Extend your Personal Multimedia Bubble with Wireless Headphones

by Barrett

Warning: Your world is smaller than you think.  If you can’t see it, and now you don’t hear it, does anything even exist outside your Sennheiser-induced Bubble?

Warning: Your world is smaller than you think. If you can’t see it, and now you don’t hear it, does anything even exist outside your Sennheiser-induced Bubble?

Once upon a time, I thought I knew what I wanted.
I craved tech that screamed bigger and louder.
Didn’t we all?

My dream was to create the ‘man cave’ where I’d have the biggest flat screen hanging proudly on my wall, bookended by some awesome surround-sound speakers.
What could be better than creating your own little movie theater from Elysium?

Then I became a parent, and of course my priorities shifted…
…along with how and when I consumed my media.

Good Bye Home Theater
Fast forward to three years later, and I’ve finally decided the only reliable way to consume a complete TV episode is to turn the whole equation on its head and forget about my aging 42” plasma screen.

The fickle fancy of consumer tech has been innovating in a different direction anyway.

Big is so yesterday…

Hello, Personal Multimedia Bubble
Today, it’s all about how small you can go!

  • Your shrinking smartphone
  • Your tiny music speakers
  • Your light laptop
  • Your pocket-friendly digital camera

This ongoing evolution of smaller tech allows your multimedia consumption to become ever more personalized ‘for your eyes only.’

The result is the creation of your own ‘Personal Multimedia Bubble.’

A good pair of noise-cancelling headphones, and you’re in your own world.

As a road warrior on my daily train commute, I’ve accomplished just that with my Bose headphones and iPhone.

Who needs a home theater, when you can watch whatever you want in your little mobile tech bubble wherever you go?

Extend Your Bubble at Home
And that Bubble has great value even when you haven’t left the house.

Today, people are consuming vast quantities of content on their smartphones and tablets from the comfort of home.

But the personalized multimedia experience served up for one isn’t a new concept.
Throw on a pair of earbuds and jack them into your computer, and you’ve got the same experience… just more tethered.

Which brings me back to the other immobile screens in your home.
Your TVs.
If they had feelings, I’m sure they’d be really lonely.
And very jealous of their tiny digital cousins you’ve been hanging out with lately.

I’ve got one little fellow to the left of my iMac in my home office.
He’s a cute, 21” Sony flat screen connected to my cable TV box.
I only have to swivel slightly to readjust my gaze between the two.

And he often sits there, dark… brooding… staring at my always-active iMac.

Even my three year old doesn’t ask to turn the Sony on.
He finds Disney programming on my iPad much more compelling.
(I’m not kidding.)

This TV’s only hope to avoid complete obsolescence is to join
the Barrett Bubble.

Wireless Headphones for your TV
Of course, the simple answer is just plug a pair of headphones into the TV.
That way, I won’t disturb the rest of my world when catching a noisy scene from The Bourne Legacy on HBO.

Here’s the problem:

  • My silly Sony TV doesn’t have a headphone jack.

The solution:

  • Time to buy a pair of wireless headphones.

How to Make the Connection
Cordless headphones usually roam free by relying on their transmitting partner/base to remain connected your audio source with an old-fashioned cable.

But without a headphone jack on the TV, you’ve got to access your audio source another way.
Typically, you can locate other audio outputs on the back of your TV or cable TV box via the following jacks:

  • Line audio outputs (2 RCA connectors)
  • Digital audio connections (Coaxial/Optical)

The Three Amigos of Wireless Headphones
Today, there are three wireless technologies to choose between:

  • Bluetooth
  • Infrared (IR)
  • RF

Bluetooth is all the rage, but the quality isn’t as good as the others.
IR is only a solid choice for shorter, direct line-of-sight distances
RF-based wireless technology is mature, but it can suffer from interference from other tech in your home.

All this said, RF appears to be the standard bearer if you want to own a great pair of wireless headphones.
(Supporting technologies like ‘Kleer’ enhanced sound quality have given RF wireless a boost of late.)

But it’s going to cost you…

There’s Always a Price to Pay
You can easily spend somewhere between $200-$600 for top-rated wireless headphones.
If you’re ready to break your piggy bank, there’s no shortage of suggestions listed on:

Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes
I like great tech as much as the next nerd.
But let’s be honest here:
Extending my Bubble to include my little TV isn’t at the top of my tech budget.
But I also don’t want to buy a cheap pair of headphones that hardly work.

As I considered my conundrum, I kept coming across a pair of old 900MHZ RF Sennheisers online that were once at the top of their class, but have long been bested by newer versions.

Sennheiser Saves the Day
They’re the Sennheiser RS 120.

They retail for $99 on Sennheiser’s website.
(They used to cost more.)
But you can pick them up on Amazon for $78.10.

They still get great reviews
And at that price point, they’re hard to beat.

Sure, they can’t compete with Sennheiser’s top-of-the-line RS 220 for $599.
But I don’t need them to rock my world.

I’m not building a home theater.
An empty tin can with a string would probably do if I could figure out a way to connect it.

As Scotty liked to say on Star Trek,
“The right tool for the right job!”

Click.

Little Sony flat screen- welcome back into the Bubble.

Crank up the volume!
What are we watching tonight?