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on 11 June 2014
I have recently spent a great deal of time trying to get the best pair of headphones I can for under £200. After extensive research I went through the following headphones before settling on the Philips Fidelio L1 headphones. You may find some of my comments useful regarding how the other headphones fared:

Philips Fidelio X1 - Absolutely superb sounding headphones! Build quality is incredible for the price. They made my music sound great and I have very eclectic taste. It was with huge regret that I sent them back due to the non-replaceable velour pads being too itchy for me. I tried over a number of days to get used to them but to no avail. I'd buy them again in a heartbeat if they had softer material for the earpads, such as that used by Beyerdynamic. To anyone who may not have sensitive skin like me, these should DEFINITELY be on your check list! Note: these are considered to be a dark headphone (one that has less treble presence than a strictly flat headphone). This is an evaluation I would agree with.

Audio Technica AT-M50X - A very good sounding headphone with tremendous detail and superb bass reproduction. Their presentation was very different to that offered by the Fidelio X1 and is a much more forward, brighter sound. Bass goes surprisingly low on these things given their 40mm driver. I played some dubstep and was truly wowed by the quality of bass produced. Their closed-back design clearly aided this bass performance and the sound they produced was also more immediate due to the closed back design. However, it became clear to me after extensive listening that I prefer the more open sound offered by open-back or semi open-back designs. I thought they were very well designed and made and had a nice studio headphone look to them. However, a slightly sibilant treble and smallish opening to the earpads that squashed the edges of my ears causing pain ended the deal. A pity, as generally they were very good.

Beyerdynamic DT880 Premium (250 Ohm version) - Got these brand new for well below the £300 mark you see elsewhere. Generally well made but well short of the quality of the Fidelio X1 headphones. Despite being very comfortable to wear the sound was totally disappointing to me and despite giving them a few days to burn in the sound was just too thin and lifeless. I also found the bass reproduction to be too insufficient for my taste. These headphones are loved by others but they were the worst sounding of the headphones I tried.

Philips Fidelio L2 - Stylish looking headphones which were extremely comfortable. The quality of the construction was very high and similar to that offered by the Fidelio X1. I'd have been happy to keep these but unfortunately the treble had a quality to it I just didn't like, despite the rest of the sound being very satisfying to my ears. As with all the headphones I tried they were given plenty of time to burn in.

Now that I have presented my impressions of the aforementioned headphones I'll explain why I like the Fidelio L1 headphones so much. First and foremost, the sound quality is just perfect for me (well almost!). The moment I put them on and played some music they sounded great. The sound was natural and unforced. Nothing was overemphasised and the high end had a lovely smooth sound to it, similar in many ways to that offered by the Fidelio X1. I guess the L1 could also be considered a dark headphone on account of this. I spent hours listening carefully for anything that may have dispelled these initial impressions and I'm still waiting after two weeks of ownership and countless hours of listening. With regards to why the sound isn't truly perfect, well, I was somewhat spoilt by the Fidelio X1, which for me is the best of the bunch. The X1 has a touch more sub-bass (approximately 60Hz and below) than the L1 which is hardly surprising given its larger driver. But as I mentioned earlier, the X1 earpads were just too itchy for me.

With regard to build quality, the Fidelio L1 is exceptionally well made and ranks alongside the X1 in this respect. There are many elements made from aluminium including the outer earcups, the gimbals surrounding the earcups and parts of the headband. The inner part of the headband is made out of brushed steel and features what appears to be laser etched details such as precise markings to aid headphone adjustment and the edition number of your headphone. A nice thick strip of brown real leather adorns the top of the headband and the underside features soft padded pleather (a plastic leather substitute). The earpads are incredibly comfortable and feature memory foam inside an outer skin of pleather that is of different quality to that on the underside of the headband and is beautifully smooth and soft. I can wear these headphones for hours with no discomfort whatsoever. The one drawback of the earpads is that like those on the X1 and L2 headphones, they are non-replaceable, which to me is one hell of an oversight. A pity. Having said that, from the looks of things these should last for years as the pleather is a cut above the stuff usually present on earpads.

A quick note about the audio equipment I use at home when listening through headphones. Aside from a variety of analogue and digital sources, my CD player (which I used for the majority of testing) is a Marantz CD63 MkII KI Signature which I run through either a Yamaha AX-596 stereo amplifier or a Beresford TC-7510 DAC/headphone amplifier. The Fidelio L1 headphones at 26 Ohm impedance are very easy to drive and sound great when rigged up to my hi-fi, my Sony MP3 player or my Moto G mobile phone.

