PORTABLE AUDIO Tired of getting tangled up in cables? I sure am, especially when rocking out and recording at home with my guitars. So I decided to get a pair of wireless headphones. When choosing a pair of wireless cans, there's a lot to consider other than the audio quality itself. After doing a lot of research, I figured out which the absolute best wireless headphones 2012 are, and what to get for the best bang for the buck.

Best wireless headphones 2012

Philips SHD9200
Philips SHD9200 - offering 3D surround sound.
If money is no issue and you want the best wireless headphones out there at the moment, look no further than the Sennheiser RS 220 - top of the line in Sennheiser's range. The RS 220 manages to offer a sound quality matched only by top-class wired headphones

These are open, however. If you need the kind of privacy only a closed set of cans can offer, Philips new model SHD9200 might just be something for you. Using the same digital audio transmission as Sennheiser, the Philips SHD9200 also brings 3D sound to the table, giving you that extra depth to you home cinema. Without waking up the neighbours.

Best wireless headphones for the money 2012

For the rest of us who can't, or don't want to, spend a minor fortune on a pair of headphones, here's some things to consider. After a lot of research, I eventually settled for a set of Sennheiser RS 160 myself, and here's why.

Digital transmission vs. analog radio (RF)

The higher models of Sennheiser's RS series seemed to be the best on the market if you wanted to cut the cable. I'm personally more of a Beyedynamic and Sony kind of guy normally, but the tech critics and audiophiles seem to agree on the Sennies' dominance on this wireless market. What's nice about them is that they use a proprietary digital transmission called Kleer, which theoretically gives you CD quality.

There are many cheaper wireless headphones out there, but these are usually older models relying on analogue radio transmission, meaning that the audio quality you can expect is that of traditional FM radio - at best. Like analogue radio, you might also pick up a lot of static, which constantly requires you to fine tune your cans for them to pick up the signal properly. So adding a few quid for some newer technology might be a good idea. There are other brands to consider that also offer digital audio transmission, but at the time being, the Sennheisers seem to give the most bang for the buck.

Sony MDR-DS6500 and MDR-FR4000K

Girl listening to music. Sony MDR-DS6500
Sony MDR-DS6500
If you plan on using your headphones mainly for movies, the Sony MDR-DS6500's would probably be a good choice, offering Digital Dolby as well as DTS surround sound in a portable format. These will set you back roughly £150 or somewhere in the $250-300 range.

If you still can get you hands on them, the older outgoing model MDR-RF4000K is also a good choice, if you happen to stumble upon it in some bargain bin. Currently sells for just above $100 on Amazon, which is a good deal! No surround sound feature in these, though.

Sennheiser RS 160 vs. 170 vs. 180 & 220

Sennheiser RS 180 wireless headphones
The RS 180 from Sennheiser doesn't look this shiny in real life.
Popular models among wireless headphones are also the Sennheiser RS 170, for a closed set of headphones, or the RS 180 if you prefer open cans. These will set you back about £179 / $260 or more. But for a lot less you can pick up the previous pair in the series, the RS-160, which was the first model in which Sennheiser incorporated their digital "Kleer" technology. These go for as little as £79.99 on Amazon UK (around $100-185 for the US), making them a real bargain!

The RS160 brings you a closed 'phones, like the 170's, and will look, feel and sound very much the same. For less than 80 quid, which is just the half of what the RS 170's currently cost you. As they're essentially they're the same product, apart from a few extra features that the higher model introduced (we'll get back to those differences in a moment), I settled with a pair of RS 160 myself, which I picked up for 1,095 SEK (300 SEK less than the 170's) at a local store here in Sweden.

So there's some options for you. Hope it was to any help for you.
In the next part, I'll review my new set of Sennheiser RS 160. Stay tuned for that!

/theJo

See also