Whether it’s gaming or music, over-ear and open back headphones offer the best experience compared to in-ear ones. However, in-ear models are definitely more comfortable long hours of use. In short, choosing the right headphone on a limited budget means getting your priorities straight.
You simply can’t have your cake and eat it too, can you?
Here I compare three budget headphones that could be highly viable alternatives to their higher-end counterparts. SHP9500 vs SHP9500S vs Fidelio X2HR are all from Philips, and if you didn’t know Philips manufactured headphones, now you do! Let’s see how great they are!
SHP9500 vs SHP9500S: What Sets Them Apart?
The first thing you need to know is that these two headphones are very, very similar. So similar, they could be twins. Of course, they come with slight differences that can make a lot of difference in your overall experience.
Look and Feel
Here is the best example of how similar these are. Both of these headphones are built with the same basic design. The key elements include super comfortable and adjustable cushioned headbands along with large over-ear pads covering.
While this means that the 9500 is lighter and 9500S exerts a wee bit more clamping pressure, the differences are not that pronounced. Both headphones are lightweight and easy on the ears, allowing you to use them comfortably for longer periods. The earpads add to this comfort as they are one of the most breathable pads that I have ever used.
These headphones are open-backed, meaning they do not cancel noise. What they do is expand the sound stage for a balanced but mid-centric experience. The vocals are clear, mids rather clean, and treble is accentuated, making it a fine choice for enjoying the nuances of classical music.
I had my friend play digital piano using these, and the review was extremely positive. The studio conditions and long hours in which a pianist might work are made easier with these headphones’ exceptional ear pads.
As for gaming, even for someone like me who does not play much, the advantages are obvious. Do you ever get frustrated down to your raw bones because your headphone couldn’t pick up the faint footfalls of the approaching enemy?
Well, that needs never happen again. With the kind of imaging these headphones have, they pick up the direction of even the lowest sound, like the breaking of shells under your feet or the branches under your enemy’s!
The specially designed ear shells and angled drivers direct the sound into your ears for better audibility. It is as if the lowest sounds are being murmured in your ears like a secret!
One thing that any gaming enthusiast would want in a gaming headphone (which these didn’t set out to become, I imagine), is a quality microphone. Neither the SHP9500 nor SHP9500S come with microphones!
But the wires being detachable, you could buy a boom mic off the market and attach it to these headphones via the 3.5 mm jack given to the side. Voila! Now you play with full pomp and style!
Both have detachable extra-long rubber cables, 50mm neodymium drivers, frequency response of up to 35000 Hz, and HiFi precision stereo. So what are the differences, really?
Between you and me, the differences between SHP9500 and SHP9500S are negligible. The SHP9500S has a wider adaptability of 3.5 mm to 6.3mm and might be aimed at both portable devices and studio equipment. Also, the newer model has a slightly wider frequency response at 6-35000 Hz, while the SHP9500 starts at 12Hz.
So, which one is the better of the two then?
I think this question is more of personal preference, differing in your own particular context. SHP9500 and SHP9500S have little difference between them, and if you own one, then you do not really need the other, to be honest.
But if you are upgrading from a lower headphone range to HiFi stereo and you want to use it with the standard 6.3mm jack of studio equipment, then going for the newer version would make more sense.
If these two headphones are perfect and self-sufficient in themselves, then why am I considering the next item on the list, the Philips Fidelio X2HR? Folks, I have just one word for you, and it ought to smoothen those confusion lines on your eyebrows right there: BASS! Bass is the defining factor of the third set, and the next section will tell you why.
SHP9500 vs SHP9500S vs Philips Fidelio X2HR: Is Fidelio X2HR Worth the Extra Money?
Look and Feel
Fidelio X2HR comes with a non-adjustable headband which is nevertheless comfortable with its padded cushions and dimensions of 4.3 x 7.4 x 9.1 inches. Its 50mm neodymium drivers are covered by detachable ear pads of memory foam under velour, giving it a premium look for the price segment.
The headphone is elegant in all black, with good clamp and open back design. Even with non-removable cables, the X2HR has the provision for a microphone connection with a 3.5 to 6.3 mm adapter. They are heavier than SHP9500 models, but for music enthusiasts like me, the weight difference is well worth it. Here we come to the next segment of our comparison.
One of the curious effects of the velour covered ear pads is that these headphones become unintentionally noise canceling. This means the greater and punchier bass of X2HR comes with the added benefit of higher immersion, giving a feel of surround sound!
Imagine playing games where you bomb the hell out of that other guy, and tell me it isn’t strangely satisfying to hear the booms and explosions thump through your body! The immersive experience is great for movies as well. In short, the bass is great.
For a musician, though, the story could be entirely different.
Music through this headphone is pure bliss for me, the open back quality adding a range that closed back bass headphones will not have. Having said that, some might not like the recessed mids like I do.
And if you are looking for extreme clarity and detail, the X2HRs lag behind the SHP9500 models. There will be low instrument separation, sadly. But a DAC along with an amp makes everything better, so if you already have the equipment or are willing to buy them to adjust the details of the sound, the output from this headphone climbs up and improves.
At the trouble of repeating myself, I’d like to add that these have very long cables, which are non-detachable. But these are braided cable, more durable than the rubber cables of the SHP models. I am told by friends with bigger domes than me that on longer periods, the tighter clamp on this headset becomes uncomfortable.
I must say that I prefer looser clamps myself, but with usage over a few weeks, the clamp on X2HR loosen slightly, though not as much as the SHP9500 models. For me, the bass and the expansive sound stage of this open-backed model are worth the discomforts, if any at all.
Best Philips Hi-Fi Stereo Headphones Based on Different User Preferences:
SHP9500: With stunning detail and clarity as well as incredible comfort, this headphone will be a great beginner gaming headset for you, in the budget segment.
SHP9500S: The 3.5mm to 6.3mm standard jack of this headphone makes it ideal for studio equipment as well as portable music players, with all the detail, versatility, and comfort of the SHP9500.
Philips Fidelio X2HR: With the adaptable 3.5 mm to 6.3mm jack, this headphone is ideal if you are looking for an amazing music experience with near-ideal surround sound.
With SHP9500 vs SHP9500S vs Philips Fidelio X2HR comparison complete, I have just this more to say: it really is all about your needs and comfort. The SHP9500 series models are more geared towards gaming than the X2HR with its bassy booms.
The former is extremely comfortable over longer periods of use and ideal for mid-centric enthusiasts with a real fondness for classical music. But for tasting EDMs and rap and to feel that thumpy bass, X2HR should be your go-to choice.
X2HR’s sound is more immersive and smoother. All three of these are great and durable HiFi headphones, that would not break your wallet. Go with what your audiophile gut requires, choose the headset that best suits you, and enjoy!