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Sennheiser RS 170 Wireless Headphones - Sennheiser RS 170 Wireless Headphones

By Stuart Andrews



  • Recommended by TR
Sennheiser RS 170 Wireless Headphones


Our Score:


User Score:

Thumbs up for the wireless tech, then, but what about the headphones? Well, the RS 170s are exactly what you’d expect from Sennheiser: a solidly-constructed, well-designed and comfortable set of cans that you can use for hours at a time without irritation. The circumaural (around the ear) cups are attached via two pivoting joints to a single adjustable headband, and a close but not vice-like fit ensures they stay on without placing your skull in a migraine-inducing death grip. There’s generous padding inside the headband and around the ears and, while the cans are mostly made of plastic, they don’t feel cheap or easily breakable. If you’ve ever tried Sennheiser’s HD59x series, these won’t feel unfamiliar at all.

The transmitter/charging cradle has had a redesign since the RS120/30/40 series, and it’s now a more streamlined black affair, with a simple three pin charge point at the top where the headphones hang, which connects to three strips inside the headband. Apart from the socket for the miniscule wall-wart power adaptor, the only connection is a single 3.5mm jack, though Sennheiser bundles a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable, a 3.5mm to 6.3mm adaptor and a phono to 3.5mm adaptor which you can use to take audio direct from an amp, DVD player, Blu-ray player or games console as well as a TV, Hi-Fi system or MP3 player.

The two rechargeable AAA batteries - one inside each ear cup - take around 16 hours to charge and will last for around 24 hours, though your mileage will vary depending on range and volume levels. As it’s natural to place them back on the charging cradle at the end of a session, this isn’t that much of an issue anyway.

The headphones themselves have five buttons; on, volume up, volume down, and toggle buttons for the Surround-Sound and Bass-Boost processing options. You can check whether the last two are activated by looking at the LED indicators on the front of the cradle which also double as buttons to activate the two functions. Both are pretty self-explanatory, and while the surround sound function isn’t as convincing as the more advanced processing you’d get from a Dolby Headphone setup or Creative’s CMSS 3D technology, it does provide a wider, more enveloping soundstage which helps give movies a powerful, immersive feel.

On first listening, I was a bit concerned about the quality of the sound delivered by the RS 170s. It’s great to hear a set of wireless headphones that don’t suffer from hiss like the old RF and FM models, yet can be used without line of sight (the bugbear of the old Infra-Red based Sony systems). However, despite showing Sennheiser’s usual excellent grasp of detail, the sound was a bit brash and top-heavy, and not really ideal for music or movies. After only a few hours of settling in, however, things improved dramatically. The RS 170s are engineered for home cinema over Hi-Fi, but that doesn’t mean they fall down when it comes to playing CDs, FLACs and MP3s.

Martin Daler

March 6, 2010, 2:36 pm

is there any impact on all the other stuff operating on 2.4GHz? Does your wifi streaming take a hit, does the DECT phone suffer, will you be swamping the neighbours' available wifi spectrum?


March 6, 2010, 4:24 pm

I first moved over to wireless headphones 5 years ago, when the first FM ones came out, well, they were available for sale. And every years since, I've been upgrading to one better, range improved, comfort improved, signal quality etc. I've been through Sony, Sennheiser and Philips. The senns have always been the best! Upgrading from the RS140 (FM) to the RS170 is the biggest change of them all, new wireless tech that's just incredibly clear! At first I thought the buttons would be a hassle to get used to compare to the older models, theres no switches and all 5 buttons are on one side closely packed together, but once you're used to it you'll be fine, the middle button with the symbol extruded is the 'on/off' button and the bigger one next to it means volume up, smaller one means volume down. Otherwise, its the best one so far! Waiting to see what comes out next year! :-)


March 6, 2010, 6:07 pm

Hi Stu, a quick question for you: I know you briefly compared these to the HD595's, but I was wondering if these would be a suitable replacement. I have a pair of those for listening to music (mostly rock), but also a closed back pair which I use for gaming (though they aren't very comfortable). It's a bit of a hassle switching between them, and I find neither particularly suited to movies, so I've been looking for a pair of wireless headphones (preferably closed-back) which could replace the both of them. Would you say the RS 170's are a good choice, or are there other options out there worth looking at? I particularly like the sound of the wireless technology these use.


March 6, 2010, 10:01 pm

Haha, this review is literally a day too late for me. After relentlessly searching for a decent review, I eventually just decided to order these (yesterday!) and hope for the best. Judging by your review, it was probably a decent choice.


March 8, 2010, 4:54 pm


I haven't noticed any effects on my DECT line or with my 2.4GHz wireless mouse, so it doesn't seem to be a problem so far.


Tricky. I would say that audio quality (especially for music) isn't quite up there with teh HD595s, though the RS170s have a more powerful low-end. If you want something primarily for gaming and movies with the odd bit of music, though, then the RS170s are brilliant. I've been playing Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and watching Watchmen with them over the weekend, and I've found them perfect for the job.


June 24, 2010, 9:04 am

Hi Stu

I wonder if the RS 170's transmitter will turn itself off automatically if no sound signal is being transmitted. I'm looking for a closed back, wireless headphone set with a transmitter which stays on all the time.



June 17, 2011, 3:08 pm

I already have one set of these headphones (RS 170) and the great!

I want to buy a second set (base and headphones) for use near by to my current set, does anybody know if there would be any interference between the two?



April 20, 2012, 7:10 pm

alguien ha comprado Sennheiser RS 170 Auriculares inalámbricos
quetal estan
cual son las desventajas de este articulo


February 4, 2013, 9:53 am

A big minus is, there is no spdif digital input... on a digital headphone !
I mean in these days where all is digital... i really don't understand...


December 12, 2013, 4:18 pm

does the RS 170 have an input jack on the headphones itself so you can listen on your phone while in public.


December 13, 2013, 1:32 pm

We don't think so unfortunately this review is a bit old and we don't have the review sample any more


January 18, 2014, 7:24 pm

BRILLIANT! wear them all the time, to hear what I want, and shut out the world. Give them quite a while to bed in, and your mind to get used to great sound that appears to be happening around your skull, when in surround mode. It's like having a hi fi strapped to my head, without the inconvenience of weight. It's strange when I go to the bathroom upstairs, and I'm still hearing Family Guy!!!My ideal system is RS170 connected to MarantzM-cr music streamer!!!

Heidi J. Nelson

January 20, 2014, 1:42 pm

I just bought a pair of 170's, but they don't work. I don't have a headphone jack on my Panasonic Viera plasma tv, so I used the RCA jacks. Nothing!! I am supposed to hook up to the audio out, but all jacks seem to be "in". I have hooked the cables to every red/white combo on the tv, but nothing. What am I doing wrong??


October 6, 2014, 5:11 am

It is your tv, not the headphones. A tv should have either a digital audio jack or a 3.5mm at least if not have an audio out RCA jacks. Nothing you can do or anything else can to. I recommend buying a new tv.

Marlin G Costello

December 15, 2014, 2:25 pm

How is this for deaf people?

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