Philips SHP9600

General Information

Philips SHP9600 open back over ear headphones

Latest reviews

Hablmet

New Head-Fier
An improvement upon the original with similar caveats
Pros: Very light, comfortable over extended periods of time if properly worn
Above average staging for the price
Mild warmth makes for a pleasing jazz experience
Extremely easy to power off of anything
Cons: Clamp force could be higher, they fall off very easily just like the predecessor
Still the same rickety build
Imaging is mildly below average, so is the instrument separation
Bass lacks punch but still has sort of a mid-bass bleed
Considerable grain is not improved over the original by a significant enough margin
Treble is tamed over the original, but not as much as it probably should've been
IMG_20221126_185911_8.3.252.jpg

Excuse the quality and the shape of the headphones in the photo. My room is very dusty.

The SHP9600s that I am reviewing were purchased with my own money about a year ago, using a sale coupon that made them cost around $89. The regular price at the time was $149 in my country, which, considering the competition, was a pretty bad idea on Philips' part.

This is also my first review of an over-ear headphone - I've only done one proper IEM review aside this, so feel free to take me with a grain of salt. This hobby is subjective, after all, and I'd like to see differing opinions on a headphone, especially one like this.

Packaging, Build, Comfort
If you've ever handled Philips products before, which I have many times before (TVs, shavers and even an espresso machine), you know their packaging is pretty much no-nonsense and mostly consumer-grade. The SHPs arrive in a blue box showing the cans front, right and center. (Box bottom is cropped out due to showing the store and order details.)
box.jpg

The inside of the box tells a similar story, with a black-sleeved box concealing the headphones inside a black sort-of plastic bag, which, when I first opened it, hit me with such a strong factory smell I had to vent my room for a solid hour. After that, no such smell was retained, thankfully. Alongside the headphones you also get a 6.35mm adapter and a 3m 3.5mm-terminated cable.

I actually prefer the way the 9600s look compared to the 9500s. While the 9500s have a far more characteristic look, with the massive L and R on each cup, the 9600s opt for none of that, going for a jet-black color with a bronze-ish tint on the cup rings to give a bit of contrast to the overall look. L and R are signified on the inside, right above the sliders. The tint is actually disappearing from mine due to how much I use them. It's not a big deal for me.

What is a big deal, unfortunately, is the overall assembly quality. These are basically almost the same as the 9500s, and that brings in the same issues. Thankfully, and I'm giving one big pro here, these have clamp! Not enough to matter a lot, unfortunately, but they don't have the same "they only sit on your ears through the power of God" vibe as the 9500s. They still need more, as they fall off quite easily still, but Philips tried to fix that in the Fidelio series. Tried is perhaps a strong word.
With the assembly being similar, these are quite light and comfortable to wear over long periods, no thanks to the material of the pads (they used to snag on my facial hair though, when I still had that), but they also still feel quite rickety. Being mostly plastic, and not a particularly quality type of plastic at that, these feel pretty cheap, which at the price point they used to be sold at (it's around the same as 9500s nowadays) was unacceptable. It still kind of is now, and you should take additional care when handling these, as they're not big fans of punishment. Cup swivel is minimal, but to the point that adjusting them to fit better on your head is not a big deal. There is plenty of space inside the cups themselves to fit plenty of ears, mine included, and I found myself actually sleeping with these quite often. By the way, don't do that.
The cable was always problematic for me, until my dog chewed it up, at least. Waiting on a 3rd party cable just to get these back on track. 3m (9ft or so) is mildly insane, even given the more intended use of these being in the same room for months on end. The cable is decently supple, but could use more give. The rubber coating didn't feel particularly good and wouldn't last long anyway. The metal ends were actually very good, and the provided adapter also feels nice. With the 9600 being terminated in 3.5, getting a third-party cable is a simple affair, thankfully. I'd recommend getting a shorter cable.

Sound quality
Sources used were the FiiO BTR5 2021, M-Audio AIR 192|4 (both with stock and ASIO4All drivers), and the Xiaomi Poco X3 (LineageOS 19). The SHPs are almost comically easy to power, and can handle about up to 200mW of power. Nothing strong is needed to run these. I'd actually suggest to not give these a ton of power unless you wanna blow them up, either. Pairing these up with an okay DAC is probably also a good shout.

