Philips SHP9500

General Information

Enjoy an authentic listening experience in style. Created to offer outstanding performance through open back architecture and high-precision 50mm neodymium speaker drivers which deliver the full spectrum of superior Hi-Fi sound.

Deluxe breathable ear-pads improve breathability and dissipate pressure and heat for longer wearing comfort.

Comfortable double layered headband cushion

Steel headband for strength and durability

Exquisite open-back, over the ear design for authentic sound
An acoustic open-back architecture eliminates air pressure build-up behind the driver, giving the diaphragm greater freedom of movement. This greatly enhances sound transparency and smoothens extended high frequencies.

Angled drivers align perfectly with your ear
Engineered to fit the ear's natural geometry, the ear-shells offer precise and accurate sound. Audio signals are directly channeled into the ears, creating a dynamic and authentic listening experience.

50 mm neodymium drivers
Impedance: 32 ohm
Maximum power input: 200 mW
Sensitivity: 101 dB
Frequency response: 12 - 35 000 Hz
Cable Connection: one-sided
Gold-plated plug
11 oz (.32 kg)

Latest reviews

SHP 9500: The Poor End-To-End's End-Game
Pros: Good Neutral/Treble focused tuning, all-rounder, spacious feeling soundstage and satisfying imaging, detail retrieval considering the price, easy to drive, pretty responsive to EQ, comfort, sturdiness, mids and treble shine (shiny sound), plays well with low-level sources
Cons: The cable, sibilance, selective grainy treble, lack of substantial sub-bass, hard to mod peacefully, mids and treble shine (shiny sound)
All pictures taken by the help of my lovely friend @asliii_cakmakk. Follow her IG if you like.

As someone who is relatively new to the hobby, with limited gear as of yet, and an even more limited budget, I hugely appreciate the existence of the SHP 9500s. These living legends are, I am sure, well known by many of you already, and although at times contested, their competence have made them an almost timeless piece. So, ultimately, this review can be summed up by the phrase “Just pull the trigger.” with little caveat, for I think even for the most decorated gear-heads these would be a relatively cheap, easily disposable carry of high-end audio. For even at it’s most basic level, it runs many laps around your normal pair of “consumer headphones”. I reckon these would get a “great” from most people and a “passable” from the most equipped of audiophiles, and for that, considering the price as always, it is a treasure to have. Now, it should be no secret I am very happy about this pair, and it must be noted that I have not yet had the chance to experience higher end gear, or any of the cult classic Sennheisers (I know, shame on me, truly.) However, for this reason, feel free to read this as a sort of POV of the person looking to transition into high end audio. And, if you are this person, short on budget and even shorter on your patience with current consumer headphone quality, then I believe this will align well with you. Either way, let us quickly start with the build, comfort, and, finally, get to the sound.


Build

Plastic, yet competent and lasting build. The main housings of the drivers and throughout the parts that support the metal spine, there is a certain feel of plastic. However, while most likely not being as well-built as Sennheiser’s models, it still is a very sturdy build, carrying only the touch of the plastic that was used. Then again even this may be disputed, as these headphones seem to last a long time, with Zeos’s pair lasting about 5 years as of now, and another person lamenting the fact that theirs still haven’t broken down after 4 years of abuse. In the end this is certainly far from the thin “Wish Free Earbud” plastic, which would put china to shame with it’s fragility. In addition to this, the mesh on the housings and the spine of the headband is from proper, relatively thick metal, and feels strong, carrying an almost industrial feel. I can see these lasting years, even without too much proper care. The large L’s and R’s on the metal meshes should be noted, as some people don’t enjoy the bold way in which they are presented.
Solo.jpg

Mesh R.jpg
Mesh L.jpg
Sidenote: Also there is this ever enigmatic tape on the sides of the hinges, and the only explanation I can conjure up is that they are there to prevent friction and scuffing, despite the fact that they don't really touch.
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The cables on the other hand are problematic; the pair comes with a 3 m, 3.5-to-3.5 TRS cable, one side silver, the other black plastic (the silver side goes into your source not the headphones). However, more importantly, the cable not only takes shape too quickly, but can easily get tangled into an uncomfortable shape, especially in the zig-zaggy way it arrived to me. I can’t see this being too much of a problem if you don’t move around much, (as you probably shouldn’t be anyways, considering it is open-back) however a change of cables, for the sake of length or comfort, may be better, so keep this in mind please. I personally don’t mind this as much, and I realise others might.


