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We have an incredible staff of people who know more about headphones than I could ever imagine, from which wireless headphones are worth your money to which headphones have the best ANC (it means “active noise cancellation,” I had to Google it).
I am not that person. I couldn’t tell you what a kilohertz is and I often mispronounce “bass,” but if there is one thing I consider myself an expert in, it’s translating technology for other generations.
I proudly taught my parents how to use their Amazon Echo, and every time I go to grandma’s house, I’m on “please fix what I did to the TV” duty. I pride myself on finding tech I know my relatives will be able to navigate—which is why I was thrilled to get my hands on the Sennheiser RS 5000 headphones.
They’re a simple pair of headphones anyone can use to hear what's on their TV—as loudly as they need—without disturbing anyone else in the house. They make an incredible present for those who want to hear their television more clearly. And—importantly—those who have someone who understands technology who can set them up.
What makes these TV headphones different
The Sennheiser RS 5000 TV headphones work similarly to most other pairs of TV headphones—they pair with your TV and transmit audio to the wearer. But this pair doesn't require any technical know-how to operate, with a volume control box that hangs down for easy adjustment anywhere in the room.
While many sets of TV headphones feature over-ear cups, this headset is built with buds that extend in a Y shape, providing the flexibility of individual ear buds without the wearer having to worry about them falling out. Plus, it comes with an assortment of replacement buds so the user can find their perfect fit, providing an even more customized TV watching experience.
I tested this pair of headphones with a group of adults ranging from 28 to 87 years old, with each of us using the headphones to watch a football game and a Lifetime movie, noting the differences in quality between programming. For us, the star feature of the Sennheiser RS 5000 was the Speech Intelligibility function, which reduced crowd noise on the football game and made the announcers much easier to understand. It was a huge tick in favor of these headphones, but it took a group of seven adults hovering over an instruction manual to figure the feature out.
Overall, the Sennheiser RS 5000 headphones aren’t without fault, but they’re an excellent pair of TV headphones for those who enjoy watching their shows in their own space, especially if the wearer has specific auditory needs.
What I like about the Sennheiser RS 5000 headphones
Over the course of my testing, there was a lot to like about the RS 5000 headphones. They came in an incredibly attractive box that was easy to open and empty. Once we set them up, there were only three buttons we needed to teach my husband’s grandparents, Frank and Joyce, which made testing pretty simple. Plus, they delivered high-quality audio regardless of the channel, which is a huge bonus for users with varied tastes.
Here are some other great features I enjoyed about the Sennheiser RS 5000 headphones:
Frank and Joyce were fans, and even though they had some ideas for improvement, they were overall impressed by the headphones. We were worried there would be a steep learning curve and that the heavy base would cause the headphones to slip out, but neither of those things happened—the buds stayed in place while the base rested comfortably on both Frank and Joyce’s chests. Plus, Frank and Joyce both noted that the headphones were pretty comfortable to wear while lounging.
Frank used the headphones for the longest amount of time—he got comfy in his chair, dialed up the volume, turned on the game, and promptly fell asleep after just a few minutes. He didn’t drift for long, but he did note that the headphones were “pretty good.” He added that he may not have picked up the headphones on his own, but he’d love receiving them as a gift.
The Speech Intelligibility function is awesome
The Sennheiser website describes the Speech Intelligibility function in detail, noting that it “makes speech easier to understand by dynamically reducing background noise.” Essentially, you press a button and voices become more crisp. This feature was awesome, especially during the football game—but it took us quite a bit of time to figure out.
Initially, Frank wore the headphones and said the audio quality was great, but the crowd noise was too loud for his comfort. Once we adjusted the settings, the announcers became more clear and the background noise died down, making the game far easier for Frank to understand. The difference wasn’t quite as stark as we went to different channels, but still enough for us to vouch for this feature.
They work throughout the house
Obviously, if you’re using TV headphones, you want to ensure they work while you’re sitting on the couch. But these headphones have a pretty impressive range—the Sennheiser site notes that they work up to 70 meters away from the TV. As we walked around my in-laws’ house, we couldn’t find a spot where the headphones didn’t reach. This makes them a great choice for the active TV watcher—the one who likes to putter, grab a snack, or do a little cleaning while they watch.
They’re great for people with specific auditory needs
Frank explained that he and Joyce have two separate TVs, one for his shows and one for hers. When Joyce watches TV, she has to sit with a speaker right next to her ear because her hearing is not as strong as it used to be—but Frank’s hearing is just fine, so he watches TV with the volume at its regular settings. For Joyce, these headphones make a great alternative to sitting with her head inches from the speaker.
The battery lasts up to 12 hours
The long-lasting battery life is an important feature for both binge-watchers (hello) and snoozers like Frank, who may find themselves drifting off for a few hours with the headphones off the charger. The charging base both stores and re-charges the headphones, which makes for a seamless process.
They work with older televisions
These headphones come with two separate cables—one for older TVs with audio ports and one for digital TVs with optical connections. This means your grandparents who still swear by their tube TV can use and enjoy these headphones just as easily as someone with a smart TV could.
What I don’t like about the Sennheiser RS 5000 headphones
When it comes to audio quality, you can’t argue with the Sennheiser RS 5000 headphones. But there are a few areas where these headphones could get overwhelming for your giftee.
The setup is not intuitive
I definitely wouldn’t say it’s a dealbreaker, but the setup process involved more wires and guides than I’d trust my parents to handle. Among our testers, those between the ages of 28 and 62 had no issues setting up the headphones, but as my father-in-law, Gary, explained, “If Frank and Joyce saw the number of attachments in this box, they’d put it down and never open it again.”
If you’re considering gifting this pair to someone who doesn’t consider themselves technologically proficient, I would definitely recommend setting them up as part of your gift. I’d purchase this pair for my parents if could be there to plug them in, but I wouldn’t mail them these headphones and expect them to understand how to use them best.
You can’t quite set them and forget them
Every TV setup is different—at my house, our TV is wall-mounted above the fireplace. At my in-laws’, their TV is built into an in-wall cubby. For both setups, these headphones don’t fit well—they have to be manually plugged into the television and set on a surface where you could easily remove the headphones from the charging base. As you can see in the image above, we couldn’t find a great place for the station to go, so there are now loose wires covering the faces of my mother-in-law’s jaunty eleves.
Only one person can listen to the TV at a time
Since the headphones overtake the audio of the television, you can only have one person listening to the audio at a time. For a group of seven adults watching a football game, it’s not ideal—but for Frank and Joyce, who have their own dedicated TV setups, it’s perfect.
Some TVs have the option to route the audio to the speakers and the headphone/optical audio out ports at the same time, but some will not, so it's something you may need to figure out.
You have to deal with two remotes when watching TV
As soon as we got a Roku, my husband went out and bought a universal remote, because the idea of living with two remotes was just too much. If your giftee feels similarly, it may be annoying for them to have to now deal with two remotes—one for volume built into the headphones, and one for controlling the television.
Should you gift the Sennheiser RS 5000 headphones?
The Sennheiser RS 5000 headphones make a great gift for your grandpa, grandma, or anyone else who would love to have full control over their television volume. The headphone set is easy to use, comfortable, high quality, and delivers impressive audio. If you are gifting to someone who isn’t adept at technology, I would recommend gifting in person so you can help your giftee properly set up and understand their new headphones.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed.com: These TV headphones make an amazing gift for grandparents