This year Sennheiser is celebrating its 70th anniversary, remaining a family-owned and operated enterprise that’s headed by a third generation of the Sennheiser family: today’s CEOs, Daniel Sennheiser and his brother Dr. Andreas Sennheiser, are the grandchildren of the company’s founder, Prof. Dr. Fritz Sennheiser.
The list of product innovations from Sennheiser is extensive. The company has made a significant impact on the evolution of audio technology over the past seven decades, from the world’s very first open headphones, the HD 414, to present-day technologies such as the Digital 9000 wireless microphone system and MobileConnect, an inclusive audio-streaming solution for people with sight and hearing impairments.
The company has earned numerous patents and awards – including an Emmy, a Grammy, a Scientific and Engineering Award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the Engineering Emmy‘s Philo T. Farnsworth Award. “In the past, our products have surprised and amazed the audio world over and over again. Why? Because they have gone beyond the common standard. As a result, nobody anticipated them,” says co-CEO Dr. Andreas Sennheiser.
The company was founded on June 1, 1945 as Laboratorium Wennebostel – or “Labor W” for short – by electrical engineer Prof. Dr. Fritz Sennheiser in Wennebostel, near Hanover, Germany. Initially, the young enterprise produced tube volt meters. They sold well, but Fritz Sennheiser had higher ambitions, with the the lab developing a constant stream of new solutions and the product range gradually expanding over the years.
In 1947, Sennheiser launched its first microphone developed in-house. The first “shotgun” microphone followed in 1956, and a year later the company was producing 100 different types of products. In early 1958, Labor W was renamed Sennheiser electronic – the inception of a brand that ten years later would spark a worldwide boom by developing and producing the first open headphones.
Second & Third Generation
In May 1982, Sennheiser saw its first change of generations. Prof. Dr. Jörg Sennheiser, son of Prof. Dr. Fritz Sennheiser, was appointed managing director, while his father became a limited partner. Over the years, Prof. Dr. Jörg Sennheiser gradually modernized and inter–nationalized the company’s structure, turning Sennheiser into a GmbH & Co. KG.
Leading developments across various areas of acoustics, and new sales locations worldwide, followed with momentum. Sennheiser opened an additional production plant in Tullamore, Ireland, and a branch office for research and development in the U.S. An additional plant followed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and a joint venture with Denmark’s William Demant Holding was initiated, forging a path for the founding of Sennheiser Communications A/S in 2003.
In July 2013, Daniel Sennheiser and Dr. Andreas Sennheiser, the sons of Prof. Dr. Jörg Sennheiser, took over as the CEOs of Sennheiser electronic GmbH & Co. KG. Both share their grandfather and father’s entrepreneurial ambition of aiming to shape the audio sector through a dynamic culture of innovation and a passion for excellence.
Thanks to this spirit, Labor W, a start-up based in a half-timbered house in Wennebostel, has grown to become a global player, sustaining a continual increase in turnover over the decades. Today, Sennheiser has more than 2,700 employees, with around half of them based in Germany. In 2013, the family company, whose management board still regards independence as a core value, generated turnover of €590.4 million.
As an innovation-driven company, Sennheiser plans to continue playing a key role in shaping the future of audio. The foundations for this have already been laid with its new Innovation Campus, built on the company site in Germany.
“Here, as at our worldwide innovation centers, we will work in cross-functional teams that bring together our breadth of expertise to shape unique solutions, such as ones to individualize audio content even more,” co-CEO Daniel Sennheiser explains. “In the future, we will align our product development even more closely to customers’ true needs, wherever they arise – on live stages, at professional studio productions, in offices, or simply while listening to music and relaxing – while always striving to achieve acoustic perfection.”
With adaptable and increasingly smart products, Sennheiser will keep on developing and delivering future solutions that redefine audio technology.
Check out a cool animated history of the company here.