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Reviewed on Jun 09, 2017

Sennheiser RS 165 RF Wireless HEADPHONES REVIEW

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
Sound 7.7
Isolation 5.7
Microphone 0
Active Features 6.5
Connectivity 4.3
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 2/16/2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
  2. Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.

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Summary

  • 6.4 Mixed Usage
  • 7.6 Critical Listening
  • 5.7 Commute/Travel
  • 5.2 Sports/Fitness
  • 6.5 Office
  • 6.5 TV
  • 6.0 Gaming
Mixed Usage 6.4

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.

Critical Listening 7.6

Above-average for critical 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 critical listeners, and their bass performance varies a lot depending on your head shape and if you were glasses which makes them a bit inconsistent.

Commute/Travel 5.7

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.

Sports/Fitness 5.2

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.

Office 6.5

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.

TV 6.5

Good for home theater use. These headphones are made specifically for watching movies. They have a good, well-balanced sound and a decently comfortable design that you can wear for hours. They also have the lowest latency out of the RF series, which means they rarely have any sync issues when watching videos. They also have enough range to comfortably watch tv from your couch.

Test Results

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
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.

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.

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.

6.7 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 4.9 C
Cable
Detachable : Yes
Length : 7 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS

Comes with a 1/8" TRS audio cable and a power adapter for the TR 165 transmitter.

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Headshots 1
Headshots 2
8.2 Bass
Std. Err.
:
2.7 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
10 Hz
Low-Bass
:
2.71 dB
Mid-Bass
:
2.41 dB
High-Bass
:
3.24 dB

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. Also, their bass delivery varies significantly across users, and is sensitive to the quality of fit, seal, and whether you wear glasses. The response here represents the average bass response and your experience may vary.

8.8 Mid
Std. Err.
:
1.54 dB
Low-Mid
:
-0.89 dB
Mid-Mid
:
-0.23 dB
High-Mid
:
1.47 dB

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.

7.6 Treble
Std. Err.
:
3.85 dB
Low-Treble
:
-3.86 dB
Mid-Treble
:
-0.89 dB
High-Treble
:
-4.46 dB

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.

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.

6.6 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
Correlated Crosstalk
:
0.5 dB
8.0 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.74
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
0.32
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
2.43
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
5.06
7.2 Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
:
1.041
Weighted THD @ 100
:
14.302

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.

5.5 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-13.17 dB
Bass
:
-2.07 dB
Mid
:
-12.33 dB
Treble
:
-26.08 dB
Self-Noise
:
18.38 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 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
6.8 Wireless Range
Obstructed Range
:
23 ft
Line of Sight Range
:
121 ft

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 (see our recommendations for the best wireless TV headphones).

8.9 Latency
Default Latency
:
46 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A
7.2 Battery
Battery Type
:
AAA (X2)
Battery Life
:
24 hrs
Charge Time
:
N/A
Power Saving Feature
:
No
Audio while charging
:
No
Passive Playback
:
No

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

0 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
:
N/A
NFC Pairing
:
N/A
0 Wired
OS Compatibility
:
N/A
Analog Audio
:
N/A
USB Audio
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
:
N/A
PC Compatible
:
N/A
5.4 Base/Dock
Type
:
Wireless Dock
Optical Input
:
No
Line In
:
Yes
Line Out
:
No
USB Input
:
No
RCA Input
:
No
PS4 Compatible
:
Audio Only
Xbox One Compatible
:
Audio Only
PC Compatible
:
Audio Only
Power Supply
:
AC Adapter
Dock Charging
:
Yes
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

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