Best DAC Amp for SHP9500

The SHP9500 is an incredibly highly rated stereo headphone designed by Philips, it is very well-received partly due to its affordability. The affordable price tag of these Philips headphones didn’t stop them from delivering good sound quality for the money to their users. This is one of the best budget headphones and even audiophiles agree, calling the Philips SHP9500 the poor man’s endgame.

We are fortunate that there are plenty of entry-level headphone amps and DACs with very modest price tags to choose from. Now we just need to pick those that will match well with the SHP9500 headphones and make them sound better. A list of the best headphone DACs and amplifiers will be shared with you later on after we have learned more about this Philips Audio headphone.

Sonic Characteristics of Philips SHP9500 and DAC Requirements

Surprisingly, the Philips SHP9500 looks kind of good for a budget headphone, and more importantly, it also looks comfy to wear. There are quite a number of budget headphones that tend to forget about users’ comfortability but not the SHP9500. The clamping force is just right once you have adjusted it to the size which will fit your head nicely. Wearing them feels comfortable and we possibly could wear the Philips Audio SHP9500 for hours. The building materials are mainly plastic and it is well-padded, but under warm temperature, the fabrics may get too warm and affect the breathability.

It is recommended to wear the Philips SHP9500 in a cool and quiet indoor environment due to how warm the earpads may get and also its open-back design. The noise isolation and sound leakage are poor where outdoor noises can quite easily interrupt your music listening experience. Sounds enter through your SHP9500 and will also leak out, this might annoy the people around you. The impedance of the Philips SHP9500 is 32 Ohms and has a sensitivity of 101dB which is great. This means it can easily be driven by most headphone amps currently on the market including the budget ones.

More Details at Amazon – Philips SHP9500 Stereo Headphones

For a budget open-back headphone, the soundstage is pretty wide and the stereo imaging is good enough. It has precision and accuracy which is ideal for casual music listening and not for analytical listening. This does give us a feeling that the music is not been played out within our heads but slightly past it. The bass performance is really light and is not prominent as well. We didn’t feel the thump or punch which could be a letdown for bass fanatics. Still, the bass frequencies are there and they are tightly delivered with accuracy. When it comes to subsonic bass reproduction, this is where the Philips SHP9500 really lacks.

When it comes to the highs and mids, this is where the SHP9500 really shines. The midrange reproduction is capable of delivering natural-sounding vocals as well as musical instruments but can be rather grainy at times. The high frequencies are bright sounding too and can be quite highlighted. The highs are extended and have the agility to transient smoothly with articulation which is really impressive for a budget headphone. Philips SHP9500’s overall clarity is good and you can hear details clearly. Music details retrieval of the SHP9500 headphone is quite limited though but at this price point, we can’t really nitpick too much.

We need to be cautious when matching the Philips SHP9500 with bright sounding headphone amps as likely will make them sound harsh. The overall sound reproduction is pretty neutral and bright, the lightweight bass does make it sound lean as well. All in all, it is still a good pair of headphones to go for especially at this price point. The sound quality is good and is worth every single penny invested in them. It will be an excellent choice for gamers and casual music listeners who don’t want to invest much in a pair of stereo headphones. We are listing out the best DACs and amps which you can pick and match with your Philips SHP9500 open-back headphone.

Philips SHP9500 Specifications

  • Type: Open-back, Dynamic
  • Frequency response: 12Hz-35kHz
  • Speaker diameter: 50mm
  • Impedance: 32 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 101dB
  • Weight: 299g (0.66lbs)

Best DACs and Amps to match with Philips SHP9500

The Schiit Audio Magni 3+ is an exemplary headphone amp to match with the Philips SHP9500. Magni 3+ can easily drive the headphones and adds a bit more impact into the subsonic bass delivery which the SHP9500 is lacking. Going with the Schiit Audio Magni 3+ will help to improve the overall bass performance, providing a more solid music delivery while adding slightly more depth. It is neutral in tonality and has warmish sonic characteristics, the agility of the Magni 3+ will deliver a more engaging music presentation. This entry-level headphone amp will fit right in with the Philips SHP9500 headphones.

