Page 3 - Subjective Audio Analysis
Reviewing audio devices require extensively trained ears and lots of experience. Even for audiophiles, it may prove challenging at times to obtain an accurate evaluation of a product without a thoroughly familiar product to use as a simultaneous reference. While I am not going to even try to claim that I am the only trustworthy or best reviewer for sound, it is fact that most computer review sites have editors who are insufficiently trained in reviewing audio equipment. Give them practically anything and all you will read about goes along the line of "good bass, nice midrange, awesome treble, really clear sound, 10/10". While there are many knowledgeable audio reviewers at various respected online media outlets, they are by far the minority.
As I have mentioned in my past audio reviews, there are really no true objective measurements for speaker sound quality. As the reviewer, however, I will put it through a series of subjective tests to try to come up with the most objective rating possible. Yes, it sounds like a paradox haha. For all tests, I used an Apple iPhone X. This is a state-of-the-art device at press time that requires no introduction and will reduce its potential to be a limiting factor in our auditioning.
After over 50 hours of break-in time -- well above typically required period -- we put the Philips Upbeat True Wireless SHB2505 to the tests. All tracks are high bitrate AAC or LAME encoded MP3s.
As I have said on the first page, my impression of Philips, at least on the consumer electronics side of things, has always been a legacy manufacturer that makes value products for the general consumer. The retail packaging of the Upbeat True Wireless only reinforced this impression, and being something that looked like they came right off the Wal-Mart electronics rack, I thought the company was quite brave in asking us here at APH Networks to review it. We have quite a track record in our audio reviews, but hey, if they are so confident, then I am willing to review it. Like the Hawaii shrimp trucks, I was pleasantly surprised the first time I tried it. And this was even before they were properly broken in. Am I being impressed by a pair of Philips earphones?
After breaking them in properly, I can confirm my initial impressions: I am impressed by a pair of Philips earphones. I would have never imagined anything that is true wireless for $90 would be any good, but the fact is these are actually pretty good. The Upbeat True Wireless carries a mostly neutral sound character with a slight V shape to the distribution for a minor enhancement in punchiness. Despite the slight V shape, it is acoustically pleasant and natural for realistic sound reproduction. The SHB2505 are quite musical, too.
To see it in perspective, let us break it down into the "big three", which is the bass, midrange, and treble. As aforementioned, the bass is slightly boosted for enhanced punchiness, but remains mostly controlled so it never sounds overwhelming. I found the bass to be consistently deep, round, and solid in the sounds I listened to. Its consistently smooth and defined low frequencies are well-articulated.
The midrange was decent overall with its natural sounding output. I found the thickness to be quite average and the sound to be decently warm with acceptable saturation and richness. There is a slight enhancement on the upper midrange for increased vocal clarity. The treble is slightly boosted as part of its V shape profile; which remained clean, clear, and sharp in pretty much every scenario I have tested these earphones in. The tightness and immediacy are good, but the Philips Upbeat True Wireless SHB2505 does not have a whole lot of energy or brightness in this realm. Wetness and crispness can be increased, but in the grand scheme of things, the treble is pretty good in my opinion.
The only thing I found the Upbeat True Wireless to be not good in is its soundstaging. The 6mm drivers are tiny, and with it the soundstage is narrow with little width and depth. You can still perceive the dimensions to a very limited extent, but improvement in this area will really boost the score of these earphones.
Closing off with the auxiliary auditioning results, the imaging of the Philips Upbeat True Wireless SHB2505 was realistic; staying mostly faithful to the original production or recording. The layers were produced with a great amount of detail. The resolution was good across the range, as it picked up most things in a quality encoded track. In complicated and messy situations, these earphones managed to retain small details well. Deriving from this, the frequency separation was decent. Detail was well reproduced thanks to its clear and defined output. The entire spectrum was a smooth gradient with no immediately apparent banding effects, making it sound cohesive. The sound was clean across the range; generally speaking, you will not be disappointed in these areas with the SHB2505.
The Philips Upbeat True Wireless SHB2505 are closed in-ear monitors and comes with three different sized sleeves for maximum compatibility. The earphones had a good fit in my ears and sound isolation was decent whether you are taking public transit or flying on the plane. As I have mentioned on the previous page, when I am running or skating, I often find the earbuds to easily lose its seal. It has never come close to falling out of my ears no matter how hard I tried, but I often find myself pushing them back in to reestablish the seal. That aside, the Upbeat True Wireless SHB2505 suffers from a problem common to all products in this category: Background hissing noise when turned on. You probably will not be able to hear it when you are on the train or the bus, but you will definitely be able to pick it up it in quieter locations.
In terms of lag, I did not notice any significant delay; audio appeared to be properly synchronized to videos I was watching on my iPhone X. The microphone worked for calls on-the-go, but realistically with the distance away from your mouth, it is limited by physics. When I tried using it on public transit, the person on the other side of the call often had trouble hearing me.
The company estimates the battery to last around 3 hours on a single charge. I got 2 hours and 42 minutes at 50% volume from my tests, which is pretty close. The rated wireless range is about 10 meters, and from my tests, this is quite underestimated. I can walk a couple of floors away from my phone still maintain a consistent connection. During normal usage on the train or bus, I have never experienced any wireless inconsistency issues paired to my Apple iPhone X.
Overall, I am quite pleased with the audio performance of the Philips Upbeat True Wireless SHB2505. I thoroughly enjoyed them and I actually use them as my daily driver, even though there are lots of room for improvement in the soundstaging department.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis