Inexpensive IEMs that offer great value for money.
- Deep bass, smooth mid-range, sweet highs, comfortable to wear
- Bass may be a little too booming for some, a little lacking in mid and treble detail, soundstage could be wider
Despite having a few minor issues, the overall quality of the audio is excellent considering the price tag. They are a great option for users looking to upgrade on a budget.
Price$ 69.95 (AUD)
During the last year or so Philips has consistently managed to produce high quality IEMs that are reasonably priced. The SHE9550 headphones are its latest effort and they are no different. With a price tag just a little over $50, they are extremely affordable. While the audio is a little unrefined at times and can be quite bass heavy, the overall clarity is excellent. They are an excellent option for users looking for a cheap upgrade from their stock earbuds.
Right out of the box it is obvious that these IEMs have a fairly heavy emphasis on bass. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but purists who prefer a more neutral balance will probably be disappointed. We found it generally quite pleasing during our tests and it created a rich, dark sound in a lot of our heavy tunes. The bass was extremely booming and a little uncontrolled, but not to the point of being too bloated. There was enough detail and it extended very deeply.
Treble notes sounded good, although they could have used a little more sparkle. On the plus side they weren't harsh or too bright, which is a flaw we often encounter on lower-end headphones. Piano-based tunes sounded rich and there was plenty of pluck to acoustic guitar strings.
The mid-range was extremely smooth. Separation wasn't quite as good as on some other headphones but it was adequate. Everything tended to blend together nicely to create an enjoyable easy listening experience. If you're looking for a full-on, fun, lively presentation then the SHE9550s may not be for you but considering the price tag we're more than satisfied.
The soundstage is somewhat on the flat side and is probably the weakest element of these IEMs. Everything sounds quite two dimensional and lacks the immersive quality you'll find on some other units. It is still a step up from any kind of default earbuds but there are units that perform better in this regard on the market right now.
Noise cancelling is one of the big reasons to buy a set of IEMs. They offer all the portability of earbuds while blocking out a considerable amount of ambient sound. The SHE9550s did a reasonably good job in this regard. They aren't particularly large, so they don't shut out as much as some bigger units like the E500, but they do an adequate job and are fine for blocking out annoying ambient noise in your office.
On the flip side, the smaller build means they are extremely comfortable. We experienced no fatigue or pain at all, even during long listening sessions — making them ideal for arduous trips or all-day wear. The cord is a little short, measuring just 1.2 metres, but apart from that we have no complaints about the design.
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