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Philips SHL1600

Philips SHL1600 Review

Philips SHL1600
Brief: Ultraportable ‘Air Wear’ model from Philips which resembles the Audio-Technica ATH-ON3

MSRP: $19.99 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $16 from

Build Quality (5/10): The construction of the SHL1600 is extremely simple – the one-piece plastic headband retracts partially into a pair of small cloth-covered cups, which rotate to fold flat. As with the ATH-ON3, the cups can only be rotated when the headband is fully retracted, which means that headband length has to be re-adjusted with each use. Seven notches are present in the headband so re-adjusting it every time is not difficult or time-consuming but annoying nonetheless. The rubberized cable is rather thin but resists tangling and seems to be relieved properly at either end.

Comfort (5/10): The fit of the SHL1600 suffers from the same problem as that of the ATH-ON3 – the cups are parallel to each other when the headband is extended and do not conform well to my ears. The headphones have a tendency to slide forward when jostled, which is annoying to say the least. On the upside, the SHL1600 weighs nearly nothing (a whopping 3 oz to be exact), clamping force is rather low, and the cloth pads are soft and pleasant to the touch.

Isolation (3.75/10): The SL1600s are absolutely tiny and provide little isolation. The headphones are most likely open-back underneath the cloth pads and leak quite badly at high volumes.

Sound (4/10): I was hopeful that the tiny Philips portables would redeem themselves when it came to sound quality. Sadly, the 30mm drivers used here can’t really compete with those used by Koss or even Sony in their budget headphones. The bass is muddy and unresolved despite not being particularly extended or impactful. The 40Hz spec of the frequency response seems right on the money – the Philips begin to roll off shortly past 80Hz and anything below 40Hz is inaudible at any volume. The midrange is the best part of the spectrum – it is warm and relatively clear, with decent detail at higher volumes. The treble is a bit recessed in comparison to the midrange but smooth and unfatiguing. Presentation is intimate but at least somewhat three-dimensional. Still, comparing these to something like the KSC75 or Aiwa Shellz is blasphemous – the sound, while not downright offensive, is decidedly lo-fi.

Value (5.5/10): I purchased the Philips SHL1600 hoping for a lightweight, compact, and comfortable portable with average sound quality to use on the go when the isolation of IEMs is undesired. Sadly, while I like the minimalistic design, the headphones do not provide a very stable fit for the same reason as many other small portables – there simply aren’t enough axes of adjustment or flexibility in the structure. The sound quality is rather average for a $20 headphone – not atrocious but not nearly as great as that of the KSC75s, Coby CV185, or JVC Flats. If neither sound nor stability is a priority, the SHL1600s may be worth picking up for their unobtrusive design and light weight. Otherwise, there are better options for the money.

Manufacturer Specs:
Frequency Response: 40 – 20,000 Hz
Impedance: 32 Ω
Sensitivity: 102 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 3.94ft (1.2m); Straight Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: Flat-folding




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Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.


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