Sennheiser RS 180 review: Sennheiser RS 180

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The Good The Sennheiser RS 180 is a full-size, lightweight set of wireless headphones with Kleer technology that's comfortable to wear for hours at a time.

The Bad The awkwardly placed controls on the right earcup might take a while to master, and its ambitious price tag coupled with an analog-only input may put off some buyers.

The Bottom Line The Sennheiser RS 180's sound is competitive with similarly priced wired headphones, which should make the RS 180 irresistible to audiophiles seeking to cut the cord.

7.9 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 8
  • Value 8

Sennheiser has a reputation for making some of the best-sounding wireless headphones on the market, and the $329.95 RS 180 demonstrates that it has learned its lessons well. Though they're fairly expensive, the headphones sound great and are remarkably comfortable to wear. Some may balk at the price, but the RS 180's sonic fidelity nearly matches Sennheiser's top-of-the-line wireless headphone at half the price, so they pose an excellent value to home users shopping for a wireless headphone on a flexible budget.

Design and features
The RS 180 features 2.4-GHz Kleer carrier frequency wireless technology, which is a lossless, "CD quality," 16-bit/44.1-kHz resolution system. The system worked flawlessly for the most part, but the sound occasionally cut out when I walked across the room and sat in front of my computer. Other than that, I experienced no other interruptions anywhere else in the room or my apartment.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The RS 180 is an open-back set of headphones, so its sound has a tendency to leak out and be heard by anyone nearby. That might rule it out for use in bed, and if that's a concern, Sennheiser's closed-back RS 170 wireless headphones will be a better alternative.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The RS 180's shiny, gray metallic finish looks sleek, and the mostly plastic construction quality feels solid, except where the earcups attach to the headband. There seems to be a bit of play in the joint that might be prone to break over the long term. The user replaceable ear-shaped (as opposed to round) cushions are covered in velour fabric and are unusually lightweight at just 216 grams. As such, the RS 180 is an exceptionally comfortable pair of headphones to wear for long periods of time..

The RS 180 is powered by a single NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) AAA battery in each earcup , and Sennheiser claims a 24-hour playing time on a set of fully charged batteries.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The tightly clustered volume up/down, power, and left/right balance button arrangement along the bottom of the right earcup isn't ergonomically ideal. The power button is centered between the volume up/down buttons, and the volume-down button is much smaller than the volume-up button, so I accidently turned the power off when trying to adjust the volume a couple of times during the first few movies. I made a lot fewer mistakes after just a few hours of use.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The dark-silver plastic transmitter/battery charger base also doubles as a headphone stand. Connectivity to the base is limited to one 3.5mm analog input and stereo RCA outputs, but you can hook up a TV, Blu-ray player, computer, laptop, or tablet to the transmitter. The power supply comes with with four power receptacle adapters, one each for the U.S., U.K., Australia, and the EU.

One input may prove inconvenient for some buyers, but in practice I don't consider it a real limitation when the RS 180 is used with a TV or AV receiver. You probably already have all of your sources, such as a cable box, games, Blu-ray player, etc. hooked up to your TV or AV receiver; if you do, then just connect the RS 180 to your TV or receiver. If you absolutely insist on digital connectivity, go for Sennheiser's RS 220 wireless headphones -- that model has two digital inputs.

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