Sennheiser RS 120 Wireless TV Headphones Review
First released nine years ago, the RS120 are maybe the best-selling cordless headphones for TV of the past decade. They’re your best choice if you want a reliable –though not outstanding– and, most importantly, affordable pair of wireless cans for your TV. They may also be the best supra-aural (on-ear) wireless pair you can get. Later models have either switched to a circumaural design or, if they kept the on-ear design, don’t offer as much bang for your buck.
There is a small amount of background hiss that you may notice in silent parts of your film, due to interference with other wireless electronics, but it will be virtually unnoticeable if you tune the headset properly by using the tuner knob (which unfortunately is not automatic). A remark here: in retrospective, it might have been a poor design choice to place the tuner knob next to the volume knob.
The 300ft range claim is about right; you can mow your lawn and still get a good signal. These headphones don’t suffer from any drop-offs or position-sensitive behaviour. Sound-wise, the bass is strong, the mids are prominent and the highs are crisp, filling out all frequencies nicely, and avoiding the headache associated with lower-quality headphones. Because of the ways it treats signal levels (automatic gain control), the RS120 might not be enough for an enjoyable music listening experience, but they are more than decent for TV and movie watching.
Despite their on-ear design, they’re quite comfortable, thanks partly to their lightness (8.11 oz). Also, because they’re open-back, air can circulate freely and your ears won’t get warm during use. However, they’re somewhat bulky and don’t fit quite snugly and securely on the head. Adjusting them to your head takes a bit of work to get it right, and prohibits too much bending or lying down.
Connectivity is a delicate matter. The headphones require an analog audio signal, so if your TV only has a digital audio input and no RCA inputs (as most new TVs do), you will need to use of the digital-to-analog converter or plug the base transmitter into the TV’s headphone jack. The former is a much better way: it means other people can listen to the TV with you, as the headphone volume and the TV speakers volume are independent; Plugging the transmitter into the headphone jack will cause the speakers sound to be cut off. If you’re the only one watching the TV, then that might be fine with you. Alternatively, if you’re more than one, you can use other headphone units (the Sennheiser HDR120) off the single base station. To recharge the batteries (which are replaceable), simply put the headphones on top of the metallic rods of the base station.
Problematically, the transmitter shut off automatically when it doesn’t receive a signal after a few minutes. It also turns on when it receives a signal, but for some reason, if you’ve had a long pause and it powered off, it doesn’t power back on when you resume your movie (you have to press the button). This auto-shutoff feature can be damaging as static comes blaring out of the headphones at full volume when the transmitter shuts off; and since it does that quite randomly (e.g. during a quiet passage in a movie), you can be caught off-guard by the sudden blast. If you’re going to fall asleep, be sure to turn the headphone off if you’re not using them.
Sennheiser RS 120
High Performance Sennheiser Headphone On The Cheap
- Modulation: FM Stereo
- Carrier frequencies:
- 863 MHz variant: 863.3 MHz, 864.0 MHz, 864.7 MHz
- 926 MHz variant: 926.1 MHz, 926.7 MHz, 927.5 MHz
- Range : Approximately 328 feet (45 m)
- Sensitivity: 106 dB
- Signal-to-Noise ratio: 65 dBA
- Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): < 0.7% @ 1 kHz
- Frequency Response : 22-19500 Hz
- Impedance: 24 Ohm @ 1 kHz
- Audio connector: 3.5 mm stereo jack plug with adaptor to 1/4″ (6.3 mm) stereo jack plug and adaptor to RCA phono connector
- Volume Control : Yes (up/down buttons)
- Type of Use: Home – music/movie/games
- Design: Supraaural (On-ear), Open-back
- Earpads: foam
- Driver type: Dynamic
- Manufacturer warranty: 2 years
- Battery Type: Standard battery – AAA type – Rechargeable – Nickel metal hybride
- Battery Life (Approx): 20 h
- Battery is charged by placing headphone on transmitter cradle
- Power consumption: < 1.8 W
- Power supply: Transmitter – 9 V DC
- 3.3 x 8.9 x 5.2” (85 x 225 x 133mm)
- 7 oz (200g)
- Headphones (with batteries):
- 8.1 oz (230g)
Summary: The RS 120’s design is very ergonomic and minimalist. They almost look like airline headphones. But don’t be fooled, the sound quality is way better, and perfect for TV and movie watching. These Sennheiser wireless TV headphones are the best money can buy in that price range, and way better than the comparable (and more expensive) Sony MDR-IF240RK. If you don’t have the budget to go for Sennheiser’s RS 170 or RS 180, then these are the most reliable choice you can make.