Home Headphone Comparisons Sennheiser HD600 vs. Philips SHP9500 [Definitive Guide]

Sennheiser HD600 vs. Philips SHP9500 [Definitive Guide]

by Stuart Charles Black
Philips SHP9500 vs. Sennheiser HD600

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Hey there friend, and Welcome aboard!!

Note: I will attempt to put to rest this debate that has grown more heated as the days go by. This article will address everything you could possibly want to know (hopefully) about these two headphones and aims to be the most comprehensive and exhaustive article on the internet regarding them. I will lay out everything I have and then I’m going to be done with it.

So..

Video Discussion

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Before we get into the Sennheiser HD600 vs. Philips SHP9500 comparison, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…

You’ve come to the right place!!

Philips SHP9500 vs. Sennheiser HD600

Philips SHP9500 vs. Sennheiser HD600

What I will bring you in this review

  1. Specifications
  2. Graphs
  3. 2 Main Differences
  4. Detail?
  5. EQ
  6. Test Tracks
  7. Build Quality
  8. Comfort
  9. Sound
  10. Imaging
  11. Amplification
  12. Genre Pairing
  13. Final Grade
  14. The importance of your source files
  15. The Law of Diminishing Returns
  16. The Decision Process
  17. Final Word

Specifications


For the HD600:

Specifications

For the 9500:

Specifications

  • Price: Check Amazon! | Check B&H! | Check eBay!
  • Type: Open back
  • Magnet Type: Neodymium
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm. What is Headphone Impedance?
  • Maximum power input: 200mW
  • Sensitivity: 101dB
  • Speaker Diameter: 50mm
  • Frequency Response: 12 – 35,000 Hz

Graphs


If you’ll notice, the graphs are very similar. Let’s get into the two main differences between these headphones before we actually dissect them both at length.

2 Main Differences

First off I will say this: Yes, these headphones do differ in 2 ways, but they are fairly subtle.

  1. Bass. Both have considerable bass roll-off, but the 9500 has slightly more. This becomes apparent after testing many tracks, which I have extensively. The HD600’s bass is slightly less rolled off and comes across as warmer with a bit more thump.
  2. Forward Mid-range vs. Forward Treble. This is the main difference, and I look at it in this way: Which would you rather be annoyed by? A shouty mid-range that’s a bit too forward, or a somewhat metallic-sounding treble with a bit too much bite?

That’s the only question you should ask yourself when deciding whether to purchase these two. It’s the fundamental difference, but for some reason has caused so much uproar in the “audiophile” community. Related: What is an Audiophile?

There are other considerations to make before deciding between one or the other, but we’ll get into that later.


Lately, I’ve been getting comments on my YouTube channel from people that go something like this:

“There’s absolutely no way the 9500 ever competes with the HD600.”

“A $50 headphone simply cannot rival a $400 one.”

But yet, we’re given no reason as to why other than it’s more expensive.

The only argument that I’ve gotten is detail, which actually turns out to be the reason that the 9500 can compete!

I’ve tested countless tracks at this point, and the difference is clear. There is no difference.

Both reveal exactly the same amount of detail.

Rtings graphs illustrate my point about these two phenomenally well. Not only that, but both graphs describe exactly what I hear.

One headphone is a bit too emphasized at 2-6k (The 9500), and one headphone is a bit too emphasized at 1-4k (The HD600).

What is so hard for people to understand about this?

Neither headphone is perfect, and both annoy me in different ways. For instance..

When I’m listening to the HD600, I have to turn the volume down because sometimes it feels like the vocalists, instruments, or both are shouting at me.

When I’m listening to the 9500, I have to turn the volume down because sometimes it feels like the instruments have too much sizzle and bite to them.

But GUESS WHAT?

God invented this thing called EQ. With it, you can magically tame down the areas that are annoying! Wow, what a concept.

Equalization

4/29/20 Update: I don’t use iTunes anymore (as it’s been done away with by Apple basically and isn’t necessary anymore), but just use whatever program you want to EQ (Peace/APO, etc.)

Right now I’m using the Creative SoundBlasterX G6’s SoundBlaster Connect App, which has a built-in EQ feature!

Back when I still had CDs, iTunes was what I used to play them. I have since sold all of them and use Spotify/Tidal exclusively. Related: Tidal vs. Spotify [Definitive Guide]

Anyways…

The top image is what I prefer for the 9500 out of iTunes and it works fantastic for taming the treble down a bit and adding some mid-bass. Sounds amazing actually.

As for the HD600, I added a bit of mid-bass and also tamed down the 3k area as well, which results in less shout.

It’s important to keep in mind that neither of these is required, but will help should you have issues. Both headphones sound fine without EQ, but at times you’ll notice both of their respective shortcomings.

The Mid-range

For all intents and purposes, the mid-range is mostly the same on both.

