Sennheiser RS 180 Wireless TV Headphones Review
The Sennheiser RS 180 audiophile-grade wireless headphones offer an immersive home theater experience and are one of the best-sounding on the market. The headset is very stylish and comfortable, thanks to around-the-ear (“circumaural”) velour earpads and substantial headband cushions, which provide outstanding comfort for hours on end.
The base station transmits audio over a 2.4 GHz or 2.8 GHz digital channel, auto-selecting the channel for best sound quality. The wireless transmission features KLEER technology. The Kleer company has developed a radio frequency-based wireless transmission standard that offers lossless CD-quality audio transmission while consuming minimal power. Sound is treated through a proprietary Automatic-Leveling Control (ALC) compression feature which keeps audio at a similar dynamic volume levels for all program material, thus lowering the blast of loud TV commercials. We can’t begin to discuss how handy this feature is. Additionally, Sennheiser’s auto-compression technology maximizes speech detail and TV dialogue clarity.
Thanks to all these ground-breaking features, the RS 180 has the cleanest sound you can get from wireless headphones, with no crackle, hiss, or pop of earlier Sennheiser or Sony models. Some might argue that they allow you to hear more sound than when using your TV speakers. A remark at this point: if you’re using the latter in parallel with the headphones, you might notice a small delay in the audio coming from the headphones, creating an echo-like effect. So you would be best served by cutting off the sound from the speakers. Also be aware that the Kleer technology may interfere with your wireless network, so be sure to keep the transmitter far from your computer if you don’t want to have the occasional loss of wireless internet connection.
One other main strength of this set is that there is absolutely no static and the range is positively astounding. You can go up to 100 feet (with a line of sight) without any signal loss and no difference in quality, and up to 50 foot for obstructed areas, which should be more than enough for 99% of people.
Another unique feature is the balance control for right/left volume adjustment, which you likely won’t find on other headphones. If you have hearing issues on one side, then these headphones are great for you. Other people might feel the balance control buttons get in the way as they have no use for them.
The headphones are open-back, allowing you to remain aware of your environment and offering a more natural bass response and soundscape (excellent perception of distance and sound origin). Due to their open-back design however, they do let some noise out, so plan on keeping a low to medium volume if you’re using them in bed next to your sleeping spouse. On the other hand, the RS180 transmitter has multi-receiver capability, meaning that up to 4 people can listen to the same sound source at the same time, using Sennheiser HDR 180 headphones.
Like other similarly-priced headphones, they automatically recharge when put on the base station. A full charge will run for about 24 hours. These headphones can be powered by NiMH rechargeable batteries (AAA size, 1.2 V, 600 mAh) or standard batteries (AAA size, 1.5 V). If you are using standard batteries, the headphones must not be place on the charging cradle. To change batteries, simply remove the ear pads from the ear cups by turning them counter-clockwise, and change the depleted batteries.
A small flaw is the button layout on the headset unit: the buttons are indistinctively tiny and similar, all grouped together and not placed in a logical order (the on/off button is located in between the up and down volume buttons). Secondly, you have to turn the base station on, as well as the headphones, every time you take the headphones off the cradle and want to use them. This does not take long, but is an unnecessary extra step that we could have done without. Finally, the base station does not have optical audio input, only a standard 1/8th jack.
At this point, you may be wondering “Why should you get the RS 180 model over the RS 170, which is cheaper?” Because the 180 are open-back, which is better for general listening, have velour earpads, which lets them “breathe” and generate less heat than the 170’s leatherette pads. The 180 include the very useful Automatic Level Control feature, and their range is higher. However, if you absolutely want Surround Sound for movie watching and gaming, then you might want to go with the RS 170 (although the Dolby sound on the RS 180 isn’t bad either).
Sennheiser RS 180
2nd Best Sennheiser Wireless TV Headphones
- Modulation: MSK digital
- Carrier frequencies: 2.4 – 2.48 GHz
- Range: approx. 100m in the open area (328 ft)
- Sensitivity: 106 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-ear), 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. 341 g (12 oz)
- Dimensions: 12.5 cm x 10 cm x 23 cm (4.92″ x 3.94″ x 9.06″)
- Weight (w/o batteries): approx. 209g (7.37 oz)
Summary: If you’re looking for more range than earlier Sennheiser models, and a feature that tame loud passages, then the RS 180 are for you. These top-of-the-line wireless headphones offer excellent sound transmissions and reception, are comfortable to wear and have excellent features all around. If you’ve been using the same dreary headphones for a decade, then using the RS 180 will open up a whole new level of details to your TV and movie watching or music listening.