Philips Fidelio X2 : A Review by Baycode
Jan 10, 2015 at 8:13 AM Post #646 of 1,061

Fluffy Muffinz

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Well, yeah, that family of AKG (K701/702/601/612/702ann/712 etc.) are notorious to need a fairly powerful amp to pump enough current to the bass to sound as intended. In these regard X2 are better, because they sound with nearly full potential even from a good phone. But.. 400$ are a great investment, if I were you, I'd just buy a cheaper pair. I returned my X2 because to me they lacked bass, and the highs were bothering. They were good, but in this hobby as you may know spending double doesn't mean to get double sound quality. If money are a concern, if you don't have amps or need them for something else.. just buy something cheaper IMHO, there are almost-as-good pair that cost less. And there are a-little-better pairs that cost double. This is a tricky hobby.

what headphones would you recommend? 
 
I own a pair of MT-220's that I could sell for $100 or so which would reduce the price by a bit, I like to only have one pair of headphones anyways.. 
 
If I still have a job at the end of January I could definitely afford to buy the X2's. They sound like to be the cheapest option in terms of not having to invest more money on a better amp. 
 
Jan 10, 2015 at 10:01 AM Post #647 of 1,061

arcwindz

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  what headphones would you recommend? 
 
I own a pair of MT-220's that I could sell for $100 or so which would reduce the price by a bit, I like to only have one pair of headphones anyways.. 
 
If I still have a job at the end of January I could definitely afford to buy the X2's. They sound like to be the cheapest option in terms of not having to invest more money on a better amp. 

So, you want a PC and you need a headphone. If i were you, I'll reconsider on what i need the most, $400 worth of hardware is something significant after all. But this one is up to you.
 
Regarding the headphones, i don't know how the, Yamaha MT-220 (i supposed?), sounds like.
Maybe you could tell us what is your sound preferences, what type of music you are listening to, Gaming? Movies? Is it okay to have open design? stuffs like that. Then I believe we can help you here
 
Jan 10, 2015 at 2:05 PM Post #648 of 1,061

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And by the way MT-220 is high regarded, sound stage in not the best, being closed, but technically it's not far different to the X2
 
Jan 10, 2015 at 5:07 PM Post #649 of 1,061

Fluffy Muffinz

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  So, you want a PC and you need a headphone. If i were you, I'll reconsider on what i need the most, $400 worth of hardware is something significant after all. But this one is up to you.
 
Regarding the headphones, i don't know how the, Yamaha MT-220 (i supposed?), sounds like.
Maybe you could tell us what is your sound preferences, what type of music you are listening to, Gaming? Movies? Is it okay to have open design? stuffs like that. Then I believe we can help you here

well, my plans are to get the PC all bought and sorted out before I venturing into my next pair of headphones, especially if they are going to be open and I 'll explain why. My parents have never allowed me to purchase a pair of  headphones because or kitchen area, lounge room and dinning area are all based off a open design layout and the computers happen to be there as well. Therefore open headphones would disrupt the hell out of the whole family I'd also hear everything that there doing. Unless I purchase a PC myself and keep it in my room. 
 
I listen to a wide genre of music and tv shows. I find it very hard to describe to people what genre of music I like to listen to. I never like to restrict myself to listen to the same type of music all the time therefore I'm looking for a good all-rounder. Although I definitely know what genres I don't listen to which is country and old classical music. However I do like very well done classical guitar work. 
 
@BillsonChang007 told me that "The K712 is very versatile with any genres, movies or gaming just name it! Not sure how exactly they compare to the HE-400 though "
 
Jan 10, 2015 at 6:15 PM Post #650 of 1,061

cute

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Took the HM5 pads off, back to the stock X2 pads......better soundstage/separation and clarity for me this way.  Also, the HM5 pads attenuated the sound by 5db, not good, and I lost that open, holographic feeling with them.  Headphone designers knew what they were doing with their pad design, IMO!
 
Jan 10, 2015 at 6:20 PM Post #651 of 1,061

Hifivoice

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More open and lively, better clarity more details, bass is faster than the hd650!


