Philips Fidelio X2

General Information

The Philips Fidelio X2 is an over-ear headphone, in a similar vein as the Fidelio X1.

Latest reviews

Pros: Comfortable for long periods.
Neutral sound yet with an economy of precision
Much more bass
Cons: A bit heavy
Velour fabric gathers dust like crazy.
To be totally honest, I went for the Fidelio a bit biased. I own several pairs SHP2000 and have always considered the name Fidelio as the highest form of Hi-Fi. Therefore, you may say im a Philips fanboy....

Yes and no. What drew me to the SHP2000 was its cheap price and what you get for it. 40mm angled drivers, velour pads and minimalist design. Open back too. What more could you want for 20$. Well, headband cushion would be nice, but cant complain for the price. Nor cant complain about the neutral sound with lots of bass. Perfect as a commuter headset that allows you to hear traffic while having the guts to punch some tunes when it gets quiet. And since they were cheap, not a big loss to replace them every 2-3 years when they got worn form all the dust, sun, rain, sweat and so on.

But something was missing. At that point I had heard Sennheisers, Koss, AKG. Even a couple of planars. High range was lacking in comparison. Even the mellow bass seemed lacking. What I needed...was a proper headset.

Then I remembered an ad I saw years ago about the first Fidelio X1. Instantly hooked on the classic curves and beefy grill. And thats what drew me to the Fidelios. The look. The average, classical clean look. Nothing fancy, but not lacking in style in any way. In a way, a more royal form to everything else.

And then came the magic moment I got a pair if X2HR-s. To be honest, I was not blown away, like with Senneheisers. I was not amazed like I had with planars. It felt like I was listening to SHP2000-s...but with a bit more volume. I really had to listen to the subtle difference in high range clarity and punchy bass. The funny thing is...I could listen to them, even concentrate on finding "it"

Reason being these headphones are the most comfortable pair I have ever tried. And even when they are full metal and weigh almost 2x to any Sennheiser or AKG. You simply cant notice them for extended periods of time. Elastic headband conforms perfectly to your head and the big velour memory foam cushions form a nice contact over the ears. Pressure has been well established with metal hoops and the leather binder is un-commonly sturdy. The metal construction has no creaks, no rattles.

And then comes the reproduction. Everyone will say its neutral, un-offensive, pleasing. Yet, somehow its has more bass than most of its competitors. Thanks to the 50mm drivers, they ought to have. Couple of other tricks Philips engineers pulled are angled drivers and very well tuned reflex port. Angled drivers point the radiation pattern away from your ear canals, allowing a passive filtering by manipulating radiating patterns. And the reflex port allows just enough rear end to bleed through to boost the bass.

All this coupled with neodynium motors and you have a pair if headphones that are...average. Nothing special, they do the job. And you might be thinking: thats a bit anti-climactic.

But here is the genius of Philips. While everyone else is busy making THE BEST, nailing the average takes more skill. It takes more skill to make something that you are not going to get tired of (which I was after a short period of time with fore mentioned high-end headphones) even after many many hours. Something that works and does it with classy elegance. And the best part is: Fidelio X2HR costs around 200$/€/£. Thats 2-3x less than most other high-end offerings. The funny thing is...you can get the same neutral warm sound for only 1/10th of the price too.

So to sum up this, I thought I would borrow from Old Top Gear and something either Clarkson, May or Hammond would have said. Comparing a modern hypercar to a beautiful classic. Its not difficult to put a 1000Hp engine in a body styled to look like a jet fighter, everybody is doing it. And its fun for that little while until you get scared or tired from spinning around all day. But if you have an old Jaguar E-type, you get the sensation of an average handling car that sounds magnificent, looks absolutely stunning. Is comfortable to drive...and does so for as long as there is a sunny summer road. And THAT is the essence of a car!
Pros: Sturdy build quality
Cons: Grainy sound
Uneven midrange
Metallic timbre
Uncomfortable and fatiguing
I have since sold these headphones after experiencing much better.

These headphones gave me a poor taste of high end audio and ruined my enthusiasm. I preferred the shp9500s to this and akg k712s/612s do what this attempts to do in a more agreeable package.

Let's start with the bass. The extension was quite limited and in fact all it was, was a mid bass bump. Instead of feeling the punch of a kickdrum or the reverberance of a bass guitar all you got was a warm blanket of enveloping distorting bass with no physicality. It wasn't controlled enough to feel like a good warm headphone.

The lower mids were sucked out, making sounds come across as distant, I'll come onto this in soundstage again, but it's a really poor quality. Listening more closely you notice a lot of the lower mids are smoothed over quite often the seperation between different notes and tones are merged together. Reducing fundamentals to simply a noise, it sounded quite disjointed and didn't feel real.

