The Philips SHP9500 are very easy on the eyes. They’re not bulky like the ZMF Ori (not that you’d wear the Ori in public anyway, but at least these won’t get you made fun of if someone else walks into the room). That said, once you get your hands on them, the overall build feels very cheap. It’s mostly plastic with a little metal and the netted earpads and headband. At this price point it’s expected though, and they do feel like they can handle a healthy amount of rough treatment.
One of the best things about the SHP9500 is that it uses a single universal 3.5mm jack and comes with single 4.9-foot removable cable. Yep. No proprietary connectors that force you to buy often expensive replacement/upgraded cables. You can literally buy any 3.5mm audio cable, plug one side into these headphones, plug the other into whatever fits, and you’re all set. That also means you can use it with the V-MODA BoomPro mic without any extra cables hanging from your head – unlike the Antlion ModMic.
The biggest drawback for me are the non-removable pads. Unless you want to void the warranty and permanently mod them yourself, you’re stuck with the netted, non-memory foam, shallow pads. While they aren’t the worst pads in the world, the option to replace earpads isn’t only important to headphone modders, it’s important for when they eventually get worn out from use. A lot of people would probably just buy a new pair at that point, but still… It’d be nice to stick some Brainwavz HM5 leather pads on there.
Because of the materials, the SHP9500 has the advantage of being lightweight, making it easier to wear for long periods without discomfort. The netted headband provides a thick cushion that adds to its comfort. It also has a very light clamping force (one of the lightest I’ve tried) and is prone to shifting or even falling off if you move your head enough. I personally like the clamp level, but I’m not usually moving when I wear headphones.
Like the headband, the earpads are covered in netted material (similar to the Turtle Beach PX22’s earpads) which can be a little scratchy and get slightly uncomfortable after a while. Nowhere near the torture that is the PX22 though – I wanted to rip them off and throw them against a wall after half an hour of wear. The pads are also a bit on the stiff side but it’s hardly noticeable and will disappear with break-in. Despite the large size and opening of the earpads, the depth is quite shallow and though the material inside is soft (felt?), it might bother some people to feel their ears pressing against it.
Let me start by saying my current stable of headphones include the Audeze EL-8 open-back, Hifiman HE-400i, Fostex TH-X00 purpleheart, ZMF Ori (Omni) walnut, and Philips Fidelio X2. I’m fairly new to the audiophile community so I don’t know all the proper terms or have the best trained ears, but I’m going to try my best to describe some of the things that stand out about the sound and how it comes across to me.
For what I’m used to the vocals sound a little unnatural, slightly thin and even tinny in some songs. The S’s are really emphasized in words, along with the T’s and other plosives. I find it unpleasant and distracting. The mids and highs get too sharp for my taste, but they’re quite detailed. There’s also a good amount of bass. It may not be the most tight or responsive, but at this price point, it’s exceptional.
For the beginner audiophile or anyone starting to look for quality audio, the Philips SHP9500 is a no-brainer. You’re getting sound that’s usually found at double or more than the regular price (I’ve seen it range from $90-$160 CAD). They’re excellent headphones and peerless as starters. Similarly, if you’re a gamer looking for the best budget open-back headset, it’s worth it to spend an extra ~$35 CAD on the V-MODA BoomPro mic and put these two together. Also, if you’re just looking for a pair of good headphones you can toss around/travel with without worrying too much about damange, the low cost of these make them a great candidate. However, if you’re used to listening to relatively higher-end audio and are looking for something of similar quality, or if you tend to be sensitive to midrange, sharpness, or listening fatigue, you might want to look elsewhere. They simply can’t compete with something like the Fidelio X2 from Philips.