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829 of 840 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 30, 2005
Verified Purchase
Audio choices are obviously very personal, so I hesitate to recommend anything too strongly here. Tastes and tolerances differ so greatly, and wireless audio products really seem to push those differences. Maybe some of my needs and wants will match yours, maybe not, but please consider my thoughts here in light of the many personal qualifiers that I add. Those qualifiers may or may not relate well to your own situation. By the way, my apologies in advance for such a long review, but I really appreciate details when researching audio gear. I thought you might, too.

BACKGROUND
I'm about as picky as they come when sound is the issue. I have a small home recording studio, with 30 years of experience as a semi-pro musician (jazz, rock, classical, country). That said, I approach every musical equipment purchase with thorough research and comparison. Since I already have good wired phones (Senn 280s, Audio Technica M50s, and others) in my studio, I wanted some wireless cans mostly for moving around the house and yard while listening to music from my home stereo system, kind of a self-indulgent luxury. I've read enough to know that any wireless models using a radio signal (the best type of signal if you'll be in a different room than the transmitter) will produce some hiss and pop on occasion. I accepted this fact before buying. Still, I decided I would not accept something else: poor sound quality, in a musical sense. Two of the sub-$200 phones with rather consistently high reviews (in magazines and online) were the Senn 130 and 140 models. So I ordered both models to compare them in the privacy of my home. (I paid about $115 for the RS-130 and $135 for the RS-140; be patient because the prices here fluctuate often.)

TEST EQUIPMENT
A 100-watt/channel JVC receiver and JVC CD player--both typical (low-end) home stereo components. To suit my personal tastes for EQ, I boosted some at 16 kHz (to add air to the highs) and at 60 Hz (to add depth to the lows).

FOR MUSIC NOT TV
I've used these cans mostly for listening to music, which usually masks any low-grade background noise. TV use, with its emphasis on dialogue, would be demanding in other ways, so I'd defer to other reviewers for feedback concerning that application.

POINT OF REFERENCE
The entry-level price for a decent set of wired (corded) cans is roughly $100. The price of these wireless Senns, especially the 130s, isn't much more.

LIKES
Musically, both models sound as good as I'd hoped except for their shy response at the extremes (see Test Equipment above). Still, when I've been wearing them while working outside, I sometimes have to stop what I'm doing, raise the volume, and just listen for a while. They sound that good. I wouldn't use them in my studio, but considering the low price and mobility, I'm very satisfied. As I'd read, the open-back 130s sound (and look) a bit like Senn's popular 580 audiophile (wired) model--open, smooth, warm, and most of all, pretty well balanced. The closed-back 140s have a similar sound, maybe a bit boxier, overall, as is typical of closed cans. I think that some folks (such as heavy rock n' rollers, rappers, computer gamers, the hearing impaired, and even office workers) might prefer the 140s for their enhanced isolation, but I found the 130s, which offer the spacious open-back sound that made Senn famous, to provide the flatest, truest sound, overall. After a lot of back and forth listening to verify my impressions, I kept the 130s. The 140s would be a perfectly acceptable alternative, though. The differences are minor.

Both models are cushy comfortable, and the features and controls are top-notch. I've never liked surround-sound simulations and the like, so I can't comment on that feature (130s). But I find everything very simple to use, and all works fine. Like easy? Hang these Senns up and they turn off and charge automatically. Press a button and they tune their reception and then memorize it, also automatically. The reception's very good, too, after I improved it significantly by moving the transmitter unit to a slightly higher shelf and trying the different freq-channel options. Remember this if you buy. Also remember to boost the source volume plenty so that the phones receive a strong signal. (By the way, I've read that you may experience greater interference noise if you live in a congested area, which I don't.)

DISLIKES
No review would be complete without some criticism and warning, so here's mine. Above all, choosing musical equipment involves personal tastes, which vary greatly, so try to listen before buying. Trust your own ears. If you do buy either Senn wireless model, you should expect some hiss and pop and hum at times, usually just when you move around, but almost certainly if you head outside or into another room far from the base unit. (The stated spec of "up to 150 meters" seems laughable.) You may even notice the sound strengthen and weaken on occasion. In this price range, at least, I think you'll need to accept such reception problems or else stay with wired cans. Period. Wireless freedom is never perfect, is it? Beyond that, I wish these cans were as snug-fitting as my Senn 280s, which grip my head tightly. These wireless phones are like light pillows, very comfortable since they sit 'around' the ears (not 'on' the ears), but I'd bet that some folks with smaller heads could find them to be a bit loose when walking around. And finally, another obvious point--bad or good, depending on your situation--is that the 130s (which I prefer in terms of smoother, truer sound) are open-air cans, meaning that you'll hear your family if in the same room. That's good for staying in contact but bad if you want to get away from outside noise. The closed 140s are certainly better for blocking out a barking dog or not disturbing a nearby loved one.

