Philips SHE 9500 review

Philips SHE 9500

In the light of my recent stream of reviews, a review of a plain vanilla pair of earphones. Not so much because I want to review these phones, but simply to give you something to compare to the much better pair of Ultimate Ears I've been using as of March, 2008. These Philips earphones were originally bought by my girlfriend, who isn't very critical about sound quality. Which is perfectly fine of course. Saves her a lot of money smiley.

Specifications - Quoting Philips:

Frequency response6 to 23500 Hz
Input sensitivity102 dB/mW
Impedance16 Ω
ConfigurationSingle 10 mm dynamic neodymium speaker, mylar diaphragm
Input connector3.5 mm (1/8") gold plated

About these specifications. The frequency range is of course bull dung and very typical of budget earphones: literally incredible. For starters, no ear seal can couple 6 Hz to your ear drum. My ears are no measuring devices, but I am after all, an extended range bass guitar player and I like to see myself as one who knows his low frequencies. In my ears, these phones don't do much below 30-40 Hz. The amount of bass is pretty OK, but it's in the wrong places. More on that later. So, on to the high frequency specification: utter rubbish. I think the treble limit is no more than half the rated 23500 Hz. There's also a lot of harsh grit covering it up, but more on that later as well.

Accessories - Included with the earphones are a 60 cm extension cord, 3 pairs of different ear tips, a carrying pouch and a protection case that clips around the buds. Not bad at all.

Comfort - Very good. These things are very light, you won't notice they're there. But it all depends on the right tip. The cable guards of the phones are made of slightly flexible plastic, preventing them from snapping off.

Isolation - Moderate, once you select the right tip. This requires some experimenting, but shouldn't take more than 15 minutes trying all the tips. These are not really in-ear phones, and that's probably why they don't provide a lot of isolation.

Microphonics - Something to consider using any type of ear phones, is the sound from the dangling cables. The cable is made of some sort of silicone, which feels very nice and high quality, but it's sticky as heck. You can't put the wire under your sweater or coat, because the buds simply pop out of your ears; the wire gets stuck a lot. Consequently, you get a lot of rumble when walking, even when you let everything dangle freely.

Sound - Now, the most important part of this review: how do they sound? To put it mildly: you get what you pay for, but I've heard worse.

Sound quality is a very subjective matter. And music taste also plays a large part. So, first, I'll tell you where I'm coming from. I listen to pretty extreme music. Black metal, death metal, doom metal, that kind of stuff. And, as a musician, I own a home studio with a very neutral sounding, mostly digital, setup. I'm used to listening to music at high sound pressure levels. I've seen and heard a few pro studio mixing rooms and listened to a few very good head phones. So I think I know what good sound is. At the same time I know not to trust my ears as measurement devices, as the human ear can be very easily fooled.

Back to the question: how do they sound? I'll say it again: you get what you pay for, but I've heard worse. There's a lot of bass. Kick bass mainly, around 80 Hz. It sounds bloated. There's not much going on below 40 Hz. The not very critical midbass range is all there. Midrange, where the human (singing) voice is, is surprisingly balanced. The high-mid range has far too much emphasis. Pushing down the 2.5 kHz range considerably clears this up, and removes the crunchy, gritty character. The high treble range is pretty much absent. No crispness, no sizzle, no nothing above 10 kHz. Not even an audio player with extensive EQ functionality can make this right. It's simply not there. Finally, distortion rises to unacceptable amounts at high levels. Probably because of the bloated bass and the accompanying excursion of the diaphragm.

The good points

  • High quality build
  • Nicely accessorized

The bad

  • Bloated bass
  • Considerable distortion at high levels
  • Emphasized, crunchy high-mid range
  • Treble non-existent above 10 kHz
  • Sticky cable


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