If you’re trying to decide whether or not you should buy a 9600, I understand your dilemma.
Investing in one could end up being a complete waste of time and money, and we want to avoid that… at all costs.
In this article, we’ll take one last look at Philips’ attempt to improve on the 9500, and help you make a sound decision. Should you purchase something completely different from both of these? Let’s dive in and find out.
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At A Glance
In The Box
Philips SHP9600 Headphones
1/4″ Snap-on adapter
Limited 1-Year Warranty
Thank You RTINGS for the graph!
- Price: Check Amazon! | Check B&H!
- Type: Open Back, Dynamic
- Fit: Circumaural
- Frequency Response: 6Hz – 35kHz
- Impedance: 32 Ohm
- Sensitivity: 102dB/mW
- Amp Required: No
- Primary Use(s): Rock, Hip-Hop, EDM, Indie, Pop
- Materials: Plastic, Metal, Cloth
- Weight: 10.1 Oz. (298g)
- Color: Black, Silver, Gold
I didn’t have an official review of the 9600 but wanted to clarify my thoughts about this headphone better because of a few things that came to mind as I began to think back to when I first bought it in August of 2020. More on that in a bit.
Let’s start with build and comfort.
Build & Comfort
This is an incredibly well-built headphone regardless of its price. I’ve dropped it quite a bit and it doesn’t seem to really care. In fact, it asks for more like Mick Foley.
It’s a bulky headphone to be sure, but the plastic feels robust and solid. The cups are oval-shaped and rather shallow, but your ears will fit inside just fine and the headband doesn’t dig into the top of your head.
The headband adjustment also contains metal which helps with the durability factor quite a bit. When you hold them in your hands, it feels more like a $200-300 product rather than something in the $100 range.
Like the 9500, they sit rather loosely but for whatever reason I found them to clamp a tad harder. This may just be a matter of them not being as broken in as my 9500, but I feel as though they don’t slide around nearly as much.
The 9600 also improved on the click mechanism in that it locks into place much better this time around. The 9500’s were a bit too loose and it was difficult to get it to stay on one number.
I included both in my most comfortable headphones of all-time list, and once you wear them for a while you’ll understand why.
I’ve almost never had to take either off of my head for any reason at all, and quite literally can wear them for hours on end – even when I’m not listening to music!
In other words, you don’t really feel them because they clamp just right and don’t press into the sides of your head all that much. It’s as close to “air” as headphones can get I think.
The padding is a cloth material with memory foam on the inside, and while they can wear down over time, I feel like it happens much more gradually than with something like velour.
Bold indicates favorites.
- Amp/DACS Used: FiiO K3/E10K, FiiO BTR3K, FiiO K5 Pro, iFi Zen/V2, iFi Zen DAC Signature + Zen CAN (HIFIMAN), many more. I’ve had and used so many different Amps and DACS now that it’s hard to keep up with.
- Playlist: Here!
- Albums/Media: End of the article!
This is where things get really interesting, as the 9600 does present a stark contrast to the flatter, more neutral, airier 9500.
While the bass still rolls off quite a bit in the sub-regions, there’s now a gradual rise in the mid-bass by about 5dB, but it’s not a bump. It’s more of a shallow incline moving into the low mid-range.
I think it works pretty well for Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, Indie Pop, etc. which is what you’ll primarily be using it for should you decide to take the plunge.
You may notice a bit of a dip in the presence regions, but it doesn’t feel scooped out when you’re listening to it. It can sound a bit pushed back at times if you’re comparing it to something more forward, but by and large, you’ll probably never feel like there’s something really off.
Vocals actually still sound surprisingly present and accounted for, but the headphones overall are definitely not entirely “neutral.”
Philips gave them a bit of a fun, slightly warm-ish character. They actually do very well for the volatile nature of Classical music which I found interesting.
The other difference is that the treble doesn’t have that bite that the 9500 had. Because of this, you can listen to it for longer periods of time without fatigue.
Even so, I still don’t find myself ever reaching for a 9600 to listen to, well, anything.
It’s in large part why I decided to sit down and write this.
Sure, I have over 10 headphones here, but since I bought the 9600 on amazon for around $130 back in Sept. of 2020, I’ve used it maybe twice outside of the purposes of the 9500 vs. 9600 comparison and re-visiting it now.
It’s very telling when you buy a headphone and it ends up collecting dust.
Does that mean the 9600 doesn’t sound good?
Not at all. But if I hadn’t bought one for the purpose of comparing it to the 9500, I would feel like I wasted my time and money.
BECAUSE I SAID SO!!!
Lol, just kidding.
Because there are better options out there.
I would never recommend a 9600 to people when they could just get a 9500 and then upgrade to a K702 later on down the road.
You’ve also got the 58X and HD560S, so really, there’s no place for the 9600 in my opinion.
It’s even more damning when you consider that it’s come down in price by about $30-$45 – a sure sign that it wasn’t worth quite as much as initially sold for.
I think this was Philips’ answer to the 58X, but that headphone is much better (read: better tuned) even despite its Soundstage not being quite as good as either the 9500 or 9600 – both of which are rather excellent.
The 9600 is like the girl who, on the surface seems right for you. She’s got it all. In theory, she ticks all the boxes. But, your heart’s not in it.
