The Phenomenal: Philips Fidelio L2 (feat. Fidelio M1BT review)

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Disclaimer: This is a double review by Mike and Lieven. We both got free samples of the Philips Fidelio L2 and the M1BT and Philips also sent us on a sponsored trip to their iLab facility in Belgium in September 2013. The first part will be on the L2 while we discuss the M1BT later. FYI: Lieven’s text is in Italic. Mike’s normal font.

 

A lot of companies try to show how serious they are in developing their headphones, but all those efforts really mean nothing if they don’t have a successful product to show. Even though Philips have been involved in the audio industry for a while (making vacuum tube radios and inventing the CD among others) and also make plenty of consumer headphones, they’re quite new in the high end headphone business. Still their effort doesn’t embarrass, and when I reviewed their first Fidelio headphone, the Fidelio L1, last year, it definitely was a headphone that set a standard for the new generation $300 price bracket portable headphones.

What the L1 did to other $300 headphones (i.e making them look bad), the L2 is now doing to the L1. It’s true that there is a slight change in styling direction as the new L2 with the gunmetal and orange color combination somehow pulls off a more modern look while still being very classy, making the L1 look very old and outdated next to it. Comfort factor is also leaps better as the L2 easily matches and on my head is even more comfortable than the class-leading Sony MDR-1R. But on top of all of these, what I consider the biggest achievement, is the improvement in the sound department. Meet the second best headphone driver within the $1K bracket. And I would easily say the best if not for the Sennheiser HD700 being priced at $999.95. Yes, the L2’s driver is so ahead of the competitor that I highly rate it ahead of the Sennheiser Momentum, Sony MDR-1R, B&O H6, ATH’s ESW-11, ES-10, or even the famed Sennheiser HD650/600 line.

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While I wouldn’t go as far as Mike in saying the L2 driver is the 2nd best driver within the $1K bracket I have to admit it is really good. We received these samples when we were visiting Philips in September and I’ve been using the semi-open L2 daily from that point on, and that means a lot. I even took it with me to the non-official European Canjam in Essen where I was the only one with the L2 as even Philips didn’t have it with them. To this day I don’t think the L2 is for sale yet in most parts of the world, price in the US will be $299 while we in Europe can already buy it for €280 right now.

Everyone, and I’m not just saying that, who I gave the L2 to for a while loved it. Not one single person didn’t like the sound signature and the looks. So not only did Philips achieve making a great sounding driver but they managed to incorporate it in a gorgeous design with an eye for comfort (347gr) . To be honest I do have two comfort/look issues with these headphones. First of all, Philips still hasn’t learned to use changeable ear pads which is a shame really, but they took note of that point of critic in our meeting and so I hope that will change in the future.  Second is that when you have been using it as much as I have and for longer periods, the headband starts to hurt on the top of your head. Do note that we’re talking at least 4 to 5 hours of straight listening without even taking it of. I like my music, what can I say. People with big ears however will find the cups on the small side, it didn’t bother me too much, but they’re no Sennheiser comfort wise.

In short, not only did Philips develop one hell of a driver, it looks great and like Mike said it can easily compete with headphones like our beloved Sennheiser HD6X0 and Hifiman HE-400. I wouldn’t go that far in saying it’s a HE-500 or HD700 competitor but it’s getting close, especially for that price. One remarkable thing though is that while Philips with the Fidelio line has been targeting the better quality headphone and sound, they are still displaying their headphones under the accessories category on my local Philips website. Something I don’t find logic at all, but hey, details, right?

The L2 is a semi open design, houses 40mm drivers and has a removable cable and while it surely has a bunch of other features, we care especially about its sound. Back to you Mike.

Well, L is trying to stay away from controversy hence his statement “I wouldn’t go as far as Mike in saying the L2 driver is the 2nd best driver within the $1K bracket bla bla bla” but I’m here to tell the results of my evaluation, so I’m going to keep going. Just kidding, L, but not the part about how high I rank the L2 driver. It’s cleaner than the HD650/K701/DT880/RS1 generation of drivers. The sound is extremely clean, zero grain, one of the blackest background I’ve heard (think Fostex TH900 level black background — ahead of all the other dynamic drivers). In a way it’s very clear and clean sounding like say the Hifiman HE-6/HE-500 but the L2 is smoother than them and is MUCH easier to drive. I can drive the L2 direct from an Altmann Tera which usually only has enough power to drive a Koss Portapro, Sennheiser PX100 and IEMs. While the sound stage is not overly wide (narrower than the Beyer DT880, for instance) it has an extremely deep depth (and sound stage depth is always much harder to achieve than width) even with simple rigs like out of an Astell & Kern AK100 or again, the Altmann. So you get the sense of space, three dimensionality, the black background, all those good things, without having to spend $2K on an amp the way you need for say a Senn HD650. Also, while the Hifimans are extremely spacious and airy, the soundstage depth has always been weak even on the best rig I’ve listened them on, not to add that the Hifimans can only dream about the sort of black background and center image the L2 pulls so effortlessly. This is a world class driver and had they developed a flagship-class housing around it, a lot of $1K headphones better be prepared to get their ass kicked.

Of course Mike and myself talked about this difference in opinion and I see what he means. The L2 right out of the box is great, no amp needed. The HE-500 can of course, on several points, be better than the L2 but you will need a top DAC and a good matching amp for the HE-500 to sound its best. And that’s where Philips got it right: the L2 achieves (almost) the same level and you don’t even need a big and expensive setup to get there. But then again, the L2 was made as a portable headphone, and the HE-500 was developed to be used in a full sized desktop system. But anyhow, that’s how I translate Mike when he says the L2 takes on the HE-500.

On the tonality side, I love the mid range on the L2. It has an extremely smooth, organic, full mid range that reminds me of the limited edition Audio Technica W2002 flagship headphone. It’s as if you’ve permanently attached a 300B or 45 vacuum tube to the drivers. Extremely clear mid range that’s full bodied, analog, and smooth. One of the best in the industry. The bass also follows the same smooth yet clear tonality as the mid range, full bodied, though doesn’t hit as hard as I would’ve liked (say Vmoda M100, Aedle VK-1, or Senn HD650 level) but still more potent than Sony’s MDR-1R. The treble is where my love and hate relationship happens on the L2. The L2 may not have a hot-recording proof tonality the way the Vmoda M100 is, but it’s definitely far from a bright headphone with proper recordings. I would’ve enjoyed less quantity on the treble, but that’s just my dark loving ears. Since Philips is targeting the L2 for the mainstream crowd, I think they’ve set the treble just the right amount. Though I do think that the mainstream crowd would appreciate a harder hitting bass.

I think Mike described the sound part correctly. The mid section is absolutely stunning, smooth and slightly warm and I do agree on the bass part. It could hit a little harder but as I’m mostly using my headphones with an amp, even on the go, it’s making it less audible. Personally I can appreciate  the extended treble of the L2 (I acquired that preference over the years), and as a result I can’t see any direct flaws in how it sounds.

Now, I need to make a note of distinction that a great driver doesn’t necessarily translate to a great headphone. Take the Sennheiser HD800 for instance, still the most resolving driver in the world, and yet not a very musical experience. The L2 is very warm, full bodied, and musical, far from the HD800. However, the fact that I’m praising the drivers as 2nd best below $1K after the HD700 doesn’t mean that I’m discounting the other headphones as being inferior. Ultimately, a lot of factors come to mind. Bass impact is pretty important and that’s one area that I think the L2 can be better. Tonality is also another thing, depending on your music preference, some headphone works better than the other. Also while I rank the Fidelio L2 as having a better driver than say a Hifiman HE-500, there is no discounting the impressive wow factor of the wide open sound of the Hifiman. Another example is the Shure SRH1540 that I recently auditioned in the Tokyo Headphone Festival. While it’s an impressive headphone and overall also a great headphone, again the driver quality of the L2 is simply a class ahead. Yet, I’m not saying that overall as a headphone, the L2 is better than the 1540. So, please keep that differentiation in mind. Still, the L2 is not a driver first, musicality second. It’s a very musical headphone, and I’ve gotten a lot of VERY positive impressions from the local enthusiasts who’s had the chance to audition it. It’s just that when I talk about the drivers, the ranking is a bit different than the headphone as a whole.

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Now, with a driver quality that high, hows the requirement on the source and recording? The good news is that the L2 is not as demanding as the HD800 or HD700, though still more demanding than the HD650, LCD-2, or Hifiman HE500/6. In a practical terms, those words mean that it runs good from a portable source, but please use something better than an IPod or a smartphone. The Fiio X3 and Ibasso DX50 would be good, though the AK100 would be more ideal. Those of you fortunate enough to get the Altmann Tera before the $2000 price update, try using it with the L2. I find the combination extremely sweet.

You can of course fall back to the ipod + Cypherlabs or any other iDevice but then we’re talking big budget for a sub $300 headphone. That however is how I prefer using it, owning the setup already. Just don’t get this kind of setup for the L2 and take Mike’s advice.

Recordings, the L2 is not pop-music friendly. Though it doesn’t demand Chesky/Stockfish level recordings. The average Jazz recordings would do. Please avoid recordings with hot trebles like Jpop for instance. Overall, the okay bass impact makes the L2 more limited to the slower and more relaxed music types that don’t require strong beat reproduction. Its a more mature headphone, if I can make a rough generalization. And the bass is why the L2 is not going to take over the Vmoda M100 as the king of portable headphone, despite having a genius driver inside it. In many ways it works good for the music that Grados, Staxes and Hifimans work well with. Its not a HD25-1 replacement and definitely not a Vmoda M100 replacement. But talking driver quality, I don’t think any of the other high end portable headphones can compete with it. Momentum, Sony 1R, ESW-11, B&O H6, etc. And I actually sell the Momentum, Sony, and the Audio Technica on my store! Of course given the positive impressions the local enthusiasts had over the L2, I am considering selling it as well, but I still don’t know if we’ll be able to get those headphones from the distributor.

My musical preferences are somewhat different from Mike’s and I never listen to Jpop, Kpop or hardly any popular TOP 40 music  for that matter that’s been released after Y2K. To me rock, metal, classic, dance, jazz and even old school hip hop all sound extremely nice on this headphone. It’s price/quality ratio is very good. So where do I put Philips’s latest release? Personally I find it better than the Sennheiser Momentum, the H6, the P7, Aedle VK-1 and the Vmodas. To me it competes directly with the also very easy to drive HE-400 and it probably even has that one beat too. I follow Mike in his HD650 and HE-500 reasoning (needing quality amps ) so we can only conclude that Philips has created a competitor killer with the L2.

We’re fans!

All the R&D work done by the Philips team certainly have paid off. I couldn’t be more impressed, and I hope that the fact that Philips sent me on a sponsored trip to their iLab facility doesn’t discount the fact that this is such a phenomenal headphone and even more a phenomenal driver that the Philips team have created.

 

Besides the L2, Philips also released a Bluetooth version of their M1 headphone, a unit we reviewed already in January. Review on the next page!

 

The Phenomenal: Philips Fidelio L2 (feat. Fidelio M1BT review)
4 (80%) 15 votes

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. Coming from a musical family he's always been interested in good sound. Unlike his family members the only musical instruments he plays are amps and DACs. He loves playing with old tubes and discovering new products while staying faithful to the good old Sennheiser HD650.

