Philips Fidelio L4 review: rich and crisp audio quality with some strange bugs

Almost a class leading option

Philips Fidelio L4
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

The Philips Fidelio L4 are almost at the level of the Sony WH-1000XM5 and other popular cans. They sound great and fit well, but some weird bugs let them slightly down and leave you wondering if the next revision will be the perfect pair.

Pros

  • +

    Rich and crisp audio

  • +

    Reliable ANC

  • +

    Comfy build

Cons

  • -

    Disconnection issues

  • -

    They don’t fold

  • -

    Not exactly stylish

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Philips Fidelio L4 review: Two-minute review

I absolutely want to love the Philips Fidelio L4. In many ways, they undercut the Sony WH-1000XM5 perfectly ensuring you get something for less while still benefiting from all the features you’d want from one of the best headphones.

The problem lies in the execution. The Philips Fidelio L4 suffers from a few too many disconnection issues. When playing, it sounds fantastic. Audio is rich, vibrant, and with just the right amount of bass to ensure you don’t miss out on crisp mids and trebles. The problem is that sometimes it simply drops out and I can’t figure out why. Instinctively, it seems like wear detection could be a problem but even when disabled, the Philips Fidelio L4 would sometimes just switch off, acting like it was doing you a favor. 

It’s frustrating because the Philips Fidelio L4 are good enough that they still deserve a high rating. Besides the exceptional sound quality, there’s also up to 50 hours of battery life which easily beats the competition. A 15 minute charge gives back 14 hours which is ridiculously good going. 

For $349 / £300, the Philips Fidelio L4 are well-priced among strong competition even if they’re not the most exciting looking. You’ll love how great it sounds until it cuts out and you’re left wondering just what you did while you restart the headphones. Still, weirdly, they sound so good, it’s a little easier to forgive than maybe it should be.

Philips Fidelio L4 review: Price and release date

Philips Fidelio L4 earcup

(Image credit: Future)
  • Released in December 2023
  • Officially priced at $349 / £300

The Philips Fidelio L4 was released in December 2023 for £300. Currently available in the UK, the Philips Fidelio L4 is also set for release in the US for $349 although, at the time of writing, isn’t currently available to buy.  

The headphones are available solely in black – a fairly traditional color for headphones – so don’t go looking for fancy colorways. 

At this price point, the Philips Fidelio L4’s biggest rivals are the Sony WH-1000XM5 and the Bose QuietComfort 45, which offer very similar features but more brand recognition and as we’ll see later – more reliability too. There’s always the Apple AirPods Max if you want to spend more too.

Philips Fidelio L4 review: Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Philips Fidelio L4
Drivers40mm
Active Noise CancellationYes
Battery lifeUp to 40 hours (ANC on), up to 50 hours (ANC off)
Weight 330g
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.3, 3.5mm
Waterproofing No

Philips Fidelio L4 review: Features

Philips Fidelio L4 button features

(Image credit: Future)
  • Wear detection
  • Simple to use app
  • Adjustable EQ
  • Up to 50 hours battery life

The Philips Fidelio L4 packs all the key features you could need. At least when they’re working nicely. The Philips headphones app guides you through the essentials. There’s wear detection, auto on/off and an adjustable EQ. The latter comes with four presets but it’s always good to be able to adjust things for yourself too. 

Other useful features include LDAC support, voice assistant functionality, spatial audio (although no head tracking), and touch controls too. Multipoint support means it’s easy to hook the cans up to multiple devices at once too – a feature that’s fast becoming an essential given how many devices I switch between on a daily basis. There’s also Bluetooth 5.3 support and a 3.5mm jack for listening to music more crisply. 

Sounds perfect, right? Yes and no. While using the Philips Fidelio L4, I found it very prone to random disconnections. I could be idly listening to a song and then suddenly, the headphones would make a couple of shutting down style sounds and do exactly that. At first, it seemed like a battery issue but I found turning off wear detection and touch controls seemed to help matters. It’s a weird one to pin down as it doesn’t seem to be entirely down to wear detection but it’s an irritant on what we’ll soon see is an otherwise exceptional pair of cans and definitely a dealbreaker. 

The Philips Fidelio L4 blows the competition out of the water with up to 50 hours with ANC off promised or 40 hours with it enabled. In real world use, that dips a tiny bit but not by much making these cans one of the longer lasting headphones around. Full recharging takes about two hours but 15 minutes worth returns 14 hours. You read that right. It’s quite remarkable. 

Features score: 3/5

Philips Fidelio L4 review: Sound quality

Philips Fidelio L4 app screen

(Image credit: Future)
  • Strong ANC
  • Super crisp and rich audio
  • Adjustable EQ

If I were to point out one stand out feature about the Philips Fidelio L4, it’s how great it sounds. We’re talking best over-ear headphones level with them sounding on a par with the Sony WH-1000XM5 and all those that compete with it.

Out of the box, I was impressed by how vibrant everything sounded. My random playlist came out with Black Eyed Peas’ I Gotta Feeling and it instantly feels punchy and ridiculously enthusiastic. Switch over to something calmer like The Beach Boys’ God Only Knows and the mids sound beautifully smooth and detailed with the treble offering a hint of sparkly magic. It’s all just a bit delightful.

Something like Erasure’s A Little Respect demonstrates how well the bass mixes in with the mids so that it never overwhelms the sound, right before diving into something far punchier like Muse’s You Make Me Feel Like Halloween

Out of the box, the Philips Fidelio L4 sound good but dipping into the app means the chance to tweak the EQ or choose one of the four presets. Bass ended up my favorite but that differed depending on the song with Treble also standing out nicely for vibrancy. Crucially, unlike some inferior headphones, you can genuinely hear the differences here. 

Add on some solidly dependable ANC and the Philips Fidelio L4 are the headphones to wear on your walk or in a busy office to guarantee you won’t be distracted by environmental noises while you take in your favorites.

Sound quality score: 5/5

Philips Fidelio L4 review: Design

Philips Fidelio L4 design

(Image credit: Future)
  • Comfy
  • Doesn’t fold
  • Touch controls

In your hands, the Philips Fidelio L4 feel a little cheaper than their actual price tag. They don’t feel as high-end as the competition for instance, but they are fairly light on your head. The foam ear cups feel comfy while fully covering your ears aiding the ANC. The headband adjusts in a fairly sleek fashion so there’s no risk of that perilous crunch you can get with others. 

However, the Philips Fidelio L4 doesn’t fold, which instantly makes it feel less portable than others. You’re tossing them into your bag as they are on your head which feels a little unsafe. On the other hand, they do feel reasonably robust in your hands so hopefully I’m just being overly anxious.

On the left ear cup is the power button and USB-C port, while the right hand side has the 3.5mm port, along with controls for the mic and ANC. The bulk of the controls come from the touch sensitive surface on the right ear cup. Gestures work well here with accidental taps rarely an issue. 

Design score: 4/5

Philips Fidelio L4 review: Value

Philips Fidelio L4

(Image credit: Future)
  • Premium features
  • Middling build

The Philips Fidelio L4 don’t feel as high-end in your hands as the Sony WH-1000XM5 or Bose 700s but they are slightly cheaper. For features, the Philips Fidelio L4 are definitely on a par providing they work reliably.

If those temperamental issues are sorted, the Philips Fidelio L4 will be a bit of a bargain undercutting its main rivals but as it stands, it’s a more uncertain proposition.

Value score: 3/5

Should I buy the Philips Fidelio L4?

Philips Fidelio L4 earcup close up

(Image credit: Future)
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Attributes Notes Rating
Features On paper, these have everything you need with exceptional battery life to boot but can be buggy.4/5
DesignWhile the lack of a folding mechanic makes these less portable, they're very comfortable. 4/5
Sound qualityRich, crisp and everything you could want5/5
Value Good value when it’s stable but otherwise trickier3/5

Buy them if... 

You want great sound quality
The Philips Fidelio L4 are rich, crisp, and feel like they’re reinventing whatever you’re listening to.

You want plenty of features
The Philips Fidelio L4 has it all – multipoint pairing, great ANC, wear detection and a great app.

You want fantastic battery life
Exceptional battery life right down to a phenomenal 14 hours back from a 15-minute quick charge. 

Don’t buy them if...

You want reliability
We’re not sure why the Philips Fidelio L4 cuts out sometimes but it’s definitely an issue at times.

You want good looks
The Philips Fidelio L4 is pretty dull looking. Functional but there are more stylish alternatives.

You want maximum portability
The Philips Fidelio L4 come with a travel case but the cans don’t fold which is an issue for those short on space.

Philips Fidelio L4 review: Also consider

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Header Cell - Column 0 Philips Fidelio L4Sony WH-1000XM5Bose QuietComfort 45
Drivers 40mm30mm40mm
Active Noise Cancellation YesYesYes
Battery life Up to 40 hours (ANC on), up to 50 hours (ANC off)Up to 40 hours (ANC off), up to 30 hours (ANC on)Up to 24 hours (ANC on)
Weight 330g250g240g
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.3, 3.5mmBluetooth 5.2Bluetooth 5.1
Image

Sony WH-1000XM5
The dominating force in the market, the Sony WH-1000XM5 look a little more stylish and offer a more reliable connection but you’ll be surprised how well matched the headphones are aurally. 

Read out full Sony WH-1000XM5 review 

Image

Bose QuietComfort 45
Superior ANC makes the Bose QuietComfort 45 a better bet for travelers and those in noisy offices. Don’t count on great battery life though.

Read our full Bose QuietComfort 45 review

How I tested the Philips Fidelio L4

Philips Fidelio L4

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested over 10 days in a variety of situations
  • Listened against the Sony WH-1000XM4, Apple AirPods Pro 2, and Beats Studio Pro
  • Listened to Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube videos, and Twitch

The Philips Fidelio L4 replaced my usual daily combo of headphones – the Apple AirPods Pro 2 and Sony WH-1000XM4 – over a period of just over a week. 

They were with me during my morning daily walks as the perfect test of how comfy they are on the move. I also wore them during more chilled listening sessions in the evenings to see how well they worked when relaxed in a living room environment. 

I gave the ANC a good challenge by walking alongside busy rush hour traffic, along with wearing them during loud housework and my neighbours’ never-ending construction work. In typical Welsh fashion, they also had to face up against some very loud stormy weather too. 

During the day, I’d wear them in my home office while working. For the most part, I’d listen to Spotify or Twitch streams. In the evenings, I’d listen to YouTube videos while any walks were handled by Apple Music. 

Genres were pretty varied from classical to rock, cheesy recent pop, and some jazz too. Twitch streams and YouTube videos were predominantly gaming related. 

I’ve been reviewing audio products for about 10 years and know what sounds good and what doesn’t. I also appreciate there’s not much point in having great sounding headphones that feel awful on your head.

  • First reviewed in December 2023
Jennifer Allen

Jennifer is a roving tech freelancer with over 10 years experience. Having graduated from Swansea University with a degree in Media and Communication Studies, and later with a diploma from Staffordshire University with a post graduate diploma in Computer Games Design, she's written for a huge number of publications, including T3, FitandWell, Top Ten Reviews, Eurogamer, NME and many more. 


Her main areas of interest are all things B2B, smart technology, wearables, speakers, headphones, and anything gaming related, and you'll find her writing everything from product reviews to buying guides. In her spare time, she enjoys the cinema, walking, and attempting to train her pet guinea pigs. She is yet to succeed.