Picking portable earbuds doesn’t need to be that tough. Are you trying to take earbuds to the gym? Wanting something for a road trip? Or how about a daily driver for almost every activity from one device? If you’ve got a good idea of the kind of audio equipment you’re looking for, then it’s just a matter of matching your preferences with the right stuff.
Philips BASS+ SHB4385 Wireless in-Ear Earbuds
Though audio isn’t their primary focus, Philips does make some pretty good audio equipment. Not as much when you’re looking at the very high-end. But towards the mid-range, their stuff tends to be pretty solid. And that seems to be the case with the BASS+ SBH4385.
These earbuds are designed with a couple of distinct strengths. One of those strengths is an above average battery capacity on each earbud. Amusingly, the opposite is true for the charging case, but we’ll get more into that later. Staying on track, another one of those strengths that these headphones offer is right in their name: great bass performance.
But how well do they perform when it comes to comfort? What about their calling features? These days, it takes an awful lot to make compelling headphones. Especially if you’re shopping above the $100 price point, and rightfully have higher expectations from your earbuds.
Design & Layout
The charging case does an excellent job of two things. The first thing is that it’s great at portability. It’s incredibly small, hardly any larger than a USB thumb drive or USB dongle. And it’s hardly any larger than the earbuds. Another thing that the charging case does well is recharge the earbuds in a fairly reasonable amount of time, even though no quick-charge features are onboard.
These earbuds make use of earbud touch controls. On the outer plate of each earbud, a few taps can allow you to move between every control option that the Philips BASS+ Earbuds can offer. Since these are multifunction buttons, that means there’s a big difference between tapping once, twice, or three times. Different tap patterns will answer or hang-up calls, skip between tracks, raise or lower the volume settings, and so forth.
In terms of style, black earbuds have a way of blending in. But the SHB4385 are actually pretty stylish. They use two different types of plastics, one matte and one glossy. The combination is very striking. Moreover, they’ve got a design made with well-defined shapes and given a cool cross logo on the button interface. Even the tactile feel of each bud feels smooth in your hands.
But small charging cases do bring their own limitations. In this case, it means your battery lifespan is a little lower than other charging cases. Portability does come with costs. Sometimes those costs can be visible in relation to comfort as well.
The SHB4385 earbuds come with a total of 3 sizes of ear tips. That includes a small, medium, and large pair. The difference between each size is actually fairly small, so it’s possible to appreciate the difference between more than one size for the average user.
Even if the normal tips that come pre-installed are working for you, it might be worth seeing how some of the other tips feel. Getting the best fit is essential to achieving the bass performance that these earbuds are aiming to deliver. It’s also important to sound isolation more generally because these earbuds don’t make use of ANC.
These earbuds use Bluetooth 4.1 for their wireless connectivity and microphone support. The fact they haven’t gone with Bluetooth 5 was initially worrisome. But the advantages between the 4th and 5th version aren’t indispensable. When the connection between the earbuds is good enough that you don’t encounter sync problems, that’s all that really matters for most people. You do get some instant pairing features that makes it very easy to connect your devices together, at least, after an initial setup period.
Looking towards their range, the maximum connectivity distance is very standard. It stretches about 33 feet. Of course, that’s standard for a reason. It’s more or less everything that the average person needs from their headphones. If you happen to need extra range, it’s not hard to find earbuds that can run out towards 100ft. Though you won’t get the kind of battery performance that you’re able to get with a pair like these.
Earbud batteries tend to be pretty small. And smaller batteries tend to have weaker lifespans. In fact, the average earbud battery lifespan, for entry-level earbuds, is about 3.5 hours. Which is what makes the SHB4385 so impressive. You’re able to squeeze out about six hours of battery from each earbud. That’s almost twice as much battery as you can get from other earbuds.
Once you get the charging case involved, you can get another 6-hours. That is actually on the lower side for earbuds. But it’s not fatally low. Between the initial charge and the charging case, being able to stay connected for 12-hours is fairly respectable. The thing that will chain you more than the 12-hour capacity is the standby time.