For those that are familiar with the SHP9500 sound, you know that they're probably better suited for playing games and watching movies than listening to music, mostly thanks to their frankly egregious treble response, though still not as bad as some Beyers. The SHP9600s manage to improve on that, albeit in some parts not by a whole lot.
First off, these have low-end..well, sort of. As with most open-backed headphones, there is a significant bass roll-off, but there's a mid-bass hump that gives the bass a bit of body that it desperately needs to make the SHPs more enjoyable. This comes at a cost of not-insignificant bass bleed, which can muffle the mids slightly. Thankfully, the mids on the 9600s are executed in a pretty solid way, even if they're nothing stand-out. I didn't experience any particular honk or wonk. Bonus points there, as I'm a big jazz guy and I like my vocals to sound natural, or at least close to it.

The treble could still be better, though. You can still tell that these are..well, bright. The low-end helps a lot to rein in that impression, but in songs where you can hear particularly aggressive strings, this tends to be a minor nuisance. Overall, however, the treble extends well enough and doesn't give any compressed feeling, at least to my ears.

Staging, imaging
I'll keep this one short as I'm not exactly perfectly versed in this and don't listen to many orchestra recordings. The soundstage on the 9600s is actually above average, with the presentation feeling overall nicely spacious and not concentrated, but decently diffused. This also helps the SHPs a lot, and they don't give any claustrophobic feelings when sitting on top of your head. The imaging is mildly below-average, though, as I have a hard time actually telling apart where the instruments are placed at times, and sometimes they aren't separated too well. These are caveats I can forgive at this price point, as they're not stuck in mid-fi hell.

Conclusion
The SHP9600s are quite decent overall. However, I still can't exactly recommend them. Especially at full price, they're absolutely massacred by the competition - you can get a pair of HD560s around that price very often. I also have to give the Koss KSC75 and KPH30i a shout here, as they're quite well tuned, even if the former lacks low-end, similar to the 9600s. Those are also around a third of the price compared to these, too!
If you manage to get these under $70, they're worth a try. Around the $120-150 mark they should not be considered.
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: tubbymuc

BraveAriel

New Head-Fier
A fair budget headphone
Pros: Good sound | Comfortable | Pretty and well built
Cons: Awful noise cancellation
Introduction

My previous headphones include the Sennheiser Urbanite XL and the Sennheiser HD598 SE. I mainly listen to pop, EDM, and jazz.

Comfort

It's a little heavy but the padding is fairly generous and soft on the ear pads and headband. Overall, it's fairly comfortable.

Build quality and design

The design reminds me of the HD800's design. It has a clean and slick look. It feels okay when handled too.

Sound quality

I live in a warmer climate and I find that the sound of my fan and the outside world from my open windows decrease the sound quality of these headphones quite a bit since these are open back headphones and much of the sound in my surroundings can seep into the sound. With that said, here's a review of the sound of this headphone under such circumstances.

Bass

If I had to rate the bass quantity of these headphones with 1 being practically bass-less and 5 being sub-woofer level bass, I would rate it a 2.3. However, it's fairly controlled with a nice texture.

Mids

Vocals and instruments clearly sound like they're coming from headphones instead of real life. However, it does replicate some detailing and tonality quite nicely.

Highs

The treble here is not fatiguing by much. Song elements have a fairly nice texture in general.

Detail retrieval

I notice parts of the song that I haven't noticed before though granted, I came from my phone's integrated speakers since my 2 previous headphones broke. Aside from new details, existing elements of the song that I already know also takes up a new nature with more rhythm and detail.

Soundstage and imaging

It's fair, that's all.

Verdict

I think the HD598 is a better headphone than this in many regards. For one, it's more comfortable with a lighter weight, a clamping force which hugs more, and it also stays on my head as opposed to the SHP9600 where the headphone can slide off a bit or feel like it's about to. Then, there's the sound quality. The HD598 SE had deeper and stronger bass which lends itself well in EDM and even in Jazz. The HD598 SE may not have the same detail retrieval but it's more aggressive and sparkly. Instruments feel more airy and luscious. Granted the HD598 SE was broken in thoroughly (when I first got them, the bass felt bloated and too lacking), I listened to them in a quieter environment, and it's not even been 2 weeks since I got these headphones but yeah, these are my impressions. Would I recommend these? I'm not sure. A lot of the sound improvements this headphone has over the HD201(my makeshift headphone while transitioning to another better headphone) were pretty subtle. I guess it's up to the reader to find out what they find important.
  • Like
Reactions: Lifted Andreas

hodgjy

Headphoneus Supremus
Philips SHP9600 Review
Pros: Balanced sound. No mid-bass bloom or bleed. Fairly spacious midrange. Excellent sound for the money.
Cons: Not the most revealing. Treble can be a bit grainy at times.
I've been in possession of the Philips SHP9600 for a few days now and I wanted to post a review. I'm not much of a believer in break-in, so take the youth of these headphones with a grain of salt as it potentially affects your own dogma.

