Philips SHB9850NC Wireless Headphone: A Complete Review
- Beautiful appearance;
- Good ergonomics, you can listen to music for hours;
- Excellent touch control panel;
- Long work from one charge - up to 15 hours of listening to music;
- NFC sensor for quickly connecting headphones to a gadget;
- Good sound with emphasis on low frequencies. Therefore, I can recommend the headphones to fans of electronic, pop and modern active music;
- Convenient design for attaching the cups, thanks to which the headphones fit comfortably on any head.
- The ear cushions do not leave much free space for the auricles, so those with very large ears may feel uncomfortable;
- Compression artifacts can be heard in some music tracks when the headphones are in wireless mode;
- Active Noise Canceling (ANC) makes some musical instruments sound less clear.
Philips SHB9850NC packaging
The headphones are supplied in a standard Philips cardboard box with a closed plastic window through which the headphones are visible. The packaging clearly indicates the main differences between this headphone model and any others. These are:
- The presence of an active noise reduction system;
- Built-in NFC for easy connection of headphones to smartphones and laptops;
- Touch panel for music playback control, volume control, and telephone conversations;
- Headphones work with any gadget via Bluetooth.
The kit includes:
- USB charging wire;
- Audio cable for connecting headphones to audio equipment;
- An adapter for connecting headphones to an aircraft audio system will help those who travel a lot.
Airframe Philips SHB9850NC
The headphones are made according to the classic scheme when 2 speakers are located in cups connected by a headband with the possibility of adjusting its length. The ear cups can be rotated in three directions so that anyone can wear the headphones to be as comfortable as possible.
I would also like to note the earpads of the headphones. They are quite thick, just about the size to cover the auricle, but without a headroom. When I put on the headphones for the first time, it seemed that using headphones for a long time would not be entirely comfortable, but I was mistaken. I listened to music for 4 hours, and my ears did not get tired. The ear cushions are soft but firm enough to leave the most pleasant experience. Made of high-quality leatherette.
The headband is trimmed with leatherette in the center, plastic on the sides. There is a small soft pad under the leatherette so that the headphones rest comfortably on your head. The headband is adjustable in a wide range. Like mine, the headphones sit comfortably on a large head, and there is a small margin in size. This is important because if the headphones have a small headband increase, people with a head size larger than average will experience discomfort. The headband presses heavily on the head. In the case of Philips SHB9850NC, everything is in order. The headphones can be used for a long time without discomfort. The company’s engineers have created an excellent product in terms of ergonomics. The headband is designed in such a way as to press the cups to the ears from the side. Thus, it has a somewhat convex shape so that the tension is transmitted not from above but slightly from the side. This is clearly visible in the photo, especially when the headband is extended. This has a positive effect on comfort but looks a little unusual. If you want to wear your headphones outdoors, consider this.
The ear cups easily fold inward for easy transport in a bag or backpack. In this form, the headphones take up little space and will not interfere in the bag.
The most distinctive feature of these headphones is the touch-sensitive control panel. It is completely invisible, and if you do not know that the entire outer decorative surface of the right cup is not just a decoration, you will never guess how to operate these headphones. The sensor recognizes gestures well and works quickly. There were only a few times when the sensor was unable to recognize finger movements. In 95% of cases, it works fine. I quickly got used to controlling with the sensor’s help, and after that, I began to miss it very much in other models of headphones. It is very user-friendly and intuitive. For example, if you need to turn down the volume, you need to slide your finger from top to bottom on the ear cup. If you need to switch the track, you need to slide your finger from left to right. A simple touch controls stop / Play. Simple and convenient. By the way, the sensor works even if gloves are worn on the hands. I tried it with several autumn versions from different materials – it works with all. Amazing. I have not tried it with winter ones because I highly recommend that you wear these headphones in winter at negative temperatures. Batteries are built into the headphones, and at subzero temperatures, they can degrade very quickly, and they cannot be replaced anywhere except in an official service center. Therefore, it is better not to use these headphones outdoors in winter.
The headphone has a built-in microphone for making phone calls. He works with varying degrees of success. Sometimes my interlocutors heard me well, and sometimes they said that I was intermittently interrupted or, as if, turned off the microphone. But in general, it works well if you ignore the rare flaws in its work.
Can Philips SHB9850NC be used without Bluetooth?
