Sennheiser RS 180 review: Sennheiser RS 180

Sarah Tew/CNET

Accessories include a 3.5mm-male-to-3.5mm-male analog cable, a female-3.5mm-to-stereo-male RCA connector cable, and a 3.5mm-to-6.3mm adapter plug.

The RS 180 is the only wireless Sennheiser headphone model I've tested with Automatic Level Control (ALC), which maintains a consistent volume level for movies and TV shows. I expect many RS 180 owners will find ALC very useful when the quieter scenes of a movie are difficult to hear, as the technology boosts the volume in the quieter parts of a mix while simultaneously preventing the loud sounds from getting too loud. It's a great feature, and Sennheiser should put it on all of its wireless headphones. You can turn the ALC on and off from the transmitter charger base.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Sennheiser sells extra sets of RS 180 headphones without the transmitter/charger base for $129.95 each, and you can use up to four pairs of headphones with one transmitter base. The RS 180 comes with a two-year warranty, and a proof of purchase or sales receipt from an authorized dealer is required for warranty claims.

Performance
The RS 180 may be wireless, but it (mostly) doesn't sound like it is. By that, I mean it doesn't add any background noise or hiss, but the sound did occasionally cut out when I crossed the room and moved away from the transmitter. Since it's a battery-powered device, the RS 180's maximum volume level can't match wired headphones', so you should look elsewhere if you want to play movies, games, or music really loud.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The "U2: 360° At the Rose Bowl" concert Blu-ray demonstrates the RS 180's ability to project a big sound field. The sense of being in a large venue with 92,000 screaming U2 fans is nicely handled, and the music's wide dynamic range is visceral in its impact. Comparatively, Sennheiser's less expensive closed-back RS 170 headphones shrink the spatial aspects of the sound mix.

Stereo headphones like the RS 180 can't fully reproduce movies' room-filling surround effects, but the headphones still sound remarkably open. For example, there's a scene in the "King Kong" DVD in which the waterfall on the right side of the frame sounds increasingly distant as the camera pans away, to the left. The RS 180 put me in the film, but the closed-back RS 170 headphones' sound is more inside my head and less realistic with the same scene. Furthermore, the RS 180's deep bass response is on full display when Kong runs through the jungle.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It's also easy to hear the RS 180's audiophile credentials while playing classical music CDs. The RS 180's sound is almost comparable to wired, open headphones like the Sennheiser HD 580.

Conclusion
The RS 180 may be fairly expensive, but its combination of features, comfort, and wired-headphone sound quality make it an attractive buy for anyone searching for a top-quality wireless headphone.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Quick Specifications See All

  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Type headphones
  • Headphones Form Factor ear-cup
  • Connector Type mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm