Published on April 26th, 2015 | by Igor Rebenko0
Review: Philips Fidelio L2
Pros: Detail & clarity, beautifully designed, sturdy materials, balanced & natural sound signature, removable cable.
Cons: Non-removable pads.
Disclaimer: I did not purchase the Philips Fidelio L2 and do not own it. I’ve had 1 week with it and the thinksound rain2. So please take what I have to say with a grain of salt, or two.
Philips is one of those brands that I would always dismiss in the headphone game. In the early years I’ve tried one or two headphone from Philips which weren’t exactly decent sounding. They weren’t the most expensive either, but back then I never thought of Philips to be in the “audiophile” category. This of course wasn’t until I tried the Fidelio X1. The X1 is a masterpiece to say the least. They completely changed the way I saw Philips in their ability to make a good headphone. I was more than impressed. So when a Head-Fi user d marc0 asked me to be a part of this tour I couldn’t help but have a huge smile on my face when I gladly obliged.
A little about the Philips Fidelio L2
|12 – 25 000 Hz|
Maximum power input:
|< 0.1% THD|
Thanks to Mr. Tyll Hertsens for measuring these wonderful headphones!
You can see that there is a dip in the 5k region and it peaks back up to the 7k and drops back down to and past 10k. To me this is quite surprising because I find the L2 to be quite a bright headphone. The dip in the 5k region means that there is little sibilance. The elevated bass region plays well with what I expect for an open back headphone to keep the bass adequate. And the mids are flatter that what I perceived in my listening.
The Fidelios come in a pretty big black box with quite a lot going on on it. A bunch of contrasting colours come together to give out a huge presentation which is elegant and inviting, simple and technical. All the relevant information is there on the box. The technology which is put into the headphone is written in 8 different languages. Even on the inside of the box there is some kind of safety information I’ve not seen before on any headphone packaging.
In the box you’ll find:
- The headphones (obviously)
- A cable (I suspect it comes with 2 cables one with and one without remote).
- A very nice felt (suede like material) lined with a polyester inner for which I can only guess is for weather proofing.
- A 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter.
Design & Comfort
If I was to describe the Fidelio L2 with only one word, that word would be “Stunning”! The L2 is probably one of the best looking headphones I’ve ever had the pleasure to get my hands on.
First thing that grabs your eyes is that beautiful red stitching on the headband. The headphone is a wonderful combination of brown, red, charcoal and black. As you look on, you realise what an absolutely brilliant idea was it to give those subtle yet eye-catching red accents. Superb!
The headphone is made from a variety of materials which all look and feel premium in every sense. The red stitching holds together the supple headband covering which is made from brown leather (or faux leather). From what I can gather, the headband is made from aluminium and the cups are plastic. Every piece that goes into it looks like it was made precisely and with purpose. Back of the cups has a mesh grille which I can just guess is made from stainless steel.
The earpads are a bit of a bummer. Don’t get me wrong. They’re soft and comfortable, but they’re not removable. I just wish this wasn’t the case. For me, I feel like a bigger size of earpads would do wonders for this headphone, but this is a personal preference.
Clamping force is also quite loose on this headphone for my small head which also plays into why I dislike the earpads. If it had a little tighter hold the pads wouldn’t be such a downer for me.
Cable is removable and seems to have a proprietary style of retaining the connector. I thank Philips for not going with another crazy plug system. It’s a standard TRS 3.5mm (1/8in) connector. The female jack is a little close to the flange so if you wanted to use a custom cable it would need to be a small diameter jacket/cover. I was unable to use none of my custom cables on it for this reason.
The cable provided is a paracord sheathed 3.5mm TRS to 3.5mm TRS jack. It’s soft and flexible and seems to be very tangle resistant. It’s quite thick and looks like it will last a long time. The cable has little to no mechanical noise or microphonics. I’ve read that it should also come with an in-line mic cable, but was not provided with the tour unit.
I found that these have a weird open design. I have 3 kids which are not very quiet at all, and they give me a very good indicator on how good isolation is on any particular headphone. I have found that whilst the L2s leak quite a bit of sound out they don’t let a lot of noise in. Making them quite a good headphone for home use while private listening, watching movies and gaming when there are no other people you can annoy, but have quite a bit of ambient noise from, say, construction sites and other noise pollutants.
It’s pretty hard to describe how brilliant this headphone sounds. It is a very balanced sound with a lot of layering going on. It extends quite well into both treble and bass and seems to be very coherent throughout the whole spectrum. It has a very natural timber for acoustic and electronic music. And to put the icing on the cake, it scales extremely well with gear; give it more juice and it’ll sound better and better every time. I was thoroughly impressed with this headphone, and it doesn’t cease to put a smile on my face ever time I plop it on my noggin.
Soundstage & Imaging
The soundstage of this headphone is actually quite intimate and is slightly above average. But where this intimate soundstage shines is coupled with the excellent imaging. The imaging has really excellent depth and height. It layers very well, giving you a very realistic listening experience, as if the band is playing a few feet in front of you. There is good air and separation between instruments. It’s very satisfying indeed!
The treble is probably the best aspect of this headphone. It’s crisp and clear, it extends well and feels quite linear. Maybe sometimes sound a tiny bit dry and blunted. But very smooth, natural and enjoyable. The treble is very coherent, so much so that I found that this is probably the best headphone for listening to trance music where there is a lot of synths and female vocals trying to fight for the front of the stage, almost always sounding congested, but not on these headphone. The layering is done so well that everything has it’s own place.
Mids are perfect on this headphone. Never sounding dry, forward or recessed. I found that the L2 did extremely well with both female and male vocals giving them the timber they both deserve. Acoustic guitars sound very natural. Everything meshes very well together with great synergy and harmony.
The bass is amazingly balanced with good kick and rubble when called upon. It’s not elevated but it’s warm, tight and fast. Super natural. Bass guitars roll through the notes flawlessly and the bass kick is punchy and fast on decay.
A quick comparison to the Takstar Pro 80
The Takstar Pro 80 is my baseline comparison headphone I compare ALL headphone and IEMs I audition. Only for the fact that it punches WAY above it’s price range. Only costing ~$70 + $15 for the HM5 pads, I’ve seen them put $200+ headphones to shame.
The L2 definitely sounds like the more smoother and more neutral listen. It has an overall fuller and warmer presentation. It also seems a little more mid forward with more layering going on. Bass seems more mid bass oriented.
The Takstar Pro 80 seems to be a flatter slightly brighter more metallic sounding headphone. The Pro 80 surprisingly sounds airier with a wider soundstage. Pro 80 sounds a little dryer in the mids. It has noticeable more kick in the bass being more sub-base orientated.
This is probably the best sounding headphone that I’ve had the experience of trying on a review tour. With it’s absolutely brilliant natural and balanced sound signature and pin point accuracy and layering, and the fact that it has amazing synergy with all my gear which only got better with more power, it is definitely a headphone that I would want to own. I think it would be the perfect open back companion for my Takstar Pro 80. I want to applaud Philips for coming out with such amazingly sounding headphone with the L and X series. They’re definitely doing something right over there.