Sennheiser RS 160 £140
7th Mar 2010 | 11:00
Can the Sennheiser RS 160 produce quality wireless audio?
Wireless headphones are a wonderful invention, but while they're no longer the heavy, battery-killing monstrosities they used to be, they still suffer from one pretty major problem: sound quality. Typical cordless cans broadcast using FM, which has a much lower resolution than CD, and background hiss and interference can also affect the sound.
Sennheiser thinks it has the solution: Kleer. Kleer's chipsets are designed to transmit audio wirelessly at CD quality (44.1kHz, 16-bit), and Sennheiser's stuck a whole bunch of them in its RS 160, 170 and 180 headphones.
We tested the cheapest of the three, the £140 RS 160s, and the difference between the Kleer-powered set and traditional cordless headphones was dramatic.
The RS 160s may only have a range of 20 metres, but within that area you get superb, crystal-clear sound without the slightest hint of the hissing and pulsing that affects FM models.
Our only concern is the lack of low-end thump: if you're a gamer, a hip-hop fan or just like a lot of bass, you might find the RS 160s a little light in this department.
Upgrade for less
Pricier models get a transmitter that doubles as a headphone stand, charger and docking station, but the RS 160s come with a simple disc-shaped job for charging the headphones' dual AAAs. It's not as pretty as the docking stations but it works just fine and you can expect around 24 hours of use between charges.
The headphones are superbly comfortable even during long listening sessions, but we're not fans of the integrated volume controls: they're a little bit fiddly, even if you're not that fat-fingered.
The RS 160s are very good, but if you're already looking for premium headphones, we'd recommend tracking down the 160s' big brother, the RS 170s. They deliver more bass, more volume, four times the range and include a smart-looking docking station, and despite their £180 RRP we're already seeing them available for below the £150 mark - which is less than some shops are charging for the RS 160s.
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