The $279.95 Sennheiser RS 170 is a set of wireless headphones with a base unit that doubles as a transmitter and a battery charger. One of the nicest things a reviewer can say about wireless headphones is that they don't sound like wireless headphones, and the RS 170 certainly succeeds on that score. Connectivity is limited to just one analog input, which might be a deal breaker for some potential buyers, but the idea is that you hook up the transmitter to your TV or AV receiver, and then run your sources, like your cable box, Blu-ray player, or games, etc., through the TV or receiver. If that's what you're looking to do, the RS 170 is definitely worthy of your consideration.
Design and features
The RS 170 weighs just 216 grams without batteries thanks to its plastic construction. The satin black-and-silver headphones' build quality feels sturdy enough aside from where the earcups attach to the headband. There seems to be a bit of play in the joint that may cause problems with breakage over the long term.
The plush, padded headband and user-replaceable faux-leather earpads feel luxurious, and their oval shape conforms better to ears than the circular earpads used by competing headphone manufacturers.
The RS 170 is powered by a single NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) AAA battery in each earcup, and the company claims a fully charged set can deliver up to 24 hours of play time.
The black plastic transmitter/battery charger base also doubles as a headphone stand. Some buyers may feel slighted by the single 3.5mm analog input, but I actually don't consider it a limitation when the RS 170 is used with a TV or AV receiver. Those users can plug all their sources (cable box, game consoles, Blu-ray player, etc.) into their television or AV receiver and simply connect the RS 170 to the TV or receiver's stereo analog outputs.
If you absolutely insist on a digital connection, go for Sennheiser's $599 RS 220 wireless headphone model that has two digital inputs. Finally, the RS 170's power supply comes with four power receptacle adapters, one each for the U.S., U.K., Australia, and the EU.
The tightly clustered volume up/down, power, Surround Sound Simulator, and Dynamic Bass Boost button arrangement along the bottom of the right earcup isn't ergonomically ideal. For example, the power button is centered between the volume up/down buttons, so I accidently turned the power off when trying to adjust the volume a couple of times.
The Surround Sound Simulator and Dynamic Bass Boost buttons are smaller and even trickier to find when you're feeling around with your finger, so it may take some time before you can locate them without making mistakes. Sennheiser also gives access to the bass booster and surround features from the transmitter/charger base.
The RS 170 features 2.4-2.8 GHz Kleer carrier frequency wireless technology that offers lossless, CD-quality, 16-bit/44.1-kHz resolution. The system mostly worked flawlessly, but the sound occasionally cut out when I was across the room from the transmitter and seated in front of my computer. I experienced no other interruptions anywhere else in the room or my apartment.