Do I demand ultimate the aural quality from my earphones? No, I often simply use the cheap and cheerful ones when watching YouTube videos and not wanting to disturb those around me - the Philips SHE2550 fits the bill perfectly, and costs only £5.70 from Amazon. I know looks aren't especially important with headphones, but these ones appear sleekly designed with a nice black finish.
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Without getting bogged down in the details, the earphones have a one metre cable and connect via the standard 3.5mm jack to your device(s). They feature (and this is the manufacturer's words not my own) "Neodymium magnets to enhance bass performance and sensitivity", and "twin vents to balance the high sounds and bass tones" - that's all very well - but how do the earphones perform?
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Considering its low price, the SHE2550 is surprisingly decent - I know earphones can't replicate the aural range of full size 'cans', but here the bass levels are acceptable, and the treble comes across without any tinniness. The overall sound seems well balanced, and I would describe the overall output as "a pleasant tone". These earphones aren't noise cancelling - but for me this isn't an issue as I quite like to be able to hear ambient sounds when out and about - especially when crossing roads!
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For me, comfort is as important as sound quality when using earphones, as I usually find that my inner ears begin to ache with this type of product after around half an hour or so of use. Whilst these particular earphones are generally comfortable (and remain securely in place) they *do* cause a little discomfort after a while - in their favour I haven't yet found an in-ear device that has been entirely pleasurable to use (I must have odd ears!) - and they're certainly as good as Apple's iPod phones.
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For the price, I would certainly recommend these Philips headphones - they perform better than expected and have a degree of reliability about them.
I got my first set of these as in in-between set of headphones - the set which came with my mp3 player broke stupidly quickly, and I just needed a cheap set before I bought some nicer ones.
So I picked up a pair, and when I got home, I wasn't that impressed at first. I've always had trouble finding headphone which stay in my ears, and I figured that these were no different. However, once I took the foam cushioning off, I found that there were rubber covers, which fit very comfortably in my ear. This added to the cable being offset from the centre of the earphone helps ensure a secure fit, which in itself prevents sound leaking out.
As for the sound, this also improved greatly without the foam covers. In fact, it's the best I've heard from headphones for a while, and at a fiver for a pair, it's exceptional! Nice and heavy on the bass, but lots of detail in the treble makes sure that they're suitable for all tastes. The only problem in this category is that sometimes the sound can be heard by other people, and on a train, where you might have to crank up the volume, it'll probably annoy your fellow commuters quite a bit.
As I mentioned briefly, I have had to buy more than one pair - this was because I lost the rubber covers (which stretch and deform after a while), and also because one of the ears stopped working. However, don't put this off buying them: the first problem is easily remedied by a dab of super glue around the rim of the cover before you first use them. The second was admittedly due to quite rough usage. Look after them, and they'll last you a long time. One thing I wish Phillips did do, though, was include a little case for these, because I really would like to stop them being crushed in my bag by piles of books! However, with reasonable use, I think these would give you a good couple of years.
All in all, a lot better than those rubbish iPod headphones!
It's always good to listen to music, especially when you are on the go or in desperate need of something to distract you on long haul car journey. However, no matter how tempting it may be to share your exquisite taste in music with those around you, it's important to remember that they might not always want to hear it! I always manage to do the impossible of going from The Beatles to Placebo and then on to something heavier and then back to the randomly relaxing sounds of somebody like Faye Wong. Obviously, very few people are going to want to sit through the indecision of picking a song or an album, so it's always best to have my trusty little MP3 player with me at all times.
WHY BUY PHILIPS SHE2550?
My old headphones were rubbish; not necessarily for sound quality but they just weren't that comfortable and couldn't take the mildly heavy duty that I was insisting on. We were in Asda's one morning and I'd finally decided that enough was enough so I did the not so epic search for another pair. I couldn't honestly be bothered to spend hours in different electrical shops trying to find another pair, for one because I had too much other shopping to do elsewhere and also because I'd have no clue what else I'd be looking for! To me, headphones are just headphones and as long as they were comfortable and worked well, I wasn't too bothered whether they were the most up to date variety or not.
I was in between with a couple of sets but finally came to my senses and realised that I'd only be buying the more expensive ones because I loved the colour of them, which is a silly habit of mine. My previous knowledge of Philips as a brand means that I have a lot of confidence in their products being the highest of quality, and since they have been on the go since the late 19th Century, they've had a lot of time to perfect their craft and establish themselves as a good brand.
Although I really liked the other pair of headphones for the simple reason of it being a brighter colour, I had to consider the fact that in a few weeks, I would be the typical poor student so couldn't really see the point on wasting money on something I'd probably drop and break within a few weeks; I needed the money to spend on essential items such as food, text books and of course booze!
Anyway, the headphones arrived in the box without the little cushion covers on them and minus them, they looked like your average set of headphones in just plain black that sparkled silver and grey on the actual ear plug parts. Their appearance isn't nasty but at the same time, it isn't one of their most distinctive features as they just look very ordinary indeed. The plug part was quite thin, a lot more so than the pair that had initially come with the player and the cable was average in thickness and one meter in length which I do think is a bit too long if you are not keeping your player in your bag of pocket as it does have the annoying habit of swinging as you walk!
