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  1. Table of Contents
  2. Intro
  3. Design
    1. Style
    2. Comfort
    3. Controls
    4. Stability
    5. Portability
    6. Case
    7. Build Quality
    8. Breathability
    9. Cable
    10. Front
    11. Angled
    12. Side
    13. Rear
    14. Top
  4. Sound
    1. Bass
    2. Mid
    3. Treble
    4. Frequency Response Consistency
    5. Raw Frequency Response
    6. Soundstage
    7. Imaging
    8. Total Harmonic Distortion
  5. Isolation
    1. Noise Isolation
    2. Leakage
  6. Microphone
    1. Recording Quality
    2. Noise Handling
  7. Active Features
    1. Wireless Range
    2. Latency
    3. Battery
    4. App Support
  8. In the box
  9. Conclusion
  10. Q&A
Reviewed on Jun 20, 2017 , Marc Henney, Yannick Khong

Sennheiser RS 185 RF HDR
HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.1
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Test Benches:

  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
6.2
Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
7.7
Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
5.5
Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
5.1
Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
6.2
Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Open-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : No
Transducer : Dynamic

The Sennheiser RS 185 are comfortable, easy-to-use and have an improved sound over the RS 175 and RS 165. Their open design enhances their sound quality, but it also makes them less versatile than the already limited use of the RS series. They're leaky, they barely block any ambient noise, and you need the stand for the headphones to work, so they won't be practical for commuting or sports.

See our recommendations for the best for Home Theater.
Test Results
Design 6.0
Sound 7.8
Isolation 3.0
Microphone 0
Active Features 7.1
Pros
  • Low latency connection.
  • Good sound quality.
Cons
  • Poor isolation and high leakage.
  • Limited range and usability.
Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.

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6.0

Design

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Score components:
Sennheiser RS 185 Design Picture

The RS 185 feel a bit more premium than the rest of the RS series. They have better padding on the ear cups which are coated with a soft fabric that feels nice on the skin. They also have a slightly different color scheme than all the other models in this series. Unfortunately, they have some of the same issues as well. Their comfortable fit is somewhat offset by the poor pressure distribution of ear cups. They're also too bulky, and not meant for sports, or for outdoor use, especially, since RS 185 are open-back. Also, the stand takes an RCA and optical connection instead of a typical line-in.

Style
Sennheiser RS 185 Design Picture 2

The RS 185 have the same form factor as the rest of the RS series from Sennheiser. They come with a TR transmitter stand that also acts as a dock and a charging station. The RS 185, however, has open ear cups and different padding on the ear cups which makes them look slightly more premium than the RS 175 and RS 165. They also have additional buttons for Level and Balance control that are not on the rest of the RS series and a copper/brown color scheme instead of the typical black and silver of the other models. Overall, they're kind of bulky headphones not meant for outdoor use, so they won't be the most fashionable headphones, but their simple and utilitarian design will work for most.

7.5 Comfort
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What it is: Adjustability and degrees of freedom, pressure, stiffness and weight.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used for long durations.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Sennheiser RS 185 Comfort Picture
Weight : 0.67 lbs
Clamping Force
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What it is: The force that the headphones exert on your head, once you have them on. This is purely a measurement of the force applied, which does not take into account the earpad's surface area and the resulting pressure you will feel, on or around your ears.
When it matters: The tighter the headphones, the more force they put on your head. This can get uncomfortable or cause pain and soreness during long listening sessions.
:
0.9 lbs

The RS 185 are comfortable headphones with better padding than the RS 175. They have the same spacious ear cups but the padding on the RS 185 is covered in a soft suede-like fabric that feels nicer on the skin. Unfortunately, they also have the same issue of pressure being poorly distributed around the ear cup. After listening to them 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.