430 Comments

  • Reply November 2, 2013

    John123John

    First Post!
    “Meet the second best headphone driver within the $1K bracket. ” and at $299 MSRP? Music to a reader’s ears! 🙂 🙂 Well, looks like I found my next headphone. There are so many in that price range, its nice that the L2 sticks out. We don’t get this kind of recommendation or exciement from you (mike) unless its a $5000 headphone amp like the WA5 or Studio6~

    Question about the driver. What does it mean? Like I know what a headphone driver is but are you using drivers as an analogy for technicalities? Sorry if I missed it in the review~

    Comment on the format. Is there anyway you could do like alternating black and blue font or maybe bold and normal? As I did get mixed up a few times on who was talking but maybe that’s just me.
    Also I love the double review format but realized this review was a bit different from others. Here, both reviewers actively refer back to the other’s review and kind of counter each other which I thought was bit of weird. That’s just me being picky and annoying, others probably like it because you address each other and directly fill in the gaps on certain topics. In any case, GREAT REVIEW!

    • Reply November 2, 2013

      John123John

      One a side note, I am so impressed with the Philips Fidelio line. Seems like every headphone they produce is a winner, a great bang for buck and a “dethroners”. (may contain exaggeration). Kind of amazing. Reminds me of Hifiman and maybe Audeze.

    • Reply November 2, 2013

      Mike

      Yeah I am truly excited about this one. True on the comment about expensive amps too haha.

      Drivers and technicalities, I guess you can see them in roughly the same term in this article, but there are some differences. For instance, the L2 is very easy to drive aka very sensitive. Usually its easy to make a high performing driver if you don’t need to make it sensitive. The fact that the L2 is very sensitive and still very high performing earns extra points for its driver, but this is not something that I’d consider superior technicalities.

      But in a lot of aspects you can see the driver performance being synonymous with technicalities.

  • Reply November 2, 2013

    George Lai

    Sigh – another headphone I’ll never consider as the ear cups are again on the small side. I gave away my L1 solely for that reason. The other thing they got wrong on the L1 was that the headband was disproportionately heavy. You always get the feeling they were going to flop forwards or backwards. The L2 looks better proportionately. Ah well, my wallet thanks you.

    • Reply November 2, 2013

      Hariadi Mastoyo

      How is L2 doing compared to K550?

      • Reply November 2, 2013

        L.

        From what I remember K550 is more neutral and analytic. This one is warmer, bass is bigger. overall to me the better one. The L2 will be here to stay, the K550 won’t be talked about in a few years imho

      • Reply November 2, 2013

        Mike

        The 550 has a wider soundstage but very shallow depth. Tonally I think the L2 is warmer and fuller and is the more musical headphone.

    • Reply November 2, 2013

      Mike

      The headband is improved and so is the pads. I’ll bring it to Singapore next week for you to try

      • Reply November 2, 2013

        George Lai

        Wow, thanks Mike. And your unwanted HD 700 too?

        • Reply November 2, 2013

          Mike

          I have no 700 😉

          • Reply November 2, 2013

            L.

            He’s selling that to me 😉

  • Reply November 2, 2013

    longbowbbs

    Excellent review Gentlemen. I am looking forward to auditioning them when they become available!

    • Reply November 2, 2013

      L.

      Thanks Eric! they really are good!

      • Reply November 2, 2013

        longbowbbs

        I am interested to see how they compare with my venerable HD650’s. Big shoes to fill for sure!

        • Reply November 2, 2013

          Mike

          I think the design is a bit different in that the 650 is a reference full size, though old, and the L2 is a high quality semi portable.

          I do think that as an overall headphone, the 650 is pretty hard to beat and the L2 is not going to take over its place soon. The way the 650 does bass is still unmatched and that’s why I mentioned that better driver doesn’t automatically translate to better headphone

          • Reply November 2, 2013

            longbowbbs

            I will never get rid of my 650’s. However, I have been carrying them while I travel and I am not comfortable with the abuse they get. I am trying to find a better “On the road” choice

          • Reply November 2, 2013

            John123John

            X1 🙂 or if you can wait x2!

      • Reply November 2, 2013

        George Lai

        Though I find it odd that a large MNC like Philips would take so long to make the product available worldwide. You can expect that of, say, MrSpeakers but not Philips. I recall the Fidelio X1 and how long Americans were craving for it. By the time the L2 is available everywhere, we’d be talking of an L3.

        • Reply November 2, 2013

          L.

          It’s for sale here :p

          • Reply November 2, 2013

            George Lai

            But that’s because you live 10 minutes away from the Philips factory, Lievem.

            • Reply November 2, 2013

              L.

              Research plant 😉

        • Reply November 2, 2013

          Mike

          That’s a good point. You should be an analyst, George

          • Reply November 2, 2013

            George Lai

            Thanks Mike. But to be serious, large companies like Philips sometimes forget that in today’s interconnected world and the ease of online shopping, the efficiency of world-class couriers etc, they have to get their act right. They’re lucky in that unlike say the movie industry, piracy is not such a rife problem (Beats being the exception but … Yucks). The smaller setups – MrSpeakers, Audeze, Cypher Labs, ALO, Centrance et al – understand and take advantage of this. Their products are available worldwide – it’s just a question of whether the shipping cost is reasonable (most are) and whether the local distributor’s margins are reasonable (if they’re obscene, people buy online and pay the shipping cost). Buying online is a cinch and usually with this hobby of ours, the products are fault-free. Returns for faulty products are usually easy too.

            • Reply November 2, 2013

              Mike

              I think the problem is actually partly due to the fact that they are such a huge company with so many products. For the smaller companies its easy to start an online shop. Not so if you’re Philips, you need to go through all the different distributors and for the distributor, a new headphone may not be such a big deal.

              • Reply November 2, 2013

                George Lai

                Although people like Sony manage it well. But I take your point. Some large companies appoint large distributors because they also sell their mainstream headphones to supermarkets etc and the salesmen would rather sell a few hundred to a supermarket than, say, 10 to one specialist headphone shop.

                • Reply November 2, 2013

                  Mike

                  Another point is while Sony’s product all falls conveniently in the Electronics section (a store can sell nothing but Sony product and not be out of place). Philips has a wider range from light bulbs, kitchen, laundry, TV, phones, to audio. So that’s another challenge.

                  • Reply November 2, 2013

                    George Lai

                    Panasonic light bulbs 🙂

    • Reply November 2, 2013

      Mike

      Thanks!

  • Reply November 2, 2013

    Elie Hendriks

    Nice review. Any idea if there’s a X2 coming? I LOOOVE my X1, an improvement on it would be incredible.

    • Reply November 2, 2013

      Mike

      I suppose they are working on one right now but I have no idea in terms of schedule

      • Reply November 2, 2013

        Elie Hendriks

        That would be so awesome.. I love those guys! And I’m from Belgium so they’re available everywhere here. I bought my X1 in a retail shop for 230€.. That’s a steal imho.
        Also, you forgot one -1000$ staple, the LCD-2. You think it has a better driver than the LCD-2?

        • Reply November 2, 2013

          L.

          Belgium rocks! 😉
          You could have gotten the X1 for 190€ however.

          Lcd2: nah

          • Reply November 3, 2013

            Elie Hendriks

            Last question.. How is the seal? Incoming and outgoing soundlevels? Always found the concept of semi open portable phones pretty weird.. Can you use this on the subway? Or is it meant for desk use?

        • Reply November 2, 2013

          Mike

          Yes and I sell the LCD 2. The Philips is just as resolving, easier to drive, better depth, center image, and blacker background.

          Again doesn’t mean the L2 is the better headphone.

      • Reply November 2, 2013

        John123John

        Do you prefer the l2 to the x1?
        The l3 had the better driver but I believe you have a preference to the x1 sound.

        • Reply November 5, 2013

          Mike

          L2 all the way.

  • Reply November 2, 2013

    L.

    I’m still looking sharp ^^

  • Reply November 3, 2013

    Damián Bonadonna

    Is this a replacement for the L1? I mean they will not co-exist?

    • Reply November 3, 2013

      L.

      it will be replaced

      • Reply November 25, 2013

        Damián Bonadonna

        I guess problem with Philips is how depreciation affects their products. Every year the previous model gets replaced :/. Similar to Sony I guess.

  • Reply November 3, 2013

    Sam

    Wow, the last time both of you were raving over headphones was during the release of the DT770 pro 88th Anniversary edition. It sounds like this headphone is wayy better other than perhaps the bass impact part? Also, I sure hope L can assure me it doesn’t overtake my T90 :O

    • Reply November 3, 2013

      L.

      T90 is awesome. But like the HE500 and LCD200 it needs good amps to shine where the L2 does not. T90 can be better with the right gear. What amp are you using with the T90?

      • Reply November 4, 2013

        Sam

        I’m currently using the Apex Peak with the Sylvania Brown Base tube. Dac is the Yulong DA8 (Hopefully you guys can get your hands on that!). I think it does make the T90 shine, you think so? To me, the set-up sounds excellent across most genres although the treble is a little hot on some. I guess I’m one of those who feel that the T90 has a little treble peak, and I’ve already tried to pick a tube that tames it down as much as possible. Apparently the Peak isnt very “tube-sounding” haha Still, Mike has tempted me with his ultra-glowing review. You reckon I should give the L2 a shot as a side-step/upgrade? Or should I just wait for the next big thing? Really wanted to try the HD 700 though.

        • Reply November 4, 2013

          L.

          I’d call it a side-step, not an upgrade. The T90 needs a tube sounding OTL 😉 lol

          HD700 is even more amp picky…

          • Reply November 4, 2013

            Sam

            Aw Man… if only I had the OTL Apex Teton rather than the Peak… anyways, I think I might give the L2 a shot then, thanks for article and the comments!

        • Reply November 5, 2013

          Mike

          I wrote a reply but they disappeared.

          In short, given the fact that your set up works very well with the T90, it seems the T1 is the more natural upgrade.

          On an average set up, I’d take the L2 anytime over the T90

          • Reply November 5, 2013

            Sam

            Thanks Mike!

        • Reply November 6, 2013

          Mike

          I don’t know how good the T90 sounds on that set up. It’s possible that your combo strikes a perfect synergy just like how I was blown away with a certain Beyer T1 set up the other day. Without the super set up, however, I think the T90 is just okay and I’d take the L2 over it. On your set up, of course, I can’t say if the L2 will be better.
          Why not upgrade to the T1? It should be a safer upgrade IMO, having the same/similar Beyer sound characteristic.
          The HD700 is good but again, if your set up is great with the T90, may make more sense to go with the T1.

          • Reply November 6, 2013

            L.

            You never were a fan of the T90 weren’t you Mike? I have that with the T1 🙂

          • Reply November 6, 2013

            Sam

            ohoh… too late, just clicked the buy button, like literally 10 minutes ago XD It’s ok, it’s not too expensive & I’m also very curious about the headphone, will update u guys how it compares with the T90 with my set-up. Even if it doesn’t scale up as well, I’m sure I will be able to find some use to it since it’s more portable and has low-amplification needs. Definitely agree the T1 is a more natural upgrade, but I guess I will stay put for now and wait for THE-next-big flagship update. It has been quite a while hasn’t it? Hopefully by sometime next year? heh

  • Reply November 3, 2013

    Carl A

    Nice to finally read something concrete about the L2. I was starting to wonder at the impact it had made on all you folks as nothing had appeared on here, Head-Fi or InnerFidelity …
    Firstly, I enjoyed the conversational, to-and-fro style of this review; it was quite a refreshing change from the normal style reviews one reads. For practical reasons I understand why this might not appear that often, but it certainly is different, entertaining and interesting.
    Also, this reads very fluently. One wouldn’t easily be aware that english is not the native language of you guys. I do not mean to intimate by that comment that previous writings have not been good! Just that there have been the odd comments from folks about grammar etc and I noticed as I was reading this that it read very nicely – then that made me notice just how smoothly it flowed as a piece of writing, and just how well it worked with the two of you almost following each others observations as you went.
    The review: I was struck by the amount of emphasis given to the driver in this review. It felt as though I was almost reading a review of a headphone driver! To the extent that I was beginning to wonder if so much attention was being given to the driver because it was possibly felt that the headphone itself was lacking in some way. I understand I’m almost certainly reading something into nothing, but still, it just felt odd in some way, the continued driver-talk. I do realize that Mike made the point more than once that driver quality didn’t automatically indicate headphone quality, but in a way it was that that made me start to wonder: is there an underlying message here …
    Also, the comment about it being suited to slower, calmer music and music that is not strongly about beat reproduction really concerned me! Only because I was thinking of the L2 as a possible ‘phone for myself(can’t afford the H6, as I feel I’d need to budget in a decent amp to complement it)and for my father(to supplement and improve upon)with his MDR-1R. Although I listen now to classical and like slower-paced stuff, a good part of my listening is fast, upbeat, powerful music and my father likes his 60’s and 70’s rock.

