I want to present to you a great all-rounder - the Philips Fidelio L1: lively, clear and well-balanced with a warm tilt.
Yes, you read correctly. A Philips - the Dutch company that buries you with LED lamp search results when you ask Google. A brand that never was mentioned before in the upper mid-fi region simply because they did not have a single product in that price range. Yet Philips proved to be stylish, flexible and innovative in the past. Now they added musicality and loudly advertise their newest reference headphone targeted at audiophiles.
Weight: 0.2716 kg, equals 0.599 lb
Impedance: 26 Ohm
Sensitivity: 105 dB
Cable Connection: Oxygen free cable (1.1m)
Apple in-line remote and microphone
Separate 3.5mm audio cable
Adapter plug: 3.5 - 6.3 mm
The pouch feels surprisingly high quality but I cannot really tell which fabric Philips used.
Personally, I would have wished for the non-headset cable to be twice as long. BTW, you can use either cable as extension or use the mic/remote with other headphones.
I do not want to waste much space and time on looks. Just refer to the pictures if you think you like the style. Personally, I think there are but few headphones that look better than the L1. However, I can’t speak for everybody.
Worth mentioning in this point is that the L1 actually is counted and numerated during production. It’s hard printed on the inside and only visible when you rotate the cups.
Build quality is probably more important.
The materials used here are top notch. All sensitive parts are built with aluminum – the headband is just one large bent piece covered by cushion foam and real leather. The aluminum swivels will most probably last for a very long time.
The cord is covered by some textile. I cannot tell if it’s a design choice, extra protection or used to eliminate cable noises. All I can say right now is that both cables have a great weight, look durable and are relatively flexible without memory. The iPhone control is great, too. Rubber volume controls are worked into the aluminum housing and the buttons have a great pressure point.
Update (5/14): The production is really great. 15 months later, I am still not aware of any production errors or low quality control! Good job, Philips. However, the ear cushions are not removable! I've been using the Philips for a long time and the ear pads still feel soft, yet if I wanted to sell the L1, I would have preferred to buy new pads. This is not possible and a real bummer.
Next up: comfort.
Instead of praising Philips, I rather wonder what other companies do wrong. How hard can it be to build a comfortable headphone? You take a headband and put cushions in the inside. How can it be that AKG, Grado, Ultrasone, Sennheiser, etc. fail in this department? If you like the Beyerdynamic sound, you are lucky - because they are known for high comfort, even though the velour pads are a little itchy.
Even though Philips used a very simplistic design, I do have to give them credit for using extremely soft memory foam and leaving enough space for my big ears in the around-ear design. Easily encapsulated, the Fidelio L1 is the most comfortable headphone I have yet worn.
In summer, expect your ears to heat up though.
Do note, the clamping force might be very strong for some. Personally, I have a slim head and I have no issues.
I’ve seen many posts from people who seemed worried about the half-open design. If isolation is a big concern, you must pass on these. However, if you don’t blast your ear canals but listen at moderate volume, you shouldn’t be worried about disturbing others. Sound leakage is very little and the L1 captures the noise much better than the Ultrasone PRO 900.
But the L1 also lets sound inside a bit more than a fully closed design. If you want to hear the door bell or don’t want to miss any calls at work, the Philips might have the perfect balance between isolation and awareness. (Further impressions can be found here.)
At last I get to the sound description.
The Philips Fidelio L1 has a very favorable sound presentation.Considering the street price, the L1 has no major flaws.
The Philips L1 is so far the only headphone I have tried which made me forget about any sound signature while shuffling through my collection. It is extremely compatible with what my mind expects music to sound like and, thus, pleases me with a genuine performance.
I cannot speak for you or anybody else, but I think it is worth a shot.
I find the bass to be strong, but also well-controlled. It surely does not have as much weight as a Denon and I never find the bass to be overwhelming. Of course, if you think the K701 has just the right amount, you might perceive bass quantity differently. It does steer toward boomy but adds a very detailed treble on top. It's a lot of fun as it's strongly pronounced, but yet quantity might be lacking for true bassheads.
There is no way I can describe the bass without using the term punchy. The angled drivers move fast and the half-open design prevents too much boom. The air movement gives a lot of life to the sound.
Daft Punk hits hard, Hip-Hop beats from Tyler the Creator go low, while bass-guitars adapt nicely to the rest of the instruments. My previous main can, the PRO 900, did not prove to be as versatile as the Fidelio. The L1 does not have an artificial feel to it.
If you don’t shuffle through different genres often, you might prefer a different approach to bass presentation. But looking at the L1 as a whole, it does extremely well.
Voices are definitely in front of the instruments. Soundstage wise, they are up front and personal. The other instruments spread out nicely in a half-circle around the head. Depth is great. Thanks to the angled drivers, the music plays closely but outside the head.
The Philips achieves this by making use of the presence peak, an elevation in the 2-3 kHz area that makes voices pop out some more - similar to the SE535. This peak will vary depending on the pressure of the ear pads! The tighter the headphone sits on your head, the more obvious the peak will be.
The highs extend nicely and continue the warm tilt without rolling off. If you want airiness and space in your Classical music, the Philips can give you that. Violins are not drowned by bass and mids, but they also do not draw as much attention as they should. The treble is smooth and not as revealing as, say, the X1 or DT-880.
There is really not much to dislike about the tuning as a whole. It’s engaging, lively, quick and energetic. Aggressive and Fatigue will depend on your head size - slim heads will not have an issue. It’s not as flat as my W4, but considering the size I wouldn’t want it to be. Timbre is fine – I have never thought that any instrument or voice sounded too far off, rather that it fits nicely to the warm tilt and is part of the overall cohesive presentation. Due to the surrounding and immersive soundstage, the music just sucks me in. With a good live recording.
The strongest suit of the Philips Fidelio L1 is that it does not do much wrong. Almost everything seems to make sense and seems to be well sought out. Starting by the multi-purpose design with iPhone remote and mic, to the half-open design for home use and train rides, all the way to a sleek and unpretentious design, the Fidelio L1 is an incredible all-rounder that is highly welcomed.
Finally, the sound signature should please regular consumers. Philips clearly addresses the masses. But unlike with Bose, Monster or B&W, you are not paying for brand name or comfort. You get that for free.
I just wished the ear pads were replaceable.
There is absolutely no reason to question the materials or build quality.
As for the sound, my perception hasn't changed much. The Fidelio is not a tool, and as you can see with Tyll's measurements, this is a fun headphone. I wouldn't go as far as call this a bass-heavy headphone. A warm tilt with incredible sub-bass fits it better. The Philips is well balanced and thanks to the 2kHz raise the voices stay up front.
I have edited some parts of the text and I have pointed out that your head shape plays an important role about the presence peak. Also that the ear pads are not replaceable.
15 months later, I can look back and say it was a strong and successful entry for Philips, but the overall mainstream presentation is keeping it from becoming a modern Classic. The follow up, Fidelio X1, is not quite as warm and thus does not need a presence peak to be well-balanced.
Comparison to Fidelio M1:
The tonality is just as warm, without any elevation in the 2-3kHz area, but treble is even softer and rolls off noticeably. Due to the on-ear design, soundstage is a lot more intimate and much smaller in size. Separation is also not as good.
The punchy bass goes very deep with both, but the L1 reveals a lot more texture.
M1 isolates better.
- by MuppetFace (comparison with Z1000)
- by swbf2cheater (new thread)
More pictures can be found here.
Tags: Fidelio L1, Philips L1/00, review, appreciation, pictures, discussion
Edited by Ultrazino - 5/14/13 at 9:47am