The Sennheiser RS 5200 is aimed particularly at older TV viewers and those with hearing problems. With this model, the manufacturer offers a straightforward, wireless solution that explicitly addresses the requirements of this customer group.
It’s a shame, but mostly true: with increasing age, both hearing and keeping up with technical innovations diminish. That’s why Sennheiser has developed the RS 5200, a pair of headphones that are designed to be uncomplicated to use with a TV, while still offering the convenience of a wireless link. In the chin-bar version reviewed here, the Sennheiser RS 5200 is an alternative to the more expensive Sennheiser RS 195 over-ear model.
Connecting the Sennheiser RS 5200
You might wonder why you might need a special pair of headphones like the Sennheiser RS 5200. After all, in many cases, headphones can be connected to a TV via Bluetooth. This is often the case, but not always, as older TV models, in particular, do not provide Bluetooth. Alternatively, a long cable does the job; in practice, however, this often turns out to be a potential stumbling block.
The primary purpose of the Sennheiser RS 5200 wireless headphones is therefore to transmit sound with the picture. The source device is the TV, which feeds the RS 5200’s base station with an analogue (3.5 mm or Cinch) or digital (optical) audio output – via supplied cables directly from the TV’s corresponding outputs. A Scart adapter for older models is also optionally available.
The base station now “transmits” the incoming sound to the headphones with low delay (latency) and good resolution – completely automatically and without any further adjustment. This is not a conventional Bluetooth connection. The resulting sound is supposed to surpass Bluetooth in terms of quality and also act quickly, which is relevant for the picture-sound synchronicity – the keyword here is sound offset.
The levels of the RS 5200 can be controlled independently by setting up their own audio path via two large buttons on the headphones. Depending on the TV and the audio output used (usually the optical output), you can additionally use the TV’s loudspeaker, if the rest of the family are also watching, for example. This solves the classic problem where the volume level is too loud for one person but too quiet for the others.
The technology of the RS 5200 is implemented in a straightforward and age-appropriate manner. The wireless link is established automatically. The flat base station with its own power supply functions both as a transmitter, for function control and as a charging station for the headphones, and the replaceable battery offers a whopping twelve hours of runtime with three hours of charging time. That’s enough for all three parts of Lord of the Rings!
Different sound profiles for hearing impairments
Hearing impairments require compensation of the frequency response and often higher listening volumes. The Sennheiser RS 5200 addresses both these issues. A large function button on the base allows the user to choose between a neutral sound programme and three profiles that adjust the frequency response in the treble and bass ranges and also add dynamic compression. In contrast to the RS 195, with this model, Sennheiser does not refer to insights from the development of hearing aids. Also, with three hearing profiles, the RS 5200 offers less choice than the RS 195 and, according to the description, focuses more on the peripheral areas of the spectrum and not on the mid-range. However, the integrated compression also provides improved results for corresponding hearing losses. Ultimately, you can choose between three pre-sets in this category. However, the unit also allows compensation for one-sided hearing losses by controlling the balance between the left and right stereo channels via two buttons. This makes sense, although I missed having a value display. The centre position can be found again via a short command. A nice feature is that the selection of the profile and the balance setting is permanently adopted.
But that’s not all: a small button on the headphones allows you to call up a function that can be switched on, which places the focus of the playback on voice reproduction and banishes noises and background music into the background. Complete cancellation does not take place, but in my opinion, it would also not be expedient.
Worth noting: If required, up to four RS 5200 headphones can be paired with the base, each with its own settings.
The focus of the Sennheiser RS 5200 is age-appropriate hearing, convenient functionality and good sound quality. In reverse order, the sound quality is spot on. The dedicated wireless link works stably and over long distances (up to 70 metres). In principle, it is even possible to connect the base to hi-fi devices to enjoy music.
I was also convinced by the functionality: the RS 5200 automatically establishes a wireless link. The handling is comfortable and the function and level control are implemented in a way that suits the target group. Function indicators and status tones support the operation. The listening profiles seemed sensible to me, as did the balance control. The additional circuit for improved speech intelligibility delivers efficient results and is even visualised by a colour change on the base. Furthermore, hardly any sound penetrates to the outside and the unit switches on and off automatically simply by opening and closing it. When the film is over, you just place the headphones on the base station to recharge the battery. Very nice, very straightforward.
The wearing comfort is also relevant. The chin bar concept (stethoscope bar) is certainly unusual in terms of shape and thus definitely a matter of taste. Thanks to the lightweight construction and several fitting pieces made of silicone and memory foam, the wearing comfort is high and largely pressure-free, even during longer movie nights. By having the strap under the chin, instead of a headband, any problems with glasses are eliminated and your cherished hairstyle remains in place.
For me, the comfort of wearing these headphones was dependent on the sitting and lying position. In addition, the plastic construction transmits structure-borne sound to the ear canals. There was rustling caused by touching clothes or blankets, but also if you eat food it interferes with the listening experience.
With regard to the sound itself, I would like to limit myself to talking about the positive impression made by the wireless system in a neutral position. The RS 5200 delivers a full and balanced sound without annoying harshness. However, these are not conceptually hi-fi headphones. Music consumption is possible, but rather less relevant.
The circuit for better speech intelligibility delivers practical results and brings dialogue to the fore as desired. I can’t really speak for the efficiency of the hearing profiles – here, I recommend that interested parties go to a specialist dealer, as hearing problems vary according to the individual.
So, is the RS 5200 now a pair of headphones aimed solely at senior citizens? No, not necessarily. During my test, I had a lot of fun listening to loud films in the evening. I didn’t disturb my roommates, and I didn’t have to pause the film to pop to the fridge to stock up on snacks.
The Sennheiser RS 5200 has a lot to offer older TV viewers: a good, reliable wireless link, age-appropriate operation, good sound quality with the additional option of compensating for hearing impairments as well as switchable increased speech intelligibility. All this is available without annoying cables and at a reasonable price of 249 euros. The extent to which you appreciate the chinstrap design remains a question of taste – but Sennheiser also have over-ear solutions on offer if required.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)15 - 16.000 Hz
- Sound pressure level (SPL)125 dB
- Weight without cableReceiver (incl. batteries): approx. 61 g; transmitter: approx. 235 g
What's in the box
- RR 5200 - Headphones with integrated lithium-polymer battery pack
- TR 5000 - Transmitter and docking station
- Power supply unit with country adapters (EU, UK, US, AUS)
- Audio cable with 3.5 mm jack plugs
- Optical cable
- RCA adapter for audio cable
- Silicone ear pads (S/L), memory foam ear pads, open foam ear pads
- Operating instructions