What does this mean?

It means that the 9500 is just as revealing as the HD600. No magic fairy dust. No detail that you’re missing in the 9500. No hidden keys. No strategy guide for unlocking more detail.

It’s all there. Yes, a $50 headphone provides just as much as a $400 one in this case. I know. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but we’re going to put on our big boy pants and take the red pill today.Wow, I went off on a tangent already.

Some people have made the claim that I said the 9500 was better. I did say that a few times, and with certain tracks, I think so. But there’s actually a reason.

Because the 9500’s bass rolls off more, it gives the headphone more room to reveal more detail, at least that was my perception when listening.

This added detail might be somewhat fabricated or artificial, but I did notice in many instances the separation of instruments and vocals seemed more transparent on the 9500, meaning you could decipher things a little bit better.

So in that sense, there are times when I enjoy the 9500 more because it seems less veiled than the HD600. If there were ever a time when the veiled moniker fits, this would be it. The HD600 can sound a bit dull with certain recordings.

But…

Let’s get into some of the tracks where I noticed this “crazy” phenomenon of matching detail and clarity, and why I chose them.

Keep this bookmarked as I will be adding more tracks as I demo them!


  • Amp/DAC used: Audeze Deckard.
  • Sources: CD quality.

Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

This album in general is very well recorded, and I chose 3 songs in particular.

  • Lost Ones. It has a clean, thumping bass line, and lots of articulation. Detail retrieval was the same. Background artifacts and sounds came through marvelously well on both.
  • Final Hour. Bass was more satisfying on the HD600. Better thump. Vocals were pushed back on both. This is likely the recording, and one of the only low points as far as mixing/mastering quality.
  • Doo Wop (That Thing). HD600’s bass hits hard when it has to. Admirable. Bass articulation just about identical on both. For this particular track, the HD600 resembled a bit more of a bass head flavor.
  • 9500 = Leaner. Less fatty.
  • 600 = Fuller, a tad more fat and thump.

Neither quality was negative, just a bit different. Think of it like you’re lifting weights for bulk vs. lifting and shedding body fat. Same principle.

Wilco – A Ghost is Born

  • At least that’s what you said. The only track I tested off this album. I was looking for discrepancies in the bass line because I’ve heard it so many times. Both headphones rendered it roughly the same. The 9500 was a bit brighter as far as the overall picture.

Interpol – Turn on the bright lights

  • Obstacle 1. A bit too bright in some areas on both headphones.
  • PDA. Another bright affair.

In general, this album was not recorded very well and not that enjoyable to listen to so I moved on. There are too many layered guitars and it just ends up being a huge mish-mosh. A true testament to the importance of source files.

Phish – Junta

  • You Enjoy Myself. A track that I’ve heard countless times. Sounded incredible on the 9500. This is the power of a good recording coupled with a good amp (Audeze Deckard). Micro details everywhere. The HD600 had the same amount of detail but was slightly more veiled. What is the Sennheiser Veil? There seemed to be a thin layer of blanket over the sound, but it was subtle.

  • Amp/DAC used: NAIM DAC V1 & Audeze Deckard.
  • Source: CD.

Pink Floyd – Wish you were here

  • Shine on you crazy diamond. Richard Wright’s keyboard felt extremely alive and articulate on the HD600 and the 9500. There was little to no difference other than the 9500 is a little brighter, which is a common theme here as a whole. That said, the HD600 again is a bit shouty at times. I also noticed that the separation of instruments is a bit better on the 9500, but overall yes, the 9500 is brighter.
  • Have a Cigar. Extra bass notes came through on the HD600 that I never noticed before. A bit shouty at times (instrumentation). 9500 reveals the same level of detail.

The Roots – Things Fall Apart

  • The Next Movement. This is another great recording with a lot going on, but not so much as to ruin your ability to discern. The 9500’s treble here is clearly more metallic, and the HD600’s mid-range is clearly a bit too forward. Another running theme in this article. Same exact details, voices, and micro details present in both headphones.

  • Amp used: Schiit Magni 2.
  • Sources: Vinyl, CDs through iTunes.

Cabu feat. Akacia

Purchased off of iTunes

Cabu – Good (Single) feat. Akacia. A great indie pop/EDM type of track with some nice bass thump. The 9500’s bass response is definitely leaner overall, while the 600’s plays the part of the bass head type. Neither bass gets in the way of the mid-range or the enjoyment of the song in general.

Chon – Homey

CD quality

  • Feel this way. Without my magic EQ, the snaps and snares on this track are a bit too in your face on the HD600. With it, the song is mellowed out just enough but still really slams in a crisp and controlled manner. Mellow out, man!

