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on 28 July 2014
I received my new Fidelio L2 headphones a few days ago and just thought I would share my thoughts. I read all the reviews and forum comments I could before ordering and was a little worried they might have been over-hyped, but I have to say that so far I am very, very impressed.

A little background: I've spent hundreds of pounds over the last year or two in search of headphones I am fully (or at least sufficiently) satisfied with. In retrospect, I would probably have been better just spending my money on a pair of top-flight headphones at the outset, instead of all the money I have on mostly mid-fi cans, but there you go!

Headphones I have bought and mostly subsequently sold are (in alphabetical order):

AKG K450 - bass heavy, clarity not great, limited soundstage. On ear, uncomfortable. Sold.
Audio Technica ATH-M50 - very disappointed with these, everything was 'ok' about them, but really no better than that, nothing at all outstanding, bit 'closed in' and unexciting. Now sold.
Audio Technica ATH-WS99 - still own these. Tremendously powerful bass, but paired with good mids and highs as well. Comfort not great, press on ears. Soundstage not very wide.
Beyerdynamic DT800 250 ohm - really liked these, great mid-high clarity but bass a bit lacking. Ultimately sold them as I didn't find them comfortable as my ears touched the cloth covering the speaker grills. Very good soundstage.
Creative Aurvana Live! - still own these. Great bass with superb extension, but slightly lacking in mid-high openness/clarity. Fairly closed-in sounding. Ear pads a bit small for my ears.
Grado SR80i - superb openness/transparency, although a bit over-bright sounding at times and no bass at all below around 50Hz as far as I could tell. Incredibly uncomfortable, earpads felt like sandpaper pressing on my ears, couldn't wear for more than a few minutes without becoming increasingly desperate to take them off - sold.
Klipsch Image One - ok, these were a mistake! Lots of mid bass output but not much else, no deep bass extension. Closed in sounding. On-ear, not comfortable. Sold.
Philips Fidelio L2 - my new babies, see below.
Philips SHP 6000/10 - cheapish headphones bought for my daughter. Bass heavy but its all mid-bass, not much deep bass/extension. Limited clarity/soundstage. Comfort ok, but highish clamping force. My daughter likes them. Pleased with them for what they cost me.
Sennheiser HD558 - similar to HD595, but slightly better bass. Fairly laid back and like the HD595 rather tame sounding, but wonderfully comfortable. Now sold as ultimately a bit boring.
Sennheiser HD595 - owned for a few years and still do. Used to think they were good, but utterly outclassed in every respect by Fidelio L2. Quite good clarity and soundstage, but weak bass. The most comfortable headphones I have ever owned, can wear for hours and hours. Will probably sell them.
Sony MDR-RF865 - cordless, got these cheap so I thought I'd give them a go. Simply ghastly, woolly bass and nothing much else, unbelievably muted dynamics. Uncomfortable. Hate them, just haven't got round to sticking them on eBay yet!
Sony MDR-ZX600 - bought for my other daughter. Obviously outclassed here. Hump shaped sound signature: mostly midrange, bass & treble both tail off. On ear design, I didn't like the fit, but my daughter did....until she lost them!
Sony MDR-1R - still own these and they are another headphone which has suffered in comparison to the L2s. Punchy bass but not as rich or extended, prominent midrange, smooth but slightly recessed highs. Bit congested and closed in sounding compared to L2s. Soft ear pads, very comfortable. Will be selling these as just not as good as L2s.

Ok, that's the lot. I'll add that I mostly listen at home on my laptop via a Fiio Andes E07K DAC, which definitely improves the sound. Musical tastes vary, including rock, pop and classical. I have a number of FLAC files, but I mostly listen to mp3 to be honest.

