Philips’ upcoming headphones are constructing as much as be a stable contender, masking all of the options anticipated from a headphone of its standing and value whereas retaining true to its historical past. It’ll be attention-grabbing to see the way it fares within the present market and whether or not it has the efficiency to upset the like of Sony and Bose.
Bluetooth audio streamingHelp for SBC, AAC, LDAC and LC3 Audio
ANCAdaptive noise-cancellation with transparency mode
Bespoke 40mm driversRedesigned driver configuration that produces decrease distortion
The successor to the award-winning Fidelio L3 headphones are on their approach within the Fidelio L4, boasting a variety of refinements and enhancements.
For the reason that L3’s launch in 2021, the competitors has solely gotten harder with the likes of the AirPods Max, Beats Studio Professional, Bose QuietComfort 45, Sony WH-1000XM5, Sennheiser Momentum Wi-fi 4, Technics EAH-A800 and – you get the drift. There have been numerous noise-cancelling over-ears not too long ago all vying for a spot in your head.
I had a hear at Philips’ TV and Audio occasion in Barcelona, and listed here are my first impressions.
The Fidelio L4 will go on sale in early October by way of launch associate Amazon priced at £349.99 / €349.99, which places them proper up towards the likes of the WH-1000XM5 and the Beats Studio Professional to call however two choices.
- Mirrors the look of its predecessor
- Feels good to put on
- Bodily and contact controls
Aesthetically, the Fidelio L4 look a mirror picture of the L3 mannequin however there have been modifications. One, they’re 10% lighter (320g vs 360g) and the headphones are barely smaller, however in keeping with Philips the brand new mannequin has a bigger inside ear cup quantity that ought to enhance sound high quality and make house for bigger ears.
The slider is now ‘stepless’ so when the scarf is adjusted it ought to sound smoother as an alternative of going ‘click on, click on, click on’. A problem I had with the headphones is that the scale of the headphones’ earpads brought about slightly ache round my ears and cheekbone. Philips has revised this space with a delicate new artificial leather-based on the earpads made by Scottish tailors Muirhead to unfold stress extra evenly to enhance consolation and cut back the clamping drive.
In my quick time sporting them I discovered the clamping drive to be tight sufficient with out inflicting undue stress. The leather-based really feel of the earpads has a pleasant, high-quality really feel. It was just for ten minutes however the Fidelio L4 felt good to put on.
Like Batman’s devices and automobiles, they arrive in a black end, with the aluminium mounting ring in a gray, steely color to supply some distinction. Buttons are saved easy, energy/playback/noise-cancellation and a button with a ‘mic’ image that I presume is the voice assistant button.
- aptX Bluetooth ditched in favour of LDAC and LC3
- Adaptive Noise-cancellation
- 40-hour battery life
The Fidelio L4 has all the standard suspects: Adaptive Noise-Cancellation, Transparency Mode, Google Quick Pair, lengthy battery life, put on detection (which works) – all that great things that’s anticipated from an ANC pair at this value level.
It’s additionally dropped one characteristic specifically – aptX assist. Qualcomm’s aptX and aptX-HD have been banished and changed with Sony’s LDAC. Bluetooth 5.3 assist additionally consists of LE Audio and the brand new LC3 audio codec that guarantees “real” hi-res audio with 32-bit/48kHz content material. We will see if that lives as much as its declare quickly sufficient. Hello-Res Audio can also be potential through the provided USB-C cable.
The adaptive four-mic hybrid ANC has been spliced with AI expertise and Philips claims this combo can measure and cancel low and mid-range sounds with the “extra measuring of wind noise”, so it shouldn’t be postpone its stride by most noises it encounters. Having spent a short while with them in a crowded room full of individuals speaking, it reduces all of them from a sizeable group to a background distraction. My first thought is that it’s excellent, although in need of the Sony WH-1000XM5 and Bose QuietComfort 45.
Battery life is 40 hours, a slight improve on the Fidelio L3’s 38, with Philips suggesting that 40 is greater than sufficient for many (which is honest sufficient). I believe the argument in the wrong way is that extra battery life equals much less charging over the product’s life. You get 50 hours with out noise-cancelling on, and it refills its whole tank in two hours; a fast cost of 15-minutes supplies one other two hours of playback.
Sound High quality
- Barely heat sound
- Sturdy bass output
- Good sense of small-scale dynamics
The Fidelio L3 had a barely heat sound signature however nonetheless erring in the direction of a balanced method than a wealthy one. The Fidelio L4 feels as if it adopts the identical thought, though the drive unit has been utterly redesigned for this newest mannequin.
It has a brand new bespoke 40mm driver that has graphene coating to “add extra stiffness” for decrease distortion, producing a cleaner mid and high-frequency efficiency. Geared up with a FiiO transportable music participant and a few tracks in various high quality, I have to say that I like Philips’ method to the low finish.
From Black Skinhead to Billie Eilish’s you need to me in a crown, the Fidelio L4 shows a likeable bass output. It’s at occasions tightly described however in Skinhead there’s some good low-end slam to the bass, the extension of these notes feels very vivid, as does the stereo picture which creates a way of depth with the screams coming in from the perimeters. There’s power and pleasure to the Fidelio L4’s supply of this monitor.
With Bowie’s Moonage Daydream the soundstage is drawn in huge phrases, there’s good degree of dynamism to the guitar riffs – it seems that it’s extra to heat facet of neutrality, beefing up the bass slightly however not amping up the complete frequency to sound vastly totally different from what the monitor was meant to sound. I’d say, and this would possibly come throughout as bizarre, that it sounds slightly like vinyl.
There’s additionally some efficient dynamics parlayed from Rebecca Pidgeon’s voice in Spanish Hurt with the string devices supplied with readability and a wonderful sense of element that fleshes them out. However these excessive frequencies, no less than with my quick time with the headphones, aren’t performed too shiny.
The Philips Fidelio L4 seems like they’re coming collectively properly from this transient introduction. The noise-cancelling seems to be excellent; they really feel good to put on, the sound high quality options some good prolonged bass however total, these aren’t overly rich-sounding headphones. They seem devoted to Fidelio’s previous whereas refining it slightly extra.
Arguably there’s no standout, must-talk about characteristic in regards to the Fidelio L4, however is that essentially against the law? I’d say they’re not taking part in to immersive audio crowd, and the options are aggressive with its value rivals. It might not be sufficient to mark them as higher than a few of their opponents, however for many who like what Fidelio represents as a model title, there’s nothing right here to counsel you gained’t like what Philips has cooked up.