Pros: So Far From Flat It's Funny
Cons: So Far From Flat It's Funny
40mm Dynamic Semi Open Full-size Headphones
This ends up being an import only, semi-open, full-size around-ear headphone, priced at about $80.00 USD. Some have even found them for $80.00 USD with free shipping to the USA.
You know what? I probably would have made this purchase no matter what the dang SHP 8000s sounded like, as I fell in love with the design. At times I just like how audio equipment looks. At rare moments in this hobby there ends up being a nice meeting of both art and science. Still after learning what they could do and what they struggled with, they found a special place in my heart. No reviews here yet, so I though The SHP8000s needed some limelight!
Philips is no unknown name here at Head-Fi, though I've never purchased a Philips headphone product before. I made a purchase after finding the SPH8000s to demo at a local store.
We end up admiring the simple execution of form and purpose at hand. The cup ear-pads are maybe the first noted construction material element, being formed with both dense heavy memory-foam and soft synthetic leather. They really have this stuff down now as the headphones smell just like an expensive leather coat or purse when first taken out of the box. It's funny because that new-car smell is such an experience, especially if your not expecting it.
The OOOs and AAHs:
Combine the smells here with a nice tactile response from quality stainless steel and aluminum, we start to overlook the black plastic/rubber at hand. This design has been described by Phillips as a floating design. In daily use we have 10 clicks on each side of the inner stainless steel headband and after the first time "clicked" the headphones just slip into place. The outer plastic ring headband also has an inner headband made from rubber-coated foam which in many ways replicates what the AKG k 701-702 series headphone does with leather. The aluminum cups (they may be ceramic coated aluminum) are connected to a center pivot point which is CNC machined from a block of aluminum. This center point allows the cups to micro-adjust into place. After you take into account the relative weight and ear-cup padding the whole headphone achieves a nice balance of sorts. They come with a 2 year replacement warranty.
They come protected in cardboard box with 1/4 inch adapter and cable extender.
The Comfort Scale:
On the comfort scale they get a 9 out of 10. A lot of this wear-ability just results because there is not a ton of stuff included for weight, like your going to find on most flagships. The 40mm drivers are only going to weight so much, the aluminum cups only so much, so in the end there is an economy of weight which also helps keep them in place.
The Extra Cable:
The headphones come with an extra 1.6 meter cable. They also include a mini-plug to 1/4 inch adapter for home use. Interestingly though I found the cord extender section to be completely unusable. Amazingly maybe mine is defective, as it changed the sound completely into a distorted mess? I don't normally consider myself to have perfect golden ears, but with the noted results, I could not see anyone not noticing the signal degradation. No big deal, as off to the trash it goes, I have more extenders if ever needed. The non-removable 1.4 meter cable is permanently joined to the left cup bottom and ends up being the perfect length both for any home use or portable use I need. That said, many may want a longer cable. These headphones don't move much for DJ use, nor fold for storage or wearing around town. Amazingly they don't get hot, even though they look like they would.
These were burned in for a full day and a slight smoothness of bass response as well as more forward mid-range later noted. They are rated to take a maximum signal of 100mW, though there was never any distortion noted even going way beyond normal listening levels. So these basically are going to get as loud as any human would want to dial in.
Being 104dB sensitivity and 32 Ohm impedance they do well with an iPhone or iPod. I have recently switched over to Foobar 2000 Resolute for everything mobile both iOS and Android and believe it's getting me just slightly better volume output power than software before. Thus, mobile devices, even non-amped, are going to get everyone all the juice they ever are going to need for these transducers. The heavy V shape signature too insurers a heavy forward bass response from any non-amped mobile music player.
Let's get into what these sound like OK?
It's the consumer-V-curve, which has both it's good and bad sides. Beats by Dre changed the headphone world in 2011, and designs like this (from 2011) are in many ways a continuing example of the trend. These are bass heavy to a fault. Still, I have come to like and both dislike heavy bass signatures. I knew exactly what this headphone was before I spent my $80. It's just that at times it takes the brain about an hour to figure where the frequency is left out or covered over. With so much bass, it comes off as euphoric and fun at the start but upon realization of what's left out, can become boring later on. Most of us understand the importance of an audiophile flat response, and even though there are no perfectly flat responses there are both headphones which stay fairly close to flat and then others that are tuned to sound like a Tijuana bar at 2:00AM.
This IS that bar in Tijuana at 2:00AM, so that's the genres of music the Philips SHP8000 does best. These are really made to do dance music, and for that single purpose they have a use. Don't get me wrong, they actually do vocals well, and more perfect than you would guess by my descriptions here. It's just that I guess for many there is going to be a slight veil keeping your Classical listeners to find timbres off. They do all genres, but if you have a medium collection of headphones you may be searching for other cans for different genres, then again, maybe not?
