Interview with Gunter Weidemann of Beyerdynamic

Where it all started for Beyerdynamic?

1924 in Berlin

Can you lead us through the company history?

Since the beginning of our company history in 1924, the company founder, Eugen Beyer, followed his passion for clear, unadulterated sound. In 1926 he designed the first amplifier and speaker systems for the up and coming sound films. The development of dynamic microphones in the year 1939 is still considered today to be a milestone in the history of electroacoustics. Shortly thereafter, the engineers laid the foundations for the development of beyerdynamic as an international audio specialist with the serial production of the DT 48 dynamic headphones. Currently, the beyerdynamic product portfolio includes, in addition to microphones and headphones, headsets for TV commentators and pilots as well as conference systems and interpreter systems. Our products are developed in Heilbronn and to this day are crafted carefully by hand. Each and every one of our products thus contains our passion for an exquisite sound experience.

Why the name?

It´s the name of the company founder Eugen Beyer, combined with dynamic standing for dynamic transducers

What is, that set Beyerdynamic audio from competition?

Handcrafted production of premium products in Germany, based on our long-term experience in professional audio applications. Beside of serial production, we have the beyerdynamic MANUFAKTUR where end users can customize their own headphones and microphones directly via the internet , and we are manufacturing the individual and unique model.

Is there specific company audio/sound approach or do you tend to be neutral sounding?

The sound of our products is tuned differently according to the particular application the products are needed for.

Difference between DT models?

With the DT models (DT 990, DT 880, DT 770, DT 860, DT 660, DT 440), we have a full range of premium headphones made in Germany. There are closed models (DT 770, DT 660), semi-open model (DT 880) and open models (others), using different drivers and different mechanical construction.

What will be so great about upcoming Tesla model?

Of course, it´s the brand new Tesla driver. It gives the T1 an enormous boost in efficiency with undreamed power reserves. The lightweight 600 ohm voice coil provides transparency and perfect impulse fidelity. The elegant look of the T1 compliments the technical achievements even in the finest details. The T1 reaffirms beyerdynamic´s commitmment to handcrafted "Made in Germany" quality.

What is the exact process of manufacturing Beyerdynamic headphone?

Of course, we start with R&D here in Heilbronn/Germany. But when it comes to the manufacturing process, we do winding the voice coils, forming the diaphragms, building the magnet circuits, doing a lot of mechanical parts, assembly etc. - all of this is core competence of beyerdynamic.

Quality tests?

Of course, we have different test procedures for drivers and headphones that must be passed.

What transducers do you use for drivers and why?

For all premium models, we use our own drivers, developed and manufactured inhouse. Acoustic engineering is one of our core competences, and so we can guarantee highest quality and best tolerances. We are also capable to do low impedance drivers (32 ohm for MP3 players), medium impedance drivers (250 ohm for hi-fi at home) and high impedance drivers (600 ohm for high end applications).
For the high impedance 600 ohm models, we are using the thinnest copper wire to wind the voice coil, thus we achieve less weight of the coil, leading to fastest acceleration and best response to impulse signals.

Why do you use materials you do in your products (foams, drivers, metal, etc.)

All the materials are strongly selected and influence the overall acoustic performance, design and appearance of our products. And we have to guarantee long-term stability as well.

Is ergonomic factor important when designing the new product?

Yes, it´s very important that the headphones provide a perfect ergonomic fit. Based on our long-term experience in professional applications, we know the demands of sound engineers wearing headphones whole the day. And we implement this know-how directly in our range of consumer products in order to ensure best wearing comfort.

Would you say that technology is here when working and using top notch knowledge, machines, materials to achieve best results. Are there still closed doors waiting to be opened with innovation, special materials, technology etc.?

Of course, with our new Tesla driver we are using new materials, new fabrication procedures, ... and we are continuing research and development to come up with new technologies.

Did technology of manufacturing changed past few years and if so how?

