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Philips Fidelio L2

  • Berlin, Germany – Two years ago, Philips launched the Philips Fidelio L1 headphones, which have gone on to be recognized as one of the leading headphones in their class. Today, Philips is introducing a new generation: the Philips Fidelio L2. The new model features lighter materials, a new headband design and key sound improvements that will impress even the most discerning audiophile. The Philips Fidelio L2 have been tuned by the sharpest ears from Philips’ ‘Golden Ears’ panel of audio experts, delivering exceptional sound detail for every song.

    “The Philips Fidelio L2 headphones deliver a pristine audio experience,” said Alexander van der Heijden, consumer marketing for headphones at Philips Lifestyle Entertainment. “We’re proud of the recognition we’ve received for the Philips Fidelio L1s, but we also wanted to keep striving to deliver the perfect headphone in its class. So we asked users of the L1 to tell us what they liked, and what more they wanted, and the result is the Philips Fidelio L2 headphones. We’ve made some small but important changes, such as increasing the sensitivity in the sound technology to make for a more robust and clean sound experience.”

    To enjoy high definition sound the Philips Fidelio L2 headphones are built with 40mm optimally vented neodymium speaker drivers that provide a wide dynamic range, so you can hear those very subtle details of your favorite tracks. They feature a semi-open back architecture for pure and natural sound, ensuring you can hear every beat and every instrument with all the clarity the artist intended. The headphones have specially engineered aluminum ear shells for acoustic precision and the speakers are tilted to the ear’s natural angle for added clarity.

    The Philips Fidelio L2 headphones feature an improved headband design of fine leather that is smaller and lighter, ensuring long-lasting comfort and meaning you can enjoy your music for hours on end. These headphones offer excellent noise and a spacious listening experience to enjoy all genres of music.

    The Fidelio L2 headphones not only sound incredible, but also are a style statement. Crafted with premium materials including aluminum, fine leather, detailed stitching and a larger grill they are certain to command attention. The ear shells have been redeveloped to allow the 3.5mm cable to be plugged directly into the headphone for added convenience. For those on the go, the L2 fold flat and include a soft cloth travel pouch to protect them.

    The Philips Fidelio L2 are available in September with a recommended retail price of EUR 279.

Recent Reviews

  1. hawkeye3110
    The Phillips Fidelio L2 is great for the right price
    Written by hawkeye3110
    Published Jan 8, 2017
    Pros - Comfort, Build, Price
    Cons - Very small gripes with cable and earpads
        This is a review of the Phillips Fidelio L2. I got these on Black Friday for $100 and in the 6 weeks I've had them it is a steal for the price. I wanted to finally get a decent pair of headphones that were affordable. I wanted something that was good all around. I wanted something unique since everyone has hd598 and m50x. 
        The packaging is nice with a large box with protective padding on the inside to protect the headphones. Other than the headphones, the box includes a fabric carrying pouch, 2 removable cables (one with a one button mic and one without), and some pamphlets. 
        The headphones have really nice build quality. Metal on the housing and bands in this dark metallic finish. The headband has little padding that is wrapped in leather. However despite the metal build, the headphone is very light and the headband will not cause a problem for most. I have a rather large head and with the headphone adjusted to my size, there is still plenty of room to increase the size of the headband. This headphone will fit most. The earcups have thick leather padding. One of the few cons of this headphone is the lack of removable earpads. This is unfortunate since this helps increase the lifetime and option for different materials like velour. It does matter the orientation you wear these headphones. There is a small L and R on the inside of the yokes. There is a difference if it is backwards. Just remember that the earcup with the cable goes on the left. Both cables are a meter long, braided, and terminate in a relatively short straight jack. One cable has a inline mic with a universal one button mic. This mic works on ios and android with play/pause and double click for next track. The one other con I can think of is the cable without the mic could be longer. I know the headphone is targeted more toward mobile use, but since the mic is universal, the second cable could've been targeted for home use. The cable was too short to be routed behind my pc so I had to buy an extension. The headphone is smaller so good for mobile use and has a low impedance. Overall build is really good for the price and will suit most.
         The sound now. These are semi- open headphones. That means the back is not completely sealed but the drivers isn't completely expose behind. They are somewhere in the middle. They block outside noise pretty well despite being partially open, and they do not leak much. I am no means an audiophile. These are my first decent set of headphones. I don't have a dac, amp, or a flac library. Just someone with a pc and phone that plays mp3 files, youtube, and pandora. I've used the Shure SE215 IEMs for years before this and they have a relatively flat signature (perhaps warm at times). The L2s have a similar sound signature as the Shures. They are balanced with good, detailed bass however not overpowering. The highs are nice and aren't fatiguing to my ears at all. No complaints about the well controlled mids too. Since these are semi-open, sound stage is pretty good. While gaming with them, I could pretty accurately hear footsteps from the correct direction. You won't get crazy separation in songs with the beset detail. They can sound muddy if there are a lot of elements to the song. They won't compete with headphones like the Master and Dynamic MH40 I got to try. They aren't meant to compete with headphones like that.  Overall a great sounding headphone unless you have very specific needs.
        In conclusion, these are a great all-around pair. If you can them for about $130 or less I highly recommend them. I give them 4 and a half stars for the short cable and lack of removable earpads. Minor gripes and gave them 5 stars on amazon since I can't do half stars. Hope this reviews helps and hope you enjoy them if you purchase them. This is my first written review so thanks for reading:)
      trellus likes this.
    1. pbui44
    2. hawkeye3110
      Thanks pbui. Didn't realize they were removable. Thanks for letting me know. That's why I love this community.  
      hawkeye3110, Jan 9, 2017
  2. Jackpot77
    Crystal clear and down and dirty - Philips' Fidelio L2 over-ears provide the voice of an angel with a bassy face
    Written by Jackpot77
    Published Mar 28, 2016
    Pros - Great bass depth, crystal clear presentation, micro-details, conveys emotion in male and female vocals brilliantly
    Cons - Headband could be more comfortable, sound leakage due to semi-open design, lack of hard case, midrange might be a bit lean for some
    Philips Fidelio L2 – initial impressions
    I picked up the Fidelio L2s as part of a swap deal on Head-Fi as my first “proper” pair of middle-range over ear headphones. These were picked up as an experiment to dip my toes in the water with regards to over-ear ‘phones, and see what differences there are between a mid-fi IEM and a lower-tier over-ear for reference.
    About me: newly minted audiophile, late 30s, long time music fan and aspiring to be a reasonably inept drummer. Listen to at least 2 hours of music a day on my commute to work – prefer IEMs for out and about, and a large pair of headphones when I have the house to myself and a glass in my hand. Recently started converting my library to FLAC and 320kbps MP3, and do most of my other listening through Spotify or Tidal HiFi. I am a fan of rock, acoustic (apart from folk) and sarcasm. Oh yeah, and a small amount of electronica. Not a basshead, but I do love a sound with some body to it. Please take all views expressed below with a pinch of salt – all my reviews are a work in progress based on my own perceptions and personal preferences, and your own ears may tell you a different story.
    Tech specs
    ·       Headphone frequency: 12 - 25000 Hz

