Sometimes you just want a small and discreet pair of headphones to wear on the commute or at the gym, instead of big, bulky ones that make you look like an alien from Mars. The Philips SHS8100/28 Earhook Headphones are a good choice for those with an active lifestyle or want to listen to music on-the-go. They offer a surprisingly powerful performance for such tiny in-ear headphones.
The assumption is usually that the larger the drivers, the better the performance – but the SHS8100 is out to prove us wrong. Featuring small but efficient 15mm dynamic drivers, the headphones deliver with punchy bass, detailed mids, and clear highs. Of course, they sound nothing like higher-end brands like Bose or Audio Technica, but the sound quality is miles better than your run-of-the mill in-ear headphones. They have a frequency response between 6Hz and 23,500Hz, which is wider than some headphones on the market, enabling them to handle both low and high frequencies well.
The SHS1800 comes equipped with ‘Turbo Bass’, which gives low tones a real boost. Although they have a bass-heavy bias, the SHS8100 pulls it off well, since the bass is playing directly into the ear rather than being felt by the body, like with a dedicated stereo or subwoofer. The effect is tight and strong rather than thumping, so they sound good even with compressed audio files on an MP3 player. The result is smooth, dynamic and warm rather than artificial. They work best with modern, beat-oriented genres like pop, techno, rock, dance and hip hop. Response is not completely flat or accurate, but good enough for casual listening.
A low impedance of 32ohm and high sensitivity of 102dB makes them suitable for portable music devices such as iPods, MP3 players and smartphones. They have a maximum power input of 50mW, and music plays at high levels with minimal distortion. As they do not require much wattage to run properly, this also helps to save battery life on a user’s audio sources.
A great feature of the SHS8100 is their convenience. They can be used straight out of the box and do not require complicated setups or instruction manuals – users simply plug them into an audio source and start playing music. The headphones earbud-style provides better noise isolation compared to on-the-ear types, since they go directly into the ears to seal out ambient noise. While they don’t have active noise cancellation properties, the buds are effective at keeping environmental noise, such as the sounds of crying babies on a plane, to a bare minimum. The design also ensures a private listening experience by keeping the music in your ears, without bothering others around you. They are extremely lightweight, clocking in at just 0.2kg, so it’s easy to forget that you have them on.
The headphones feature rubber ear hooks that go over the ears, similar to the curved temples on a pair of glasses. This feature helps to keep the headphones in place, even with vigorous movement – making them great for outdoor activities such as jogging and running, as well as working out at the gym. The ergonomic design prevents against tugging, which is a common problem with earbud-style headphones, as users accidentally snag on the wires and the buds are ripped unceremoniously from the ears.
The hooks are made from a rubbery plastic and can be adjusted to fit different head shapes and sizes. The buds come with three interchangeable caps of different sizes (small, medium and large) for an optimal fit – great news for people with smaller ears. The grippy texture of the silicone caps further helps to secure the headphones. The material is also more resistant against sweat and heat compared to fabric and velour, which is common in on-ear and over-the-ear types.
The cable exits from the rear, so it won’t scrape against the side of your face or get in the way while you’re enjoying music. Despite the hooks, the ergonomic, streamlined design ensures that even people with glasses can wear them with no discomfort.
Other than the shape, they look pretty much like most earbud headphones, being small, compact and discreet. They are only available in black color.
There isn’t much to add on to the SHS8100 as they are quite basic. They come with a 1.2m long cord, which is just the right length when connected to a device in a user’s pocket. The cord feels sturdy but is not Kevlar-reinforced for extra durability. The end is a standard gold-plated 3.5mm jack. There are no inline controls for volume adjustment or skipping tracks, so users will still have to reach for their devices to tweak any settings. Unfortunately, the SHS8100 does not come with a built-in mic, unlike its newer cousin, the SHS8105A/28.
Earbud-style headphones are not for everyone, as some dislike the feeling of having something in their ears. Otherwise, they offer great audio performance, and their lightweight build is easy to carry around. The ear hooks are a nice touch over regular in-ear headphones, as they keep them in place during workouts.