Sennheiser RS 170 Wireless TV Headphones Review
Like the RS 180 and RS 220, the RS 170 utilizes KLEER’s lossless digital wireless audio transmission, offering a claimed range of up to 260 feet (up to 75 effective feet indoors, without any signal or volume loss), reception to four optional headphones, and an automatic, without-interference pairing between the headphone and the transmitter base. The use of Kleer, which operates on a 2.4 gHz channel allows the transmitter to get more information and a cleaner signal, although the waves will not permeate ceilings and walls as well as a 900 mHz wireless headphone. On the other hand, you do get much better sound quality, and no noise or interference.
Sound-wise, the neodymium magnets deliver audiophile-level performance, with clear and detailed audio reproduction. They have almost no sound distortion. Background noise and hiss is all but nonexistent (though they are not noise-reduction headphones). To boot, the RS 170 features a Dynamic Bass Boost and Surround Sound simulation, adding some real excitement to your favorite films. The Surround Sound simulation adds some depth, but do not expect anything like the real thing, as each earphone has only one speaker. Some people are very content with using these headphones without the Surround Sound feature turned on, so it’s just a matter of personal choice.
The circumaural cushiony leatherette ear pads prevent sound leakage, so your wife/husband doesn’t have to hear how loud you’re listening to the TV. Conversely, the close-back design means you won’t be able to monitor surroundings, which can be problematic if you have an infant child in the house. You can also exercise in front of your TV and these headphones will dampen the sound of your stationary bike so you can hear what you’re watching. They’re very comfortable even after extended wearing.
These wireless Sennheiser headphones operate on two AAA NiMH rechargeable batteries, which are included. The multi-purpose transmitter functions as a charging cradle and docking station. Hooking up is a breeze and you can connect the transmitter either to a preamp output or the headphone jack of your TV. Connecting to the latter is useful as you can control the headphone volume directly with the TV remote. Note that there is no optical input connectivity on these headphones, which helped reduce their cost by eliminating the need for a D/A converter on the base station.
This quest for performance also manifests itself when the system reverts to standby mode within 5 minutes after turning off the headset. This energy saving mode is the reason this Sennheiser headphone has the “Energy Star” label. While it is economical, it does mean you have to switch the transmitter and headset back on every time you want to use them, though this would hardly represent a hassle.
A slight improvement could have been done on the feel for the buttons on the headphone. They are rather small and, surprisingly, the volume control is not a wheel, but two separate buttons (up and down), with the on/off switch tucked in between, which is not very practical. A Sennheiser representative explained that this product design choice stemmed from market feedback that showed the desire to avoid larger controls that could be accidentally activated when falling asleep in your sofa.
Some people have also reported having an issue whereby the sound cuts out. To avoid this, you need to turn up your source volume more than 50%, and then adjust the volume with the control on the headphone. This is because the unit shuts off momentarily if it doesn’t detect any sound coming from the source.
Another small flaw is the echo created when the TV speakers are on at the same time as the headphone. If some other people want to watch TV with you, and need the sound from the speakers, you will likely hear an annoying delay due to the signal being digitized and then converted back to analog in the headphones. If the reason you bought these headphones is hearing loss, then you might not notice that delay though.
Despite these areas of improvements, the Sennheiser RS 170 are some of the most advanced and best-performing wireless headphones for TV out there. Whether you’re an early riser who wants to watch morning shows or whether you’re after late-night movie watching, you won’t wake up your entire house and will enjoy quality audio from your TV.
You get a 2 year warranty when you purchase from a Sennheiser authorized dealer, like Amazon.com, so we recommend you check out the Sennheiser RS 170.
Sennheiser RS 170
The Best Wireless Headphones for TV
- Modulation: MSK digital
- Carrier frequencies: 2.4 – 2.48 GHz
- Range: approx. 80m in the open area (262 ft)
- Sensitivity: 110 Db
- Signal-to-Noise ratio: 85 dBA
- Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): < 0.5 % @ 1 kHz
- Frequency response: 18 Hz – 21,000 Hz
- Impedance: 32 Ohm @ 1 kHz
- Isolation: 10dB ~ 12dB
- Audio connection: 3.5 mm stereo jack socket
- Type of Use : Home – music/movie/games
- Design: Circumaural (Over-the-head), Closed-back
- Driver Type: Dynamic
- Earpads: leatherette
- Manufacturer warranty: 2 years
- Power supply: 2 AAA size NiMH rechargeable batteries, 1.2 V, 600 mAh
- Charging time of rechargeable batteries: approx. 16 hours
- Operating time: approx. 24 hours
- Power consumption (standby mode): < 0.5 W
- Power supply: 5 V, 500 mA
- Transmission power: < 10 Mw
- Rated input: 100-240 V, 0.2 A, 50-60 Hz
- Rated output: 5 V, 500 mA
- Operating temperature range: 32 °F to 104 °F (0 °C to 40 °C)
- Weight: approx. 336 g (11.85 oz)
- Dimensions: 12.5 cm x 10 cm x 23 cm (4.92″ x 3.94″ x 9.06″)
- Weight (w/o batteries): approx. 228g (8.04 oz)
Summary: Sennheiser’s RS 170 headphones offer a compelling combination of comfort and audio quality while avoiding the traditional pitfalls of their peers. There’s a lot to love about the RS 170s, and very little to dislike apart from the unpractical button design. However, this is pretty small potatoes when set against the excellent wireless performance and sound quality, which includes Dynamic Bass and Surround Sound. The RS 170 are amongst the best wireless TV headphones around and the premium price is worth it, as they represent a surefire investment.