The upper mids are bumped on these which could easily five people the impression that it has got smooth Vocals with presence. However the presence region is inaccurate and ultimately the subtle dip spike causes a significant hazey quality to the sound.
The upper mids are where you get a sense for the space from the sound, where the lower mids make up the actual sound. In this case the unevenness leads to a hazey characteristic to the sound as if vocals are pushing through a film of air. It's the equivalent of trying to see something through a fog.
This leads into the lower treble where you have a spike in the sibilance region. A common misconception I have seen is that sibilance is solely from the headphone. It's inherent to a lot of vocals and instruments and up to a mastering. What a headphone does is change how forward the sibilance is and the qualities of the sibilance.
What the Fidelio x2s do is present them in a forward peaky way. S sounds and cymbals usually have a trailing decay, what the x2s do is push this forward and make it sound sharper than it is. This leads to a peircing quality.
Which ultimately makes them very fatiguing and isn't natural.

The treble isn't much better.
There is an inherent grain to the treble which comes across as constant background noise in almost every song. Even modern songs produced in something like 32bit with no artificial tape hiss have this grainy quality ackin to listening to old satellite tv speakers.
Ultimately the upper treble is quite lacking, there is a lack of air to the sound which would make a lot of the problems easier to live with.

One thing I notice this is praised about is soundstage.
It's reported as wide sounding.
My comment on this is that the dip in the midrange makes every sound originate further away than it does.
This doesn't do what headphones with good soundstage do and give you a varying sense of depth and width. Sounds either happen for right , far left or right in front of you and a bit forward.
Commenting on imaging and layering it's quite poor in this sense. The dt880600ohm,k712pro/612pro and hd6x0 outperform it quite significantly in this characteristic. You get a greater idea of how the sound decays in it's stage, how distant certain sounds are in any of those headphones.
The layering is also significantly worse with sounds often merging together and having similar qualities as opposed to what they should do and be different.

The overall tonal balance is quite poor and introduces significant colouration. This would be fine if the technical ability was at it's tier, but it isn't. The timbre is quite metallic across the board which indicates an unnatural quality of decay.

This review is in reference to it's price point it's not technically capable enough to be considered mid-fi by any stretch of the imagination. I'd even go as far as saying the dt990 is more technically capable with the same v shape tuning and arguably better comfort.
If you want a wide sounding Headphone with good imaging the a900x is probably a better option and more agreeable.

My main issue with these headphones is that they are priced to compete in a saturated market and don't compete with any of the options currently there.
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CADCAM
CADCAM
Just got these but couldn't disagree with your review more. I am more than surprised at the sound of these. In all honesty I was very hesitant buying these as I have the DT880 600ohm, K612 & the HE400i.
I am running them from a Keces DA-131 DAC into a Keces HA-171 amp and sound is nothing like you mention in your review. I'll continue to evaluate them but right now I'm impressed... listening to some Lee Ritenour tribute to Wes Montgomery.
Greendriver
Greendriver
Very surprised at this review. I guess we all have different preferences and hearing abilities, but I love mine.
jhog
jhog
I also TOTALLY disagree with this review. I've got or listened to a bunch of headphones and iems higher up the scale than the X2, and it holds its own brilliantll. I have in recent years upgraded every aspect of my audio gear... except the X2s. This is partly because I probably listen to open cans the least, but also because I simply believe the X2s offer astounding value for money and sq, still today. Ah well, horses for courses!
Pros: Good bass response for open back, excellent build quality, comfortable, removable cord
Cons: Slightly recessed mids, highs are sometimes sharp edged
This review won't be too detailed, just a vote of respect for such a fine pair of headphones.  I tend to like warm toned headphones, rather than purely neutral sets, and the Philips Fidelio X2 has met my expectations in its ability to bring some bass into play, while keeping the airiness of open back headphones intact.  Sound stage is wide, but not deep with this set, and it has great energy/liveliness to the sound.
 
Though bass is its main claim to fame, the X2 doesn't seem to reach deep into the sub-bass regions, so for pure bass heads, it may not be enough.  Its been more than adequate for me, though the mids do recede too much sometimes and the highs are not always well controlled.  I find that mediocre recordings or low bitrate streams don't sound good with the X2.  Another characteristic of the set is its need for power.  Though they'll run from portable devices, or straight from the computer, they don't really shine until I hook them to an amp.
 
Physical construction is first rate, with excellent materials used throughout.  I'm not the greatest fan of suspension headbands, but these surprised me with both their comfort and effectiveness.  The pads on the X2 are large enough for my oversized ears and comfort levels are very good.  I can wear them for several hours at a time with no issues.
 
Overall, I'd certainly recommend them for casual listening, but they are not intended for those looking for ultimate precision and a razor edged analytical presentation. 
Amuria Iris
Amuria Iris
no ide

Comments

Happened upon a thread on FB, pretty sure in the Head-Fi group, that mentioned the X2HRs and how good they were. I had been considering the Meze 99 Noirs, from Drop, and a few others in the sub $200 price range.

Did some research and within a few hours ordered the Philips from Amazon.

Arrived today.

I love them. Well made, comfortable and sound oh so good.
 
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