6.5 Controls
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What it is: The control scheme of the headphones, the number of functions provided, button layout and ergonomics as well as the quality of tactile feedback.
When it matters: If you want to control volume, pause your music or make phone calls without directly interacting with your audio device.
Sennheiser RS 185 Controls Picture
Ease of use : Good
Feedback : Good
Call/Music Control : No
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through : N/A
Additional Buttons : Balance Control

The RS 185 have an efficient controls scheme, but it's slightly limited. Like the rest of the RS series, they can not take calls or play/pause your music. However, the buttons provided are responsive and offer functionality for volume control, L/R balance, and a level button to toggle between automatic level control (ALC) and manual Level control (MLC). MLC can be directly adjusted with the dial on the stand.

5.0 Stability
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What it is: How the headphones are designed to prevent them from slipping off your ears or falling off your head.
When it matters: If you plan on using the headphones while doing sports or other physical activities that requires a lot of movement.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Sennheiser RS 185 Stability Picture

The RS 185 are not the most stable headphones. They're decently tight so they won't move much during casual listening sessions but unfortunately, their ear cups are heavy and sway a lot under physical activity. This means they won't be good headphones for sports or working out. Also, they need to be in range to their charging dock so sports in general with these headphones is impractical.

1.1 Portability
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What it is: The volume of space occupied by the headphones when folded into their most compact format.
When it matters: If you're often on the move and need to carry your headphones in a bag, purse , or pocket.
Score components:
Sennheiser RS 185 Portability Picture
L : 7.5 "
W : 7.7 "
H : 3.9 "
Volume : 225 Cu. Inches
Stand required : Yes

The RS 185 like the RS 175 and 165 are not portable headphones. They're quite large they don't fold, and you need the stand for them actually to work. You most likely won't be carrying them around on your person.

0 Case
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What it is: The provided carrying options to protect your headphones when transporting them.
When it matters: To prevent damaging your headphones, if you often carry them in your bag or pocket.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Type : No case
L : N/A
W : N/A
H : N/A
Volume : N/A

7.5 Build Quality
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What it is: Durability, material quality, cheap/expensive feel.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used by multiple users (classes/studios), by children, in tough conditions, on a daily basis, or for exercise.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Sennheiser RS 185 Build Quality Picture

The RS 185 use slightly more premium materials in their build quality than the RS 175 and 165. Like the previous models, the headband is fairly flexible and reinforced with a thin metal frame. The ear cups are also decently dense and don't feel as cheap as that on the RS 165 or 175. However, when compared to some other headphones in their price range, they do not feel as sturdy, or durable.

7.2 Breathability
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What it is: How hot the headphones get when you wear them for an extended period of time.
When it matters: If you often have long listening sessions or use your headphones while doing physical activities like running or working out.
Score components:
Sennheiser RS 185 Breathability Before Picture Sennheiser RS 185 Breathability After Picture
Avg.Temp.Difference : 3.6 C

Cable
Sennheiser RS 185 Cable Picture
Detachable : Yes
Length : 7 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS

Comes with a 1/8" RCA audio cable, an optical audio cable and a power adapter for the TR 175 transmitter.

Front
Angled
Side
Rear
Top
7.8

Sound

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What it is: How accurately the audio is reproduced. The tests are performed with the headphones' most commonly used features enabled (noise-cancelling, wireless, etc.)
Sennheiser RS 185 Frequency Response

The RS 185 are good sounding open-back headphones with an extended and consistent Bass, a very good Mid range and a decent Treble. However, their Bass and Mid range tend to be slightly muddy, and their Treble could be a bit sharp on already bright tracks. Additionally, they have a decent distortion performance and a relatively open Soundstage.

8.7 Bass
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What it is: Frequency Response from 20Hz-250Hz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on bass frequencies, such as those of kick drums and bass guitar.
Score components:
Sennheiser RS 185 Bass
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in bass frequency response (20Hz-250Hz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) bass performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.94 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
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What it is: The lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: Shows how extended the bass is.
Good value: <40Hz
Noticeable difference: 5Hz
:
19.15 Hz
Low-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 20Hz-60Hz.
When it matters: Kick drums and low frequency effects get their 'thump' from this range. Mostly felt than heard.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-0.93 dB
Mid-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 60Hz-120Hz.
When it matters: Melodic bass instruments have most of their fundamental frequencies in this range. This is where the 'body' and 'punch' of the bass sits.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.12 dB
High-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 120Hz-250Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments get their warmth and full-ness from this range. When over-emphasized, mixes tend to get muddy and boomy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
3.18 dB

Very good Bass Range performance. Low-bass is extended down to 20Hz, which is excellent. However, the response shows a bit of tilt towards high-bass with up to 4dB of overemphasis at 150Hz. The makes the sound of these headphones slightly boomy.

