We have to admit that Philips’ new SHB9100 headphones didn’t make a great first impression. The lightweight plastic used for the headband and earpieces seems distinctly cheap and cheerful for a set of headphones costing £85. Visit Group test: what are the best headphones?
We didn’t like the controls, either. There’s just a single button on the right-hand earpiece that’s used to adjust the volume up and down, and also to select the next or previous track. It’s a fiddly way of doing things – especially the quick double-tap required to select the previous track – and can be a bit annoying at times. Philips doesn’t even include a carrying case or mains adaptor, so you can only charge it off a USB port.
However, all was forgiven when we started to listen to some music, because the sound quality of the SHB9100 is extremely good. The digitally enhanced bass is nicely balanced – big and full, but not overpowering – and there’s a nice zing on the higher frequencies.
The earpieces are thickly padded and comfortable to wear, and the nine-hour battery life should see you through most long journeys. You can also plug in the supplied audio cable and use the SHB9100s as an ordinary set of wired headphones when the battery runs low, or with other music players that don’t have Bluetooth.
The bass is nicely balanced and the higher frequencies have a nice zing.
Philips quotes an RRP of £100, but you can’t buy these direct from Philips and websites such as Amazon are generally selling them for a more reasonable £85.
The construction of the SHB9100s certainly leaves room for improvement, and at this price it really ought to include a carrying case or mains adaptor. But Philips gets the sound quality right, and the SHB9100 is one of the better Bluetooth headphones in the sub-£100 category.