    ·       Headphone sensitivity: 105 dB

    ·       Height: 19.5 cm

    ·       Impedance: 16 Ω

    ·       Maximum input power: 200 mW

    ·       Weight: 260 g

    ·       Width: 17.2 cm

    The Fidelio L2s arrive in a nice sturdy cardboard box, with the usual array of marketing and product specs adorning the sides and back. There is a nice premium feel to the packaging, which extends to the inner of the box as well. The headphones sit in a molded plastic insert, with the two detachable cables and faux-velvet carrying bag hidden underneath. The carry bag has the product name printed in a classy grey (slightly darker than the bag itself) in small print at the bottom, and looks like a quality soft carrying option. Unfortunately there is no hard case included with the package, which would have been nice for the advertised retail price, but as these are semi-open and intended for mainly home rather than portable use, it isn’t a necessity if you don’t intend to give your gear a hammering.
    Build quality
    The overall build and feel of the Fidelio is very good, and gives a nice first impression with regards to the quality of the workmanship. The headband is lightly padded and wrapped in faux-leather with a nice orange stitching detail (matching the orange drawstring on the carry case). The rest of the headphone parts are made of aluminium, and look like they will stand up to a fair bit of abuse without too much wear and tear to show for it. There are a few nice design touches throughout – the earcups swivel flat (DJ-style) to allow for easier packing when transporting them, and the extender mechanism on both headphone arms moves with a smooth and audible click. The arms also have a numbered scale etched onto the inside, so you can see exactly what “setting” the extension is at for future reference. The grill covering the earcups is also solid metal, and adds to the design aesthetic very nicely, giving the headphones a vaguely futuristic look, much like its sibling the Fidelio X2. The enclosed cables also add a nice touch – there is one with and one without a microphone, and both are cloth-covered, reasonably thick and very flexible, with zero cable noise. The Fidelio uses a standard 3.5mm jack connection in to the left ear socket, but the cables have an additional plastic spur on the headphone connector end which locks into place in two slots next to the headphone jack to prevent the cable from rotating or detaching too easily. While this may make cable upgrades a little tricky (although not impossible), it is a nice touch, and the additional stability of the cable connection does feel more secure when moving around.
    As an over-ear headphone, the Fidelios are quite large, but the overall comfort is very good. The padding on the underside of the headband is quite thin, so may start to cause a hotspot on the top of the head when worn for extended periods of time, but the soft memory foam padding on the earcups and the overall diameter of the inner of the cups makes them fit comfortably over my reasonably large ears and makes them very comfortable for me for extended listening so far. In terms of weight, these are not a heavy headphone for an over-ear, and can quite comfortably be worn by my girlfriend without any additional scaffolding to hold it in place. Clamping force (i.e. how easily the headphone sticks to your skull once on without popping your head like a children’s party balloon) is reasonable and never excessive – moving around with the headphones in place is easy, and they generally stay put for most activities (I make no guarantees for those of you out there who like to listen to their music while trampolining). The cups are also mounted on a ring structure that allows them good freedom of movement (and permits them to swivel flat for wearing around the neck or packing down in a bag), so they should follow the contours of most craniums with ease. As a semi-open design, there is some sound leakage from the cups into the surrounding environment, so these are not a ‘phone to be taken to the library unless you like making yourself unpopular, but the leakage is not overwhelmingly loud. In terms of sound coming in, they isolate slightly better than you would expect (think of them like a bouncer at a busy bar, always seeming to let out far more than they actually let in). They will easily block out background noise if you are listening at home or in an everyday environment, without rendering you totally deaf to whatever is happening around you.
    Sound quality
    Test gear:
    LG G Flex 2 (with and without Brainwavz AP001 mini-amp)
    Sony NWZ-A15 (as above)
    Sansa Clip+ (Rockboxed, amped as above)
    Microsoft Surface Pro 2 (straight from the output jack)
    Test tracks (mainly 320kbps MP3 or FLAC/Tidal HiFi):
    Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – S.O.B. / Wasting Time
    Blackberry Smoke – The Whipporwill (album)
    Slash – Shadow Life / Bad Rain (my reference tracks for bass impact and attack, guitar “crunch”)
    Slash & Beth Hart – Mother Maria (vocal tone)
    Richie Kotzen – Come On Free (bass tone)
    Otis Redding – various
    Elvis – various
    Leon Bridges – Coming Home (album)
    Foy Vance – various
    Blues Traveler
    Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (album)
    Sigma - various
    Rudimental – various
    Rodrigo y Gabriela – various
    Mavis Staples – Livin’ On A High Note
    Professor Green ft. Emile Sande – Read All About It
    General notes on the sound signature
    (graph taken from the Innerfidelity website)
    Being a relative newcomer to over-ear headphones, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Fidelio series, but the overall sound signature sits quite nicely with my personal preferences. The sound reproduction has a clear and neutral tone to it, with decent high end extension and a very detailed and almost lean mid-section. The bass extends low with a slight sub-bass tilt, so you can get some decent rumble from the right track without the mid-bass being too prominent. The overall bass presentation is a little north of neutral, but always fast and punchy rather than thick or overwhelming, leaving the overall impression being of a reasonably neutral sound with good extension on either end, a nice impact to the low frequencies and a detailed and forward midsection which never feels too syrupy.
    On first listen, this headphone can come across as quite bright, especially coming from the warmer and bassier tone of my current “home listening” choices. Once your head kicks into gear (brain burn-in, as it is sometimes referred to here), the highs settle into a sharp, detailed presentation that gives plenty of detail and bite to the soundscape without ever tipping over into harshness or sibilance. Listening to “Mother Maria” and “Starlight” by Slash on these is a truly wonderful experience, with Beth Hart and Myles Kennedy hitting their straps with high notes that are crystal clear, sharp enough to cut glass but never feeling strained or screechy. Cymbals shimmer and fade with a palpable sense of realism, and manage to avoid the overly “metallic” tinge that can sometimes goes along with brighter tuning in my (very limited) experience. Despite being a semi-open design, the L2s aren’t awash with “air” (a usual side effect of the high end tuning), but everything is presented on a jet black background, so overall the sharper treble presentation works very well with the rest of sound, and never feels like it is overpowering the rest of the frequencies.
    The mids on the L2 are fairly forward, very balanced and packed with micro-detail. They treat male and vocals similarly well, and manage to convey emotion at the same time as technicalities, leaving the listener immersed in the music rather than sat in front of it analysing it. That isn’t to say that these can’t be used for critical listening as the detail is simply some of the best I have heard yet, but the temptation to simply dive into the song being played rather than trying to work out how the headphone is presenting it is quite compelling. The clarity of the vocals is excellent, and guitars (both acoustic and electric) sound sublime, with plenty of crunch and speed when required, and subtle timbre and tone to accompany the sound of fingers sliding up and down the guitar neck for the more mellow passages. In fact, the midrange lends itself very well to both rock and acoustic music, with the right blend of emotion and energy to really sweep you along, and enough clarity to keep everything in focus as it whips by. I am not a massive rap fan, but one of my tester tracks for vocal clarity is the Professor Green version of “Read All About It”, and the L2 handles the soaring vocals of Emile Sande and the quick-fire drawl of the Professor with equal aplomb, making it easy to follow the lyrics without having to concentrate, which some of the other mid-range IEMs I have used recently have struggled with.  The detailing and clarity also helps with the emotional impact, capturing the vocal phrasings and breathing of the singers in the back of the soundscape, so no drop of musicality is left behind in the mixing desk.
    In my recent listening history, I have been spoiled with regards to what I consider “good” bass after discovering the Aurisonics ASG-2.5, so my standards have shifted slightly. While it never reaches the sheer impact and authority of the 2.5s, the bass on show here is something pretty special in its own right. It is quick, agile and can provide a good thump in the eardrum when called for, and gives a nice rumble of sub-bass when pushed. It never feels artificial or forced, and can add real substance to a track when needed. My go-to tester track for overall bass impressions is “Bad Rain” by Slash, and the L2 absolutely nails it in terms of the sort of presentation I like. The bass growls right down to the soles of your feet, and the sub bass gives enough of a tickle in your eardrums to add the weight that this song is really capable of, while never swamping the crunch of the guitar or the rasp of the vocals. It is slightly north of what you would consider truly neutral, but never pushes too far into the midrange or colours the presentation any more than it needs to, leaving more of an impression of neutral but capable rather than warm and soupy. Running the L2s through my small Brainwavz AP001 mini-amp provides a little bass boost, which can thicken up the sound slightly when I want something truly epic, but that is more of a preference than a requirement, as the default bass on these is more than enough to impress all but the most serious of bassheads out there.
    The L2s don’t have a massive soundstage, which is something I found quite surprising for a semi-open headphone. The instruments present themselves in a bubble that extends just outside the confines of your own head, with a good depth and sweep from left to right giving a very good feeling of placement to even the most congested of tracks. The “black” background of these headphones (i.e. the lack of noise or bleed between instruments in the soundscape) provides a great canvas for the L2s to paint an almost holographic image on to, so the separation and imaging that these provide is top-notch. Listening to Leon Bridges (who masters his tracks like a live studio recording), the position of each instrument presses itself very well into the landscape, giving an almost palpable “feel” to where the horn section and backing singers are standing, and how the drummer is positioned in the back of the room. The black background also helps you pick out individual guitar licks and bass notes in the sea of music when listening to your favourite tracks, which is very impressive.
    The L2s are an easy to drive headphone, and the dynamics and quality don’t improve appreciably with the addition of extra “juice” (with my limited gear, at least). They can be driven loud direct from most smartphones or DAPs without the need for any external power, so amping will be more of a personal preference for those of you with access to more high end solutions like the Chord Mojo, rather than something that is mandatory to make these cans sing.
    Flare R2A – these were my original daily driver, and while being an IEM, have a soundstage more like an over-ear headphone and have a similar RRP so probably provide one of closest comparisons to the L2 I can currently make. The R2A are less sharp in overall presentation than the L2, with a slightly warmer bass response and slightly more rolled off treble. The detail levels are similar, but the leaner and crisper presentation of the L2 brings them further forward in the listener’s mind, so making them less of an effort to appreciate. Soundstage is actually won by the R2A, which has a very spacious soundstage for a microdriver-based IEM. In terms of ease of driving, the L2s require less power to drive well, despite their comparative difference in size.
    Aurisonics ASG-2.5 – these are my current “go to” pair for home listening, and again are another pair of IEMs with a very expansive soundstage (albeit with a larger price tag to accompany it). The 2.5s have an overall warmer feel to them than the L2s, with a larger bass presence (I run the 2.5s with the bass tuning port at ¼ open, so they have the potential for FAR more bass than the L2). The detail and tone are similar between both, with the 2.5 edging it in terms of soundstage and the L2 leaving a cleaner impression for treble “crunch” and brightness, and slightly more detail, although some of that has to do with the cleaner tone of the L2. Extension in the treble is similar to my ears, with the 2.5s winning on sub-bass extension and quantity (an acknowledged strong point of this particular IEM). Both are easy enough to drive direct from a mobile phone or DAP, with the 2.5 achieving slightly more volume at the same settings than the L2.
    Overall conclusion
    The Fidelio L2 are my first real foray into a decent mid-range headphone, and a very impressive headphone at that. They provide a sharp, crystal clear sound, with a nice low bass extension and bags of detail. They convey the emotion of a track extremely well, and overall are almost perfect for my personal preferences. In terms of things to improve, a slightly wider soundstage, hard carrying case, more padded headband and a tiny pinch more body in the midrange would be on my wishlist, but none of these would alter my overall opinion of the headphone. For its price, this is an excellent piece of workmanship, and produces a truly engaging, musical sound that will suit most tastes and musical genres.
      dissembled likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Lucas Meyer
      @dakanao Thanks for answering! i might just order one as well!
      Lucas Meyer, Mar 30, 2016
    3. Jackpot77
      @Lucas - sorry for not replying, haven't really run much EDM through them as I'm more of a rock guy! @dakanao is actually tbe head-fi'er I traded them with in the first place, so was definitely a better choice to give you an answer anyway!
      Jackpot77, Mar 30, 2016
    4. JohnathanFHY
      @dakanao @Jackpot77 the ones you have does the headphone kept in an inner box that slides out. I recently got my hands on what i believe is a different version. made a post on the L2 thread post #833 .
      JohnathanFHY, Apr 15, 2016
  3. White Lotus
    Philips Fidelio L2 - semi-open bassheads dream
    Written by White Lotus
    Published Jul 31, 2015
    Pros - BASS, build quality, overall clear and strong sound signature
    Cons - Headband pressure


