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Sennheiser’s RS 220 package is basically a combo of the HDR 220 headphones and the TR 220 dock. And it is one huge box they come in! Our experience with most wireless headphones till now has been a serious case of two halves - lots of potential with some bit of deliverance on that, but disappointing when compared to a wired headset in the same price bracket.
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Look & Feel
Let us talk about the Sennheiser TR 220 dock first - Black finish throughout, with a glossy one on the front, and a matte one on the back. The idea is to let this be the charging station for the headphones, as well as the connectivity hub. Though it is quite big, the slim design doesn’t betray that at first sight. On the front are two touch sensitive keys – power and source. Above each are the status indicators – power, charging and source. To change the source, all you need to do is press the source touch key repeatedly, till the desired input is selected. The dock widens out towards the top, with extensions resembling wings at the top. The silver connectors on this are the ones that will charge the headset when in place. This entire area has a glossy black finish, which is a massive fingerprint and dust magnet – proved repeatedly in the time it was with us for review. Turn the TR 220 around, and you will see an immediate change – the matte finish has seamlessly replaced the glossy finish. The back is clean for the most part, with the connectivity ports on the base.
The HDR 220 feels very well built, and does play its role well for the most part. There is the velour padding for the area around the ears, instead of traditional foam. The result – very comfortable to use even for long durations, and keeps the ears cooler than what most other headphones offer. The headband has a generous amount of foam padding as well. The generally big size of these headphones means the ears aren’t stressed or crushed. However, some people will complain that the overall form factor of the HDR 220 is a little too big. For sitting up straight and for most listening sessions, the form factor isn’t an issue. However, try listening to this lying down, and it isn’t really possible. More so because of the buttons on the lower part of each earcup are prone to accidental presses. The grille design is quite unique, though isn’t very different from the designs we had seen on Sennheiser headphones till now. Less of chrome, and more of the black grille design means it is less cleaning hungry!
Overall, we must say it straight – the overall package looks and feels premium, even though it isn’t even pretending to be more upmarket with fake wood and stuff. We like the simplicity of it all, yet feels like an aggressive design, particularly the HDR 220.
Features & Performance
Setup is quite simple – pair once and you are good to go. Sennheiser uses a proprietary wireless system. Post this one time pairing, you just need to ensure that the base unit is powered on when you want to use the HDR 220. On the HDR 220 is the power key that needs to be pressed for 2 seconds to switch it on. While the snaking design of the various keys on the device looks brilliant, it isn’t very comfortable to use. First off, the design is just to play to the gallery, and don’t need most of the area as a button, actually! Secondly, the placement means you cant rest your head on a pillow while lying down, else running the risk of unknowingly pressing one of them. Third, you cannot use them in darkness, and the placement means you can never really trust your fingers to remember the location of each. However, if you have set the things in order, you can get down to listening to some tunes!
And this is a delightful experience. Sound quality truly justifies the humongous price tag. Audio is extremely clear, and the details are apparent as well. Strong performance for the lows and the highs, but the mids sounded tinny for the most part. Treble handling is the real cherry on the cake – clarity is excellent, without being harsh on the ear. This is very evident when listening to a heavy metal track. Luckily, the HDR 220 is a purely neutral beast, and is equally comfortable with varying content. Unlike some bass heavy headphones, the HDR 220 ensures that the bass thump is adequately matching the rest of the frequencies, but mind you, it will kick in hard when needed. Some headphones dress up the bass as muddy, in the garb of trying to appear neutral, but this one doesn’t do that kind of eyewash. Even when you push the volumes to higher levels, clarity remains very much in tact, and the reproduction of the track doesn’t miss out on any elements.
The only niggle with being neutral is that it will not appeal to a certain demographic - those who we lovingly call bass addicts. They would still go for the Beats Audio headphones. However, anyone and everyone who listens to music without that much thump will appreciate what the HDR 220 brings to the table. Being neutral is typical Sennheiser. It will appeal equally to someone who listens to anything between pop, rock, trance, house or anything vocally intensive as well.
The design of the earcups do enough to ensure that most of the ambient noise is blocked out. Even though these aren’t noise-cancelling headphones. However, sound does leak quite a bit, and the person sitting next to you will be able to hear what you are listening to, most of the time.
Sennheiser claims that this has a range of 30m indoors, but that claim fell flat on its face. The headset lost connectivity with the base unit after 12m, with one door in the way. Technically, 30m will be possible in direct line of sight, but don’t think that will be possible most of the times when indoors.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the RS 220 combo is a delight to use. The sound will delight anyone and everyone who isn’t a bass addict. However, what will put off a lot of potential buyers is the price of the device. This is meant truly for someone who carries the “audiophile” tag on the shoulders.
Contact: Sennheiser India