  • Waterslide. This track is a prime example of why I sometimes like the 9500 more than the 600. It’s a crunchy track, but the 9500 brings out that crunch much more effectively, and the result is a livelier sound with more energy. That’s not to say the 600’s renders it badly, but it’s ho-hum in comparison. Both benefit from my EQ settings here as well.

Fleetwood Mac – Mirage

Vinyl

  • Love in store. Let’s start from the top, shall we? The pulsating bass line is absolutely fantastic on this track, and the detail is magnificent.

More track analysis coming soon!


Build Quality


The build of both of these is very good, albeit in different ways.

9500

The 9500 almost feels like air on your head, even though its build is significantly better than a headphone like the AKG K240.

As cheap as it is price-wise, Philips put a lot of care into the construction itself. It feels extremely solid and boasts metal headbands and rugged plastic. The ear cups rotate a bit inwards and outwards, and handling them feels solid to the touch.

The ear-cups also have large block letters indicating Right and Left on the outside, as well as two numbered adjustments on either side with a window to boot.

The padding is a fabric, and though the clamping force isn’t tight, they are comfortable for long periods of time without the need to adjust.

The Wire

No, not TV show. 😛

The chord on here is detachable and represents the perfect length for me. Not too long and not too short.

It terminates in a 3.5mm jack and mine DID NOT come with a 1/4″ adapter. I highly recommend getting a snap-on, as most screw-on adapters will not work. I believe my version was the “S” version. The regular version comes with an adapter if I remember correctly.

HD600

The HD600’s build is also very good, but surprisingly it feels lighter than a 9500.

They’re made of mostly plastic, and the headband itself has been known to crack under extreme stress.

This is because the clamping force itself is very tight at first, and users tend to want to stretch them out for a few days prior to an extended listening session.

Fortunately, mine have not cracked despite being dropped on the headband a few times! If you can believe it, they simply bounced like a bouncy ball and survived the fall unscathed.

The headband adjustment on these is fairly solid, but the material itself doesn’t seem to be the most rugged I’ve ever felt. That said, this headphone is deceptively solid; it’s not going to break down unless you put it through extreme conditions and will be fine in an isolated studio environment.

I’ve even traveled with mine (when recording the YouTube video), but I don’t recommend it as they do not come with a case.

The fit as discussed before is fairly tight at first but does open up over time even without the need to stretch them. I never stretched mine, because I actually liked the fit at first. They fit very snug on your melon, and in fact, it’s probably the most secure fit out of any headphones I’ve personally tried.

The ear cups are oval-shaped and contour your ear nicely. The pads are velour vs. the fabric of the 9500 and do feel more snuggle bunny overall. We’ll get into that more later.

The Wire

The wire on this joint is one of the most annoying that I’ve ever come in contact with.

It’s long, cumbersome, flimsy, and tends to get in the way more often than not.

It is detachable like the 9500’s but comes out of both cups while the 9500’s only comes out of one. It also comes with a snap-on adapter.

Fortunately, for as many times as I’ve run over the chord with my chair, it’s still intact.

It’s just that it resembles something out of the ’90s (which it is), but I think it could be improved upon.

  • Headband/Adjustment: 9500
  • Earcups: HD600
  • Wire: 9500
  • Overall Comfort: HD600
  • Winner: Draw.

Comfort


9500

Comfort on both is good, but again, in different ways.

The 9500 is much looser of a fit but is still very comfortable over long periods of time due to the lack of clamp force.

It does feel awkward at times, but you get used to it. The only time I’ve had to adjust the 9500 is when it slides forward, which it will do from time to time. Getting a secure fit is rather simple though, and you shouldn’t have much trouble with it.

HD600

The 600’s are much tighter and fit securely on your dome piece without issue.

They are also snugger and the velour feels more accompanying on your melon.

That said, I rarely adjust these when they’re on my head, as the comfort level is nothing short of exemplary. I would describe them as being very unassuming when they’re on. You kind of don’t really tend to notice them.

Winner: Draw.

I say this because both provide great comfort but both are vastly different in how they administer it.


Sound


Here is where things get interesting.

Bass

The bass here is a bit more rolled off than the 600, which tends to render them a bit more detailed in some regards.

However, this may be somewhat of an illusion, but as I said before: I noticed a bit better separation in certain songs with the 9500.

My EQ settings in iTunes do bring out the bass a bit more, and in some regards, I do prefer the more lean response.

The HD600’s bass in comparison resembles more of a bass head sound, but that’s only with the 9500 as a buffer. You’ll notice more thump and less of a needle-like precision.

I would say the 9500’s bass is more textured and lean, while the HD600’s is warmer with a bit of extra fat.

Winner: HD600 by a slight edge.

Mid-Range

This is where the bulk of the debate lies. The people that argue with me on this say that the 600’s provide more detail and clarity, but it’s simply not the case.