Because the standby time for these earbuds is about 50-hours. That basically means you have two days between charges. So if you’re headed out into the woods for some camping, these earbuds probably aren’t going to be your best bet. At least, not without adding some kind of portable power bank into the mix. Absent of that, for charging, you’re looking at a pretty standard USB connection. The included charging cable allows you to keep the charging case topped off.
Looking at hands-free calling features, you’ll find nothing but the basics. These earbuds don’t incorporate any special CVC noise cancelling tech. They’re not specially designed to work better with voice assistants. You could think of the included microphone as being generally high quality, but not backed up by any special supporting features.
The microphone is actually fairly impressive, having 107dB sensitivity, giving it a really accurate and wide collection of sound around you. There aren’t any features that allow the mic to hone-in on your voice, but having good hardware is more than enough in most circumstances.
As such, if you find yourself in a busy airport terminal next to some screaming children, then you’re not going to end up with the kind of clarity that you’d like. But outside of those sort of extremes, the microphone does meet the general level of quality that you’d expect from a brand like Philips.
These earbuds have a closed-back acoustic design that’s intended to shield your ears from ambient noise while providing strong passive noise protection. That’s pretty common for in-ear equipment like this. But this particular deign does an amicable job, especially with the right pair of silicone ear-tips.
Sometimes earbuds are made with ear-fins, built to help keep the earbuds in your ear. These earbuds don’t do that. Instead, they’re kept in the ear with the aid of nothing but the silicone ear tips. In order to do that, they do push inside your ear canal a fair amount. It’s not an ideal solution for long-term comfort, which is why this style of design has become less popular over the past few years. But for people who like this style, there are some distinct advantages to the audio and to the security of the fit.
These headphones are supposed to promise one thing above all else. As their name suggests, that one thing is bass. They’re able to do that by featuring an exceptionally large 8.2mm speaker tuned specifically for bass performance. When it comes to earbud audio drivers, 8.2mm is actually pretty large. It’s much more common to see these sort of earbuds made with tiny 6mm drivers, or smaller. So these are basically 20% larger than a lot of the more common drivers used by similar earbuds.
How does the rest of the tonal range end up by contrast? Well, at times the treble seems overshadowed by the dominance of the bass. That’s something that usually happens when bass is boosted towards these levels. But for people who love thumping bass tones, this is probably worth it.
You could say this in-ear design is made for a secure fit above all else. For people who plan on taking these earbuds for a jog, that means you generally don’t have to worry about the earbuds popping out of place. They’re maybe only second-best at in-ear security behind ear-hook headphones.
Somewhat surprisingly, Philips didn’t include a bunch of extras with this kit. It includes the USB charging cable, charging case, and three sets of ear-tip replacements. Those sets are available in three separate sizes. No real surprises here.
Who Should Choose Philips BASS+ SHB4385 Wireless in-Ear Earbuds
The SHB4385 have some distinct strengths and weaknesses. Many of their features are a little middle-of-the-road. For instance, their calling features aren’t going to blow you away. But they do achieve a level of quality that you’d expect from the brand.
Looking at their audio quality, these earbuds were also clearly designed to deliver bass. And they get the job done. Compared to almost any other pair of earbuds in this price bracket, you’ll find the SHB4385 really hold their own. And because the enlarged drivers affect the rest of the tonal range as well, these earbuds end up sounding pretty strong in general.
But it’s really the earbud battery lifespan that makes these earbuds distinct. They’re very good at lasting for a very long time, at least, for earbuds. However, the charging case doesn’t do a great job of keeping up with them. That’s a problem which could be alleviated with the inclusion of a separate power bank, such as the Omars Beast 26800mAh, so it’s not something that can’t be fixed. All in all, the SHB4385 are a decent choice for someone who sees great value in that far-above-average bud battery lifespan.