    I know Lieven balanced Mike’s comments somewhat with his music-listening thoughts, but I still came away from this wondering if I should keep my focus on the M100 possibly.
    Perhaps I was just buying into the pre-review build-up and ‘hype’ around the L2 a little too much, and almost thinking it was going to be an all-things-to-all-people headphone, at least in its budget category.
    Anyway, I was not meaning to come across as critical in any way of the review, just wanting to give a little feedback as to how I came away from it, what I was thinking etc

    Also, the non-removable pads: how much of an ‘issue’ is that? I still read the odd comment here and there about folks bothered by the X1’s not having replaceable pads. Accidents can happen …. I find it slightly mystifying that when they go to such lengths to stress to you guys just how much thought and research goes into their headphones, that they still make them with pads that cannot be replaced.
    As usual I think I’ve written too much so I’ll stop there. Thankyou both for yet another illuminating and entertaining piece of writing.
    Be well.

    • Reply November 3, 2013

      L.

      Thank you for this constructive comment. I appreciate it. Also thanks for saying our reviews do read well, it’s quite frustrating reading stuff on headfi about us. The weird thing is we can say the L2 rocks and they will bash us, but as soon Jude or Tyll will say the same, and they will, everyone will start saying the L2 rocks. Even those who never heard the L2 or the number of headphones we have for that matter. So thank you!

      The pads can’t be removed but they’re of good quality. It’s only an issue once they get worn off after a lot of use or after an accident. I’m sure Philips’s next headphone will have replaceable pads.

      Finally, I personally don’t really feel this headphone only does slower music, sure other are faster but that doesn’t mean this one is bad. I think our review shows this is an overall very good unit.

      • Reply November 3, 2013

        George Lai

        Guys, I wouldn’t be too concerned about head-fi.org as it is a forum and like everything else, there is good and there is bad there, and one should read it and form one’s own conclusions. Strangely though I find it amusing to read head-fi.org as it is amazing to read the incredulity that’s spewed by some people there. It is like you read serious newspapers and you also read the gossip tabloids for some amusement. The problem with our hobby is that it’s relatively affordable so anyone could buy, say, a Koss KSC-75 (and no offense is meant to this headphone – I have a pair too) and suddenly the buyer feels he is entitled to wax lyrical about it, hearing things that aren’t there! Like having fries at MacDonald’s then going on and on about the potatoes industry, the inconsistency in texture, shape, color, etc of each fry in the packet, the fact it shouldn’t cost so much since potatoes are cheap and how MacDonald’s is ripping everyone off. And on and on and on. Our hobby would be a poorer place without Headfonia.

        • Reply November 3, 2013

          George Lai

          This dual-style review is like two good friends, Mike and Lieven, having a chat in a coffee shop. They agree on some points they disagree on some, like all friends do anyway. We, the readers, are on the adjoining table, and in a civilized society, we’d say “excuse me, guys, but I couldn’t help over-hearing. When you said …” And in this civilized society, Mike and Lieven would ask you and your friends to pull up a chair and join them.

          • Reply November 3, 2013

            L.

            Thanks George! This review just happened. Mike started the draft and I continued after I read it. I think it’s important for the reader to get the 2 different views. Mike and me agree but we have different ways of saying things. I think that gives the reader a pretty good “view” of the headphone.

        • Reply November 4, 2013

          dalethorn

          I’d prefer to read the much denser (info-wise) reviews and comments here, rather than wade through thousands of pages of chat on that “just another forum”. And that’s nothing against them, it just points up some of the special value of this forum, to get to the point much quicker.

      • Reply November 5, 2013

        Carl A

        You know, all these folks who find it so very easy to write about & criticize you guys or Headfonia in general – all it does is speak to their character(or lack thereof)and not of terribly valid thoughts or constructive observations.
        So yeah it must be frustrating but, water off a duck’s back is perhaps one way of dealing with it, followed by a smile.

        • Reply November 6, 2013

          Mike

          And yet I think the nasty comment we get is very mild compared to everywhere else on the internet. The way internet comments works, you know? It’s so easy as you get a great amount of anonymity.

          • Reply November 6, 2013

            dalethorn

            The no-BS focus on facts here gets this site good respect. Anyone can criticize that, but they’re missing out. Reporting on the current technology is like being on a really fast roller-coaster – you just hang on and try not to fall off (like those critics).

    • Reply November 5, 2013

      Mike

      Thanks for the comments Carl. You made it sounds like the article is better than it really is hahaha.

      I think I can clarify a bit on why I talked so much about the driver.

      I think the driver is phenomenal and naturally that’s why I spent so much time on it.

      The headphone, however, is also a great headphone because otherwise I really wouldn’t enjoy listening to it and the people who’s listened to it at my store wouldn’t give it the praises they gave.

      However I realize that the majority of music being played these days are either: very hot on the treble — won’t translate well to the L2, or needing strong beats — again not the L2 forte.

      The L2 has good bass, just not strong or punchy enough for a lot of modern music. It’s definitely better than the Shure SRH1840 for instance (dalethorn is talking about the Shure’s weak bass on the comments section this week http://www.headfonia.com/q-a-2012-2/#comment-1105876981 ).. I did mention this to the Philips team and so I hope they can improve the bass impact though I don’t know if they’ll implement the suggestion.

      If the music is right, and there are a lot of music that sounds right on the L2, it’s far more impressive than the Vmoda M100 which I praise so much or the popular MDR 1R or all the other headphones it’s competing against. It doesn’t have the M100 genre bandwith which is why I think the M100 is still the safest one to recommend, but it’s not an extremely polarizing headphone either. Generally I’d take the L2 over the 1R, Momentum, or the H6.

      So, I think it’s a great headphone.. it’s just doesn’t have the genre bandwith that the M100 has and so I wanted to be careful in promoting the headphone alone.. someone who doesn’t have a clue about recordings may buy the L2, plug it to his music and to discover that the headphone sounds very bright when the fault is in the recording. And that happens A LOT in this hobby.

      • Reply November 5, 2013

        Carl A

        Many thanks for your further comments – really appreciate both you and L taking the time to respond at length with further thoughts.
        Your comments above help me a little more, but it sure is difficult knowing what to think when there are so many interesting ‘phones out there and yet one cannot get to try them!
        Aedle, V-Moda, Philips, B&O …. interesting new units like the Focal Pro and Classic, the Onkyo(which interests me as Tyll favourable reviewed it and crucially for me at least, it is not yet another ‘phone automatically released at some high price point between £180 – £330 – which at least in the models I’ve handled, is way, way too much)and others besides!
        Anyway, I digress. Thanks again for taking the time, both of you, to put so much of your time into responding to comments and queries; I think you both know how much we all appreciate it.
        Be well.

        • Reply November 6, 2013

          Mike

          I really don’t think the Onkyo belongs to the camp of the “worth trying” new headphones. I didn’t know Tyll reviewed it though.

  • Reply November 3, 2013

    NN.

    Nice write up L. and Mike.. really worth the wait. Have been looking around for a portable headphone for a while, and I hit the purchase button right after I finished reading the review. Does the L2 pair well with C5 or do you have any other portable amp recommendations?

    • Reply November 3, 2013

      L.

      Thank you. It pairs very well with the C5 and C421 especially for those wanting that extra bit of bass. You can’t go wrong. enjoy the L2 and tell us how you like it 🙂

      • Reply November 7, 2013

        NN.

        I have received the L2 and oooh this thing does not disappoint.. I’m currently running it through the violectric v200, cannot seem to put it off my head lol. It seriously does well at every genre I throw at it… I’M IMPRESSED !! 😉 cheers L.

        • Reply November 7, 2013

          Mike

          Very happy to hear that. 🙂

        • Reply November 7, 2013

          L.

          Glad you like it!

    • Reply November 5, 2013

      Mike

      I know this is over the budget but I would go with something with a really punchy bass since that’s what the L2 needs.

      RSA 71a for instance.

      The C5 and the C421 are nice but really aren’t that punchy.

      • Reply November 5, 2013

        L.

        I think the BB on those is just right, I wouldn’t want any more in the L2

      • Reply November 5, 2013

        NN.

        Don’t you think the 71a is somewhat outdated? Will there be newer amps to be released in 2014, or a more recent portable amp with that punchy bass character?

        • Reply November 5, 2013

          Dave Ulrich

          In terms of size and features (like a rechargable battery) the 71a has been outdated for awhile. It is still suppose to sound very nice. I recall Mike calling the RSA Intruder the successor to the 71a. Spacious, hard hitting bass and all that. It also can go fully balanced, has a USB dac built in, and retails for $250 more than the Blackbird.

        • Reply November 6, 2013

          Mike

          Outdated yes… My favourite amp but I hate the fact that the battery is non rechargeable.
          Thing is I haven’t found another amp that does bass like it. I love Ray’s new Intruder. One of the best amp in the market today but even though the bass is good on the Intruder, the SR71a still hits harder.

  • Reply November 3, 2013

    Elie Hendriks

    How is the seal? Incoming and outgoing soundlevels? Always found the
    concept of semi open portable phones pretty weird.. Can you use this on
    the subway? Or is it meant for desk use?

    • Reply November 3, 2013

      L.

      Seal is good and there’s not too much going in or out. It isn’t fully closed though. I think it could be used on the subway yes

  • Reply November 3, 2013

    Kartoffelmao

    Thanks for the review!

    I was wondering what will be the best to buy; Fidelio X1 or Fidelio L2? This is considering the two headphones goes for the same price in my country, Norway.

    I really like detailed headphones with strong treble. My favorite headphone to date is Shure SRH940. I use an AKG K701 right now since the headband got broken on my Shure SRH940. The K701 has a nice natural sound, but too laid back with an exaggerated soundstage IMO. I have been hearing great stuff about the Fidelio X1, but i dont know what will be best to go for between the L2 and X1 from Philips.

    • Reply November 4, 2013

      John123John

      I’m in the same conundrum as well (X1 or L2 but < X2!!).

      With your preferred sound signature, wouldn't the DT880s or maybe even a Grado get thrown into the mix? Although apparently the L2's driver trounces everything.

      • Reply November 5, 2013

        Kartoffelmao

        Is the X2 even confirmed to be in the works?

        I have owned Grado RS 2i, but sold them. Too groovy bass overshadowing the details. I have yet to try Beyerdynamic headphones and have been considering the DT990 before i decided i wanted the Philips X1 rather after reading some reports on the DT990. Closed headphones is not my thing, since everyone ive tried reproduce a very closed in type of sound that dont sound natural. Open and semi-closed headphones is the only alternative for me.

        • Reply November 5, 2013

          Mike

          That’s funny because the RS2i I have at the store is one of the most bass-light headphone I have heard. Maybe Grado QC?

          The L2 has a clean and clear bass. It’s full bodied but doesnt’ intrude the midrrange. I think the bass body is very good, it just doesn’t hit hard.

