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Customer Review

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb quality in every respect, 3 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Philips Fidelio X1/00 Hi-Fi Stereo Indoor Headphones (discontinued by manufacturer) (Electronics)
Short Version

These are extremely well engineered headphones, very comfortable and come with 3m of high quality cable which is detachable from the headphones. Also included is a high quality 3.5mm adapter. The sound quality is excellent both direct from a CD source from the CD players headphone stage and from a classic iPod with Apple lossless tracks. My current headphones have been the Grado 80i's and they are often the ones recommended in reviews as the best sub £200 ones. These X1's are a noticeable improvement with a definite difference in the width of the sound stage and separation of singers and instruments. I can hear instruments more clearly on a variety of music, sometimes even hearing instruments that I cannot distinguish on the Grado's. The only downside I have noticed so far is that the iPod cannot drive them loud enough for me. I am having to use my X11 amp to get a decent volume. This is not an issue when playing CD's.I have tried a variety of music from Tony Bennett Duets II to Joseph Calleja 'Tenor Arias' and everything inbetween including Slash, Bob Dylan and the Band of the Royal Marines. Every single CD shows an improvement and I know these inside out having played each one many times on the Grado's.

If like me you like somewhere where you cannot have decent speakers or perhaps you cannot afford them then these headphones could be the way for you to enjoy music in better quality than you may otherwise achieve through speakers of a similar or probably even much higher price.

Long Version

The build quality is very good, the ear pads are soft and velvety and very comfortable to wear for a long period of listening. The headband does press down a little more than I am used to but after a while you don't notice and it is very soft and comfortable. The cable plugs into the left side and is an ideal length for me at 3m meaning I do not have to use an extension cable as I do with my Grado's. It does not feel like a normal headphone cable but is soft to the touch and it is thinner than the Grado's. However this obviously has no effect on the performance. It is supplied with a 3.5mm gold plated adapter for use with iPods and other media players.

Should these be run in? I honestly don't know. I have played them for several hours and I cannot tell. With the Grado's they sound the same after many months as they did on day one. I will update this review if I notice any real difference in the coming weeks.

Update: After 6 weeks of very frequent daily use I do not believe these headphones need running in and are at their best straight out of the box. If there is a difference I cannot tell.

I have listened to a wide variety of music and the main points common to all the tracks is the increase in width of the sound stage, a more open feeling and the ability to discern individual instruments. The Grado's are fine headphones but these X1's take listening to a new level.

Joseph Calleja - Tenor Arias. Mr Calleja is one of todays finest tenors and I chose this album because it is well engineered and lacks flaws found in other older recordings from the likes of Pavarotti and Callas. It sounds like he is standing right in front of you on stage with the orchestra placed beautifully behind him and set out across the stage from left to right. You can hear him pronounce every word clearly and there is no hint whatsoever of any distortion on high notes even at high volume levels.

UPDATE:- Listening to Joseph Calleja 'Be My Love' Be My Love - A Tribute to Mario Lanza was fabulous on these headphones but when I downloaded the FLAC 24bit 96kHz version of this album from Linn Records it opened up this album even more and really demonstrated how a High Definition download can improve on a normal CD.

Tony Bennett - Duets II. Track one with Lady Gaga, the Lady is a Tramp, just jumps out at you when Lady Gagga joins in. Tony Bennett has such a distinctive voice and this is fully demonstrated by these headphones. This is one of my favourite albums and in some respects I feel I have been missing out on something until now.

Michael Monroe - Sensory Overdrive. This is the sort of album to listen too when you want to drown the World out, hard hitting fast paced rock. There is an improvement of the Grado's in general terms but not as much as with the previous albums mentioned. I tried Rainbow Rising and Pat Bennatar Greatest Hits and have to say this is the general feeling I am getting. A definite improvement but the 'Rock' genre does not seem to benefit as much. However lets be clear in that there is nothing wrong listening to rock through these headphones and they deliver an excellent experience however I would have to say that if I only listened to rock I would find it hard to justify the additional cost to upgrade from the Grado's as I don't think there is £150 worth of difference.

Jussi Bjorling - The Ultimate Collection. Recorded in the 40's and 50's and released in 1995, this is a CD of opera from IMHO the greatest tenor ever that I am most familiar listening to through headphones and speakers. There is a tremendous difference with Bjorling powering through a varied repertoire without the distortion and hiss usually associated with recordings of this period. These headphones really bring to life the true beauty of his voice and despite the primitive recording technology the orchestra and singer are clearly differentiated and the sound stage is also wider.

Rod Stewart - Still The Same. Track8, Father and Son. That great Cat Stevens song. One of the most distinctive voices in popular music singing an iconic song. The X1's are definitely suited to this kind of music with a solo voice and high quality musicians that can be placed individually. What I noticed more was more bass in the drums and Rod's voice was just more 'Rod' if that makes any sense.

iPod listening - all of my tracks are in the Apple lossless format. These headphones have definitely improved the listening qualities removing some of the hard edge and giving them a less compressed sound.I find I get listening fatigue much sooner with my iPod than I do from my CD player but this has not been the case with the X1's. The main downside is that my classic iPod will not drive these phones with a sufficiently loud enough volume for me. I have a couple of small headphone amplifiers I usually use with my iPod anyway, the X11 and X5 but I prefer not to use them as there is an effect on the sound quality, especially with the cheaper X5. This effect is minimised somewhat by these headphones but it is still there. The X11 can really drive these phones well and uncomfortably loud listening levels are easily achievable.

In summary, apart from the Stax Lambda Signatures I owned about 10 years ago with their valve amplifier, these are the best headphones I have ever used. For under £300 they offer tremendous value and a very satisfying listening experience across a wide variety of music. Their strength is definitely solo voice and orchestra, jazz, Country and Folk. There weakness, if you can call it that, is heavy rock.

Update: I have now started listening to Hi Definition Audio downloads using JRiver Media Centre and the WASAPI driver via USB to my DAC. I have a number of studio Quality FLAC lossless albums including the excellent 'Tubular Bells' from Bowers & Wilkins. These headphones really produce fantastic results with these Hi Def files, much better than CD or Apple Lossless. When comparing these files played through my old Grado 80i headphones and these ones this is where the biggest difference is shown and really demonstrates how much better these headphones are.
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