Disclaimer: Philips sent Nathan and myself a free sample of the Philips Fidelio X2. Regular text is from Lieven, Italic text is from Nathan.
Last year in September right before IFA 2013, Jude from Head-fi, Tyll from Innerfidelity, Mike and myself got invited to the Philips labs in Belgium. At that time they were launching the very good L2; the X1 was already on the market. We were briefed on Philips’s headphone development. And we got the idea that they were already working on an improved X1.
Seeing the way they work with measurements and listening panels (do you remember the Golden Ear Training Program?) we were all very sure their next headphone would be special. Well, it’s one year since and the X2 is here. Can it live up to our high expectations?
The X2 was officially released three months ago at IFA in Germany on September 4. Sorry for the delay. It’s hard to always be quick on publishing reviews, especially of great products like the X2, which demand more time. But please forgive our tardiness. Despite not being on the market soon after its IFA announcement, the X2 is worth the wait.
When quickly comparing the X1 and the X2, you will find that the X2’s sound has been tweaked. It has received replaceable cushions, a small jack connector, updated damping material, a new larger headband, a good measuring cable, a different driver diaphragm, and other sundry changes. Sure, on the outside it might look fairly similar, but I promise you, the X2 is no small revision.
Still it boasts a smooth style aesthetic, the use of quality materials, and great build quality. Great attention has been paid to details like the sexy grill and soft memory foam below the velour of the ear pads. And finally, the pads themselves are replaceable, which should placate the crowd that had been asking to be able to change pads. You will notice that the pads are pretty huge and still manage a wide birth, giving lots of room for your ears.
Comfort wise the X2 is sublime with one “but” which I’ll come back to in a bit. The X2 uses the same suspended headband system as the X1 does but they made it bigger after feedback from the X1 customers. The ear pads are really soft and the grip on the side of year head is doable. It’s not the lightest of pressure but it’s no death grip either and you can of course always bend the band a little. The headband perfectly balances the somewhat heavy 380g headphone on your head; weight is evenly distributed and yet after about two hours, the headband on top of my head starts hurting me. The one thing I really don’t like about the headband system is that it is HUGE. I have a fairly small head and the new XL headband sticks out like 5cm above my head. I look plain ridiculous wearing this headphone, good thing I don’t have to look at myself too often. So that’s good news for you big-headed guys. My advice is the same to you as it is to vampires: stay away from mirrors!
One more thing, the calf leather headband doesn’t quite look as premium as it could. You’d not be off to say that it looks a bit like plastic. Personal, yes, but apt.
Just like in the X1, the speaker plates of the X2s are pre-tilted to a 15-degree angle to fit the natural shape of the ear, ensuring the music is directed straight into the ear. The X2 still uses 50mm neodymium drivers and Impedance is 30Ohm and the X2 is very easy to drive (100dB@1mW).
“Thanks to the layered motion control diaphragm and sensitive frequency response, the Fidelio X2 delivers rich bass and warm sound without compromising on clarity and airy, spacious sound.” That’s what Philips say in their press release and this time I can fully agree with what the marketing guys have written. But let’s listen first to what Nathan has to say about the X2 sound and I’ll give my impression right after that. Take it away, Nathan.
I must preface this by stating that my history with Philips started out pretty rocky. I was one of like five people in the world to own a Philips’s ill-fated (and silly) DCC tape player. Since, I’ve done my best to stay away. Still, a Philips battery-powered traveller’s beard trimmer slipped in. I’ve had it since 2004 when a wedding took me back to Scandinavia, where I shaved my head to look like the groom’s younger brother. It was the first falling out I had with my then best friend, the groom. It was also when I discovered that what my wife affectionately calls my ‘thin patch’. I no longer speak to the groom. I lay no blame on Philips.
Still, thanks to DCC, my expectations were set.
It continues right after the click