New Philips SHP9600 Wired, Over-Ear, Headphones, Comfort Fit, Open-Back 50 mm Neodymium Drivers (SHP9600/00) - Black

New Philips SHP9600 Wired, Over-Ear, Headphones, Comfort Fit, Open-Back 50 mm Neodymium Drivers (SHP9600/00) - Black

Posted by vinci.loca1 | Published 7 months ago

With ratings

Purchased At:

Pros: Low cost; nice build quality; excellent sound; cool, open-back comfort plus breathable pads; replaceable cord

Cons: Non-replaceable ear pads; somewhat uneven treble response (can be corrected, read further)

These headphones are a real treat for the price. They should sell at a significantly higher price than they do now, but are available at low prices only because they are being discontinued (not official yet, but apparently they are).

I am a headphone enthusiast and own numerous headphones many of which are more expensive than the Philips SHP9500. Among them, the closest contender to the SHP9500 in many ways, including price, may be Audio Technica ATH-TAD500, which I highly regard as well. In fact, adding the venerable Sennheiser HD 518, I judge these three headphone models are the best, full-size, open headphones that can be had under $100 on the market now. These models have their own strengths and weaknesses. But my favorite is the SHP9500 and there are reasons.

First, I consider the SHP9500 as one of the most comfortable full-size headphones at any price. When it comes to headphones, you do not want to ignore comfort in your buying decision. To me (and to many, perhaps), it is THE most important element, if wearing them for at least an hour is what you use them for. Some headphones are unbearable even for 15 minutes. Why is the SHP9500 so comfortable to wear? They are *light* for full-size cans, have *no* pressuring (self-adjusting) headband, have less clamping force, and most importantly, *open to outside* not to jack up temperature at your ears. Keeping temperature down by making ears breathe air is, in my opinion, is the most important, yet not well appreciated, reason why you need open headphones for extended use. In the case of the SHP9500, even the ear pads breathe, something that not all open headphones feature. This excessive openness sacrifices some of its sub-bass performance, but I would trade any day (and advise people to trade) sub-bass for comfort.

The sonic character of the SHP9500 is midrange-centric, I would say, but extends quite well to bass and treble ranges. Treble is somewhat uneven and accentuated. If you are a classical music lover, you will be most likely pleased. If you are a bass head, this is not for you. If I am asked to compare the SHP9500 to more expensive, sonically better designed headphones such as Sennheiser HD 600, HD 650, or Sony MDR-MA900 (the Sony is also my favorite due to its outstanding comfort), I would rate the SHP9500 a notch below them in terms of pure sonic balance. However, unless you are an extremely discerning listener of classical music (which I am, unfortunately), I would not like to recommend those higher priced products, whose prices, I think, are somewhat above a common-sense range for most people (except enthusiasts). So, here I am sharing my experience as an enthusiast who does not have common sense ^^

These headphones are also one of the best choices for use with a digital piano. In fact, I purchased these for my son’s piano practice. Why best for digital pianos? The first reason is same as above: Comfort. Practicing on a digital piano requires extended use, so comfort is critical. Second, the SHP9500’s low to high audio frequency responses are balanced enough for such use---you will be hard pressed finding headphones under $100, including closed-back headphones, with this good balance. Third, most digital pianos have headphone jacks with high output impedance. In such cases, relatively flat impedance across the audible frequency band is important in order not to modulate the headphone’s frequency response. The SHP9500 satisfies this requirement. Last, the headphones are sensitive for any digital pianos to generate sufficiently loud sound.

So, grab a pair when they are still available!

One drawback of these headphones' design is that ear pads are not replaceable, but I think the low price can easily offset this weakness. I knew it, of course, when I made the purchase. You may think differently, but in my experience, replaceable pads are not critical. On the other hand, one strong point of the SHP9500 is that you can replace its cord with *any* 3.5mm stereo male to male cable, the most common and inexpensive type of audio cables these days. Cable problems are quite common in headphone usage. So, having this feature is nice.

If you have very discerning ears but are on a budget, here is one way you can improve the SHP9500's audio balance. It works best if you use them on a PC or a smartphone. Using digital equalization (EQ) is the solution. Let EQ be your friend! Do not be afraid of using EQ, especially in this era of highly reliable, digital signal processing. When properly applied, EQ presents absolutely no sound degradation, only improvement.

