Reviewed on Jun 09, 2017

Sennheiser RS 165 RF Wireless HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.3
5.7
Mixed Usage
6.9
Neutral Listening
5.5
Commute/Travel
4.5
Sports/Fitness
6.1
Office
6.1
Wireless Gaming
4.5
Wired Gaming
2.2
Phone Call
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : No
Transducer : Dynamic

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.

Test Results
Design 5.9
Isolation 5.7
Microphone 0
Active Features 6.3
Connectivity 3.6
Pros
  • Low latency connection.
  • Well-balanced audio reproduction.
Cons
  • Poor isolation.
  • Limited range and usability.
  • Bass delivery varies significantly across users. Sensitive to glasses.
  1. Update 11/6/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.
  2. Update 2/16/2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
  3. Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.

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5.9

Design

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.

Style

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.

7.5 Comfort
Weight : 0.65 lbs
Clamping Force
:
1.1 lbs

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.

6.3 Controls
OS Compatibility
:
N/A
Ease of use : Decent
Feedback : Good
Call/Music Control : No
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : N/A
Channel Mixing
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through
:
N/A
Additional Buttons : Bass Effect

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.

6.7 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 4.9 C
1.1 Portability
L : 7.6 "
W : 7.6 "
H : 3.9 "
Volume : 225 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : Yes

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.

0 Case
Type : No case
L : N/A
W : N/A
H : N/A
Volume : N/A
7.0 Build Quality

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.

5.5 Stability

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.

Headshots 1
Headshots 2
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Sound

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.

Sound Profile
Neutral
:
7.3
Bass-Heavy
:
8.2
Warm
:
7.9
Bright
:
4.5
7.1 Peaks/Dips
Peaks
:
1.78 db
Dips
:
1.72 db
5.5 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
1.23 dB

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.

8.0 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.74
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
0.32
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
2.43
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
5.06
6.4 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
3.38 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
4.8 dB
PRTF Distance
:
12.83 dB
Openness
:
4.4
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
4.6
7.3 Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
:
0.232
WHD @ 100
:
0.307
5.7

Isolation

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.

5.5 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-13.17 dB
Bass
:
-2.07 dB
Mid
:
-12.33 dB
Treble
:
-26.08 dB

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.

6.0 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
44.9 dB

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.

0

Microphone

Integrated
:
N/A
In-line
:
N/A
Boom
:
N/A
Detachable Boom
:
N/A
0 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
N/A
LFE
:
N/A
FR Std. Dev.
:
N/A
HFE
:
N/A
Weighted THD
:
N/A
Gain
:
N/A
0 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise : N/A
Speech + Subway Noise : N/A
SpNR
:
N/A
6.3

Active Features

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.

7.0 Battery
Battery Type
:
AAA (X2)
Continuous Battery Life
:
24 hrs
Additional Charges
:
N/A
Total Battery Life
:
24 hrs
Charge Time
:
N/A
Power Saving Feature
:
No
Audio while charging
:
No
Passive Playback
:
No
Charging Port : Proprietary

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.

0 App Support
App Name : N/A
iOS : N/A
Android : N/A
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
:
N/A
ANC control
:
N/A
Mic Control : N/A
Room effects
:
N/A
Playback control
:
N/A
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

No compatible app

3.6

Connectivity

0 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
:
N/A
NFC Pairing
:
N/A
Line of Sight Range
:
N/A
Default Latency
:
N/A
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A
8.8 Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line of Sight Range
:
121 ft
Non-BT Latency
:
23 ms
5.0 Wired
Analog Audio
:
N/A
USB Audio
:
N/A
Detachable : Yes
Length : 7 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS
Wired Latency
:
N/A
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC / PS4 Analog
:
No
PC / PS4 Wired USB
:
No
PC / PS4 Non-BT Wireless
:
Audio Only
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox Analog
:
No
Xbox Wired USB
:
No
Xbox Wireless
:
Audio Only
4.8 Base/Dock
Type
:
Wireless Dock
USB Input
:
No
Line In
:
Yes
Line Out
:
No
Optical Input
:
No
RCA Input
:
No
Dock Charging
:
Yes
Power Supply
:
AC Adapter

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
  • Manual

Compared to other Headphones

5.7 Mixed Usage

The Sennheiser RS 165 are decent mixed usage headphones with an above average sound. They are best used for as critical listening or home theater headphones (coming soon) as they're not versatile enough for all environments and situations. That and the fact that they have a stand transmitter and no way to use the headphones wired means if you're not in direct line-of-sight or close to your source and the transmitter then the headphones are practically unsuable.

6.9 Neutral Listening

Above-average for neutral listening. They have a good audio reproduction with a good bass that can be amplified through their additional Bass button. The mid and treble range are also decently balanced that instruments and vocals are not drowned out by the regular bass response. Unfortunately, they don't have a spacious soundstage which won't be ideal for more neutral listeners, and their bass performance varies a lot depending on your head shape and if you were glasses which makes them a bit inconsistent.

5.5 Commute/Travel

Not suitable for commuting and traveling. Although they have a decent overall performance that would suggest they're OK for commuting, the fact that you must have the transmitter in range means they won't be the ideal headphones to use anywhere but at home or at the office in front of your Tv or PC.

4.5 Sports/Fitness

Not intended for sports. They have a fixed transmitter, they're bulky and a bit unstable which is not ideal for running or working out.

6.1 Office

Average for office use since you will most likely have a fixed source. They have a decent line-of-sight range, they're comfortable and easy-to-use. However, they're a bit leaky and they don't isolate enough for particularly noisy office environments.

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