On one hand we use modern equipment that helps us in doing standard procedures, on the other hand it is still hand made production with highest passion and precision.

Many audiophiles speak about importance of cables. How do you approach designing headphone cords?

We are always looking for high-grade cords according to the applications. For example, for the T1 we are using a 6-conductor cord that provides + and - wire as well as a shield for each of the drivers. This is even prepared for balanced mode wiring. And due to the metal housing of the Tesla driver, even the voice coil is shielded.

Would you say that your headphones need separate headphone amplifier for the best reproduction?

It´s not a must to use a headphone amplifier, but with a convenient headphone amplifier like our A1, you are capable to drive 600 ohm headphones with highest power reserves, and this will make the finest details audible!

How long should normally take to brake in headphones or do you avoid this philosophy?

We don´t recommend a certain burn in period. Some audiophiles don´t do burn in at all, other are well satisfied with several hours of burn in.

Is there such a thing as reference wireless headphone and will it ever be possible?

With RSX 700, we already have one of the best sounding digital wireless headphones in the mid tear class. But for high end use, there must be used a completely different technology.

How about your own electronics-amplifiers?

We have a really outstanding high end headphone amplifier A1, can drive all headphones from 32 ohm to 600 ohm with automatic impedance matching, designed and manufactured in Heilbronn/Germany.

Is there a way to simulate of reply surround experience with headphones. Please elaborate?

Yes, we are using binaural technology in our Headzone® system. Based on the fact that human beings are using two ears only to detect the exact location of a sound source, we know the algorithms to make a sound source appearing exactly in a determined position and distance. Headzone provides a full 5.1 surround setup by using a headphone, without the need of any speakers.

What is the secret of success for Beyerdynamic audio?

Precision and passion, focussing on core competences, focussing on target groups, inventing and manufacturing of high quality products.

How many people employ Beyerdynamic?

About 300.

Where do you design and manufacture your electronics?

Here in Heilbronn/Germany.

Do you do everything in house?

Beside of doing the core competence procedures in house, we have external suppliers that are highly specialised in their fields of activities.

How do you see current high-end society?

There is a trend of going away from plastics to pure materials - very clear for high end headphones. Audiophiles are looking for products of brands that are really famous in a certain business - i.e. headphones from specialised headphone manufacturers. And headphones are no longer just an accessory, but a full part of the audio setup.

Would you say that high quality is more affordable today or you have to pay premium price for best components and sound?

Best components and sound are not to be made by lifeless machines. And when it comes to passion and handcrafted work, this is not cheap but absolutely worth the price.

Where does hifi stops and Beyerdynamic (high end comes in)?

The lines are floating, since we are doing both...

Where would you position Beyerdynamic among Sennheiser, Grado, AKG, Ultrasone and other headphone manufacturers?

There are some manufacturers of really good headphones, but when it comes to the core competences of acoustic engineering like making own drivers - the "heart" of a headphone - in house, know the stuff of high impedance voice coils etc., there are only a few left.

What is the goal of Beyerdynamic audio?

We want to get our users highly involved in the precision and passion that find complete expression at beyerdynamic.

Do you still belive in German quality?

Without any doubt.

Do you plan to ever introduce electrostatic headphones?

Never say never (we already had one in the 1980s - the famous ET 1000).

What is your reference when designing and testing new products?

Mostly it´s our long-term experience.

It seems that Beyerdynamic is getting stronger this past few years. Why?

We are listening to the demands of the market. And so we are focussing on the niches where we are strong.

It seems there are more headphone enthusiasts each year. Why this phenomena?

With headphones, you can enjoy listening to your favourite music at any volume without taking care of anybody else.

What is high end headphone reproduction for you?

Just test our high end models and see...

Who would you say typical Beyerdynamic audio customers are?

Our typical customers have a right awareness and a high demand for best quality and performance. They take more than just one look to find the product exactly fitting to their needs.

Any last thoughts for our readers?

This is like our company´s slogan: Feel the energy of sound!