Bingeing on your favorite TV shows into the wee hours is fine and all if you live alone. If you don’t, doing so with the volume turned up could create some late night drama you’d rather avoid. Loud gunshots, booming explosions, and deafening screams just aren’t things people enjoy hearing when they’re deep in slumber.
Some people have gone around the problem by buying Bluetooth-equipped TVs and using their Bluetooth headphones. While it works well enough, it isn’t perfect, with latency issues occasionally throwing the audio a little late to what’s happening onscreen. It won’t happen often, but for content with conversions and samplings required, this can cause annoying quirks to the viewing experience.
In the last few years, Sennheiser’s RS line of headphones have risen to become one of the best solutions for that problem, as they let you listen to the TV with headphones on by simply hooking up the accompanying 2.4GHz transmitter whose latency can go as low as 60ms. If you’ve resisted picking up dedicated headphones for your TV this entire time, the Sennheiser Flex 5000 might offer a more suitable way to indulge those late night predilections.
A wireless audio system, it lets you use any wired pair of headphones to watch TV while you’re plopped down on the couch without having to use a cable that goes from the TV all the way across the living room. That way, you can watch Daredevil on your 4KTV at full volume without creating a ruckus that’s likely to wake up the wife, the kids, the dogs, and maybe even the neighbors during particularly explosive scenes.
Send and Receive
The Sennheiser Flex 5000 consists of two wireless components: a transmitter that stays by the TV and a receiver you carry with you. The former hooks up to the TV (or the stereo system) either via a digital optical input or a 3.5mm AUX port, all while requiring to be plugged to a power outlet during operation. The latter, on the other hand, has a jack for your headphone cable, as well as an integrated battery that’s rated at 12 hours of use in a single charge. When not in use, the receiver can be docked right on the transmitter, which also doubles as its charging hub, so there’s a good chance you’ll never encounter running out of power. That is, of course, unless you’re on a 24-hour Netflix marathon, in which case, draining the battery might be a good cue to take a nap. The good news? It can build up a charge good enough for two hours of use after 30 minutes of being docked, so you don’t need too much time to get back to bingeing.
As you can imagine, this setup simplifies the long-existing problem of enjoying the TV using headphones. No more running long cables, moving the couch closer, or turning the volume down to barely tolerable levels. Even better, you can use the best pair of headphones you have available around the house – the kind you’ll normally bust out for indulging your audiophile predilections.
It uses the same 2.4GHz frequency as Sennheiser’s RS headphones, complete with 8-FSK modulation, making it a true CD-quality transmission. That means, superb audio quality going right into your headphones, ensuring this will deliver way better quality than any other option in the market.
As far as design goes, the transmitter resembles an oversized remote, with a size that should allow it to slip in under the TV. The receiver, on the other hand, looks like a thumb drive with a clip on its back that you can fasten to your clothing to free up your hands, so you can eat popcorn while chugging a beer while checking your phone while watching TV. Yes, we do see people forgetting to remove it from their clothes after viewing, so it might be something worth attaching one of those Bluetooth locators on.
From the transmitter, you can adjust the left/right balance and sound enhancement equalization, so you can tweak the setup somewhat to swing the sound to your liking, while the receiver holds a pair of volume buttons. There’s also a choice of three different sound profiles, which automatically tailors the equalization to make it ideal for listening to either TV, movie, or music. One of the most unique additions to the system is a feature called Speech Intelligibility, which, when activated, adjusts the audio feed from the TV such that it lowers both background noise, ensuring you can hear the dialogue a lot more clearly.
That last bit of function will be particularly useful for movies where the sound effects and background can feel overwhelming. Same with videos where the dialogue doesn’t seem sufficiently loud, giving you a way to understand scenes that you would otherwise just pass on without a better way to listen.
Even better, the system can function in distances up to 200 feet, so it should stay functional, regardless of which part of the room you park in. As long as you stay within line of sight of the transmitter, you can even slide to the kitchen to make yourself a sandwich or slip to the mini-bar to mix yourself a cocktail without losing any part of the sound.
Your Favorite Headphones
The Sennheiser Flex 5000 ships with a pair of Sennheiser’s MX 475 ear buds, which combines a lightweight build with a bass-driven sound. It’s a terrific pair of ear buds, with a deep and clear sound that most people wouldn’t mind using for TV viewing, although its main market has always been on-the-go smartphone users.
Of course, the big advantage of this setup is that you can use it with any pair of wired headphones, whether it’s your beloved planar-magnetic cans or a ridiculously expensive luxury unit. That means, any headphones you have now or will have in the future will work perfectly with this thing, ensuring you can continue to use it as you upgrade to better gear through the years.
Available now, the Sennheiser Flex 5000 is priced at $139.