    I'm a production manager, but focus mostly on sound engineering. I install and tune a lot of P.A equipment, and also mix live acts in :

    - live venues,
    - concert halls,
    - bars, and
    - nightclubs.

    I've taken a huge liking to headphones, and IEM's in particular. I like the idea of having my own personal PA system, that I can take with me anywhere. Especially with Rockbox being in such advanced stages, and such great low-impedance portable amps coming out, you can really seem to get any sound signature you wish out of a portable rig.

    Phillips Fidelio L2 review.


    Build quality:

    DSC03519.jpg DSC03520.jpg DSC03524.jpg
    Absolutely superb. I've always enjoyed the build quality of Phillips headphones, and this is no exception. The cans have a very “premium” feel, and the aesthetic details are superb.
    There are intricate details, such as the “rings” around the exterior of the cup, and the woven pattern of the mesh grills.
    The L2 pivot/suspension system features a single pivot point for up/down movement. Combined with swiveling cups, it's easy to get a good fit (more on that later).
    The stitching is a nice touch.
    And for those of you who are OCD about headband length: you can now know for sure that you're even on both sides.
    The cable is removable, and you will be able to hear taps and rubs through the headpiece when adjusting it.


    A neat little cloth pouch, with the Phillips branding on it, as well as a full-size headphone jack converter. This is more than sufficient for what full-size headphones come with, in my opinion. It would have been nice to have optional change-out pads, but I'm just being fussy.
    I'm glad Phillips chose to save money in the accessory department, instead of sacrificing build or sound quality.


    A comfortable wear. A lot of full-size cans don't fit around my ears, but these do nicely. It's relatively easy to “tweak” the fit, by use of the swiveling and pivoting cups, matched with the measurable headband. My ears still touch the insides a little, but it's no big deal. There is sufficient clamping force. My one complaint is that the headband is stiff, and thin. It looks great, but it means that a lot of the weight of the L2 is pressed into a thin line across the head, and I needed to “shift” it around a little after long sessions.
    Keep in mind, I don't have the smallest head around!


    From the Phillips website:
    Frequency response
    6 - 40 000 Hz
    16 Ohm
    105 dB
    Maximum power input
    200 MW
    < 0.1% THD
    Speaker diameter
    40 mm
    Acoustic system


    It's worth noting here that the impedance is 16ohms. This will make the L2 a little fussy with sources, and damping factor should be considered when choosing a suitable source.
    They are also incredibly efficient and easy to drive. Sources such as mobile phones, DAPs, laptops and other portable devices will power these with no issues at all.
    Isolation is interesting - “semi-open” is a perfect description. They isolate better than most open-backed cans, and leak more than closed-back.
    I would, to be safe, treat these as “open-backed” when thinking about using these outside of the home. They don't leak as much as open-backed cans do, but definitely more than closed-back.


    Strong, authoritative, unrelenting.
    Very strong mid-bass presence, with hard impact. The bass is very impressive, especially considering this headphone is using open-backed 40mm drivers.
    Bass-heads, pay attention!


    Not quite as open as an open-backed headphone, but sound-stage is sufficient none-the-less. These are not neutral headphones, and the mid-bass definitely powers through the mids a little. Sometimes male vocals can feel a little recessed, but that might just be due to the strong bass and pokey highs.


    These aren't “dark” headphones, despite having such overwhelmingly strong bass. I don't find them to be too peaky or sibilant, but they are definitely “forward”.
    Good amount of details and excellent clarity. They can be listened to at decent volume without any significant piercing. 


    Pricing varies depending on region, but for a few hundred bucks, no matter where you are, these are a good deal.
    It's a very premium feeling offering at that price – considering the excellent build quality, and accompanying audio performance.

    Overall conclusion:

    Sound quantities in a nutshell:
    Bass: ++
    Mids: -
    Highs: +
    These headphones are a bass-heads dream - if you're looking for a semi-open backed product with a very premium finish.
    DSC03514.jpg DSC03515.jpg DSC03516.jpg
    1. Sonic Defender
      Sounds like a nice headphone for a very affordable price. Thanks for the review.
      Sonic Defender, Aug 1, 2015
    2. voxie
      Nice review, thanks for sharing.
      voxie, Aug 2, 2015
    3. AzNyCans
      Great review, thanks! I've always wanted to try these and have read many reviews. I've never read that the mids are weak, but everyone hears differently of course. Have you ever heard the Sony Z7? Was curious how these compare. A few people have told me they thought the L2's were as good or better in terms of sound signature. Thanks so much!
      AzNyCans, Aug 2, 2015
  4. DJScope
    Absolutely brilliant! – Clarity, beauty and balance
    Written by DJScope
    Published Apr 25, 2015
    Pros - Detail & clarity, beautifully designed, sturdy materials, balanced & natural sound signature, removable cable.
    Cons - Non-removable pads.
    Firstly, I'd like to thank @d marc0 for including me on this tour. It's always a great experience and privilege to be a part of such a great community which organises these tours for members like myself to try out new gear that we may not have a chance to audition. I do feel very lucky to be a part of it.
    Disclaimer: I did not purchase the Philips Fidelio L2 and do not own it. I've had 1 week with it and the thinksound rain2. So please take what I have to say with a grain of salt, or two.
    Philips is one of those brands that I would always dismiss in the headphone game. In the early years I’ve tried one or two headphone from Philips which weren’t exactly decent sounding. They weren't the most expensive either, but back then I never thought of Philips to be in the “audiophile” category. This of course wasn’t until I tried the Fidelio X1. The X1 is a masterpiece to say the least. They completely changed the way I saw Philips in their ability to make a good headphone. I was more than impressed. So when @d marc0 asked me to be a part of this tour I couldn’t help but have a huge smile on my face when I gladly obliged. 

    A little about the Philips Fidelio L2

    Frequency response:​
      12 - 25 000  Hz
      16 Ohm
      105  dB
    Maximum power input:​
      200  mW
      < 0.1% THD
    Speaker diameter:​
      40 mm


    FR Graph

    Thanks to Mr. Tyll Hertsens for measuring these wonderful headphones!
    You can see that there is a dip in the 5k region and it peaks back up to the 7k and drops back down to and past 10k. To me this is quite surprising because I find the L2 to be quite a bright headphone. The dip in the 5k region means that there is little sibilance. The elevated bass region plays well with what I expect for an open back headphone to keep the bass adequate. And the mids are flatter that what I perceived in my listening.