Now to the L2s. I've only had them for a few days, so not 'burned in' (if that really makes any difference at all, which I've never been fully convinced about) and using stock cable. I'm seriously impressed. I was a little worried from reading some of the other comments that they may be slightly bass-light, punchy but not rich or extended (similar to the Beyerdynamic DT880) but this isn't the case at all, the bass is really, really good, prominent deep and powerful, but not OTT like the Audio Technica ATH-WS99. I was considering buying the Fidelio X1s before I bought the L2s, but I'm glad now that I didn't, as I have heard the X1s are more bassy than the L2s and the L2s already have plenty - more would be too much, at least for me. As an example, Naughty Boy's La La La has a deep rumbling resonance to the bass notes with the L2s, which I've never really noticed with my other headphones, even the ATH-WS99, which are bass beasts tend to lose it it, as the bass note delicacies are swamped by the powerful mid-bass beating on my eardrums. I'm tempted to say 'less is more' with the L2s, but that would give a false impression, as the bass is very full and plentiful, but its also very detailed.

The midrange and highs are open, clear, transparent and revealing, but not in a harsh or fatiguing way. They are every bit as good as the Grado SR80i, but with the addition of an excellent bass, which the Grados completely lacked and I can also wear them for more than 10 minutes at a time, which is a definite plus! The best headphones I have ever heard was around 20 years ago: a pair of £2000 or £3000 Stax electrostatics (can't remember the model number) played through a £4000 to £5000 hi-fi, which sounded jaw-droppingly amazing - smooth, effortless, natural dynamics placed outside my head. I have never heard anything comparable before or since, but I didn't have £8000 to spend on hi-fi then....or now. The L2s are obviously not in the same league, but I can say that they are the first headphones I have ever owned which don't immediately make me wish for something better. They are very, very enjoyable to listen to and comfort-wise they are fine. They're not as good as my Sennheiser HD595 (clamping force is a bit higher, earcups not quite as large) but they're good enough for me to wear for 2-3 hours without feeling the need to take them off and the sound is vastly superior and more satisfying.

Maybe its me (or my source equipment) but apart from the Stax Electrostatics, every headphone I have ever heard has always placed the sound inside my head, even reputedly 'open sounding' headphones like the Beyerdynamic DT880 and the Sennheiser HD595/558 have produced a sound confined to inside my head, just a bit more spread out, but still inside. For the first time since my 'Stax experience', listening to the L2s, I heard a few sounds which appeared to be coming from outside my head. Mostly the sound was still between my ears (although well spread out) but this was unexpected from a pair of £150 headphones from a relatively modest source (laptop + Fiio E07K). The L2s are also the first headphones I've owned with which I can truly discern a significant difference between FLAC files and mp3s. Up to now I though maybe I had slightly cloth-ears, but I realise now it was just the equipment I was listening to. The Fidelio L2s are more detailed/transparent/ruthlessly revealing than any other headphones I've ever owned, but not in a harsh or unpleasant way, its just that they give you more. The Sony MDR-1Rs have a 'softer' treble, but are nowhere near as detailed and revealing. With heavily compressed and/or badly mixed mp3s even I can now hear that they are heavily compressed/badly mixed and I love finally being able to hear that difference. FLACs on the other hand always sound beautifully clean clear and transparent. I listened to a solo piano FLAC file and if I closed my eyes, I could genuinely imagine a 'real' piano being played in front of me (well towards the front of my skull anyway) as opposed to hearing 'a piano reproduced by headphones'. All the natural resonance, harmonics and timbre was there in a believable way I simply don't hear with my other headphones.

I really don't mean or want to give an over-hyped impression as if you are anything like me after reading the Headphonia review, you will probably think, 'well I'm sure they're good, but that guy is just unrealistically over the top'. The fact is though that personally, for me, they are that good, astonishingly so for £150 headphones. Whether you would feel the same way I have no idea, but they absolutely 'do it' for me. I don't doubt that if you spend a lot more you can get better and I'm also aware that all my comparison headphones are mid-range at best, exactly how they compare to Sennheiser HD650s for example I can't tell you, but they are certainly much easier to drive and therefore sound very, very good without spending huge additional sums on a top class headphone amp, etc.

