We had high hopes for the Philips Fidelio B1. This soundbar-with-wireless-subwoofer is made for small rooms and small TVs, and appears the best antidote to the bulkier choices taking up space both in the marketplace and in front of our TVs.
But the sound quality really has to justify that cost, not least because it must conquer the Award winning Q Acoustics Media 4 and be better worth than the Acoustic Energy Aego Soundbar, which is, in addition, designed for small spaces. Philips is off to a good start with the Philips Fidelio B1’s layout. The primary unit is solidly constructed and encased in a quite smart alloy grille. Philips calls it the ‘nano film speaker’ and it is definitely slender and streamlined, the perfect size for putting in front of your TV – particularly if you’ve limited shelf space.
Naturally, you can not anticipate a tremendous number of bass to come out of such a little unit, which is why Philips supplies a different subwoofer. It is slim and unobtrusive, and plugs in to the chief bar wirelessly, so you could set it anywhere in your room. A stand is included to keep the subwoofer upright when placed vertically, but we find it remains steady on its own also. The alloy buttons on the soundbar are wonderful to use when switching inputs or altering the volume, but you do get a remote control for all those functions, also. It’s possible for you to adjust the treble and bass of the Philips Fidelio B1, in addition to switch between music and film sound manners using the remote.
We are amazed Philips has managed to package this type of generous variety of connections into this small unit. Hidden away on the rear of the tavern are HDMI and optical input signals, and a 3.5mm auxiliary outlet for plugging in music players. There is even an HDMI ARC (sound return channel) connection for your TV. An easy LED display luminescence behind the metal grilles of the primary bar, with enormous letters indicating which source is chosen.
You will detect a USB port too, into which you are able to plug a memory stick full of tunes. The Fidelio B1 does not support any hi res music, but conventional-resolution WAV or MP3 files are good. If you are playing music through the Philips Fidelio B1, Bluetooth is fast to connect to your smartphone, and you’ll be able to stream any song saved on your own device. The Philips Fidelio B1 delivers a surprisingly broad spread of sound for its size. There are two drivers put at either end of the primary bar, with two more in the middle. Philips uses ‘ray’ technology to create a broad arc of sound, and a surround amplifier to power all channels (including the sub). For such a little unit it goes loud also, and, coupled with the broad soundstage, you will feel instantly drawn into the movie. There is a fair amount of detail – you can follow the pinging gunshots in the John Wick Blu ray, get a sense of the setting inside the refined Continental Hotel, and follow the deadpan dialogue. But that is where the good news ends. There is not a great deal of solid weight underpinning the Philips Fidelio B1’s sound and, consequently, sound effects do not make a pleasing impact or have strength of certainty when whizzing around the display.
The Philips has a skimpy demo, with a coarseness at the border of the mid-range that is challenging to smooth out even after running-in. Voices sound hollow, and our five star Samsung UE55KS9000 TV does a better job at producing strong, nuanced voices that sound natural and expressive. It may also make Keanu Reeves’s wooden delivery sound fairly expressive.
We were anticipating a tremendous jump in sound quality, but the Philips Fidelio B1’s languid demonstration comes to the fore when playing movies or music. If the TV seems better on its own, you understand the soundbar is not doing its job. Play Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense concert on DVD, and the Philips fights to keep tabs on the driving beat of Girlfriend Is Better. There is an effort to keep pace: bass notes are alluded to, but they do not reach too deep or rumble with texture. The borders of notes lack the precision and clarity of opponents like the Q Acoustics Media 4, which spoils the Philips’ ability to interpret tight, fast-moving beats. We had recommend staying in Music manner, as ‘Film’ thins the sound out – which, in the Fidelio B1’s event, isn’t a great thing. The slender, vulgar edge is emphasized and takes away any solidity that exists. The Philips Fidelio B1 draws us in with its enormous, open and broad sound, but does little to keep us captivated. The deficiency of rhythmic precision, penetration and a lousy manner with voices mean it is difficult to justify at the cost. We anticipate a performance we favor much more than the TV’s own loudspeakers. The Fidelio Philips Fidelio B1 is an excellent notion, but we expect Philips can do it better next time. And charge less for it.
Share This on Facebook