          • Reply November 5, 2013

            Kartoffelmao

            Searching om my mail account for grado, i see that it was actually a Grado 325i i owned for a short time 5 years ago. Could have sweared it was the RS2i…

            Gonna go for the Philips L2 after your recommendation and the fact that they are portable. 🙂

            • Reply November 6, 2013

              Mike

              They are portable yes.. 🙂

      • Reply November 5, 2013

        Mike

        I have no confirmation about the X2 but the L2 is one of those things you really need to listen to, if you are an enthusiast. There is no other headphone like it at the moment in this hobby.

    • Reply November 5, 2013

      Mike

      Easy one for me. L2

  • Reply November 4, 2013

    Luke Ma

    how well does the l2 scale with better amps?

    • Reply November 4, 2013

      L.

      Well that’s the thing, the L2 does great without any special amp. As a result, at least in my opinion, there’s no big change when using huge amplifiers. Mike?

      • Reply November 5, 2013

        Luke Ma

        so say i have the crack and a c421. there wouldnt be much difference?

        • Reply November 5, 2013

          Mike

          It scales up. I think someone asked about this also somewhere..

          The Crack is much better for the L2.

          • Reply November 5, 2013

            L.

            Agreed, and of course there’s a difference between Crack and Six, but not like you would have the HE500 upscale

          • Reply November 5, 2013

            Carl A

            Mike, how do think the L2 would match up with the Apex Glacier?
            Just wondrin’!

            For some reason, ever since reading your review of the Glacier it stuck in my mind. Seem to remember that it is very neutral & revealing and so needs to be partnered with care and with a view to recording quality. But also that it really comes into its own when partnered with higher quality equipment, so was thinking how would it do with the L2’s driver quality etc …

    • Reply November 6, 2013

      Mike

      It scales up, and say on the Studio Six I like the L2 better than the HD650, so it definitely scales up. However I don’t think it scales up as well as the usual flagships I use on the ST6 which is like the HD800, LCD-3, TH900 etc.

  • Reply November 4, 2013

    George Lai

    Listening to the L2 right now (borrowed from Mike himself). Big-eared people like me, please stay away. And the driver housing itself has 3 little pegs that stick out, and over time as the ear pads thin out a bit, they may bite into the ears. I don’t know what those 3 pegs are. As they are Mike’s headphones, I didn’t rip off the earpads to find out! Sounds good though but comfort ranks higher than sound quality for me. It could be perfect for other people I grant you that.

    • Reply November 5, 2013

      John123John

      nooo. #weep
      im going to get them anyways 🙂
      Do you think cutting off a bit of the top of the ear would alter how you perceive sound? 😉

      • Reply November 5, 2013

        George Lai

        It’ll affect my “cheap sunglasses”.

    • Reply November 5, 2013

      Mike

      You’re missing a lot of good things, George. Plastic surgery on the ears, maybe? 😉

      • Reply November 5, 2013

        George Lai

        A less drastic solution is if I try to rip off the ear pads of the L2 you lent me?

  • Reply November 4, 2013

    Jon Choivo

    I’m quite curious as to how these match up with the alpha dog and the aedle performance wise.

    • Reply November 4, 2013

      L.

      Alpha dog to me is the best closed headphone around, better than the Fostex 900, the L2 isn’t quite there yet. I’ll let Mike reply about the VK1 as I haven’t listened to it for more than 5 minutes but for me the L2>VK1

      • Reply November 5, 2013

        Dave Ulrich

        Review on the Alphas forthcoming?

        • Reply November 5, 2013

          L.

          In a month or 2. Waiting list.

          • Reply November 5, 2013

            John123John

            so excited 🙂
            Better than the TH900?!??!?! cool~

            • Reply November 5, 2013

              Mike

              While I’m very excited about the Alpha Dog, I don’t think it can take on the flagship closed like the LCD-XC or the TH900. The Alpha however doesn’t need a serious set up. The TH900 is extremely demanding.

              • Reply November 5, 2013

                L.

                I prefer the Alpha dog over the TH900 though Mike, especially on the Six

                • Reply November 6, 2013

                  Mike

                  I haven’t listened to the Alpha dogs on the Six. Maybe it’s an amp thing.

            • Reply November 6, 2013

              Mike

              Nah not better than the 900. Lieven’s over hyping things. 😉

              • Reply November 6, 2013

                L.

                I learned from the best 😉

      • Reply November 5, 2013

        Fabio_Rocks

        Please, tell us they have BASS!

        • Reply November 5, 2013

          L.

          alpha and TH900 do for sure. L2 a little less. And VK1 is about bass alot, that’s the main reason Mike likes it :p

          • Reply November 6, 2013

            Mike

            I should check out the headphones that has Dre’s name on it.

    • Reply November 5, 2013

      Mike

      Driver quality, the L2. With the right music, I think the L2 shines. Midrange quality, soundstage depth, black background, etc, those are all unmatched by the Aedle or the Alpha Dog. Even considering the Alpha is planar!

      However ultimately it all depends on the music. The aedle sounds the least spacious but the bass impact and the body is just very addictive. It’s like a portable HD650 with closed back.
      The L2 is very clean, spacious and a ver sweet midrange bloom, almost like a baby Audio Technica W3000ANV, W2002, or a baby Fostex TH900.
      The Alpha, being a planar, is very special as well. It’s a bit like the LCD-2’s sound signature. Less bass impact than the 2, less spacious, but more snappy and more nimble.

      It’s very hard to decide between those three, really.

      • Reply November 5, 2013

        L.

        Alpha dog has the adjustable bass port Mike. think more bass than L2 😉

        • Reply November 6, 2013

          Mike

          Yeah does it improve the punch though?

  • Reply November 5, 2013

    Nik

    Question for Mike and Lieven
    for listening to symphonic music do you think is better Aedle or L2?
    Thanks
    Nik

    • Reply November 5, 2013

      L.

      I’d choose L2 for sure!

    • Reply November 5, 2013

      Mike

      Yes L2.

    • Reply November 6, 2013

      Mike

      Well, on second thought the L2 has the soundstage and the black background. The instrument separation.
      BUT the Aedle has the bass impact you need for symphonic.

  • Reply November 5, 2013

    aras87

    Wow I’m quite surprised with this one! How is the bass response compared to B&W P7? Does L2 go as deep and punch as hard as p7?

    • Reply November 5, 2013

      Mike

      Maybe L can answer that as I haven’t heard the P7

      • Reply November 7, 2013

        dalethorn

        Here’s my thought: If a person were listening to somewhat dark music, perhaps even some jazz that has a lot of upright bass or other mid-to-lower freq. sounds, the P7 can start to sound muddy or boomy to an unpleasant degree. So I’d suggest users think about the type of music they listen to so they don’t double-up the mid-upper bass boominess etc. Or, if they buy the P7 anyway, get an amp that tightens up the bass as much as possible. A lot of the older classic rock recordings don’t have a strong bass, and they usually play well with the P7.

        • Reply November 7, 2013

          Mike

          Yeah it definitely helps if you know your recordings.

    • Reply November 5, 2013

      L.

      As deep no, P7 goes deeper but tje L2 is faster and tighter. I prefer the tighter punch from the L2, but the P7 has more body/impact

  • Reply November 5, 2013

    Kyle

    Mike and Co. I think you should really start up a youtube channel by doing in-depth reviews and unboxings. This would get you guys a lot more publicity from more people. Have a think about it.
    Wow, those L2’s look spectucalur and sound excellent (pun intended).

    • Reply November 5, 2013

      L.

      Unboxing videos? I guess that was popular in the beginning of the century. I kid. Sorry, we’re not gonna go there. I for one think they’re horrible 🙂

      • Reply November 5, 2013

        George Lai

        I agree on the part on unboxing videos. I think people in the packaging industry like them though.

        • Reply November 6, 2013

          Mike

          Packaging industry.. good one.

          • Reply November 7, 2013

            dalethorn

            You could always do re-boxing videos on all the stuff you send back. That could be fun for a lot of reasons.

            • Reply November 7, 2013

              John123John

              hehe I wanna see mike and L fail at repackaging, exactly the way it came 🙂 🙂

              • Reply November 7, 2013

                L.

                I’ve become a boxing expert by now. Duct tape is the secret ingredient

  • Reply November 6, 2013

    Nik

    Hello Lieven, hello Mike
    I followed your recommendation and I got the L2.
    It is truly amazing. And yet it must surely complete the burning.
    For mobile use, with iBasso DX50 would be an improvement over Fiio X3 or should I get to AK100?
    Considering that during my trips I always carry with me a MacBook Air, beyond the comfort, how it ranks, compared to the best portable players, the Air with the FiiO E17 (connected via USB or via coaxial with M2Tech hiFace Two) using Audirvana Plus as player?
    Thank you in advance for your valuable tips.

    • Reply November 6, 2013

      Mike

      Glad you enjoy it!

      The X3 and DX50 are very close in terms of sound, some would prefer the X3, some the DX50. The AK is a clearer step up.
      The E17 is roughly at the same level as the X3. I would just get the stand alone player, I think it’s cleaner and less hassle that way.

  • Reply November 7, 2013

    Gg

    Hello everybody,

    I’ve been looking for a review about
    these L2 since a month and finally I’ve found not only a review, but also a
    review that worth the time you spend for reading it.

    Saying that, I’m writing you because I
    really cannot decide between these cans and the P7. I like the P7 more
    aesthetically and I like the way they fold and that they are closed. I’ve tried
    them in a shop and I really like how they sound!

    Your review about L2 made me in
    confusion since L2 seems to be a very good pair of cans…particularly if I
    consider the L2 are 100€ cheaper than P7.

    Could you please help me in making my
    final decision :)? Is the fact that the L2 are semi-open a big problem for a mobile use
    or in the office? Do the P7 worth 100€ more than L2?

    On internet it’s very easy to find
    articles and reviews about the P7 (and most opinions are very contrasting), but
    nothing about the L2..so any advice is very welcome!

    Thanks in advance,

    Luigi

    • Reply November 7, 2013

      L.

      Hi Luigi, between the 2 to Mike and me, there’s not much of competition. The L2 is the better over all headphone but the bass of the P7 is bigger. the P7 makes you feel like you have an airier and more open sound sound, but I think the L2 actually is better in that as well.

      • Reply November 7, 2013

        Mike

        All these talk of the P7’s bass make me really want to go out and get one.

        • Reply November 7, 2013

          L.

          I don’t think you would like the P7 for some reason.

      • Reply November 7, 2013

        Gg

        Thank you L.! The genre I most often listen to are rock, metal and classical…for this genre is still the L2 the best choise at its price range?
        Is the sound loss, due to their semi open structure, too high for using them in an office or in a train?

        Thanks a lot,

        Luigi

        • Reply November 7, 2013

          L.

          I was thinking Sennheiser HD600 but that’s open. For closed think L2 first, then all the other suspects like COP, Momentum, DT770, H6,…

  • Reply November 7, 2013

    Bond Thompson

    Thanks for a detailed and well-written review. I have my eyes on the M1BT headphones. Do you know when they will be released in the United States?

    • Reply November 7, 2013

      Kartoffelmao

      In a video on youtube with innerfidelity there is someone saying february 2014 for the release of Fidelio L2 headphones in the US , so im guessing the M1BT will come around the same time.

      • Reply November 7, 2013

        L.

        It’s in shops here already though. You can always buy from EU

        • Reply November 8, 2013

          Kartoffelmao

          In the EU maybe, still not available in Norway. :/ Will hopefully come in stock this month.

    • Reply November 7, 2013

      Mike

      Thanks, Bond. I think they won’t be out till next year.

  • Reply November 7, 2013

    Kartoffelmao

    I see no mention of the Beyerdynamic Tesla DT 1350. How does the Fidelio L2 compare to DT1350?