I've also compared the X2 to the 650. My personal opinion is that the 650 is much more balanced and punchy than the X2. The treble in the X2 is overdone (it has a zizz, and sounds like "cheap metalic tweeters", toward sibilance, all cymbals sound alike), and in the fundament/mid region it misses energy (e.g. voices miss their chest; string instruments their supporting cabinet). The bass "rolls" more with the X2, and is very nice, but not integrated with the fundamental region, a bit fluffy. The HD650 is harmonic much richer, very important for acoustic guitar, piano, string instruments and voices. For me, with the X2 you look at the music, you're not into the music. I tried for a couple of weeks, tried multiple amps, some equalizer settings, wanted to like it more than the HD650, but I'm back at my HD650 again. If you think the HD650 sounds to veiled for you, attenuate it 2dB @ 125Hz, and lift the treble from 4kHz onward with 1.5dB, and you have the positive characteristics of both headphones combined.
 
Don't get me wrong, the X2 is a very nice sounding headphone, but I always end up attenuating its treble with a few dB, and still I miss the energetic performance I normally hear in live acoustic performance. For mastering purposes the X2 is very good, it magnifies details and treble, so to find recording or encoding artifacts it is perfect.
 
I did some measurements to see if I could equalize it properly. If you look at the on-ear performance, the look pretty similar, where you see the lack of energy in the fundament area of the X2 (yellow) and a nasty peak at 9kHz. You also see a resonance (of the enclosure) at 220 Hz. (measurements have been aligned at 1kHz). 
 

 
When you look at the near-field measurements, you see an effect of the round cups of the X2 (purple), creating a peak in the response curve at 5 kHz. One sees that the peak at 9kHz is intrinsic, and this is what you hear. The HD650 has a stellar example diffuse field response.  
 

 
Putting a strong notch at 9kHz does give some better balanced sound (though also a bit muffled), but what remains is a lack of energy at the fundament area. I haven't been able to compensate that with equalization. Closing the ear cups with your hands gives some of the energy back (at the expense of some coloration), but I guess this is intrinsic on the design. When I have time, I'll have a look how the response looks when applying a impulse-based (FIR) correction on a reference response, and see how that FIR looks like to better understand the headphone characteristic (and with the right curves, you can make an X2 sound like a 650 and the other way around :)). 
 
Jan 10, 2015 at 6:24 PM Post #652 of 1,061

Hifivoice

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For those who are interested, I also compared to a HD800, which I think is way to sibilant, and has very splashy/crashy treble. Which is a pity, because in other aspects it was a very nice headphone (spatial imaging). Measurement in red shows the reason. 
 

 
Jan 10, 2015 at 6:39 PM Post #653 of 1,061

Hifivoice

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Last but not least, the waterfall diagram for the X2 (time in ms):
 

 
You clearly see the resonance at say 220Hz, and quite some nasty stuff between 1 and 5kHz)
 
The following waterfall is the one for the HD650 (measurement depths is the same, X2 is a nit more efficient, hence the different scale):
 

 
It shows that the decay of rubbish lies closer to the noise floor, and is less broad in frequency.  
 
And for those who like, the HD800:
 

Forget about what happens below 100Hz (due to the time of the FFT window). 
 
Jan 10, 2015 at 9:44 PM Post #655 of 1,061

rabbitsfoot

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I've also compared the X2 to the 650. My personal opinion is that the 650 is much more balanced and punchy than the X2. The treble in the X2 is overdone (it has a zizz, and sounds like "cheap metalic tweeters", toward sibilance, all cymbals sound alike), and in the fundament/mid region it misses energy (e.g. voices miss their chest; string instruments their supporting cabinet). The bass "rolls" more with the X2, and is very nice, but not integrated with the fundamental region, a bit fluffy. The HD650 is harmonic much richer, very important for acoustic guitar, piano, string instruments and voices. For me, with the X2 you look at the music, you're not into the music. I tried for a couple of weeks, tried multiple amps, some equalizer settings, wanted to like it more than the HD650, but I'm back at my HD650 again. If you think the HD650 sounds to veiled for you, attenuate it 2dB @ 125Hz, and lift the treble from 4kHz onward with 1.5dB, and you have the positive characteristics of both headphones combined.
 
