Being able to watch TV at night and not disturb others has been the driving force of wireless headphones. In particular the benefit of not being tied to a headphone cord has led to rapid growth of wireless products. However thus far wireless headphones could never really match the sound quality of traditional corded models and the wireless transmission would be prone to interference and noise. Is the latest wireless technology able to remedy the problems of previous wireless headphones? We will take a look at two wireless headphones that both utilize the latest in wireless transmission to find out how these models stack up against traditional corded headphones in terms of sound quality and reliability.
In this review, we will take a look at the Sennheiser RS180 and the Amphony Model 2500. Both of these models utilize digital audio transmission. Simply put, the wireless signal that is broadcast by the transmitter will undergo a conversion process. Then the resulting information is broadcast to the digital wireless headphones and converted back to audio. Using this new wireless technology, none of these models exhibited the noise that we are used to from previous generation wireless headphones. Both models claim to transmit CD quality audio.
Looking at the headphones, we immediately noticed that the Sennheiser headphones are designed as open headphones which means that sound from the transducers can easily penetrate to the outside while the Amphony headphones are closed. Choosing between an open and closed design is a matter of preference and there is no way to state that any particular design is better than the other. A closed model will tend to reduce the sound level heard by others which is useful when listening at loud volume. At the same time a closed design will tend to attenuate exterior noise more. Both models are equipped with soft velours ear cushions and fit snugly.
The RS180 transmitter acts as a support base for the headphones. When not in use, the headphones can be suspended from the transmitter. The transmitter offer an analog audio input, yet no digital inputs. The Amphony 2500 transmitter offers analog inputs, one coaxial digital and one optical digital input. As such the Model 2500 transmitter can connect to newer plasma TVs, most of which no longer have analog audio outputs. The Model 2500 transmitter will automatically recognize whether there is a digital signal present and switch to the corresponding input.
Comparing both models in terms of sound quality, the RS180 has a light sort of quality and excels at the midrange but is low on the bass. As such the RS180 is most suitable for listening to vocal racks and light music. The Model 2500 has a more pronounced bass response, but in no way aggressive and is well balanced. The wireless transmission no longer has the problems of older headphones and the sound quality of both models rivals corded headphones. The only limitation is the fact that wireless headphones are powered by batteries and thus will never be able to blast the same volume as corded headphones connected to a good headphone amp. However, both models were able to achieve reasonably loud levels, the Model 2500 more so than the RS180.
The RS180 transmits it’s signal at 2.4 GHz. Up to four headphones can operate simultaneously per transmitter. The Model 2500 transmits at 5.8 GHz and supports an unlimited number of headphones. The operating range of the RS180 is specified by Sennheiser at 300 ft. During our indoor testing we were able to get a clean signal up to around 100 ft with both models which should be sufficient for most users. The Model 2500 transmitter comes with an extension port though that allows connection of secondary transmitters for cases where you really need to have reception all over the house.
The RS180 offers a battery life of 15 hours. The Model 2500 will work around 30 hours per charge. Pricing is around $300 for the RS180 wireless headphones and $200 for the Model 2500.