You like her, but you’re not in love with her. Intellectually, she’s not there. In truth, she’s kind of an airhead. You don’t feel a strong emotional bond with her. You never find yourself having deep conversations about anything. But that isn’t her fault nor yours. It just is.
This is in large part why the 9600 sits in the corner of my room in its original box, looking completely brand new.
Longing for a partner.
That partner is not me, but I suppose it could be someone else.
Even despite all of this, the 9600 can work pretty well in a gaming setup and still retains some value with its 3.5mm jack. As with the 9500, you can easily attach a Boom Pro here and be off to the races in no time. Just get a Creative SoundBlasterX G6.
Still, I’d personally just buy a 9500 instead as I listen to it more than I do the 9600 even despite having loads of headphones here at the pad.
Because they have a low impedance and high Sensitivity, you technically won’t need an amp for either.
Still, you may opt for something like a FiiO K3, DragonFly Red, BTR3K, or Sabaj DA2 to get your feet wet as all pair very well with either headphone and can improve the sound to an extent. The DragonFly Red is a bit more expensive, but I talk about why its DAC chip is superior to many others here.
DON’T OVERTHINK IT!!
My #1 choice for gamers and general music homies is definitely the G6.
Whether or not you’ll actually need a DAC largely depends on how good or bad your phone is, and how good or bad the internal soundcard on your laptop/PC is. Some people with top-of-the-line gear may not notice a difference after purchasing an Amp/DAC, and others may.
For instance, if you have an Apple computer or phone, you may not benefit at all from separate amplification.
My top picks for gaming and music listening would be the 9500, and then the K702.
If you’d like to find out exactly what the K702 can do for you and why it’s so valuable for gaming as well as general music listening, check out this article:
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Philips SHP9600 Review and came away with some valuable insight.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
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Would you invest in a 9600? What is your experience with these headphones? Are you interested in a 9500? How about my beloved K702? I would love to hear your thoughts. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,
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- Great Soundstage for gaming
- Built well and incredibly comfortable.
- Good for Hip-Hop, Rap, R&B, etc.
- Tonality could be better.
- Tuning is decent, but mid-range may bother some.
- Value isn't that great as there are better options.
These are currently cheaper than the SHP9500 in many territories; I bought my Dad’s set for just over £60 new, back in late 2021. I mentioned them being really good for rock music in one of the other comment sections on here.
I prefer his SHP9600 to my HD 599 SE, even if the latter wins in terms of comfort. The Philips are more lively and engaging, with a comparable soundstage. I reckon that the SHP9600 is a great entry point for newcomers to open-back headphones. The Sennheiser HD 559 is more expensive at the moment in the UK, and those sound really murky and dull.
Cool to see you on another post.
What are your thoughts on the 9600’s mids? And why was your dad selling them?
Agree on the 559 and glad to see someone else pointing that out. Those earlier models are indeed murky. Even the 598, to an extent, suffers from this problem.
Dull is also a great way to classify the 500 series overall though there are obvious stong points to them. I just don’t see myself ever owning a 500 model again. I previously owned the 558 and that was pretty much enough for me.
Ah, I should’ve clarified that I bought the SHP9600 as a Christmas present for him. I’m just using them more often than he does, when I visit the parental household.
The mids are fine to me, maybe not quite as prominent when compared to the Fidelio X2 or X3, but those are far more dynamic sounding headphones. I wouldn’t say that it’s got a scooped sound signature, but it’s definitely in a warmish region.
Nowadays the HD 599 SE is getting used for podcasts and long single player gaming sessions mostly. I barely ever reach for them when I decide to consume music.
The mids are scooped a bit, but it doesn’t make them sound bad or anything. So your “not as prominent” is def on target there. Saem about 500 headphones. I try, and then I’m like.. well, back to the shelf you go. xD
I don’t listen to certain genres of music that would probably be a better test of mid delivery. The SHP9600 has a more relaxed sound signature when compared to my X3, so it is not best suited for faster and more modern metal.
The comfort level on the 599 is near unbeatable, that saves it from getting sold. I haven’t had the chance to try out the 560S, since it’s been hyped as a “giant killer”, but a lot of folks have stated that it’s a downgrade in terms of comfort when compared to the 579/598/598SR/599.
The 560S is just as comfortable and based on literally the exact same design as the 598 and 599 lol. Let me just sigh real quick at those people. *rolls eyes*
I’ve actually been using the Monitor 80 for mixing and it’s also super good for general listening.
There are probably minor differences with earpads, but the headband design is a bit different, to my eyes at least. The 560S’s band looks closer to the ones on the 559 and adjacent gaming headsets (Game One, PC37/38X), with some sort of divot in the middle. The others don’t protrude as much, and are made out of some type of pleather.
At the end of the day, it’s just personal preference. My comfort ranking for my collection (and my Dad’s) is:
HD 599 > X3 > MH752 > AH-D340 > AH-D600 > HP151 > X2 > H6PRO > SHP9600 > PC 350 SE > K371 > K702 > SR80
Ah. I guess out of what I use most, the rank would be the following: HD600 > Monitor80 > K702 > 9500 > Arya > DEVA > 400se > K240M.
With the exception of the horrible K240M (comfort-wise), the rest are all actually super close and could realistically be swapped around. In other words, they are all incredibly comfortable.