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Philips Fidelio DS9000/10 - Verdict: Zeppelin Rival or Lead Balloon?

By Hugo Jobling
Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Philips Fidelio  DS9000/10

Summary

Our Score

9/10

Review Price free/subscription

We're willing to forgive the all but useless iPhone app available for the Philips Fidelio DS9000 for one simple reason. Where it matters most, its audio quality, Philips' DS9000 focus is firmly set on raw performance, not gimmicks or flashy effects.

For a start, the DS9000 is smart enough to know that in a high-end audio product, your iPod is best used as little more than a portable hard drive with a snazzy UI. As such the digital files are pulled off any docked device, bypassing its digital-to-analogue conversion, which is instead handled by the DS9000.

Further, Philips claims that the DS9000 uses audiophile-grade passive crossovers between its dual 25mm tweeters and 100mm mid/bass-drivers and we're not inclined to disagree. There's no discernable gap in the frequency response nor is there any distortion, even at volumes loud enough to have the very foundations of your abode shaking.

The DS9000 produces a very balanced, nicely detailed, enveloping sound. Tracks are reproduced faithfully, without the distortion effects or colouration less confident speaker docks so often feel the need to employ to stand out from the crowd. The driver placement is well-thought out, giving a surprisingly wide soundstage and, as previously mentioned, the DS9000 has no problem with filling a room.

In terms of the DS9000's direct competition, we're inclined to give the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin the edge on outright fidelity; without wanting to sound too wishy washy, the Zeppelin just sounds 'right' to our ears. But in all honestly, you'd have to be the surliest of curmudgeons to be disappointed with your purchase, should you decide on a Fidelio DS9000, rather than the Zeppelin. Both sound exceptionally good and both make music from an iPod sound far better than you'd believe possible.

Verdict

'Peerless sound quality' says the Philips DS9000 product page. Not quite; there is no hiding that this is a device with a price and audio quality aimed squarely at the same audience as the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin. Is the DS9000 a better speaker dock? No, but it's a capable alternative. Pick whichever suits your budget and your aesthetic taste best.

Scores In Detail

Value
9/10
Sound Quality
10/10
Features
9/10
Design
9/10

Our Score

9/10
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MSIC

July 19, 2010, 2:29 pm

Thanks for the review.


I would have to disagree with your point about the price difference - I think that anyone who is in the market for a £360 device would also be in the same market for the £400 Zepplin.

arcticfox

July 19, 2010, 3:05 pm

Looks like a nice package, but assuming the audio is on a par with the B&W, it still lacks the overall presence and WOW factor of the Zeppelin. The limited connectivity would be a deal breaker for me - I like my Zeppelin's optical input et al.





Given that I managed to get my Zep in Heathrow HMV at duty free prices minus 15% (last in stock was the demo model yet still pristine), I'll stick with what I've got!

Ripsnorter

July 19, 2010, 3:07 pm

Any word on the build quality? The Zeppelin could be used as a club to fight off a horde of zombies, whereas I've found Philips have tended towards the plasticky end of things at times. Looks are also a factor here: the Zeppelin is much more of a love/hate it device, but there is also the Mini Zeppelin too. Still, it's good to have a choice at this level of the market and I'll certainly give the Philips an audition.

Hugo

July 19, 2010, 3:46 pm

The gap in the centre gives you a good hand hold for wielding it as a weapon, so it has the advantage over the Zeppelin there. I would feel perfectly confident fending of hordes of zombies.

Tim Sutton

July 19, 2010, 5:04 pm

@Hugo





Whats the verdict on sound quality from non-iZombie players? Does the DSP over-ride still apply?

Hugo

July 19, 2010, 5:53 pm

You're relying on your player's DAC over the aux input. Sounded pretty good to me, still, though.

Keithe6e

July 19, 2010, 5:55 pm

@Tim: Does the DSP over-ride still apply?





I wondered about that, one thing that I don't get about the IPhone/Zep is why things like Spotify/LastFm can't go via the DSP, and it has to resort to Analog mode anyway.

Hugo

July 19, 2010, 7:45 pm

It's just a matter of Apple implementing a protocol for passing audio streams across the dock connector. But while it's not great, the DAC in an iPod/iPhone isn't so bad that Spotify/Last.fm streams will sound noticeably improved through a better one so it's not likely to happen any time soon.

Tony Walker

July 21, 2010, 9:29 pm

@Hugo





You're probably too young to remember a proper kettle lead but they have three holes in them, one being for earth. The one that this unit takes is just a "figure-of-eight" power lead.

Hugo

July 26, 2010, 6:12 pm

It was just a typo, not an error (I'm not that ignorant!); but you're right, I've never actually used a kettle with a plug-in lead. Hurrah for Nespresso machines.

Tim Revis

December 30, 2010, 2:59 am

I have just purchased the Ds9000 and would like to add apart from its stunning sound it can also work with Ipad and charge it too.


And the best bit is I picked it up for £299 . A amazing product that oozes quality from its sleek design and solid construction to its classy metal remote.

Andrew

June 11, 2014, 3:29 pm

Don't bother with this speaker. The connection for the ipod is awkward and its got no bluetooth connection or Airplay. The software that you can download causes conflict with the ipods own music player(s). Already its old fashioned. BOOOOOOOOOOO to this speaker

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