    • Reply November 7, 2013

      Mike

      I don’t think the 1350 is competitive. I think the new T51p is more competitive and I’m waiting for L’s review on that one.

      • Reply November 7, 2013

        L.

        We don’t like the DT1350. The T51P however sounds very good. I need to do the A20 first, then the TP51P, might be a while though

        • Reply November 7, 2013

          George Lai

          I recall Mike loving the T50p, then admitting it was a new toy syndrome some months later. It will be great if the T51p review also compared it with the T50p, even if it’s a brief paragraph, or four!

          • Reply November 7, 2013

            L.

            well, sorry G, but I don’t have a t50p :/

            • Reply November 7, 2013

              George Lai

              It’s okay. Mike’s got a loooong memory.

              • Reply November 7, 2013

                Mike

                Not even close G. The 1350 is an improvement from the T50 and even then I’m still not a fan.

                I don’t think I’m a fan of the T51 either, but it certainly is the best one yet.

        • Reply November 14, 2013

          Marc

          Any update regarding the L2 vs the T51P?? Neither seem to be getting that much attention. However, those who have heard either of the two have nothing but positive comments.

          • Reply November 14, 2013

            L.

            T51P might be a while before I get it, as I said elsewhere 😉

            • Reply November 14, 2013

              Marc

              Damn it!! I’m hoping that the T51P is finally going to slay the HD25

            • Reply November 15, 2013

              dalethorn

              Yeah, I ordered the T51p also. I have high hopes for it. I had 2 of the 1350’s, and even though they say they’ve changed to better earpads, I don’t know. Guttenberg raved about the T51p on one of the big corporate sites.

              • Reply November 15, 2013

                L.

                He raves about everything though without saying anything detailed 😉

                • Reply November 15, 2013

                  dalethorn

                  I didn’t expect much, and the only real factoid there (for whatever it’s worth) was the note about a “warmer” sound than the other comparable Beyers. That little tip plus the better earpads got my order, so I’m crossing my fingers for luck.

                  • Reply November 17, 2013

                    R12wan

                    I found the T51p’s super comfortable! I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on the T51p. I really liked them but ultimately I wished the mids were a bit more foreword and more sennheiser momentum like.

                    • November 17, 2013

                      dalethorn

                      I suspected that whatever would make the T51p comfortable, i.e. what would make the earpads conform quickly to the ears and effect a good bass seal, would fix the major problem with the DT1350. If the T51p sound isn’t good enough for me played flat, I’ll experiment with the simple iTunes EQ’s to see if there’s a perfect fix. I’ve found perfect fixes for a few headphones, but haven’t struck gold yet on a Beyer Tesla.

          • Reply November 16, 2013

            Mike

            Different sound, and I still think the L2 is unbeatable if you’re looking for pure sonic qualities.
            The T51p is a more forward, smaller soundstage, brighter headphone. Small cup size usually means a small soundstage and the T51p is still limited by that.
            Tonally however the T51p is the best yet compared to the previous iterations. The L2 however is on a different level. Of course the T51p is more portable, more compact, and is closed back. L2 is semi-open.

            • Reply November 16, 2013

              Marc

              Brighter than the L2?? I think I’ll never enjoy the Beyer family… Loving the L2 though… as you may have noticed hehe

  • Reply November 7, 2013

    dalethorn

    Here’s an interesting comment from the Innerfidelity site: “I had my first listen to the X1 and L2 at RMAF….. I thought the L2 was a disaster; while the hella bass was tolerable and even pleasant(on electronic music), there is some funky midrange stuff going on that is hard to listen to. I just can’t imagine the L2 sounding good/natural with acoustic music of any sort (I also auditioned full-orchestra tracks). I’d really love to see the measurements on the L2 so I can make some sense of what I heard.”

    • Reply November 7, 2013

      L.

      Who said that? Everyone should know meet conditions aren’t the best to judge a headphone. Unfortunately a lot of people do.

      • Reply November 7, 2013

        dalethorn

        It was just someone who attended the show. No doubt the comment is way off, but still interesting how they thought the bass was very emphasized. It read almost like they were describing the P7.

        • Reply November 7, 2013

          L.

          well for some the COP at setting 1 has too much bass and for others setting 4 isn’t big enough…

    • Reply November 7, 2013

      Mike

      I think the midrange is among the best in the market today.

  • Reply November 8, 2013

    Kartoffelmao

    I wonder, will my O2+ODAC be a good fit for the Fidelio L2?

    • Reply November 8, 2013

      Mike

      Maybe

    • Reply November 8, 2013

      L.

      Mike means: yes of course, best ever.

  • Reply November 8, 2013

    breizh

    Hi Mike, Lieven and all,
    how would you rank the L2 in comparison with the Beyer T1…?
    very inferior in all departments ?

    Thanks a lot !

  • Reply November 9, 2013

    Joël Bühler

    Hi Mike,
    I’ve just bought the Sony MDR-10RBT, but they are very cheapy built…
    So I’m looking for other Headphones, like the Philips Fidelio M1 (with or without Bluetooth) or the Philips Fidelio L1. Wich one would you suggest me to buy?
    Thanks!

    • Reply November 9, 2013

      Mike

      The L1 is the better headphone than the M1. But the L1 doesn’t come with Bluetooth.

      • Reply November 9, 2013

        Joël Bühler

        Thanks for the fast reply! =)
        Is the semi-open system public transport proved?
        Should I wait for the L2?

        • Reply November 9, 2013

          Mike

          Not so ideal for public transport, but so is the L2. Both are semi open

          • Reply November 9, 2013

            Joël Bühler

            a M1 running with bluetooth have the same Bandwidth like a M1 with cable?

            • Reply November 9, 2013

              Mike

              Yes in fact I think it sounds better.

              • Reply November 9, 2013

                Joël Bühler

                which one sounds better?

                • Reply November 9, 2013

                  Mike

                  The Bluetooth sounds better. Please read the second page of this article

                  • Reply November 12, 2013

                    Joël Bühler

                    Hey There,
                    I have already several questions:

                    How big is the L2?
                    Can you wear it around the neck?
                    If you listen to music in the public transport, how much music do you hear and how much your neighbour?
                    Thank you 😉

                    • November 14, 2013

                      Gg

                      Hi Joël,

                      I’ve recently buyed them and I can assure it they worth every single $/€!

                      You can wear them very comfortably around your neck and they are smaller than you’d expect and for me they are very comfortable to wear.

                      Talking about isolation, that it’s not their strongest point, but I didn’t found it an issue for don’t buying them..L2 isolate better than on-ear headphones, but not so wel as a closed-back around the ear. Anyway, I can tell you I use L2 in the office and my neighbour told me he can’t hear anything but a very little when I turn high the volume.
                      I compared L2 to Momentum and others headphones after having bought them…they are just the best (for me!) and I am very happy with them, they sound just great!

                      Luigi

                    • November 15, 2013

                      Joël Bühler

                      Hey Thanks Luigi,

                      So I’m going to buy this awesome headphone (when it’s available in Switzerland). =)

                • Reply November 9, 2013

                  Joël Bühler

                  Thank you so much Mike!
                  I’m giving back my Sony’s and I’ll buy a L2 or the M1 with bluetooth =)

            • Reply November 9, 2013

              Mike

              Though different factors effect the performance of the Bluetooth. Some devices are better than others.

  • Reply November 11, 2013

    Kevin Wolf

    Hello guys, this had been a very interesting read, but it left me some questions yet. My current reference is the K702, how much better the L2 can be? I mean, detail/resolution and tonal balance wise.

    • Reply November 11, 2013

      Mike

      Hi Kev,
      I think driver wise the L2 is more resolving, cleaner with less noise level and more accurate soundstage. The akg however sounds more spacious

      • Reply November 14, 2013

        Kevin Wolf

        Thank you, this is going to be my next purchase.

  • Reply November 11, 2013

    Kartoffelmao

  • Reply November 12, 2013

    ajay rajan

    Hi Mike,

    Loved the review, you guys are fantastic writers! I am considering buying the L2. Any idea when the L2 will be available in Singapore? Also does in require amping?

  • Reply November 12, 2013

    Michael

    Hi folks, how would you compare L2 to Sony MDR-MA900 (just in terms of sound)?

    • Reply November 16, 2013

      Mike

      Tonally a bit similar..

      MA900:
      – slightly warmer, softer treble. Actually feel tonally the M900 is better. – more grainy, less clear, less clean
      – pace is too slow for me, dynamics not enough

      L2:
      – cleaner, clearer, much better driver quality.
      – with hot recordings, treble will get hot faster
      – more dynamic
      – overall more wow factor.

      The MA900 is one of those headphones that doesn’t wow you at first. It takes time to sink in and after playing different music you’ll realise that it works with a lot of different music and it’s nice and musical. But still at the end of the day, not a huge amount of wow factor.
      The L2 is very impressive, huge wow factor, impressive sound quality. You do have to choose recordings with it though.

      • Reply January 19, 2014

        Michael

        Thanks, Mike, sorry for the late appreciation. I’m quite intrigued and will try to find L2 in order to make some comparison.

  • Reply November 15, 2013

    Marc

    Hey guys!!

    What portable amplifier would you recommend to counter the slight brightness and to add more bass? On a side note, how do you think these would be with the AK10?

    • Reply November 16, 2013

      Marc

      I’ve read the other comments and that you’d suggest the RSA 71a but there’s no getting past the battery issue. The Intruder however is rather expensive. What are your thoughts on the L2 on the C5, the National, or the Continental V3? If there are any other amps you’d like to add, please do.

      Thanks Mike & Lieven

      • Reply November 16, 2013

        Mike

        C5, honestly I’m not a fan and I know Lieven isn’t too. We loved JDSLabs’ C421 however.
        National is good. Dark with good bass, obviously not SR71a level.

        Continental V3 is also good, dark and good bass. Smooth tube sound. Slightly less bass impact than the National (Tube vs SS).

        • Reply November 16, 2013

          Marc

          Something tells me I’m going to end up with the International… coming from Momentum, the L2 really leaves you looking for a darker, bassisr sound. I can’t deny the improvement in sound quality though.

          • Reply November 16, 2013

            Mike

            If you have the budget for the inter, might as well go for the intruder for a bit more. You’ll definitely be satisfied, no future what ifs and you can use it with future headphone purchases.

            • Reply November 16, 2013

              Marc

              Noted!! A few more questions though (I actually feel like I’m slowly getting closer to end-game with the L2),

              Are you saying I wouldn’t need any other portable amp for the Intruder as it drives the larger headphones or because you feel that it provides better resolution (AND BASS) than the International?

              Relatively, you’ve said in your review of the International that it had better PRaT than the International. Does this still hold true and might it be a deciding factor for faster genres?

    • Reply November 16, 2013

      Mike

      I like the ALO and RSA amps. They are dark and weighty on the lows.

  • Reply November 16, 2013

    Gabriel Ross

    Mike, What 3.5mm connector [Oyaide, Neutrik, Switchcraft], work with the L2?

    • Reply November 16, 2013

      Mike

      None, unfortunately!

    • Reply November 16, 2013

      Mike

      It has a very narrow opening and you can only use 3.5mm connectors from factory moulded cables.

  • Reply November 20, 2013

    Domingo Martínez

    Hi, is L2 better than the amazing Soundmagic HP100 ?

    • Reply November 20, 2013

      L.

      HP100 is more neutral and fully closed. Bass is tighter. Overall the L2 is the better headphone unless you want neutrality

      • Reply November 20, 2013

        Domingo Martínez

        thanks, but isn’t L2 neutral? is it ‘V’ shaped?

        • Reply November 20, 2013

          L.