IMG_1170.jpg


Disclaimer:
I have several other headphones that cost many times more. I bought these for mixed usage and I came into my purchase with very tempered expectations. I mainly intended for this purchase to act as my movie headphones when plugged into my Yamaha RX-V485 receiver with Silent Cinema. I had been using the Sennheiser HD 569 (closed) for that, but after a while I felt they sounded too boxed in and the voices had too much "honk" to them when watching movies. So, I wanted to find some relatively inexpensive open back headphones to make the sound feel more open for movies. Also, I wanted a pair of headphones that specifically had a little dip in the 1k-4K range to help remove any "honk" from speaking voices while watching movies. These fit the bill, so I pulled the trigger and ordered them.

I've been on a mini quest during the pandemic months to find good headphones in the sub $150 US range. While I do have headphones costing much more, I've grown tired of paying $50-100 US to re-pad them regularly, so I decided I'd try to invest that money instead into headphones, but knowing full well that they won't hang in absolute technicalities with my more expensive cans.

I'm reviewing these in comparison to my other headphones, no matter what the price difference may be. Also, I've never heard the Philips SHP9500 so I cannot comment at all about those. For example, it's said these have more clamping force than the SHP9500. These are quite loose and comfortable, so I have no idea how the SHP9500 stays on anyone's head.

I recently had my Audeze LCD-2F repaired by Audeze due to failed drivers. They are no longer "F" headphones, but I don't know exactly which drivers they put in there since they have had many revisions over the years. I never asked because I was playing with house money since they fixed them for free a year after the warranty expired.

After being very pleased with the SHP9600 for movies, I decided to plug them into my main headphone rig to evaluate their sound with music. While I am extremely pleased with these for movies, and I highly recommend them for that capacity, the focus of this review is mainly regarding music from my main headphone rig. I make a few comments here and there about their movie performance.

I also bought a cheap aftermarket cable that was extra long for using with my home theater. I reviewed the headphones using that cable and not the stock one. I'm also a cable atheist, so take that into account for your own dogma as well.

Headphone Rig:
iPod Classic ALAC --> Pure i20 --> Schiit Modius XLR --> Teac HA-501 --> single end jack

Overall Impressions:
I paid $89.99 US for these, and honestly, I would have no regret paying $250 US for these. I feel they are that good. The sound is more open and neutral than the Sennheiser HD 650. They lack the same resolution, refined treble, and precise imaging that the HD 650 demonstrate, but they sound less muddy and congested. I'm not complaining about the HD 650 as these are my regular music drivers, but the Philips demonstrate these qualities in comparison to the Sennheiser.

These headphones are voiced very well for a variety of rock and pop genres, but they also excel at movies. They hold themselves together very well with cinema and don't embarrass themselves at all at either movies or music.

These headphones have no glaring issues or flaws. They do many things well, and I suspect people on a budget would have no complaints with these as their daily drivers. I'm quite impressed with them regardless of how much I paid for them, and I only appreciate them more because of their price.

Treble:
The treble is a little more grainy and unrefined compared to both the Sennheiser HD 650 and Audeze LCD-2. Treble is more present than the LCD-2 and maybe about the same level as the HD 650. They provide sparkle when needed, but not nearly as elegantly as the HD 650 do. The treble is a little more blunt with a hint of metallic aftertaste. If I didn't have the LCD-2 or HD 650 within an arm's reach for comparison, I'd have no idea that the treble had any limitations. I wouldn't call their treble flawed. It's just a different rendering indicative of their price point. I found no hot spots or issues with sibilance. They aren't the last word in treble, but they are pretty darn good in their own regard.

Midrange:
The midrange is pretty darn good at the price point. It is a little recessed as indicative of the 1k-5k scoop, but they don't sound hollow at all. Male voices are nicely rendered. The midrange feels much less congested than the HD 650 or LCD-2. Mid-bass doesn't bleed at all into it, which it does in the HD 650, so naturally the mids sound less congested than the HD 650. I'm not going to get into the Sennheiser veil debate at all, but let's just leave it here that the mids on the Philips are more open than the HD 650. They're not as liquid and luscious, either, but they're tastefully done. If you are specifically looking for a V-shape curve, these should be on your list.