COMMENT ABOUT INTERFERENCE PROBLEMS
If you're not already totally sick of me, you can check out my reaction to the interference problems that some users report here. (Click on 'Comments' below.)

OVERALL
All in all, both models of these phones admirably meet my picky expectations although being realistic about the limits of low-cost wireless sound was a necessary starting point. Nah, these wireless phones aren't perfect, and they're certainly no match for good wired cans, but I think they offer impressive overall performance for $100 plus change. An enthusiastic '4 and a 1/2 stars' and a lot of brag from me. Well done, Senn. Happy listening, all.

P.S. TO ANYONE WITH HEARING LOSS
If you have reduced hearing, particularly in one ear, you should probably choose the RS-140 model. The addition of the closed back (for isolation), L-R balance control, and compression switch (to equalize the overall volume) could be helpful.

NEED MORE RESEARCH?
Head over to "Consumer Search" online for a master summary of pro and consumer reviews of wireless headphones, including these. (The Senns do very well.)

UPDATE (2011)
A quick update, more than six years of frequent use later: no surprises, no regrets. I stand by my review fully. I did find one time that the headphones didn't work, but a quick jiggle of the audio input in the base unit brought them back to life. True, as some folks have noted, there is indeed annoying interference at times but usually just when moving around in another room or outdoors. That's only a minor limitation for me but clearly a deal-breaker for some people (although some of them, I suspect, haven't boosted the source volume enough). But the surprisingly good music quality and thoughtful design at this low price point is the real story here for me and my primarily musical needs. If you eventually decide to give the Senns a try, just be sure that you can easily return them if they don't fit your own needs and limits. I typically return about half of the audio equipment I buy, even after thorough research, and have learned the value of a simple return policy. Good luck to you.

DISCLAIMER (2011)
I notice that the price has nearly doubled since when I wrote my review, and that would change things for me. If I had this much to spend on wireless cans, I'd likely opt for Senn's new RS-180 model instead.
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77 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2006
Verified Purchase
To begin with I live in a very busy area in NYC and in my home I have a 3 system wireless computer network, 2 wireless phones, wireless PS2 controllers, wireless Xbox360 controllers, 3 cellular phones and now I have added 2 Sennheiser RS 130 headsets. You can imagine I was concerned with interference, popping and static especially after reading some of the reviews of the 130's on this site.

To be very honest it was anything but the case. Amongst all the wireless items in my house I get crystal clear sound with little to no problems. The signal strength on the head phones is phenomenal as I can even take the trash out and not miss a word from my TV shows. The sound quality is just as good as my wired headphones and the head phones all though large are very comfortable and after hours of wearing them I hardly notice there still on.

I have had the headsets for close to two months now and on the very rare occasion that I hear static all I do is hit the scan button and the problem is solved. The only technical issue I had with the headsets was during the initial setup. When using both headsets at the same time the set in my basement entertainment room was picking up some of the signal from the head set a floor above in my bedroom. This only occurred when I had the head sets on channel 1 and channel 2. To resolve this issue I set the basement set to channel 1 and the bedroom set to channel 3 and I have had no issues since.

My only other issue besides that is just as others stated with the poorly placed volume knob that occasionally gets moved when I shift my pillow in bed. It doesn't occur enough to put tape over the knob but if it did that would be my solution as it's a small inconvenience and doesn't justify not purchasing a great wireless headset.

Overall I love the headphones! They are a phenomenal buy and at around half the cost of the Best Buy price you can't go wrong buying them off Amazon. I never write reviews but ive been so happy with my two 130 headsets that I felt I needed to share so others could also join the wonderfull experience.
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71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2006
Verified Purchase
My hearing isn't as good as my wife's, so to end the hassle of trying to find a TV sound level that we can both live with, I bought these headphones.

On the positive side they produce relatively good sound that carries a long distance. You can trot off to the kitchen or bathroom and hear the TV all the way. I also love the way you recharge these by just hanging them on the rack on the transmitter. The volume control is also a must have.

On the negative side I find periodic static - every couple of minutes - whenever I use them, and I sit about 12 feet away from the TV set. My feeling is that their primary usefulness is in watching TV. When I use my stereo system to listen to music I use the speakers or another set of cabled earphones.

It was hard for me to rate this product as I do find the phones to be quite useful. On the other hand I would not use them for music. I have two other Sennheiser cabled headphones sets that I paid roughly $40 and $170 dollars for. Both of them provide much better sound than the set being reviewed.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2006
Verified Purchase
The Sennheiser RS130 headphones really are truly a great product. I placed the base on top of my big screen and have the unit plugged into my headphone out on my receiver. It only took a moment to make the proper adjustments and now I can hear crystal clear audio anywhere in and outside of my house. I haven't really tried to see just how far they will go, but I know I have a big corner yard and the sound remains very clear to at least the edge of my yard.

