Philips SHE9850 Noise Isolating Earphones - Philips SHE9850

By Hugo Jobling


  • Recommended by TR
Philips SHE9850 Noise Isolating Earphones


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As well as looking fantastic the Philips SHE9850's also sound very good. Both Riyad and I were amazed with their performance and agreed that they really are a testament to just what is possible with a single driver. Of course that's a verse Shure has been preaching for over a year with the now £110 SE310's, so let's compare the two.

A play through Muse's Dead Star/In Your World EP (their best work if you ask me) was a real pleasure, with excellent high-end and mid-range clarity, coupled with a controlled level of refined bass. That said, the SE310's picked out a little more detail from the Apple Lossless files I was feeding them, but then the SHE9850's produced a fuller, more rounded rendition.

Turning to My Chemical Romance's The Black Parade the story was the same. The SE310's, again, offered a more accurate reproduction, making the intense guitar riffs more penetrative while also singling out the vocals on tracks such as This Is How I Disappear. However, the SHE9850's redeemed themselves once more by balancing slightly less (comparative) precision with an overall larger soundstage and, to me at least, that gave a better sense of depth and immersion in the tracks.

Out of curiosity, I also compared the single driver SHE9850's to a pair of SE420's and it was clear that the dual-driver solution was better, but the difference was nowhere near as profound as I expected. It's probably also worth noting that with my iPhone set to the same output volume, the SHE9850's were decidedly louder (have a lower impedance) than the Shure SE310's. That's by no means a deciding factor for many, but if your MP3 player suffers from a low-power output it might just swing things in Philips' favour.


As Riyad observed when he compared the Shure SE420's and the Klipsch Custom-3's, if you leave pricing out of the equation then the choice is all about how you prefer to listen to your music. Shure, with the SE310's, has the edge when it comes to absolute clarity while Philips presents a less technically accurate but at the same time warmer sound. If I had to make a call, though, I'd opt for the Philips SHE9850's. Factor in the £40 price difference, arguably better design and package and it's a clear win for Philips.

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June 28, 2008, 3:32 pm

How they compare to CX300 Sennheiser earbuds? It's completely different league in sound quality? I'm very pleased by my CX300's, but looking at their condition, it's finally time to give them a rest and head for an upgrade. This may be the answer though. Thing is - i want more and more, and am i demanding too much from them to play siginificantly better than Sennheiser earbuds?


June 28, 2008, 11:14 pm

I just happened to buy these headphones by fluke the other day, for about 㿠 in Taiwan and they really sound great and are excellent value for money. I haven't used the CX300's, but I think you'll find the Philips to be a couple of steps up.


June 28, 2008, 11:19 pm

Opps, got that wrong, that was the Euro pricing, I actually only paid 㿕 for them. And the headphones have a 3.5mm jack, not a 2.5mm jack as it says in the review... :)


June 29, 2008, 5:36 am

I currently have a thing for Etymotics - particularly the 'ER-4 MicroPro' or 'hf2' for iPhone users particularly with the foam inserts. They're superb for those who like the cleanest possible sound reproduction. If 'mega bass' enhancement is your thing (*shudder*) steer clear though...


August 22, 2008, 1:40 pm

I had a pair of these arrive yesterday. I felt a bit queasy spending quite so much on a pair of tiny earphones but I’ve had good experiences with Philips audio products before so I decided to risk it.

The result was revelatory. I had been using a pair of Sony inner earphones so I’m not comparing these to the awful ones bundled with iPods but the resulting improvement was stunning. Bass lines and cymbal crashes that my cheaper headphones had struggled with (and I thought were evidence of poor compression) were transformed. The design and presentation is every bit as good as the review describes so I’m not going to dwell on that but they are a pleasure to hold and behold. The important point is the sound quality and in this regard they were worth every penny.


August 27, 2008, 6:18 pm

I have a question for Hugo or maybe anyone else that might want to answer my question.

I'm a type of guy who enjoy my creative gigaworks t20 and my grado sr60. I love bass, but i prefer tonal balance more. I definitely don't like my philips hbc HN110 cuz the lack of bass.

so the question, will this SHE9850 satisfy my music preference? thanks in advance...


September 24, 2008, 10:43 am

Just got my SHE9850 today and tested it out.... I don't know if its the design of the rubber tips or my ears, but no matter what, i can't seem to get these earphones to fit right in my ear. I find myself having to put pressure to the earphones against my ears in order to get the full sound quality. Other wise, they hang like any other non in-ear phones making them sound weak...really weak. But i tried on the foam tips and they were the perfect fit. You will noticed the sound quality of these phones the moment the music begins to play. They are truly amazing!


September 24, 2008, 5:49 pm


You were wondering if these earphones fits your taste...besides the SHE9850, I also own a pair of Sennheiser HD-555 and Sony MDR-G42LP, and when testing them using my desktop computer...i thought all three had an even amount of bass. But then again these are the first pair of noise-canceling/in-ear phones ive owned so i don't have much to compare to.

Hope this helps, good luck.

Ash M, B Baba

February 16, 2009, 3:52 pm

Truly amazing - I just gave away my Bose in ear 'phones and replaced them with these 9850s - personally, as a package they sound better than Shure 102s and 110s - though I am no "-phile" just an ordinary Joe - love the depth of sound - only wish they had an extension cord so I could use them when the baby is sleeping in front of the telly.

BTW - any idea how long the damned first gen plasmas last - the boss won't allow a new version until my 6 yr old Hitachi breaks - or will I have to resort to convincing my 18 month old to sprinkle it with milk??? Really want the Kuro 500A dribble dribble slobber slobber....pant! pant!


December 16, 2014, 1:52 pm

Seems like you guys love your Shure monitors a bit too much ;)

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