated in the theatre of the Mein Schiff 2 cruiseship renovated in 2011. Sound is carried from the stage to the guests usingSennheiser wireless systems.500,000MD 421 microphones have been manufactured to date. The classicmicrophone was launched in 1960 and inducted into the TECnology Hallof Fame in 2011.

    centimeters is the size ofthe new MKH 8070 shotgunmicrophone. The microphonemade its debut appearanceat the American Super Bowl

    2011 finals, one of the worldslargest sports events.

    CONTENTS50 Report of the Supervisory Board

    52 Consolidated Management Report 2011

    52 Preliminary Remarks

    53 Economic Developments during the 2011 Financial Year

    63 Risk Management

    65 Outlook for Future Development

    66 Consolidated Financial Statements 2011

    66 Consolidated Balance Sheet as of December 31, 2011

    68 Consolidated Profit and Loss Statement for the Financial Year 2011

    70 Notes on Consolidated Financial Statements 2011

    74 Statement of Asset Additions and Disposals for the Financial Year 2011

    82 Cash Flow Statement for the Financial Year 2011

    84 Statement of Shareholders Equity for the Financial Year 2011

    86 Independent Auditors Report


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    The management of Sennheiser electronic GmbH & Co. KG have compiled the Consolidated

    Management Report and the Consolidated Financial Statements for financial year 2011.

    These were submitted on time to the Supervisory Board. The Supervisory Board dis-

    cussed and approved the annual financial statements and the management report.

    In the financial year 2011, Sennheiser Beteiligungs GmbH, Wedemark, Germany, was again

    responsible for the management of Sennheise r electronic GmbH & Co. KG in its capacity

    as general partner. The registered Presidents of the general partner were Volker Bartels

    (Corporate Services and Speaker of the Executive Management Board), Dr. Heinrich Esser

    (Professional Systems), Daniel Sennheiser (Strategy and Finance), Peter Claussen (Integrated Systems as of

    August 1, 2011) and Dr. Andreas Sennheiser (Supply Chain as of January 1, 2012). In addition to the above-

    mentioned Presidents, further members of the Executive Team were, Peter Callan (Consumer Electronics) and Paul

    Whiting (Global Sales).

    The members of the Supervisory Board this year were Dr. Frank Heinricht, Andreas Dornbracht and Johann

    Soder; Prof. Dr. Jrg Sennheiser again served as Chairman. The Supervisory Board carefully monitored t he de-

    velopment of the Sennheiser Group during its regular meetings. Between these meetings, the Supervisory

    Board was informed by the management about all important decisions, projects and business events, either

    orally or in writing. 2011 was a year of change at all levels: the transformation of the former organizational

    structure to a divisional structure developed within the framework of the ACT project. This led to in-depth dis-

    cussion between the Supervisory Board and the management, focusing on the following topics:

    Special attention was paid to optimizing the significance, consistency and transparency of the financial fig-

    ures in the reporting system when adopting the new divisional structure with its redesigned processes. Con-

    centrating on the key aspects and a stringent focus on informative and detailed data quickly resulted in pre-

    cise demands for the streamlined reporting. One example of this is that profit contributions from individual

    markets, product categories and major orders are to be made visible and analyzable. The old reporting for-

    mat will be used for this financial year to allow us to present clean annual financial state ments; simultane-

    ously, new reporting formats have also been proposed and discussed, with the objective o f using these in the

    following years.

    The Sennheiser family compiled a family charter over the course of the past two years. This contains key val-

    ues of the family members as well as the familys clear commitment to the Sennheiser family-owned compa-

    ny and its management. The Supervisory Board very positively acknowledged this important document as it

    represents a prerequisite for a cooperative spirit between the family and the company clearly showing the

    mutual responsibilities.

    Over the course of the year, the Supervisory Board dealt in depth with the development of our subsidiary in

    Japan. After preparing three alternative scenarios, a decision was reached t ogether with the management to

    realign SE Japan with a clear selective, growth-oriented nature. This more clearly defines the opportunities

    available in Japan for Sennheiser as a premium supplier, allowing them to already be implemented success-

    fully this year.

    A proposal was made, discussed and resolved to create a risk management function within the Strategy & Finance

    division aiming to obtain neutral assessment of all markets and future risks. The competencies and reporting lines

    have been set up, ensuring the independence of this function in the interest of the entire company.

    This financial year saw the gradual implementation of the ACT divisionalization project; reports were regularly

    presented to the Supervisory Board. The project was completed, as planned, at the end of the year thanks to

    specific and outstanding commitment of all members of the Executive Management Board as well as all other

    managers involved. This forms a prerequisite to bring the divisional structure to life in the coming financial year.