    The Fidelios come in a pretty big black box with quite a lot going on on it. A bunch of contrasting colours come together to give out a huge presentation which is elegant and inviting, simple and technical. All the relevant information is there on the box. The technology which is put into the headphone is written in 8 different languages. Even on the inside of the box there is some kind of safety information I've not seen before on any headphone packaging. 


    In the box you'll find:
    1. The headphones (obviously)
    2. A cable (I suspect it comes with 2 cables one with and one without remote).
    3. A very nice felt (suede like material) lined with a polyester inner for which I can only guess is for weather proofing.
    4. A 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter.

    Design & Comfort

    If I was to describe the Fidelio L2 with only one word, that word would be “Stunning”! The L2 is probably one of the best looking headphones I’ve ever had the pleasure to get my hands on.
    First thing that grabs your eyes is that beautiful red stitching on the headband. The headphone is a wonderful combination of brown, red, charcoal and black. As you look on, you realise what an absolutely brilliant idea was it to give those subtle yet eye-catching red accents. Superb!
    The headphone is made from a variety of materials which all look and feel premium in every sense. The red stitching holds together the supple headband covering which is made from brown leather (or faux leather). From what I can gather, the headband is made from aluminium and the cups are plastic. Every piece that goes into it looks like it was made precisely and with purpose. Back of the cups has a mesh grille which I can just guess is made from stainless steel.
    The earpads are a bit of a bummer. Don’t get me wrong. They’re soft and comfortable, but they’re not removable. I just wish this wasn’t the case. For me, I feel like a bigger size of earpads would do wonders for this headphone, but this is a personal preference.
    Clamping force is also quite loose on this headphone for my small head which also plays into why I dislike the earpads. If it had a little tighter hold the pads wouldn’t be such a downer for me.
    Cable is removable and seems to have a proprietary style of retaining the connector. I thank Philips for not going with another crazy plug system. It’s a standard TRS 3.5mm (1/8in) connector. The female jack is a little close to the flange so if you wanted to use a custom cable it would need to be a small diameter jacket/cover. I was unable to use none of my custom cables on it for this reason.
    The cable provided is a paracord sheathed 3.5mm TRS to 3.5mm TRS jack. It’s soft and flexible and seems to be very tangle resistant. It’s quite thick and looks like it will last a long time. The cable has little to no mechanical noise or microphonics. I’ve read that it should also come with an in-line mic cable, but was not provided with the tour unit.


    I found that these have a weird open design. I have 3 kids which are not very quiet at all, and they give me a very good indicator on how good isolation is on any particular headphone. I have found that whilst the L2s leak quite a bit of sound out they don't let a lot of noise in. Making them quite a good headphone for home use while private listening, watching movies and gaming when there are no other people you can annoy, but have quite a bit of ambient noise from, say, construction sites and other noise pollutants.


    It's pretty hard to describe how brilliant this headphone sounds. It is a very balanced sound with a lot of layering going on. It extends quite well into both treble and bass and seems to be very coherent throughout the whole spectrum. It has a very natural timber for acoustic and electronic music. And to put the icing on the cake, it scales extremely well with gear; give it more juice and it'll sound better and better every time. I was thoroughly impressed with this headphone, and it doesn't cease to put a smile on my face ever time I plop it on my noggin.

    Soundstage & Imaging

    The soundstage of this headphone is actually quite intimate and is slightly above average. But where this intimate soundstage shines is coupled with the excellent imaging. The imaging has really excellent depth and height. It layers very well, giving you a very realistic listening experience, as if the band is playing a few feet in front of you. There is good air and separation between instruments. It's very satisfying indeed!


    The treble is probably the best aspect of this headphone. It's crisp and clear, it extends well and feels quite linear. Maybe sometimes sound a tiny bit dry and blunted. But very smooth, natural and enjoyable. The treble is very coherent, so much so that I found that this is probably the best headphone for listening to trance music where there is a lot of synths and female vocals trying to fight for the front of the stage, almost always sounding congested, but not on these headphone. The layering is done so well that everything has it's own place.


    Mids are perfect on this headphone. Never sounding dry, forward or recessed. I found that the L2 did extremely well with both female and male vocals giving them the timber they both deserve. Acoustic guitars sound very natural. Everything meshes very well together with great synergy and harmony.


    The bass is amazingly balanced with good kick and rubble when called upon. It's not elevated but it's warm, tight and fast. Super natural. Bass guitars roll through the notes flawlessly and the bass kick is punchy and fast on decay. 

    A quick comparison to the Takstar Pro 80

    The Takstar Pro 80 is my baseline comparison headphone I compare ALL headphone and IEMs I audition. Only for the fact that it punches WAY above it's price range. Only costing ~$70 + $15 for the HM5 pads, I've seen them put $200+ headphones to shame.
    The L2 definitely sounds like the more smoother and more neutral listen. It has an overall fuller and warmer presentation. It also seems a little more mid forward with more layering going on. Bass seems more mid bass oriented. 
    The Takstar Pro 80 seems to be a flatter slightly brighter more metallic sounding headphone. The Pro 80 surprisingly sounds airier with a wider soundstage. Pro 80 sounds a little dryer in the mids. It has noticeable more kick in the bass being more sub-base orientated.



    This is probably the best sounding headphone that I've had the experience of trying on a review tour. With it's absolutely brilliant natural and balanced sound signature and pin point accuracy and layering, and the fact that it has amazing synergy with all my gear which only got better with more power, it is definitely a headphone that I would want to own. I think it would be the perfect open back companion for my Takstar Pro 80. I want to applaud Philips for coming out with such amazingly sounding headphone with the L and X series. They're definitely doing something right over there. 
    Cheers! [​IMG]




      Brooko and d marc0 like this.
    1. acain
      Great review!
      acain, Apr 25, 2015
    2. DJScope
      Thank man!
      DJScope, Apr 26, 2015
  5. Brooko
    Philips Fidelio L2 – Beautiful Sound, Beautiful Looking
    Written by Brooko
    Published Apr 10, 2015
    Pros - Balance, clarity, detail, form factor, build quality, aesthetics (looks), fit & comfort (for the most part)
    Cons - Non removable pads, flimsy carry bag, pressure point with headband
    fideliaL210.jpg \
    For larger views of any of the photos (1200 x 800) - please click on the individual images


    I guess everyone who has been around a while knows the Philips brand, but (for me anyway) it’s been a while since I’ve associated the brand with high end audio. My last foray with Philips was buying 2 pairs of Philips SHP2000 at NZD $20 each for my two (at the time) sub-teen children. The SHP2000s actually sounded passably decent, they were cheap, and the kids pretty much loved them to death. The kids are now tween and teen – and have a pair of Momentum on –ears, and UE6000s respectively – and to date I hadn’t heard another Philips headphone.


    When Head-Fi user d marc0 contacted me about having a listen to the L2, I was intrigued – especially after hearing some pretty good press regarding some of their other recent releases. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Mark for giving me the chance to spend time with the L2s. It’s great that we have such a wonderful community here at Head-Fi - able to share our gear so as enthusiasts we can experience a lot more audio gear than many of us could otherwise afford.

    I received the courier pack with the L2 almost 3 weeks ago – and it has been a real pleasure spending as much time as I could with the Fidelio L2. This has included using them at work, walking outside, gaming, and just general listening at home.

    I’ve listed price at USD $225.00 (approx. current Amazon price at time of writing). I’d estimate I’ve spent somewhere around 60-80 hours with the Fidelio L2 so far.


    The pair I have is part of a mini tour, and will be returned to d marc0 after I’ve completed the review. I’m not affiliated in any way with Philips, and this is my subjective opinion of the Fidelio L2.

    PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'. (or a base-line for interpreting my thoughts and bias)

    I'm a 48 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile – I just love my music. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up. I vary my listening from portable (Fiio X5, X3ii and iPhone 5S) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > coax > NFB-12 > LD MKIV > HP). I also use a portable set-up at work – either X5/X3ii > HP, or PC > Beyer A200p > HP. My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Beyer T1 and Sennheiser HD600. Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs - and up till now it has mainly been with the Fidue A83, Dunu Titan and Altone200. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).

    I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences. I am not treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880.

    I have extensively tested myself (abx) and I find aac256 or higher completely transparent. I do use exclusively redbook 16/44.1 if space is not an issue. All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line).

    I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables, and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’. I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 48, my hearing is less than perfect.