The mid-range on both is almost identical before you get to the area where it becomes somewhat obnoxious on the HD600.

The level of clarity here is exactly the same, and I would argue it’s sometimes better on the 9500 due to the more rolled-off bass response.

I think most of the people who claim the 600’s are better simply want to justify the amount they spent on the headphones + amp, which is understandable.

I did the same thing at first. I was in denial for a while before finally realizing that a cheaper headphone was just as capable of providing as much clarity as my beloved HD600.

Winner: 9500 by a slight margin.

The HD600’s mid-range tends to become somewhat obnoxious at times as if the instruments or vocalists are shouting at me.

Treble

This is going to be tough because there are times when I prefer a brighter treble and times when I do not.

9500

Yes, the 9500’s treble is bright, and yes, it can come across as metallic sounding at times. The graphs do confirm it and they match what I hear around 2-6k. It just ends up being too much at times, but for the most part, I would say it sounds fine and people over-exaggerate it a bit too much (especially for the price).

HD600

The treble on the 600’s is much darker and can be somewhat veiled depending on who you ask. What is the Sennheiser Veil?

To me, it’s only veiled when I listen to a bright headphone like the 9500, and I do like the treble here a great deal.

These are never going to sound metallic or overly bright, which is a breath of fresh air considering most cheaper headphones tend to hype up the 8-10k area with reckless abandon.

So in a treble sense, the 600’s are extremely non-fatiguing and probably work better for longer listening sessions at lower volumes.

Winner: HD600


Imaging


9500

The imaging here is very good. In fact, despite a lot of claims that these won’t work for Gaming, I found the opposite to be true. The Best Headphones for Gaming.

A lot of people say that they don’t have a good Soundstage, but I also disagree. I think it’s very wide and spacious, giving off the illusion of width and depth.

For instance, when I was playing  Fallout 4, there was a knocking sound in-game that I perceived was coming from behind me. I got up and went to the door thinking someone was knocking on my door!

So they’re capable of being out of your head and do pretty well in this regard with music.

HD600

The 600’s by contrast have a more narrow image but still achieve fantastic instrument separation. It’s just that the Soundstage itself is not all that impressive with regard to space and depth. What is Soundstage?

It’s more of a 2-d image rather than the 3-d image that the 9500 possesses.

Winner: 9500


Amplification


9500

The 9500 does not need an amp. Being 32 Ohm with 102 dB of Sensitivity, they’ll sound fine out of most mobile devices. However, for the sake of comparison, I did use a variety of amplifiers given that the HD600 does require one to reach acceptable listening levels.

Learn more:

By contrast, the HD600 does need an amp given its higher impedance and lower sensitivity. At 97 dB, it sits right below the acceptable level for use with a phone or mobile device.

In my research, a lot of folks claimed they would sound fine out of a phone which is simply not true. The sound is clear, but it won’t be loud enough by any stretch.

Winner: 9500.

I say this because, at $50, the 9500 provides the same level of clarity without the need for an amp.

The 600’s will need a decent amp, and the Schiit Magni/Modi is a fine start. Schiit Magni 2 Review!


Genre Pairing


9500

The 9500 does well with most genres, although if you prefer more bass slam, they may not cut it for heavy stuff like EDM or R&B.

That said, I’ve come to really appreciate the texture and nuance that the bass provides, but do prefer the EQd sound in iTunes with some added mid-bass.

You’ll notice the roll-off in the sub-bass regions, but I would say these provide a bit more than a K240. AKG K240 Review!

HD600

The 600’s do well with all genres too, but they excel a bit better with bass heavier stuff.

Winner: HD600 by a slight margin.


Final Grade

Alright, the moment of truth. Let’s tally this thing up.

  • Build: Draw
  • Comfort: Draw
  • Bass: HD600 by a slight margin.
  • Mid-range: 9500
  • Treble: HD600
  • Imaging/Soundstage: 9500
  • Amplification: 9500
  • Genre Pairing: HD600 by a slight margin.

As you can see, this is way closer than people want to admit.

  • HD600: 3 Wins
  • 9500: 3 Wins
  • Draws: 2

The importance of your source files

I noticed that with both of these, source files are extremely important and neither headphone is very forgiving. If the song sounds like poo, it’s likely that the headphone is exposing the mix/master and you’re better off just skipping it.

Once you do find quality recordings, you’ll know because both headphones will render tracks with an almost flawless sense of precision and accuracy.

It’s really something to behold.

  • That said, with the HD600, stick to FLAC, WAV, and high-quality CD files. 320 kbps and up will be most beneficial with these headphones. I’ve found that most Spotify tracks are pretty good, but there are some that are downright awful so beware. As of 2/9/19, I now run Tidal so I don’t really have to worry about quality anymore.
  • With the 9500, the same applies, but I would say these are a bit more forgiving. You’re able to listen to a wider variety of tracks without issue.

