The era of real audiophile wireless headphones are finally here. Wireless and audiophiles haven’t been too friendly at each other for a long time, but recently they have found ways to be reconcile their differences. Earlier today I also had the chance to audition the portable Sennheiser PX210BT headphone, which is the new entry portable wireless bluetooth headphone from Sennheiser. Me and several audiophile buddies were present at the auditioning session, and we were totally floored at how a bluetooth portable headphone can give such a rewarding audio experience, even when compared to wired headphones standard (more on the PX210BT headphone on another review).
Wearing a wireless headphone is a new experience for someone who’s been accustomed to wired cables like me. I’m sitting on my office desk writing while listening to the music, and when I need to walk over to the next room to pick something up, I need to take off the headphone. Not so with the RS180 headphone. The freedom you get from wireless is really one of the best invention in headphone technology we have. And listening to the RS180 today, I am quite confident that wireless technology is here to stay.
I first became intrigued by the RS180’s performance when Jude (Head-Fi’s boss) told me that he’s been enjoying music out of the RS180. And indeed, for most of us, it all boils down to the quality of the sound. Since I’m not interested in the gadget factor of the Sennheiser RS180, there must sound good before I want to write something about it. The sound signature is noticeably Sennheiser like, warm, full bodied, smooth, all this while preserving a clear but unobtrusive treble. Although the RS180 doesn’t quite have the level of refinement of the HD650 or the HD800, I definitely think that the RS180 will be easier to enjoy with a wider range of music listeners than the two reference-class headphones. Both the HD650 and the HD800 needs quite a beefy support of equipments before they can really shine, and even then the HD650 would still be too dark for some music, and the HD800 too neutral to be engaging for some other. The RS180 strikes a nice balance between the warm and full bodied Sennheiser sound, yet not quite as dark and as laid back as the HD650.
It has a nice and full midrange throughout the lower to upper mid frequency, and while the bass is not as high in quality compared to the HD650/HD800, the RS180 has fairly full low end body without being boomy. Overall, the tonal balance is very likeable, far more likeable than the reference HD650/HD800 models. Think of it as a lighter footed HD650. The sound doesn’t quite have the weight of the HD650, but at the same time it’s more nimble, less dark, and is more forward and engaging than the HD650. The RS180 is more or less similar to the HD558/598 when it comes to the overall refinement and sound fidelity factor. However, compared to all the Sennheiser I have in my possession: the HD800, HD650, HD598, HD558, and the HD555, the RS180 still stood out as having the most enjoyable tonal balance among the bunch. The difference is mostly in the midrange, where the fuller midrange of the RS180 makes it more engaging and fun, and less dark than the other Sennheiser compatriots (with the exception of the HD800). It is indeed interesting that Sennheiser chose to fit such a fun sounding tonal balance for its wireless model, but at the same time not making it available on the wired models. As it is, the RS180 stands out very strongly due to the tonal balance. A HD650 replacement with an RS180 tonality would be a big hit, I’m sure.