Sennheiser RS 170 Digital Wireless Headphone with Dynamic Bass and Surround Sound

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3 Responses to “Sennheiser RS 170 Digital Wireless Headphone with Dynamic Bass and Surround Sound”

  1. Paul Bishop "PaulDDB" says:
    425 of 450 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Pity about the echo …, December 4, 2009
    Paul Bishop “PaulDDB” (Los Angeles) –

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    This review is from: Sennheiser RS 170 Digital Wireless Headphone with Dynamic Bass and Surround Sound (Electronics)

    I’ve only had the RS 170 phones for a few days. I had expected to rate them 10 stars because of the excellent crystal-clear sound; but I believe they have a flaw that may render them unacceptable for some people (see CONS, below). I’m giving them 4 stars because they are so good – I should probably rate them either excellent or “not acceptable”.
    Here is my take – you may not have the same experience or have the same needs or expectations.

    TYPES OF WIRELESS HEADPHONES: For those that don’t know, there are broadly 3 ways by which wireless headphones receive their signal:

    IR (infrared) — these use a line-of-sight signal and avoid radio interference. They have the disadvantages of short range and reduced mobility (you have to remain within sight of the base station), but they usually do produce a clean sound.

    900 MHz — these are analogue radio headphones. The main disadvantage is susceptibility to hiss and other noise, especially when you move your head or move to another room.

    2.4 GHz — these are digital radio headphones, like the RS 170, and are more likely to be free from hiss and noise.

    I bought the RS 170 phones to replace cheap ones I’ve been using for late-night TV, and which operate on 900 MHz, providing constant hiss, much worse when I move about.
    The RS 170 sound brilliant. I’ve used them for late night TV and movies, and for music (radio and CDs) allowing me to move to other rooms in the house. They’re comfortable to wear and I’m sure they’d be great for use on a treadmill or working out. All over my home, and in most of the garden, the sound is crystal clear with no hiss or extraneous noise. Except, that is, for the echo …

    CONS: Having read scores of reviews of wireless headphones, it seems that some people buy them to listen to movies/ music without disturbing other people. For that these phones are brilliant.
    But some people buy wireless headphones because they have hearing loss (or just want the clarity that headphones provide) and use them to watch TV while their spouse listens through the TV speakers. The RS 170 phones seem to operate with a slight time shift (delay). If the loudspeakers are also on, albeit at low volume, the effect of the time shift is to produce an ECHO – this is very noticeable with dialogue, and is really annoying.

    It might mean that if you listen to movies/ TV, and have the sound coming through the TV speakers as well, the RS 170 phones may not be acceptable.
    If you turn the TV speakers down (or “mute”) you won’t notice the effect, but then no-one else in the room will be able to hear anything unless they have headphones as well.

    The RS 170 are of a “closed” design, which means that sound is not supposed to leak out, and in combination with the comfortable ear-pads, they greatly attenuate ambient noise – but they don’t eliminate ambient noise completely (they are not “noise-cancelling”). I wrote to SennheiserUSA yesterday morning, and received this prompt response:

    “The RS 170 should block out the sound of the TV speakers. Check to
    see that you have them on correctly so that there is a nice seal to
    block out ambient noise.
    Let me know if you have any additional questions.”
    Eric Palonen
    Sennheiser Headphones + Headsets
    1 Enterprise Drive
    Old Lyme, CT 06371″

    It’s true that the ear-pad seal does greatly attenuate ambient sound, but it does not eliminate it. The problem is so serious that I cannot use the phones to watch TV if my girlfriend is watching also.
    The more expensive model RS 180 is an “open” design – the echo problem is likely to be even worse. The more I think about this, the more I am torn — if you have hearing loss, you might not notice, or care about, the echo.


    — sound: The quality of the sound is better than I’d expected.
    Listening to movies, I hear subtle sounds that I can’t hear with loudspeakers. I can only describe the sound as crisp and clean with adequate, but not booming, bass.
    I listened to some classical music CDs (Elgar) with delicate sounds as well as a full orchestra and timpani. The detail is excellent; even when I walk up my driveway the sound eventually cuts out, but there is no hiss as far as I can tell. My previous headphones were all hiss and crackle as I moved away from the base.

    — price. These are expensive, and may not be discounted for quite some time.

    — buttons. Lots of people criticised the prior design (RS 130/ 140) because the rotating volume control could catch on a pillow and move. The RS 170 has buttons for volume, mode, plus bass and [faux] surround sound. The disadvantage of buttons is that they’re hard to find by touch alone. I think a lot of people will wind up taking the phones off to press the buttons. One advantage of the design is…

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  2. busy dad says:
    67 of 71 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    much better then expected, January 17, 2010
    busy dad (nj) –

    This review is from: Sennheiser RS 170 Digital Wireless Headphone with Dynamic Bass and Surround Sound (Electronics)

    Let me say that the main reason I bought these headphones was for watching movies with out hearing lip for having my home theater too loud.

    I enjoy using the surround feature and the Bass boost for movies. I have a high end home theater and I do not miss it as much as I thought I would. Does the Bass feel like my two 1,000 watt powered subs. Of course not, but the bass is very good.

    The main time I would use the headphones is times when I have my system very low so the headphones sound much better then my system when it is played at a low decibel level. While I have a movie in I can walk all over my house and it never breaks up. The sound is crystal clear all over the house.

    The closed headphones are a nice feature so you can shut out most noise but you can still hear someone calling you if needed.

    The only problem I have so far is an occasional sound dropout. I moved the transmitter and manually paired the headphones. Since then I have had no problems but it is too soon to be sure if it worked.

    I highly recommend these headphones for watching movies. I am not a music guy so I could not comment on that.

    7/14/10 I would like to give a quick update. The sound from the headphones for movies is still great. I do not get any sound dropout when I am close to the unit. I do tend to agree with a previous post that the range is not great. My house is decent size and when I go to some rooms the sound does drop out.

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  3. Anonymous says:
    The manufacturer commented on the review belowSee comments
    109 of 122 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Poor range compared to analog models, January 4, 2010
    Thomas D. Kehoe (Boulder, CO USA) –

    This review is from: Sennheiser RS 170 Digital Wireless Headphone with Dynamic Bass and Surround Sound (Electronics)

    I bought the older Sennheiser wireless headphones (analog) two years ago. I wore them almost every day and liked them, except that the volume control wore out. I took it apart, cleaned it, and it worked perfectly after that.

    I bought the HDR 170 two months ago. The sound is better and they are comfortable. However, I have three complaints. First, the volume controls are difficult to use. There are five buttons – up volume, on/off, down volume, surround, and bass. No problem if you take off the headphones and look at the buttons, but while you’re wearing them you can’t feel which button is which, so I turn the headphones off when I want to change the volume, etc. Sennheiser should have made the buttons feel different.

    The second problem is that the range is shorter. With the old analog headphones I could go in the backyard to hang laundry and the sound was weak and scratchy, but I could hear it. With the HDR 170 headphones the sound switches on and off annoyingly. Our house isn’t big, if you live in a big house you might lose reception in some rooms.

    The third problem is interference. When I’m in the kitchen and switch on the microwave oven, the headphones shut off the sound. Even small electric motors such as my desoldering iron make the headphones switch off.

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