Philips Fidelio X2 review

Brilliant headphones for a brilliant price

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Editor's Choice

Our Verdict

The Philips Fidelio X2's are a superb pair of headphones offering premium comfort and build quality with a sound that rivals even the most vaunted audiophile cans.

For

  • Brilliant sound
  • Superb value
  • Premium build
  • Very comfortable

Against

  • Lacks extras

The Philips Fidelio X2 are a truly stunning pair of headphones.

Offering supreme sound quality, gorgeous design, premium build quality and fantastic levels of comfort - they're also one of the best value headphones we've tested in a long time.

I couldn't have come into a pair of Fidelio X2's at a more perfect time. I was doing a group test of audiophile cans for T3 magazine just before Christmas, so was able to test them against legendary products like the Sennheiser HD800 and Oppo PM-1 as well as newly-launched flagship headphones from both Sony and Shure.

Despite being by some distance the cheapest pair of headphones in the test, the X2's held their own on pure sound, led the way on comfort and frankly made a mockery of the extortionate prices that some of the other products go for.

Lest we forget, you could buy a pair of $299/£220 Fidelio X2's for yourself and one each for three family members for less than the price of a single pair of HD800 or PM-1.

philips fidelio x2 review

Superb performers

So why are the Philips Fidelio X2's so good? Their majesty starts to come across from the second you take them out of the box. They're big, that's for sure. And the premium build materials and 50mm neodynium drivers ensure they're satisfyingly weighty without being heavy.

The airy hammock underneath the headband ensures a super comfortable fit, and the (removable/replaceable) memory foam earpads sit around the ears and clamp on to your head with a satisfyingly firm grip and a soft touch.

It's when you start driving these things that their all-round brilliance suddenly becomes clear though. They're not quite as neutral as some Philips headphones of the past, but they carry an audio signature that makes me extremely happy. Even before burn-in they're just so easy to listen to.

The sound is led by some meaty but clear mids, backed up by a really satisfying balance of bass and treble. Perhaps the treble might be a bit pronounced for some ears, but I found the detail that these headphones produce is exquisite as a result.

philips fidelio x2 review

The bass is extremely tight and precise, restrained but also powerful and incredibly detailed. The effortless way that the X2's perform from all kinds of sources is really quite something.

I started by testing using a Musical Fidelity headphone amp and a Tidal stream, but really these headphones sound great even from the inferior DAC inside my Galaxy Note 3.

Many audiophile grade headphones have too much impedance to be driven by mobile devices and need an amplifier, but not these from Philips. They're just as happy being paired with an iPad as a £2000 amp.

Minor drawbacks

As you would expect though, they're not perfect. They do leak sound, and they're not super isolating so on a bus you're going to be disturbed. The 3m cable is not ideal for out and about listening, either - though you could argue that the open back design of the cans aren't made for on the go listening anyway.

And the lack of a travel case certainly backs that notion up - though I suspect the omission of such a case is more about keeping that price down than anything else. And the headphones are so big that a travel case would have to be really quite unwieldy anyway.

I also had a few minor issues with the 3.5mm jack. On a couple of occasions the left channel cut out and I needed to waggle the jack in the earcup in order to get the sound back. This niggle seemed to disappear after a while though - these things happen and it doesn't look like it's a lasting issue.

philips fidelio x2 review

Verdict

These headphones are so good. It says a lot that with multiple pairs of far more expensive headphones under my desk, these have been my cans of choice lately.

Perhaps on sheer sound quality they're a notch off the likes of the top Oppo or Sennheiser offerings. But the fact that you'd be saving vast amounts of cash by opting for the Philips is just a no brainer.

My out-and-out favourite headphones are still probably the PM-1 but the X2's are a close second - they're more comfortable to wear for long periods, easier to keep on your head, far, far cheaper... and they look better too.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Reviews Editor

James (Twitter, ) oversees the reviews we publish on the site and also edits the TV, AV, Gaming, Car Tech and Gadgets channels. He's been in the field for 13 years, and travels all over the world to attend tech shows, product launches and cult gatherings. James' opinions have been inflicted on audiences of BBC TV, Radio 5 Live, The Guardian, local radio and various magazines and he's a grizzled veteran of most tech shows but will never again to return to CeBIT (no means no).