The EQ setting for the SHP9500 suggested below can only be implemented through parametric EQ apps. They are Equalizer APO (on PC), Electri-Q (on PC through VST wrapper), EasyQ (on PC through VST wrapper), Rockbox (on some MP3 players), Audioforge Equalizer (on iOS), Accudio (on iOS; custom EQ mode), Capriccio (both iOS and Android), Onkyo HF player (both iOS and Android). If you use a PC as a source, I highly recommend Equalizer APO. It applies EQ to system sound so that you can enjoy all contents including YouTube materials in equalized audio.

Parametric EQ uses three parameters: Fc (center frequency), Gain, and BW (bandwidth). In the EQ setting below, note that the third parameter is denoted by both Q and BW, which are essentially the same parameter on different scales, so care must be taken to enter right values. If you use Equalizer APO, Rockbox, or Audioforge Equalizer, enter Q values; if you use Electri-Q, EasyQ, or Accudio (custom mode), enter BW values; if you use Capriccio, enter 12 times BW values; if you use Onkyo HF player, read further.

EDIT: an optimal EQ setting has been updated (as of 6/28/19). The old setting has been moved to the bottom.

Global Gain (also called Preamp, Precut, or Pre-Volume): -2.0 dB

Filter 1: Fc 40 Hz Gain 2.5 dB Q 0.8 / BW 1.7
Filter 2: Fc 200 Hz Gain -3.0 dB Q 0.5 / BW 2.5
Filter 3: Fc 1900 Hz Gain 2.5 dB Q 2.0 / BW 0.7
Filter 4: Fc 3300 Hz Gain 3.5 dB Q 4.8 / BW 0.3
Filter 5: Fc 5000 Hz Gain -7.0 dB Q 2.0 / BW 0.7
Filter 6: Fc 7400 Hz Gain 4.0 dB Q 4.8 / BW 0.3
Filter 7: Fc 10500 Hz Gain -5.0 dB Q 1.8 / BW 0.8

I strongly recommend adjusting the Gain level of Filter 7 to make the treble sound to your liking (my suggested range is -8 to -1 dB). I also attach below a picture of the above EQ’s transfer function (the effect of EQ on a frequency response graph). If you use Onkyo HF player, simply make its EQ graph same as shown in the picture.


Global Gain (also called Preamp, Precut, or Pre-Volume): -2.0 dB

Filter 1: Fc 40 Hz Gain 2.5 dB Q 0.8 / BW 1.7
Filter 2: Fc 200 Hz Gain -3.5 dB Q 0.5 / BW 2.5
Filter 3: Fc 1900 Hz Gain 2.5 dB Q 2.0 / BW 0.7
Filter 4: Fc 3300 Hz Gain 3.0 dB Q 4.8 / BW 0.3
Filter 5: Fc 5000 Hz Gain -6.5 dB Q 2.4 / BW 0.6
Filter 6: Fc 7400 Hz Gain 4.5 dB Q 4.8 / BW 0.3
Filter 7: Fc 11000 Hz Gain -7.5 dB Q 1.4 / BW 1.0

- Anonymous

For the past year, I had heard, SO much about these headphones. I have seen them reviewed time and time again on YouTube. I hardly heard anything negative about them. However, for the longest time, they could not be bought because they were not available. For the ones, which were, they were way overpriced. Then, in March, they became available on Amazon for a nice price. I jumped on it. Now, that I have them, are they worth the hype?

DESIGN/FEATURES: The drivers of the SHP9500 are 50mm, which is large. The frequency response is an outstanding, 12-35,000 Hz, which is 1,500 Hz short of Hi-Res territory. Nevertheless, they still sound superb. The impedance is 32 ohms. For PS4 gamers, 32 ohms is low enough for the controller to drive the headphones with the controller volume set to max. The maximum input power is only 200mW, meaning a user will have to be careful when using an amp. A DAC can be used but is not needed. Of course, the sound will be improved and of course, increasingly loud.

