First Impressions

After sifting through the thousands of options available, I decided to settle on a mid-range purchase as a replacement for my now broken set of DJ headphones that I’ve had for almost 8 years.

Today I’ll be reviewing the Philips SHL3260 On-ear/Over-ear “DJ-style monitoring” headphones.

SHL3260BK

SHL3260BK

I’ve been noticing a trend in headphone/earphone sales that makes it much more difficult to make an informed decision without listening to them first, and that trend is, omitting the specs from the packaging, and sometimes, omitting them completely, even on the manufacturer’s website. Thankfully Philips haven’t taken this route yet and played a big part in my decision to buy these… If you’re a headphone aficionado, check out the Specs tab to see why.

Very generally speaking, “Frequency response” is the audible range that can be heard. There are lots of conflicting opinions about this, but from my own experience, and my own unique ears, I find the larger the range = the better the end sound quality is. Apparently, humans can only hear between 20Hz and 20,000Hz (20KHz). But from using so many different headphones in the past, and paying attention to their unique specs, I can say with almost certainty that this isn’t the case for everyone, especially people with other sense disabilities where their hearing and other senses are heightened beyond what is considered “normal“. I will only give a thought to a headphone purchase if the low-end Hz shelf is below 20 (around 15) and the high-end shelf is above 20KHz (22 and up).

I was quite surprised at the very wide range on the Philips SHL3260‘s, and ultimately that is what drew me into buying them, especially considering the relatively low price. Deals like this for the quality are few and far between.

I couldn’t even wait until getting back to the office to test these out. As mentioned, the specs for the price was hard to pass up, and the build quality and style is quite nice too.

First impressions were good, solid bass, clear high-end treble, no distortion at full max volume playing from my LG G3 smartphone.

I was a little disappointed at the actual audible volume level at first, but I was standing right next to a highway at the time, however, it was sufficient enough to block out exterior noise while still maintaining a clear and pleasurable volume that didn’t make my ears bleed.

One of the first apparent problems was the short cable (1.2m/4ft). I knew about this from the box, but now that I’ve gotten home, the actual cord length is about 15cm (6″) too short from my PC to a comfortable sitting position. Bummer. But not a deal breaker for me. Still, ample length to reach from within my pocket feeding cord under my shirt, with enough to spare for sudden head movements.

After a couple of hours of wear, my ears did start to get a little sore, but from experience, I believe this is the “newness” of the connecting strap between both cans being tight.

With further wear in the future, they should loosen up and be able to stay glued to my ears all day. The faux-leather cushioning is nice and soft and forms a near perfect seal around my average sized ears.

Audio Tests

The songs I tested the headphones with are my “go to” songs for testing new audio gear. Consisting of heavy bass-driven Dubstep, treble rich Trance, deep ambient style Trip Hop, loud heavy Metal, and Alternative acoustic music. (Plus a bonus!)


Bass-driven Dubstep:

Culprate – Airline (2011)

This is just one of those extremely well-mastered tunes that sound good on just about any gear I’ve ever listened to it on. A real credit to John for the exceptional work. As far as the SH3260’s are concerned, they project the lowest of the lows and the highest of highs really well. No distortion at max volume, if you listen very carefully you can also single out instruments and hear each channel nice and clear, but rich and deep.


Treble rich Trance:

Electrocado – Circadoian Rhythms (2015)

An instant favourite, and produced by none other than local Sydney duo Mr Bill (Day) and Ryanosaurus (Ryan Whare). Exceptional mastering again, and the instrument panning and flanging are top notch. Listening with the ShL3260’s is a real pleasure with this tune. Complex background rhythms, with a strong 4/4 kick beat and driving off-beat bassline. Glitchy, well-layered tune but near perfection through the headphones. Hard to fault this one, but for the real deal, I suggest listening on a Hi-Fi with subwoofer, or club level speakers.

Pro Tip: Wait for the build and drop around the 4:05min mark! Nothing short of amazing!