          L2 tilts to the warmer side

          • Reply November 21, 2013

            Mike

            Warm full bodied.

            Not V-shaped. Far from it.

  • Reply November 20, 2013

    R12wan

    Still early days but I can already say that the mid range is AMAZING! I’ve tried Momentum’s both versions, V Moda M100, B&O H6, Custom One Pro and B&W P3 and the Philips L2 has the best mid range of them all. Base is quite good, but perhaps good be a little more impactful. I can see what you mean about the treble. So far, I would say this is the best overall sounding headphone of all the above mentioned. Hope I feel the same way after a few more hours of listening as I really don’t want to be trying any more headphones!

    • Reply November 21, 2013

      Mike

      Sounds like our impressions are very much alike.

      I told Philips’ engineers about needing more bass impact as well. If they can pull of an Aedle VK-1 like bass, then game over for everyone else.

  • Reply November 20, 2013

    R12wan

    I still want to try the B&W P7 though!

    • Reply November 21, 2013

      Mike

      Same here, but L said it’s not really my type of a headphone.

      • Reply November 23, 2013

        R12wan

        Hi Mike. After all the suggestions I received from yourself, Dale and L, you may be surprised to learn that I have eventually settled on something completely different! No doubt the L2 is a fantastic headphone but I’ve decided against it. I needed something to listen to while I work and I tried out a pair of Grado 80i’s. They were fun, open, clear and a comfortable, easy listen. At the end of the day, putting aside all the technical stuff and focusing on what you enjoy, I found these an enjoyable listen. I have also decided to pick up a pair of B&W P5’s. I think I posted in the Q & A section that i liked to P3 vocals. Well the P5’s were even better and they too were a nice listen with good base and moderate PRAT. I like a bit of base and these were good for me. I picked up a reconditioned pair so between the two headphones, I paid about the same as what a pair of L2’s would cost. Two headphones at a good price for different moods and suitable for both home listening and portable hifi. Result!

        • Reply November 23, 2013

          Mike

          P5 is great. Grado, yeah they’re fun though easy to get bored with.

          • Reply November 30, 2013

            R12wan

            Damn it! You were right! Grado’s did get boring and are on ebay! Keeping the B&W p5’s (middle of the road good all round) and also got cheap Amperiors (amazing PRAT) and yes I am getting the Phillips P2’s (just brilliant and for a good price). I think that covers it for all genres that i listen to.

            • Reply November 30, 2013

              R12wan

              L2’s I mean.

            • Reply November 30, 2013

              Mike

              Hahaha well sounds like you have everything you need there.

              Next is the LCD 3

              • Reply November 30, 2013

                R12wan

                Way outside my budget! I’m going to stop reading your website. It’s costing me too much money! I have an audio and photography obsession!

      • Reply November 23, 2013

        R12wan

        By the way, i did try the P7’s. Didn’t really like them all that much – not for the price anyway. I don’t see these as a portable pair but more for home listening and the Grado’s suited me better for that purpose. Also didn’t find them all that comfortable.

  • Reply November 21, 2013

    breizh

    Hi Mike, Lieven and all,

    what is, in your opinion, the best bargain between the L2 at 200€ and the HD700 at 400€ ?
    Thanks a lot !

    • Reply November 21, 2013

      L.

      HD700 at 400€?! Where, I wanna buy one 🙂
      Does that answer the question?

      L2 at 200: GREAT, needs no amp and works great
      HD700 at 400: GREAT, but needs quality components and an amp with great synergy

      I’m really interested where to get the HD700 at 400€. thanks

      L.

      • Reply November 21, 2013

        breizh

        you’re right 😉

  • Reply November 22, 2013

    Nik

    Hello Mike, hello Lieven
    like I already wrote I got the L2 and the sound is really nice.
    But I have two problems with it. The lack of a little more strength in the bass (although I’m not a enthusiast of headphones with bass swollen), and its size. I find it a bit too big to carry in my bag and also to wear it for a walk.
    I think to try the Aedle VK-1. You have written many times that the VK-1 have more bass and this would be fine for me. I lose a lot of refinement of L2 listening to especially high-resolution files? I use Fiio X3 and E12.
    Not being able to see before you buy, you confirm for me (as I think) that VK-1 is smaller than the L2? How much is the diameter of the ear pads?
    Thank you once again for your answers and your patience.

    • Reply November 22, 2013

      Mike

      Resolution wise the difference is quite small, the Aedle is also very resolving.
      The dimension of the pads is much smaller.. about the Philips M1 size. I’ll try to take measurements when I have time.

  • Reply November 26, 2013

    el34han

    Hello,
    Thank you for the great review. I am wondering how does the L2 compare to the Plilips X1. I mostly listen to classical and opera. Also enjoy pop jazz. Amp is La Figario 336c.
    Have a HD580 and looking to buy Philips X1. Appreciate your view, or anybody’s
    .

    • Reply November 27, 2013

      Mike

      The X1 is more spacious and has a stronger bass, but other than that the L2 is the superior headphone technically.
      It’s the one I’d go for now out of Philips’ entire line up.

  • Reply November 27, 2013

    Joe Ramos

    Mike and Lieven, thanks for the great review! Long time reader, but 1st time commenting. I was hoping one or of you could tell me about the differences in bass between the M80 and the L2.

    The L2 sounds like a great portable upgrade, but Mike’s comments about bass concern me. I own the M80,and find its bass just a hair more polite than what I find ideal, but great when I EQ it up a bit. How does the bass on the L2 compare, and does it take well to being EQ’d up?

    Anyone else with experience with both if these headphones please feel free to chime in. Thanks!

    • Reply November 27, 2013

      Mike

      Bass is really not a strong point. There is good bass presence but the L2 doesn’t hit as hard as the M80.
      M100 should be the upgrade you get.

      • Reply November 27, 2013

        Joe Ramos

        Thanks for the feedback Mike. I thought the M-100 was going to be my portable end game based upon on what was being said about it being a circumaural version of the M-80 with a bit more bass and less polite highs. But then Val said that they were unable to replicate the sound signature due to the larger driver and difference between on ear and over ear.

        Turns out that the M-100 is more a bass head headphone than an audiophile one. Not what I want. I believe that headphone bass should have some impact, because in reality, bass is visceral and dynamic. But, I still want a fairly neutral presentation. Dynamic, but neutral.

        So, back to one of my original questions. How well does the L2 take to being eq’d? Do you think I’d be happiest eq’ing the L2, going with something bassier yet not over the top like the Momentum (I do like detail though), or do you genuinely believe that the M-100 is better than it’s headfi rep of being a glorified basshead can?

        • Reply November 27, 2013

          Mike

          I don’t think you can add bass impact with EQ — the L2. I love that headphone, I just don’t think it can take up the M-100 as the all rounder headphone.
          I don’t think that the M100 is a glorified bass head headphone either. The beats are. At the end of the day, even in high end audio, people need good bass that’s why headphones like the HD650 are successful while “SQ” headphones like the HD800 are not so well accepted.

  • Reply November 27, 2013

    Domingo Martínez

    I’ve been testing my L2 and have decided to return them.

    I compared them A / B with soundmagic HP100 and these sound better than L2 in all but the lows.

    • Reply November 27, 2013

      L.

      Oh man, that’s a whole different headphone. HP100 is closed, very neutral but has great tight bass with good body (something the L2 missing)

      Looks like you wanted a closed neutral headphone, why then go for the L2 in the first place?

      • Reply November 28, 2013

        Domingo Martínez

        I just wanted some open headphones that do not sound
        worse than my soundmagic, I´ve tested several, all of them more expensive than
        HP100, but not find none that I like more.

  • Reply December 1, 2013

    Joe Ramos

    Not too many other reviews for the L2 available right now, but here’s a link for one that I came across. It’s not as informative as this one, but they do include a frequency response graph.

    http://www.digitalversus.com/headphones/philips-fidelio-l2-p17200/test.html#full-review

  • Reply December 2, 2013

    rich

    Hi Mike, How do you describe the difference in sound of the L2 to the X1 ?

    • Reply December 2, 2013

      Mike

      The L2 has a less spacious sound, but is cleaner, less grainy, deeper soundstage, blacker background, smoother on the frequency response.

  • Reply December 3, 2013

    breizh

    Hi Mike, question already asked, don’t know if it makes sense 😉 but how would you compare the L2 to the Beyer T1 ? Is the T1 in another league really ?
    Thanks !

  • Reply December 3, 2013

    David Zomeño

    Hi There,

    Being a semi-open headphone, how is isolation compared to other closed headphones such M-100, Momentum…

    My M-100 are great for commuting but not that ideal for the office, although some EQ helps. Were would the L2 stand?

    • Reply December 3, 2013

      Mike

      That’s the thing, I asked Philips if they can make a closed back. I don’t think the L2 works for commuting and any type of public transport.

      • Reply December 14, 2013

        magi44ken

        I would love a closed version of the headphone with good isolation and light weight. Did they give you any hint or reply when ask?

        • Reply December 16, 2013

          Mike

          When I was there (around September?), and I told them about the need of an L2 closed-back, they didn’t seem like they’ve even considered making one. So I made the suggestion and they were open and said that they would consider it.

  • Reply December 5, 2013

    Anton

    How would you compare L2 and Fostex TH600 driver quality?
    Because Fostex TH600 now also in <1000$ bracket ($799.00)

    • Reply December 5, 2013

      Mike

      While I love the TH900, I really have never been that impressed with the 600. I don’t know if it’s the driver or the housing, but at the end it’s a very so-so headphone. I don’t know, maybe the driver is good (I am not sure if the 600 uses the same driver as the 900), but the overall sound of the headphone sort of masks whatever good the driver may have.

      • Reply December 12, 2013

        L.

        I agree with that, sound stage and detail are less and sounds congested compared to the 900.

  • Reply December 8, 2013

    AllahModeEngage

    How would this compare to the Aëdle VK-1?

    • Reply December 9, 2013

      Mike

      VK-1 dark and impactful.

      L2 clean and spacious.

  • Reply December 9, 2013

    Joël Bühler

    What’s a good, small, portable amplifier for under 150$?
    Thanks guys

    • Reply December 9, 2013

      dalethorn

      Fiio E07k (computer DAC plus amp, rechargeable), FiiO E17 (computer DAC plus amp, rechargeable), FiiO E12 (amp only, rechargeable), Objective2 assembled (amp only, rechargeable), PA2V2 (amp only, rechargeable). The last item is very small and runs 100 hours on a charge, on common NiMH cells you can buy anywhere.

      • Reply December 12, 2013

        Joël Bühler

        Hey there,
        I ordered the FiiO E07k this monday. I hope I get it this week =)
        I’m really looking forward to use it.
        Thank you dalethorn

        • Reply December 12, 2013

          dalethorn

          I’m using my E07k right now with my iPod Touch, LOD cable, and my modified Marshall Monitor FX headphone. Delicious!

    • Reply December 9, 2013

      Mike

      Cmoy.

  • Reply December 11, 2013

    netmask254

    Under 1000, I think both Hd700 and T90 are very attracting and don’t have a high demand on amplifier. How do they compare with L2?

    • Reply December 11, 2013

      L.

      My personal opinion is both those headphones need a really good amplifier or your headphone won’t sound as good as it should. It’s been compared to the T90 here before,

    • Reply December 13, 2013

      Mike

      The L2 is more musical than both.

      Technicalities, HD700 best of the three.

  • Reply December 12, 2013

    Robert

    So is this Headphone considered a mobile one, to use on the go with a mobile player or a smart phone? Or is it intended to be a home use product? I ask because you compare the drivers with HD650 and DT880 which are home use and then compare the headphone itself with the M100 which is a mobile.