Philips SHB9850NC headphones have an input for wired music listening. Therefore, if the battery runs out and Bluetooth stops working, it doesn’t matter. Headphones are connected with a regular 3.5 mm jack to any phone or computer.
NFC sensor in Philips SHB9850NC
The earbuds are equipped with an NFC sensor, which avoids the lengthy procedure of pairing two devices to connect via Bluetooth. If your phone or laptop has an NFC sensor, you need to bring the left ear cup to it. The devices will immediately find each other and establish a connection. This worked great for me when I connected the headphones to the Lumia 1520 phone and Sony Vaio SVP132A1CV laptop.
The appearance of the headphones made the most pleasant impression on me. They do not look like a youth gadget, but like serious headphones for people who understand a lot about high-quality music. The design of the ear pads reminded me of the headphones for studio work. They are just as small, but tight to the head and very comfortable for long listening to music.
Active noise canceling system in Philips SHB9850NC
The most interesting feature of these headphones is the active noise canceling system.
Before discussing its implementation in this headphone model, I want to talk a little about what this system is like.
The essence of the active noise cancellation system (hereinafter referred to as ASP) is that it should extinguish the noise around you in the headphones not to hear it. Initially, back in the distant 1950s, these systems were used for helicopter pilots so that the pilot could hear the voices of the controller and the co-pilot in his headphones.
SASH works like this: any sound is a sine wave. If we create a second wave that mirrors the first wave of sound, then the sound will disappear when these waves meet. They will extinguish each other. All modern ASP systems are based on this principle. They create sound waves in antiphase with the waves of the sound around you.
But everything is not as simple as it looks on paper. These systems never work perfectly and do not dampen all the noise around you.
- First, ASP systems are most effective at attenuating low-frequency noise. They almost cannot extinguish high-frequency noise, especially if it is loud. Outdoor background noise is just low and mid-frequency, so from the point of view of comfort, ASP will effectively remove street noise, but it will leave you the opportunity to hear a higher-frequency sound so that you do not completely disconnect from the surrounding reality;
- Secondly, the ASP should give you a chance to notice a sound that can signal danger to you, for example, the sound of a car signal or the bell of a tram. You should hear these sounds even with ASP working.
But that’s not all. According to statistics, about 5-7% of people who have tried using headphones with ASP complained that they have headaches very quickly. This happens for several reasons:
- The ASP system mainly dampens low and mid-frequency sounds. It dampens by creating sound waves in the antiphase. Low-frequency waves penetrate more effectively than any other into our body, which is 76% liquid. Our vestibular apparatus, too, if you do not go into the anatomical details, works with fluid help. Sound waves from ASP mislead our brains because it sees and feels that, for example, you are sitting on the couch, and your vestibular apparatus is irritated by the sound from ASP and tells the brain that the body is not at rest. The brain gets tired very quickly from these conflicting data, and the head starts to ache.
- If you are in a not very noisy environment, the ASP system will completely dampen the noise around you. Thus, you will see and feel that there should be sound around, but there is no sound. The brain starts to receive conflicting data again, gets tired, and the head starts to ache.
- Another reason for a quick headache can be the very design of the headphones. The headband, albeit not strongly, still presses on the temporal lobe of your head. At the same time, if your vestibular apparatus is sensitive and you have turned on the ASP system, your head will start to ache very soon.
Each of these reasons, together or separately, can make it impossible for an individual to use active noise canceling system. Therefore, before you buy headphones with ASP, try to find similar ones from your acquaintances, friends, or work colleagues and listen to music in them for at least one hour. If your head does not hurt, everything is in order, and you can choose any headphones with ASP. If the head starts to hurt, it means that SAS is contraindicated for you, even if not very much.
My impression of using Active Noise Cancellation
First of all, I turned on the ASP at home. My house is quite quiet, and I did not notice any effect. I also want to note that the activated noise cancellation system creates a little white noise. While listening to music, it is not audible, but it is clearly distinguishable in the pauses between songs. I also noted that when ASP is turned on, some sounds in music become not so clear, a little fuzzy. This is noticeable if you specifically listen to the same track with SAS enabled and disabled. If not directly compared, the difference can be quite difficult to grasp.
I went outside, turned on the ASP system, and walked along the busy highway. I should note that the external noise has become much less. As I wrote above, ASP does not remove all sounds, especially those in high, mid, and high frequencies. But the background noise from the road, the sounds of the engines, the rustling of tires, and other noise, the ASP was really able to neutralize. It was amazing.
