Philips is no stranger to the headphone market, mostly turning out a line of inexpensive earbuds in the $5 to $25 range. Now, the company is stepping up its game with the SHE-9850 In-Ear Headphones, a $100 pair with a sleek and comfy design and good audio quality. We're hard-pressed to find anything not to like about these earphones; although bass response seems mushy for certain tracks, the SHE-9850 can certainly hold its own against other sets in its price range.
Philips has a reputation for sleek design and it shows in the SHE-9850. The headphones are stylish, comfortable, and durable. The thick, black cable measures 47 inches from the 'buds to the straight plug, which is encased in a gunmetal-colored magnesium housing. The slender earbuds match that color and feature some chrome accenting as well. Philips includes three sizes of silicone sleeves and one set of foam tips to ensure a proper fit. We had no problems fitting the 'buds securely in our ears, and they even provide a good amount of passive noise isolation, though this is not an advertised feature. A nice metal case, a cable clip, and an earwax cleaning tool are also included in the package.
The inner workings of the SHE-9850 earbuds are no less impressive. Each bud features a high-definition transducer composed of a coil, a metal U-shaped armature, a pair of permanent magnets, as well as a drive rod and a diaphragm. Electromagnetic currents move the armature up or down, which then moves the rod and diaphragm to produce the sound. What this means for the listener is generally great audio quality. The high-end detail is particularly nice, with shimmery acoustic guitars and tingly sound effects. Music also sounds warm and buttery through the mids, with soft female vocals that really shine. Our only complaint is that bass response is not as tight as we would like across many tracks, specifically those that have a lot of other effects going on around the low end. Bass is present, though, and overall audio comes through quite balanced.