8.5 Mid
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What it is: Frequency Response from 250Hz-2KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on mid-range frequencies. This is the case for the majority of audio content.
Score components:
Sennheiser RS 185 Mid
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in mid frequency response (250Hz-2.5KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) mid performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
2.01 dB
Low-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 250Hz-500Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments have their fundamentals or low harmonics in this range. Over-emphasis in this range sounds muddy and cluttered. Under-emphasis, thins out the vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
2.68 dB
Mid-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 500Hz-1KHz.
When it matters: This range is occupied mostly by upper harmonics. Over-emphasis sounds forward and boxy. Under-emphasis pushes instruments to the back of the mix.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-0.85 dB
High-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 1KHz-2KHz.
When it matters: Most instruments, especially vocals, get their intensity and clarity from this range. Over-emphasis sounds honky and harsh, under-emphasis sounds weak and distant.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-1.32 dB

Very good Mid Range performance. The only remark here is the slight bump in low-mid, which is the continuation of the high-bass overemphasis, adding a bit of a muddy quality to the reproduction.

7.4 Treble
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What it is: Frequency Response from 2KHz-20KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on high-range frequencies, such as voice, cymbals, and any other material where brightness, brilliance and airiness is desired.
Score components:
Sennheiser RS 185 Treble
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in treble frequency response (2.5KHz-20KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) treble performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
4.03 dB
Low-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 2KHz-5KHz.
When it matters: Almost all instruments rely on this range for their presence, detail, and articulation. Over-emphasis can sound harsh and painful. Under-emphasis hurts the comprehensibility of vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
2.41 dB
Mid-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under emphasis in frequency response from 5KHz-10KHz.
When it matters: This is the sibilance range. Cymbals, vocals, and lead instruments rely on this range for brightness and presence. Over-emphasis sounds piercing and painful, under-emphasis sounds dull and lispy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-3.93 dB
High-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 10KHz-20KHz.
When it matters: This range gives brilliance and airiness to the sound. Over-emphasis sounds hissy, under-emphasis sounds closed-up and lifeless.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-2.72 dB

Decent Treble Range performance. Low-treble is overemphasized by about 5dB which makes these headphones slightly bright and forward sounding. The dip in treble has a subtle negative effect on the detail and articulation of vocals/leads and the peak around 10KHz could make these headphones a bit sharp on overly-bright tracks.

7.4 Frequency Response Consistency
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What it is: The amount of deviation of each frequency response pass, from the average frequency response.
When it matters: Shows how consistently the headphones perform after re-positioning them.
Score components:
Sennheiser RS 185 Consistency L Sennheiser RS 185 Consistency R
Avg. Std. Deviation
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What it is: The average amount of deviation in frequency response of 5 re-seats, from the average frequency response.
When it matters: Shows how consistently the headphones perform after re-positioning them.
Good value: <0.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.53 dB

Good Consistency performance. Unlike the closed-back RS 165 and RS 175 that perform quite poorly in terms of Bass Range consistency, the open-back RS 185 shows only 4dB of variance at 20Hz across our 5 human subjects, which is good. They also have a decent consistency in their Treble Range performance.