These seem to covey the most romantic and warm sound-stage. At times instruments or vocals don't always stay placed? Meaning there is kind of this organic movement of placement that takes a while to get used to. Brenden Perry of Dead Can Dance has this common habit of almost spitting his vocals into a heavy reverberated microphone, only to have the bass-centric and highly detailed SHP8000 spread that echo and reverberate, becoming then, hyper detailed and floating from ear to ear in the sound stage. I listen to this album on both the AKG k701 and Denon AHD-7000 headphones all the time and have never noticed these vocal artifacts before? Hence the magic in these special $80 headphones.
On a more L shape there is way more bass emphasis than treble, but the treble makes it through. The treble is not completely laid back but also stays away from any strident or sibilant.
This style of signature is notoriously known for a lack of mid-range and so it goes. Though I'm not a fan of EQ, if I was, I would start with a boost in the mid-range to try and dial these beasts away from the signature they possess in spades. Truly though I can't see anyone buying them to try and EQ a signature back to normal, with so many flat audiophile $80 headphones or IEMs in the market at the present time. These should really only be purchased by those who like and understand a bass response. Leaving the EQ process out gets the headphones to respond at what they do best, as at times EQ can end up having small adverse results as side effects.
What We All Do:
Remember too, I do what all of us do when we get a new pair of headphones. We play music we know and listen to see if the response is playing everything back right. Right as in a tone close to what we remembered from before as well as at the correct volume of each part as well as sound-stage placement and layering. After we gain confidence in what we are hearing, we then listen to hear if the headphones bring anything new out with it's abilities or different strengths, simple really! Finally we then forget about listening to the equipment and fully get into toe tapping, the final test. IMO
Getting Used To Bass:
And much of getting used to bass heavy headphones is just that, it's getting your brain used to more bass. In this world of trying headphones, it's really more important what sound your used to, than the sound of your new purchase.
Purism is going to ramble-on about the fact that right is right and that's it, that we need to gravitate towards more "real" honest to life response curves, though as a whole we see the greater consumer headphone industry moving towards a more V shape, for better or worse. These headphones end-being used not to replicate real instruments but the whole effect of hearing bass played in a large club setting. So in that aspect they do a good job, though audiophile suspect and questionable.
Still part of embracing this signature is just that, training your brain to accept it as not wrong but correct, and imagine it is that late-nite club you visited in school. This heavy dark lower mid-range and bass ends up making lossy files sound better and bad recordings fun. The whole experience is very much like the sound of good home theater. Though in the end it's the very good detail through-out the spectrum which allows us this fun ride.
There Can Still Be Both Bass And Detail
Some heavy bass headphones cover up areas of the musical response with bass, and the better ones tend to still let much of the detail to be found.
The darkness and detail along with the bass response has you noticing more room reverberate. Actually I never realized that that would be the way to here vocal or instrument recording places on headphones but it is. These just perform with this detailed and extended sound-stage that allows for such perception. It's not the HD800 holographic level, but it's along those lines in a mid-fi kinda way, maybe more?
Breaking out old Techno CDs from the 1990s to 2009s ends up being what they do best. Playing dance music where besides vocals, pretty much everything is electronic ends up really being these headphones sole purpose and intent. Regular Pop like Dido or Madonna is played back, but nothing special, nothing out of the ordinary that we could not do with other headphones. Still put on a Techno CD and we are somehow transported to an instant nightclub with room ambiance and grand bass detail. It's not a place that gets old either, allowing us to go for long six hour listening runs, smoothing out any electronic harshness or aggression. We are left with a never ending throb of bass drums spread out in the size and grandeur only found in big dance arenas with a DJ. To tell you the truth I normally have comparison headphones to give easy sound signature references on the fly, but not here. This ends up one strange duck. At $80 it's pretty much a one trick pony and would never be someone's only headphone, unless they only listened to EDM, of course.
^ Lots and Lots Of Bass Frequency
^ Easy To Drive
^ Looks Amazing
^ Built Well
^ Comfortable For Hours On End
^ Sounds Great Out Of Portable Audio
^ Two Year Warranty
^ Chicks Dig Em
v Lots And Lots Of Bass Frequency
v Does Not Do All Genres Well
v Non-Detachable Cable
v Crummy Extension Cable
v Import Only
These are bass heavy headphones, get them at your own risk. They are not prone to creating listening fatigue like some mods I have, but only really do a selected range of music. That said, they offer a one-of-a kind experience offered by few headphones at this price.