Bass:
The bass is pretty decent on these, but it is certainly out-classed by my other headphones. It has strong impact and good timbre. It digs deep when it has to and it never bleeds into the midrange, which is one thing I hold personally against the HD 650. Overall, bass is about the same amount as the HD 650 and a bit more pronounced than the LCD-2. However, the LCD-2 digs much deeper and cleaner than both the Philips and the Sennheiser. The SHP9600 doesn't differentiate the different bass notes as well as the HD 650 or LCD-2. Saying that, though, if these were your only headphones, you'd be none the wiser as they still are definitely not one-note in the bass department. The best thing I can say about the bass on these is they don't embarrass themselves in the slightest when playing anything by Les Claypool. It handles "Spirits in the Material World" by the Police without breaking a sweat. It's not as fast as the LCD-2, but it is pleasing for people who require a bit of bass emphasis. Note that I am not a basshead at all, but I do love the sound of the bass guitar.

Soundstage:
The soundstage isn't anything to write home regarding music. If you put these headphones on my head without letting me see them first, I'd have no idea they have angled drivers. Imaging is pretty good, and about the same as the LCD-2. I've never felt imaging or soundstage were a strength of the LCD-2, but it is a strength of the HD 650. Despite the HD 650's "three-headed blob," they do have very good imaging. The Philips don't suffer from the same "three-headed blob" that the HD 650 does, but they do fall behind in the precise imaging. Overall, these headphones have a fine soundstage and imaging for their price point. However, just don't expect the angled drivers to deliver anything special for you. I'd hate to imagine how these would sound without angled drivers...

Interestingly, the soundstage is excellent for movies. My first time using them for movies I honestly thought certain noises were coming from somewhere in my apartment and I took the headphones off to try to figure out what it was. It was from the movie soundtrack itself. I was watching "Raised by Wolves" on HBO Max and the noises from wind blowing on the tent during those scenes really tricked me.

General Conclusions:
These are very good headphones for movies. They image well enough for movies and voices are clear without any honk. They have enough bass for explosions and other rumbles. They have enough sparkle for fine details in the soundtrack. People looking for modestly priced open back headphones for movies should definitely add these to their list.

For music, these headphones have absolutely exceeded my expectations. They are very well rounded performers without any obvious sins. Had I not had more expensive headphones nearby for comparison, I would be completely ignorant to any quality drop off with these compared to them. When I put on a pair of relatively inexpensive headphones that aren't the better ones in my collection, I can tell instantly what their sins and flaws are. I really had to listen critically to identify the limitations of the SHP9600. I previously reviewed the Sennheiser HD 559, and while I thought those were very good for the money (they are, but they absolutely commit several sins including massive mid-bass bleed into the midrange and a timbre that is just off), the Philips cost less and are absolutely better. Drastically better. In fact, they put the HD 559 to shame. If I didn't have the HD 650 for my regular drivers, I'd have no problem using these for that purpose. It just so happens that these are my movie headphones.
Last edited:
Hyde00
Hyde00
I thought the whole SHP9500 vs SHP9600 argument was due to price. At full price SHP9600 is almost double the price of SHP9500 making it not really "bang for buck". I'd imagine maybe for gaming the soundstage / imaging benefit is already "good enough" with SHP9500. It's probably similarly to AD700X vs AD900X where people recommend AD700X for gaming and AD900X for music.

Then again I've never heard SHP9600 so this is all speculation. However I did own SHP9500 and I didn't like it for music (didn't try gaming). My "bar" was Denon D2000 and I thought it was better on everything. My friend with HD800 and HD650 also didn't like SHP9500 either (we each bought a pair at the same time).

But based from this review it sounds like SHP9600 might be worth to try again, also if they are on sale then it makes it even better. Hmmmm...... I'm a bit curious now lol. 🤔

EDIT: Just saw the above comment now, in this case I might skip both at this time LOL.
tnil
tnil
I have had my SHP9600 for a month now and I really like them. Bought them because my Philips X2 was dropped in the floor. The SHP9600 are really great for movies and music.
Lifted Andreas
Lifted Andreas
I've never owned any Phillips headphones but I might be getting the 9600. My current headset is PC37x.

Comments

mojevajaco

New Head-Fier
Although 9500 sound little honkey and bass is weak it's the only headphone out of HD6xx dt1990 vmoda lp2 that stops me in my tracks in whatever I'm doing because i notice an hidden percussion or instrument that you can clearly follow despite the fact that it is burried in the mix and lot quieter than the rest yet still easy to pick out.
 
Back
Top