REVIEW Sennheiser RS 120 II Wireless Headphones

Discussion in 'Audio Visual' started by Ratzz, Feb 22, 2019.

  1. Ratzz

    Ratzz Member

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    Review: Sennheiser RS 120 II Wireless Headphones

    https://en-au.sennheiser.com/wireless-headphones-stereo-rf-rs-120-ii

    Note that in the stock image below, the headphones are mounted backwards for some reason. You can see by the curves that they actually sit more naturally and compactly the opposite way around, although they will charge in either orientation.
    [​IMG]
    Preface:

    I'll begin this review with a disclaimer. I appreciate good music. That said, my family doesn't like me playing it loud in the house.

    Consequently, the best stereo I own is in my car, which is predominantly Focal. Its very high powered, with a great full sound with excellent sound staging consisting of Focal splits in the front, with Focal's trademark extremely bright trebles and cracking mids.

    The rear deck is used mostly as fill, and I have the speakers biased towards the front 70-30. The rear deck has a pair of Alpine Type R Coax's which have very strong, quite deep mids.

    The front speakers are 170Wx2 RMS, the rear speakers share an Amp (both Amps are Focal 170Wx2 RMS - after bridging - they are actually 85Wx4 RMS) with the subwoofer. The rear speakers receive 85Wx2 RMS, although with the speakers biased heavily towards the front, I'll throw an uneducated guess out there and say that I am actually using perhaps 25W x 2 RMS of that power for the rear speakers.

    That takes care of 2 of the 4 channels on the second Amp, the other 2 provide a bridged 170W RMS signal to a Pioneer 12" subwoofer, in a proprietary box.

    So, that's my benchmark. I'm by no means an Audiophile in the strictest sense of the word, although in my younger days I did possess a set of AR speakers with a Hafler amp and Preamp, with a Linn-Sondek turntable, so I have owned and appreciated high end sound. In their day, that system was worth as much as a decent secondhand car.

    When it comes to cans, I've never owned a DAC or a high end set of headphones. These entry level Sennheisers are in fact the best (but not the most expensive) cans I have ever owned, although I've certainly listened to some very high end stuff and been suitably blown away by the sound, so I do at least have some point of reference in that respect. My source is the onboard sound on my ITX B350 AM4 motherboard.

    This review is biased towards HiFi stereo, not gaming. I couldn't and won't offer any sense of the heightened spatial awareness that is required for gaming, as I don't game. I can and will offer an opinion on spatial awareness in movie playback however.

    Comfort:

    Comfort is excellent.

    Clamping pressure is light to medium, and with the 3 very different size heads in our house, all were able to find a comfortable fit very easily. Although the cans do not swivel horizontally at all, they do have ample swivel vertically.

    I find them to be quite light, my wife thinks they are heavy, She however never uses headphones at all, so that could explain that opinion. My stepdaughter finds them to be a comfortable weight though, and although she uses only low end in-ear headphones (such as provided with low end smartphones), she had no problem with the weight, fit or comfort.

    These are on-ear headphones. I prefer these, as I find over-ear cans to be hot and sweaty, and I hate putting things in my ears so would never buy in-ear headphones.
    If I have a complaint at all with the comfort of these cans, its that the pads are constructed of some kind of open cell foam which after some time can be a little scratchy on the ear. I think I'd prefer some kind of fabric instead.

    Practicality:

    Practicality is insanely good IMHO.

    With a run time of about 20 hrs, they have no difficulty in hanging in there for the longest of sessions. The supplied charging cradle/transmitter is very easily used, and provides a very compact and effective way of both storing and charging the cans.

    The manual says that a full recharge of the supplied NiMh batteries is 18 hrs, which seems a terribly slow charge, but as they are on charge whenever not in use, this is, so far for me, a total non-issue.