I believe audio is very subjective. I am currently more delighted with my Fidelio L2s than with any other headphone I have ever bought (and there have been plenty!). Someone else might feel completely differently. I also think that with headphones an awful lot is down to how well they fit your head. I believe I am lucky that the L2s appear to be a good fit for my head and I therefore believe I am hearing them at their best. My Sennheiser HD595s, for example don't form a perfect seal at the bottom of the cups, which adversely impacts the bass - if I press on the bottom of the cups the bass improves, but the sound is still nowhere near the quality of the Fidelio L2s.

So that's it, I'm a happy bunny and (at least for the time being) finally feel no compelling need to find better 'phones!
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on 20 January 2014
The L2 are very good sounding phones, clear and detailed across the whole spectrum with a slight low frequency bias, light-weight, comfortable, strongly constructed, stylish and beautifully finished with attention to detail.

No five stars because perfection is impossible, but they deserve more than four, 4.5 perhaps. They are not completely neutral as they have their own unique character which also reveals considerable detail, especially in the bass, without it being overpowering. The new driver Philips have incorporated is quite special as it unveils information in favourite music that I've not heard before in other headphones.

For reference the phones are driven by a Sony A series MP3 player, using 320kbps MP3s or VBR WMAs, which can more than adequately drive these headphones so smartphones should also be capable, and CDs through an Onkyo amp and then the sounds produced are truly noteworthy. Older lower bit-rate tracks at 128kbps are listenable but of course sound rather dull and will need to be upgraded. I mostly listen to film soundtracks and classical which both sound fine without adjustment, and to older pop and rock which sound great, but purely for personal preference I do equalise a notch down on the bass. I briefly listened to an iPhone 5 and the orange universal remote worked, at least the play/pause functions, though I didn't test the mic.

I think the L2 is aimed at young people with its style and particular sound, and having listened to some of my daughter's modern music feel they will not be disappointed, though it also excels with all genres of music for all ages.

I have a fairly large head, hat size 7-1/4 or 59cms, and the phones can be comfortably be worn for long periods without discomfort, and have a good range of adjustment. Some reviews have noted a slight headband discomfort when wearing the phones continously for several hours, but I have not experience this at all despite being almost bald. I also wear thin flexible specs and although there is a very slight pressure to the head no discomfort is experienced.

The L2 are semi open backed phones so some sounds do escape, but at half volume on my mp3 player they probably won't be heard in all but a silent environment, so they should be fine for commuting and the office. With no music playing the phones will let in most sounds but again play music at half volume on your device and it should block the majority of noises.

Some of the possible drawbacks:
The ear cups are allegedly none replaceable which is a definite minus point, but there maybe a workaround in the future. A longer cable to connect to a music system or TV is not included, but as the cable can be replaced its not an issue. A soft case is supplied instead of a hard shell case but its not a problem for me as the phones won't be travelling and the supplied box is of good quality including a moulded plastic headphone holder. The cable is strong and hard wearing, covered in a woven fabric that doesn't snag, but it does cause some microphonics, that is noise when the cable rubs against clothing. If it annoys the cable can be replaced by a normal rubber or plastic coated one though it does not bother me at all.

The lasting impression I'm left with these phones is a positive one. They are not neutral, dry or analytical but fun and you feel you've really experienced something. If you're not careful you may find yourself dancing around the room or left with a smile on your face. After all, isn't that what we want, at least for some of the time? The final test for me is, when I'm in the mood for certain recordings, can the music through these phones move me emotionally or recreate the atmosphere of a live concert. The L2 certainly can, they pass the test.

So, they are recommended and are at least worthy of an audition, despite some minor flaws.