To summarize: these are a truly great headphones and I would have been quite happy to pay £200 for them in the knowledge that there probably isn't anything out there to equal them for the sound quality they offer and their incredibly high build quality, apart from the Fidelio X1 of course! The current price of around £100 is bordering on the ridiculous and anyone looking for a seriously good sounding headphone with great build quality to match should certainly check these beauties out.

Philips, I salute you!

UPDATE (21/12/14): I recently had the chance to spend a considerable amount of time comparing the Fidelio L1s with a pair of Sennheiser HD650s. I preferred the Fidelio L1s. My review of the Sennheiser HD650s is also on Amazon and includes my comparison with the Fidelio L1s. I'm still loving the headphones by the way. I've got some Miles Davis on at the moment as it sounds sumptuous!
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on 13 February 2013
Philips have done themselves proud with the Fidelio L1 semi-open circumaural headphone. As a piece of product design they are truly a thing of beauty - the attention to detail is astounding and you could easily be looking at phones costing upwards of £250. No swathes of cheap feel plastics here, oh no. It's all soft dark brown leather and laser etched aluminium. And the only plastic is machined with funky retro style grooves like a 7 inch single or something.

And the sound quality is laid back velvety smooth as a baby's bottom, yet it still commands authority - drive the L1's hard and the bottom end stays deep and tight, the mids are slightly recessed yet buttery smooth in their richness, guitars and vocals really come across with panache, and the tops are fast and crystal clear with no sense of nasty fizz. The soundstage and overall presentation is impressive. But they're not perfect. And a lot of people will probably find them a little too laid back, especially with todays (unfortunate) propensity for a lively and fun sound with swathes of bass and everything else boosted to the max. Subtlety over brashness is not everyone's cup of tea when all you see is Monster Beats everywhere...

However compared to other pro brands with more kudos than Philips (let's be honest, who goes to Philips for quality pro-sumer cans?) the L1's will most likely be overlooked. Which is shame.

Be part of an exclusive club and get the L1. I'd even wage a bet that they will be a limited production run and will become collectible classics in the future.
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on 31 July 2012
Style and Comfort: On first glance philips have designed a pair of cans that look like the offspring of AKGs K550's and Grado's acclaimed 325i's. Its easy to see the outward resemblence. Just like a hybrid of the two these are semi open backed but Ill come to that later.
Philips have taken a considerable amount of time in designing and implementing high quality materials into these. Aluminium has been used for the headband and to connect to the capsules and while bulky, are fairly light. The upper headband cover is of a stiff leather and stitched well while soft padding is utilized on the underside. The large earpads have a soft faux leather covering providing significant comfort for prolonged listening. The clamp is perfect not being too tight but sufficiently secure.
Incremental measurements are etched on the inside of the headband for ease of use as is the unique serial number.Durability and Portability: The earcups can rotate making the headphones fold flat for easier storage and for conveniance while wearing them not in use. While bulky, arent particularly intimidating to wear out and about. Their sturdy construction makes them feel resistent to everyday wear and tear although the hardwired 10cm cable into the earcup and the coiled wires inside the headband look like points of vulnerarbility.
Stated as being semi open, I personally feel they are more closed than open if the base response is anything to go by and as such will only provide a minimal level of sound leakage, something fellow commuters wont hear on a tube train unless the music is ridiculosly loud. They do provide a reasonable amount of sound isolation too thanks to the generously large earpads but on balance I prefer them for home listening. A fabric carry pouch is supplied, while keeping the cans free from dust and contaminants, not being semi rigid provides no physical protection.
Sound Quality: The L1s' sonic presentation is well-balanced. They have a mildly restrained sound that takes a little while to appreciate, and in a straight comparison with class rivals these phones may underwhelm.
The likes of AKG's K550s or Grado's SR325is are more dramatic and certainly more entertaining from the off.
However, give the Fidelios a little bit of time and their talents start to become apparent. These deliver a smooth tonal balance, there's not a hint
of brashness about the high frequencies, yet there's enough bite to satisfy with rough recordings.
These cans have a communicative midrange, but seem to deliver a somewhat blown out and inconsistent bass. A deliberate endeavour on philips part to engage with the majority of casual listeners who consider bass the only benchmark for headphones I suspect. Dynamic shifts could be stated in a stronger way and timing precision isn't quite as pinpoint as it could be, but the overall result is engaging all the same.
Importantly, their sonic character is one that will work well with a wide range of sources and recordings. It's analytical enough to satisfy with top-
quality inputs but forgiving with poorer alternatives.IMO With careful tuning of the bass control via an ipod or alternatively linked up to a headphone amp (Fiios E17 DAC and amp from amazon would be an excellent choice). These L1's value certainly multiplys.....And i think they are amazing
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on 24 August 2012
Philips aren't known for producing high end headphones. That's a fact, and one which may put off the audiophiles these cans are aimed towards. That makes it even more impressive then that Philips have gone all out and crafted a pair of headphones that I can see staying in my collection for many years.

