Recently I have been doing a round of cheap shopping for music instruments that I can either leave at home or use for up and coming Christmas gigs. The instant problem with taking your cherished instrument with you is that it is always privy to being damaged and even with a keyboard cover that has been much better than the default one it was made for does a better job, I needed a quick buy pair of headphones to help me out in between the actual gig and in the rehearsals. With a new television at home I also decided to get headphones for specific use so not to bother my flat mate with excess noise. So, a pair of headphones with a large amount of cable was definitely required to fill both requirements and normally I have my rather excellent DJ Sony over-the-ear headphones with me, but not on this occasion.
On a recent visit to Comet, the only "cheap" pair of what looked like a promising product is a pair of lightweight "flight" headphones called "Philips SHP 1800 TV headphones." The name itself is a curious attractant. The design itself harks back to the standard "luxury flight," headphones that used to be equipped with higher priced Sony branded Walkman CD and tape players and for a brief moment, the design took me back to many a good time armed with these kinds of lightweight headphones before the more modern push to bring large sized cups back to the market from the music studio and into the shops. As I recall though, in years gone by, my original Sony flight headphones had to be thrown out because the thin black foam pads had rotted away and no replacements were available, thus providing a bit of a waste of a product when no pads are available - and sadly with this product, Philips do not include similar replacement pads if the original ones wear off in use or put in storage.
Nar2's Quick Skip Product Spec
* Model: Philips SHP 1800-00 Indoor Corded TV Headphones.
* Comes with large jack adaptor/3.2 with 3.5 fitted as standard.
* In-line volume control and 6 metre cord length.
* Lightweight feel with non-replaceable pads.
* Claimed "bass beat vents" per ear pad.
* My price (2012) £9-00 from Comet, £12 to £15 elsewhere online (Amazon UK £13-00).
General Design & Quality
Similar to what I have had before my Sony, the Philips SHP 1800 are extremely lightweight and mirror the kind of small, metal banded and likewise round foam fitted headphones you'd find with many a personal tape or CD player given away as a free accessory for use from products in the 1980's to the 1990's. Even now, as future buyers will now find cheap in-ear earphones with budget priced players, at least there is a market that Philips have re-opened here with the alternative design if you don't like an entire material or rubber based cup clamped over your ear and snugly lying across your head.
Made of thin black plastic with a black thick plastic band to replace the old metal type, a ratchet style height adjustable band and then a likewise thin black wire and in-line volume control via a small ribbed disc wheel with round "dot" decals shown on the volume increase and decrease, these headphones don't seem to be made to a budget just by the details on the in-line volume control alone. Certainly, if the in-line volume control wasn't fitted and the oval, curvy ear pads didn't have the silver branded names on the exterior, I probably wouldn't have bought these headphones at the time of purchase.
General Performance & Sound Quality
Although lightweight to the touch and lacking a foldable mechanism by the now more accepted "DJ" style by definition, the Philips SHP 1800 give me a good fit on my head. In use, they don't slip off my head and they fit me quite well, helped by the height adjustment. Their small nature and lack of folding mechanism make them suitable for use at home only, even if I have taken them with me to practice privately before a gig.
If you think that you are bypassing other headphones by price alone in the hope that you'll get bass thumping sounds from the Philips SHP 1800, you may well be disappointed. When I was using these to rehearse on my electronic digital piano, I found the SHP 1800s perfectly acceptable for general private practice, even if I realised early on that the sound leaks if the volume is generally set from medium to high, producing a very bright high tone sound quality. Not tinny alone though because there is some treble and bass present in the mix, which is a welcomed surprise.
Unlike other headphones on the market though, the Philips SHP 1800 does possess a warm bass sound, but add too much volume and the ear pads will start to crack and distort the sound, proof enough that although there is some warmth added when it comes to hearing the sound - it may readily spill the sound out of each pad dependent on the power of your amplifier at the time of use. Though they aren't up to the job of being able to relay loud music, they provide a suitable standby for private listening at home with volume set at an average level, with the only impending downside remaining that the sound becomes tinnier the higher you go with the volume.
When it comes to using for listening to radio or as its name suggests, TV watching, the Philips SHP 1800 come into their own with a much better result, only helped along by the infinite control of the in-line volume roller wheel and its ribbed nature, though can be sore on the fingers if you push too hard! The long 6-metre cord is of ample length though, but it may infer you to sit closer to your television if the headphone jack is located on the rear of the TV as opposed to the front. Voices are crystal clear and the clarity that the sound quality gives off here seems to work better with spoken voices as opposed to power-packed music.
Generally the only aspect I don't like about the Philips SHP 1800 TV headphones is that they get quite sore after 30 minutes use. Comfort above the pads seems to be better, only because the plastic parts are better made but still feel flimsy at the end of the day. If these were really intended for use for watching television, I can only imagine that Philips would do more on the comfort side of things when it comes to designing a thicker foam pad to ensure longer "watching time" on TV. Generally although the pads don't get too hot or leave my ears sweaty as I would do from other styles with bigger ear cups, the Philips SHP 1800 begin to make my ears ache from the thin black foam pad, making them less of a product to depend on as a necessity and rather instead, headphones that can only be depended on for occasional use.
