Damaged Gears

Evolve your Gears

Damage Reviews: Philips SHN2500

with 14 comments

Sometimes, you find the darndest things out on the road.  The usual gas station/travel station that are frequented by the trucker types (God bless these people) occassionally have cheap electronics for sale.  The Philips SHN2500 is one of those.

The question is then, is this one of the diamonds in the rough, or a piece of cowpie?

Weighing in at a hefty US$30, these are by far the cheapest active noise cancelling phones on the market, with or without a pedigree.  They are of the canalphone types first popularized by the Sony MDR-EX70s and EX71s.  Philips ups this by adding in an active noise cancelling circuitry unit.  As you can see in the picture above, the microphones are on the side port of the drivers.  The small breakout box does the NC magic and pipes the sound back to the drivers.  The drivers use the “universal” gaskets used by Sony, Panasonic, Ultimate Ears, etc.  Generally, the better gaskets from Ultimate Ears served me well with the Sony phones (EX90s), though with this particular set, they were more of a hinderance.  The standard medium works well enough.

Ergonomics is rather interesting.  It is of the Y-cord variety, though a rather new take on it:  The breakout has single cord for the 3.5mm plug and single cord for each of the drivers.  You can do cord management with a slider type thingy on the driver side of things.  However, the cord to the 3.5mm jack is a bit short, and the cords to the driver too long.  Other than that, the ergonomics on this is no better or no worse than other NC type buds.  Thanks to the sliding mechanism (which is a piece of rubber, more or less), you can minimize microphonics a bit.

Now for the nitty gritty, the sound quality.  You can do a lot worse for $30, and they include the venerable EX71s.  The overall sound is balanced, though the NC adds background white noise, which is par for the course.  The treble is a bit out of control (brighter than average, and very unrefined), while the bass is nice and tight, given the right seal.  The vocals/mids don’t get too lost here, just being congenial with the bass and the trebles.  Soundstaging could be much better.  It’s too 2D-ish and is a bit claustrophobic at times, a little too intimate at others.  It is still heaps better than the EX90s EX71s (Someone please slap me when I say something this stupid), probably slighlty worse than the Panasonic HJE50s, which are about the same price as these.

So, given all of that, you get yourself a competent canalphones with NC.  With a proper seal and a bit of active NC, you get pretty decent isolation from the outside world-during music playback, the phone does a good job masking outside noises, such as the fans from your PC.  During silence, you will notice more noise coming in.  The NC isn’t as upto snuff as the ones from Bose’s QuietComfort.  However, the sound quality is, for the 1/5th the price.  Not bad for a $30 knockaround unit.

Good: Cheap, Better than expected SQ
Bad: Cabling is questionable.
Ugly: I have lost phones that were more expensive than these…
Grade: B/B+


Written by Damage

10/11/06 at 9:32 pm

Posted in Headphones

14 Responses

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  1. I lost the rubber ear buds for this head phone. Do you know anyone that sells the ear buds? Thanks.

    Ricky Averion

    12/24/06 at 12:44 am

  2. Seems to work well on the plane though minor engine noise still coming through (via NC I think). I noted that it sometimes amplified the sound just a bit too much for my ear!!

    NC did not seem to reduce any outside noice in other environment such as working away with noisy PC, public area such as Starbuck, listening to fm radio while another radio playing different channel, etc…

    So the value is if you want a passive noise reduction (via earbud) plus to be able to hear the inflight entertainment sound….for something less than US$50 (I bought for US$48 in the retail shop in Malaysia, hard to find unfortunately).


    01/3/07 at 4:29 am

  3. http://www.shurestore.com/iseries/iseries_accessories.html
    From there you can buy those rubber parts… I hope they are universal 🙂


    03/2/07 at 4:08 pm

  4. I bought these bad boys 2 weeks ago and the left side has slowly got quieter and quieter, and the “active noise cancellation” seems to be more of just an in-line amplifier.
    $49.99CAD at Best Buy.