Cable Solo.jpg


Comfort

Long-lasting, comfortable listening time with minimal clamp and soreness. In my experience these headphones may as well not care how large your head is because the clamp is just... justtt enough for it to not fall off your head, and this usually ends up being a good thing. For others I can see this pair accomodating many head shapes and sizes, as it can be set to be pretty large. On top of this these settings are numbered on the headband, and as such lets you keep track of them. Because of this it is, consistently, a very comfortable wear, but also does not like movement much. One of the main genres in my cycle is death metal, and these headphones do not allow too much headbanging, although you can certainly get away with some. So no going crazy in your room, or acting like you’re in a mosh pit, but rather, reserved, refined headbangs are allowed.

The default pads create a spacious, yet shallow seating for your ears, and as such more often than not your ears touch the drivers, or rather the plastic housing inside. This does create some discomfort in my case, with a really mellow ache starting at about 3 hours into a listening session, and does change with how you put it on. Otherwise, this is usually fixed after refitting the headphone. In all cases however, I had no need to take off the headphones. The pads themselves are basically car seats for your ears, and this is as real as it is a joke, for the materials feel almost identical. It works both better and worse than expected however. On one hand the pads feel nice, sturdy and comfortable. On the other, perhaps clashing slightly with the comfort, is that rough, car seat texture. However, this hasn’t caused any discomfort for me or my friends as of yet and the pads have only gotten softer with use. Either way, these pads are actually changeable, while being quite difficult to do so (this isn’t your magnetically swappable Empyrean or Diana, so to speak.) There are a couple of mods one can do to fix the pads’ issues or change them completely. Beware that, if you want to swap the whole pad, unless you get 3D printed halos from Modhouseaudio, or anywhere else you can find, you are going to have to rip the original pads off, making the pads useless and leaving only the halo. Otherwise you can simply add some filling, without changing or ripping the pads, to get a deeper space for your ears, fixing the driver touch effect.


Safe, modhouseaudio mod: can be found in their website, also surely some other place is doing a similar thing.

Ripping and changing the pads completely or adding padding to the originals, a Youtube tutorial: (The adding extra padding is at the start of the video)


Technicalities

All tested on a combination of FLAC files and Spotify on Very High with good connection. The sources were a measly pc with B&O innards (I can’t find the specifics, HP Pavilion series) and a Samsung A71, so they are as run-of-the-mill as it gets. Any other resources, I suspect, would get even better results.

Technicalities table (taken from Philips’ website):
Acoustic system Open
Magnet type Neodymium
Impedance 32 ohm
Maximum power input 200 mW
Sensitivity 101 dB
Speaker diameter 50 mm
Frequency response 12 - 35 000 Hz

These are a very easy to drive pair, with the seemingly budget-classic usage of Neodymium as the magnet. They have a single 50mm DD config that is very easy to drive, with a mobile friendly 32 ohms. Amps may help still. The frequency response seeminlgy held true in my case, getting a 27-17500 Hz in a sine sweep test, and as far as I know those are the limits of my hearing. Wouldn’t advise using these outside as they are open-back and practically leak all of the noise.