The Law of Diminishing Returns

Another thing to keep in mind is The Law of Diminishing Returns.

What this basically means that spending more nets you a smaller and smaller incremental increase in sound quality.

For instance, I really like the Grado GS1000e, but do I think the increase in sound quality is worth 10x as much as the Grado SR80e? No, not at all. The sound is better, but it’s not 10x better.

For clarity’s sake, the 80e sits at around $100, and the 1000e hovers around the $1000 mark.

What does this have to do with the HD600 vs. the 9500?

The HD600 represents that threshold. Sure, there are headphones that outperform it, but it will get you around 90-95% of the audiophile sound.

In fact, you could buy it and never have to upgrade again, but we all know that won’t happen 😛

The 9500 challenges that notion, however, by being considerably cheaper, with the same amount of detail and clarity, without needing an amp.

So…


The Decision Process

If you’re on a budget and want to know what an audiophile headphone is supposed to sound like, the 9500 is the best you’ll get.

You may not even ever need to purchase an HD600, and that’s okay.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great headphone, but I think the 9500 can compete and holds its own without question…


Final Word

Interested in learning more about the 9500?

CHECK OUT MY OFFICIAL PHILIPS SHP9500 REVIEW!!

How about the HD600?

CHECK OUT MY OFFICIAL SENNHEISER HD600 REVIEW!!


Well that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve gotten some valuable information out of this Sennheiser HD600 vs. Philips SHP9500 comparison…

Marvin, what do you make of all this? Be sure to let me know!!

If you have any other questions or feel I’ve missed the mark on something, leave a comment down below or Contact me!

I very much look forward to speaking with you..

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

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22 comments

Danilo January 5, 2019 - 4:56 am

Thank you for a great review on two great headphones!

I own both models and I agree with most of the impressions in the review, but I have to disagree about the bass. You mention very often that the 9500 rolls off more than the hd600, and that is what I don’t hear when comparing the two. Based on their f/r graphs you can see that the hd600 actually starts rolling off higher than the 9500; the philips is essentially flat down to about 100hz while the hd600 starts rolling off at around 150hz. Below 100hz they pretty much have identical response, in other words, nothing really serious (neither of them is a bass can).

But graphs only tell you so much, so I prefer to hear first hand, and I remember when I got the 9500 one of the first things I was curious about was how the bass compared to that of my hd600. To me the 9500 actually has more bass presence, but that is not obvious because it is a much tighter bass and within a general sound signature that is brighter than that of the hd600. A warmer signature can be confused with “more bass”, but that is not the case here, and the hd600’s warmth mainly comes from having mids and mid-bass more forward, with some mid-bass “vapor” (around 200Hz, which is not necessarily great), and recessed treble.

A tighter and more layered bass is expected from a can with more treble response and a driver that’s about 20 years newer, made with modern materials and with a 50mm diaphragm vs 30mm. The 9500 is just a more advanced and much faster driver, more full range than the hd600. The 9500 does have some treble emphasis (around 5K and 10K, really easy to eq) which are not there with the hd600, and while that can be bothersome, in combination with its higher driver speed makes the 9500 a more resolving can. We obviously use them with different rigs, but to me the 9500 has higher resolution then the hd600, besides a much wider Soundstage and a sense of 3D.

And let’s not forget the sense of “air”, much more present in the 9500, and essential to music that demands realism, timbre precision, and nuance, such as early and classical music. Also, I wish we were still at the time when the 9500 were $50, but that was a limited time offer in 2017, which didn’t last for very long. Have you checked the current price for the 9500? you won’t find them anywhere for less than $200 and most places sell them for close to $300. The prices for the hd600 are now all over the place because Sennheiser just discontinued them (along with the hd650), but in the last few months of production you could find them for as low as $180, and hardly above $250 anyway.

Lastly, do you really use and Eq these headphones with iTunes? if these cans had souls they would get offended…horrible audio engine, and even worse Eq. How about trying them with a serious audio engine supporting DSP and loading a more serious Eq in it? If you do, you should try Eq-ing the 9500 with a 1.5dB high-shelf from 100hz down, a -1dB notch at 5K (with a pretty wide Q) and a similar one at 10K, that’s all, and your hd600 will be ready for retirement.

Reply
Stuart Charles Black January 5, 2019 - 2:35 pm

Fantastic comment Dan! Really appreciate you stopping by and for the kind words.

Yeah, this article was made in response to people that were trying to fight me on this comparison on my YouTube channel (specifically the SHP9500 review). It ended up irritating me so much that I wrote this. Lol.