    On the left ear sits an off/ switch. One annoying thing is that when you switch them on, initially they begin with a strong hiss. Until a sound or video file is opened, this hiss will continue, until about 30 seconds later, when if a source file is not opened, they will automatically shut down. Similarly, if a video or music file ceases playback, after about 30 seconds they will begin hissing again for 30 seconds or so before completely shutting down after a further 30 seconds or so.

    On the right lower is a tuning dial. It only takes a second to dial them into the source. Why a tuning knob is necessary is something I don't understand though, since the source wireless signal is the transmitter that comes with the headphones.

    If I had to take a guess, its so that you can use an alternative transmitter if required, such as a phone. Since these are not bluetooth however (they use an FM signal) I'm not sure what phone or common device one would be able to connect to.

    I was initially concerned that this dial would regularly be moved instead of the volume dial which sits on the right upper, but the volume dial comes easily to hand, and I have not at this point managed to accidentally spin the wrong dial.

    The charging cradle has a pair of standard keyways on the back surface for wall mounting. I inserted a couple of screws into the side of my wooden computer case, and drilled a hole through the case for the source cable and power supply, and the cradle/transmitter fits snugly and securely to the case.

    The cradle is designed in such a way that the cans drop easily onto the cradle without actually touching the case, or protruding beyond the cradle/transmitter. By far the easiest and most compact charging and storage system I've had up till now. The cables can also be routed down rather than through the wall though of course, so they can be wall mounted if desired.

    [​IMG]

    They are charged by a very small wall wart, with a removable jack which plugs into the rear base of the cradle/transmitter.

    Signal is provided by a pair of 3.5mm jacks, which I use via the provided 2 into 1 adapter into the speaker jack on the back of my PC. I don't have a headphone jack due to my having a custom case with no dedicated headphone jack, and I wouldn't use it if I did anyway, since plugging the transmitter into it would disconnect my speakers, which are currently using the passthrough audio out jack on my monitor as a source, and I simply select the source on the taskbar rather than having to plug jacks in and out.

    A 3.5mm to 6.5mm adapter is also provided, although I have no use for it.

    The cradle/transmitter end is also a removable (3.5mm) jack. Of course if you are using an external DAC, you will use the separate jacks rather than the 2 into 1 adapter necessitated by my source.

    These cans are not very portable though, if you want to pack them. They do not fold at all. I'd recommend them only for home use.

    The wireless range is spectacular. With the transmitter on one end of my house, and 4 walls between the transmitter and the front door, I can go through the front door and virtually to the end of my 65m driveway with no detectable loss or degradation of signal.

    Previous headphones I have used begin shitting themselves immediately I pass through my solid steel front screen door.

    I can also take these cans out to my galvanised shed in the back yard, close the door so I am completely surrounded by steel, and notice no difference in signal quality whatsoever, about 20m from the transmitter in that case. This is also the only set of cans I have ever owned which work in the shed with the door closed.

    Sound:

    The first word that comes to mind is clarity. Damn these things are good. No muddiness, no frequency bias. They are just crystal clear throughout their range.

    Bass is perhaps a little lacking. If I take into account the 28Hz lows of my 12" car sub, and try to guess what the best lows these cans can provide, I'm going to go with about 60Hz. The specs claim a frequency response of 22Hz-19500Khz, but they certainly cannot provide 22Hz to the ear.

    Perhaps I'm being unrealistic hoping for better for a relatively cheap set of on-ear headphones, but yeah, more bass would be nice. Still, the clarity of these cans just make them so nice to listen to, I actually don't care much.

    Stereo separation is excellent. They also provide nice bright trebles, cracking mids, and sufficient bass, and no weak spots at all all the way down to the bass floor.

    I've been playing a wide range of music on them, including ACDC, Pink Floyd, Tracy Chapman, Supertramp, Metallica, Deep Purple, Suzi Quatro, The Cranberries, The Doobie Brothers, classical, jazz and pop. I've even tried them with Hermans Hermits and a few other 50s/60s bands and some of my step daughters country and western crap. I haven't found a genre yet which they sound bad on. I'm listening to ZZ Top as I write this review, sounding good.