    For the purposes of this review - I mainly used the Fidelio L2 straight from the headphone-out socket of my Fiio X3ii, and NFB-12, but also used (at different times) my X5, iPhone 5S, and Beyer A200p when at work. I have noticed no significant changes in the overall sonic presentation, other than becoming more used to the signature of the L2 as I used them more often (brain burn-in).

    This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.



    The Fidelio L2 arrived in a largish retail box and lid. The lid has a nice phot of the L2 on the front, and on one side has specifications. On the rear is a little “marketing speak” on the design and drivers – in English and eight other languages. The box is mainly black with orange accenting (similar to the headphones), and the white text on the box, thought small is pretty legible.

    fideliaL202.jpg fideliaL203.jpg fideliaL204.jpg

    Front of retail box

    Rear of retail box

    Retail box in profile

    Opening the box reveals foam cushioning in the lid, and normally would have the headphones in a moulded plastic inner (Mark didn’t send this – but I have seen an unboxing with it included). Under the plastic mould, you get a soft cloth bag, booklet, 3.5 to 6.3 mm adaptor, and two cables – one normal, and one with smart-phone controls. I won’t be reviewing the smartphone cable – as Mark didn’t include it when he sent the L2 to me.

    fideliaL205.jpg fideliaL206.jpg fideliaL221.jpg

    Interior of box (normal mould was missing from this sample)

    Accessories - one cable was missing from sample I received

    Fidelio L2 inside cloth carry case

    The carry bag is a soft almost velour like material on the outside, and a faux satin material on the inside. It closes with an orange draw string. While it is perfectly functional, a more practical and protective case would have been a nice touch.

    (From Philips)

    Semi-open circumaural portable headphone
    Dynamic full sized – 40mm
    Frequency Range
    12 Hz – 25 Khz
    16 ohm
    105 dB (assuming at 1 kHz & 1 Vrms)
    < 0.1% (not stated how it was measured)
    3.5mm gold plated straight jack
    1.2m single sided, removable (3.5mm connector - proprietory)
    266g (including cable)


    I’ve included the graph from Innerfidelity (thanks Tyll). What I’m noticing first is a very clear mid-range, and the quality of the vocals are definitely a strong point. Bass seems quite natural, and seems to extend relatively well. Treble is clear and clean without being overly fatiguing – it does have a bit of a peak though, and quite a bright, clear overall signature.


    At first glance, the Fidelio L2 looks both very stylish, and also really well made. Closer inspection confirms the amount of thought and quality that has gone into the overall design decisions. Starting with the headband, it appears to be quite flexible, and I would guess internally it is a spring steel with foam padding for comfort. The headband is designed to mould around your head, to avoid pressure points, and is covered with a soft pleather. The stitching is in orange thread which complements the overall design.

    fideliaL209.jpg fideliaL218.jpg fideliaL217.jpg

    Very robust design with excellent quality parts

    Headband has very good padding

    Headband is nicely shaped, but still tended to have top pressure point

    The extenders are metal, and slide with a nice firm click. There is a measurement system on the inside of the band, so once you have your ideal size dialled in you can very quickly adjust before you put the headphones on. The connecting arm looks very robust, and I can see these lasting quite well with extended use. The extenders go down a good 40-50mm each side, so should accommodate most people.

    The extenders are affixed to a ring mount which allows the earcups to rotate around both axis, and this allows a very good fit. This is also metal and looks very sturdy. Both cups can be folded inwards (flat) for wearing around the neck, or packing flat for travel.

    fideliaL211.jpg fideliaL212.jpg fideliaL213.jpg

    Very nice adjustment on the headphone yokes

    3.5mm connector - note the indents for the cable

    Cable connected

    The ear cups themselves have a metal main shell, mesh at the rear of the drivers, and are covered with a very soft pleather over memory foam. The drivers are protected by a cloth covering. Unfortunately the earpads are designed to be non-removable (although I’m pretty sure you could remove them – just replacing them might be an issue).

    According to Philips, the drivers themselves are “pre-tilted, matching the ear cup's natural angle directs the sound straight into the ear canal. This means much less of the coloration that can occur when sound reflects off the outer ear, together with a more realistic soundstage and enhanced comfort”.

    fideliaL219.jpg fideliaL220.jpg fideliaL214.jpg

    Cups are high quality with full movement for adjustment

    Pads are very soft and accommodate my ears brilliantly

    Cups swivel inward one way (able to lie flat)

    The cable is detachable, one-sided entry, 3.5mm at both ends, but has a proprietary connecting mechanism at the ear cup. However, I’d imagine any 3.5mm connector should work – it’s just that the connector Philips uses on the L2 helps it stay in a little better. The connector is also designed in such a way that if there is a major trauma on the cable (gets violently tugged), it will disconnect itself. The cable that Mark included is covered with a fine woven cloth exterior , can be slightly microphonic (not so if tucked inside clothing), and is reasonable flexible.

    Unfortunately I can’t make any comment regarding the 2nd cable with smartphone controls as it wasn’t included with this tour unit – but you do definitely get one with a purchased L2.

    fideliaL208.jpg fideliaL207.jpg fideliaL215.jpg

    Connector to the headphones

    Cable and jack (single sided)

    Overall - the L2 "style" is simply stunning IMO

    The jack is standard straight 3.5mm , gold plated, has good strain relief, and easily fits my iPhone5S, even when the case is on.

    Overall, the build quality is absolutely excellent – very robust, and I can see why they only felt the need to include a cloth carry bag rather than a harder case (however I still think a better carry case would have been preferable).


    Style is always going to be a personal thing – and from the first time I saw the Fidelio L2, my immediate thought was that it looked gorgeous (its chic black look with orange highlights), and extremely stylish. This is a headphone I’d have no issues wearing out and about. On me, the headband does extend slightly away from my head (doesn’t mould completely around), but still looks pretty good for street wear.

    For comfort, I have almost no issues with the L2 at all – save for the headband. After about an hour or two, I get a slight pressure spot on the very top of my head – but often a quick readjustment and I’m good to go again. YMMV with this though.

    The earpads are extremely soft, and my ears fit inside the cups nicely with no pressure points. In fact these cups are exactly what the recently reviewed Ubranite XL should have been modelled on IMO. The internal measurement of the cups is approx. 60mm long, 40mm at its widest point, and pretty close to 25mm deep. The memory foam is also very high quality, and springs back nicely after being compressed.

    For a semi open headphone, they actually isolate pretty good. In an open plan office environment, while I could still hear those around me with music off, it didn’t take much volume to isolate myself. More importantly, as long as the music is not too loud, there is not a lot of leakage. Someone sitting next to you will hear it, but someone 12 feet away, not so much. Enough isolation to use while walking for example, but not going to be useful in a really noisy environment (or a really quiet one – eg library – leakage).


    The following is what I hear from the Philips Fidelio L2. YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline). Most of the testing at this point (unless otherwise stated) was done with my Fiio X3 gen 2 and NFB-12.

    Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.
    Thoughts on General Signature

    If I was to describe the signature in a few words – I’d choose the words “clear”, “vivid”, and “clean (dark background)”.

    From my first listen, I fell in love with the sound signature of the Fidelio L2. Three weeks later, and I still enjoy every moment with them. They can seem slightly bright at first listen, but once my ears adjust, they settle to be incredibly coherent, quite mid forward (vocals, guitar etc are startlingly clear and “alive”), but they also possess a pretty quick and agile bass than can actually reach pretty low.

    Overall Detail / Clarity
    In a word – stellar, or stunning, or stupendous! The L2 has an absolutely crystal clear presentation, and shows the sort of resolution of overall detail that my T1 normally brings to the table. With both Steely Dan’s “Gaucho”, and Dire Strait’s “Sultans of Swing”, all the minute details were there and presented stunningly. Gauchos opening sax contrasted beautifully with the bass guitar, and it was the cymbal hits and slow trail off that was absolutely intoxicating. Vocals were beautifully blended in – a truly wonderful presentation of a track I know pretty well. “Sultans” was similar – and also a good taste of how well male vocals could be presented. The only critique I’d have is that at times the upper end bordered on almost becoming peaky – but that’s all it was (getting close but not crossing the line).

    Sound-stage & Imaging
    I started with my usual go-to track - Amber Rubarth’s binaural recording “Tundra” – to test soundstage and imaging.

    The first thing I noticed was the clarity and overall imaging. The L2 was very easy to pinpoint not only direction but also comparative depth. It doesn’t have an overly large stage – extending just outside head with this track, as though the instruments were playing around me – but intimate (6-10 feet away) rather than expansive. The separation is impressive – and I’m still amazed by the overall clarity of this headphone.

