Sennheiser RS220 - Our Listen

Back in January when the Sennheiser RS 220 wireless headphones were first announced, we wondered if they would become the new standard not only in wireless headphone technology but also as entry or gateway cans into the audiophile world.

At that time, samples and test units were difficult to land, but in late May, we received a pair of the wireless headphones to test drive ourselves. More than any other headphone we have tested this year, the RS 220 were the pair that we expected to change our world. For the most part, they did indeed and well beyond what we imagined wireless hifi sound could achieve while one issue presented us with a dilemma.

Read our full review of the Sennheiser RS 220 wireless headphones on the following page.

Before we get into it, we share some pre-audition thoughts on the Sennheiser RS 220.

The idea that a wireless headphone such as the RS 220 could compete on this level is a high step forward in technology itself. The drive inside the Rs220 is actually the same driver in the HD650. That in itself is big, big news.

The conversation regarding the Sennheiser RS 220 v. Sennheiser HD 600 has already begun on the fanatic forums. We ourselves are desperately awaiting a review pair to compare to our own set of HD 650, just one small step up from the 600. The RS220 comes priced at around $600, just about $250-$275 more than the wired HD600. If they can indeed pull off the high end sound of their wired brothers, the RS220 may be this year’s headphone game changer.

Looking back at our initial thoughts, we stand by our view that the Sennheiser RS 220 has set a new bar for delivery of high fidelity audio across the wireless spectrum. No longer do we need to remain wired to enjoy the brilliance of well recorded music. The Sennheiser engineers chose DSSS (Direct Sequenced Spread Spectrum) wireless and lossless technology for the RS 220 – a new technology to the Sennheiser wireless line that provides more power (juice) the headphones. The drawback of DSSS is the shortening of listen time in the internal battery. At full power, the RS 220 should give the listener a good six to eight hours of listening time – that’s plenty of time in our opinion.

Charging the Sennheiser RS 220 is as easy as setting the headphones down on the base station. That base station also houses a variety of connectors that allow for the headphones to speak to your stereo hardware. Choose from analog and digital connections on the base, though the RS 220 cannot decode Dolby or DTS signals – limiting you to PCM output on your stereo to pass a digital signal.

You will find volume as well as left/right balance controls on the cups of the RS 220.  The control make decent sense, though, we would have preferred a better button layout. One note on the Sennheiser RS 220: the volume limit on the cans. When the max is reached wearers will hear and audible beep. In our view, the volume was well limited out of the box on the RS 220. While this does not play into the quality of sound produced, it would be wonderful to push these a bit harder without the need for amplification. Clearly, when properly amped, the RS 220 model shines.

Range on the wireless headphones is 300 feet. We found the overall range of the model to be sufficient for not only our home office but in the wild of midtown New York City office space. Overall the sound quality remained on point – competing as expected with the wired Sennheiser HD 600 which the RS 220 is loosely based on.

That minor dilemma we spoke about earlier? We did experience dropouts in sound occasionally while in close distance of the base station – enough so that we mentioned it here. We assume that our test model may have simply had an older firmware install on it as not many other reviewers have shared our experience. Truth is, dropouts are no fun for everyone and if we are to criticize the Sennheiser Rs 220, it would be here. Again, we’re hoping that full on production models will not have the same issue.

Most will want to know about the sound quality of the  Sennheiser RS 220: as mentioned they compete very well to the HD 600 and HD 650 models – when properly amped. Out of the box and fully charged, the RS 220 frees the listener from the lock down of a cable pull. It is a dream to walk around the home or office with the RS220 while still holding a clear and natural sound. While slightly heavier in weight than most headphones, they are not fatiguing nor limiting.

Those looking for a wireless audiophile-grade headphone should very much consider the Sennheiser RS 220. They price in at $599 and will free you to walk around and carry on with your life while experiencing some of the best sound available in wireless headphones today.  Available from Amazon.

Full technical specs:

Accepted digital audio format PCM (change digital audio sources to PCM)
Operating frequency 2.4 GHz (2.4-2.483.5)
Wearing style Around-the-ear
Transducer principle Open-aire, dynamic
Frequency response (headphones) 16-22,000 Hz
Max SPL 106 dB
Battery type (headphones) BA 200 (AAA, NiMH, 930 mAh, 1.2V)
Power supply (transmitter) 9V DC, 1A)
Transmitter inputs Digital: Toslink (Optical), coaxial (S/PDIF); Analog: RCA
Transmitter weight 16.4 oz (484 g)
Headphone weight 11.1 oz (329 g)
Operating time (hours) Up 8 hours (6-8 average)
THD <0.1% Signal-to-noise ratio 90 dB Supported sampling rates Up to 96 KHz (downsamples to 44.1 kHz) UPC code 615104127838 EAN code 4044156017556 Dimensions (single) 6.3 x 8.3 x 12 in Weight (single) 3.8 lbs Dimensions (master carton) 20.9 x 17.5 x 13.2 in Weight (master carton) 26.3 lbs Master carton quantity 6

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