The design of the SHP9500 is very cool in my opinion. Some could argue that it looks cheap, which they sort of do. However, they have some style to them. The headband is aluminum, cased with a hard, matte black, plastic. Atop of the headband is a glossy-black, Philips insignia. The sides of the headband have measuring notches and a hole, which shows a number, indicating the level, which the headband can be adjusted to. Underneath the headband is a cushion, made of breathable, dual-layered, cloth fabric for head support. On the bottom, inside the right and left side of the headband, a plastic tag with R and L can be seen on the corresponding sides of the headband. This is the part of the design, which I love the most. The ear cups are made of plastic. In addition, the speakers are made of aluminum. On each speaker, R and L are painted in white on the corresponding sides of the speakers. Personally, I believe that the design feature is cool and unique. The speakers are transparent enough, where the drivers can be seen. The ear cushions are over-the-ear and made of the same, breathable, double-layered, cloth fabric.

BASS/MID-BASS/SUB-BASS: There is bass. When playing games, which have explosions, I can hear that boom. However, the bass is inconsistent, overall. With that said, the sub-bass is non-existent. I could not hear much of a subwoofer-like rumble when I was playing certain games, which had explosions.

HIGHS: The SHP9500 is bright sounding headphones. The sound is crystal clear, overall. The treble highs can be grainy at times. However, there Results and ears vary. For example, Call Of Duty Black Ops 4 is a prime example, which has lots of sharp sounds. Gunshots are loud but clear. Each time bullets hit, there a loud, thumping sound, which follows with a loud, “squish”, when a kill is achieved. I found having the volume high while hearing this sound can be harsh of the ears. The high end of female voices sounds great. Hearing female voices on Call Of Duty Black Ops 4 is another. Hearing my female character, Battery’s voice lines sound great. “Cluster grenade, enjoy!” “Splash!” “Dropped!” “All right, boom time.” “All talk!” “Doggone!” Those are some of my favorite voice lines of hers. Once, Battery ran inside of an open-ended bay of the Summit map. Battery said a voice line, while outside of the bay. Then, her voice became magnified, as she entered the bay. Plus, there was an echo of Battery's voice. The authenticity of the echo was unbelievable and nearly, scary. This was a good example of a transition between mid to high sounds.

IMAGING/SOUNDSTAGE: The SHP9500 has good imaging. They handle directional sounds, exceptionally, well. With that said, I tested the performance of the SHP9500 while playing Call Of Duty Black Ops 4. The best map, which showcases the performance of the best is the “Occupation” map, which is a close-quarters. I could hear what was going on and direction, where the action was taking place on the map, whether it was dialogue, gunshots or explosions. Of course, footsteps could be heard, as well. It seems the sound magnifies toward closer sounds coming from a different direction. For example, each time my character looks in one direction, the sound increasingly amplifies in the direction and less in the opposite direction, where lesser actions were taking place. The soundstage is great. Of course, they are open-back, so that is expected. The airiness and open sound of the SHP9500 is great. Very spread out. I played a match on the very open. “Gustav Cannon” map. I could hear sounds, very clear from across the map at a far distance. Not to mention, sounds from a distant, sounded a bit closer than they actually were.

LOWS/MIDS: I must say, the SHP9500 picks up subtle sounds, pretty good. Hearing shells hit the floor, coming from a blasting shotgun is addictive to listen to, strangely. On the Morocco map, outside of hearing the common sounds, during game-play, I could hear the subtle, clinking and breakage of pottery being kicked around, while traversing the area. I could barely, hear this with other headsets, but in more abundance with the SHP9500. The unbelievable sound of crunching, as my character was trampling through the deep snow, cracking of the ice or sounds of moving water, while swimming on the Icebreaker map. Once, my character, Battery, ran inside of an open-ended bay of the Summit map. Battery was communicating, while outside and finished talking, while going inside of the bay. There was an echo of Battery's voice while speaking inside of that open-ended bay. The authenticity of the echo was unbelievable and nearly, scary.

MIC (OPTIONAL): An external mic, such as a V-Moda Boom Mic Pro will have to be purchased to utilize, while online gaming. The prices vary. I have not tried this, yet, as I do not have a mod-mic at this time. I do know, with one attached, it should perform exceptionally, well.

VERDICT: Overall, the SHP9500 is a great headset. For the past year, when constantly, hearing about these, I was wondering, if these lived up to the hype and they did. Never in my wildest dreams, I would ever think Philips would make such an outstanding headset. They were smart to put these back on the market and at an affordable price. With that being said, I would advise anyone looking for a headset to pick these up, just in case they are no longer available, as they were, prior to resurfacing. Honestly, I believe my search for the “perfect” headset(s) is over.

