The 𝗕𝗜𝗚 HEDDphone interview
No longer a mystery, but it's time we faced the facts. Officially official is that Heinz Electrodynamic Designs (HEDD Audio) devised HEDDphone, the first full-range Air Motion Transformer (AMT) headphone, in 2019.
Head-Fi subsequently made way for 'HEDD-Fi'. The 'so-what' aside from exclusive, brilliant naming rights (with ®) for the fourth-ever driver topology is derived from a HEDD quote: "An electrodynamic transducer that allows to move air significantly faster than a common voice coil, magnetostatic (planar) or electrostatic systems."
We could be content with website literature explaining that an AMT "squeezes out air four times faster ... a breakthrough for capturing more details in a musical recording". But very few more words spent explaining the nuances and capturing the essence of such a breakthrough is, in fact, many more words.
And so it would happen that HEDD Audio Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Freddy Knop is such a man, of many words. The professional mastering engineer and musicologist fascinates beyond the making of HEDDphone in our interview. We save the man's secrets for another day when you meet him in person, but he spills the HEDDphone's secret sauce for your reading here.
"We feel very inspired by the city's [Berlin] thriving music tech scene, which is the home to several majorly successful audio companies like Ableton, Native Instruments, and SoundCloud."
A for Achievement
Q: What can you, the HEDDphone and HEDD Audio bring to personal audio?
"The HEDDphone brings a new technology and a new sonic signature to the world of high-class headphones. Our background is acoustics and record engineering, the art of mastering, and not to forget, active musicianship.
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Look what the night brought in: the re-stocked #HEDDphone that’s no longer a mystery but always keeps a few surprises on hand still, for those hearing it for the first time. The first full Air Motion Transformer (#AMT) phone from @heddaudio has muscled in front of mind and to the queue – @headfi’s fourth transducer technology staking its credentials to become number one in the rankings. Certainly make it number one on your audition list this week. We won't spoil the surprise further but let's say HEDD's arms have a lonnggg reach...
"I really think this shows in how the HEDDphone sounds and performs. More than anything else, we want our products to translate the vision and work of the artist. We always seek the same things: precision, depth, true-to-the-source performance.
"This is the promise to our customers and I think it lets us stand out as a young and modern company from Berlin, Germany. We feel very inspired by the city's thriving music tech scene, which is the home to several majorly successful audio companies like Ableton, Native Instruments, and SoundCloud."
"Refining the AMT tweeters with what we call the Variable Velocity Transform (VVT®) approach made it possible for the first time to tailor a full-range AMT with an exemplary frequency response."
M for Motivation
Q: How did the quest to install a full-range AMT in a headphone begin?
"My father [Physicist, Co-Founder & CTO], Klaus Heinz, has believed in the sonic excellence of the AMT transducers since he discovered the original AMT tweeters invented by German-American Physicist Oskar Heil back in the late 1970s. He visited Heil several times in his Palo Alto / California home over the years.
"Fundamentally redesigning and bringing the AMT into a compact and more reliable form paved the way for [previous brainchild] ADAM Audio’s worldwide speaker success since the early 2000s. However, founding HEDD with him in 2015 created the kind of fresh mindset we needed to actually start the process of creating a full-range headphone that is exclusively based on the AMT principle.
"Refining the AMT tweeters with what we call the Variable Velocity Transform (VVT®) approach made it possible for the first time to tailor a full-range AMT with an exemplary frequency response. This required a full year of research.
"Hand-folding the HEDDphone diaphragms is a very delicate and complicated process performed in-house by a former watch-maker."
"Hand-folding the HEDDphone diaphragms is a very delicate and complicated process performed in-house by a former watch-maker. We are obsessed with offering the best-possible product quality, which comes with the responsibility to assemble and quality-check every single HEDDphone in Berlin. We have the same approach with our studio monitors."
T for Transformation
Q: What seems the future of the personal audio industry, and what's HEDD Audio's role in this direction?
"We are of course well aware that aspects like portability, noise-cancelling, head-tracking and wireless build the focus of current headphone research and product development. All of this and more, we observe with great attention.
"However, our main goal after this remarkable start remains to build an AMT-exclusive portfolio of excellent sounding headphones over the next years, with different feature sets and price points to build a wider audience for our products. There certainly is a lot to expect from us!"