    Several reports were made on the topic of divisional strategies, which were then discussed in depth; further

    steps have been taken to bring these strategies to life. The Supervisory Board placed particular emphasis on

    designing the divisional strategies to comply with the companys overall strategy. The strategies of Consum-

    er Electronics, Integrated Systems and Professional Systems in particular were presented and discussed in de-

    tail. The Groups Lighthouse 2016 strategy served as the target and benchmark. The continuous strategy pro-

    cess was initiated in the new structure and will be assessed, developed and carried out at scheduled times.

    2011 saw planned turnover and profit far exceeded. The Supervisory Board would like to thank all employees

    and members of management for this extraordinary success in a year marked by structural change and a

    difficult global market environment. The Supervisory Board considers our company to be well positioned and

    prepared to meet the challenges that will face us in coming years.

    Auditing firm Deloitte & Touche GmbH again audited the Consolidated Management Report and the Consolidat-

    ed Financial Statements for financial year 2011. Both have been confirmed unconditio nally. The Supervisory

    Board has ratified the auditors reports, and therefore recommends that the shareholders accept and approve


    Wedemark, Germany, May 14, 2012

    Prof. Dr. Jrg Sennheiser, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Sennheiser electronic GmbH & Co. KG



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    As a parent company, Sennheiser electronic GmbH & Co. KG is obliged to draw up consolidated financial


    The companys production sites are located in Wennebostel (Germany), Tullamore (Ireland) and Albuquerque

    (New Mexico, USA). While Wennebostel chiefly manufactures wireless and wired microphones and microphone

    capsules, monitoring systems and headsets, the plant in Albuquerque concentrates on wireless microphones

    and monitoring systems. The Tullamore facility manufactures headsets and headset transducers. The company

    has a branch of fice in Singapore that manages the functions of product management, marketing, purchasing

    and part of product development for the consumer electronics area.

    Besides the parent company Sennheiser electronic GmbH & Co. KG, the Sennheiser Group includes six subsidiaries

    within Germany and 18 subsidiaries abroad, as well as the joint venture Sennheiser Communications A/S, based

    in Copenhagen, Denmark.


    Overall Business Developments and Development of the Industry


    Global economic growth slowed considerably in 2011. Recovery has been muted by struc tural weaknesses,

    especially in terms of debt and high unemployment prevalent in many industrialized nations, as well as natural

    disasters and political crises. The Japanese economy has now recovered following the slump in production in

    the second quarter, while the downfall of regimes in North Africa only slightly impacted the global economy.

    Overall, the world remains divided into the fast-growing emerging markets and the sluggish economies o f the

    Western industrialized countries. In global terms, price inflation peaked in 2011 although significant inflation

    risks remain in the fast-growing emerging markets.

    Central banks worldwide are using declining price inflation and the dampened e conomic outlook to loosen the

    fiscal reins in the second half of the year. The fiscal policy pursued by the US Federal Reserve remained expansive,

    which likely weakened the US dollar, although it did profit from its status as a global and reserve currency despite

    a downgrading of US government bonds by a leading ratings agency. The debt crisis once again put pressure

    on the euro in the second half of the year. Currency values in many countries, especially in Eastern Europe, which

    again added fuel to the debate regarding a currency war with protectionist government measures, fell in

    response to the flagging global economy and concerns surrounding the public finances of industrialized coun-

    tries, the economies of which are marked by weaker growth.

    The global economy will again weaken in 2012, although the extent of the downturn is associated with consider-

    able risks. The slump in consumer demand in most industrialized countries, in combination with fiscal austerity

    programs and a lack of confidence in the decisions being made by those in power, makes the economic uncer-

    tainty expected for 2012 appear extraordinarily high. According to calculations by IHS Global Insight, the global

    economy is likely t o grow by 2.7% in 2012, down from t hat seen in 2011 (3.0%). Had the Japanese economy not

    recovered following the tsunami, thereby giving growth a boost, global grow th in 2012 would have been even


    The risk of a worldwide recession has increased slightly but remains moderate. This is based on the assumption

    that the high level of growth experienced in China does not come to a sudden and abrupt end and that the crisis

    in the Eurozone does not then bring about the collapse of the European Economic Community. While US economic

    growth will remain relatively weak, Europe, and the Eurozone in particular, will find it very difficult to avoid

    sliding into a mild recession. The debt crisis will continue to plague the financial markets in 2012, with the risk

    of Greece exiting the EEC rising considerably. However, the collapse of the entire Eurozone remains unlikely.


    The economic recovery from the financial market crisis observed in Europe since mid-2009 peaked at the begin-

    ning of 2011 but weakened gradually over the course of the year. Gross domestic product in the European Union,

    and particularly in the Eurozone, in all likelihood declined in the closing quarter. This development in 2011 is due

    in part to the above-mentioned economic slowdowns in the USA as well as in key emerging markets, especially

    China and Brazil. Most European countries also changed from a course of expansive fiscal policies in 2009/10

    resulting from various aid programs and the acceptance of recession-triggered tax revenue shortfalls to

    ones of consolidation in order to get a handle on extensive budget deficits. The main cause of all this, however,

    is the deepening Eurozone debt crisis.

