Audio Pioneer Fritz Sennheiser Dies at 98

HANOVER, GERMANY: Dr. Fritz Sennheiser passed away late during the evening of May 17, just a few days after his 98th birthday, the venerable audio company that bears his name said. Sennhieser founded Germany’s Sennheiser electronic GmbH & Co. KG.

“The audio industry has lost a huge figure, not only in terms of his technical expertise but also in terms of his humanity,” the company said.

Dr. Sennheiser was a cryptographer in 1945 when he founded an audio laboratory that became the company. He was described by Radio World as “the last survivor of post-World War II German audio pioneers who started with leftover scraps and built international companies of renown.”

Dr. Sennheiser described his early response to radio: “As an 11-year-old boy, I witnessed the introduction of the radio. I built my own receiver out of the simplest of components--a slide coil, a tungsten tip, a crystal and a 20-meter-long radio frequency antenna.”

He was, however, a passionate gardener and planned to become a landscaper after finishing grammar school in Berlin in 1932. But with Germany in the grip of a depression, the career prospects for gardening were meager. Dr. Sennheiser elected to go with his second love, entering the Technical University in Berlin to study electrical engineering.

Dr. Sennheiser’s subsequent influence on the development of sound transmission technologies brought about the first shotgun microphones and open headphones. He was instrumental in the creation of wireless radio and infrared transmissions, his company said.

“It was completely natural for Fritz Sennheiser to give his developers the ‘creative and technical freedom’ they required,” the company said. “His humanity also shone through when--considering the significant workload involved in running an expanding company--he took time to share his knowledge with students, inspiring them with an enthusiasm for audio technology.”

He retired in 1982, handing management over to his son, Dr. Jörg Sennheiser.
-- Deborah D. McAdams