Grell OAE-1 Open Back Headphone

Axel Grell in collaboration with Drop is releasing a new open back headphone, with drivers placed in a radically forward position for an “ultra expansive soundstage”.

He designed numerous models for Sennheiser, including the HD 6xx series, HD 58x series, and the HD 800/800s. His bona fides are well established in headphone design.

This thread is for his new design, the OAE-1.


I think there’s some confusion about this headphone, partly due to the marketing and partly due to the placement of the driver at the front of the cup. From what I recall of Axel Grell’s presentation at CanJam SoCal 23, the placement of the driver at the front is not about simulating speakers in front of you. It’s about the optimal placement of the driver for the lowest acoustic impedance. Low acoustic impedance should give this headphone an open sound with a wide soundstage.

This blog post on Drop is a decent summary of this design approach:


An Englishman and a Usonian in green shirts with disturbingly similar hairstyles: Axel Grell’s Headphone! Hands on and impressions! (CanJam SoCal 2023)

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Drop measurement against preference bounds. At least I think I did that right.

The FR is a bit wonky, especially that cliff around 6khz. But the Signature Edition comes with an individual B&K 5128 FR measurement. So my plan is to start EQing pretty soon after arrival.

In theory the FR measurement should translate well to what we hear since the driver placement makes them less sensitive to individual HRTFs.


I’ll try it as is first, but that’s my plan as well. :+1:

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