First, the packaging. The headphones are very well packaged and the box holds no bells or whistles - You simply slide the box open and you're treated to the aroma of leather (from the headband) and the headphones. It certainly creates a good first impression. Under the headphone sleeve holds the two cables (one 'iPhone' suited one with the mic and i-thing controls and one 'standard' headphone cable), instructions etc. In an interesting design choice, these cables aren't connected directly into the headphone as you'd expect - There's a few inches of cable protruding from the headphone all ready (You can notice this from the pictures if you pay more attention than I did!) with a connector you attach the cable to. This has it's ups and downs - The positive being that if your cable gets stuck while in use, chances are the cable will just disconnect itself rather than sending your expensive headphones towards a hard service. The negative being that if the cables need replacing, there's no standard cable you can just go out and replace it with. However, it's important to note that much like the rest of the headphones, the cables are finished to a very high standard.

Onto the headphones themselves - The leather headband is reassuringly thickly padded - And is very comfortable. The Memory foam ear-pads, covered in faux leather fit my (rather large) ears very snuggly and again are very soft, while doing a very good job of isolating the noise. Overall, the L1's are one of the most comfortable headphones I've listened to and should definitely be considered for long listens. The rest of the headphones are finished to a very high standard, including the aluminium shell and the unique lot number of the headphones on the inside. So, an incredibly good looking pair of headphones then - and you'll be pleased to hear they sound as good as they look.

Sound wise, they're incredible. In many ways, I was expecting an 'off the shelf driver' sound but was completely corrected and impressed by the L1's. The High-definition optimally vented neodymium speaker drivers do their job and prove to be very dynamic, working well 'straight out the box' with a wide range of music. Sound is very natural and clear, with an impressive sound stage. As mentioned, they work very well straight from the box but seem to improve over time - and although they really come alive while being used with a good amp, they're more than suitable for producing a good sound straight from the source. Although they're not the best sounding headphones I own (that crown still goes to my AKG 702's), they're one of the most used due their versatility, durable build and portability. Certainly recommended.
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on 24 September 2013
I wanted a pair of headphones for use at home that were well made and not too bulky because my two kids will also use these on their electric piano. Having already returned a pair of Beats HD (heavy bass but no clarity in mid / treble and the cable snapped after a few weeks!!) ended up selecting these based on several good reviews on various audio sites.

I wouldn't normally associate Phillips with high end audio products but these are exceptionally well made - hand stitched leather and a thick aluminium headband give these a premium quality look. Also very comfy to wear. Finally and most importantly the sound is is very well balanced; not too heavy on the base but there is excellent definition across the range straight out of the box. I read quite a few reviews saying these headphones benefit from burning in so the audio performance should further improve with use too. Also they give more than sufficient volume using a IPod ( no need for a separate amp!! which I have read in some reviews).

Would highly recommend these to anyone who want excellent sound and build
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on 14 May 2013
These headphones are just great all rounders. I have tried PSB's, AKG K702's, Sony MD900's but I always go back to the L1's! Mostly I use them with a Fiio E11 Amp, Meridian Explorer DAC and a MacBook Pro and the sound is stunning. Then I can just take them out and use them with my iPhone 5. They are very comfortable and block noise out well. The AKG's are probably more accurate but the L1's are just loads more fun. Comparing the two makes the AKG's sound boring, and the Sony's simply have no Bass. These are a great bargain at Amazon, go buy them!!!
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on 11 April 2013
For years I've listened to my music at work with those little in-ear headphones. And I was perfectly happy with them. Until I got my hands on the Philips Fidelio L1 a few weeks ago. A world of difference! The clear sounds blew me away. Big pro is that even with the volume down, you can still enjoy all aspects of your music.
The quality of the sound is excellent and crystal clear, thanks to the High Definition neodymium- drivers. Each music variety displays well and with subtle music such as jazz al minute details are audible. When listening to Dance music, the bass drums `vibrated' less than they did with my old in-ears, but only with a windows application. When combined with an Apple product, bass intensity is easier to adapt.
Design and use
The design is elegant and minimalistic, very sophisticated. The headphones features can be adapted in every little detail to perfectly fit your head. The over-ear ear shells are very comfortable, even after a long while, with minimal sweating. The materials are durable, but the headphone is still light in weight. There are 3 cords, which can be couples, so the length of the cord is adaptable. One of the cords comes with a remote for an I Phone. It works like a charm, but only combined with Apple.
According to Philips, the Fidelio L1 is the ideal headphone for on the road, but for me, it is to big fort hat. The chocks of for example stepping disturb the music. The carrier bag is very pretty, but seems a little poor as protection.
Despite the semi-open back architecture of the ear shells, a passer-by will not notice any music escaping the Fidelio L1. Even with big bass drums, the isolation is perfect. For the listener, the isolation to the environment is perfectly balanced. Little to no noise enters, except for loud noises such as a phone ringing or your boss yelling.
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on 7 March 2013
Thease headphones exude quality. Made from durable materials and one of the most beautiful pair of headphones i have ever laid eyes on. The iPod remote is one of the best out there and the spare cable comes in handy for when you don't need the remote. You can also join them together if you need that extra length!

