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Philips Fidelio L1 review

Andrew Williams

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Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Philips Fidelio L1

Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Great design
  • Excellent clarity
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Need amp for best results

Key Features

  • 40mm drivers
  • Aluminium and faux-leather build
  • Semi-open design
  • Removable cable
  • Dual cables, one with remote/handsfree
  • Manufacturer: Philips
  • Review Price: £230.00

The Beats by Dr. Dre range has caused a massive increase in the number of people interested in premium headphones, but it has arguably had some very negative effects too. To cater for the cash-rich, basshead masses, urban headphones have spread faster than a cold among commuters. And to our minds, that's not a good thing. The Philips Fidelio L1 is the first in a range designed to counter this effect. These headphones strive for accuracy and a neutral sound, rather than artificially pounding bass.

Want on-ear headphones? Read our Philips Fidelio M1 preview

For all their mature aspirations, they don't look at all dull. Made largely out of thick anodised aluminium and high quality protein faux-leather, the Philips Fidelio L1 look and feel like true high-end headphones. These are over-ear cans, encasing your ear lobes with 2in thick padding, and are designed to be versatile, capable of both entertaining at home and around town.

Philips Fidelio L1

Such claims often amount to little in design terms, but the Philips Fidelio L1 are quite unusual in a core respect. They are semi-open headphones, with lightly covered metal grilles on the back of each aluminium earcup - there's not a full seal between your ear 'oles and the outside world. In most headphones of this type, such a design would make them entirely unsuitable for use anywhere other than at home, or in a quiet, secluded environment. However, Philips has gone to some lengths to make them more versatile than this.

The grilles look chunky and open, but are covered by another layer underneath to minimise how much sound escapes, and how much outside noise is let in. It works fairly well too, teaming up with the foam pads to let hardly any sound escape. That said, they're still less-than-amazing at blocking out external sound.

Philips Fidelio L1 1

They'll handle overground trains and less busy streets, but taken down to the noisy purgatory of the London Tube network and you'll need to crank up the volume significantly to deal with the noise.

The rear grilles also help to give the Fidelio L1 a distinctive look. They are chunky, with a bit of an industrial flavour, but none of it is posturing for the sake of it. Comfort is good too, with generous padding on the ear cups and seemingly minimal weight added in the generous use of aluminium throughout the headband. They will heat your ears up more than fully-open headphones, but not to the extent of being uncomfortable to wear - apart from in the height of summer, we imagine.

Philips Fidelio L1 4

Quality workmanship continues in the cable. It's covered with braided fabric and both the remote housing and straight 3.5mm jack plug are protected with aluminium, finished in the same textured style as the frame. The remote is a three-button affair, controlling volume and playback with an iOS device, and a pin-hole microphone on the back lets it double as a hands-free kit too.

Philips Fidelio L1 3

Not bothered about this functionality? The Philips Fidelio L1 headphones also come with a secondary cable that leaves out this little housing. Rather unusually, the cable isn't detachable at the point it enters the cup, but around 10cm down the cable - it's something we don't approve of. While there's an argument to say that a socket mounted on an earcup could also break, it's considerably less likely than a cable failing through wear and tear. And once that 10cm cable does fail, you've no way of easily replacing it.

Nonetheless, the Philips Fidelio L1 headphones are a breath of fresh air. Unlike just about every other headphone we can think of, they're not too big to wear outside without feeling self-conscious yet still give you that big-headphone comfort, and they're built to last too. But that won't mean much if they sound as good as two empty cans of chopped tomatoes strapped to your head.

Lies Janssen

April 11, 2013, 6:40 am

For years I’ve listened to my music at work with those little in-ear headphones. And I was
perfectly happy with them. Until I got my hands on the Philips Fidelio L1 a few weeks ago. A world of difference! The clear sounds blew me away. Big pro is that even with the volume down, you can still enjoy all aspects of your music.