    Spatially, they work well for video. I can hear footsteps behind me, cars approaching from behind, passing me and disappearing into the distance ahead of me, etc, quite well. How accurate this spatial awareness is for gaming though I am unable to comment on. Perhaps not as good as a pair of dedicated gaming cans, I am not in a position to judge, but for video, they are very good.

    Volume wise, they are certainly as loud as you could reasonably want. You couldn't listen to them at full volume for extended periods, put it that way.

    When volume is high, there is significantly more external sound bleed than previous cans I have owned. This is probably due to the very open on-ear foam design, as opposed to the cups I am used to. My wife has commented that she can certainly hear my music more than with previous cans, when at high volume.

    There is no noise cancelling or other trickery. For my purposes, this suits me well, as I prefer being able to hear people talk to me when volume is low. At more than quite low volume though, the immersion is sufficient to make noise cancelling completely unnecessary IMHO.

    Value:

    These were $147 at Officeworks. They punch WAY above their weight in this price range. The construction appears very decent quality, the charging cradle/transmitter is great, and the sound is very, very good considering the price.

    Conclusion:

    I would have no hesitation in recommending these to anyone but the most committed audiophile as the perfect set of wireless headphones for home use. I'm going to subtract a point for the annoying hiss when they have no source file playing, and another for the slightly scratchy foam earpads. Given the low price though, that's about all I can really fault them for, so they earn an easy 8/10.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2019
  2. OP
    OP
    Ratzz

    Ratzz Member

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    Further to this, and addressing most of the minor complaints I've had with these headphones. My complaints are that they are (only slightly) lacking in bass, the sound bleed which means my wife hears the cans more than previous ones I've owned, and the slight scratchiness of the foam pads.

    I've found a solution to all of these issues, which I will buy and report back on. It seems I can buy replacement pads, with full cushioning, which claim to improve bass. They will also, being full cushioned on-ear pads, have less sound bleed, firmer clamping, and hopefully take away the scratchiness.

    The pads on these headphones are removeable from the plastic retainers, and these replacement cups will just go straight onto the original retainers. At least, this is the impression I get from the sales blurb. I've examined the pictures of these replacement cups and my headphones very closely, and I am 100% confident these will fit. So I'm going to buy some, via Amazon for piece of mind. I've seen the exact same product listed at Banggood (cheaper), so I suspect this supplier is simply a reseller, but I feel more comfortable purchasing via Amazon AU despite them being internationally sourced.

    Nature Land Candles (via Amazon) replacement cups - $16.34 + $8.48 delivery

    [​IMG]
    I'll report back when I've received them and tested them out. If they do as claimed, I can overlook the hiss (simply opening the source file before I switch on the headphones solves this problem anyway) and I am inclined to think I'll be able to offer a 10/10 rating for them, at their price point, even including the extra cost of the aftermarket pads. Time will tell !!
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2019
  3. OP
    OP
    Ratzz

    Ratzz Member

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    Ok, so I have been using the replacement ear pads for some time now. I did go with the Banggood version to save a few bucks though. These were reasonably cheap over ear things (although it has to be said, they are actually pretty decent too), which have pretty much made the headphones over ear rather than on ear, not something I would have preferred, but a better option than the originals as it turns out. They can get a little sweaty after many hours of use, and I do use them for many hours daily, so that's a bit of a downside.

    Installation was a breeze, the old pads simply peel off with a small vinyl overlap stretched over the inner side of the speakers. They will be easily refitted if required, no damage was caused by removing them, and the new 'muffs' attached in the same way.

    The bass is noticeably better with the more enclosed muffs. There is considerably less sound bleed to annoy Eva, she can hear them at medium/high volume but not enough to detract from her listening to her youtube movies on her little 3W speakers where she sits a metre to my left.

    I in turn can listen to her speaking, and hear her speakers, with my headphones at low volumes, but not at any more than about 60% volume or so. The trebles are unchanged, but the mids and bass are improved significantly compared to the original on ear pads.