I think we pretty much actually agree on most fronts. Ty’lls graph has them rolling off right at 100 Hz, and RTINGS around 150 but it’s a bit harder to tell exactly where. If you look at the RTINGS HD600 graph side by side with the 9500 graph, the bass roll off is almost exactly the same, and to me it looks like the HD600’s is a bit more gradual. However like you said, it more depends on your experience and you’re def right about the mid-bass having a smidgen more presence on the 600’s.

I think you bring up a great point about warmth and how that can deceive our ear. The HD600 on it’s own is a really clinical headphone, but side by side with the 9500 it does seem warm. I much prefer the air and precision of the 9500, so I definitely agree with you. That said, I still love the 600’s and have a hard time deciding which one to sell. For someone who makes videos and writes articles, it’s nice to have that reference point and becomes hard to sell off headphones because they really come in handy.

There was a fella on YouTube who echoed your sentiments and basically said the same thing: “My HD600 will be on the open market soon enough.” In fact, he was talking about precisely what you said regarding the frequency spectrum, and that the 600’s fall in this kind of narrow range, with too much mid-range emphasis around 1-3k. I’ve always found that area really annoying, which holds the 600 back from being an absolute perfect headphone. I kind of like the treble actually. It’s a welcome change from all the brightness in other headphones. That said, there’s something really breathtaking about putting on a 9500. It’s almost like an “ah ha” moment when you realize that the veil has been lifted, but the sound isn’t over the top bright. The bass is so articulate and clear that it’s almost unreal/too much to handle.

I challenge anyone who disagrees to throw on a lossless version (Tidal) of “Don’t do me like that” from Petty and go to 1:40. Listen to how articulate those background keys are. Crazy. You can hear every single note with ridiculous precision.

Same with Zeppelin’s “Hey Hey What Can I Do?” The Jam towards the end is just sublime in all regards. There really are no words which is ironic considering the lyrics: “Hey hey what can I say” lol. It actually becomes easier to hear what Plant is saying too. I find with other cans and even the 600, it’s harder to make out the backing vocals. That’s something that always kind of jumped out at me with the 9500. Everything comes together so beautifully but you can still hear exactly what’s going on without it becoming a jumbled mess.

It was kind of jarring to me what that guy said about the narrow range, but then I began to really think about the fact that the 9500 is more resolving in all aspects. I think some people just can’t handle the truth. You bring up great points also about the driver being newer technology, larger, etc. All points I brought up to people trying to argue with me, and again, why I wrote this article.

The fact of the matter is that the 9500’s level of detail is on par, if not better than that of the 600’s and it’s a tough pill to swallow for other people considering how cheap they were about a year ago. I’m really hoping Philip’s brings these back and I’m sure they will at some point.

As for the HD600/650 being discontinued, Joshua Valour made a video on that but I researched it more in depth and people were saying that wasn’t correct. Also there is no official statement by Sennheiser and no recent news. There were a lot of people saying that you should take what Sennheiser reps say with a grain of salt. Apparently he was at a can jam or something similar and some rep told him but it was never officially verified.

As for the iTunes stuff, I really just used the EQ quickly for these two headphones because I wanted to prove very quickly that EQ can benefit both. In all honesty I don’t use EQ much outside of that. I have the Peace EQ but haven’t really used it.

Let me know what you use!

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bald1 February 9, 2019 - 5:14 am

I too own both of these headphones. I use them with my computer headphone system which consists of foobar2000 software handling >600 ripped CDs and a good number of Tascam DR-05 / VinylStudio digitized vinyl LPs run through a Schiit “stack” (Wyrd, Modi-2, Vali) and Garage 1217 Project Polaris v1.1. I use the hybrid tube Vali to drive my Philips SHP9500 and the Polaris amp for my HD600.

I will note that I use a recording engineer (HeadFi member _gl) supplied custom HD600 mild bass extension GlissEQ plugin curves and Joe “Bloggs” Yeung (formerly with FiiO) supplied crossfeed files in the DSP management of my foobar2000 setup. They are exceptional in optimizing the HD600. The same EQ “tweak” also seems to benefit the Philips as well despite not being specifically developed for it’s factory frequency response.

I agree with your observations and sentiments here. Well done! Both cans are very capable of delivering exceptional sound. I must admit however to having preferred my 1993 HD580s just a tad more when I compared the three a few years back. Sadly one of the original drivers has exhibited issues forcing retirement. Current Sennheiser supplied replacements are basically HD600 drivers.

And as an aside one of my sons swears by his SHP9500 with a V-Moda BoomPro for his gaming needs.

Again great article which is much appreciated.
–Bob

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Stuart Charles Black February 9, 2019 - 3:34 pm

Thanks Bob!

Looks like you’ve got a really solid rig going!

I would love to try out one of those original HD580’s. I think it would be cool to do a Shootout of the three: 580, 600 and 650. I own the 600 and demo the 650 on occasion from a friend. In fact, you may be interested in some of the things he’s doing. He did a fantastic DT770 mod and I can’t say enough good things about it. He’s actually working on an update to make it sound even better but I was extremely impressed.

