Philips Fidelio F1

Score

Pros

  • Light and fairly comfortable
  • Decent isolation
  • Decent tonal balance

Cons

  • Constrained sound
  • Headband not that secure

Key Features

  • Review Price: £149.99
  • In-line remote
  • Removable cable
  • Folding design
  • Memory foam earcups
  • 155g

What are the Philips Fidelio F1?

The Philips Fidelio F1 are

on-ear headphones that try their best to be as portable as possible.

They fold, they’re light and they have a look that’s sensible enough to

fit in anywhere.

Some stability issues stop the Philips Fidelio F1 from being quite as good for strenuous exercise as something like the Beats Solo 2,

but if you’re going to be wearing headphones on the train rather than

in the gym, that’s no issue. In only undercutting other ‘style’

headphones by a smidge at £150, they don’t set any new standards. But

this a solid set of highly portable, good-looking headphones.

SEE ALSO: Best Headphones 2015

Fidelio F1

Philips Fidelio F1 – Design and Comfort

It

has only been around for a few years, but the Philips Fidelio range has

become highly regarded. Consistent, great sound quality and good design

have cemented that.

The Philips Fidelio F1 are the most

portable on-ear set in the range to date. They are a bit lighter and

more streamlined than the Fidelio M2.

Philips has chopped off some of the more contentious design elements to produce something we can’t imagine people not

getting on with. The ear cup backs are contoured aluminium, with a

bronze-gold finish that’s both attractive and fairly low-key. There are

no upper age limits or coolness quotients to fill here.

Fidelio F1 7

The

Philips Fidelio F1 feel well-made too. There’s no creaking, and while

they are light, they don’t feel flimsy. It’s probably helped by not

letting basic plastic cover too much of the frame. The synthetic leather

headband padding covers much of the top part, while those aluminium cup

caps are 99 per cent there for the look and feel.

So how

comfortable are they? Very, for the most part. Their light weight and

the use of high-quality memory foam pads give the Philips Fidelio F1 a

nice, easy feel. All the synthetic leather is of excellent quality too.

Fidelio F1 3

As

with most headphones of this design, though, they will give most

glasses-wearers a bit of discomfort after a couple of hours. There’s

just enough headband pressure to push your earlobes against the glasses’

arms.

Headband stability is not great either. The Philips

Fidelio F1 use a faux leather inner part for the headband, where pairs

such as the Beats Solo 2 have a rubberised coating that keeps them

solidly stuck on your head.

SEE ALSO: Which Sports Headphones Should You Buy?

This is really only an issue if you

want to take them out running or you’re doing exercises where you’ll bob

your head up and down, but it also makes them feel a little insecure

for the first few minutes of wear. The memory foam pads take a little

while to bed in and mould around your ears.

They’re comfy enough, but just take a little patience.

Fidelio F1 15

In

terms of wider features, though, the Philips Fidelio F1 have everything

we’re after. They may not wireless and there’s no active noise

cancellation, but the 3.5mm cable is removable, there’s an in-line

one-button remote and the ear cups fold into the headband to make them

nicely compact.  

Noise isolation is fairly good too. Using

protein leather pads with carefully positioned sound holes cut into them

lets Philips manage the output pretty well. In a side-by-side

comparison, the Beats Solo 2 are marginally better isolators, but we’ve

been using the Philips Fidelio F1 out and about for a couple of weeks

now with no issue.

Fidelio F1 13

They’re

fine for use on public transport and leak virtually zero sound when

properly seated. In other words, you can wear them on the commute as

well as at work without annoying anyone sitting nearby.

Philips Fidelio F1 – Sound Quality

In

the past the Philips Fidelio range has offered style-conscious

headphones with more of a focus on sound quality than some rivals. And

that’s more-or-less true of the Philips Fidelio F1 as well.

In

an A/B comparison with the Beats Solo 2, they have more balanced, less

aggressive bass and less treble dampening at the very top-end. The sound

signature is fairly similar to that of the other pairs in the Fidelio

range.

Fidelio F1 9

They

solve the most obvious issues of the most popular on-ear headphones,

making them a bit of an antidote to the archetypal style pair. They’re

that bit more natural.

There are no odd skews, no obvious trebly

harshness, resulting in a sound that’s very easy to get on with. We did

find that some content can sound a little thin in the mid-range when

it’s competing against a lot of ambient noise, but that’s what happens

when a portable headphone opts for a slightly more balanced sound.

It

also lacks a bit of soundstage width compared with the best of the

Fidelio range, and the mid-range at times lacks some of the coherence

and intricacy we start to hope for at this sort of level. They can sound

a bit too constrained, too closed-in and small. And this effect is not

simply because they’re closed-backed: we’ve compared the Fidelio F1 to

plenty of closed competitors too.

They’re not perfect, but are a

good alternative to the Beats Solo 2 if you’re after a less pronounced

bass skew and don’t mind a less grippy headband.

Fidelio F1 11

Should I buy the Philips Fidelio F1?

The

Philips Fidelio F1 are accomplished portable headphones that work

pretty well for commuters. However, a not-very-grippy headband mean they’re

not so great for runners and those looking for something to wear in the

gym.

If the portable angle is not a big concern, there are more energetic and involving pairs out there, though. For example, the Audio Technica ATH-M50X have a much larger soundstage and sound and much more energetic presentation.

We

also had the chance to compare the Philips Fidelio F1 to the new

Sennheiser Momentum On-ear 2.0, and unfortunately the

comparison only highlights how restrictive the F1 headphones can sound.

The tonal accuracy is similar, but the Sennheiser pair sounds that bit

freer, and therefore much more involving.

SEE ALSO: Best USB Headphone Amps

Verdict

Light, highly portable headphones with decent sound quality. But they don’t set any standards.

Score

Score in detail

  • Design & Features 7
  • Sound Quality 7

Features

Type On Ear (Supra-aural)
Wireless No
Noise Cancelling No
Microphone Yes
Modular Cabling Yes
Remote Control Yes
Frequency Range 7-27,000Hz

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