Pros: Balanced sound, sleek design.
Cons: A bit too tight for extended listening.
This is my first attempt at a review, so if you make it to the bottom: Heres to you!
Philips latest headphone line is better summed up in one word: Awesome.
Sleek industrial design, modern indeed, yet classic and timeless. I thought of Grado (SR60-SR125), only not sort of cheap-looking. Stitches that contrast nicely in orange on black. Orange cloth-covered detachable chord. Aluminum cups with discreet lettering and memory foam pads. They look the price, for sure.
I feel a disclaimer is in order. This is not a professional review, nor has it been done using multithousand whatever currency gear. The Fidelio M1 are portable headphones. And as such, I have reviewed them the way I use them. On the go with my phone ( HTC One S) as source. Sometimes at home using an Objective 2 amplifier, but mostly not.
They sing stronger when amped properly, but thats hardly a surprise. They play with better control at lower volumes when amped. More slam and drive. Or better (Buzzword-alert) PRAT - pace rhythm and timing. Also way louder. I usually have the volume set three-four clicks down from full at normal out and about listening level, and I could use some smaller increments in the attenuation, but it's a phone not an amplifier with an intergrated stepped attenuator. They do fine anyway. If you don't mind carrying around a small portable amp, they do sound alot better, more open and less recessed. Mind you, the amp have to be a good one. I tried with the Fiio E5 and this amplfier coloured the sound, gave it fuller lower end, but tamed everything else to much for my ears and made the sound less enjoyable than straight from my phone.
The O2 is a clean, transparent alternative. Allthough not very portable. If I may be so bold as to use a cheap analogy: Comparing this headset to itself, with and without amplification is like comparing cheap burboun to a 12 year old Highland Park.
Deep musical bass (could go a tad deeper). Rather good for a supra aural earspeaker. So is noise suppression. I can play wicked loud before anyone close by can hear anything. And they cancel outside noise pretty good too. I take the bus to work and have yet to be noticably bothered by sounds from the outside world.
They are slightly warmer than neutral, and that suits me fine. Neutral, I often percieve as flat and lifeless. I don't need headphones made for critical listening when I am on the move.
An excellent treble sparkles like a velvet diamond and you don't have to turn down the volume when they go loud, but here some adjustment is needed every once in a while. Still, it sounds good. Very good. Imaging is detailed and the sound stage is wide and deep. Dynamics is not the strongest selling point. It's there but I could do with more.Instead they make up for it in balance.
They are a bit tight. I wear them for an hour before I need a break. The headband could be softer as it feels quite hard on the skull after awhile. Again I remember the Grados. Same issues with comfort, only the Fidelios are luxory Grados, comfort-wise. Sound wise it would be like comparing apples to oranges.
I love Grados to, so don't think I am bashing them. Grados are awesome cans for rock and unplugged stuff.
For about 1400,- (Norwegian Kroner) or about 250,- USD they have nothing to be ashamed about. But Philips, if you read this, please make the headband softer underneath and make them a bit less snug. And then give me a new pair because this is my go-2 on the move earspeaker.
They do sound abit recessed. Again, less so when driven by the O2. No big deal. I don't need perfect cans on the move. I need comfortable enough, sturdy built, goodlooking headphones that can deliver impressive sound. And they do sound impressive. They impressed me, anyway. And they look really cool.
I haven't seen anyone else flagging the M1 ship hereabouts, yet. Such a shame these live in the shadow of Beats By Dre (to name only one) and other "star-designed" fads.
I like my M1's so much that I am willing to pay 2.5k for the X1 to use at home with my Sapphire headphone amp ( a work in progress) without having heard them first. But if they had been just a bit more expensive, there are other options to consider. I don't care though, theese are the ones for me.
Link to product page: http://www.philips.co.uk/c-p/M1BO_00/fidelio-orange
Additional note: Take this for what it is. The review of an audio amateur whose passion for sound is a never ending journey through trial and error. And hopefully, some success.
Thank you for reading.