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Sennheiser RS 220 review

Andrew Williams

By

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR

1 of 16

Sennheiser RS 220
  • Sennheiser RS 220
  • Sennheiser RS 220
  • Sennheiser RS 220
  • Sennheiser RS 220
  • Sennheiser RS 220
  • Sennheiser RS 220
  • Sennheiser RS 220
  • Sennheiser RS 220
  • Sennheiser RS 220
  • Sennheiser RS 220
  • Sennheiser RS 220
  • Sennheiser RS 220
  • Sennheiser RS 220
  • Sennheiser RS 220
  • Sennheiser RS 220
  • Sennheiser RS 220

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

Pros

  • Wide, open sound
  • Clever, versatile dock design
  • Very comfortable

Cons

  • Uncompressed wireless transmission
  • Lack excitement with some material
  • Lesser battery life than previous models

Key Features

  • 6-8hr battery life
  • Optical/phono/coaxial in and out
  • 2.4GHz wireless
  • 2xAAA rechargeable batteries
  • Charging dock
  • Manufacturer: Sennheiser
  • Review Price: £349.99

Wireless headphones like the Sennheiser RS 220 face several problems. Most are compromised on several fronts, tending to be more expensive, less reliable and sound worse than comparable wired sets. Sennheiser's new set bucks the trend, though, offering sound quality on-par with the HD series's big names, and much greater flexibility than a wired set. Quite simply, these are some of the best wireless headphones ever made.

The Sennheiser RS 220 package comes in two main bits. There's the chunky headset and the plastic dock. In true Sennheiser style, the dock is a practical piece of kit rather than something to sit proudly in your lounge as a prized ornament, but it is rather special in its own way.Sennheiser RS 220 32

But first, the looks. Its front is glossy black plastic, and the rest textured matt plastic. Using plastic throughout keeps the weight below 500g, but as something that doubles up as a largely static headphone stand, a bit of extra weight could have been a bonus, along with a natty metal of wood finish. There are, however, a quartet of little rubber feet on its bottom to keep the thing in place.

The dock's front bears two touch sensitive controls that turn the set on and of, and switch the input. Being able to handle multiple inputs is where the Sennheiser RS 220 really starts to impress. On the backside of its base is a healthy selection of connections - stereo phono, optical and coaxial - and there are LEDs up front to show you which is connected. Each type of connection offers both an input and output, letting the dock function as a pass-through for when you'd rather use a traditional amplifier and speaker setup.

Sennheiser RS 220 11

There's no down-mixing of surround content though, and you do have to keep an eye on what you pump through it, but the dock negates the need for a separate headphone amp. And when desktop headphone amps of note start at £50-odd quid and ramp up into the thousands, this is a very good thing. There's a basic cog-style volume control on the back to handle the base's volume level.

The Sennheiser RS 220 also has a very clever approach to battery charging. A rechargeable 800mAh AAA battery slots into a hidden cavity at the top of each earcup, and they start charging as soon as you put the headphones back on the charge dock. There are little metal contact panels on each side of the headband that match -up with corresponding metallic bits on the dock.

Sennheiser RS 220 31

Metal contacts interface with the dock

Battery life is not stellar at 6-8 hours, but unless you're a fan of very, very long listening sessions, you'd never know. Using standard AAA rechargeables has a few other benefits too. They're reasonably light, leaving the headset at a comfortable 329g, and are extremely easy to replace.

Sennheiser RS 220 18

The actual headphones look a little different from some previous RS-series wireless sets, with less-rounded rear grills, but they are otherwise similar. They use an open-back design and have extremely comfortable velour pads. Both these design choices are great for comfort, keeping your ears cooler than closed-back, leather-padded sets, but make the RS 220 leak noise like crazy.

Sennheiser RS 220 29

If you want to rock out to Rachmaninov but don't want your pianist-hating partner to know, the Sennheiser RS 220 aren't for you. For those who live in quiet environments with cohabitees that won't mind the leakage, they're a delight. Superbly comfortable, well-made and practical, given you can dump them on the dock once you're done.

Bugblatter

March 30, 2012, 12:17 am

Proprietary wireless? They dropped Kleer? Interesting decision if so.

I've been trying to find out if my RS170 base could send audio to an Arcam rCube; that kind of cross-compatibility would be a selling point that Sennheiser has perhaps thrown away now.

Seems odd to have switchable inputs on the RS220 and not have a button on the headphones to switch them remotely.

Andrew_TR

March 30, 2012, 5:28 pm

Apparently so. There are buttons on the headphones to change inputs, though.

Bugblatter

March 30, 2012, 11:27 pm

@Andrew Good to know about the buttons. Actually the biggest flaw with my RS170 is the lack of switchable inputs; I have to get up and change the leads around at the back of the base unit.

I may look for a remote-controlled audio switching unit though. The RS220's aren't for me as I want to keep my music to myself.

stranded

March 31, 2012, 11:15 am

All music genres are "aggressive", there is no such thing as "laid back", "smooth" or "silk" music.
Some headphones make you think that they reproduce some genres better than other, the fact is that you only think this is real, they are equally good or bad at any music they play.
"Homme's sound fantastic"?? I greatly doubt that, many modern "audiophile" headphones produce so many artifacts and do all kinds of tricks at all frequencies, they are light years away from being reliable.

Cavcalade

July 17, 2012, 6:55 pm

@stranded: Sure there is. Ever heard of Smooth Jazz, Easy Listening, Lounge, New Age etc.?

I own the 180s so I wanted to know whats the difference between the two. Today I received a call from the Sennheiser customer service. The new wireless system is called DSSS. Also uncompressed.

While the Sennheiser RS180 has a great sound already it seems the RS220 is even better (not surprising that a Sennheiser representative tells me that). Will hit the store to check it out.

unity100

September 19, 2013, 6:19 pm

"All music genres are "aggressive", there is no such thing as "laid back", "smooth" or "silk" music."

many pieces of classical music.

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