Sound:
The quality of the sound is excellent and crystal clear, thanks to the High Definition neodymium- drivers. Each music variety displays well and with subtle music such as jazz all minute details are audible. When listening to Dance music, the bass drums ‘vibrated’ less than they did with my old in-ears, but only with a windows application. When combined with an Apple product, bass intensity is easier to adapt.

Design and use
The design is elegant and minimalistic, very sophisticated. The headphones features can be adapted in every little detail to perfectly fit your head. The over-ear ear shells are very comfortable, even after a long while, with minimal sweating. The materials are durable, but the headphone is still light in weight. There are 3 cords, which can be couples, so the length of the cord is adaptable. One of the cords comes with a remote for an I Phone. It works like a charm, but only combined with Apple.
According to Philips, the Fidelio L1 is the ideal headphone for on the road, but for me, it is to big for that. The chocks of for example stepping disturb the music. The carrier bag is very pretty, but seems a little poor as protection.

Interaction with the environment
Despite the semi-open back architecture of the ear shells, a passer-by will not notice any music escaping the Fidelio L1. Even with big bass drums, the isolation is perfect. For the listener, the isolation to the environment is perfectly balanced. Little to no
noise enters, except for loud noises such as a phone ringing or your boss yelling.

abmannetje

April 12, 2013, 11:47 am

I was given the chance to test the new Philips Fidelio L1 For "The Insiders".
I had been looking for a new headphone set to replace my old In-ears. It needed to comply with a few demands: 1) I do not want to be disturbed by the chatter noise of my colleagues when I'm being all focussed at work and 2) I don't want toe disturb my colleagues with my music when I’m listening to noise they don’t like.
3) I also don’t want to have that fatigue feeling, which one sometimes can have after using those in-ears for a long period. And 4) the headphone set has to fit within my backpack, along with all my other stuff.

The L1 looks great, it really does and has really handy features, like the connector-plug close to the headphone, and a cable with a volume and pause-button. A second cable with a removable big-plug, twistable ear shells for transportation and (also important) a sublime sound. It looks really nice with the black and aluminium parts and the fine Italian leather. The head mount fits really good without a pressing feeling, and is easily to adjust to the correct size without sliding back to the former position. The cushions are made of memory-foam and fit very well around the ears, where they seal off the background noise better then I expected. The connector which is about 10 cm below the left shell is made to release tension on the cable if necessary. Mounted in one of the two included cables is a three-button-usage which supports Apple devices for volume and pause. This three button usage in the cable is actually more. It controles the volume. Can make your music pause and continue and can make you skip a track forward.On the backside there is a small pinhole size microphone.

After having used the headphones for several full days now, I must say I didn’t feel any discomfort, unless I must admir my ears are getting warmer after a couple of hours. But I like to think that goes for all over-ears headphones. I did not receive any comment from my colleagues about my taste of music and I wasn’t disturbed by background noises. I must admit hearing things in the music of which I didn’t now they were there, it is like experiencing the music again, and that is something I really like, like the music is being surrounded inside my head.

I am originated in the primal years of portable music devices, and I am used to headphones being as small as possible, so for me this is an unusual large format for a set of headphones. However, compared with the headphones available on the market at present day, the Philips Fidelio L1 fits quite perfect.
The L1 is said being perfect for on-the-go as well as good to use at the office or at home. Being on a bike, I think it blocks too much of the traffic noise to navigate safely, but while using transport transportation, I think it is good to use for blocking neighbour noise, where as your neighbour don't need to get bothered by your music.

Advantages:
- Great sound experience
- Comfortable and easy to use
- Nice and solid finish
- Everything seems to be just correct
- 3 button usage mounted in the cable
- Very complete set

Disadvantage:
- Maybe leather is not the best material if you are using this device on your bike, in the pouring rain.
- The soft travelbag might not be the best protection

My conclusion: a nice device, with a lot of good properties. For users who, like myself, don’t have an absolute hearing this is a very good headphone.

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