Sennheiser RS220 advice needed – possible problem?
Jun 23, 2017 at 2:33 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4

Be3G

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Hi all,

This is my first thread here as a member, but I've found my way to this forum many times in the past when Googling advice for audio equipment and it's been a fantastic resource, so I'm hoping someone might be able to help with a bit of a problem I've got. :)

First of all, a bit about me for context: I'm a trained musician, but not an audiophile – so I can appreciate good sound quality in a pair of headphones, but not necessarily be skilled enough to articulate what it is that makes them good. I mostly listen to classical music, so I tend to prefer audio devices that provide a flat frequency response.

Last year I bought a pair of Sennheiser RS220s that Richer Sounds here in the UK had left after they'd been discontinued. I needed wireless headphones for my study, and I'd read that these were about as close as one could get to neutral wired headphones but without the cable. As soon as I started listening to them though something didn't seem… right. There seemed to be a lack of clarity/brightness to them, with everything sounding a bit closed-in and muddy even though they're open-backed. I found that I was turning the volume up higher to try to get some passages of music to sound more lifelike. I assumed it was just a case of my ears needing to get used to them though so I continued to use them but was never entirely happy, and as a result didn't really use them that much.

Fast forward to today. I recently purchased a pair of HD558s to use with my digital piano, and I've spent this afternoon comparing them to my RS220s. The difference to my ears is really quite substantial. Comparing the same pieces of music has shown that the RS220s seem to be really deficient in mid-to-high frequencies. So for example, when listening to cellos/basses in some string music the RS220s will sound boomy and a bit mushy, whereas the HD558s will sound more natural and have more ‘texture’ to the sound – i.e. you hear the slightly course sandpaper-y bow-against-strings sound with the 558s whereas the 220s lack that and therefore sound more synthetic. Similarly with flute passages the 220s lack the breathy sounds that I would expect to hear and the 558s supply.

Also, when trying the 220s plugged in to my digital piano it's a similar story: notes in the bottom couple of octaves sound boomy without as much of the detailed piano string rumble I'd hope for, whilst keys around/above middle C are really timid and make the keys feel heavier as I have to put more effort in to the right hand to achieve an appropriate volume, but even then they sound tinny compared to the 558s.

I've found that a quick fix to this problem when listening to music on my computer is to use iTunes' ‘treble booster’ EQ preset; doing that gets me the texture I've described above that was so sorely lacking. The sound still isn't great (no doubt I'd need to adjust the EQ much more precisely), but it's a start. Oh and I've tried both analogue and optical connections, with no discernible difference.

So my question is: do I have faulty headphones, or have I simply made a bad choice? I thought the 220s were supposed to be for serious listening and would cope successfully with classical music, but mine don't seem to. I don't suppose anyone on this forum has both pairs of headphones and would be able to let me know if the big difference I'm hearing between them is expected?

Thanks in advance for any advice received (and sorry for such a long post).
 
Jun 23, 2017 at 5:01 PM Post #2 of 4

serman005

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I haven't heard the RS220 but the reviews are pretty universally good. 'Although the sound does not have the analytic clarity of something like the AKG Q701, top end detail is good--and has the pleasant smoothness of the HD598...makes music and movies sound expansive and lush ,' Trusted Reviews, 4.5 stars out of 5.
'The Sennheiser RS220 is one of the best-sounding wireless headphones on the market, but its super sonics don't offset its ambitious price tag...' CNET
3.5 stars out of 5.

Neither of the above remarks sounds anything like what you are experiencing with your RS220. I wonder if you should take it by Richer Sounds and let them listen to it to give you their take. Based on the reviews it sounds to me like there is something not quite right about your headphones. You could always also send them back to Sennheiser and let them take a look. Either way, in my view, someone needs to have a look at them. Something is not right.
 
Jun 23, 2017 at 6:46 PM Post #3 of 4

HiAudio

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Something is wrong with your headphone, or the base or the transmission between them.

I have HD650 and RS220. The sound quality of the RS 220 is so close to HD650 that I could not tell the difference. My Only problem with the RS220 is that if I walked to a different room that there are two walls between the base and the headphone it may drop signal. If I only sit in another room with only one not too big wall between the headphone and base, the signal may keep stable.
 
Jun 24, 2017 at 9:28 AM Post #4 of 4

Be3G

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Thanks both for your insight. It's particularly interesting to read of your experience vs. the HD650 HiAudio – I don't have any 650s but have used them and know them to be excellent headphones. I'd be gobsmacked if they sounded the same as my RS220s!

I wonder how receptive Sennheiser will be to me saying ‘erm, I don't think these headphones sound very good’ in terms of wanting them looked at/repaired?
 

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