Don't get me wrong, the X2 is a very nice sounding headphone, but I always end up attenuating its treble with a few dB, and still I miss the energetic performance I normally hear in live acoustic performance. For mastering purposes the X2 is very good, it magnifies details and treble, so to find recording or encoding artifacts it is perfect.
 
I did some measurements to see if I could equalize it properly. If you look at the on-ear performance, the look pretty similar, where you see the lack of energy in the fundament area of the X2 (yellow) and a nasty peak at 9kHz. You also see a resonance (of the enclosure) at 220 Hz. (measurements have been aligned at 1kHz). 
 

 
When you look at the near-field measurements, you see an effect of the round cups of the X2 (purple), creating a peak in the response curve at 5 kHz. One sees that the peak at 9kHz is intrinsic, and this is what you hear. The HD650 has a stellar example diffuse field response.  
 

 
Putting a strong notch at 9kHz does give some better balanced sound (though also a bit muffled), but what remains is a lack of energy at the fundament area. I haven't been able to compensate that with equalization. Closing the ear cups with your hands gives some of the energy back (at the expense of some coloration), but I guess this is intrinsic on the design. When I have time, I'll have a look how the response looks when applying a impulse-based (FIR) correction on a reference response, and see how that FIR looks like to better understand the headphone characteristic (and with the right curves, you can make an X2 sound like a 650 and the other way around :)). 


I find your observations pretty spot on to my feelings regarding both of these phones. Both excellent phones in their price range though different strengths and weaknesses.
 
Jan 10, 2015 at 11:16 PM Post #656 of 1,061

Fluffy Muffinz

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Out of the AKG K712 (which I can get for $260 used) or the Phillips Fidelio X2's which headphones would be better for the price? 
 
I'm looking for a solid all-rounder as I listen to a wide genre of music. i also want the to be great for movies and playing games.
My amplification is a FiiO E07K, nothing to write home about but I believe the K712's are a pretty hard to drive headphones, is that correct? 
 
Would any of the AKG range of headphones be a good choice as compared to the X2's? (K701 or K702) or are the X2's just that good :)
 
I've heard good things about the HD650's, they are a easier pair of headphones to drive as apposed to the K712's but I'm looking at paying a a bit more as apposed to the used pair of K712's that I've been offered. 
 
Jan 11, 2015 at 12:00 AM Post #657 of 1,061

arcwindz

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Out of the AKG K712 (which I can get for $260 used) or the Phillips Fidelio X2's which headphones would be better for the price? 

I'm looking for a solid all-rounder as I listen to a wide genre of music. i also want the to be great for movies and playing games.
My amplification is a FiiO E07K, nothing to write home about but I believe the K712's are a pretty hard to drive headphones, is that correct? 

Would any of the AKG range of headphones be a good choice as compared to the X2's? (K701 or K702) or are the X2's just that good :)

I've heard good things about the HD650's, they are a easier pair of headphones to drive as apposed to the K712's but I'm looking at paying a a bit more as apposed to the used pair of K712's that I've been offered. 


It seems that the akg has 64ohm impedance which is a bit hard to drive with phones but defintely driveable with e07k
No experience with the akg but, like you said, people are considering this as a good all rounder, so if it has $140 difference in your area the akg would be the better choice.
 
Jan 11, 2015 at 2:27 AM Post #658 of 1,061

SonicWarrior

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I've also compared the X2 to the 650. My personal opinion is that the 650 is much more balanced and punchy than the X2. The treble in the X2 is overdone (it has a zizz, and sounds like "cheap metalic tweeters", toward sibilance, all cymbals sound alike), and in the fundament/mid region it misses energy (e.g. voices miss their chest; string instruments their supporting cabinet). The bass "rolls" more with the X2, and is very nice, but not integrated with the fundamental region, a bit fluffy. The HD650 is harmonic much richer, very important for acoustic guitar, piano, string instruments and voices. For me, with the X2 you look at the music, you're not into the music. I tried for a couple of weeks, tried multiple amps, some equalizer settings, wanted to like it more than the HD650, but I'm back at my HD650 again. If you think the HD650 sounds to veiled for you, attenuate it 2dB @ 125Hz, and lift the treble from 4kHz onward with 1.5dB, and you have the positive characteristics of both headphones combined.
 
