If you like your in-ears to do their job relatively unnoticed to the outside world, then Philips SHE9105s might be the ones for you. Not only are they small, but they shun the showy looks of the Fidue A65 or OnePlus Icons for a more understated design.
That’s not to say they’re not well made – in fact, they’re quite the opposite. Small aluminium earbuds with a semi-ported design, they’re surprisingly robust, and come with a choice of earbuds so you can find a fit that suits. They’re lightweight too, so plenty comfy for long commutes and gym sessions.
Unlike some cheaper headphones, Philips hasn’t overegged the bass here, and in fact, it sits a little on the lean side when compared to the Soundmagic E10S. They sound solid though, and what they lack in punch, they make up for in agility, hanging on to complex rhythmic patterns with ease. At the other end of the scale, the treble sits comfortably without any hint of harshness – cymbals sound natural and electronic synths don’t sound forced or hard. This makes the SHE9105s an easy listen in that respect, but with enough drive and energy in their timing that they don’t sound ponderous.
There’s a bit of detail missing across the frequency range, but it’s most noticeable in the midrange, which sounds a little on the soft side. Certainly, a touch more definition and expression wouldn’t go amiss here for a subtler performance, and instrument separation can struggle too when there’s lots going on. At this price though, it’s hard to grumble too much.