Deep ambient Trip Hop:

Bonobo – Sapphire (2013)

Very emotional tune this one. Instrumental. Super crisp mastering and it’s obvious Bonobo put a lot of time and effort into this tune, and every tune on this album (North Borders). The first tune in this line up to fall a bit short in the bass area, but the mids and highs are near-sublime. Considering these are mid-range cans, I am impressed at how well the clarity and tiny, barely audible details in the tune come through. The bass is sufficient, but I’ve heard this song in a more fuller sense through a Hi-Fi with a sub, or again, club speakers.


Loud heavy Metal:

Karnivool – Themata (2007)

Another Aussie tune. This time from the metal end of the spectrum. And again, minor details are heard with crisp and clear detail. Panning is excellent. Vocal separation and spatial contrast are also worth mentioning here, and yet again, it is interesting and impressive that these mid-range cans can pick up and project the minor details within the music that is lost in average speakers and even earbuds.


Alternative Acoustica:

Primus – Over The Falls (1997)

Similar to the above, but this time from a tune released almost 20 years ago. I wanted to see how the older recording methods would hold up, and they hold up extremely well, if you had never heard this tune or knew when it was released, the mastering quality, and the way they play through the Philips headphones is great. Volume is a tad low, but I think that is more to do with the recording itself than the cans.

This is by far my favourite Primus tune too. They have some other great tracks, but I’ve relistened to “Over The Falls” several hundred times without boredom.


Bonus tune (Drum & Bass):

Calyx & TeeBee – Follow the Leader [12″ Vinyl] (2004/2005)

Rakim will say…. Follow the Leader!

I prefer the Vinyl edit due to its warmth in comparison to the sharper CD version. Would have to be up there with my all-time favourite DnB tune. Although, due to it’s age and the way it was composed and created, it does have a slight “tunnel” sound to the whole thing. Even on the best speakers money can buy, it can’t be unheard. Fortunately, the tune is written well enough to stand the test of time and passes with flying colours on the Philips SHL3260’s.


Now listen for yourself! 😉

Culprate – Airline (2011)

Electrocado – Circadian Rhythms (2015)

Bonobo – Sapphire (2013)

Karnivool – Themata (2007)

Primus – Over The Falls (1997)

Calyx & TeeBee – Follow the Leader (2004/2005)

Specs

Technical Specifications

Sound

Acoustic system: closed

Frequency response: 8 – 27,000  Hz

Impedance: 32 Ohm

Magnet type: Neodymium

Maximum power input: 2000 mW

Sensitivity: 106 dB

Speaker diameter: 40 mm

Diaphragm: PET

Connectivity

Cable length: 1.2 m

Cable Connection: single-sided cable

Connector: 3.5  mm

Price & Links

I purchased these from local Dick Smith outlet, however not available on their website, and also not available through JB Hi-Fi either.

I was able to find them via a very reputable Australian eBay store, KG Electronic:

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Philips-SHL3260-DJ-Style-Foldable-Ajustable-Headphones-Over-ear-for-iPhone-iPod-/111294788137

$59.99AUD | Free Postage | Non-auction (Buy it Now)


Official Philips product page:

http://www.usa.philips.com/c-p/SHL3260BK_27/headphones/overview

Final Verdict

The Good

+ Deep, rich bass, with no audible distortion on even the heaviest of tracks at full volume

+ Crisp, clear mid and high-end frequencies without being ear-piercing at high volume

+ Solid design and build quality

+ Great value for money

+ Purchased in-store at Dick Smith at very close to online prices. Paid less for cash. In-store Warranty plus Manufacturers Warranty

The Bad

Short cable

Total playable volume not as high as other competing models in this range.

Extended use (2-3hrs+) when headphones are new, can get uncomfortable. “Wearing” them in may change this, though.

No smartphone controller on the cable

Little to no thought put into cable storage (but Philips aren’t alone here!)

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