    Thought I’d share my experience.


    06/26/07 at 1:28 pm

  5. This earphones are best bang for the buck.

    Cheapo in cost but they keep very good dynamic range. Maybe you have it bulky, but remember we are talking bang for the buck and whoever tug along a notebook on a plane can actually appreciate the sound quality while disregarding the bulkness of the NC unit.

    You must increase your ripping KBPS (digital sampling rate) in order to really appreciate the upgrade in quality.


    09/11/07 at 11:14 am

  6. I bought a pair 2 weeks ago as i wanted sounds whilst riding my motorbike. These headphones are good for upto 90mph with a low/medium height screen and the chin gaurd on helmet up!!!!!
    For the price i dont think you’ll find much better. I paid £35 and some shops where selling bud types for £170!!!
    The wire from speaker to ‘box of tricks is too short and so it cant be “pocketed”. I’d rate them 8/10, when all thing are considered especially price.


    10/18/07 at 4:12 am

  7. Active Surplus has these for $10.


    01/21/08 at 6:33 pm

  8. I love them and i totally agree the NC is more of an inline amplifier and while “on” the bass seems alto more punchier. not a bad buy i work in a server room and thees guys save my ears i even use then to block out the fan noise.. if i had a second chance i would buy them again.


    02/15/08 at 9:56 am

  9. NC my ass, the only thing cancelling noise is the rubber parts!!
    A bad buy.


    05/4/09 at 11:37 am

  10. I have had two sets of these and only through rough use have they broke (keep getting the wires caught on something and breaking internally), I will be getting another set soon. You can get them for 30 bucks at any local USA Target.
    I saw on the Philips site that they will send you new ear buds for free. Overall excellent bang for the buck. I use them on flights, at the gym and, cutting the lawn.


    05/17/09 at 3:11 pm

  11. They work better than the cheap over-the-ear active noise-cancelling headphones I bought. They are one of the few in-ear headphones I can tolerate, thanks to their soft rubber gaskets. After a while, I forget they are in my ears. They DO amplify the source sound, but they also reduce the droning background noise. My older subcompact car has a lot of both engine noise and wind noise, and these phones do a very good job on those kinds of distracting noises. The SHN2500s also work very well at the gym and on the bicycle over ambient motor noise and wind.

    The primary complaint I have with these things is that the wire between the earphones and the noise cancellation box (where the battery goes) is too short for people of my size. The box is heavy for the cord– especially with the battery installed– and dangling between your fanny pack, your belt clip or your pants pocket, its weight tends to pull the phones right out of your ear, especially during strenuous activity. Possible resolutions for this issue could be an arm strap or a shirt pocket. Better engineering would allow the box to be moved to a more wearer-friendly position.

    I spend US$13 on these at Buy.com a couple of months ago. Buy.com now has them for US$10. Overall, I am satisfied with this purchase (I would feel differently had I spent the $30+ others have noted here).


    09/12/09 at 9:57 am

    • I have one of those, and also thought the cord was too short until I realized that you have to wear it like a necklace (putting the little piece between the earbuds and the box behind your neck).

      There is no clear instruction regarding this in the package, I guess that’s why everybody complains about the cord size or the box weight. Once you do that, it’s quite comfortable and you can even tuck the box inside your shirt to prevent it from banging on something.


      08/17/10 at 5:50 am

  12. Well, they’re quite nice, the little NC box is vey annoying though. I wouldn’t say the NC doesn’t work at all but it just cancels light noises the rest is done by the physical size of the earbuds insde your ear. On the overall is the greatest headphones i have bought for a fair price, more than thar I’d recommend a home theater 😉


    09/16/09 at 7:28 am

  13. They work best in planes and trains and bus. The NC works only in a specific frequency spectrum so it does not work (cancel noise) with speech or music but only a hum of an engine. But they certainly work and are really great for audiobooks etc.


    08/18/11 at 10:22 pm

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