The Sennheiser RS 165 are decent home theater headphones with a good sound quality. They have a transmitter stand that communicates with the headphones via radio frequency and provides an almost lag-less wireless connection for watching videos. Unfortunately, they're too bulky and do not block enough noise to be versatile for anything else. Also, RF has a few disadvantages especially in terms of range.
- Low latency connection.
- Well-balanced audio reproduction.
- Poor isolation.
- Limited range and usability.
The RS 165 are a bit bulky and not meant for sports or outdoor use, but they're comfortable and easy-to-use. The ear cups are large and roomy, and the headband is flexible and not too tight. They have an above-average build quality, but the ear cups feel kind of cheap when compared to other headphones in their price range. They also put a bit of uneven pressure below your ears that may get uncomfortable during long listening sessions, but it's not that big of an issue.
The RS 165 come with a TR transmitter stand that also acts as a dock and a charging station for the headphones. This gives them a premium feel when docked but their design doesn't particularly stand out. They're a bit bulky and upon closer inspection, the padding looks a bit cheap. They're not meant for outdoor use so they're not the most fashionable headphones but their simple utilitarian design will work for most.
The RS 165 have large and spacious ear cups. They're also decently well padded and lightweight for their size. Unfortunately, the pressure they exert around your ears is not properly distributed. So after listening to the RS 165 for a while, you might start feeling a little soreness between your ear lobes and your jaw. It's not painfully uncomfortable but it's not ideal either.
The controls scheme for the RS 165 is good but slightly limited. They don't provide any call/music functions but by design, they're not supposed to. What they provide are good, clicky buttons for volume control and their additional bass effect, which feels responsive and easy-to-use.
The RS 165 are just tight enough that they won't move much during casual listening sessions. However, the ear cups are a bit too bulky and sway a lot under physical activity making them too unstable for sports. That and the need for their charging dock to be in range for them to work makes these headphones unideal to go running with. Even if their wireless design prevents them from being yanked from your head because the audio cable got hooked on something.
These headphones are quite large and do not fold into a more compact design. This means they're not portable, especially, since you will need the stand too for them actually to work. Being home theater headphones, you most likely won't carry them around on your person, but if you plan to, then you will need a bag.
The build quality for the RS 165 feels decently sturdy but a bit cheap. The headband is moderately flexible and reinforced with a thin metal frame. The ear cups too are decently dense but aren't as durable. The plastic used feels low grade and a bit cheap, so the ear cups might get damaged by a few accidental drops. The padding material also isn't as soft on the skin or as premium as some of the other headphones in the RS 165's price range, which is a little disappointing, especially since you're most likely going to be wearing these headphones for hours if you're watching a movie.
The RS 165 are a pair of above-average sounding headphones capable of delivering a lot of Bass, an excellent Mid Range and a good Treble. However, their Bass is prone to inconsistencies and highly dependent on the quality of fit/seal achieved by the user, more than any other headphones we have tested so far. Additionally, due to their closed-back design, they don't have a very open and spacious Soundstage, which is favored for critical listening applications.
Good Bass Range performance. Low-bass is extended down to 10Hz which is excellent. However, it is hyped by about 3dB, which is going to add excess thump and rumble to the sound. Additionally, the 5dB bump surrounding 100Hz makes the sound of these headphones noticeably boomy and muddy.
Very good Mid Range performance. The response is consistent and relatively flat, but shows about 3dB of tilt towards the higher frequencies. This makes the sound of these headphones slightly forward, by bringing the vocals/leads slightly to the front of the mix.
Good Treble Range performance. Low-treble has a dip around 4KHz, but because of the narrow width, its negative effects on presence and detail of vocals/leads would be small. The rest of the Range is within good limits and relatively flat and consistent.
Poor Consistency performance. The Bass Range of our Over-Ear and On-Ear headphones are measured on 5 different human subjects, 5 times each. In the graphs, each line represents an individual's average Bass response. The RS 165 shows about 18dB of variance at 20Hz, which is quite significant and noticeable. The inconsistent Bass performance of these headphones is the result of poor seal/fit, as well as different personal positioning preferences. The Treble Range shows better consistency with about 6dB of variance at 10KHz.
Poor Soundstage. Due to the closed-back design, these headphones sound a bit isolating and won't let the outside ambience be mixed with the music, like open headphones would. Also, due to their ear cup design, they don't interact with the pinna like loudspeakers do, which results in a Soundstage that is perceived mostly inside the listener's head as opposed to in front.
Good Imaging performance. Phase shift is minimum, and their effects would be quite minimal on the performance of these headphones. Additionally, our test unit shows above average driver matching in amplitude, frequency and phase response.
Decent Harmonic Distortion performance. The amount of harmonic distortion at 90dB is relatively low and above average. At 100dB SPL, there is a general rise in harmonic distortion in Bass and Mid Ranges, while remaining within good limits. In the Treble Range, there is little difference between the 90dB and 100dB passes, which is good.
These headphones do not isolate well enough for loud environments. They only passively block noise and their design is not meant for outdoor use. They also leak a bit at higher volumes but if you use them primarily to watch movies then at least you won't be disturbing your neighbors even if your listening at extremely high volumes. Unfortunately, they will still be a bit distracting if you have a person right next to you and if you have a noisy home environment then you may not able to focus as well on the audio due to the poor isolation.
Poor Isolation. The RS 165 don't have active noise cancelling, and their passive isolation doesn't isolate significantly in the Bass Range. In the Mid Range, they achieve about 12dB of reduction, and in the Treble Range they achieve about 27dB of reduction, both values being decent.
Mediocre Leakage performance. The significant portion of leakage is spread between 300Hz and 3KHz which is a relatively broad range, but limited mostly to the Mid Range. However, the overall level of leakage is not too loud.
The Sennheiser RS 165 are RF headphones that have very low latency for watching movies and a 24-hour battery life. They also use rechargeable AAA batteries that can be charged directly with the stand but the charge time will vary depending on the capacity, age and wear of the batteries you use. Unfortunately, radio frequency headphones do not have the best range when obstructed so unless you're directly in front of your source you will experience some connection drops.
The RS 165 are radio frequency headphones so they don't use Bluetooth to transmit data wirelessly. This has its advantages especially when it comes to latency as they will rarely have any sync issues when watching videos or gaming. They also connect immediately with the transmitter stand so there is no need for pairing. Unfortunately, they don't perform as well in terms of range. In direct line of sight, they do fairly well but once the stand is obstructed, the range is drastically reduced to less than 30ft. You won't be able to walk around your home with the headphones on and continue listening to your audio. However, if you're directly in front of your TV or a fixed source, then the range shouldn't be much of an issue.
The RS 165 have a good 24-hour battery life. They use rechargeable AAA batteries that can be charged directly with the stand but it takes more than 8 hours for a full charge which is very limiting. However, the charge time is very dependent on the capacity, age and wear of the rechargeable batteries you use. So your charge time will vary. Also, you can always just swap out the AAA with new non-rechargeable batteries which may be less cost effective but has 0 charge time.
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In the box
- Sennheiser RS 165 Headphones
- TR 165 transmitter
- Audio cable
- (EU) power adapter
- (UK) power adapter
- (AU) power adapter
- (US) power adapter
- 2 AAA NiMH rechargeable batteries