- Anonymous

For the money, you can't beat these cans! Wow!
Caution; you must let these burn in for at least 36 hours before using for serious sessions. (I know many believe this is hogwash and so did I quite frankly but, I've noticed the more I use these and all my other headphones, speakers, and tube amps,.. the better and more refined the sound gets). I own quite a few pair of really hi-end HP's. MrSpeakers Ether C, HiFiman HEX V 2's and ARYA, Fostex Ebony, Focal Elex, Neumann, etc., etc.! So when I took a shot on these for "casual" wear they nearly blew my head off! I could not believe how good these sounded right out of the box and as previously stated, burn them in a while and plug them into an amplifier and Whoa Nellie! Go to town for what a movie and a cheap dinner afterwards costs! Don't get me wrong, I am NOT equating these with high end reference cans but, Damn...for the coin spent, I don't think you'll find a better deal anywhere in ANY category! These are light, not sweaty as some people have indicated and are built ROBUSTLY well for the buck! I highly recommend them. They are low ohms around 30 or less so you will not need an expensive, dedicated, headphone amp to drive them. However, their sound (as with all other headphones) improve exponentially with the use of a dedicated headphone amp. I can go on and on but frankly at $70 or so, buy a pair. You'll probably stop your search for a decent pair after you've heard them.
I hope this review was HELPFUL, folks!

- Anonymous

Very good previous review by Dale and we do need regular neutral reviewers who inform us truthfully about headphones in order to help us make an informed choice. It is hard to get demonstrations of most headphones as shops and retail outlets carry only the more well known headphone brands and even then a limited selection only. As such we need accurate reviews. Buying headphones is difficult whether we want one good pair or whether we collect them. I have over time acquired many headphones, the pick of the bunch being the PSB M4U-1, the Yamaha PRO 400, AKG K551, Yamaha HPH-200, and the AKG Y50. Stupid hobby as I can only wear one pair at a time, but that is what I did with my spare cash. Maybe I should have bought just one pair of expensive headphones. Still I have had great fun and can make true comparisons. At the present price of £52.95 these headphones represents the best value of any headphone I have ever bought. The Philips SHP-9500 is as good as any of the other pairs I have mentioned here. To be the equal of the PSB M4U-1 means the SHP-9500 is one heck of a headphone. It is my headphone of choice at the moment. The clarity and soundstage are unbeatable. Bass is well defined and realistic for an open headphone, with no wooliness or bleed whatsoever. It does lack the thump of the open Yamaha HPH-200, the closed Yamaha PRO 400 and PSB's though. Unlike the AKG K551's which have and accurate but comparatively diluted bass, the SHP-9500 has perhaps the most accurate bass I have heard in a headphone, truthful and satisfying which adds something extra that the other headphones cannot. But if you like a really thumping bass these will not be for you. Please remember that. The high end and midrange are just right though. They just sound right. As a whole the accuracy, spaciousness and musicality present the enjoyment factors in abundance. They have an astonishing sound which never sounds harsh at all. If there is one place they cannot match either the PSB's or the Yamaha PRO 400's is in pace. Both are faster than the SHP-9500 and therefore at times more exciting. The other factors make up for this though. The PSB's have 'room feel' technology. This means the bass is adapted to sound as if the headphones were a standing speaker. All recorded music is developed by being played back through speakers, so according to PSB headphones must account for that. Even accounting for that, the SHP-9500's have a profoundly musical sound, that taken overall, present the most enticing and listenable sound of all these headphones. They are also the most comfortable of all these headphones alongside the Yamaha HPH-200's. They, like the AKG K551's, are a VERY large headphone but lightweight and built really well. Most who listen these headphones will agree they are wonderful. Some say they are as good and maybe better than the Philips Fidelio series and that really is an indictment of excellence.
Importantly remember these are open back headphones, very open headphones. Other people will hear very loudly what you play through them and they will not stop you hearing the sounds of the world around you, but if you love music and privately sit at home listening, then these headphones are a joy.