This is third time lucky in finding a new pair of headphones that I can comfortably live with so some praise for Amazon, who with DPD, have a pain-free and very efficient one hour collection slot on a named day return policy. Which begs the question, why can't all normal deliveries be like that?
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on 26 November 2014
You can immediately feel the build quality once you see the headphone. I love the astonishing design with modern aluminium style matching the classy black leather with orange stitches. The headphone is light and very comfortable to wear. It just fits perfectly and keeps great contact even when you wear it for a long time and you won't find it too tight at all. Sound quality is amazing. The high and mid ranges definitely stand out and bass is just perfect. I'm actually surprised by the quality of the noise isolation. Although there's no built-in noise cancellation feature, the isolated cover already filters out most of the surrounding noise which makes the audio much clearer. Definitely a 5-star product!
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on 13 March 2014
First and foremost, these are great headphones at any price. At this price, they're stupendous.

Great soundstage and depth, a wonderful sense of space, and good tonal balance. They're also very well made, and quite stylish. Small gripe that the earpads aren't replaceable, and that there's no 'L' and 'R' markings, but these are easily 5 star headphones, and my review could quite happily end there. But....

There are several very different headphones of this quality here on Amazon; the question is whether these are the right style and sound of headphone for your purposes, and this is where it gets a bit interesting! I've been listening to them non-stop since they arrived, very much enjoying them, but I'm still somewhat ambivalent about where and when to use them. Are they indoor 'phones? Or a whole new class of mobiles?

Their design is semi-open, so they allow a certain amount of sound in and out in return for a more natural sound to the listener than closed designs can manage. They're also pretty large. So my question revolved around whether these are really 'portable' headphones, despite the swivelling earcups (thank you, Philips - this makes such a difference when stowing away in a bag, or around the neck when not listening) and the separate lead with microphone provided for taking calls on smartphones .

Does one really *want* an open sound when out and about, amongst noisy traffic, or on public transport?

Well, I've just been out testing them in these environments and the good news is that at moderate listening volume they don't leak enough sound that you're going to annoy people around you - the ambient noise in the street and on public transport seems to be enough to smother most leakage. And for the most part, although you can hear quite a bit of what's happening outside it sounds natural and low level. However, it does change the tonal balance of the sound inside the headphones, as certain mid and mid/low frequencies from outside blur the same ones inside, so the remaining sound can be quite 'toppy and bottomy' in certain environments.

In their favour is that although they do benefit from better sources and good amplification, they sound good plugged into almost anything, and go plenty loud enough from my iPhone. Plus, the mic in the phone lead actually works! People I phoned could actually hear me! (Eat your heart out V-Moda owners!)

Good as they were, however, I couldn't help thinking that what I want when I'm out and about, is a bit of isolation from the hubbub, and an exciting presentation of my favourite music, which all my closed cans do better - and if I want the quality of the L2s, I could put on my pair of Beyer DT770s, which are cheaper, and not appreciably bigger.

So are they home 'phones? Well, yes, plug them through some decent gear in a relatively quiet environment and you really hear them at their best - relaxed presentation, oodles of air and rich subtlety. And my girlfriend wandering through the lounge singing along with every word of the song I'm listening to. Because, yes, in a quiet environment, everyone can hear what you're listening to. And if that's the case, why not pay the extra £20 (sometimes less) for the L2's bigger stablemate, the fully open X1? Even more leakage, granted, but colossal sound that's right up there with the best of the best. No compromise.

Which is what the L2 kind of is: a stupendously successful compromise - but only if you want open sound all the time, and only want to own one pair of headphones. I know some folk with that philosophy who bought a pair of Sennheiser HD25s as their one pair - great isolation out and about, and perfectly listenable at home if you like the 'closed' sound. The L2s are the 'open' alternative. If you're a fan of the 'open' sound and want to take that outside, these are the cans you've been waiting for.

Reference:
Outside - FiiO X3, FiiO Mont Blanc, iPhone, iPod Nano
Inside - DacMagic, Graham Slee Solo
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on 6 January 2015
One of the best pairs of headphones I've used. They really sound delightful!

There's not that much information on the internet about these headphones in the form of reviews so I'll try and shed some light on how these are compared to some other headphones. I've owned the following headphones: B&O H6, Audio Technica M50x, Bose QC15, Logitech UE4000.