It’s def the best Gaming headphone I’ve tried. Love the SHP9500 as well. I will probably pick up a Boom Pro too. Ant Lion sent me the Mod Mic 5 for demo which I also like.

I think your son (or you) would really enjoy this modded 770. Give it a look see anyhow.. Craig Boyles’ modded Black Mage DT770. Let me know.

Cheers mate and thanks for the kind words!

-Stu

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Bald1 February 12, 2019 - 12:47 am

Stu,
A bit about those old HD580s. Mine had HD600 grills, Brainwavz HM5 velor earpads, and 2M NewFantasia cables as the HD650 cables were just too long at 10′. I had played with the “coin hole” and other mods over the years but ultimately returned everything else to stock. Speaking of cables, I picked up a used set of CustomCansUK 1.5M some time back for my HD600. They look great but honestly neither of my aftermarket cables sound any different to me than the HD650 factory one.
Now to the point of my new comment, your suggestion about the modded DT770 prompted me to haul the HD580 out of storage instead. I’d put them away when the left driver failed. Decided “why not” and contacted Sennheiser. A pair of new HD650 (#092855) driver capsules are on their way. Prices have gone up the last few years; currently $68.62 each.
Here’s a quick shot of my desktop computer-headphone setup with the SHP9500, HD580 (soon to be a “HD580/650”), and HD600. 🙂 https://i.imgur.com/KcDv4HQ.jpg
–Bob

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Stuart Charles Black February 12, 2019 - 3:26 am

Awesome set up Bob! So how would you compare the sound of the 600 and 650 vs. the original 580?

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Hersey Berry Jr February 25, 2019 - 5:31 am

Hey Stu;

I modded my SHP 9500 with cheap 4 dollar pleather angled pads I bought off Aliexpress. Guess What, Now they have deep bass,and everything else about the sound is better, more natural, less harsh but still has highs and soundstage. Try replacing your pads, homey! There are 2 videos that show how to do it. Youtube: Modding the Phillips 9500. I love using these headphones with my 20 dollar MPOW Streambot Bluetooth Reciever. Now they have bass for my rap, hip hop and soul. They sound awesome on all genres of jazz and classical too. The difference between the original SHP and the ‘S’ version is a plastic mounting ring. It is to mount the pads to the frame. This is not needed on the S version just stretch the pads over. The seal is what keeps the bass in. Do not remove the fabric covering the drivers ! You will ruin them! You need pads with an opening of 110mm by 80mm. You could go up to 115mm by 85mm. The flange is 120 by 100 mm. It was a bitch and took an hour but after and got those pads on, I was in heaven listening to them! They were gathering dust because my CB-1s had better deep bass.Now I often hook two pairs of headphones to my solid state amp and compare which headphone sounds best.I have six and I will be damned the way it was recorded can make you prefer one headphone, then the next song will play and the other one is slightly better.I would say the CB-1 benefits more off a tube.The SHP plays older music better with the pad change but my pad modded Superlux 668 is best on old 60’s and up to late 70’s music. Stu change those pads on the 9500’s to leather or pleather and you have a new improved 9500. PEACE!

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Stuart Charles Black February 25, 2019 - 5:24 pm

Yo, my man! What’s the link to those pads? It’s funny; tomorrow’s review/discussion is about the 9500’s. Hope you will share your insights there on YT as well. I really love the house sound of them but the treble around 5-7k is a tad hot. Still, I’m def interested in this mod. My CB-1’s kind of collect dust at the moment because of their somewhat grainy, artificial sound although the Soundstage on them is awesome and the bass like you said is very good. Does this 9500 mod make the bass sound too over done? I kind of like how it sounds out of the box.

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Ivan Resende May 13, 2019 - 5:56 pm

Great review! I have the SHP9500 and the hd58x Jubilee.

For me, the Philips it’s better overall. I just use my Sennheiser just to play digital piano. But to listen music (rock, classical, etc), games and browsing, Philips is the no brainer.

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Stuart Charles Black May 13, 2019 - 11:12 pm

Thanks Ivan! Hey where are you? Would you mind sending me the 58X for demo? I’ve been trying to get my hands on one for awhile now. Let me know! Agree about the 600. Still keep it around but don’t use it quite as much as I used to.

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Ivan May 14, 2019 - 7:33 pm

Hello Stu, I’m from Brazil… so it’s hard to send to you. However, you can listen a good comparison on YouTube on clavinetjunkie’s channel between hd58x and hd600. Cheers!

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Stuart Charles Black May 14, 2019 - 10:02 pm

No worries man! Would you mind if I added you to my email list? I mostly send out content/site updates and will be doing giveaways here in the near future. If you don’t want to that’s okay too! Just let me know either way.