The Sound

Competent, neutral tuning with above consumer grade technicalities that seem to push details up front not necessarily by raw output but good tuning, imaging and soundstage. That is to say, while I lack the experience to attest to this personally, the consensus seems to be that high-end headphones beat these by a mile when it comes to technicalities, while I personally found them to be quite past satisfactory. As such, my hunch is that these headphones earned their level of fidelity by putting forth the decent technicalities via their competent usage of imaging, soundstage and tuning. I am honestly torn about how objective I can get about the technicalities and the general comparison especially, for my experience tells me that they are very good, with a lot of detail to boot, and even the most experiened reviewers lay, at times, at exact opposites in this matter. So, I’ll have to advise for you to make up your own mind, depending mainly on the tuning and soundstage. One thing is, however, for certain; these headphones can comfortably separate low and high quality sound files or streaming. Now, onto the main players...


Bass

-Has a nice amount of texture and presence. I can’t find much fault with it to be honest, for I, as mentioned, haven’t heard better as of yet. I can tell you this however, if you are coming from commercial headphones, looking for entry point, unless you were deep in that Skullcandy Crusher life style, you will most likely be satisfied -with the caveat that is the treble-. This pair certainly favors fidelity and conciseness over amount and commanding presence.

-There is a noticeable lack of sub-bass but decent punch to the kicks and main body of the bass. This may not be to some people’s liking but, especially for extreme genres like death metal or speedcore, and more treble-heavy genres like opera, or contemporary classical music it is near perfect. As a counter-example for the lack of sub-bass, although light, it can still be heard, as in the track “Fracture Ray” (0:00-0:27) where very light featherings of sub-bass is present and the headphones can deliver them. Do not be afraid if you think you won’t hear sub-bass, but do beware that the amount truly is light, especially in comparison to other, bass-oriented headphones.

-Bass never really takes over, as even in tracks like the briefly memed, very bass-heavy “Collard Greens” the bass is at about the same level as the vocals, in fact they are even overpowered by the vocals. There is no bloat, nor unwanted lower frequencies trying to take over the mids or the highs, letting them work comfortably, and most times shine. It should be taken with a grain of salt however, as for treble-heads this headphone may even be “light” on treble, as I, alongside the fact that I am appearantly one, found myself boosting the mids and the treble. I suspect that if you like Beyerdynamics’ tuning, this treble will not phase you as much, however it is still undeniably treble focused (and sibilant, more on that later.)

-Responds relatively well to EQ, but may be received as bloat if you don’t necessarily like amount over fidelity. However if you like bass, and are uninitiated to higher-end bass, I think you will still be blown away, as my friend was during our listening. Otherwise, the Fidelio X2/HRs are most definitely a better budget choice for you, for bass-heads should be most careful with these headphones, as you will see in the treble section.


Mids

-I could find no problems in the mids, which is to say, compared to commercial headphones, these are the definite go-to for acoustic tracks. Not only does the neutral sound siqnature let the mid and treble ranges breathe, but can supply them with considerable (while not excessive, or large) amounts of rumble and body. I could not, while not exactly being a tonmeister, find any problems with the timbre. I found it to be pleasing, with a good amount of detail, helped massively by the imaging, soundstage and tuning, which interact well with usually already minimal or small ensembles. That is to say, because of the relatively spacious soundstage you can really feel the reverberation and emptiness that contrasts with the vocalist’s or guitarist’s performance. Moreover the imaging on the guitars, especially when it is something like a two-guitar ensemble(?) where separate sources of sound work together, this pair is a treat to listen to. You feel like, while perhaps not being the most realistically staged, you are squished between two guitars, with considerable space in between (more on this on Sounstage and Imaging.)


Treble

-It is there always. Even in the most bass heavy recordings the treble is at least felt, and only in dark ones, such as “Blood Eagle” from Periphery, which for some reason sounds dark to me with these headphones, is it somewhat held back. EDM or Speedcore is nigh on piercing, but can be somewhat fixed with EQ, or you can get used to it like I did. If you want a consistently comfy listen, this pair certainly isn’t for you, but I’d advise you grab this pair still, if it’s the only thing you can get (as it was the case with me.)