    I’m currently using a K530 which was good for me, but I missed the bass a little, and am currently searching for an replacement in the <500€ (considered T90)area. And this review sound like this L2 would be the best solution for a lot of people because of the second best driver thing…

    Can someone help me out here? Mobile, Home? Better/Worse T90?

    • Reply December 12, 2013

      L.

      Mobile and home. But for mobile, it doesn’t fold up. I’d say it’s more home. The driver quality is really good but that doesn’t mean it’s the better headphone. to me it’s not better than the T90 but you need a good, preferably, tube amp for it while the L2 plays good out of everything. that’s what makes this driver so special

      • Reply December 12, 2013

        Robert

        Could you recommend an amp? Preferably with a DAC because I will mostly use the headphone with a Macbook Pro and ALAC coded files.
        Are there DAC/Amp combinations out there that also have a microphone in? Thinking about a Modmic extension to use the headphone for music while playing and chatting via teamspeak. If possible I would love to pay less then 900€ for the combination 🙂 THANKS in advance!

  • Reply December 16, 2013

    Albert

    Too continue on the comparison with the K550, that is a massive reference.

    How is the separation of instrument on the L2 ? And if you compare it to the K550 ? And the soundstage, is that better than the B&O H6 ? But smaller than the k550 right ? In this case if it has a smaller soundstage, a more “V shaped sound”, and not very punchy bass, how the L2 would be better than the K550 in very big (massive) orchestral piece (like tchaikovsky) ?

    Thank you for your answers.

    • Reply December 16, 2013

      Mike

      The K550 is very wide on the soundstage but has flat depth and lousy three dimensionality. To me that comes out as an artificial soundstage.
      The L2 is narrower which many would consider a weak point but ultimately with a superior three dimensionality and depth, I think it’s a much better headphone.
      The K550 is more v-shaped, the L2 is very full on the mids and bass.

      Unfortunately to make orchestral pieces work, I still need a strong bass impact, both the L2 and K550 are not very good at. The HD650, TH900, LCD-3 are all better for me for Tchaikovsky. Of course, different class of headphones altogether.

  • Reply December 18, 2013

    Mr.Tingalingling

    Hi Mike, Thanks for the reviews! I listen to a very wide range of genre… Classical, R&B/soul, hip-pop, pop, rock… I was debating between the momentum and M100 (leaning on the M100) and now that I have read this review… Should I wait for the L2 instead? And as for portable amp wise, do you any good (not too expensive) suggestion as a nice companion for the three headphones mentioned as well as the DT770 and HD600? Thanks!

  • Reply December 21, 2013

    Geoffrey Defosse

    i just ordered the L2 because of you guys, i just have to say i’m a bit skeptical regarding this huge praise over the L2 on this test, so i went over several threads on internet forums and people generally tend to confirm my opinion, that this review is a over rating the L2. Nevertheless they love this headphones but the general opinion is that an old good HD600 is naturally superior to the l2.

    • Reply December 21, 2013

      Dave Ulrich

      Well, you will just have to listen and decide for yourself.

      • Reply December 26, 2013

        Geoffrey Defosse

        I wasn’t wrong in my assumptions. I prefer my old HD598 over the L2. This is a fantastic ongoing headphone but i can’t find the Magic in the mids section, it’s “drier”. In my opinion all the magic in music comes from organic mids and the L2…i’m sorry to say, is not as organic than our mid-fi. Nevertheless bass is superior, hit harder, high are crisp and very well defined. Separation is almost on par, details retreival either but…guys, seriously, the L2 are like a hot blonde, highly seductive but i prefer my brunette, more deep and VISCERAL. Philips doesn’t get the visceral part of the thing and that make all the difference to me. I still don’t get the praise for the soundstage in this review, it’s flatter than my sen, less envelopping, less airy.

  • Reply December 26, 2013

    Tong Leang

    Just received my pair today. Gotta say they are great pair of cans, going back & forth between denon d600, hd650 and the L2. The L2 does sound comparable but it might be the new toy syndrome. Well worth the admission price I would say.

  • Reply January 10, 2014

    Jeff

    I had a listen to this with my vioelectric amp. I compared it with the LCD-2, HD650, HD600, and the Grado SR325Is. I loved the L2. It was a huge improvement from the L1.(which I don’t own but my friend lent me it) While you cannot compare it with the Grado because Grados sound so diffrerent from any other, it was as enjoyable. I am a HD650 fan so I have to say I liked the 650’s bass and overall sound. The 600 though I didn’t like compared to the L2. ( sold the 600 for $250 to a friend) Now comparing with the LCD-2, it gets very interesting. In a nutshell, LCDs are the L2s on steroids. For the money, and the impedence, L2s are amazing value.

    • Reply January 10, 2014

      L.

      V100, V200? Where are you from Jeff?

      • Reply January 11, 2014

        Jeff

        well a V200 with the usb dac which I regret getting because I’ve got a better dac.

      • Reply January 11, 2014

        Jeff

        kinda off topic here but I go on the headfonia website mobile and it’s gone as I touch my samsung galaxy S3’s screen to scroll down a page
        is this just me?

        • Reply January 12, 2014

          L.

          The site disappears when you want to scroll? Doesn’t happen here and Mike and me are both on S4

          • Reply January 12, 2014

            Jeff

            guess it’s my phone

        • Reply January 13, 2014

          Mike

          Hi Jeff,
          Try a different browser? I use Chrome and Firefox on my S4 depending on which sites I go to.

          • Reply January 13, 2014

            Jeff

            ^thanks it works on chrome

  • Reply January 19, 2014

    votdfak

    H6 or L2’s? H6’s are double the price and I can get JDS Labs C5D + L2’s.

    What’s the warranty on L2’s?

    If you crank up the volume, do they isolate in commute? Do they leak as much as HD 598’s?

    Thanks!

    • Reply January 21, 2014

      Mike

      They are both good. Technically the L2 is better and overall sound the L2 is more analog.

      • Reply January 24, 2014

        Geoffrey Defosse

        I disagree a bit. The 598’s is bigger in soundstage, more airy, the mids are more organic. The instrument separation is a little better too.

        The L2 have more impact, more bass quantity, more treeble but the mids are dryer and LESS natural sounding. The general signature is more “IN YOUR FACE” than the 598’s. Perfect for rock, classical but i prefer my 598 for vocal and string music as the voices expend much more naturally than with the L2

        Generally the sound seems to be more “natural” to my ears with the 598’s. Maybe less enjoyable for some genre but you can listen to them all day long without getting your ears tired. That is impossible with the L2, my ears are ringing because of the harshness in the highs after 2hours listening.

        Never happened wih the sen’s.

        If i had to pick one, i’d choose the L2 because of the outstanding sound of violin in classical.

        • Reply January 24, 2014

          dalethorn

          I was thinking they meant comparing the L2 and H6, not so much the 598, which is classic Sennheiser.

  • Reply February 14, 2014

    Atte Loikkanen

    These look absolutely stunning!

  • […] molto bene, sono ancora pochissime. Tra le poche vi segnaliamo però quella di Headphonia (titolo “Le fenomenali Fidelio L2″), un sito molto esigente e competente, che ne elogia qualità musicali, componenti, costruzione e […]

  • Reply February 22, 2014

    Kartoffelmao

    Well, i finally got the Fidelio L2 last week after a long waiting time for it to release here.

    First impressions were a little underwhelming, but i liked it the more i used it. The soundstage is pretty dull, but clarity and details are very good. Not as good as Shure SRH-940 i compared with in my testing, but close. Bass is tight and with good impact (the AKG K701 sounds very anemic compared to the Fidelio L2 bass). Overall i have to say i like the sound signature of the Shure SRH-940 better, so i will return my Fidelio L2. Comfortwise the L2s are pretty bad for my head (too tight).

    I did the testing with a ODAC+O2 AMP and FLAC files in WASAPI and ASIO output with Foobar2000.

    I have just ordered a Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro im hoping will replace my Shure SRH-940.

    • Reply February 22, 2014

      L.

      O2 and Odac might not like the L2. I doubt they like the Beyers

      • Reply February 23, 2014

        Daniel James

        The ODAC and O2 is audibly transparent. Whatever sound you get from them is the actual sound of your headphones… I know, it’s not always pleasing to hear the sound of the headphone you dropped hundreds of dollars on.

        • Reply February 23, 2014

          Raskoln

          ‘Audibly transparent’ stated as fact? You can hear that you’re not hearing it. How do you know you’re not hearing it?

          • Reply February 23, 2014

            Daniel James

            Simple, with measurements. Music is art, sound is science. Electronic gear like amps and DAC’s are quite easy to produce and be audibly transparent. Not so much with headphones and speakers due to variables outside of the speaker’s control.

            • Reply February 23, 2014

              L.

              Alright. discussion closed guys

            • Reply February 23, 2014

              Raskoln

              Did you take many measurements to let you know you weren’t hearing it?

            • Reply February 24, 2014

              dalethorn

              Not so. DACs and amps have many components and the possible electronic/electrical interactions are astronomical in number. Circuits are subject to interference. Jitter is well controlled now, but not only not down to zero, it’s inherently non-linear, so you can’t make absolute certain that it’s ‘perfectly’ put to rest. Ripping a disk perfectly is usually possible because the computer can wait for corrections. Despite the ‘buffers’ used by music players, we don’t have the same guarantee of perfect playback as we do of a perfect rip – i.e. there is no CRC checksum of playback at the analog out….

              A membership in one of the professional societies such as the AES will get you closer to the inside details of electronics engineering, where you can see how scary this stuff really is – the myriad ways that signals can get distorted between the digital track and the headphone jack.

              • Reply February 24, 2014

                Daniel James

                • Reply February 24, 2014

                  dalethorn

                  It’s a great video, thanks. I know Ethan from when he was peddling custom software – very competent guy. I can’t address any of the video here, but I highly recommend it as a beginner introduction to audio. When it comes to hifi reproduction, I am frequently at odds with experts because I don’t agree with most ‘scientific’ double-blind listening tests. To keep this short I will give an analogy and then a real example: In the U.S. Army training we learned to see to an extremely limited extent in dark outdoor conditions far away from cities or any lights, by learning about “off-center” vision – i.e. don’t stare directly but look indirectly. I’ll leave you to research that. The real example for here is hearing – when I’m comparing two sounds that are one decibel or less apart, I usually can’t hear a difference. But in the context of music listening I can usually pick up on the difference readily by starting and restarting the music from a given point. But then even that gets very skewed by time of day and what I’ve been recently listening to. This is not to suggest that perception is everything – the audio differences are real and you WILL hear them whether you focus on something else or not. The question of reliability of what we hear really comes down to the amplitude, since when a sound is loud enough everyone who isn’t deaf will say “Yup – that’s a siren on an emergency vehicle”. To turn that around or back to the small differences, you do have to remember certain principles or you’ll be misled by the very experts (in the video for example) who are trying to help you. Those principles include: 1) The differences are real. 2) Training will help you identify them when they’re audible. 3) Audibility may be subliminal to some extent, but the brain still hears stuff that doesn’t register in double-blind tests.

                • Reply February 24, 2014

                  dalethorn

                  I don’t want to repeat anything I’ve said or hinted at that’s arguable one way or the other, but I do want to stress that the people in the video are to a large extent addressing what they have defined as not real, rather than focusing solely on what is real but *may* or may not be audible depending on the amplitude. So as a first order of business, if you can’t separate the two phenomena here and in the video, it’s going to make things difficult.

        • Reply February 23, 2014

          L.