    Switching to Loreena McKennitt’s “Dante’s Prayer”, and once again I’m struck by the imaging and separation of instruments. McKennet is close, the piano slightly further back, and cello off to the side slightly. This is honestly like listening to a cross between the HD600 and T1 – and it really does floor you when you realise how good this driver is. Queue the applause at the end, and I’m transported into the crowd – but not only that I’m hearing sounds that are usually masked on other headphones (the cello being rested against a chair). It’s enough to give me chills, and anything that engages me this much is really something special.

    The last test was switching to Amanda Marshall’s “Let It Rain” (quite a holographic and 3D presentation in this recording). The sense of space is still quite intimate – but the imaging continues to impress.

    Bass Quality and Quantity
    So we know the L2 nails imaging and clarity – what about the bass?

    First test track for me is always Mark Lanegan’s “Bleeding Muddy Water”. This blues rock track is dark, brooding, and has bass that is normally visceral – and the Fidelio L2 handled it wonderfully. The bass was taught, impactful, and showed controlled power. Mark’s vocals were clear, with excellent timbre, and the L2 displayed the gravelly roughness that Mark employs with aplomb.

    Time to see how low the bass would go – so switched to Lorde’s “Royals” (my sub-bass test) – and this presentation is stunning. There is just enough bass to give impact without overpowering, and when the bass guitar kicks in, the sub-bass rumble is definitely there. Again I’m impressed by the overall quality of the bass though – no hollowness or mush – just clean, and quick (and low). Also, Ella’s vocals are crystal clear, and euphonic – just magic.

    Female Vocals
    My early litmus test is usually queuing Agnes Obel – as some of her recordings can become quite strident or shouty if the mids aren’t quite right. The L2 is not just good – it is perfect with this track. It is so vivid and uplifting, and then the cello kicks in with a marvellous low tonality. Honestly – this is as good as I’ve heard this track.

    Now it’s time to run through my usual medley of other tracks from artists including London Grammar, Angus & Julia Stone, Christina Perri, Gabriella Cilmi, Feist, Florence and the Machine, Lianne La Havas and Norah Jones. No matter what I played, track after track the L2 just kept reaching new heights in presentation, and I had to continually pull myself back to the review. It would be just too easy to get lost in what I was hearing. Vocals were euphonic, crystal clear, and mesmerising. Time and again I was awestruck by how much emotion was conveyed on each track I played. Vivid and involving would be an understatement! And then when the bass slam hit with FATM and Feist I was instantly reminded of how much fun this presentation could be as well. Cilmi gave me chills once again with “Safer” (this girl has wonderful “pipes”), and Norah was simply sublime.

    Male Vocals
    Dragging myself away from my female vocalists was difficult, but I needed to go to the other end of the spectrum. Kicking off with 3 Doors Down “Away from the Sun”, and the first thing that hits is how nice the combo of guitar and drum sounds, and then Brad’s voice kicks in and once again that clarity of the vocal presentation is apparent. The acoustic presentation and cohesion is really good – and this is repeated as I skim through tracks by Alter Bridge, Breaking Benjamin, the Eagles (Hotel California’s intro is amazing), Green Day, Nils Lofgren and Seether. The L2 has everything really good rock needs – wonderful speed, clarity and timbre, good bass impact, and ability to contrast really well. Acoustic rock especially is a real standout (Nils Lofgrens’ “Keith Don’t Go” was phenomenal).

    Time again for my usual litmus test – Pearl Jam. Vedder’s voice is brilliant with the Fidelio L2 – the timbre and ability to convey emotion is captivating. What really stuns though is the level of detail and separation in the track – cymbal splash, guitar, snare hits ….. it’s just a truly wonderful rendition of one of my favourite tracks.

    Genre Specific Notes
    I’m not going to run through this in detail this time as I’d rather look at the L2 in contrast to my other full sized headphones. But I did run through my usual test tracks (http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks), and the L2 handled everything I threw at them with ease.

    It would be hard to list standout tracks as well – because everything I played just sounded brilliant on the Fidelio L2. But if I had to choose 4 tracks to give you a short taste, they would be:

    1. Porcupine Tree’s “Trains” – the cohesion between Wilson’s vocals and the other instruments was seamless, and the bass was dynamic, clean and the whole track has tremendous clarity.
    2. Alison Krauss & Union Station’s “Dust Bowl Children” - the L2 is just incredible with stringed instruments, and the banjo in the track was simply magical. It just got better when the double bass and other instruments kicked in.
    3. Netrebko & Garanca with Lakme’s “Flower Duet” – the ability to convey the depth of emotion and clarity of vocals as an instrument is one of the strong points of the L2. This track was breath taking, and it did manage to convey some of the sense of space that I know is present in this performance.
    4. Zoe Keating’s “Escape Artist” – for the L2’s portrayal of the timbre and tonality of a magical Cello performance. If you want to see a true artist at work – I’d suggest trying his link to see Zoe at work (it is inspiring) -


    The Fidelio L2 is easily powered straight out of the portable devices I have, and although I tested it with both the X3ii – both unamped and amped with the E11K, I haven’t noticed any difference in actual dynamics. On my iPhone 5S most tracks were perfect at around 50% volume. The one thing I did like about using the L2 with the E11K though was just the addition of the hardware bass boost. It is subtle, but just added a tiny bit of bottom end warmth that I personally found enjoyable. Bottom line though, the L2 is designed to run perfectly out of a portable device – so amping isn’t a requirement, but a choice.


    This was an interesting one because there isn’t too much I’d change with the L2’s signature. But I do know the L2 may be a little peaky with brighter tracks for some people, so I endeavoured (with my trusty X3ii equaliser) to take some of the brightness in the mid-range out (a shallow “smiley” cut between 1K and 4K), while at the same time boosting the sub bass. The L3 responded well and became a little less mid focussed and a little warmer. So from my brief trial I’d suggest that the L2 can be moulded quite well to personal individual tastes via EQ. Whether you want to play with this will be very much individual preference.


    This is simply going to be a very rough comparison (on sonics) with the other full sized open headphones I have on hand – the HD600, and Beyer T1.

    1. L2 vs HD600
      1. The first thing I noticed was that the Fidelio L2 is actually clearer and cleaner than the HD600 – quite a feat.
      2. Soundstage is very similar with the HD600 slightly better on width and depth
      3. Both have a very similar bass impact relative to the mid-range, with the L2 maybe hitting just a fraction harder.
      4. Overall I’d still say the HD600 portrays timbre better, and sounds more natural. The Fidelio has more detail, but sounds a little more etched.
      5. Both are outstanding headphones. The HD600 is definitely more comfortable for long term listening.
    2. L2 vs T1
      1. This time the boot is on the other foot – the T1 is cleaner and more refined. The clarity on both is very good though.
      2. Compared to the L2, the T1 sounds slightly thin – the L2 has more lower end, and a little more thickness to the mid-range
      3. Soundstage and imaging definitely goes to the T1 – a lot more spacious, and really good portrayal within the space available. L2 is a lot more intimate.
      4. L2 definitely has more bass impact – and it is even more noticeable because of the more intimate stage.
      5. Timbre is very good on both, and both are tilted more toward the brighter end of the frequency range.
      6. Overall I’d call the T1 more balanced, but slightly bright – where the L2 in direct comparison has more of a V shape – but is fuller and richer.


    The Philips Fidelio L2 is simply a wonderful headphone, and in the first week of having it with me, it simply blew me away with its tonality, clarity, and ability to sound excellent across most genres. In fact, at the end of the first week, I was even seriously contemplating selling my HD600s as I was enjoying this headphone so much.

    Over the next two weeks, my opinion of the L2 hasn’t changed – I still regard it extremely highly, but I won’t be selling the HD600s.

    What the L2 brings to the table is a portable semi-open headphone that is pretty comfortable, very stylish, and has excellent build. It sounds phenomenal – very clean and detailed, and an extremely black background allowing for excellent separation of instruments, and wonderful imaging ability.

    The fact that the L2 is made by Philips (really!) and possesses a driver that is nothing short of stunning, has really made me sit up and take notice – and I will look forward to seeing what else the release in the coming years.
    I would thoroughly and unreservedly recommend this headphone to friends and family, and at a price of around USD 225.00 (Amazon) it represents very good value for money.

    I will really regret having to post these back to Australia next week – but just wanted to acknowledge Mark once again for the loaner. Thankyou for giving me the opportunity with these, my friend. I can see that I will probably have to go out and buy a pair at some stage.


    My recommendations are pretty simple – and hopefully they may be addressed in future models:

    • Don’t change the SQ.
    • If you can – work on the headband. A little softer padding around the crown is all that is needed.
    • A harder carry case would be a great addition.
    • Replaceable earpads these days are a must. It wouldn’t take much to implement.

    And finally – thanks for creating such a wonderful headphone.

