We're impressed by the Philips Fidelio M1 design, but how about sound quality? These headphones use 40mm neodyminium drivers, similar to those of the Fidelio L1. The sound signature is a little different, however.
It's smooth and warm, with a focus on the low-end that gives these cans more of a bassy thud than the more balanced Fidelio L1. Philips says the increased bass response is intended to help make the headphones' sound combat noisy environments more effectively. However, it's not the most agile of bottom-ends, with a tendency to sound a little congested in bassier tracks.
Compounding the effect of this bass skew, there's notable treble roll-off at the top-end, giving the M1 a veiled or "dark" personality. This robs the headphones of the sparkle we like to hear in hearphones of this calibre, and dims the excitement factor of many tracks. To an extent, this is a question of preference - the Fidelio M1 don't so much lack detail as the impression of detail.
In their favour, the soundstage is wide and expansive for a closed pair, somewhat mitigating the lack of aural insight. However, skipping between the Fidelio M1 and headphones and rivals from Sennheiser and German Maestro, we can't forget the dampening effect the low-end bias has on vocals in particular. The finer details aren't given enough room to shine here, even if they are actually reproduced.
At £180, the Philips Fidelio M1 are in a similar price bracket to the Monster Beats Solo HD and Sennheiser HD 25-1 II. We'd recommend them over the Beats in a heartbeat - we prefer the sound, the style, the lot. However, Sennheiser's model offers a more toned-up bass response and a greater treble performance.
In the trade-off, of course, you lose the good looks, most of the comfort and some noise isolation. We're a little in love with the design of the Fidelio M1 - it supplies the goods in terms of both form and function superbly. However, while the sound quality is good, we've decided to just stay friends.
The Philips Fidelio M1 are some of the most attractive, sturdiest, and comfortable on-ear headphones money can buy. Noise isolation is surprisingly good too, making them prime candidates for the commuting classes. However, the sound quality isn't quite as impressive. It's smooth and mellow, but the bass becomes congested at times and the top-end doesn't dazzle.