Quite often when I review headphones, I would be able to promptly identify the audio characteristics. But in the case of the Philips Fidelio X2, it took me over a week to decide on how to pen this review.
Could it be due to the fact that the sound signature is so natural that I am unable to comment whether the treble is too clear or too veiled, or if the bass is too flat or too boomy, or if the mids is too recessed or too warm?
Could it be that the X2 does not exhibit any of those unnatural sounds?
The Fidelio X2 did not strike me much on first impression. That is because the X2 does not over-exaggerate the original audio, unlike many other ear speakers where they sweetened the output. Hence, for other audio products, I would always get hit immediately with "wow, great treble/bass/clarity/soundstage, etc."
What the X2 does is to expand the fidelity and audio details to the listener, allowing one to experience the entire frequency range in a well-balanced fashion. This means that I get to hear the bass without feeling too boomy, yet I can still enjoy the brightness of the treble without getting ear fatigue or unnatural sibilance. With the X2, my ears can easily pick up the instrumental details where on other headphones would require compromising some frequency range. I love how the bass effortlessly extends audibly to the lowest frequencies, surprising me with previously-unnoticed details while listening to my usual reference tracks. The best part is that you can listen music at high volume and do not feel the discomfort compared to normal headphones.
If the music does not sound pleasurable on the X2, it is probably because of the audio mastering. Indeed, the X2 is a pair of unforgiving headphones, revealing imperfections of recording, audio compression and sound balancing.
The biggest drawback of the X2 as result of its open back design to alleviate sound pressure, is that there is zero sound isolation - people around the user can hear the sound leak, and the user can hear ambient noises. The X2 is probably the "noisiest" headphones my wife has ever come across. No wonder why Philips printed "indoor headphones" on the box. Not only you should enjoy the X2 in a quiet environment, you should only listen this at high volume when no one is around.
The other concern is the velvet-material ear cushion which draws dust. How I wish Philips included a cloth case to store the X2 when not in use.
The Philips Fidelio X2 is not for everyone. It does not sugar-coat the audio. It leaks sound which disturbs people around you. It does not isolate ambient noises to give you undisturbed enjoyment. But I still love it. It is a spectacular pair of headphones producing transparent audio for critical analytical listening, delivering aural pleasure and gratification. Now on sale in Singapore at a recommended retail price of S$499.
Frequency response: 5 - 40,000Hz
Impedance: 30 ohm
Maximum power input: 400 mW
Sensitivity: 100 dB @ 1 mW
Speaker diameter: 50mm
Distortion: < 0.1% THD
Diaphragm: LMC (Layered Motion Control)
Magnet type: Neodymium
Cable: 3m Oxygen-free
The Fidelio X2 is tested with the following music devices: Sony NWZ-A15 Walkman, HTC One M8 Android Smartphone, E-MU 1820M Digital Audio System.
Reviewed by Chester Tan http://musicphotolife.com/
Rating: of 5