Brief: handsome and highly compact portable headphone from Philips
MSRP: $24.99 (discontinued)
Current Price: N/A
Build Quality (5.5/10): The SHL9500 are handsomely designed headphones finished in a matte black plastic with chrome accents. They utilize a folding structure similar to the Sennheiser PX100s. Philips definitely chose the right design to copy as the folding mechanism of the PX100s is a personal favorite of mine. However, somewhere in the design process something went wrong. The end result is an overly rigid structure in which the cups and arms all fold in different directions in a confusing mess. The build itself is solid, utilizing metal joints and sturdy plastics. The 2” long strain reliefs on cable entry inspire confidence in the longevity of the cord, which is also notable for its length – a wholesome five feet.
Comfort (5.5/10): Again following in the footsteps of Sennheiser, Philips utilized a padded headband and soft pleather cups similar to those found on the Sennheiser PX200s. On paper, it’s a formula for success. Unfortunately, this pair of headphones is less comfortable than it looks. Not unlike the Audio-Technica ATH-ON3, the earcups of the SHL9500 have no rotational freedom about the vertical axis. As a result, they press hard on the back of my ears and cause pain after a few hours.
Isolation (5/10): The SHL9500s are similar to the Panasonic Slimz and Soundmagics P10s in isolation. Most of the sound leakage is the result of poor fit rather than poor isolation by design
Sound (4.75/10): After experiencing the folding mechanism and fit of the SHL9500s the sound of the little Philips left me pleasantly surprised. It is well-balanced, smooth, and warm. Bass impact and tightness are both surprisingly good when these are made to fit properly. They do lose out to the similarly-priced Panasonic Slimz and Soundmagic P10s in high-end extension, detail, and soundstage – their signature is more fun and intimate. They are also noticeably less harsh and fatiguing than the Slimz, though there is a veil resulting in a slightly muffled mid-range. Still, they are pleasant-sounding portables overall, especially for Jazz/Blues/Lounge-type music.
Value (6/10): Despite the questionable folding mechanism and my fit issues with them, I think the sound of the Philips SHL9500 justifies the rather modest price tag, providing a pleasant signature and performance notch or two above the average headphone at the price point.
Frequency Response: 10-28,000 Hz
Impedance: 32 Ω
Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 4.9ft (1.5m); Straight Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: Collapsible