-Subject to “grainy” treble mostly, if not exclusively, on the sparkle (or “splash”) range of hi-hats. This is excessively present at times, and while I didn’t find it to ruin anything, at times, it sounds almost compounded. I didn’t manage to notice it in any other treble oriented genre, like classical music though, I think these headphones just don’t like hi-hats. (Additional note: One time have I heard this on the S’s of a rap song as of now, but this does not seem to be a frequent case at all.)

-Consistent and notable reports of sibilance. However, I did not notice this even when watching Marquess Brownlee, whose videos I find (or found rather) to be nefariously sibilant. But, I think this is just me getting acquainted to the headphones (because I still notice those S’s and F’s.) These are pretty sibilant headphones, you most likely won’t care if you aren’t new to treble-heavy headphones. You will most likely care if you like warmer, more comfortable experiences, so beware.


Soundstage and Imaging

- Spacious, almost phenomenal, with decent height and pretty good width. There is a good amount of distance between sound sources, and stereo or very busy recordings use this space freely. To expound a bit to gauge one’s expectations I find that the width of the soundstage is like a circle whose radius goes from about the back of one housing to the other, orbiting around the head. The front of this circle feels shallower, as sound sources in the front are definitely harder to place than ones to the sides or the back of my head. The height is decent, and seems to correspond well with the width, but I say this half-blindly, as there certainly seems to be some degree of vertical separation or difference, and while definitely not short, it certainly is no skyscraper. As such, perhaps the analogy of a sphere with a stubby nose is the most appropriate one. (This seems to be an unorthodox approach at an explanation, so feel free to write me if you agree or disagree, I’d really like to learn how well this sort of explanation holds up.)

-The imaging is very good, with very accurate separation, almost concise. While I can’t see this being what some people define other headphones as being staged “like a studio”, it feels like it is more like a spherical terrarium of music, in which sources and sounds can freely move, with more concise attention towards the left and right sides. For this, I can give the example of “Bennie And The Jets” where throughout the song, the guitar is on the far left, while the piano is well-put somewhere to the right. And especially at the end of the song where the very computer-like sounds of what I can only place to be a synth enters, the true extents of the width is shown. Both sources, each at one extreme are very well placed, feeling like they are somewhere around the metal meshes of the headphone. Moreover, even in very busy songs like “Qyoh -Nine Stars” (speedcore/EDM) by Camellia, the quick hits can be placed throughout the “spherical” soundstage, and the feeling of “oneness” or getting congested is seldom felt. However it should also be noted that these are shy of being called very accurate, as there is still a slight sort of "vagueness" present with these placements that hold them back.

-The imaging may not sit well with you if you prefer a more intimate imaging. That is to say, for example, because the soundstage is relatively large, and the imaging exact, if one instrument is placed at a certain location throughout the track, it will stay there and make you feel it. Otherwise, it will also be filling that soundstage, for example in tracks like “Ebrietas, Daughter of the Cosmos” by Yuka Kitamura where large, overwhelming sounds are used. A nice test for this could be to see if you appreciate the small, “inner-head” soundstage/imaging of most commercial in-ears, where the imaging is more direction than separation. If so you may not like these headphones. Still I think very few will feel this way, but if not feel free to write, I’d really like to know.


Extra consideration: AliExpress V-Moda Mic Cable

It is really is, functionally, the same thing with maybe different insides, it works well, with mediocre-to-decent sound quality. Be careful of sound leakage that can reach the mic, I even accidentally outed myself on an Among Us game once. I could notice no difference in sound compared to the original cable.