Compared to the cheapest headphones here the UE4000, there's an obvious difference in sound quality, and that's what I would expect from headphones that cost 10 times more. Compared to the other three, there's less of a difference but still enough to tell them apart. The H6 have quite a full sound, and sound fantastic in most settings but the soundstage is nowhere near as impressive as the L2 due to it being semi-open vs closed back. The M50x's are also fantastic and produce very accurate sound, but once again, soundstage is lacking. I also found them to be uncomfortable to wear for any extended period of time (> 1 hour). This is probably most due to the fact that they are much heavier than the Fidelio L2. The comfort on the L2 is only bested by the QC15. They're simply the most comfortable headphones I've used. I found the sound quality to be better on the L2 but that's a compromise with noise cancellation headphones.

Overall it's surprising these headphones are not more popular. With their unique sound and improved sound stage compared to closed back headphones it's easy to recommend these. If you're looking at some of the bigger name headphones in the £100 - £200 price bracket, give these a shot, they may surprise you!
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on 26 October 2014
I just want to reflect everything else said here. These are marvellous headphones. Punchy, exciting and musical, clear and authoritative sound across the frequency range, they do what a good piece of Hi-Fi should do - encourage you to listen to music and explore your collection afresh.

I don't have much to compare them to - I used to have a pair of Sennheiser HD 595 phones, but these always sounded a bit dull, and seem to have got worse recently Things came to a head when I recently purchased a new pair of Koss Porta Pro phones for travelling (excellent basic travel headphones for less than £30) and these sounded better than the 595s - punchy, lively, musical and fun. I would just use those but they are a little lightweight in the sound and nothing like as comfortable as the 595s.

So I started looking around to replace the 595s and from reviews settled on the L2s. Seems like I got it right - these have the lively and musical qualities of the Porta Pros but just a lot better. With the L2s you can hear so much more , and what you hear is more natural and enjoyable. Musical instruments are easily picked out and sound like they should, Singers (male or female) are clearly distinguished (even in a group) and you get an insight into the way they are singing and the emotion they are bringing to the song. I find I am listening afresh to to my collection, finding entertaining qualities in songs I previously ignored or found boring.

I listen mainly to MP3s and CDs on my computer with a Soundblaster X-fi sound card and a Heed Canamp headphone amplifier. On this setup I can distinguish CDs from MP3 rips now. I have also tried other sources (PC on board sound, smart phone) with these headphones and they all sound really good as well.

I have listened to a wide variety of music and I think the L2s are fine for all music types. The soundstage is not very wide, but you can easily distinguish instruments in a small ensemble. Rock music is powerful with strong bass, crisp drums and excellent timing/rhythm. Female singer songwriters sound mellow, sweet and intimate. Electro pop sounds bouncy, detailed and fun. Listening to orchestral music, solo instruments sound natural and fluent, and all the orchestral parts are roughly in the right place. To me it sounds pretty much as I have experienced on my rare visits to orchestral concerts, but then I only sit in the cheap seats!

I also use the headphones for gaming and the results here are just as stark. Now I have great positional audio as well as sparkling ambient sound which just brings the games to life in a way I would not have believed.

I have not tried using the L2s outside yet. I still have to get used to the idea of wearing such large and expensive headphones in public. These certainly do not leak any more than the Porta Pros which I have used a lot on the train.

Finally comfort wise these are no match for the 595s, They press quite tightly on the ears and the band does catch the top of my head but I can tilt it forward to avoid that. However I have been using these for hours at a time just because the sound is so great. Its worth putting up with slight discomfort for this quality of sound.

Enough already! Just believe these are great headphones!
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on 31 May 2014
I own Soundmagic HP200 and Sennheiser Momentum's these are better then both of them, and are roughly £100 cheaper. For the price they are simply incredible when matched with a decent DAC/Amp. Comfy and stylish too. 5 stars
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on 18 October 2015
Upon unpacking you immediately notice the quality of the headphones. Beautifully designed with a very sleek modern look they're also very comfortable and easy to rest around your neck due to the swivel on the earpieces.