7.3 Soundstage
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What it is: Soundstage qualities are not inherent to the audio content, the headphones have to 'create' them rather than 'reproduce' them. They determine whether the sound is perceived to be coming from inside or in front of the head, how open and spacious the soundstage is, how much the headphones acoustically interact with the environment, and how strong the phantom center is.
When it matters: When an accurately produced, large and spacious soundstage, similar to that of a stereo loudspeaker setup is desired.
PRTF Error
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What it is: The average amount of deviation in Pinna-Related Transfer Function of the headphones, compared to that of a loudspeaker. Whether the soundstage is perceived to be unnatural, located inside or in front of the head, is dependent on this quality. The more the headphones activate the HRTF resonances of the ear (similar to what loudspeakers do), the more the soundstage will be pulled out from inside the listener's head. This quality affects both stereo and mono content.
When it matters: When a natural, in-the-front soundstage is desired, similar to that of a loudspeaker.
Good value: <5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
6.5 dB
Openness
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What it is: How open the headphones are, and how open and spacious they sound. This quality affects both stereo and mono content. This test differentiates between acoustically and electronically produced crosstalk and only takes the acoustically generated crosstalk into account. This value is the inverse of the Noise Isolation test score.
When it matters: When an open, wide and roomy sound is desired. A value of 10 indicates a fully open headphone, and a value of 0 indicates a fully closed headphone.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
8.8
Acoustic Space Excitation
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What it is: How loud the headphones are, and how much they excite their environment acoustically. If the headphones are loud and open enough, the sound leaking from the headphones takes some of the characteristic of its environment (reflections/reverb) before reflecting back into the open headphones and to the listener's ears. This quality affects both stereo and mono content. This value is the inverse of the Leakage test score.
When it matters: When an open, wide and roomy sound is desired.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
6.7
Correlated Crosstalk
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What it is: How strong and solid the phantom center is. This is mostly a stereo quality and its effects on mono content are minimal. This test is sensitive to the phase of the crosstalk and whether it is produced acoustically or electronically.
When it matters: When a true reproduction of the stereo image is desired. A value of 0 indicates no crosstalk, or that the existing crosstalk is not correlated enough to affect the phantom center. A negative score means the crosstalk is out of phase with the original signal, resulting in a slightly wider stereo image at the expense of creating a 'hole' at the center of the stereo field. A positive score means the crosstalk is in phase and positively affecting the phantom center.
Good value: >1dB
Noticeable difference: 0.3dB
:
0.0 dB

Decent Soundstage. Unlike the closed-back RS 165 and RS 175, the RS 185 has an open-back design which helps in creating a more spacious and open Soundstage. However, they don't have the largest and deepest ear cups and therefore can't activate the resonances of the pinna like speakers tend to do.

6.3 Imaging
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What it is: Imaging qualities are inherent to the audio content, the headphones have to 'reproduce' them rather than 'create' them. They determine how accurately the objects are positioned in the stereo image, and how transparent the imaging is.
When it matters: When accurate positioning of the objects in the stereo image, and clear and transparent imaging is desired.
Sennheiser RS 185 Phase Response
Phase Error
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What it is: The average amount of deviation in the phase, from the ideal flat response.
When it matters: When an accurate and transparent imaging is desired.
Good value: <60°
Noticeable difference: 10°
:
54.07 °
Driver Mismatch (Amplitude)
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What it is: The Left/Right balance of our test unit, that is, the amount of amplitude difference between the left and right drivers. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When a properly balanced stereo image and low manufacturing tolerance is desired. A poor score indicates a noticeable difference in level between the left and right drivers.
Good value: <0.3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
2.18 dB
Driver Mismatch (Frequency)
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What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the frequency response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance, is desired. A poor score indicates there may be 'holes' in the stereo image at certain frequencies.
Good value: <2dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
2.92 dB
Driver Mismatch (Phase)
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What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the phase response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance, is desired. A poor score indicates there may be inaccuracies in the stereo image reproduction at certain frequencies.
Good value: <90°
Noticeable difference: 30°
:
30.63 °

Average Imaging performance. Phase shift is minimal and most of the error won't be audible. However, our test unit measured more than 2dB of amplitude mismatch between the L/R drivers which is noticeable. We also measured about 30 degrees of overall phase mismatch with our test unit, which has a subtle negative effect on the stereo image of these headphones.