More Information at Amazon – Schiit Magni 3+ Amp

Adding more warmth and smoothness to the sound quality will help to lower down the shrillness and harshness of the Philips SHP9500. The Rockville TubeHead will be an ideal budget tube headphone amplifier for the job and will match well with the affordable SHP9500 headphones. Its warm sonic characteristics and the muscles to drive the SHP9500 efficiently, enable us to listen to music at high volume levels without worrying about distortion or them sounding overly bright. The music presentation sounds fuller as well and the bass has a bit more weight to it. At this price point, it is certainly worth your time to have a look at the Rockville TubeHead.

More Info at Amazon – Rockville TubeHead Tube Headphone Amp

For listeners who prefer a more portable and compact headphone amplifier, the xDuoo XD-05 Plus is an amazing choice to go for and pair up with the Philips SHP9500. It even comes with its own built-in DAC which saves you the money and space in getting a separate D/A converter. XD-05 Plus uses AK4493EQ which supports up to 32bit/768kHz sampling rates and decodes DSD64-256 high-resolution audio files. The xDuoo XD-05 Plus will help smoothen the rough edges and deliver a smooth music delivery with a more solid bass performance. It is a powerful headphone amp and you can use it to drive higher-end or more demanding headphones.

More Info at Amazon – xDuoo XD-05 Plus AK4493EQ DAC Portable Headphone Amplifier

If you are looking for a dedicated DAC with a very modest price tag, the Schiit Audio Modi 3+ will be an exceptional D/A converter to go with your Philips SHP9500. This is an entry-level DAC with really amazing bass performance for the money, it is tuneful and agile. The articulate bass reproduction of the Modi 3+ also adds some weight to the overall sound reproduction so that it won’t sound too lean or light. It is a musically refined D/A converter and it is terrific for listeners who prefer a more laid-back music presentation. Vocals reproduction sounded more natural and female voices are less shrill sounding.

More Info at Amazon – Schiit Modi 3+ – Delta-Sigma DAC (Black)

The FiiO K5 Pro is another amazing headphone amp that comes built-in with a high-quality DAC and has a modest price tag, making it a suitable match with your Philips SHP9500 headphones. K5 Pro uses AKM4493 DAC, supporting up to 32-bit/768kHz sampling rates, and decodes native DSD audio files. It also has more than enough amplification power to drive the SHP9500 with ease. The FiiO K5 Pro has a clean-sounding overall sound reproduction and a polished background. It has a smooth sound treble as well which makes it a good fit with the Philips SHP9500 headphones without making them sound harsh when pushed.

More Info at Amazon – FiiO K5 Pro Headphone Deskstop DAC and Amplifier

If you are really concerned about the bright-sounding characteristic of the Philips SHP9500, going for a tube headphone amplifier will be a great choice for you. The Schiit Audio Vali 2 is a high-quality entry-level tube amp and has more than enough power to make the SHP9500 sing at high volume levels. The midrange reproduction becomes smoother and there is a touch of warmth in the music presentation, making it sound more pleasing. Schiit Audio Vali 2 also widens the soundstage a little which complements the Philips SHP9500 headphones really well. Tube rolling will be an option for you to further fine-tune the sound quality to your liking.

More Info at Amazon – Schiit Vali 2 Tube Hybrid Headphone Amplifier

To Sum It Up

You can filter down the list even further based on your current budget and the type of requirements you need such as with or without DAC, high amplification power, etc. Once you have a filtered down list of headphone amps/DACs, you should arrange an audition with them to see if you like what you are hearing when matched with your Philips SHP9500. If you don’t find the sound quality you are looking for, you might want to audition the rest of the headphone amps/DACs on this list.

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