Don't get me wrong, the X2 is a very nice sounding headphone, but I always end up attenuating its treble with a few dB, and still I miss the energetic performance I normally hear in live acoustic performance. For mastering purposes the X2 is very good, it magnifies details and treble, so to find recording or encoding artifacts it is perfect.
 
I did some measurements to see if I could equalize it properly. If you look at the on-ear performance, the look pretty similar, where you see the lack of energy in the fundament area of the X2 (yellow) and a nasty peak at 9kHz. You also see a resonance (of the enclosure) at 220 Hz. (measurements have been aligned at 1kHz). 
 

 
When you look at the near-field measurements, you see an effect of the round cups of the X2 (purple), creating a peak in the response curve at 5 kHz. One sees that the peak at 9kHz is intrinsic, and this is what you hear. The HD650 has a stellar example diffuse field response.  
 

 
Putting a strong notch at 9kHz does give some better balanced sound (though also a bit muffled), but what remains is a lack of energy at the fundament area. I haven't been able to compensate that with equalization. Closing the ear cups with your hands gives some of the energy back (at the expense of some coloration), but I guess this is intrinsic on the design. When I have time, I'll have a look how the response looks when applying a impulse-based (FIR) correction on a reference response, and see how that FIR looks like to better understand the headphone characteristic (and with the right curves, you can make an X2 sound like a 650 and the other way around :)). 

 
I am sorry, I must disagree with some of your observations. It looks like you are very sensitive to treble. X2 treble is way better than 650 (however, i agree with you in some cases the X2 treble can feel a bit grainy). 650 treble dies and it is very poor. Mids are slightly unnatural in 650 and more pronounced than X2. In X2, mids are where it needs to be. I strongly feel both X2 and 650 are not neutral but X2 is more fun and 650 is the exact inverse of it.. to put it mildly boring and lacks any energy.
 
Hey, but we are all not equals and agree to disagree.. :)
 
Jan 11, 2015 at 3:39 AM Post #659 of 1,061

Hifivoice

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When it comes to evaluation of a headphone, the last tool I use are graphs.


I measured for the following purpose (as written}: "I did some measurements to see if I could equalize it properly". The graphs are for analysis purposes, not to determine how a headphone sounds. You can explain some characteristics though, and explain why equalizing the phone with an ordinary parametric equalizer has its limitations.  
 
I initially tried to tune the headphone based on what I heard, I didn't manage, so I measured a couple of weeks later to see if I could fall back to measurable properties (sometimes - or even many times - your ears are fooling you). The measurements explain some items that I hear:
- Treble somewhat unnatural sounding
- Hollow sound characteristic, voices disappear somewhat into the music, missing energy in the fundament region. 
 
Many people say the X2 is not a bass monster. This you can also explain from the measurements, it has a dip in the fundament region. So there is relative more bass compared to where the fundament of most instruments is situated, but not in an absolute sense! I design loudspeakers myself, and there it is very obvious that the relative magnitude of frequency regions of about on octave matters a lot to how a speaker sounds. Lowering the frequency spectrum of a very narrow frequency range with 0.3dB is hardly audible, lowering a whole octave is easy to spot. Here we talk about 4 dB in the fundament region. I tried to lift it, but then the sound starts to get shut-in. This phenomenon can be explained by the resonance that is present at 220Hz. It might even be that Philips deliberately lowered the energy in that region to compensate for that resonance of the enclosure. 
 
What is not explained with the on-ear graphs immediately is why the Philips sounds more hot in the treble region. There is only a small peak at 9kHz. So I also did a few more measurements with different distances to see which peaks-dips are due to geometric properties of the phone (also explaining why phone characteristics are so different when measuring on-ear), and which ones are intrinsic. You see that the peak at 2kHz shifts, and completely disappears when put on-ear, so it is a reflection. The ones at 5 and 9kHz are certainly there intrinsically. 
 