    Nevertheless, it should be remembered that the European economy was in the grips of a mild recession at the

    turn of the year. This is due, on the one hand, to increased efforts by most European countries to cut budget

    deficits and introduce structural reforms in a bid to improve competitiveness. On the other hand however, there

    is a relatively high level of distrust among banks, many of which are b eing forced to strengthen their equity

    bases by mid-2012 in response to EU banking supervisory authorities requirements. This will at the very least

    hamper lending in Europe in 2012.



    [ OUTLOOK ]


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    The disparities regarding economic developments in Europe identified in 2010 worsened in 2011. While countries

    such as Germany, Austria, Finland, Belgium, Luxembourg and, to some extent, France and the Netherlands,

    enjoyed robust economic growth, the economies in Southern Europe st agnated or were even already in the grips

    of recession, as was the case with Greece and Portugal. The main reasons for the widening gap are increasing

    differences in competitiveness, as revealed by the 2008/09 financial crisis, as well as varying levels of public

    finance consolidation needs.

    The development of the Eurozone government debt crisis is the decisive uncertainty factor for 2012. In spite of

    some encouraging developments at the end of 2011 a greater willingness to reform following changes in

    government in Greece, Spain and Italy; and falling government bond yields in the case of Spain and It aly the

    bankruptcy of the Greek state cannot be completely excluded.

    On the other hand, there were signs in 2011 of stronger US economic growth as well as at least a stabilization

    of the business climate and consumer confidence in Europe. The declining inflation at present, which also allows

    the ECB to further loosen the fiscal reins, is also expected to give the European economy a boost. However, IHS

    Global Insight believes that this will only prevent the recession from deepening.


    Germanys economy posted above-average performance in 2011; however, not even Germany was able to

    completely avoid the downward spiral resulting from a weakening of global economic momentum and the

    exacerbation of the European government debt crisis. The first quarter was very strong (up 1.3% year on year),

    due in part to a mild winter, although the following two quarters s aw significantly weaker growth averaging at


    Despite this, the German economy demonstrated remarkable resistance, with the domestic economy and exports

    also proving to be of note. Although the pace of export growth slowed in the course of the year as against 2010

    and at the beginning of 2011, the third quarter still saw 8.0% year-on-year growth. In addition, export growth

    pretty much kept pace with import growth, meaning that exports ultimately made a positive contribution to

    GDP. At the same time, investments continued to grow, at least until the third quarter; private spending in 2011

    grew by almost as much as in 2006 (approximately 1.5%), outpacing every year since 2001. This relative strength,

    which is also reflected in consumer confidence and still remained above the long-term average at the end of

    2011, lies in the exceptionally robust labor market. The latest data for December shows falling unemployment

    figures and rising employment and vacancies. There have to date been no signs of wage growth easing.

    German industry capacity utilization saw above-average growth until mid-2011 and only fell slightly in recent

    months. Macroeconomic indicators, such as the purchasing managers index or the Ifo business climate index,

    fell by less than half that seen in 2008/09. This means that the German economy overall started 2012 relatively


    The expected slight GDP decline in the winter half of 2011/12 will cause average growth rates to plummet from

    the 3.0% seen in 2011 to only 0.2% in 2012, but this oversubscribes forecasted growth momentum losses.

    Assuming that the Eurozone will not see a completely disordered insolvency and/or Greece leaving the euro, the

    region is likely to once again experience a recovery from the second quarter of 2012. This will be due in part to

    the expected renewed increase in growth rates in the USA and key emerging markets.

    Private spending may cool but is not expected to crash. There are also no signs of a sudden deterioration in the

    labor market or rapidly falling pay deals. On the other hand, the German government has already indicated that

    it would increasingly subsidize short-time working, an extremely successful instrument introduced following

    the shock of the Lehman collapse, in the event of an unexpected renewed slump on the labor market. This would

    mean a stabilization of expected income as well as a boost to consumer spending. Even if investments in 2012

    were to weaken for a time, this would be nowhere near as bad as the collapse seen in 2009. The same also applies

    to exports, meaning that the worst that could happen is that net e xports have a moderately dampening influ-

    ence on GDP growth.


    2011 saw the continuation of the previous years strong recovery following the 2009 collapse. As a result, the

    ZVEI estimated that the real output of the German electrical and electronics industry rose by a further 13% in

    2011, after growth of 13.8% in 2010 and a 20.3% decline in 2009.

    Turnover, which had slumped by more t han 20% in 2009, has not yet returned to pre-crisis levels. There was also

    a relative shift in focus towards domestic customers, as turnover from business with foreign customers fell from

    17% in 2010 to 6.0% in the period from January to November 2011; turnover from business with domestic

    customers also declined, from 10% to 8.0%.