7.3 Total Harmonic Distortion
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What it is: The subtle, unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Score components:
Sennheiser RS 185 Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
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What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 90dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at moderate listening levels.
Good value: <0.100
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.933
Weighted THD @ 100
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What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 100dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at loud listening levels.
Good value: <0.300
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
6.846

Decent Harmonic Distortion performance. The overall amount of harmonic distortion at 90dB SPL is good and typical of most headphones. However, under heavier loads, there is a measurable rise in the amount of distortion in the Bass and Mid Ranges, while remaining within acceptable limits. But, the Treble Range seems to be immune to this rise in distortion at louder volumes, which is good.

3.0

Isolation

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Score components:

The RS 185 are the only open-back model of the RS series. While the previous models are not particularly quiet or good are blocking ambient noise, the fact that the RS 185 are open-back means they leak a lot more and prevent even less noise from seeping into your audio. They're not the ideal theater headphones if you have a noisy home environment and due to the higher leakage they're also not ideal if you plan on using them to not distract anyone close to you.

2.9 Noise Isolation
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What it is: How much outside noise is blocked out by putting the headphones on.
When it matters: If the headphones are going to be used in a noisy envinronment (airplane, subway, etc.)
Score components:
Sennheiser RS 185 Noise Isolation
Overall Attenuation
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What it is: The overall amount of environmental noise reduction in dB.
When it matters: In loud envinronments like planes, trains, offices, etc.
Good value: <-20dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-5.08 dB
Bass
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the bass range (20Hz-250Hz).
When it matters: When the outside noise is bass-heavy, like in airplanes.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
0.03 dB
Mid
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the mid-range (250Hz-2.5KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is mid-heavy, like in an office.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
0.42 dB
Treble
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the treble range (2.5KHz-20KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is treble-heavy. Although uncommon, areas with sharp sounds fall under this category.
Good value: <-30dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-15.39 dB
Self-Noise
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What it is: The amount of noise created by the active electronics of the headphones (if applicable), measured from 300Hz-20KHz. Applies mostly to wireless and noise-cancelling headphones.
When it matters: If too loud, it could become distracting when listening to quiet material like podcasts and audiobooks.
Good value: <16dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
14.85 dB

Poor Isolation. Due to the open-back design, these headphones don't isolate any noise below 1KHz. Above that, they achieve a mediocre 15dB of isolation which is typical of most open-back headphones. In our testing we also noticed that the RS 185 may be using a noise gate to suppress the self-noise produced by these headphones, which made measuring it quite difficult. However, due to the speed of the gate, the self-noise of these headphones shouldn't be an issue for most users.

3.3 Leakage
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What it is: The amount of sound bleeding out of the headphones.
When it matters: When the listener doesn't want people around them (in office, recording studio, etc.) to hear what is being listened to.
Score components:
Sennheiser RS 185 Leakage
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
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What it is: The amount of sound leakage heard 1 foot away from the user, while the user is listening to a 100dB SPL signal.
When it matters: When you don't want people hear what you are listening to.
Good value: <35dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
57.07 dB

Poor Leakage. The significant portion of leakage on these open-back headphones is spread between 200Hz and 20KHz which is quite a broad range. The overall level of the leakage is also relatively loud.

