Well-balanced mid-range IEMs
Designed with classical, jazz and blues listening in mind, the SHE9850 headphones are part of Philips' new line of in-ear monitors (IEMs), along with the SHE9800. Their slightly more well-rounded sound, which has an emphasis on detail and transparency, makes them well suited to the afore-mentioned musical styles. Overall, the audio quality is quite impressive; they are a good option for users looking to try something a cut above regular ear buds.
- Clear sweet highs, great detail, wide soundstage
- Bass a little uncontrolled, short cord
Philips' SHE9850 headphones are another strong entry into the mid-range IEM space. Their bass could be a little punchier and more controlled, but for the price these IEMs offer a clear, smooth and well-balanced sound.
Price$ 179.95 (AUD)
These IEMs are fairly small compared to other units on the market. The tips are tiny and slide easily into ears. Users who have never tried canal-phones before will still need to adjust to the slightly bizarre, invasive feeling, but this is the trade-off you make for clear, immersive audio.
Fortunately, size is not an indicator of quality when it comes to headphones. The SHE9850 headphones are strong performers overall. They have a wonderfully detailed sound that brings out all the nuances of music. Subtle percussion instruments, snare drums, backup vocals and individual guitar strings are all well defined and crisp, giving music a smooth transparent sound.
The bass is probably the weakest element of the music. It has a pleasing tone and is quite detailed, but lacks the power and extension of some more bass-heavy IEMs. It could also be a little more controlled, with the notes lingering a little longer than usual.
However, the highs were excellent, with a rich, sweet sound and excellent extension. The clarity and smoothness were exceptional, particularly with high-pitched acoustic guitar and piano notes, which sounded great and were never harsh or fatiguing.
The mid-range was pretty solid, too, with the same smoothness found in the treble notes. Some users might prefer a grittier and more dirty, visceral approach but for certain musical genres the style of these IEMs is more appropriate. Couple that with an excellent soundstage that creates a wide, immersive listening environment and you have an excellent platform for classical music.
Aesthetically, these headphones look pretty classy for IEMs. It’s hard for canal-phones to look too stylish, but Philips has done a pretty good job here with the black tips and gunmetal driver case contrasting nicely. We would have liked the cable to be a little longer but aside from that we have no design complaints.
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