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Philips Fidelio X1 - Sound Quality and Verdict

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams



  • Recommended by TR
Philips Fidelio X1


Our Score:


Philips Fidelio X1 Sound Quality

With 50mm neodymium drivers, the Philips Fidelio X1 headphones have larger units than the average - even the Sennheiser HD 700 use "standard size" 40mm drivers. Only a few pairs of dynamic headphones have larger drivers than this, such as the Editors Choice-grade Sennheiser HD 800 with their giant 56mm drivers.

Driver size isn't everything, but whatever special sauce has gone into their tuning has certainly paid off. The Philips Fidelio X1 bring the best bits of a open-back headphones - the wide soundstage, the articulate top-end and smooth presentation - without suffering from the negatives that sometimes come with the territory.

Philips Fidelio X1 3

Open-back headphones can sound a little too laid-back, which might be thought-of as dull. However, the taut and punchy low-end here is much closer to what you might expect from a closed-back pair. It's also in better proportion with the rest of the sound when compared to the other Fidelio models, the Philips Fidelio L1 and Philips Fidelio M1. If anything we're surprised that Philips has managed to pull the Fidelio X1 out of the bag for so just £30-40 more than the L1.

Some of the characteristics of the series remain, though, and they may not please everyone. These are quite warm headphones within their category, with the low-end skew reaching up a little further than just the lowest frequencies. This leads to lesser sense of separation than something like AKG Q701, which are now available for around the same price. They are smooth and detailed, but Philips's main focus seems to be on making the Fidelio X1 enjoyable, rather than perfectly balanced or fiercely insightful.

Philips Fidelio X1 7

There are times when the low-end gets close to being a little too big as well, especially compared directly to some of its £200-300 peers. These aren't quite the ultimate in audio from every respect, perhaps, but they are an absolute delight if you're after high-end sound that doesn't trade in all of its low-end thrills for definition and composure.

Philips Fidelio X1 Verdict

The Philips Fidelio X1 are among the best-looking, most comfortable open headphones you can get. They're made from top-quality materials and the cable is as easy to switch as cables get. Sound quality is excellent too, although they're best-suited to those who think that some expensive headphones trade in too much bass for the sake of sounding high-end.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design & Features 10
  • Sound Quality 8
  • Value 8


November 8, 2012, 4:42 pm

I have listening to these phones since late September and consider them of exceptional audio quality for the price. Their sound is certainly better than Senn HD650 and AKG Q701 phones both of which I own as well. The small faults in terms of sound balance identified in the review are I believe due to two things. 1stly the supplied cable suppresses slightly the upper mid band and higher frequencies which although gives a smooth presentation tends to make them slightly bass heavy and 2ndly their low impedance really means you need a headphone amp of very low output impedance to control the bass well.
I have found Silver plated high purity copper cable and a good matching headphone Amp have really made these phones outstanding and listen more to this combination than my much more expensive Beyer T1 set up.

Hamish Campbell

November 9, 2012, 7:16 pm

Aaaahhh the great audio cable myth. I hear drizzling snake oil over the silver plating really widens the sound stage and really brings the midrange percussion to the fore.

Sorry to be a bit troll-y, but save the money on the cables people.


December 30, 2012, 12:11 am

Or is it really a myth. I have seen significant improvements in better quality hdmi cables, so I dont doubt that in headphones which are capable of revealing normally hidden and subtle details in the music could do with the extra help from additional conductivity.

Hamish Campbell

January 2, 2013, 9:05 am

Ok, is that a wind up? A digital cable that gives an improved signal! Love it. Although I believe over something like 50 metres (or is it 100?) then you can have issues with loss of signal, but other than that you are talking about a defective cable.

Bjarte Bergsvåg

January 3, 2013, 10:03 am

Digital? The signal is analog last time I checked. A better (larger in cross section) cable should improve the quality. Since sound is sent as waves, my calculated guess is that the sound will be worse in a small cable than a large, and the quality of the core will also affect this. If the signal was digital, the story would be different :)

Hamish Campbell

January 3, 2013, 10:11 am

My digital comment is about the mentioning of improved hdmi cables by coproreal4now.

From all my reading on the subject, the analogue cables can make a difference, however the point at which the difference becomes indetectable (by person or scientific testing) is not that high. So adding silver or insane shielding or talking about oxydation levels etc etc and putting up the price by hundreds of pounds is just silly.

Here's a digital(!!) example for £2500


And 1.5m rca cable for £850


Hopefully noone ever bought one of these.


February 19, 2013, 6:49 pm

Digital signal transmission will allows for data loss. If your hdmi cable is cheap, some data loss will occur. The TV will still display a good image, but the fine detail will be missing. Now Swap in a quality cable (I am not talking about crazy money) but a good thick shielded cable and check again for the details.

A similar rule applies for analogue. But as always there is the law of diminishing returns, so dont waste too much money, just a little :o)


April 2, 2013, 1:20 pm

Ruffra is right about the stock cables. They have too much resistance that they tend to alter the true sound of the X1. Just try a different cable with it... doesn't have to be silver coated. I used the extra cable from the Sony MDR 1r and it works in perfect synergy to the X1.


June 16, 2013, 7:06 pm

I'm late in saying this, but the stock cable is badly matched with the X1. It has too high an impedance and hazes up the sound a bit. Just find a cheap cable with a low impedance (something like the Inakustic Star MP3 cable on Amazon) which has a .2ohm impedance vs the 1.8 impedance on the X1's stock cable.

Other than that, I do agree. cable talk is mostly snake oil.

Malc C

October 14, 2013, 5:23 pm

I can confirm the stock cable leaves bass too loose and imaging unsharp. I replaced with a short (1.5m to the amp on my desk) cable of decent quality for only £12 and will not be using the stock cable again ! Bass is there but more control, depth unaffected, imaging focussed better and hi-mid to treble lifted slightly; in other words PERFECT. This brings this sub £200 headphone into competition with any headphone at any price.

Malc C

October 14, 2013, 5:28 pm

As you don't believe in cables you clearly haven't actually listened before you started trolling. Cable doesn't have to be expensive, just good quality, short as possible and with decent terminations. I replaced mine for only £12 and you'd have to be deaf not to hear the very significant improvement.

Bojan Bojan

July 10, 2016, 7:46 am

People, don't get hung on the cable myth. I've got these cans, and I had a spare cable so I tried them with it, there is NO difference in sound in general application, meaning coming off a regular PC headphone out, or coming off a dedicated receiver headphone out. If anything, they sound smoother with the stock cable, go figure.

The stock cable may be "high-impedance", I have no idea, but it is well suited to the pair and replacing it will NOT enhance sound, it'll just make you spend some money for a pipe dream.

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