Philips Fidelio F1 Review

Pros

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

Cons

  • Constrained sound
  • Headband not that secure

Key Specifications

  • 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.

Trusted 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

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.