Ask most any headphone enthusiast to name the single factor that most limits his or her enjoyment of headphones and odds are you’ll get a two-word answer: “the cord.” When wearing headphones, haven’t we all--at one point or another--felt as if we were being kept on a “short leash,” tightly tethered to our amplifiers, receivers or A/V controllers? With an eye toward addressing this very problem, the German firm Sennheiser has created a family of three new high-performance wireless headphones that each leverage 2.4 GHz technologies from Kleer that allow “uncompressed digital wireless audio transmission.”
Sennheiser RS 160 ($200)
The RS160 is a two-part system and is Sennheiser’s entry-level wireless model. The system consists of an HDR 160 headphone/receiver, plus a TX 160 transmitter module plus other accessories.
The HDR 160 is a closed back, circumaural headphone whose drivers feature motors powered by neodymium magnets for what Sennheiser terms “bass-driven audio reproduction.” The ‘phones are powered by two AAA NiMH rechargeable batteries and come with a multi-country charger, a charging cable, a detachable audio cable.
The TX 160 transmitter, in turn, looks something like a Bauhaus-designed “hockey puck” and is designed to give the RS160 system an “effective range of 20m (line of sight), the shortest of any of Sennheiser’s wireless models, though still ample for most applications. Interestingly, the TX 160 module can serve up to four sets of Sennheiser’s wireless headphones at once (4 people listening to the same source).
Sennheiser RS 170 ($250)
Picture the RS 170 system as an enhanced, “super RS 160” system that has been given what Sennheiser would call a “cinemacentric performance” orientation. Like the RS 160 system, the RS 170 is a two-package consisting of an HDR 170 headphone/receiver and a TX 170 transmitter module. But the RS 170 package offers noteworthy improvements as outlined below.
The HDR 170 headphone is similar to the HDR 160, but provides key enhancements in the form of two switch-selectable listening modes: Dynamic Bass mode and Surround Sound mode. Dynamic Bass mode is said to provide “pure, thundering bass,” while Surround Sound mode claims to provide “a virtual surround soundscape.” Either or both modes can be engaged for listening to music of movies.
Even bigger changes come the TX 170 transmitter, which is a multi-function unit that doubles as “an ‘easy-charge’ cradle and docking station for the headphones. The TX 170 module resembles a pair of stylized bookends that grasp a central control/transmitter/charger module. Significantly, the TX 170 module pushes effective range up to an impressive 80m (line of sight)— fully four times the range of the RS 160 system. The TX 170 had serve up to four sets of Sennheiser wireless headphones simultaneously.
Sennheiser RS 180 ($299)
The RS 180 system is again a two-piece package combining an HDR 180 headphone with a TX 180 transmitter, but in this system the headphone is significantly different.
Unlike Sennheiser’s other wireless headphones, the HDR 180 is an open back circumaural design, meaning—says Sennheiser—that the, “headphones can breather from both sides of the ear cups, offering you an excellent sound image.” As an audiophile-oriented model, the HDR 180 provides a left/right balance control, plus automatic level controls said to provide “improved speech intelligibility,” and to “ensure that the headphones always reproduce at optimum audio levels.”
The TX 180 transmitter is very much like the multi-function TX 170 module, meaning that it serves not only as a transmitter but also as an ‘easy charge’ cradle and docking station. Range for the TX 180 has been bumped up to a whopping 100m (line of sight)—the greatest range offered by any of Sennheiser’s wireless headphone systems.
For more information, visit: www.sennheiser.com