Build Quality (9/10): As the flagship of Philips’ new O’Neill headphone line, the SHO9560 is claimed to be ruggedized to survive the dangers of extreme sports. The semi-transparent frame of the headphones is a single mold of TR55LX nylon – a stretchable polycarbonate-type material capable of deforming significantly before breaking. One would have to try very, very hard to damage the frame. There are no length adjustments on the headband but the inner cloth band stretches to accommodate larger noggins. The cups are attached to the frame with pegs and can move about the horizontal axis. They are matte on the outside and padded with soft pleather. The single-sided cable is interesting as well – it is not detachable at the cup but instead features a breakaway point about 2” down. It is nylon-sheathed, thick, and flexible. Best of all, it can be replaced with any 3.5mm extension cord should anything go wrong.
Comfort (9/10): The Stretch is a small circumaural headphone a-la Maxell DHP-II and JVC HA-S700. The pleather pads are soft and the cups are deep. The inner headband stretches easily to accommodate larger heads and yet keeps the headphones secure enough to be used during physical activity. The flexible nylon frame provides a supple fit with moderate clamp, remaining comfortable for hours.
Isolation (8/10): The Stretch is fully closed and isolates about as much as a small closed circumaural should. Leakage is not a problem and I was able to use them on my commute without issue
Sound (6.25/10): As a large electronics brand that hasn’t produced a high-end headphone in a number of years, Philips really has no ‘house sound’. Many of the brand’s lower-end models attempt to provide ground-quaking bass but fall short on the clarity and detail front. Not so with the SHO9560 – the bass is really quite tame for a mainstream youth-oriented headphone. There is a mild mid-bass hump as well as good punch and body but calling the SHO9560 a bassy headphone is – pardon the pun – a stretch. The bass is not the quickest, nor is it the tightest, sounding a little muddy at times, but it still beats the Monster Beats Solo in control and accuracy. The low end of the similarly-priced Maxell DHP-II is slightly deeper and fuller than that of the SHO9560 but colors the sound more.
Midrange clarity lags behind headphones such as the DHP-II and Sennheiser PX100-II but the overall tone is quite neutral and detail is decent. In terms of positioning the midrange of the SHO9560 is a tad recessed but the reasonable amount of bass emphasis makes this a non-issue. Midrange smoothness is good and the headphones remain pleasant all the way up. Treble extension is decent and there’s a bit of sparkle up top. The mild treble unevenness does not cause significant harshness or sibilance. Crispness and clarity aren’t quite as impressive as with the DHP-II but not really lacking for a modestly-priced set. The presentation is average for a set in the price range. The soundstage is medium-sized and layering is merely competent. The SHO9560 is not a spacious-sounding headphone like the open PX100-II and Ultrasone HFI-15G, but it is not nearly as congested as the Beats Solo, either.
Value (8.5/10): There is no doubt that the SHO9560 is a very versatile portable headphone – lightweight, durable, and user-friendly all around. Its biggest shortcoming is the slight blandness of the sound – next to the superb build quality and comfort, the sound leaves something to be desired. For those who put functionality first, the SHO9560 is easily worth the purchase, especially considering the reasonable street prices of late. If sound quality is priority number one, however, money is better spent on a Sennheiser HD428 or Beyerdynamic DT235.
Frequency Response: 12-24,000 Hz
Impedance: 32 Ω
Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 3.94ft (1.2m), single-sided, detachable; Straight Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: N/A