The shape of the earphones is something worth noting as making the appearance of the Philips SHE2550's a little more unusual; instead of the ear pieces being straight with reference to the connection of the wire, this time they bend a little, which was deliberate by the manufacturers in ensuring what they considered to be a more comfortable and secure fit inside the ear for preserving the sound. They look a bit odd and I initially thought that the little 'R' and 'L' symbols were on the wrong side but apparently not.
WEIGHT AND DURABILITY
Another thing I noticed in comparison with one of my old pairs of headphones was how light they were; they are almost weightless which can be taken as being either really bad or really good. In one sense it's good; I always manage to cram so much into my handbag that I don't need anything else weighting it down! They are also quite compact so that only helps the situation and makes it really easy for storage. By the same token though, it can lead you to think that if you somehow manage to stand on them (which, knowing me is a likelihood) than they might be more susceptible for breakage.
After dropping mine by accident (just for a change) they are yet to break. However, I haven't really put them under real pressure but thus far, they have managed to stand the stress of staying in my bags and being thrown about a bit so they are doing well so far!
THE PERFECT FIT?
Going on the shape of the headphones, I was expecting them to be a better fit than my very standard last pair. True, the last pair were frankly crappy and fell out even if you just moved an inch or so, but these are a lot better in many ways. They are very comfortable when you do add the snug fit of the cushions into the equation but without them, the plastic is a little bit harsh although I may be a bit biased in saying that I've always preferred the added protection of the fabric covers anyway. They are easy enough to add on and the elastic is quite tight to begin with. This obviously wears off quite quickly if you keep removing them so I'd recommend that you find out whether you prefer them with or without the covers quickly before you rip them.
As I mentioned, there are the 'R' and 'L' motifs on each earphone but I honestly don't think it matters which way you put them in at all. I actually found that they stayed in better the other way but oddly enough weren't as fitted or as effective in terms of the sound that way but at least they didn't fall out half way through a song. The balance of the sound wasn't as good as if you actually did what Philips wanted you to do and put them in the correct way but they could be used in either method, as ever it all depends on preference.
However, if you wanted a pair of cheap earphones for use when you are working out or even jogging, than these certainly aren't the headphones for the health conscious! I am by no means a really slow walker but even if you are just rambling about, they always have a tendency to fall out so if you really picked up the pace, I would imagine you'd be a few steps away from losing your musical motivation.
The sound quality was the part that the company really prided themselves on. Of course, when I first picked a pair up, most of the information meant diddley squat to me but after bothering to try and work it out, the twin vents part was the main selling point of these as they were meant to work in conjunction to create an even sound distribution. The extra bass function was another part of the product that was aimed at creating a balanced noise and for the most part, these earphones lived up to that expectation.
The sound was a lot clearer than my old pair and a lot more concise; I was listening to 'Life On Mars' and the intricate piano sequences in the verses that use to get a bit lost in the mix were there in all of their glamorous glory. It wasn't at too much of a testing time when this song came on; I wasn't in the middle of a town or buzzing city but the volume wasn't even on half of its maximum level and could be heard perfectly through that time.
As ever though, you'll need to hit the volume up a bit when near any traffic or indeed sat in a car with the radio blaring out for the benefit of those who aren't quite as captivated with your own wondrous music taste. Even in those situations though, where you'd think it would be a lot more difficult to maintain the promise of an even sound, I think these earphones do a really good job considering they don't even go directly into the ear canal.
THE TECHNICAL BIT
In order to create a good bass background, these headphones have neodymium magnets inside the ear plugs, a metal which includes iron and boron, in order to transfer different types of energies, in this case being sound. That is how it creates the 'natural' tones that the company describe as it's the main ingredient in balancing out the sound distribution.
Other features include:
* 12 - 22000 Hz frequency range
* 106 dB sensitivity
* 16 Ohm impedance
* 50 mW which is the earphones maximum power input
* 3.5 mm stereo plug.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
I managed to grab a pair from the local Asdas for £4.97, which I do think is an excellent price. Currently, you can get a pair for the following places online at these prices:
Amazon.co.uk - £6.29 (eligible for super saver delivery)
Lambda-Tek.com - £2.83
Pcwb.com - £3.31
For the money I really cannot complain about this pair of earphones; they are compact, light and fit any MP3/I-Pod so even if you managed to break your player somehow, you'd be able to use these earphones in different circumstances, including on your computer or laptop.
They are great for people who use their players regularly or occasionally, and for the price, you can afford to break them or not use them that often. I don't think that for gym work outs or running they'd be perfect though; the earphones will fall out but and the design isn't as good as you might think it's going to be but the occasions where they do drop out are minimal and otherwise, I think they'd be a great product for anybody.
Although this level of harmony from the extra bass feature is not as striking as the packaging implies, this is obviously a factor in the price tag and I think you do certainly get what you pay for. None the less, for less than five pounds, I really think that this feature is one of the earphones best and is another testament to Philips ability in being able to offer affordable but quality controlled products.