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Philips Shp9500 Review – Open Goodness

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Philips, the brand is widely known among the people for its electronic products but it’s less widely popular for its audio products since they are not that good in terms of advertising. Their DVD Players and the speakers are the most widely used gadgets in most of the Indian Houses ☺. The headphones from Philips are one hell of a value for money package but they are not available in india. The Fidelio series are known for their exceptional sound and to continue its legacy the SHP are the budget series Open back headphones and in this review let’s check out how the 900 performs against the competitors.

SPECIFICATIONS:

50 mm neodymium drivers
Impedance: 32 ohm
Maximum power input: 200 mW
Sensitivity: 101 dB
Frequency response: 12 – 35 000 Hz
Cable Connection: one-sided
Gold-plated plug
11 oz (.32 kg)

DESIGN AND FIT:

The design of the headphone is pretty minimalistic yet modern. The headband is made of nice cushioning with a steel band hence the durability and the bend test shows some promising results. Below the headband there is another soft cushioning to avoid the pressure while wearing. The branding is done on the top of the head band and on the side. The right and left markings are clearly marked on the grills of the earcups along with that they also mentioned the 50mm vented drivers.

The headband adjustments markings are done on the metal strip which is pretty useful in adjusting. The headphones are connected via the 3.5mm end and its single end. The earcups are large and adequate in size where even the largest ears can easily accommodate. The quality of the padding is good and simple. It’s not memory foam instead it’s a lycra cloth covered foam. Pretty comfortable and doesn’t increase the warmth of the ear in the long listening sessions. Even though the whole construction is made out of plastic they are  very sturdy.

SOUND:

The sound profile of the SHP is more on a balanced side with some emphasis on the upper midrange. The budget open back really nails down in the department of staging and the imaging which we will see in detail in the upcoming section. Accompanied with that natural and balanced tonality this is definitely a must buy headphone if you are new to the headphone world.

The SHP is pretty easily driveable via the smartphone itself and I used it via the apple dongle and it ran pretty nicely. But with some Amps it will definitely get benefitted especially with the Zen Can since it has that bass boost which would definitely help in the boosting of the low end of the SHP’s.

LOW END:

The low end in the SHP is slightly the inferior aspect but since it’s being an open back we can’t complain about the low end performance here. The low end has nice presence but the reach and tumble is just lacking.

The sub bass is the culprit here where you can’t experience that thunderous rumble. It’s present but it’s not prominent like that you would expect from an in ear monitor or a closed back headphone. To compromise on that fact the open back does excel in the low end separation and the open sounding nature where no low ends drops never feels closed out or congested.

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The mid bass is better than the sub bass presence here where they are not that pronounced but still they have nice body and weight. They can’t be compared to that of an in-ear monitor but still considering the other qualities they provide it’s very good. For my taste they slightly lack weight and slam. The qualities are good but the quantity is the thing that it lacks and the easy fix is some hardware based bass boost like that we see in the amps like the Zen Can and FiiO Q3. They do increase that low end performance noticeably without any distortion. 

If you are a basshead this headphone might make you feel that the low end is noticeably lean but after some listening periods you will get used to it and will start appreciating the qualities it possesses. The track separation and the placement of each low end beats i.e. the imaging is where this headphone stands very strong against the competitors.

Tracks Used:

  1. Bigfoot – Malfnktion
  2. Take It – The Siege
  3. Ghenda Phool – Badshah

MID RANGE:

The midrange performance is the star show here. Absolutely it’s fantastic with uncoloured tonality and balanced sound. The wide and spacious vocal and instrument presentation feels very grand. The whole presentation is well separated where you do get a sense of any closed nature or constriction. 

The tonality is absolutely pleasing and even during longer listening hours you won’t feel any pressure or fatigue. The timbre is very nice hence the instruments sound as natural as possible. The piano notes and the guitar strings do sound very natural and pleasing. The kick drums however lack that slam and the weight. The layering is done very nicely where the placement of the instruments and the vocals one behind the other can be easily pointed out.

