Pros: Tonal balance is quite good, cheap but not cheap on sound, Isolation and leakage control is one of the best
Cons: graining present on some highs (cymbals), While the ear cup holder is made out of aluminum, everything else is made out of plastic.
After 200 hours of burn-in, I will give a proper review on these cans.
Value: For an asking price of $34-76 these cans are very good. You get a total package of portability, flashy design, well-balanced sound, and unsurpassed comfort.
Audio Quality: After 200 hours of burn-in, I find these cans dynamic sounding. It controls the amount of lows, mids, and high exceptionally well. At this price point, you can compare them to Brainwavz HM3, but the HM3s are certainly better in every way.
As a drum musician myself, I know how drums sounds, I've played more than 30 drum-kits in my lifetime. There were claims that these are natural sounding and clean, but after really listening to them, I find graining in the sound of the cymbals and hhopens. The drum sound that are produced in these cans are similar to electronic drum kits such as the TR-606/808. That said, these are far from natural.
Auditioning these cans with tunes from the Far East Movement, they are very good since the bass on those tunes that are electronic in nature. But, when used them with Jazz tunes, they are lacking in punch. In Santana's Smooth, the bongo's drums are completely gone and the cymbals are completely grained.
The sound produced on these cans are fun, but not to be used as reference. They bass needs punch and the high lacks in smoothness. It's a consumer headphone, not for professionals.
Update: After listening to Santana's Smooth for the 20th time, I found the culprit, it doesn't have a very good music separation between the drums and guitars, which makes the drums sound electronic next to an electric guitar. In drum solo, the sound is there but it still lacks punch. It lacks conviction that tells "Hey, I am a drum" hear my beat. Lacks clarity on cellos too.
Design: This can is a beauty. It looks slick, the ear cups looks metallic; however, they are plastic. The ear cup holder is made out of anodized aluminum which is pretty sturdy. The headband however, I believe is made out of plastic. The design of the ear pads sits on your ear and it creates a very good seal. It doesn't leak your music at all. The wires are flat, but they aren't oxygenated rubber. The cables from Sony XB500/300s are better. These cans can also fold flat for storage.
Plus the head band itself doesn't stickout like Batman's ears. Most of headphones today sticks out, this is flat on the sides regardless if you have a big head.
Update on Design: Major design flaw with the hinge support. The designers have clearly overlooked this one. It's a major rule in design to make your design reliable first, then concentrate on the aesthetics later. This model, just like the Monster Beats product line stands "aesthetics first over the design reliability". A major deal breaker.
Probably that's why this model, SHL5500 is so hard to find in the market. Maybe Philips is silently killing this model due to the design flaw.
Comfort: Spot-on, regardless how big your head is. The cushions are soft and Philips advertises them as cow-hide leather. It may not be as durable as pleather but atleast they are replaceable with generic 75mm pads. The headband doesn't have hard contact points and it is entirely made out of some foam material.
For the asking price of this headphone, they are very well recommendable. But, if you are looking for a better sound quality at the same price point, I would recommend Brainwavz HM3s.
But for the overall value for comfort, sound quality, and design this would be a better deal since the HM3s have an issue the ear cup seal and comfort. For long listening, commute, and decent sound quality this would be my number 1 choice for portables.
Update: deducted 1.5 stars for the major design flaw, it is a deal breaker after all. Too bad for a nice headphone.
pads are made of durable cow's leather.
this one is made of genuine leather, unlike bose's.
well, i had the grado sr325is before, the bose on ear headphone and the aiaiai tracks.
the 325is sounds too hot in treble for me. the sound is quiet very smooth and has a live feel to it. the aiaiai tracks is a fun, warm sig phone in a clean and portable body.
i think many if not most of us here...
have heard what a good can really sound.
and ever wonder what a good music really sound?
a real sound of instruments?
not in a live effect, or a delicious warm soft bass, or something that is comparable to your hi end set up speakers in a form a can...
but something...that sounds natural.
the shl5550 is a sweet and natural sounding can.
bass and treble doesnt sound overly done...like most headphones do.
what most of companies do is they tune a headphone to be likeable...
something that youll like in your first listen.
with that jaw dropping wow effect.
some cans are tuned too much.
powerful bass for bass lovers, which may sound bloated or too much mid bass humps at times.
hot highs for treble heads, to create more live feel to your music, to give more clarity which sometimes lead to ear piercing highs.
too much warmth in the mids which may sound positive and relax but may sound unrealistic and true...
some companies intend to shape the sound, with their different technologies and patented technics...
all are tuned to impress us.
what's wrong in the final outcome is what you are hearing is the too much tuning or flavor of most companies to their phone, and no longer the right flavor of your music.
its very rare to find something so...unique.
something who stands differently among the rest.
how about something for a changed?
and not a particular company that is popular by its kind of product.
how about a brand PHILIPS for a can?
would you believe me when i tell you a PHILIPS brand can sounds as good as your mid to hi level of HIFI can?
sounds as good as your grado prestige series? or audio technica m series?
you maybe saying right now...
PHILIPS? are you nuts? a household brand?
you may not believe me...because its a PHILIPS brand.
but when i heard it, im amazed.
there is something so unique in its sound.
i couldnt believe a brand like this could create something so good.
the shl5500 is what it is.
the sound is so natural and true.
instruments come alive without exaggeration at all...
its balanced. just right.
its not warm (tracks) nor bright.
i also tried comparing the m50 side by side to it, which cost around 8k.
the m50 sounded really lush and delicious, but it is tune to be...likeable.
like most companies do.
just like what i said above.
unlike the shl5500, the sound is presented to you naturally.
depth, details, dynamics, realism of the sound of instruments... natural sounding.
this what makes me stop buying most iems...my fx700.
the sound is presented to you naturally.
just like the fx700.
and i want something right.
there is no forwardness in vocals at all...which doesnt mean it sound too flat or too boring.
there is no too much in treble, bass or mids.
the shl55000 sound is just right.
with the right amount of everything.
you know it sounds right when you hear every details in your music, every nuances, without all the harshness.
it sounds right when youre hearing more of your music than your gear.
it sounds right i believe, when you can distinguish between a sound of a guitar to a sound of a violin or to a sound of a piano.
when you know what your are hearing is true.
true to the sound and character of an instrument.
when a guitar is playing in the background of a song, you should be able to hear it clearly...with the right sound of the guitars body composition, metal strings and wood body.
that's what youll hear here.
some of my mp3 music sounds anemic.
and worst...most of my music is in mp3 format..
too revealing, or too true to the source or format of the music.
its very transparent.
well, most of us here is already used to audiophile or hi quality, hi resolution, hi fidelity brand of gears...from grado, to dennon, to audio technika, to shure to sennheiser...
we may have owned a pair of two brands or more...
maybe it wont hurt if we could try one new brand, which is not recognize in audiophile or purist's world.
where does the philips fit?
i think the philips hit it home here.
its one of the best sounding can around that needs TO BE HEARD to believe.
maybe we should also give some brands a chance to shine.
philips maybe a household brand...
but give it a one shot try.
i dont want to speak more about the can, but i wanted you to test one yourself.
and hear if what im saying here is true.
im mark, mbc0528 here.
a former owner of a grado sr325is, a bose on ear and aiaiai tracks can..
and ive been hunting for a good pair of new can for a long time...
something that would match my need.
my sound preference.
with a sound that i would really really like.
portable, easy to bring to anywhere, sleek.
and i think...
i already found what im looking for...