Sennheiser is a brand that stands out in the high-end and professional audio industry. They've recently launched a new model, the RS 180 a set of headphones that is a successor to the RS 170, which had a closed circumaural design. In this review, we see if their new RS 180 wireless headphones deliver performance for their price.
Design and Build Quality
The Sennheiser RS 180 comes bundled with an attractive looking docking station that has a glossy finish. It almost looks like a mini space station rather than a docking station and would look really cool as a table piece to show off to your friends. Apart from these features, something that looked really attractive were the lights on the docking station that are a radiant flurocent yellow and orange lights to make it look more attractive.The weight of the docking station is however much lesser than we expected, Sennheiser could have used better plastic to beef up the body and make it look a little more realistic rather than just increase it in size.
Charging capability on the dock
The Sennheiser RS 180 head phones however are not very light. These wireless headphones have attractive ear pads with a sleek metallic finish, an open circum-aural design and come with an uncompressed audio transmission. But the open circumaural design lets sound escape from the headphones and does not exactly give you the privacy that you want.
The ear pads however are pretty comfortable initially as they are topped up with soft cloth padding on the ear cups and the head band. The ear cups cover most of your ear and there's a a set of buttons on the side of the ear pad that helps you to adjust the volume, turn it on or off as well as adjust the right and left balance. The right and left balance buttons are somewhat redundant. However, it's quite a task adjusting the volume settings as the the buttons are really hard to adjust when you have the headphones on. The buttons should have been extruded or spaced out a little bit more.
Audio input connections at the rear of the dock
Sennheiser should have also placed the on/off buttons away from the volume buttons as every time you try and adjust the volume, you end up switching it off - the buttons are pretty responsive when pressed. The headphones aren’t larger than most mainstream wired sets and the head band can be adjusted according to your requirement and comfort.
The Sennheiser RS 180 are rated to perform in the frequency range between 18Hz and 21kHz and operate wirelessly in the 2.4 - 2.48GHz range. The docking station has two RCA connectors so you can connect your TV or any other audio source to the dock. It also has a 3.5mm audio out connector that lets you connect your phone or mp3 player to the dock. It comes bundled with two AAA chargeable batteries inside the ear pad.
There’s nothing so unique about the Sennheiser’s RS 180 audio quality that’s worth its price. When we tested the headphones we were expecting to experience something out of the ordinary - instead we had to make do with decent. The bass on the headphone sounded pretty crisp and well rounded with no indication of distortion or a muddy baseline. Most headphones have their bass tweaked to the maximum and end up overlapping the mids and highs. However, the bass of the RS 180 is pretty clear and shows no signs of cutting out of any beats. The mids show good clarity and crisp quality in the sound. We also tested the headphones on a few uncompressed music formats and the headphones sound decent. However, we were slightly disappointed with the treble performance, as Sennheiser could have improved a little bit more on the clarity.
One of the most important features we wanted to experience was its wireless range, so we took the head phones through two doors and a wall and the audio quality was still good. We also took the headphone to a distance of ten meters and the audio quality was constant. Beyond ten meters however, reception started to fluctuate and finally cut out. Unlike cheaper headphones where the quality drops and then the reception gets cut, with the RS 180, we noticed no drop in the audio quality.
Function buttons on one side of the Sennheiser RS 180
Sound isolation on the RS 180 headphones is not very good. Since these are open headphones, some sound does escape and it can get quite disturbing for people around you. Initially, the RS 180 feels pretty comfortable, but after an hour of continuous usage, it tends to feel heavy on the ears. It also leaves the inner cloth padding sweaty and makes your ears ache as well. Of course, this depends from person to person. The headphones have to be adjusted properly before use as it does not have a very firm grip on your head.The plastic on the head band is not that sturdy and a firm wire should have been used for better comfort and grip. The batteries in the head phones will have to be charged properly for at least two hours continuously for continuous listening pleasure. We charged the headphones for half an hour and after listening to them on high volume for around fifteen minutes, the batteries died out.
The RS 180 comes across as an average sounding pair of wireless headphones. For a price of Rs. 17,990, one expects a lot more than that. We were pretty impressed though, with the range but we would also have liked much better audio quality to go with it. It’s easy to get this kind of performance of wired phones for a lot less. The fact that the RS 180 is not very good at isolating noise doesn’t help the cause either.
A pretty looking dock
If you’re looking for a pair of wireless headphones that work pretty much all over your flat, you’re likely to find this useful. If you are particular about audio performance, you should probably use the same money on a wired headphone. You’re likely to find some very impressive ones.
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