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Budget headphone quasi review. Philips SHP9500 (Best sub 100$ headphones?)

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Jan 3, 2014
So, I wanted something light and comfortable to wear in the garage that would sound decent, but also be relatively cheap (sub 100$). I own several midrange (120-300$) headphones, and wearing them in the garage is just not an option. Came across these by accident, and they seemed to be ok for the money.

- First off, the packaging is pretty nice. No fancy showcasing, no frilly designs, just a simple, well packaged box. Could probably be shipped via hurricane and be completely fine.
- Next up, the cable. WOW. Its just a standard, run of the mill 3.5mm jack design you can get literally anywhere. If it goes bad, very easy and cheap replacement. While not a particularly incredible cable, it feels nice, is a great length (not too short, not too long), and seems to be sturdy enough to survive for a while.


Wellp. Lets get to the most obvious thing. These bad boys are HUGE. Absolutely massive. They look ridiculous tbh. Not unstylish, but just comically large on your head. Conversely to their size, they are amazingly light weight. You can almost forget you are wearing them. That said, they dont feel "cheap". Normally lighter headphones can be rickety, and feel cheap and easily breakable. These feel very solid. An ok amount of head clamp (I prefer high clamping pressure akin to my HD25's), but for most people, this will be a welcome thing. The pads are astoundingly comfortable. I literally forget Im wearing these things. the hinges are metal, and the slide adjust mechanism is adjustable on both sides AND made of metal.

The ear pads swivel to accomodate head shapes nicely. Feels very secure.


None of this means a damn if they sound like crap. Upon initial listening, I was pretty floored. The soundstage is MASSIVE being a completely open design. No boomy bass, but enough there to satisfy me. My tastes are more towards heavy bass (HDJ 1500's are unbeatable for my tastes), so it's mildly lacking there. Initially, the highs were somewhat shrilly and tinny, almost metallic. After a few days of breaking them in; however, this softened up immensely, and now they sound EXTREMELY balanced. I don't feel like Im listening to sub 100$ headphones, thats for sure.

I will define the sound as tight and articulate. Its not boomy, its not coloring the sound very much. If you've listened to some HD800's, they are akin to that kind of sound. listening to Beethoven's 9th in D minor, I was able to discern every instrument pretty clearly. No, these aren't super audiophile grade, but they are extremely satisfying.
You can really immerse yourself in music with this.

During gaming (notably Counterstrike : GO), positional audio is pretty outstanding. Very precise directional binaural sound. Not the greatest headset for explosions and high energy musical tracks, but for serious, competitive gaming, I would highly recommend these combined with the Vmoda Boompro mic (it's almost like it was MEANT to be paired with that lol).


- Extremely open design. There is literally zero isolation. Why they call them "semi-open" I dunno, as thats completely laughable. The drone of fans, or someone talking in the room will be fully audible, regardless of music/game volume. If you're having a skype conversation, be ok with everyone in the room hearing your conversation.
- While extremely comfortable, the headband portion does get a bit of friction heat in the hair over time. Taking off and readjusting after a while is mandatory. Its not uncomfortable, think of it like a pillow and you need to turn it over. I feel a leather or velour pad would have been better suited here.
- Non collapsable design. They sit as they are, no way to make them smaller footprint like many other larger headphones. With the huge size of these, transporting them may be a chore as they do not sit on your neck very well.
- Ear pads are nigh impossible to replace (but they feel amazing, and seem extremely durable)
- Styling may not be for everyone (big "L" and "R" on the ear pads is kinda insulting haha)
- Useless in the garage haha. Sad, but I'll get over it


I paid 64.99$ shipped from amazon (prime). Came well received. Sounds great. I would highly recommend these to anyone looking for a pair to throw around if needed, gamers looking for decent quality under 100$, and any newcomer to the headphone market. These are fantastic for the money, and I am extremely glad I purchased them. I bought them kind of to abuse, but they dont suit that purpose at all. All in all, a fantastic buy. Id give it 4/5 stars.


dBa Member
Mar 1, 2013
The Xiaomi Piston 3 is said to be the best value for the <$100 segment and even does OK with onboard audio, although you'll need an adapter to use the microphone part on a PC. Isolation is pretty good and can be further improved by wearing earmuffs over them. Just buy from a reputable source like direct from Amazon since there some problems with fakes or factory rejects.

The Klipsch S3 that I had before really needed a good DAC/amp to do well and sounded notably poor with onboard. Isolation is a little better than the Xiaomi but wind induced noise was notably worse and cable handling noise much worse.

There's also the Xiaomi Mi Hybrid which is an updated version of the Piston 3, but I can't comment on those since I don't have any yet.


Jan 3, 2014
I dont really classify IEM's in the same category tbh. Thats an entirely different ball game, and those are EXTREMELY subjective (fit, sound, etc), at least compared to over ear monitors.

But yeah, those may be a better bargain for those looking for iem's. I know youre an audiohead too, you should definitely check these out!
Dec 13, 2005
AHA! I actually grabbed a set of these off Newegg for $60 shipped a few weeks ago. Do a fair amount of travel and wanted a cheap set of open cans to toss in a suitcase. They really are surprisingly good for the price.