Proof Positive You Don't Have to Pay a Lot For Great Sounding Headphones
Nov 1, 2009
Review by John Staradumsky
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Excellent seperation, good solid bass, crisp clear highs, rich three dimensional sound.
Cons:Good, but not great, sound isolation.
The Bottom Line: Well worth the price.
It was that time again. Given the almost daily use and abuse I put my headphones through, the time to buy a new pair of buds had rolled around again. Lady luck, however, had not been by my side, and the first two suitors for my ears' attention both failed to meet with my approval. The former, Sony MDR-EX35B Bumpin Buds, sounded wonderful, but one of the two ear buds stopped working after a day. And as they say, you only get one chance to make a good first impression.
Recommend this product?
The next set, a pair of Shure SE110-N phones, were a bit more toward the high-end, at least price wise anyway. They listed for $80 to $100, but sounded absolutely dreadful, dull, flat, and lifeless. More proof to my theory that you don't have to spend a ton of money for great sound, and sometimes when you do, you won't get the premium you're paying for.
After returning the two aforementioned pairs to the store, I spied a set of Philips SHE 9550 Black buds at Target for a meager thirty bucks and decided to give them a try. After all, I had had great luck in the past with the Philips SHE-9500s , direct predecessor to these phones. And I desperately needed a new pair for my spanking new Zune HD.
Which, as luck would have it, I happened to have with me, and no sooner was I in the parking lot than I popped the new buds into my ears. And I must say, I liked what I heard. More on that in a bit, though.
What You Get
The SHE 9550 in-ear buds come with a convenient carry case with attached belt loop for enhanced portability. The cord simply wraps around the center of the case and you then lock the ends onto a notch at the top. Also included are three sets of soft rubber fittings to form a seal in your ears, hold the buds in place and lock out some external sound.
Design and Fit
The design here is very similar to the SHE 9550s, which served me well for some time. One major difference is that the buds are more rounded then they are in their older sibling, and are slightly angled. This provides a better, more snug fit in my opinion, which is very important.
As for durability, I do like the firm rubber wrapper around the base which holds the junction of cord contacts and metal fitting firmly in place in order to prevent cord fray. The Y-split of cords to the two buds is not adjustable, and the wires do seem on the thin side there, but they're about the same thickness as they were on the SHE 9550s, and the cords on those never failed me. The wires are locked nicely into the buds and protected there by a hard plastic housing that extends over them for a centimeter or so.
Cable length: 3.9 ft
Frequency response: 6-23,500 HZ
Sensitivy: 105 db
Impedance: 16 Ohms
Maximum power handling: 50 mW
Impressions on Use
When I was considering these in the store, the promise of "Rich bass" on the package caught my attention, but the frequency response listing of 6-23,500 HZ really sealed the deal. While the top number is probably more than most people can actually perceive, the bottom number supported the claim of rich bass.
The day after I bought the SHE 9550s, I took them out on a trial run along the Chattahoochee river, where all my headsets ultimately meet with my approval (or go back to the store). Before so doing, I replaced the medium-sized fittings with the included smaller set since those seem to fit best in my ears.
The fit was snug and secure, and the buds held tightly during my entire three hours of exercise. They do a fairly good job locking out external sound, perhaps not so good as others I've used but still good enough with moderate volume so that I don't hear traffic noise on the way to the river.
And the sound. Oh, the sound. To my ears, the SHE 9550s certainly deliver to their promised specs with crisp, clear high and deep, booming bass, at least as much of the latter as can be expected from a pair of in-ear buds. The deep, pounding thrum of the kettle-drums from Denn Alles Fleisch in Brahms Deutches Requiem was amazingly lifelike.
The bass was equally impressive in Johann Strauss Egyptian March, but that piece's chiming bells also demonstrated the upper performance too. It's not just classical that sounded great, either. From P!nk's So What to Colbie Caillat's Bubbly to Chicago's I'm a Man (the channel separation on the latter is amazing on these, by the way) ,just about every track I own sounds clear, realistic and three dimensional.
I am very satisfied with my Philips SHE 9550s. The sound is fantastic for the price, and proof positive that you don't have to spend a ton of money on in-ear buds to get great results. Four and a half stars, I think, but I'll round them up to five for Epinions rating purposes.
Other Headphones I've Used:
JVC's Gummy Phones
Skullcandy Smokin' Buds
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