Regards,

-Stu

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Ivan May 15, 2019 - 5:49 pm

Hunn, I really like this site, and spend some time looking around.
If you don’t sent an email every day, (or week), yes kkkk
(I put the e-mail to add this comment, you can use that).

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Stuart Charles Black May 16, 2019 - 7:10 pm

Thanks Ivan! I really appreciate your support. 🙂

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Souradip Pradhan July 28, 2019 - 4:30 pm

Hi,

I’m curious to know your opinion on one of my favourite tracks. You use Tidal, so it will be perfect.

But do you have both headphones in your arsenal right now? It would be best to do a comparison.

Just listen to “Reign” by Ramin Djawadi from Game of thrones OST 6 album.

Can you please do a comparison and declare which one reproduces more crisp sound?

Thanks.

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Stuart Charles Black July 29, 2019 - 2:15 am

Thanks Souradip! I will check that track out in a bit. I do happen to have both on hand. It’s interesting; I sold all of the rest of my headphones except for the 9500, 600, and MDR V6. Sold like 9 others.

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Stuart Charles Black September 9, 2019 - 7:12 pm

Hey man! So the track sounded very good with each but honestly I couldn’t tell much difference in the way of sonic characteristics besides what I outline here in this article; the HD 600 is a bit warmer and clammier sounding (a bit more boxed in if you will), while the 9500 was very crisp and livelier. It was a tad bright at some spots though, but for the most part I preferred it over the 600 with that track.

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Stuart Charles Black September 9, 2019 - 7:13 pm

Hey man! So the track sounded very good with each but honestly I couldn’t tell much difference in the way of sonic characteristics besides what I outline here in this article; the HD 600 is a bit warmer and clammier sounding (a bit more boxed in if you will), while the 9500 was very crisp and livelier. It was a tad bright at some spots though, but for the most part I preferred it over the 600 with that track. Let me know what you think!

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John Christopher February 16, 2020 - 1:16 am

Hi, thanks for the very in-depth review of both headphone. But I wonder are either of them suitable for mixing/mastering works? Thanks in advanced!!!

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Stuart Charles Black February 17, 2020 - 2:32 pm

Hey man! My pleasure and thank you! Yeah they they will both do well for that. The HD600’s bass has some more meat on it. The 9500’s are very bass lean but to me sound more crisp and slightly more detailed overall, with better Soundstage. I think you’ll be able to easily hear more going on in the mix with the 9500 as well. I guess my only concern with the 9500 is that you may end up overcompensating on the bass. If you keep that in mind though I think it’s a slightly better option than the 600 although I still have both. I tend to use the 600 more lately with regard to casual listening. Did you also plan on purchasing an amp? You’ll need one for the 600’s but not necessarily with the 9500. Let me know!

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Arun July 13, 2020 - 9:03 pm

Awesome review man !
This website became my goto thing if i want a review of any headphone or for any comparisions.
I am not an audiophile by any means and i am planning to buy my first open back headphones now.
After reading all your reviews I have only two options….Sennheiser HD 599/598 and phillips 9500.Which one do you think is best overall? I listen to almost all genre of music and do little gaming(gaming is not a priority). Also which one has the best sound stage and imaging?
Hope you answer my question . Be well !!

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Stuart Charles Black July 20, 2020 - 6:29 pm

Hey man thank you so much 🙂 Wow! Tough decision! I really do like the 599/598 but I think the 9500 is a better value. The sound signatures of the headphones are different as well. While both have great Soundstage, I do think the 598/599 edges the 9500 out ever so slightly. Still, it’s probably a marginal difference.

The reason I love the 9500 so much is because of it’s crisp, clear attention to even the most minute of details. A recent example would be Tupac’s “So Many Tears” which I’ve been listening to since 2007. Never before did I hear him faintly talking on the right side until I put on a 9500 with iFi’s hip-dac. It was simply astounding to me the level of subtlety that the 9500 was able to pick up with not only that song, but plenty of others.

I would say both 9500 and 598/599 work well for most genres, but I think the 9500 is a tad better in this regard. I find that the 598/599 sometime struggles to keep up, meaning it’s transient response and quickness isn’t quite up to snuff with certain genres and songs.

Consider this: Out of all the headphones in my collection that I sold off last year, I only kept 2. One was the 9500, and the other the HD600.

So overall? 9500 wins out for me. Comfort and build are about the same, but I prefer the sound over the Sennys. I’d probably give a slight edge to Senn in terms of comfort because of the velour pads, but the 9500 is extremely easy to wear over long sessions. As far as build, both are plastic, but the Senn’s feel a bit cheaper than the rugged plastic/metal combo of the 9500. If I had to place a value on it, I’d put it at around $200.

Hope that helps! Let me know what you think!

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