Sennheiser RS 220 Wireless TV Headphones Review
Sennheiser makes some of the best headphones in the world and has offered the RS 220s as a new evolution from the design of the 180s or as a cordless version of the HD 600s. This model features an update in Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) technology, designed to cut through the interference of a sea of transmitted signals, like wi-fi, Bluetooth, AM/FM radio and cellular signals. The strength of the RS 220 Wireless Headphones rests on this feature.
As industry leaders in wireless technology and audio fidelity, Sennheiser targeted the RS 220 wireless headphones at the serious audiophile. With a frequency response up to 22 kHz and a total harmonic distortion of less than 0.1%, these headphones are intended to display the full spectrum of sound. These are for people who want to hear every last detail of music, without the constriction of a cord. So, if you like high fidelity classical music while working in an office or want to get the full experience of a movie in a crowded room, these are perfect.
Pros of the Sennheiser RS 220
The fit and build of these is top-notch. The headphones rest on the transmitter and charge when not in use. Sennheiser recommends charging them for 16 hours for best performance, so I did before trying them out. The charge time seems a little excessive, but they work for hours after that.
The padded headband and ergonomic ear cups are very comfortable, making these a joy to wear. Comfort is certainly a huge issue for me, and these passed the test.
The RS 220 is a high impedance headphone (150 Ohm) whereas most wireless headphones for TV are low impedance (24-32 Ohm). This means the RS 220 requires more voltage but less current. High impedance is generally characterized by a lighter, more responsive diaphragm (the part that vibrates to produce sound), that leads to a more accurate response.
The sound, of course, is incredible. The bass is powerful and you can clearly hear the space in music thanks to the open-back ear cups, something that lesser headphones lack. High end Sennheisers always give you that feeling that you’ve been missing out on the details of music without them. That is, until the signal cuts out…
Cons of the Sennheiser RS 220
It appears that Sennheiser hasn’t perfected the DSSS technology yet, or at least missed the boat on these. When you spend over $400 on a pair of headphones, you expect the best. Straight out of the box, these looked much like Sennheiser wireless headphones I’ve experienced before. It soon became clear that was not the case.
At all distances from the transmitter, the headphones would cut out intermittently –even immediately next to the transmitter–, discrediting the 328ft range claim. I can only assume this is from transmitter interference. Based on what I’ve read from other reviewers, this is a fairly common problem. The digital connection doesn’t seem to work with Dolby or DTS audio signals for some reason. I’ve tried adjusting all the controls on the transmitter and the headphones and the signal cuts out several times in the middle of a movie or TV show.
Additionally, a full charge only lasts 8 hours, compared to 16-24 hours for cheaper wireless headphone models.
Overall, these headphones are a huge disappointment from a renowned company. Signal loss is far more unpleasant than dealing with a cord and is enough to make me abandon Sennheiser wireless headphones for life.
I wish I could say more positive things about them, since I’m a huge fan of other Sennheiser headphones and microphones but the issues I experienced with these Sennheiser wireless headphones completely overshadow any positive reviews. What’s the point of superior sound quality, without continuous playback?
Sennheiser RS 220
High End Television Headphone from Sennheiser
- Modulation: Digital, 16-bit/48 kHz
- Carrier frequencies: 2.412 GHz, 2.438 GHz, 2.464 Ghz
- Range: 330 ft.
- Sensitivity: 106 dB
- Signal-to-Noise ratio: 90 dBA
- Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): < 0.1 % @ 1 kHz
- Frequency response: 16 Hz – 22,000 Hz
- Impedance: 150 Ohm @ 1 kHz
- Audio connection: analog (RCA), digital coaxial (RCA), digital optical (TORX/TOTX)
- Type of Use : Home – music/movie/games
- Design: Circumaural (Over-the-ear), Open-back
- Driver Type: Dynamic
- Earpads: velour
- Manufacturer warranty: 2 years
- Power supply: 2 AAA size NiMH rechargeable batteries, 1.2 V
- Charging time of rechargeable batteries: approx. 16 hours
- Operating time: approx. 8 hours
- Power consumption (standby mode): 0.30 W
- Power supply: PSM11R-090 (9 V DC, 1 A)
- Rated input: 100-240 V, 0.3 A, 50-60 Hz
- Rated output: 9 V, 1.1 mA
- Operating temperature range: 32 °F to 104 °F (0 °C to 40 °C)
- Weight: approx. 484 g (17.07 oz)
- Weight (with batteries): approx. 329g (11.6 oz)
Summary: Sennheiser's RS220 were to be their high-end wireless headphones for TV, with an all new DSS transmission technology and a sleek design that includes open-back circumaural velour earcups for maximum comfort. Offering never-before-heard sound quality from a cordless TV headphone (when it works), the RS 220 is marred by unreliable wireless transmission that cuts quite often and doesn't work well with all types of audio signals. As a result, it doesn't manage to surpass the overall performance of the Sennheiser RS 170 and RS 180.