Looking at the different between the on-ear and near-field measurements, you can see that the Philips has some issues in its treble, where the Sennheiser is pretty clean. 
 
X2: (on-ear is yellow, near-field purple, observe the peaks that remain at 5kHz and 9kHz)

 
HD650 (on-ear green, near-field blue; a small peak at 2.5kHz, which is assume is on purpose and diffuse field adjustment):

 
 
Whether at the end you like the tuning (overall timbre) is a completely different story, and something of personal preference. Records are also mixed differently, so trying to go for an "absolute reference" phone is not a guarantee for ultimate music performance; a reference may work better with some records, and worse with others. So a better measurement does not mean "better sound to you". To give an analogy; suppose you have a time machine, and can go to the 17th century where Rembrandt is painting his famous painting "de Nachtwacht" (Nightwatch). You are there with the best camera equipment, and make a photo of the same setting, go back, and let it print at the same scale as the painting. The photo will probably be more accurate in color, contrast, dynamic range etc. Nevertheless, most people will probably prefer the painting, as the deliberate effects of the light and contrast is what creates a more intense emotion with most observers. I.e., I understand the limitations of a measurement graph, it is for analyzing purposes only, not to claim it creates a better reference headphone. 
 
Overall I think the X2 is a very nice headphone, and I could certainly recommend it to many people. If you like acoustical music, and appreciate it for the wide field of colors and timbre, then go for the HD650. If you prefer the ticking of a plectrum against guitar strings above the resonance of the guitar enclosure, go for the X2. If you look for a headphone that you can tune with a graphical equalizer to tast (and have a decent amplifier to steer it), the HD650 is a better choice, as is supported by measurements. 
 
So, you would never use graphs (which is fine of course), and as an answer I give you even more graphs in return 
wink_face.gif
 This is probably the fun of a forum. 
 
Jan 11, 2015 at 3:58 AM Post #660 of 1,061

Hifivoice

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I am sorry, I must disagree with some of your observations. It looks like you are very sensitive to treble. X2 treble is way better than 650 (however, i agree with you in some cases the X2 treble can feel a bit grainy). 650 treble dies and it is very poor. Mids are slightly unnatural in 650 and more pronounced than X2. In X2, mids are where it needs to be. I strongly feel both X2 and 650 are not neutral but X2 is more fun and 650 is the exact inverse of it.. to put it mildly boring and lacks any energy.
 
Hey, but we are all not equals and agree to disagree.. :)


Indeed :)
 
I am sensitive to treble. Most hifi equipment is a bit "hot" in treble. We tend to like it. I visit classical concerts with big orchestras often (no ear damage for those who may think...), and there it is always apparent how little treble you hear in most of the performance. Sure, if metalic instruments like copper or triangles step in, there is a lot of treble. But I find that a lot of hifi equipment magnifies the brilliance of those instruments, at the expense of the harmonic structure (in the mid and presence area; say from 500 to 2000 Hz). 
 
The HD650 has been given a diffuse field response as much as possible based on measurements, and after that has been tuned with the bass as if you would listen to loudspeakers in a practical situation - to make it closer to a reference that is used for final mixing music in recordings. For a lot of people (without giving it a judgement!) that means it has too much energy in the high-bass/fundament region. If you take a graphic equalizer, tune down the HD650 with 2 dB on the 125Hz and 250Hz, and add diagonally an increasing curve from 4kHz, via 8kHz to 16kHz, you get a headphone that emphasizes the pluck of a guitar instead of the guitar enclosure. A record engineer could do the same BTW, by putting the microphone closer versus further away from an acoustical guitar. It's all a matter of preference, and there is no absolute reference. So, at the end, it depends on the records that you like to use as a reference. 
 
I do disagree with you on the mids (from 500 to 1000Hz), there I find the headphones even pretty equal, supported by the measurements. It's more like how the mid is relative towards the fundament area (125-400Hz) and the treble (4kHz) which are the biggest differences. 
 

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