IEM headphones with an impressive soundstage
- Small and comfortable, brilliant soundstage, deep bass extension
- Highs are a little boring
An attractive pair of entry-level IEMs, the Philips SHE9800 headphones won't blow away audio enthusiasts, but their sound is relatively well balanced and the wide sound stage is excellent.
Sitting at a very attractive price point, the Philips SHE9800 in-ear headphones are a fairly decent option for those looking for a low-cost pair of IEMs (in-ear monitors). Their sound is quite bass heavy but it is relatively well balanced, and the soundstage is excellent considering the size and cost of the product.
As with all other IEMs, these headphones are pretty tiny. Unlike some competing units, they aren't designed to hook over the ear, but rather they just rest in the ear canal. The small, minimalist design ensures they stay put nicely. We found them comfortable for long listening sessions and easy to insert. The default tip size fitted perfectly, but several sizes are contained in the package.
They don't isolate nearly as well as more expensive IEMs, largely because they don't achieve a proper seal with the ear canal. This makes for a more comfortable fit but means external sound isn't blocked out as well. The SHE9800s did a good job in fairly quiet environments, but loud ambient noise did begin to creep through in during softer passages of music.
Overall the sound was pretty good considering the price. The mid-range wasn't particularly rich but it was detailed and quite smooth. Everything flowed together nicely and gelled well, while at the same time sounding visceral. Guitar strings had a slightly metallic tone.
Bass was notably deep and quite powerful. It did sound somewhat hollow at times, but it wasn't bloated or distorted at all. We found this contributed to a relatively fun, fast-paced sound that should suit speedy music nicely.
Treble notes, on the other hand, were unremarkable. There wasn't much wrong with them, but they were a little dull and somewhat rolled off. We found piano and high-pitched acoustic tunes sounded fine but not as engrossing as we'd have liked.
The really impressive thing about the sound from the SHE9800 headphones was the soundstage. With specifically designed and angled microdrivers, these headphones are designed to provide an incredibly wide, deep presentation and they certainly live up to the hype. Small headphones often struggle to produce an engrossing soundstage, but the SHE9800 headphones have no such issues and are one of the most immersive pairs we've listened to. They definitely outdo anything else at this price point.
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