    Falling growth rates for incoming orders and turnover show that output growth is likely to weaken further in

    the coming months. The above-average weakening of sales out side Germany against sales in Germany in 2011

    is due to the declining pace of growth in the (Asian) emerging markets as well as the government debt crisis in

    [ OUTLOOK ]

    [ OUTLOOK ]




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    the Eurozone. The noticeable drop in the value of the euro observed since September 2011 will give exports a

    boost from 2012 on. Capacity utilization in the electrical and electronics industry, which rose from a low of 70%

    in mid-2009 to a cyclical high of 86.3% in July 2011, has fallen slightly recently to 85.2% (as of October 2011).

    This level of capacity utilization is therefore approximately midway between the record value of 88% seen in

    2008 and the long-term average of 83%.

    The sub-index of the Ifo Business Climate Index for the electrical and electronics industry fell in December 2011.

    After having reached its highest level since German reunification at the beginning of 2011, expectations for the

    next six months and from midyear also diminished the assessment of current conditions. In December 2011,

    10% of companies expected an increase in business activities, 61% believed that business activities would remain

    unchanged and 29% projected business to decline in the coming six months. Remarkably, the assessments of

    current conditions at the end of the year were still very positive and not much down from boom year 2007.

    Added to this was an improvement in December on November.

    All told for 2012, the most recent decline in incoming orders and overall negative expectations most likely mean

    that output will see a much reduced increase as against 2011. ZVEI forecasts output growth of 5.0% in 2012

    after 14% in 2011. This is entirely realistic given standard lag effects and the strong level of incoming orders

    seen until mid-2011; however, this can only be the case if the government debt crisis in the Eurozone does no t

    experience a serious escalation in the form of Greece becoming insolvent or the country even exiting the Euro-

    zone. However, in the medium term, the lack of engineers resulting from demographic factors will exacerbate,

    which will likely have a limited impact on order acceptance and therefore on turnover growth.


    Turnover and Operating Position of the Sennheiser Group

    The Sennheiser Group closed financial year 2011 with total turnover of 531.4 million and successful turnover

    growth of 14% against 2010. Although the increasing strength of the euro against the US dollar over the course

    of the year pushed turnover growth in the Americas region down to only 6%, this trend was offset to a significant

    degree by above-average growth of 15% in EMEA. In particular, the Northern and Eastern European sales regions

    saw above-average growth of 22% and 52% respectively. Although turnover growth was low overall, the extraor-

    dinary developments in the APAC region of 22% also made a significant contribution to Sennheisers turnover

    growth. In terms of the distribution of percentile, turnover growth posted by the individual product segments,

    the Sennheiser Communications business division as well as professional headphones and wireless microphones

    played a vital role with average growth of more than 20%.

    [ OUTLOOK ]




    Change from previous year, in percent







    2007 2008 2009 2010 2011



    2.4 %


    +1.1 %

    468.2+20.1 %

    531.4+13.5 %



    Change from previous year, in percent







    2009 2010 2011 2009 2010 2011 2009 2010 2011

    Americas EMEA APAC

    13.3+22.3 %

    41.9+14.8 %

    8.0+6.4 %

    99.3125.6 133.6




    44.059.7 73.0


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    58 59

    At 58.6 million, results from ordinary activities are up a significant 53.3% on the previous year. At 2.6 million,

    results from ordinary activities in the year under review were impacted by higher as the usual level of amortiza-

    tion of current assets. This ef fect, as well as the 5.7 million increase in personnel costs, was more than offset

    by a 12.1 million decline in material costs as well as the 1.1 million fall in other operating expenses, with t he

    result that EBIT in relation to turnover for 2011 amounted to 12%.

    For 2012, we expect that the divisional reorganization of the Sennheiser Group completed last year in to the

    Consumer Electronics, Professional Systems and Integrated Systems business divisions will continue to enhance

    Sennheisers customer orientation. We expect turnover and results to continue on this course in the medium

    term despite rising market uncertainty.

    Asset Position

    The balance sheet total increased from 278.0 million in the previous year to 315.1 million in 2011, primarily

    on account of a rise in current receivables as well as cash and cash e quivalents. The extremely positive develop-

    ment experienced by the company over the course of 2011 helped to reduce the value of inventories from

    87.8 million in the previous year to 80.2 million.

    While pension obligation rose by a moderate 2.5 million to 64.7 million following the adjustments made in

    previous year in connection with the Accounting Law Modernization Act (BilMoG), total provisions rose by 3.1

    million. The significantly improved results for the year meant, in particular, rises in equity due to the increase

    in the balance shee t profit to 68.2 million, as well as increased liabilities to shareholders to 144.0 million.

    Financial Position

    Cash flow from c