0

Microphone

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What it is: The microphone section shows the quality of speech capture and transmission by the mic, as well as how well the microphone under test handles noisy environments.
When it matters: For your speech to be transmitted to and understood properly by the listener, the microphone needs to have a good recording quality. If the environment the microphone is being used in is noisy, a microphone with a good noise handling performance would be needed as well.
Score components:
0 Recording Quality
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What it is: Microphone recording quality shows how natural, neutral, extended and intelligible speech would be with the device under test, in a quiet environment.
When it matters: A microphone with a good recording quality ensures that the person listening to you would hear a full, clear, and easily understandable speech. Therefore, it is important whenever a good quality of speech transmission and intelligibility is needed.
Score components:
LFE
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What it is: Low-frequency extension shows how deep the bass response of the microphone is, and therefore, how deep and full your voice would sound to the listener. It is the lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: LFE is not a big factor in speech intelligibility and even speech recorded with a mic that has an LFE of 500Hz could still be easily understood. Therefore, it is mostly important if you are concerned with how deep and full your voice would be heard.
Good value: <150Hz
Noticeable difference: 30Hz
:
N/A
FR Std. Dev.
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What it is: Frequency Response Standard Deviation shows how accurately and balanced sound is captured by the microphone at each frequency. FR Std. Dev. is calculated between LFE and HFE, and the rest of the spectrum is ignored.
When it matters: A good frequency response is desired when a natural and neutral speech quality is desired. As opposed to HFE which is more a metric for speech intelligibility, frequency response could be considered as a metric for a natural and neutral sound.
Good value: >3.5dB
Noticeable difference: 0.5dB
:
N/A
HFE
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What it is: High-frequency extension is the highest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response. It shows how extended the treble response of the microphone is.
When it matters: HFE is one the most important factors in speech intelligibility. The higher the HFE, the brighter, more open, and more extended the speech quality will be which makes it a lot easier to understand by the listener.
Good value: >8KHz
Noticeable difference: 1KHz
:
N/A
Weighted THD
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What it is: The unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies, which cause deformation of an output signal compared to its input.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Good value: <1.5
Noticeable difference: 1.0
:
N/A
Gain
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What it is: Shows how much louder the microphone can go above our reference loudness level. The gain value is reported relative to our reference level, which is 94dB at a distance of 5cm from the mouth.
When it matters: A microphone with a high gain is important when the input signal (speech) is very quiet. For example when whispering, or talking on the phone in a library.
Good value: >18dB
Noticeable difference: 3dB
:
N/A

0 Noise Handling
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What it is: How well the microphone is able to separate speech from background noise, so that the transmission would include more voice and less noise.
When it matters: When a clean and intelligible speech transmission is desired in a noisy situation like talking on the phone on a busy street or on the bus.
Score components:
SpNR
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What it is: Speech to Noise Ratio is the difference in level between speech and background noise as heard by the listener
When it matters: If the microphone is going to be used in a noisy environment, it is important for it to be able to separate the speech from background noise, so the voice would be easily audible and understandable.
Good value: >24dB
Noticeable difference: 3dB
:
N/A

7.1

Active Features

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What it is: Headphones with active components that require a battery. This includes noise cancelling and wireless headphones that actively reduce noise or transmit audio via a wireless connection.
When it matters: How suitable the power and wireless specifications of an active headphone will be, depending on your listening habits. The range and/or discharge time of the active headphone you select will be important if you're often on the move or have long uninterrupted listening sessions.
Score components:

The Sennheiser RS 185 have pretty much the same active features as the RS 175 and 165.  They have low latency for watching movies and use two rechargeable AAA batteries that can be charged directly with the stand. The battery life is decent at above 20 hours, but charging the AAAs takes a surprisingly long time when using the stand and varies depending on the capacity, age, and wear of the batteries. Unfortunately, radio frequency headphones, don't have the best range when obstructed so unless you're directly in front of your source you won't have the most stable and reliable wireless connection. 

7.4 Wireless Range
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What it is: Headphones that offer a cable-free listening experience over a wireless network, typically via Bluetooth or radio frequency.
When it matters: If you don't want to be limited by the length of an audio cable. This means having the freedom to move around in your home or office with a much greater range than an audio cable could provide, especially, if the Bluetooth source is heavy or difficult to carry.
Score components:
Type
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What it is: The type and version of the wireless network, the headphones use to connect to the audio source. This could either be Bluetooth or radio frequency.
When it matters: The Bluetooth version will determine how compatible the headphones are with your Bluetooth enabled devices. Typically, newer Bluetooth versions are backward compatible with older ones but may lack the additional features that more recent Bluetooth protocols provide.
:
Radio Frequency
Obstructed Range
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What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when the Bluetooth source was placed in another room.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in an indoor environment. Although, the obstructed wireless range will slightly depend on your home or office layout.
Good value: >35ft
Noticeable difference: 5ft
:
30 ft
Line of Sight Range
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What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when in direct line of sight of the Bluetooth device.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in a large and open environment.
Good value: 170ft or more
Noticeable difference: 10ft
:
140 ft
NFC
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What it is: Near Field Communication technology that allows you to quickly, pair your headphones with your Bluetooth and NFC-enabled device.
When it matters: This makes pairing with an NFC-enabled device a lot easier than the typical and often tedious hold-to-pair procedure that most wireless headphones have.
:
N/A

