If you’re looking for a new digital wireless headphone to go with your cool home theatre system, you might like to know about Sennheiser’s next generation RS line of headphones. Available in Singapore since May this year, there are four models, RS 165, RS 175, RS 185, and RS 195, to suit different listening demands.
Sennheiser sent the RS 175 headphone for this review. It is a closed-back over-ear design. This is the model that offers greater involvement in the audio with a selection of virtual surround sound and switchable dynamic base.
Being a wireless system, there are two parts to the RS 175. There is the headset itself, and then there’s the wireless base station. The wireless base station also serves as a charging stand, which you can leave the RS 175 headphone on when it’s not in use.
The headset is sturdy and comfortable. Although it looks like mostly built out of plastic, you can see the slider mechanism that extends the ear cups is metal. The cushioning under the headband and on the ear cups are comfortable. Noise isolation is good. I did find, however, that the headband grips my head too tightly. The well-cushioned ear pads are not enough to provide comfort after prolonged listening.
All the controls on the headset are on the right ear cup. The power button is on the side of the ear cup, while on the back of the ear cup, you’ll find a bunch of controls for volume, bass boost, and virtual surround sound.
The base station does require 9V DC power supply, using the included power adapter. electrical contacts on top of the base station connect to matching contacts under the headband of the RS 175. Sennheiser rates the battery to be good for 18 hours of use.
Now, the interesting thing is that the headphones use standard AAA batteries, and they are hidden under the twist-off ear pads of each ear cup. That means you can pretty much use any standard AAA battery if you need to.
The front of the base station has two buttons. One to select the level of Virtual Surround sound enhancement, and the other for a bass boost, similar to the ones on the ear cup. There’s no volume control from the base station though. LED indicators help you see the bass boost and Virtual Surround level you’ve selected.
On the back, from top to bottom, there’s a digital optical in port, an audio input selection switch, an analog 3.5 mm audio jack, and a DC input pack.
Being a digital wireless system, audio transmission from base station from headset should be flawless. The RS 175 uses frequency modulation over the 2.4 – 2.8 GHz, and Sennheiser estimates the transmission range at about 100 m. I don’t think you’d ordinarily need to be that far away from the base station. However, if you should need to venture around, sound is delivered crystal clear without any interference.
My sound quality tests were done using only the analog input. The RS 175’s sound signature is a little coloured. The highs come across bright, while the bass was a little thin. The bass boost does add some noticeable robustness to the low end, but too much in my opinion. I would have preferred something in-between. I didn’t like the Virtual Surround. It was, well, too artificial to me. The Virtual Surround will make movies more engaging and immersive, but it doesn’t quite work for me when I use the RS 175 to listen to music. With no Virtual Surround, sound stage is already pretty wide, and that was just right for me.
In my opinion, the RS 175 will work really well for personal enjoyment of movies and television on your home theatre system. It’s less suited for audiophile music.
The Sennheiser RS 175 retails for S$399, and is available at the Sennheiser Concept Store at Marina Square and authorised retailers.
The Sennheiser RS 175 is a good digital wireless headphone for your personal enjoyment of movies and television programme on your home theatre system.
- Digital and analog audio inputs
- Long range
- Sound is a little coloured