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Philips SHE9850 Noise Isolating Earphones - Philips SHE9850
Right out of the packaging, Philips has created a bundle that you wouldn't be disappointed to see with a pair of earphones costing three or four times the price. Unlike Shure's or Klipsch's simple zipped cases, Philips goes a step further by offering a solid-feeling metal case with a slide-out tray into which you clip the earphones and wrap the cable around in a similar fashion to the Sleek Audio SA6's. There's even space for a second set of tips and an ear-wax remover, which will likely prove necessary for most owners.
The earphones themselves look absolutely fantastic. The drivers are contained in a metal housing that sits in a clear plastic outer surround. The effect of this is twofold: first, aesthetically, it's a fantastic look on par with, if not exceeding, that of the Klipsch Images. If you believe Philips this design also adds an extra layer of isolation between the driver and the outside world helping reduce vibration that could distort the earphones' sound output.
Certainly the SHE9850's do a fine job in minimising cable noise, that annoying 'thudding' sound made by the earphones' cable hitting against you when moving. This is further helped by the inclusion of a clip that holds the cable against, say, a lapel or collar.
External noise isolation comes courtesy of a variety of tips for the SHE9850's. In addition to three different sized silicone fittings, Philips has followed Shure's lead and included a set of foam tips too. Comprised of two short cylinders of memory foam these are used in the usual squash, put in your ear, wait a few seconds for them to expand, manner. Unlike the foam Shure uses, however, Philips' is much softer on the inner ear and once inserted you really can forget you're wearing the SHE9850's - a result of this highly comfortably fit and the earphones' overall lightness.
It may seem like I'm harping on about the design a bit much, but it really is that notable. Small things add up to an overall satisfyingly complete whole, such as using metal sheathes for the 3.5mm jack, the robust join where the 'Y' of the cables branches to each ear, and the addition of three raised dots on the left earphone to distinguish it from the right one by touch alone. Ok, so differentiating left from right is possible with Shure's earphones too, due to their over-the-ear, angled design, but with these earphones it's an intention, not a by-product, of the design.