The RS 185 use radio frequency which gives them very low latency for watching videos and gaming. It also allows them to connect immediately with their transmitter stand as there is no pairing procedure, unlike Bluetooth headphones. However, when it comes to the range, radio frequency is not ideal as it's more susceptible to connection drops when the stand is obstructed. So unless you listen to your source in direct line of sight to the stand you may experience an unstable connection and a lot of drops.

8.5 Latency
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What it is: The latency is how long it takes for audio to play through your headphones once the audio signal has been sent from a source.
When it matters: When gaming or watching movies. High latency means you will hear the audio much later than the images you see on screen.
Score components:
Base Latency
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What it is: The Base RF latency or the default sub-band coding (SBC) of most Bluetooth headphones.
When it matters: When watching videos a high latency can cause sync issues between the images you see and the audio you hear.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15ms
:
55 ms
aptX Latency
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What it is: An audio coding algorithm (Codec) that improves bit rate efficiency. It reduces latency and improves sound quality over Bluetooth.
When it matters: For better sound quality if your often streaming music over Bluetooth. Also it slightly improves latency when watching videos with wireless headphones.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15ms
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
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What it is: Low latency variation of aptX that significantly reduces sync issues between video and sound when using Bluetooth headphones.
When it matters: When watching videos or gaming latency is a lot more noticeable than just listening to music.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 5ms
:
N/A

7.2 Battery
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What it is: The power source of your headphones. All headphones with active features have a battery that will deplete over time.
When it matters: To continue using the active features of your headphones. Some models lose features or switch off completely when the battery is drained, which limits what you can do with them until the next charge.
Score components:
Battery Type
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What it is: The type of battery that the headphones use. Usually AAA or embedded, Li-ion rechargeable batteries.
When it matters: When your headphones run out of power. Rechargeable batteries usually charge via the headphones Micro-USB port whereas AAA batteries have to be replaced or charged with an external device.
:
AAA (X2)
Battery Life
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What it is: The amount of time it takes for a headphones' battery to be completely drained. Battery life will vary depending on the active features used and volume level.
When it matters: For active headphones that connect wirelessly, have noise cancellation or other audio-enhancing features, that cease to work once the battery is dead.
Good value: >10hrs
Noticeable difference: 0.5hrs
:
22 hrs
Charge Time
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What it is: The amount of time your active headphones have to be connected to a power source to charge from 0 to a 100%. However, charging time will vary depending on your power source.
When it matters: To be able to use the active features of your headphones. Especially, wireless ones that completely switch off and need to be recharged when the battery is dead.
Good value: 2h or less
Noticeable difference: 0.25h
:
N/A
Auto-off
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What it is: A feature that turns off the headphones, after a set time, when they're not in use.
When it matters: To prolong battery life when the headphones are not being used, or if you forget to manually turn off your headphones.
:
No
Audio while charging
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What it is: Some active headphones remain usable while charging. They continue to stream audio and do not disable other active features.
When it matters: This makes sure that your headphones's battery are not being drained when your relatively close to a power source. However, this means wireless headphones will need a wired connection to the power source during the charging process.
:
No
Passive Playback
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What it is: Active headphones that still work when all their active features are turned off or out of power.
When it matters: If you run out of power and do not have spare AA/AAA batteries or access to a power source to recharge your headphones.
:
No