The lower midrange carries that slight mid bass presence giving nice body and fullness. They don’t appear that fuller but still not that lean too. Both the male and female vocals sound nice and good with some slight leanness which gives that extra clarity and separation.

The upper mid range however is slightly more emphasized hence the sibilance prone guys would find this a bit fatiguing but it doesn’t hurt that much. They only appear when the S sound from a female vocal appears. 

Overall I’m very pleased with this headphone purely based on the midrange performance and got addicted to its staging, layering, imaging and the wide open spacious sound profile.

Tracks Used:

  1. Lut Gaye – Emraan Hashmi
  2. The Blowers Daughter – Damien Rice
  3. Sexual Healing – Marvin Gaye

TREBLE:

The treble of this headphone is nicely tuned where they do provide some nice detail retrieval for the price. They are extended, nice and good with some added clarity and brightness. 

The open sounding of this headphone does have that added benefit in the open sounding and added brightness. The detail retrieval is very good for the price and has that shimmer and brilliance in the top end. The cymbal crashes has a nice tone and the speed is very good. The decay and the attack is moderate thus they don’t sound too splashy. The electric guitar strings have that nice strum and gives a nice sense of presentation.

The congested feeling is not felt a single bit and completely a spacious presentation overall.  The trumpets do sound very natural and have that shimmer in them. Overall I would say it’s a safely tuned treble section that everyone would get pleased from.  The sibilance is kept under control and the sound out of the SHP never fatigues me in the long run as compared to what the emphasis done in the upper mid range.

Tracks Used:

  1. Sultans Of Swing – Dire Straits
  2. Dreams – Fleetwood Mac
  3. Jack Of Speed – Steely Dan

TECHNICALITIES:

STAGING: The staging is done very nicely in the SHP and it’s the primary highlight that one would find in the initial listening. The staging is very wide and open for sure. The depth may not be that deep since the bass is slightly leaner but the height and width is massive for this price. Everything feels 3 dimensional and the whole presentation feels very well separated and grand.

IMAGING: The imaging is the same as that of the staging where they are very immersive and easy to spot out each and every instrument without any issues. Even when the complex tracks are played out the imaging is done precisely due to its well separated and grand staging. The transient response and the channel sweep appear pretty smooth.

The detail retrieval is above average for the price and the track separation is just sublime for this price. This headphone is an absolute bang for buck.

PROS AND CONS:

Pros:

  1. Balanced Profile
  2. Tonality 
  3. Staging and Imaging
  4. Fit and Value

Cons:

  1. Lean Low End

VERDICT:

SHP9500, one of the oldest yet most popular offerings from Philips is a wonderful and amazing value for money package from the house of Philips. The headphone possesses a hell lot of value when it comes to the total package from the design, sound and to the price. The headphone is an open back in design which is a pretty rare one to find at this price range and when coming to the price they are available for as low as 75 USD which is an insane deal for this headphone! The design, build and the fit is fantastic.

The sound is pretty balanced in all the frequencies with some emphasis over the midrange and the midrange is the star show here where it possesses some serious natural tonality with one of the best in terms of staging and imaging. The bass is leaner a bit but that is what you would expect from open back headphones! 

Overall for watching movies and some casual listening the SHP is a serious contender in this price range and I haven’t found any headphones in this price range that exceeds the SHP performance. The staging and imaging are just sublime here giving a spacious and grand presentation. This is the OPEN GOODNESS that one can attain for this price!

This Review is Written By KATHIRAVAN.C

KATHIRAVAN

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I’m Kathiravan from Tamilnadu. A budding audiophile here with high love towards music and audio equipment. My first experience of enjoying the hifi audio came when I started to use budget chi-fi gears and now it came all along the way of reviewing the gears with high end stuffs. I love reviewing audio products.

Shubham

Shubham

Shubham Garg (Editor Shubz.in) is an engineer with a specialization in Mechanical Engineering from AKTU, Uttar Pradesh. Being a mechanical engineer he has always loved to learn the inner working of various machines and consumer electronics. He regularly tests various audio, home appliances, and daily use products, to provide the best advice to readers. He is a wizard that can make your shopping easy, saving you time and stress of figuring out what to buy.

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