Bluetooth would seem a viable alternative, but – again – the digital stream has to be compressed to deal with A2DP’s limited bandwidth, most frequently into a Bluetooth specific format, SBC. Again, this means that while you might be putting CD quality audio into the transmitter, you won’t get CD quality audio out. What you do get is perfectly fine for the vast majority of mobile users, but if you care enough to spend £150 plus on headphones, you probably don’t want to make any compromises.
Kleer’s 2.4GHz technology is different. Firstly, the signal is uncompressed. The signal you put in is the signal you get out. Secondly, being digital, and thus less susceptible to interference, there’s virtually no hiss or interference. Finally, there’s no need to fiddle around with different FM bands or manual tuning. The headphones arrive synched with the transmitter, and other sets can be added simply enough should you need to later on.
In short, it just works, and that goes for the RS 170 setup just as it did for the Sleek W1 adaptor before. The link seems to function flawlessly and the range is excellent, with the headphones receiving a mostly solid signal in every room of my medium-sized detached house, and outside for fifteen metres or so in the front garden too. I’d take the claimed maximum 80m range with a pinch of salt – it’s sure not to take walls, floors and intervening objects into account – but within a domestic environment or office, you shouldn’t have too many problems.
Better still, when the sound does break up there’s no ear-splitting crackle or buzz; just a break in the music which creeps back in to one earpiece and then the other when you’re back in range or whatever blocked the signal is removed. Basically, it’s not just wire-free, but hassle-free, too. It’s also worth mentioning that up to four pairs of headphones can be teamed with a single transmitter, though I’ve yet to find a UK stockist for the HDR 170 headset on its own.