As a sort of clarification, thank you for reading my first review, and I’d really appreciate your feedback. I had to make this very bear-bones, and can’t do much comparison outside of some assertions lightly guided by what I have heard from many other reviewers (Crinacle, Zeos, Joshua Velour, DMS, metal571, and many others throughout Head-Fi and Reddit.) Moreover, aside from my lack of hands-on experience, even in the “higher ups” there seems to be significant disagreement, so I view this more as throwing my hat into the ring, and add my experience. Otherwise, I am going to be checking this review from time to time, feel free to ask anything, add, or leave some constructive criticism.

Attachments

Pros: Comfort, Light, Balanced signature
Cons: Bass can be somewhat lean, highs can be sibilant at times
Can't complain about anything. Comfort is great, if you have big ears they may touch the drivers but it's not an issue for me.

Sound is balanced overall, bass is adequate but at times can be lean. Using a good EQ can fix the issue (there is a great EQ setting in reddit for the SHP9500).

Mids are very good and present as I said it's a very balanced headphone.

Highs are slight elevated and sometimes there is sibilance but the headphone sounds very lively and dynamic because of that.

Soundstage is good as well as imaging, but nothing amazing. They are very good for games, help in the immersion or even in competitive to hear enemies.

These Headphones are so amazing that they changed the way I listen to music I listen to much more classical or Jazz because of the superior recordings they really shine if the source is well recorded. If the song you listen has a bad recording you will notice that, the 9500 won't be as enjoyable almost like if they are asking you for a better recorded song.

Sound signature wise the headphone is amazing it's close to the HD600 but obviously due to price limits they have a handicap. They are close to the HD600 sound signature wise but are technically inferior. Still they are amazing and if you can get them for $50-70 they are worth it.
Pros: Soundstage, Mids, Comfort, Detachable cables, Affordable
Cons: Sweat magnets, Non removable pads
The model I received are the shp9500s(newer revision) from the older discontinued shp9500. Prices in India are obviously twice as that of the US retail but still it was quite competitive compared to the other headphones that were offered for similar price range.

The box contains the headphones themselves and a 1.5m 2pole removable 3.5mm cable for the headphones. Nothing more on the accessories and these do not include the carry pouch that you get with the older version of the shp9500.

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Comfort and build:
You don't need to worry about the comfort or build in these headphones. Though they are constructed primarily with plastic with metal grills only to cover the drivers, they are engineered well and do not feel cheap on your hands. They are large and have huge earcups with super soft pads on them. They are light enough that you'll forget your wearing them after few minutes of listening. Few concerns with these headphones are the non removable ear pads and the ear cups being a bit shallow for some. The material on the pads can make your ears a bit sweaty.

Sound:
Musical presentation is completely transparent and they reveal everything as it was intended to sound like. They simply do not fool you colouring the music. The sound of these headphones are basically focused well on the mids and the vocal performance in these cans are truly phenomenal.
I was amazed by the soundstage and imaging I got out of this pair. They don't have super wide soundstage as the higher priced flagships but being completely open backed in design, they do let you position your instruments with some decent accuracy. With the good enough soundstage and imaging, they prove to be an excellent choice for gaming apart from being used for other media consumption.

Bass performance can be a complain to some but i'd say it offers good enough low end for almost all the genres. The bass in these really improve a lot after giving it a burn in time for about 50 hours. The sound completely changes after burn in giving it a wider sound presentation. To further improve on the bass quantity when run from a mobile phone, these headphones can use some amplification which makes these headphones to pack some real punch on the lows. The bass can extent quiet deep and gives you a clear non bloated presentation around low 80s and below.

The highs are well present and the peak frequencies at 7k are tapered a bit for a smoother overall presentation. These headphones have a satisfying sound signature that many can really appreciate just by giving it a quick listen. With the completely open back design and given it's huge size , they can't be used for travelling and they leak all of your music out.

The Philips shp5900s with an impedance of 32ohms need not use any external amp or dac for better listening and in fact they hardly make any difference when paired with other DACs or amps which can disappoint the enthusiast who are eager to play with these cans trying to pair up different sources with the SHP9500S.

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