My main reason for getting these was not to listen to music though. I am a bit of a night owl and really tired of my wife and children griping at me to turn the TV down at night. AND, I want to watch my movies in surround. The surround option on the phones is just ok. I have never been a big fan of SRS surround, but I am sure there are some people who like it. I use my receiver's headphone surround option and the headphones sound fantastic. I get a nice large sound stage that really takes you out of your head.

The only downside I have, and the very slight knock on these is that after you listen for a long time the headphones get a little hot around the earpieces. I am referring to the fabric, and not the electronics though. And, the cooler your room is the less noticeable this is.

One other slight knock -- if your source material is extremely dynamic, like an action DVD, you need to enable the midnight compression modes on your receiver if you are going to listen to it in surround mode. The quick, high dynamic ranges can cause just a little bit of distortion -- this is not evident at all though in plain stereo mode though.

I also love the open design. As long as I am not listening at full blast I can easily hear my wife or kids call me from the other room, and can conduct conversations without having to take the headphones off.

The battery life is also great, I have yet to come close to running the battery down, even with using the RS 130's all day.

Until a manufacturer produces an affordable wireless headphone solution with true Dolby Digital and DTS surround decoding these are the best your going to get -- And you will fall in love with these headphones and not want to ever give them up.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2006
I purchased this item primarily for use when viewing TV and movies. It very effectively blocks outside noise such as the air conditioner which was my main intent, but I also found the quality of the sound was so good that I was able to clearly hear low spoken conversations and subtle background sounds that I would have otherwise missed.

There is a "surround" button, which for me, just seems to add a level of reverberation and does not significantly add to the overall quality, so I leave it turned off. Others may find this a nice feature.

I found the earpiece padding to be fairly comfortable and can easily be worn over eyeglasses without any problem. Having the on/off and volume controls on the earphones is very convenient.

Soon after I received the headphones, I ordered a second set. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that both headphones can work off of one transmitter. This enabled me to hook one transmitter to my cable box and the other one to the DVD player. To me this is important, since the quality of the sound from the TV audio out jacks is not nearly as good as the audio out from the Cable box and DVD player. It therefore, eliminates the need to swap cable connections to achieve the highest quality sound.

Overall I am very pleased with this item and would highly recommend it.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2005
Finally a wireless headphone with good range and decent fidelity. This headphone compares in sound quality to Sennheiser's wired headphones but has some low level noise during quiet passages and limited dynamic range.

I owned the RS-120 but they were uncomfortable and even though the range and sound quality is similar to the RS-130, this headphone is extremely comfortable and the auto tuning feature is great. The SRS feature is nice for certain music and movie listening.

Another reviewer was incorrect in that there IS a channel button on the side of the headphone, which allows you to pick the clearest channel.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2005
I have had these for a week now and have put them to the test as far as sound quality goes. I listen to many types of music and these sound incredible across all genre! The surrond sound brings guitar and piano alive! I am very impressed. I hooked them into my DVD player and they sounded great as well. I am very picky and bought and returned several pair, but these are keepers!!! They are VERY simple to charge, and operate. The only con in my oppinion is that they are big. They are not heavy or uncomforatable, just big.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2005
We live in a bungalow duplex that does not have central air, so at night my home theatre had to be turned down because it would disturb anyone trying to sleep because we couldn't shut any bedroom doors. I bought these and couldn't be happier!

The sound is excellent, and the range is very good. I walked outside to the far corner of our backyard, and experienced very little distortion.

They are very light and easy to wear, and the material on the earpads is soft and breathable, so I have not experienced any uncomfortable warmth when worn for longer periods of time.

The charge stand is great for storing them and keeping them ready to go. Auto on and off feature....what else could you want?
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 12, 2006
Verified Purchase
I have hearing loss that requires me to wear hearing aids. If I turn up the TV so I can hear everything, my family has to leave the room to avoid hearing loss. Now I can watch TV with my family and everyone can hear fine. These are very comfortable and the charger stand works perfectly. As far as the dynamic range, I can hear both lows and highs clearly with my hearing aids in "music listening" mode. I also do not get feedback in my hearing aids as I did some other headphones.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2007
Verified Purchase
I bought this product because my neighbor has a set and he was raving about how much better he could hear people talk in TV movies and TV programs. We are both hard of hearing and have a real problem with conversational speech when there is background noise such as large crowds or music. In a throw back to silent films some movie makers think they need to emphasize situations with background music instead of requiring the actors to portray the gravity of the situation. This makes it almost impossible for people with hearing loss to hear any of the dialogs. The RS 130 actually separates the voice sounds from the background noise and allows the listener to hear the dialog with the background noise really in the background where it belongs. The RS 130 works great for me and I would recommend it for anyone that has the hearing problems I experience.
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