SASH really significantly increases the comfort of listening to music on the street, now you will not be disturbed by the noise of a bus or car, even if you sit in them. But, I should note that ASP tries to cut off the entire frequency range sounds, but this is not always possible. So the high-frequency sounds, although slightly muffled, will reach you. And I think this is correct. I must have at least some chance of hearing a sound that can save me from trouble, be it the signal of a car or the call of a cyclist who is driving right at me.
How Philips SHB9850NC sound
In general, I liked the sound of the headphones. They convey the intonation of the sound and the character of the music quite well. There are slight flaws, but they do not spoil the sound but rather color it a little. It isn’t easy to describe, but, believe me, you will get full pleasure from listening to music. Headphones allow you to listen to different music genres, but they are best suited for active modern music because they emphasize low frequencies. The headphones reproduce the high frequencies cleanly, the middle ones are detailed, and the low ones are energetic. In general, the headphones stick out little low frequencies and hide highs. But without fanaticism, so in general, they sound pleasant.
Before starting the listening session, I want to note that I will assess the sound when connected via Bluetooth because this method is basic for these headphones. I listened to the headphones through a Lumia 1520 smartphone and a Sony Vaio SVP132A1CV laptop. In both cases, I listened to FLAC music. Active noise canceling has been disabled because it introduces, albeit insignificant but at times, noticeable distortions in the purity of music’s sound.
And another small remark regarding the headphones’ sound – they work via Bluetooth, which means that there is no Hi-Fi sound here. I appreciate these headphones’ sound considering that they work via Bluetooth, and I will not focus on small-signal compression artifacts, although I heard them while listening to some tracks. If you wire your headphones to a good source, they will sound cleaner and more detailed. But, I repeat once again, I appreciate the work via Bluetooth. this is their main interface, and they were created as a wireless
- U2 “Every Breaking Wave” – I liked the overall sound, deep, energetic, with a slight emphasis on low frequencies. The vocals sound lively, detailed.
- Paul Simon “Graceland” – the overall sound is great. Each instrument is heard clearly and distinctly. There are no artifacts in playback. The volume of the music scene is felt well.
- Scooter “Shake That!” – the dance track sounds convincing, powerful, energetic.
- Madonna “Jump” – overall, I liked the sound. I would note that this track sounds a little dull, with an emphasis on low frequencies. The sound of the cymbals as a whole is not distorted, but at some moments, their sound began to “sand” a little, not much, but you can hear it with close listening.
- How to Destroy Angels “Ice Age” – This track sounds clean, with a little emphasis on low frequencies. The vocals are natural, not squeezed.
- Snoop Dogg “Neva Have 2 Worry (feat. Uncle Chuck)” – with this track, the headphones did their best, gave out deep, rich bass. In general, the sound is good, pleasant, but in some moments, it is felt that the headphones have gone too far with low frequencies. They start to eat up the middle ones.
- Snoop Lion “So Long (Feat. Angela Hunte)” – the headphones also give a strong bass in this track. By the end of the listening, even the ears got a little tired of it. But overall, the sound is balanced.
- Kylie Minogue “Where the Wild Roses Grow” – overall sound is pleasant, female, and male vocals sound natural. However, there is an emphasis on low frequencies. But in this track, it does not interfere. The sounds are not eaten.
- Leo Abrahams “Masquerade” – good sound detail, the volume of the music scene is felt. However, I sometimes hear small audio compression artifacts.
- Parov Stelar “The Catgroove” – dance tracks are easy, and Philips SHB9850NC can handle them effortlessly. The sound is deep and punchy.
- Kiesza “Hideaway” – this track sounds good even with an emphasis on low frequencies. The vocals are a little muffled but pleasant.
In general, I liked the Philips SHB9850NC headphones. They look great, are comfortable listening to music for a long time, and have active noise cancellation. In terms of sound, the headphones are clearly above average, they focus on low frequencies, but at the same time, they try to keep the detailing average and the clarity high. And they do it in most cases. Considering that a potential buyer will listen to these headphones in a wireless mode, and, most likely, with an active noise cancellation system, I would not pay special attention to some artifacts and errors with which the headphones reproduce sound. For headphones that will listen on the street, on walks, or the move from home to office and back, they sound great. Not perfect, but as good as Bluetooth can handle.
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