The RS 185 like the 175 or the 165 have a good battery life. They lasted about 22 hours and also use rechargeable AAA batteries that can be charged with the stand. Unfortunately it takes more than 8 hours for a full charge which is very limiting, but the charge time is heavily dependent on the capacity, age and wear of the rechargeable batteries. On the upside, 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
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What it is: The additional app provided to enhance your listening experience. They typically deliver a set of practical features that give you more control over the sound, noise cancelling and effects that the headphones produce.
When it matters: An app with a lot of features allows you to customize your listening experience to suit your taste and preferences. For example, additions like an equalizer can give you more bass or treble and room effects can simulate a bigger Soundstage in closed back headphones.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
App Name : N/A
iOS : N/A
Android : N/A
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
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What it is: Parametric, graphic or preset sound profiles that slightly alter the frequency response.
When it matters: If you want to tailor, your listening experience. Depending on what you're listening to you may want more or less bass for some tracks or more mid-range for vocals-heavy audio.
:
N/A
ANC control
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What it is: Control over the Active noise canceling technology. This could be either a simple on/off button, and adjustable slider or even adaptive self-regulating noise cancellation.
When it matters: If you're in an environment where you need to monitor your surroundings or completely isolate yourself from ambient noise.
:
N/A
Mic Control : N/A
Room effects
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What it is: Room effects that enhance the audio quality to make it more immersive.
When it matters: If you want to further tweak your listening experience. Adding room effects, can simulate a more spacious Soundstage or deliver a surround sound-like feel.
:
N/A
Playback control
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What it is: An in-app player that gives you access to play/stop, track skipping or volume controls directly with the app.
When it matters: It's a shortcut that allows you to control your audio without leaving the application.
:
N/A
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

In the box

Sennheiser RS 185 In the box Picture

  • Sennheiser RS 185 Headphones
  • TR 185 transmitter
  • Audio cable
  • Optical cable
  • (EU) power adapter
  • (UK) power adapter
  • (AU) power adapter
  • (US) power adapter
  • 2 AAA NiMH rechargeable batteries
  • Manual

Conclusion
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

6.2Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
The Sennheiser RS 185 are good home theater headphones, but they're not very versatile. The stand transmitter limits their use outdoors, and since the 185 are open-back headphones, they struggle even more in loud environments. On the upside, they're comfortable and have a good sound for critical listening.
7.7Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
Good for critical listening. They have a well-balanced sound and a more spacious Soundstage than the RS 175 or 165, thanks to their open back design. However, they also tend to sound a bit sharp on some tracks and their Bass may sound slightly muddy. Overall they deliver a good audio reproduction that should satisfy most listeners.
5.5Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Not suitable for commuting and traveling. Like the rest of the RS series, you must have the transmitter in range for them to work. That and the fact that the RS 185 are open-back makes them even less practical to use anywhere else but at home or at the office in front of your TV or PC.
5.1Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Not intended for sports. They have a fixed transmitter, and they're bulky and unstable. Also, you have to be in range of the transmitter which is very limiting for sports.
6.2Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
Subpar for office use. They have a decent line-of-sight range, and they're comfortable and easy-to-use. However, they're a lot leakier than any of the previous models, and they don't isolate because they're open-back headphones which make them unideal for quiet or loud offices.
Good for home theater use. These headphones are made specifically for watching movies. They have a good, well-balanced sound and an open and comfortable design that you can wear for hours. They also have relatively low latency thanks to their dedicated RF transmitter. They will rarely have any out-of-sync issues when watching videos and have a good enough range that you can comfortably watch tv from your couch.
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Questions & Answers

1 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
0
I see that you have rated the Astro A50 above the Sennheiser RS 185 for Sound and Critical Listening. Do you really recommend the Astro, based purely on sound reproduction? Does this hold up in subjective comparisons? It seems very unexpected to me that a more expensive product from a much more established audio-focused company would be worse than a gaming-focused headset, and other more subjective reviews I've seen don't match up with your ratings. However, if the Astro really is a diamond in the rough, I don't want to miss out.

Subjectively the A50 doesn't sound very different from the RS 185, but they are more comfortable, customizeable and better built, with their only downside being the battery performance. Also, the Sennheiser RS line is also starting to look outdated compared to the newer headphones, both aesthetically and feature-wise. So A50 would be our recommendation between the two.

In our experience, brand and price are not always good metrics for predicting a headphone's sound quality. There was even a paper published last year that didn't find any correlation between price and the perceived sound quality of headphones!

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