Review Price £159.99
Philips Fidelio M1
Philips has a new range of headphones, and it wants you to take them seriously. The Philips Fidelio L1 and M1 are high-end beauties, crafted out of metal and finely-crafted protein leather, while millions of man hours have gone into honing their sound. Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration, but Philips claims they've been put against the best out there and come out champ. But are they the best? We gave them a listen to find out.
The Fidelio M1 are closed-back on-ear headphones designed for use while you're out and about. In this respect, they're direct rivals for the B&W P5, Bose QuietComfort 3 and the Beats On-Ear. And, design-wise, they're up there with the very best.
The headband frame is made of textured metal, giving the Philips M1 a classy-looking, demure finish. Silver and black, there's none of the "yoof" loudness of the Beats headphones, and none of that slightly middle-aged vibe of Bose's sets. A little like Bowers & Wilkins's models, they're largely age-agnostic - although all that might change if "famous rapper X" starts wearing them in all his music videos.
The one part of the design that might skew the audience a little younger is the patterned back of each earcup - but even that's hardly all that attention-grabbing.
There's a trio of sound ports on each earpiece, which help to mould the sound, but noise isolation ranks among the best on-ear sets. We'll have to wait for our review sample to see how they fare against the noisy dungeon of London's Tube system, but we can't imagine they'll have too much trouble.
Like the Philips Fidelio L1 before them, the M1 headphones have a sorta-removable cable - in that there's a non-removable sprig that falls down from the left cup, plugging into the fully-removable main cable. The cable is covered with braided fabric and there's a hands-free housing a little way down.
Fit and comfort
On-ear headphones are the most problematic of all when it comes to fit. However, the Philips Fidelio M1 are a dream to wear. Using large, soft memory foam pads topped with high-grade protein leather, they're extremely comfortable - with a luxurious feel that's a rarity in headphones.
Slightly careful positioning is still required, but with a pretty large "sound hole" in the middle of each ear pad, they're much less picky than most on-ears pairs. Lightweight, good-looking and very comfortable, we can imagine taking these cans on for everyday use.
Philips says that the Fidelio M1 use the same driver as the L1 headphones, but the otherwise-different internals give quite different sonic results. They're rich and warm, with a nice wide sound for a closed-back pair. We have a feeling the tri-ported design may have something to do with this.
However, perhaps in an attempt to mitigate for the largely-closed design, bass seems to have been dialled up a little. Playing tracks that can highlight an over-enthusiastic low-end, the otherwise clear sound became slightly congested. We have a feeling these headphones will be better taken a fun, everyday pair rather than one for close critical listening - but then as a portable set, perhaps this is the best compromise.
We'll be back with more impressions and our final verdict in the full review.