Cheap and works, but you get what you pay for
Apr 5, 2012 (Updated Apr 9, 2012)
Review by alanp
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Works as expected, not expensive at all, headphones are pretty comfortable
Cons:MONO not stereo, battery cover is cheap, didn't come with AC adapter for transmitter
The Bottom Line: With the right expectations, this set of wireless headphones should be more than satisfactory for most buyers
My wife and I bought a small home gym recently and put it in front of our TV in the den. We thought the TV would be a great way to pass the time while working out, but unfortunately, the sliding of the weights made enough noise to cause us to turn the volume way up just to hear the TV clearly. The noise made by the weights wasn't enough to wake up our 1 year old, but the noise of the TV definitely was, so I wanted to invest in a cheap pair of wireless headphones. I started shopping and realized most RF wireless headphones are really expensive! I then came across these at Walmart for just over $30... and it came with TWO HEADPHONES! Deals like this usually mean a sub-par product but I decided to try my luck with it. Here is my experience....
Recommend this product?
What comes with it
The picture of the item showed two headphones and one transmitter in one big package, however when I received it, Walmart gave me two packages, each with one headphone and one transmitter... well I guess I have an extra transmitter now...
Moving on... I was actually impressed with the different types of cabling it came with:
1) 3.5mm to 2x male RCA cables.
2) 3.5mm to 2x female RCA adapter
3) 3.5mm to 1/4" adapter jack
The transmitters have a 3.5mm input jack, so with all the above accessories, you can basically connect just about any type of output to the transmitter, whether it's RCA, 3.5mm or 1/4".
Build quality / features
The quality of the transmitter is cheap and light, but I suppose there isn't much to it. It's pretty small, roughly 1.5"W x 3.5"H x 5"D. It can be powered off one 9V battery, or you can use an 12V AC/DC adapter which unfortunately doesn't come with it. The battery option is nice because you can bring it on the road, say in a car... but then again, in a car you could probably use a cigarette lighter plug if you really wanted to. Anyway, I had a extra 12V AC/DC adapter lying around and it just happened to have the right polarity, ground on the metal collar, and it outputted enough juice, at least 200mA, to power the transmitter. The transmitter has an on off switch with a LED indicator, which is nice... you can't expect an auto power off feature on a product this cheap. The transmitting antenna is situated pretty strangely though, it extends straight out the back horizontally. It transmits at a frequency of 49.xx MHz by the way which could be susceptible to interference, I haven't had any yet though. And as mentioned earlier, it has a single 3.5mm input jack.
The headphones were a lot more sturdy than I expected them to be. There is an on and an off button (yes two buttons, not sure why) on the right side, along with a volume dial and and LED power indicator. The left side houses the batteries, 2x AAA to be exact. Multiple headphones can be used with a single transmitter, I don't believe each headphone is specifically paired with a transmitter. Even though my two headphones came in different packages, they both work off a single transmitter simultaneously. This is nice because you can add as many headphones as you want, but if your neighbor ends up buying the same model, you'll no doubt get interference.
The headphones are quite adjustable, each side can extend quite a bit to accommodate the biggest of heads. I have a slightly above average size head and they are pretty comfortable when extended about 3/4 of the way out. There is nice padding over the bridge connecting the two ear buds. Your ears will likely get pretty warm over time since they cover your entire ear without much ventilation... keep this in mind, especially if you plan to exercise with them like I do; I ended up with some sweat underneath. Aside from that, the only other really bad part about the headphones is the battery cover. It is difficult to pull off, the tabs that hold it in are really small and easily breakable, and the little plastic nob that you move to unlock and remove the cover falls out very easily (though you can put it back on easily too). It's a very poor design, but unless you drop of shake the headphone very vigorously, it should hold the batteries in.
Sound quality is average. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is recording studio quality and 1 is AM radio, I'd give it a 5 or 6... but for the price, I can't complain at all. The volume dial on the headphone needs to be turned roughly 3/4 of the way to max to produce the same volume as wired headphones. However if you turn the knob beyond halfway, you will start hearing hissing when there is no music playing. Not a big deal because the music will drown out the hissing, but keep this in mind if you turn the volume all the way up and you are listening to a quiet passage of sound. UPDATE (04/09/2012): I didn't turn up the volume knob on the headphones up to max until yesterday... at max, there is a lot of distortion. My suggestion would be to turn the volume up at the source before the transmitter (if possible) before you turn up the volume at the headphones if you want louder output.
I walked about 25 feet away from the transmitter with two walls in between before the sound started breaking up a little bit. This was more than adequate for my needs. UPDATE (04/09/2012): I ended up putting the transmitter behind my TV instead of in front, and now I can't go much further than 15 feet without some static, 15 feet is still more than enough for me so I'm not changing my overall rating... but I just wanted to let everyone know it appears to be very susceptible to physical objects, or at least my LCD TV, blocking the wireless signal.
The biggest gotcha that I didn't expect was that it is MONO only, given that all the included accessories and wires are stereo capable. The left and right channels are summed up and played out of both sides evenly. Again, for the price, I suppose I can't complain.
I can't comment on battery life yet because 1) I don't use a battery for the transmitter and 2) I haven't used the headphones long enough to drain a set of AAA's yet. If I remember, I will report back about this later.
I'm pretty happy with my purchase, no regrets so far. It worked right out of the box, the sounds quality is adequate, and the range is reasonable. Since it came with two headphones, my wife and I can watch TV and work out at the same time. And as a bonus, we could use the extra transmitter for another TV in the house if we really wanted to. The only long term concern I have is that they will keep my ears too warm and the sweat could be detrimental to the headphones. So far it's not too bad, but we'll see. From a pure quality and performance standpoint, I would have given these headphones 3 stars, but since they were only $32.50 + tax for TWO, I'm going to give them 4.
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