Philips SHE-3590

Philips SHE-3590–before the Chifi onslaught, these were a go-to cheapo, and if they looked less like dollar store buds they’d still satisfy most typical listeners.   Gently V-shaped, these are tinny at low volume but have surprisingly good overall coherence and PRAT when cranked up a bit. Mildly enhanced bass doesn’t have a lot of body or impact, but is well-controlled and doesn’t bleed over; mids are subdued very clean, while prominent treble is crisp, quite detailed and surprisingly natural sounding; only a noticeable harshness at high volumes betrays their bargain roots. Instruments are separated cleanly, although and the performance stage is rather small. Isolation isn’t very good and they’re somewhat inefficient, which limits their utility. At the ten buck level I’d still opt for one of  KZ/Boarseman/Mannhas, which have better build and isolation, but if you’re stuck at a Walmart these are a credible buy.