Considering how small and light these earphones are, the sound produced is surprisingly full and clear. Listening to Changes by 2Pac highlighted the SHN750’s breadth of ability. This track is based on the Bruce Hornsby classic, The Way It Is and marries Hornsby’s superb piano work with heavy beats, and of course 2Pac’s lyrics. The SHN750s coped with this eclectic composition very well, with the beats thumping through my head, while the piano was still crystal clear, driving proceedings on to the chorus.
The SHN750s demonstrated their generally impressive range once more when I fired up Big Empty by Stone Temple Pilots. The weeping steel guitar was beautifully rendered, while Scott Weiland’s vocals start off suitably subtle, growing stronger towards the full guitar crescendo.
The SHN750s do lose some of their cohesion if you pump the volume up high though, with more subtle sounds, instruments and vocals being lost in the mix. That said, you don’t really need to push the volume up too high in most cases.
There is a slight lack of bass though, which is mainly due to the fact that these earphones simply don’t seal as well as a set of Shures. Although the SHN750s ship with three sizes of silicone tips, there is no foam tip option – foam tips create a superb seal inside your ear and give you stronger bass sounds, while having no detrimental effect on the clarity. Shure, Etymotic and Ultimate Ears all offer foam tips with their earphones, and Philips would do well to follow suit.
The other advantage that you get with a good set of foam tips with a tight seal, is that they block out the vast majority of ambient noise, thus completely negating the need for active noise cancelling. So, I can’t help wondering whether Philips should have implemented a better seal for its earphones, instead of opting for active noise cancelling.
With a retail price of £69.99 you’re getting a lot for your money, especially since Philips ships aeroplane and full-size headphone adapters in the box, as well as a large carrying case. Also, once stock starts to hit the retail channel, you’ll probably find an even more attractive street price. Personally though, I’d still prefer a set of Shure SE210s, which offer superior sound quality, while still blocking out the majority of ambient noise.
There’s a lot that’s good about the SHN750 earphones. The design is excellent and makes them very comfortable to wear, even when running. The sound quality is decent, while the price is also surprisingly reasonable.
However, I have to question the need for active noise cancelling when it comes to in-ear earphones. With a good seal, you should barely be able to hear ambient noise anyway. Add to this the fact that the active noise cancelling in the SHN750s is very subtle at best, and also results in low frequency buzzing when hooked up to a mains powered device. The latter being a potentially major issue for anyone who wants to listen to various source devices.
I’d still say it’s worth saving up a bit more cash for a set of Shure SE210s, but if Philips produced a set of earphones with similar drivers, a neck strap design, no active noise cancelling and an even lower price, it could have a winner on its hands.