Other downsides consist of the 6-metre cord. Whilst it is long and ample enough for use for connecting to many devices including televisions, the cord can tangle a lot, making it a bit of a trial and patience process to unravel it all, before its length can be used. Philips should fit a holder on these headphones or on the cord itself where excess cable can be wound up when not in use. If Sennheiser can do it with their just as pricey middle of the range in-ear earphones, Philips should at least be able to offer a likewise clip on an oval holder at the very least!
On the one hand, the whole concept of Philips' justification of producing a lightweight alternative to over-the-ear large cup headphones for TV watching could so easily be a great idea.
However, the actual design of the earphones aren't very comfortable, you don't get replacement pads and for a company who pride themselves on being eco-friendly, I'd have thought Philips could have included a pair of replacement pads at the very least. Add in a tangle-induced long cord with no storage and a sound quality that is neither too bass rich or too tinny and you have a compromised pair of ear phones here, not enticing enough for buyers who prefer these alternatively designed lighter cup styles. Although handy for its long cord and in-line volume control, the Philips SHP 1800 headphones are compromising and if you sacrifice comfort for general longer term usability, these headphones should serve you well. Sadly though, when it comes to continuous use above half an hour, my ears just can't take the thinness of the pads! Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2012.
For a good while now I've used an oldish pair of Panasonic RP-HT030 headphones as my usual equipment for listening to sound on my PC. They ticked most of the boxes for me, as a not terribly demanding user who nevertheless doesn't want to put up with rubbish - but inevitably the time came, not so long ago, when they began to fail. The last straw came when a crack appeared in the plastic around one earpiece, and so it was time to head off to the local retail park to look for a replacement pair.
This proved surprisingly difficult. What I liked about the Panasonics was the *fabric* - as opposed to rubber - next to the ear. I'm not fond of rubber-edged earpieces for computer use; they may be good for hi-fi or home cinema stuff, but I find they tend not only to be a little claustrophobic but also to get rather hot - and if I'm going to be listening to music for long periods while typing (as I often do) the relative airiness and lightness of fabric-coated earpieces is very attractive. Conversely, I'm not a fan of iPod-style in-ear buds for this type of use - they're fine for the train, but not this.
The best 'phones on offer at a sensible price were the SHP1800s from Philips. I've generally been happy with Philips electronics in the past, and while I was slightly sad to be abandoning Panasonic (a brand I've had consistently excellent experiences of) I wasn't really worried. These are actually marketed as TV-listening headphones, and as such they come with a *six-metre* cord, which is a mixed blessing. It's certainly a relief after the silly numbers of headphones with barely adequate 1.2 m cables, but it did rather mean a cable tidy became an absolute necessity!
As with the Panasonics I was replacing, the SHP1800s are certainly not showy headphones; if you want that then buy those bizarre Skullcandy things! The Philips pair's decoration is very staid indeed: black headband, black earpieces and plain silver outers with the Philips logo in... you've guessed it... black. I've no complaints at all about that, since after all these are not something I can see when they're in use! They're also nice and light without feeling too fragile: the official spec says 200 grams, which seems pretty believable, and certainly I can happily keep them on for the duration of a two-hour film. It helps that the earpads are comfy too, at least on my ears.
One drawback compared to many other headphones is that these do *not* fold up, so you will need somewhere safe to store them when you're not wearing them. That omission may be a major problem for some, but it doesn't bother me as a rule. The headband *is* adjustable, of course, and for most people it should be quite easy to find a comfortable fit. The adjustment ratchet is quick and precise, and doesn't slip once the 'phones are on your head, a fault some cheaper models are plagued by. The reach isn't enormous, though, so those with particularly large heads may need to look elsewhere.
It must be said that one thing these Philips headphones don't produce is a particularly *loud* sound - probably to your neighbours' relief, if not your own! The inline volume control, though slightly small and fiddly, works well, but I do tend to leave it turned up close to full and use the PC volume settings for convenience. These are probably not the headphones for you if you're looking for something to use on the bus, at the gym or in some other similarly noisy environment - but then they're not advertised as such, so it seems churlish to criticise them too much for that.
Sound quality is more than adequate for the uses I need. Testing these back-to-back with my old RP-HT030s, I was hard pressed to hear much difference in quality. At first I felt that they didn't have quite as rich and full a sound as the Panasonics, but that nagging feeling didn't last long, and I suspect that the average listener will find them absolutely fine. The real audiophiles probably wouldn't be seen dead with a pair like this in the first place, so in truth it doesn't much matter that they are (undoubtedly) not up to the standard of dedicated hi-fi headphones.
Some specific examples: listening to "A Day in the Life" by The Beatles, a song I'd used to test the Panasonic pair too, there was very little to complain about, and listening was enjoyable and involving. Again, a top-notch audio setup would bring out more richness and depth, but that's always likely to be the case. Trying out a classical piece - "La Réjouissance" from Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks - produced a similar experience: not the all-encompassing extravaganza that a nice pair of Sennheisers would bring, but in no way *bad*. Finally, a film ("Watership Down") kept me nicely involved in the story, with dialogue and music both very clear.
All in all, I'm quite happy with these headphones. It's a shame that the choice is so limited when it comes to budget 'phones of this type (I can only remember seeing a pair by JVC that looked similar) but at least the option is there. Those for whom sound reproduction is an art would doubtless find these things cheap in both senses of the word, and I can't see even me wanting to use them for true hi-fi use - but as light, comfortable pair for wearing at the computer or for a quick bit of late-night telly watching, their price of £12 or so represents decent value.