    1. View previous replies...
    2. Brooko
      Thanks again for the comments. Leo - I still absolutely rate them and will pick up a pair if I can find them at the right price. In the interim I have purchased a pair of closed AKG K553, and while not as portable, they are filling a missing niche in my collection. More on them soon.
      Brooko, Jul 17, 2015
    3. Rchandra
      quick question do you remember if the screws where it says fidelio, do you remember them being a different shade then the stiching at the top of the headband, the headband has orange stiching mine has orange stiching however the screw seems to be a bit of a reddish color not matching the orange on the headband.
      Rchandra, Jul 28, 2015
    4. Brooko
      Sorry mate - I no longer have them - so the only thing you can do is judge by the photos I took.  They were all taken in natural light (outdoors) - so colours should be reasonably accurate.
      Brooko, Jul 28, 2015
  6. wolfjeanne
    Excellent all-rounder
    Written by wolfjeanne
    Published Sep 15, 2014
    Pros - Sturdy, quite good looking, balanced sound, good all-rounder, excellent layering, impactfull bass, clear mids, airy highs, seems to scale well
    Cons - non-removable earpads, some comfort issues, (obviously) little sound isolation, not the retro-cool looks of the L1
    Update 2: . I've been using these for over 2.5 years now, so an update might be appreciated by some of you. Let me first say some words on the durability, since most tests don't cover such a long period, and then comment on their sound and value for money.
    The pads were what most people, including me, were most worried about in terms of durability, but the left one is only now showing some wear, and the right one is still completely fine. Moreover, some posts over on the L2 thread suggest that replacement is actually quite doable. The headband is showing some use marks though in two places. The first one is purely cosmetic, with the leather losing it's blackness near the ear cups because this is the contact point when putting the headphones down flat. The second one is a bit more serious: the metal plates on the ends of the headband both have cracked around some of the screws. The other screws are keeping things in place, so no real problems, but it is a point of concern. I noticed a couple of months ago that the screws linking the headband to the cups got a bit loose, giving the cups some room to wiggle. 2 minutes with a small screw driver fixed that problem. All in all, the L2 is holding up great, especially considering the abuse I've put them through. A hard case would sometimes have been a good idea I guess, since the included bag offers only limited protection.
    As for the sound, I still love them a lot. My overall impressions have not changed much: the L2's confidently walk the line between emotion and analytical capabilities, providing a good to excellent sound for almost any type of music you throw at them. Fairly neutral with some added warmth down low and slightly elevated upper-mids to highs, creating a spacious effortless sound signature. Reading my comments on the sound stage I must admit that I perhaps gave them too high praise. For semi-open headphones it is decent, but not amazing; compared to, say, an open sennheiser HD650, or even their bigger brother, the X2, the L2's are markedly more intimate.
    The value these headphones represent then is amazing, especially since prices have dropped quite a bit. If these headphones lie within your budget and you are a musical omnivore, I would whole-heartedly recommend them. I would even say that I would recommend them over the X2 simply because the sound signature is much more to my liking (though I cannot comment on the version of that headphone introduced at CES 2017 since I have not heard them). I like these headphones from the first moment I tried them, and that love has transformed over time into a happy marriage, where I know I can depend on them to play me my music in a way that I enjoy. And ultimately, that is what matters most for a headphone.

