Customer Review

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Musical Headphone, 28 July 2013
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This review is from: Philips Fidelio X1/00 Hi-Fi Stereo Indoor Headphones (Electronics)
Tested with:
1. Cyrus CD 8 SE2/Cyrus PSX-R + Lehmann Black Cube Linear Headphone Amp
2. Arcam FMJ CD 36/Arcam DV 139 - for SACD + Arcam A32 Amp
QED Signature Audio XT interconnects

I'm very impressed with the Fidelio X1, it's entering a fiercely competitive market place but I think it's going to raise more than a few eye brows from it's competitors. Compared to the open headphones I have at this price point (AKG 702 & Q701, Sennheiser HD 600 & HD 650), it really is an impressive piece if gear.

It's an open circumaural design, so the usual applies: high sound leakage and poor noise isolation. You'll need somewhere quiet, the reward though is a spacious & airy soundstage that you wont find on any closed h/phone at any price point.

And the soundstage here is one of the best I've heard. Not only does it rival the renowned AKGs, it trumps it when it comes to depth. Film soundtracks/classical through these is nothing short of breath taking. The width & depth these delivered on Jerry Goldsmith's "Basic Instinct" score really did surprise me. I'd not heard this delivered, on any headphone, with such authority & on such a scale. The separation & detail (particularly the upper mids) on the X1 is impressive indeed.
Likewise, playing Secret Garden's " Duo" (violin with orchestra), the depth was just stunning. I compared it to the Q701s to make sure I wasn't imagining things - I wasn't. One of the things I love about floor standing speakers is the low end on film soundtracks/classical - & this is the first h/phone that I've ever heard that comes close to that dynamic vibe - the X1 goes down really low. Ok, it's not that out of you head feeling & sensation of sitting in front of the speakers physically feeling the bass - but it's still pretty damn good. Yes, you'll find closed h/phones that go low, but there're "boxed in" with inferior soundstage & very often have awful colouration. This is an open design, so you get the low end but with an expansive soundstage & all the details across the musical spectrum with a real sense of air in the upper midrange. It really is quite stunning.

The X1, to my ears at least, has a natural, full & warm signature sound (note: my h/phone amp has valve-like warmth - so may have exaggerated this impression of warmth -although it also sounded warmish via Arcam amp) . An important point, it has an elevated lower bass & this may not be to every ones taste. I should stress, this bass is well controlled - but it is clearly elevated. The Fidelio is not a neutral headphone, what it lacks in neutrality it makes up for in musicality. Like the HD 650, it's a real musical can.

I was surprised, is how good the midbass, midrange & treble are. The X1 does roll off the treble near the top end, in the same way the HD 600 does - but in no way is the treble recessed, as is case on the HD 650. This roll off allows for pro-longed sessions, as fatigue is less likely to set in - as can be the case with a very bright h/phone. The midrange is full & compelling, on par with the HD 600 - one of the best cans for midrange. So vocals sound wonderful. This gives the X1 a versatility across many genres whether it's classical, jazz, country, pop, disco, rock etc. The X1's bass capabilities mean it also works well with house, dub, hip hop etc. At times I did think the bass was just a bit intrusive - with some soft rock & Jazz MOR tracks.

To get the best out of these you will need a good sound source & amp. I felt the best results where through the h/phone amp. They sounded very good on the stereo amp but even at medium volumes they lacked the clarity & soundstage of the h/phone amp, the bass wasn't as controlled & the treble was slightly grainy. This was less obvious though at low volumes.

Of the h/phones I mention above, the X1 signature sound is closest to Sennheiser's HD 650. The X1's are warm (not as warm as the 650). have strong mids with extended bass. Their bass extends deeper than the 650 (650 has an extended upper bass & weaker low bass). Admittedly, the 650 is dark - the X1 definitely isn't. The X1 has a superior open soundstage & is much more transparent, it will reveal details/textures that wont be audible on the 650.

If you want "the truth & nothing but the truth", then the AKG 702's analytical side of neutral is one to consider auditioning.
If your seeking neutrality but with a touch of refinement in the treble, audition the Q 701.
Both these AKGs have a more overt top end (esp the 702) & are more leaner but punchier sounding both in bass/mid than either the sennheisers or the Fidelio X1. If you want neutrality but with some warmth & smoothness, then check out HD 600. It's not quiet as open as the AKGs but is fuller bodied.

However, if you value sheer musicality above all else & want a phone that is rich & full bodied but still detailed & open with a sense of air- sounding good across many genres - then I'd strongly recommend you audition the X1. It's one of best h/phones I've ever heard, I really was stunned with orchestral tracks that I played though these via Lehmann's h/phone amp. I also love the lows on dance/dub & the details it yields on soul/disco/rock. And vocals really shine with a natural air. At it's current price, it offers outstanding value. I wouldn't be surprised if a year from now, the X1 retails at a higher price point.

Note: I'm not sure the ear pads are replaceable. I have e-mailed Philips re this issue & will post reply once received. It's an issue they'll need to sort out on future editions of the can - they will wear down after pro-longed use & this could affect soundstage quality of the can.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Aug 2013 14:55:34 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 Aug 2013 18:19:21 BDT
IW says:
No reply from Philips.

The ear pads are not replaceable though. The driver housing has 4 plugs that plug into holes on the ear pad & they are then glued together.

Another issue you may want to be aware of: there are rumblings online from headfiers that the ohm resistant of the stock cable is unusually high for a headphone cable. This potentially could affect aspects such as imagery, separation etc. I personally haven't noticed any issues as yet - the cable is replaceable though. Refer to Innerfidelity web site for full details re this.

I've just noticed that Amazon have knocked nearly 100 off these. They were a great buy at full retail - they are a steal at the current offering.

Posted on 9 Aug 2013 17:06:09 BDT
IW says:
Finally heard back from Philips. They stated that there is only one part listed for this model and that's the detachable cable. They did say they would raise it with the appropriate department, so that the ear pads may be available in the future as a spare part.

Posted on 8 Sep 2013 17:45:05 BDT
IW says:
Burn in

As these are now on sale, I bought another pair to use upstairs. Normally, when I buy a h/phone I automatically burn them in for 20/30 hrs before I use them. When the new Fidelio came, I thought I'd listen straight out of the box to compare with the one I've had for a couple of months.

It didn't sound as good straight out of the box. It wasn't as open, detailed or as refined - especially the treble and upper midrange. It definitely needs 20/30 hrs burn in, to "open up" h/phone. Also, I should have previously mentioned, for best results use with a Low impedance amp.

Despite the elevated bass, this h/phone has a very balanced signature sound. Last month I also bought the Denon AH-D600 which also has an elevated bass (even more so than the Fidelio). The AH-D600's signature sound, though, is nowhere near as balanced as the X1's, it has a noticeable recessed midrange and poor treble - it's bass dominates proceedings and bleeds into the mids. Admittedly, the Denon is a closed can but it's not in the same league as the X1, when it comes to presenting an overall balanced sound, IMHO of course.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Oct 2013 19:40:30 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 25 Oct 2013 21:17:42 BDT]
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