- Anonymous

Yes Philips do the mediocre.
They have also done some incredible stuff. Those of you who heard the Philips Motion Feedback Speakers will doubtless know what I'm talking about. Those of you who have heard the Fidelio S2 IEMs will also know what I'm talking about.
The SHP9500s aren't perfect. The bass rolls off a bit but what is there is ample and good tight quality. The mids are clear and vocals are well presented. The treble doesn't extend as far as some more expensive headphones but I don't feel deprived. The balance of the sonics is just about perfect. Enough treble for good detail, a well presented mid range and a fair thump at the bottom end.
Build quality is excellent at this price. The headphones are huge. They fit easily over the biggest ears. They are light and comfortable, maybe a little warm. They bleed both ways so just be aware of where you wear them.
The sound stage is accurate enough for these to be the choice of many gamers for RPG.
You should buy these even if you have better headphones. I have Grado SR80s and Monolith M560s but the Philips beats them on ease of use and comfort. Just fling these on your head. The sound is good enough for me not to feel anguish at the downgrade.
EDIT: Encouraged by the extraordinary sound from these relatively cheap headphones, I ordered a pair of their 'audiophile' cousins the Philips Fidelio X2HRs. I'm sorry to say the Fidelios went back. Compared to the SHPs the bass on the Fidelios could become overwhelming. The Fidelios were also heavier and not as comfortable. Don't get me wrong the Fidelios are a good pair of headphones but not sufficiently better than the SHPs to warrant spending the extra cash and having both headphones on the shelf.

- Anonymous

I was looking for some open backed cans and heard decent things about these Philips units and decided to give them a try.
Presentation and feel out of the box whilst not premium is certainly businesslike, they are light but feel strong in the hand and have an unusual but flexible arrangement for the inner headphone band and the pads are also soft to the touch. The connector at the cup side to the music device is a standard 3.5mm at both ends and mine were provided with a single cable around 1.5m in length, though no adapter from 3.5mm to jack or travel bag was supplied.

The fit is amazing for comfort, they have just the right amount of clamp for my head at the smallest setting, but the allowance for larger heads is vast given the ratchet at the side (which also feels nicely weighted and engineered. The tilt and swivel travel is limited by the way the cups are affixed but it gives plenty of scope for seating the cans.

Listening experience was taken over a weekend with everything from laid back jazz to classical, pop, rock and a bit of rap music (the ones I like at any rate!) They dealt with all of these genres without any real complaints, I thought the bass was well weighted, the mid-range delivered and didn't bleed too much into the treble and the treble was controlled with a little shrillness at the very high end but was never 'shouty'. The sound-stage is a mixed bag, not as wide as the HiFiMan 400's but enough to get some idea of placement of instruments. Now a warning - they are open-backed so some sound leakage is expected but with these cans leakage is VERY pronounced - certainly higher than the aforementioned HiFiMan 400's I had recently and my wife remarked she could hear the music loud and clear from the next room. I would therefore say these should not be used outside unless you want to deal with complaints from others.

So to close, an excellent investment, and whilst we are penalized in the EU by a much higher price than the USA $65 was quoted, if you want them that is the price because Philips have apparently stopped making this model and are not superseding it :(
Grab em whilst you can!

- Anonymous

Let’s get this straight, these headphones are fantastic value for money. The frequency response is, to my very experienced ears, as close to neutral as a sub-£100 headphones can be.The base is tight and well defined with absolutely no bleed into the midrange, and the midrange itself is glorious highlighting both male and female vocals. The treble is highly detailed and free of any sibilance. By the way, violins in real life DO have an edge to them (they have metal strings by the way!) I have seen some rather unfair gripes on u tube reviews which which I completely disagree with. I suspect the reviewers have forgotten what live music actually sounds like!I have listened to many brands of mid to high end headphones and I can assure prospective purchasers that these headphones punch well above their weight. Buy them!!

- Anonymous

Here's a quick one from me.

- Very nice sound quality for a geezer who likes good quality music without going overboard with audiophile silly. 50mm driver pulls even without amp, just turn on Windows Sonic for a wide soundstage. High mids, regular bass and excellent details. Very good for gaming.
- Comfy although I have to keep them at 0 at the very top of my head to get a stable grip, which is still at the very edge of falling, so for rather big egg heads. I could wear them all day long with them pads, honestly you totally forget about having them on.
- Quality build.

- Massive sound leak therefore unfortunately I have to return them. People around me described it as I would be listening to music speakers on low volume. It's very disturbing for others but in turn gives huge soundstage, especially for gaming.
- Sizing is wrong

Personally I'd keep them anyway but its sucks to be so selfish and force others to listen to heavy metal and fps gaming sounds. \m/

Just ordered m40x to see how it compares, will update on that one. Ta.

- Anonymous

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