They are also the most comfortable pair of headphones i have ever owned and because of the semi open architecture, do not get too hot on my ears. For a semi open set, there is very little sound leakage unless you bump the volume right up - Philips have done a good job with their choice of materials for this. I prefer to listen to my music at moderate volumes so maybe this pair will not be for bassheads. Although, saying that, for about the same price as Dr Dre Beats you are getting so much more for your money.

In terms of sound quality, they have a dark and laid back sound which is perfect for home listening whilst relaxing on the sofa - they are extremely versatile as they can cope equally well with classical as well as more bassy genres. The L1's are easily driven by portable devices such as the iPod but also benefit from amping to provide the bass with more control and impact, for example the Fiio E6 complements the L1 well. Don't expect audiophile quality, but detail, clarity and frequency response across the range is all there. Soundstage is also good but not quite as good as open cans.

So in conclusion, if you want quality, look no further. These are truly the Bentley of the headphone world.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Philips Fidelio L1/00 headphones are in a single word; comfortable.

They fit your head just right; and this is made easier as the two phones are attached to adjustable arms - that have rulers in them so you can remember you want 2.2cm and quickly get back to your tunes. The headphones don't feel like a vice on your head; there is just a little pressure; the upside is unlike my previous phones when you look down they stay on your head. The large ear pads encompass your ears and are super soft; they also do a fair job of cutting out surrounding noise - but they are far from noise cancelling so not going to be your friend on a plane. They are maybe too big for wearing in public too but thats really your call.

Out of the box you have a choice of two connecting wires that attach to a shorter wire coming out of the cup; one with and one without an apple compatible remote / Microphone; unlike other designs the microphone isnt by your ear so the sound pickup is slightly better - and the remote is easier to use as isn;t alongside your face and the buttons are easy to use. The microphone works fine when making voice calls with your iPhone and I didnt haven any complains about scratching noises or outside ambient sounds.

Queuing up some music; they are remarkable for how good they sound; I had rated my B&W P5's very highly for their clear sound and excellent construction. The Fidelio's construction is more chunky but the materials all feel as impressive with nice leather and aluminium- though the supplied pouch-bag isn't quilted as the B&W one is. Fittingly for their physical comfort the Fidelio's are more laid back than the B&W phones; you aren't losing any detail or volume; everything just coalesces in a nicer way.

The Fidelio L1 really surprised me; they are excellently made and deliver a rich sound to whatever I threw at them from Elysium through Philip Glass the music was as detailed as my P5s it just sounded smoother and richer. Combined with the ability to look down whilst wearing them they are a great addition to my HiFi.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
On taking these out of the box they just exude class, and that's without even listening to them. The construction is top-notch, with solid, purposeful-looking aluminium earshells, a leather headband with just the right amount of padding, not to mention very comfortable ear-pads which you barely notice are covering your ears. The jack cable is material-covered rather than plastic, which again just seems higher quality.

As for the sound quality, I'm no expert, but have listened to a range of music types, from classical, through film scores to rock 'n' roll and heavy rock and am nothing but hugely impressed by everything so far. Everything sounds as clear as you'd hope, especially given the price.

The headphones are supremely comfortable, presumably mostly due to the just-right padding on the headband and the beautifully soft memory foam ear pads. There's no feeling of constriction around the ears or across the head.

As for looks, my 21-year-old daughter deems them cool enough for street wear and uses them whenever she can, so Philips seem to have all angles covered.
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