    I did come across one issue though. The pads, which attach to the headphones with a twisting action, were not sufficiently tight, so I found that occasionally a pad with its plastic base would actually fall off the headset. Annoying.

    I solved it with a small dab of silicon on the inner plastic base, which stopped them from falling off but does not have sufficient physical strength to prevent them from easy removal with the designed twisting action. I won't have to remove them for some time of course, until either the replacement pads wear out or the included rechargeable lithium batteries which sit in the left ear eventually die, in a year or two I assume.



    I cannot say how long battery life is, or even how long they take to charge, as I haven't actually had flat batteries yet. The charging cradle means that they are charging anytime they are not in use, by simply putting them on the convenient cradle.

    I'm finding this quickly became a habit, so much more convenient than plugging in a USB cable, so its not something that gets forgotten.

    I spend many hours daily with the headphones on, perhaps as much as 14hrs daily.. but in stretches of only a few hours at a time of course. I leave them on if using them in the house.. I can wear them to the toilet, to the carport, inside the shed.. uninterrupted listening anywhere on my property basically, regardless of walls or even in the metal shed out the back with the door closed. Very impressed with the range, and I can hear no difference in quality, no crackles or interference, regardless of where I roam.



    I purchased a secondhand Asus Xonar DX sound card for a paltry 30 bucks on this forum, which I am using as an audio source. This is to get past the onboard sounds limitation of either speakers or headphones but not both. I wanted two actual separate sources so I could leave them both plugged in permanently, choosing my source via the taskbar sound rather than having to switch cables around. Of course this is necessary as once my custom wooden case is finished, the only external cable will be the power cable. I'd have to take the back off to switch between sources.

    The Xonar DX is no doubt also a contributing factor towards the improved sound of the headphones.



    In conclusion:
    These are far from audiophile headphones. They are what I would call 'adequate'. I'd maybe prefer extra volume, but you get what you pay for. The controls are very intuitive and easily handled while on ear.

    Fortunately I am perfectly happy with 'adequate' as their primary use is movies and youtube. They also do an 'adequate' job at music too, with excellent stereo separation and reasonable but not fantastic positional surround. Probably again, 'adequate' for gaming too, but not being a gamer I cannot offer a definitive opinion on that front. They may or may not have sufficient positional surround for gamers. Its reasonable, but I've heard better. At the price, the convenience of the charging cradle and an adequate sound are major pros for me.

    Something that I would consider a con though is that the source RCA cables are hard wired. The power cable is a removable 3.5 jack (at the receiver/cradle end), but the audio source cables are hard wired. The headphones come with an 2xRCA<>3.5mm adapter, but its a clunky solution. I would personally prefer a 3.5 jack into the transmitter/cradle rather than hard wiring, so I could use a more appropriate (for my purposes) 3.5<>3.5 cable.

    A further con is that I would highly recommend removing the original on-ear scratchy pads and installing over-ear muffs as I have. Something Sennheiser should have provided to begin with, the pads were 10 bucks shipped from China, I wouldn't consider it unreasonable to expect that Sennheiser could have included such an option bundled, to give me a choice between one and the other. I'd have been happy to pay a little extra for this, particularly as I have no doubt that the pads would have been at least slightly better quality than the ones I bought.



    Overall, I'm very happy with them now with the replacement muffs attached though. Fit and clamping pressure are pretty much perfect for my average sized head and ears. I have quite long hair too, this also does not present any problems. The larger muffs cause no issues with the cradle either, they still sit easily and nicely on the charge cradle, and well clear of the charging base.

    I'm going to give them an 8/10 AT THIS AU$147 PRICE POINT. Factor in an extra amount for better pads/muffs of course, mine were only 10 bucks but you might prefer better, assuming you can find better.

    Clearly they would be more like 3/10 vs a set of really nice cans and a decent DAC (and yes, I have experienced high end setups), but that's more than I need or am willing to pay. At this price point, for my purposes, they represent pretty good value.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019

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