I guess they're marketed as portable as they're so easy to drive from sources such as a mobile phone or laptop. Steaming from Spotify (extreme quality) on my Motorola G sounds superb. Not sure I'd use them on a commute though as despite the design they are quite large and don't fold.

Only minor criticisms are the lack of a hard-carry case, non-replaceable pads and slight noise from the included detachable cables when rubbing up against clothing.

Takes listening from non-audiophile sources to another level.
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on 19 May 2015
I've owned these headphones for 5 months now and I have come to know them very well (and like them a lot). I use an Audioengine D1 DAC/Headphone amp and these are some of the best sounding headphones I've heard and at a fraction of the price of some others I see as direct competitors in terms of sound quality.

At first, however, I experienced a few problems in elements of the sound that shouldn't be present in a headphone of this price. I noticed this first whilst listening to rock with thick, crunchy guitar filling the mid frequencies. It seemed almost as if the headphones couldn't reproduce all the frequencies at once, or that the file was of much lower quality than it was. I was disappointed by this because everything else about these headphones seemed great. I read somewhere that replacing the stock cable had made a difference to another user so I thought I should try that.

I bought an AudioQuest Tower mini jack interconnect (with solid long-grain copper conductors), and as soon as I plugged it in the difference was obvious. Every element of the sound of these headphones had improved. The bass was clearer but more balanced with the rest of the frequencies. The mids were more open, and there were no longer issues with the same guitars that had caused problems before. The highs were more precise but less harsh and the stereo image was wider and clearer. I couldn't believe a cable could make this much difference so I went back to the stock cable to compare. There really was this much of a difference...

The following is based on the L2s with the AudioQuest Tower Cable:

The sound is slightly exaggerated in the lows, but a lot less so than other headphones. The bass is just enough to give low end punch when listening to EDM and pop music, without being at all overpowering. When listening to other genres, the bass support is there when needed particularly in organ music and large full orchestral pieces, but unlike what seems to be the fashion with so many headphones at the moment, when the bass is not needed, it isn't there. The bass frequencies are incredibly well judged. Bass extension is also excellent.

The mids are very open, with voices being presented very well with all the intricacies of breath. There are details here that only the L2s, of all headphones I've heard, will reproduce. These drivers are truly astonishing.

The highs are these headphones' best trait in my opinion. They offer incredible depth of detail without being too exaggerated or harsh. The treble integrates very well into the upper mids creating a seamless transition between these two frequency bands. This makes these headphones very easy to listen to for long periods of time.

To summarise, these truly are brilliant headphones. They look great, they're very comfortable and the sound is, at this price, completely faultless once the stock cable is replaced. I thought about giving 4 stars because of the cable issue, but as for only £20 extra for a decent cable these headphones can sound as they now do, they still deserve the 5 stars. Thoroughly recommend for anything but absolute top end listening needs.
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on 25 April 2014
I bought these headphones after not getting along with the Bowers & Wilkins P5's (sounded excellent but felt like they were crushing my skull!)

After receiving them today, I'm very impressed! I'm noticing lots of things in my music I haven't noticed before. They headphones handle the bass very well. After testing with a test oscillator they handle down to around 25hz with ease. As far as their voicing is concerned, they aren't overly heavy when listening to a track though, but they have the chops to handle it if you boost the bass or have an overly bass heavy track (electronic/rock/metal)

My initial impressions are that these headphones just love recorded naturally acoustic music. Listening to Norah Jones' Come Away With Me album, her vocals are just like silk, the midrange in her huskiness is incredibly well reproduced.

They have a little more sparkle in the top end than what I'm used to, but it's in no way overbearing, it adds a good sense of presence to your music.

In terms of comfort, they're leaps and bounds above the B&Ws I had, in fact, I'd go as far as to say it's easy to forget that they're on. However, that won't be the case for others around you as they do have a reasonable amount of leakage, due to their semi-open design. The reward for this though is that you get a really nice wide and natural sound.

Great headphones for the money, and I know they'll only get better with time as the drivers break in!
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