    Update 1: replaced cable, see bottom

    As a precautionary remark: this is the first headphone review I have ever written - although I have read a lot of them; moreover these are the first pair of headphones I own in this price class, so I might be overly enthusiastic. I did listen to quite a lot of competitors in stores before deciding to buy the L2 and did some A-B'ing afterwards though. Right, enough gibberish; onwards to the review!
    How I got there - previous headphones and buying the L2's
    I think it is important to know what I was used to so that one can place this review in perspective. I have had quite a lot of headphones since I used to break the cable pretty soon. My first proper headphones were very bass heavy (I think they even had XB for extra bass on them) Sonys of about 40 euros. They broke after less than half a year and were replaced for the much better Phillips SHP8500 at around the same price. Those held out for little more than a year and were then replaced by AKG k530's - again, good value for money although very ugly and not very exciting. When those broke I had some cheaper headphones to accommodate my student budget and apparent habit of breaking headphones. I really wanted good headphones again though so when I was in New York where the price tags had the same numbers as in my home country of the Netherlands only with the euro-sign replaced with a dollar one, I seized my chance and bought Shure SRH-440's. Their replaceable cables should eliminate most of the durability issues.
    Well, they did. However, after a year of very heavy use I started to find them a bit boring. They were just too good at being analytical. Also, there was a sort of bright veil over many songs. I do not know how to better describe it; all the highs seem to blend in and form a layer of highs, especially in rock songs. First I bought a USB DAC to use on my laptop, the asynchronous HiFiMeDIY sabre 2. This did improve the sound, but did not really make them more fun to listen to. My search for a new headphone had begun.
    I tried a lot of models, and was most taken by the Sennheiser momentum. I did not much like the on-ear model, but the over-ear model is very good indeed, although a bit over my budget. The Beyerdynamic Custom One were also high on my watch-list, especially since I could have a bass heavy sound if I would feel like it. However when trying them in the store I felt that the gap with the momentums in terms of sound quality was too big. Sadly, this difference is also reflected in the price. I couldn't really go over 150 euros, which also ruled out the excellent sounding AKG Q701.
    Enter the Philips outlet store. Some two months ago they had a L2 in an opened package for exactly that price. I could not find a store to audition them, but after a lot of reading (check the thread on this forum, this was also helpful) decided it was too good an opportunity to let pass by. And I'm glad I didn't.
    The musical chameleon that is me - music I listen to and gear I use
    My musical taste is quite broad. It tends to change a lot depending on the mood I am in. I listen a lot of post-rock, indie rock and "regular" rock, but also quite a bit of minimalistic piano music, classical music, pop, various sorts of metal, Drum 'n Bass, techno, grunge, folk, sometimes rap, ambient, and, and... Let's just say that putting my entire music library on shuffle is a contrast rich and very... interesting experience.
    Most of my music is 320kb/s mp3, but there is also a considerable amount of WAV (my old CD's) and Flac (one of my friends preferred ripping formats). Lower quality songs are also possible, but I think it suffices to say that with the Philips fidelio L2's one can quite accurately judge the quality of the recording. It is not a forgiving headphone.
    I listen to music for hours on end. On the road I use my Sony xperia SP smartphone with a 64 GB sd-card. When I am using my laptop I use that, often with the before mentioned sabre 2 DAC.
    Wearing and looking: a mixed pleasure - Design, comfort and built
    I really liked the design of the first fidelio line of headphones. The L1 in my opinion was a better looking headphone than the L2, mainly because of the colour of the metal. Philips has changed the aluminium for a gun-metal like finish which just does not provide the same contrast. The orange stitching on the headband tries to make up for this, but does not quite cut it. Philips managed to remove the rather flimsy looking cables going to the ear cups in the L2 though, and, although less beautiful, the new frame should be sturdier. Indeed, build quality seems very good. The 3.5 mm removable cable of course being a big plus. There have been some complaints that the supplied cables would have a negative impact on the sound quality, but they are rather pleasant in use and so far I haven’t broken them so I have not replaced them. The remote is a bit silly looking and only has one button –no volume controls– but works well, and both supplied nylon cables remain quite tangle free.
    There are few negative points in terms of build quality, one of them being the orange screws used in the hinges. Not because they are orange, but because they are plastic. I have never heard anyone break this, but it seems like an odd thing to do to me; how expensive can it be to just use quality metal screws? The earpads form another point of concern, since they are not replaceable.
    The earpads are comfortable though. I have changed the pads on my SRH-440 for 840 pads at some point, and they are very comparable. If anything the fidelio's pads are a bit softer still. Moreover, the openness of these headphones ensures that my ears will not easily overheat. The headphones are not very heavy either and the headband moves in different positions with a reassuring click.
    So what is keeping this headphone from getting a very good score in comfort? Well, the headband mainly. The L2 creates a pressure point on top of my head which gets annoying after prolonged use. It is not as bad as with my Shure 440's, especially when wearing the cups a bit lower on my head than I was used to; it is not painful, just somewhat unpleasant. The swivelling mechanism in the cups does put slightly more pressure on the front of the pads than on the back, but this is not in any way bothersome to me.
    In terms of portability it is a bit of an odd duck. The cups do tilt fully downward, but the headphones are not collapsible. Personally, I think this makes for better around-the-neck-wearing, but these being full-sized headphones does make it harder to pack them into ones bag. The supplied soft case of a pleasant soft velvet-like fabric does not really help either, but does signal that these headphones are designed to do just that.
    When walking around outdoors I am certainly not afraid to be wearing these headphones, for one part because I think they are quite beautiful, for another because I can still hear the traffic around me reasonably well - better at least than with my closed-back cans. For commuting these headphones are far from ideal for the exact same reason. I tend to switch to my in-ears in those instances. When you, like me and a lot of other Dutch people commute by bike, the open backs make for a safer option, but the wind makes too much noise over the ear cups to really enjoy the music.
    All in all the design of these headphones is quite good. They are not very radical looking, but still quite beautiful. The plastic screws and non-removable pads seem to be the only possible issues with these otherwise very well built headphones. The headband can become uncomfortable after some hours, but otherwise comfort is superb. Transportability is not great, and outdoor use limited, so these are desk and relax headphones to me: great when sitting in a (semi-) quiet room, either playing background music, or playing music for the sake of music.
    A very good balance all around - General sound description
    I will take some songs to highlight specific aspects later on, but first let me make some more general remarks on the sound.
    As the subtitle already indicates, the fidelio l2 keeps a balance at all fronts, at least to my taste. The sound is quite analytical and can be unforgiving, but it is never dull. Certainly, it is not a boomy, club-like sounding pair of headphones. Bass is controlled, tight, but clearly present. I've heard say that the L1 lacked highs, but this is certainly not the case with the L2. The highs are remarkably well layered, more so than when I compared it to the Sennheiser momentum. Violins, high-hats, cymbals, everything up high is clearly separable and present, but hardly ever sharp. Mids too are good, and especially with acoustic guitars and similar instruments pleasantly warm. Sometimes though I would like it if there would be a bit more warmth coming from the lower-mids to give especially male vocals, piano chords and electric guitar chords a deeper sound.
    This should only be a very tiny bit though, because it would most probably also make the sound less clear and snappy. Combined with the open backs their current clarity makes for a very airy yet textured listening experience. Instead of a wall of sound hitting you, now you feel every individual brick without any stone being much more prominent than another. The sound is a bit less aggressive than the momentums, but more refined and detailed, and mostly very enjoyable. The soundstage is sort of comparable to my AKG k530's in terms of wideness, but mostly a bit wider, especially with violins and the likes. For the rest I only have closed backs to compare it to, and the fidelio beats every single one of them although the Shure SRH-440 gives them a good run for their money.
    The last remark I would like to make in terms of sound is that the fit of these headphones depends also on it's exact position on my head. The difference is subtle but definitely audible. I am not sure if the drivers are angled, but if they are that might explain this characteristic. It is not particularly bothersome, but I had to get used to wearing my headphones a bit more to the back of my head, with the cushioning almost at the base of my ear for the optimal sound.
    The sound engineers at Philips are said -by Philips, I should mention- to have worked for a great many hours on tweaking the sound of their headphones to what the general public wants. Well, apparently I have a normal taste, because these headphones just work with most any song I throw at it. It does not specialise in any particular genre -although it does perform better in some, but is just a great all-rounder. For the money I paid for it, I think one would be hard-pressed to find a better pair of headphones.
    Mono- :pure as Snow Some of the best Japanese post-rock out there. Also a very good track to test headphones with, because the sheer chaos of high-pitched sounds towards the end can obscure the intricate details of the orchestra. When I first listened to this track with the L2, I was surprised to the wideness of the violins especially. The sound of the guitars at the beginning is more.. fluid than at the end, where the notes seem to scream and squeal with high, dry notes. Apart from the cymbals and the soundstage, which are a lot better on the l2, the immediate difference with my 440's is not very large. The 440's sound lighter, less impactfull than the L2's. This makes it easier to sort of see the whole musical piece, rather than focusing on one of the layers of instruments. The difference becomes larger when playing through my DAC. I have to make more of an effort to listen
    Of Monsters and Men - King and Lionheart From the same album as the hit "little talks", this isn't a very demanding song. It is very fun to listen to though. Especially the vibrating tones of the guitar gain a lot of depth. The overall sound is rather soft and smooth.
    Guns N’ Roses – Paradise City This track is great at showing of the L2’s ability for layering. The two guitars can be easily distinguished. When the song comes to an end it gets a bit more messy especially in the high-mids; the wicked bass lines can be heard through it all though. The biggest surprise however is in the introduction. The high-hats seemed a bit tad too sharp, but then the vocals kick in, and I could clearly hear bass vocals that I had never noticed before. Now that I know they are there, I notice them too with my Shures, but their level of detail is just not on par with the L2’s.
    Seether – Sold Me The open airy sound is something that can make rock songs especially lose some of their direct impact, which is exactly what shows with this song. As the song progresses through towards the chorus the guitars lose their heaviness and fail to really impress. In the much rawer and arguably simpler song love her from the same album this issue is avoided much better; the same goes for the majority of the other songs on this album. In general, the L2 is good at rock music, but the hard-hitting directness is exchanged at least to some extent for a wider soundstage. In some songs this is just a bit more bothersome than others.
    Infected Mushroom – Becoming Insane Time for some electronics. This track absolutely blows me away, especially with my DAC hooked up. Bass has impact, the sound is very aggressive, the soundstage is enormous, the details are maddening – no doubt as intended.
    Enter Shikari – Gandhi Mate, Gandhi The intro just begs to turn op the volume, which leads to an ear shattering explosion of synths mixed with metal guitars later on. The vocals here somehow seem to be more recessed when compared to other headphones, which is a bit of a shame. After the second break, the slow pumping seemingly monotonous but very detailed ending makes up for this though. When the shuffle on my computer switches to the song system, the intro on the same album the vocals come across crystal clear, and the violins really add an extra dimension of floating spacious wonder. The L2’s do this nearly every time violins come in. The metal song Mothership shows could do with a bit more attack from the L2’s; I was hoping for more especially from the guitar chords that sometimes seem to miss a bit of weight. The next song I hear is constellations, and with my volume still turned up too far, I get lost for a while. I forget to think about judging the headphones and just feel the music. Absolutely wonderful.
    Kyteman – Sorry (live) I would prefer it if the headphones could give a bit more warmth to the trumpet, but I think that just is not in the recording. Never the less, this is an amazing song that never fails to have it’s almost nostalgic influence on me, carrying me away in two and a half minute.
    Valravn – Koder Pa Snor There seems to be so much crawling around under the skin of this song. The supremely dark atmosphere is minorly (not a proper word, I know) affected by the lightness of the L2, making it a bit less immersive than it could have been, but the layering and details again are excellent, which pays off in the second half of the song mainly.
    Arvo Pärt – Spiegel im Spiegel (version with cello) Although originally composed for piano and violin, I have always preferred the version with cello. It is one of the most hauntingly beautiful pieces of minimal music that I have ever come across. The fidelo does everything right. Remember me saying that I would sometimes prefer a bit more warmth from the piano chords? Not here. The chords have an excellent timbre, and sound very intimate while the high notes appear fragile, their ostinato falling into the soundscape of my mind like raindrops. The cello adds a layer of rawness and vibrates somewhere between the piano notes. An excellent song to end with I’d say.
    Update on cables: Although the stock cables still show no sign of breaking, I ordered a procab classic series since they were on sale and I was ordering other cables anyway. I am not sure if the effects are just placebo - A-B'ing is hard when you need to take the time to replace the cable in between, but I think it does improve sound quality. Bass seems to get a tad more impact and especially the updder mids and highs are more textured and dynamic - I did not even know that only highs can sound more dynamic, but that is how it sounds to me. This sound makes it more suitable for rock especially, which is great since that was the only area it was not above par with the competition. I still do not believe in buying very expensive cables since I think that money is better invested in buying a better headphone or DAC or source material, but replacing the cables to something of a decent quality is worthwhile here. 
    Take note though that the end that connects to the headphone should be rather slim. The procabs I bought make a dent in the softish black covered foam that extends from the housing. See the picture head-fi has of the L2 if you don't know what I mean by that.

      daerron, bloster and Jakkal like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. audiohurric4ne
      this or the msr7 ? i listen to rock/metal mostly
      audiohurric4ne, Jan 13, 2015
    3. wolfjeanne
      I have never heard the msr7 myself, but they seem really good from the couple of things I read. Somewhat more neutral sounding, though the spaciousness of the AT msr7 can probably not keep up with the l2, since the l2 is a semi-open headphone.
      I would recommend going to a store to try them out - if you can find a store that carries them that is.
      wolfjeanne, Jan 13, 2015
    4. wolfjeanne
      Sorry for the double post, but I can not seem to edit my previous post.
      What I wanted to add is that it might be more effective to ask that question at the l2 thread, since there is a lot more people commenting there : http://www.head-fi.org/t/681147/philips-fidelio-l2
      wolfjeanne, Jan 13, 2015


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