          Well I’m not starting another O2 discussion. Time will tell just how good the gear is, ask someone in 10 years if they still have the O2 and we’ll know 😀

    • Reply September 21, 2014

      Patrick Michael Graf Murray

      With the DT990 pro you get more sharpness in the treble than you do with the premium and or the Dt880s. Now I happen to like the DT990s, but I just did not care for the ODAC o2 combo with them, I like the ODAC with the Vali, and really any tube hybrid I had tried with the 990s. Also if you like and prefer solid state then there are warmer amps out their that I think you would benefit more with your new phones. Let me know how it goes, because every one’s ear prefers different types of sound. You may be happy with the setup, also you can try to eq if you do not.

      • Reply October 16, 2014

        Kartoffelmao

        Havent tried tube amps, so wouldnt really know. ODAC+O2 is my first external dac+amp. Ive been happy with DT990 for while now, allthough they have a very sharp treble as you say. It can be a problem on some songs and also a little fatigueing.

        Last week i got the SONY MDR-MA900 and it sounds surprisingly similar to the DT990, but not as intimate sounding and without the sibliance. Its much more suitable for longterm listening both comfortwise and soundwise. I may actually like better than the DT990. Looks to be a very neutral headphone according to this:
        http://en.goldenears.net/14492

  • Reply March 1, 2014

    Nik

    Hi Lieven
    Have you considered the possibility of changing the cable of the L2? Do you think it might be worth? What do you recommend?
    Thank you in advance for your courtesy.

    • Reply March 1, 2014

      L.

      Hi Nik, I haven’t tried another cable yet. while you can of course expects a light difference in sound, I think it will only be minimal with the L2. I would opt for a copper based cable, certainly no silver as it doesn’t need to be more clear etc

      why would you want another cable?

      • Reply March 1, 2014

        Nik

        In fact one of the parameters that could intervene a new cable is to adjust the treble, sometimes a bit excessive.

        • Reply March 1, 2014

          L.

          Yes in that case try a good thick copper cable!

  • Reply March 5, 2014

    Krelianx X

    So, anyone care to compare these with the X1s? 🙂

  • […] approdato sull’ottimo blog Headphonia che apriva la recensione sulle Fidelio con il titolo The Phenomenal: Philips Fidelio L2. Dopo aver letto la loro recensione la mia scimmia è cresciuta a dismisura fino a diventare un […]

  • Reply March 11, 2014

    kameenadesi

    you guys really gotta hear the JVC SZ2000 Live Beat headphones. They have incredible synergy with the FiiO E12 Mont Blanc. I bet the drivers in the SZ2000 can be comparable to the Philips L2. Wanna try the L2 one day…

    • Reply March 11, 2014

      dalethorn

      The headfi review says the bass is “Like a club in your brain”, so if you’re after some *really* serious bass, check it out.

  • Reply March 12, 2014

    Sam Lim

    L2 Does not have the second Best Driver under $1000 =_=

    http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/PhilipsL2.pdf

    How can you tell that is the second best driver under$1000??? THD is higher than other well made headphone in this price range….like NAD HP50, Focal Sprite Pro, HD25 Aluminum, ETC

    impedance response shows L2 driver has electronic resonance at bass and low high. That is saying L2 has problem with damping….I have No clue how you can even say that l2 has the second best driver under $1000 =_=.

    • Reply March 13, 2014

      L.

      Yes, you might need to read between the lines there. Don’t take it too literally I would say. On the other hand it is a great sounding headphone. On the other hand, who cares how it measures. I don’t.

      • Reply August 5, 2014

        Geoffrey Defosse

        No need to look at graphics to tell the l2 is not AT ALL on the same league as the big boys such as the He-500, LCD 2 ans so on, there is a workd of difference. When i go back to the L2 from my He 500 i feel the l2 so lacking in everything. It’s like going from a Oled big screen feed with blu ray to a mere 55cm old television with DVD. This review is just a big joke.

        • Reply August 5, 2014

          L.

          You guys are missing the point of the review. don’t take it so literally

        • Reply August 5, 2014

          dalethorn

          It’s been a while since I read the review, but I read it again now, and there’s enough detail in the text to explain clearly what you get for $300. I had the L1, but not the L2 as yet, and compared to a lot of the junk that sells for $300, the L2 should be a pretty good deal for the price. (and I have a few $300 headphones that I wish I hadn’t bought)

  • Reply March 12, 2014

    Raskoln

    On pure sound, would you (any you will do) prefer the Fidelio X1 or L2? And would these be a distinct step-up from Senn 598s?

    • Reply March 13, 2014

      L.

      X1 sound is warmer and has different bass (bigger?) than the L2. But the L2 overall has the best driver and sound. (but not the biggest bass). I would call the L2 a step up from the 598

      • Reply March 13, 2014

        Raskoln

        Thanks L, & where would you put the Beyer DT770s or LE version in relation to the L2? The Senns seem to my uneducated ears at their best in relation to the luxurious, laid back side of the spectrum but maybe are lacking in terms of drive & energy. My tastes are very broad so I’m not looking to specifically cover that side of things but it is part of the equation. Though to add, your mention of what you consider the L2 to go well with in the review would seem to satisfy me on that front.

        • Reply March 13, 2014

          L.

          The Beyer is closed and the L2 is open, I would go for the L2 in that case, it’s a higher quality sound for sure

          • Reply March 13, 2014

            Raskoln

            Thanks Lieven, & with that I think I’ll quit reading reviews of this, that & the other & instead just go and order the L2!

            • Reply March 13, 2014

              L.

              Amazon france and Italy often have great deals

              • Reply March 14, 2014

                Raskoln

                Thanks for the tip, and from looking weird the discrepancies on the different Amazons around Europe with the L2 – UK & Italian 100 or so euros less than elsewhere.

                • Reply March 14, 2014

                  Raskoln

                  Ordered this morning – 200 euros after delivery.

                  • Reply March 21, 2014

                    Raskoln

                    Arrived today. Won’t make a fool of myself trying to make observations other than I like them and some of Underworld’s mid 90s peak years are sounding very fine but, novice that I am, I’ve a question re cable. I’d certainly appreciate having a quite-a-bit longer cable for home use than supplied 1.2m. Do I need to be looking at something specific for these phones or should I be ok with virtually any generic 3.5mm/3.5mm?

                    • March 21, 2014

                      L.

                      Should be ok if you stick to a thin 3.5mm.

                    • March 21, 2014

                      Raskoln

                      Thanks

  • Reply April 7, 2014

    Munteanu David

    Where are the Philips Fidelio L2 made ?

    • Reply April 7, 2014

      L.

      Let me check the box later

      • Reply April 14, 2014

        L.

        couldn’t see it on the box but the box did have some asian language on it

  • Reply April 14, 2014

    Moshyo

    Thanks for the review guys. How would you compare the L2 with Soundmagic HP100 which is slightly cheaper but has been reviewed to punch much above its weight? How does the soundstage compare to the HP100 and ZMF? Also, L2 is marketed as a portable but it is semi-open – how bad is the sound leakage?

    • Reply April 14, 2014

      dalethorn

      I haven’t had the L2 but it should be similar to the L1 – warm and somewhat bassy. The HP100 is lean in the upper bass (quite different from Philips) but has a strong low bass.

    • Reply April 14, 2014

      L.

      Hi. THe HP100 is closed and the L2 is an open headphone. Sound signature is completely different because the HP100 is a very neutral headphone with very tight bass. L2 soundstage is bigger, I haven’t heard the ZMF yet but the L2 is better than the HP100 IF you need an open headphone

  • Reply April 15, 2014

    Tibor

    Hi there. Can you help me to choose? I want to buy headphones to use on the go, I have a Meridian Explorer dac and was considering to buy Beyer T51p, but maybe those L2´s can be also a good option. Can you compare those two please? You will help me a lot. Thank You

    • Reply April 15, 2014

      L.

      I keep being surprised how people want to compare different types of headphones. The T51P is portable. The L2 is a full size. the Beyer is on ear, the L2 is over ear. L2 is open, T51P is closed. Sound wise both are very good but the T51P is smaller for portable. I personally enjoy the sound sig of the Beyer more but it is clear the L2 has the “better” sound

      • Reply April 15, 2014

        Tibor

        Thank you, yes I can see those differences, but I can´t hear them. What I would like to know, which of those has better detail and depth across frequencies and which of them are more musical.

        • Reply April 15, 2014

          L.

          Musical: Beyer. Detail and depth, the L2

          • Reply April 15, 2014

            Tibor

            Thank You 🙂

            • Reply September 21, 2014

              Patrick Michael Graf Murray

              Are you not an IEM kind of person? Because I was not but my situation called for it, and I ended up with the ER4PT IEM and I will say they are a fantastic portable ear phone, with my Rockbox Ipod and the C5 amp the music really does immerse you.

  • Reply July 10, 2014

    Nat PML

    If I tell you that I love the L2, but its trebles make me uncomfortable, which headphones would you advise (I mostly listen to baroque music, and I’m especially fond of bass voices) ? (I own HD650/700, K701, L2/X1, COP, Porta Pro) Thanks for the hint !

    • Reply July 10, 2014

      L.

      doesn’t the 650/700 suffice?

      • Reply July 10, 2014

        Nat PML

        They do, but I’m looking for a lower impedance full-size headphone to use with Sony’s NWZ-ZX1 (forgot to mention this).

        2014-07-10 14:27 GMT+02:00 Disqus :

        • Reply July 10, 2014

          Dave Ulrich

          Mad Dog maybe?

        • Reply July 10, 2014

          L.

          Have you tried EQ’ing or doesn’t the ZX1 offer that? 😉

          • Reply July 10, 2014

            Nat PML

            I totally forgot EQ, I confess : I used the head-fi tip to increase the output power (which disables EQ, and all “sound enhancements”). You’re right, thanks.

            I’ll look for the Mad Dog though, Dave, I was curious about them.

            • Reply July 10, 2014

              L.

              Money saved! 🙂

              • Reply July 10, 2014

                Nat PML

                That’s the very first time you do this, L ;-P

                (about to buy the a20 for the HD650, which is totally your fault, admit it ! … still trying to find an already soldered BottleHead Crack, or wait for more Oppo ha-1 reviews though)

                • Reply July 10, 2014

                  L.

                  Yeah, you have to get a crack too.

  • Reply July 10, 2014

    Nat PML

    Oopps.

  • Reply September 13, 2014

    Rogier Schreurs

    My brother got this last week and I’ve been able to listen to it a little bit. Haven’t really come to terms with the totality of it’s sound, but one thing really stood out for me: It manages to replicate the sounds of fender guitars, Fender Rhodes piano’s and Hammond organ quite well! John Mayer and D’angelo really shine with these puppies!

  • Reply September 20, 2014

    Joël Bühler

    He there
    I just bought the Fidelio L1 for (120 Swissfrancs). They sound amazing!!! I can’t imagine that the L2 sounds better…
    Would you also buy the L2? Or a Beyerdynamics T51p?
    I own: Shure SE315, Fidelio L1, Bose AE2, 2x Phonak PFE 022 and Jays…

    Thanks guys

    • Reply September 20, 2014

      dalethorn

      If I had the L1, my next step might be the X1 or X2, or possibly the Beyerdynamic DT770-32 ohm. The T51p sound is way different from all of these, and I would recommend it for portable use, but not to switch back and forth between the T51p and L1 – the tonality is too different.

      • Reply September 20, 2014

        Joël Bühler

        Yeah the X1 sounds amazing!!!
        Why is the X2 so much cheaper than the X2?

        • Reply September 20, 2014

          dalethorn

          Once these models are discontinued the price tends to drop drastically.

          • Reply September 20, 2014

            Joël Bühler

            Haha I meant X2 cheaper than the X1 😉

            • Reply September 20, 2014

              Headfonia_L.

              X2 is not even out yet and it’s more expensive

              • Reply September 21, 2014

                Patrick Michael Graf Murray

                The X1 had went from 180-210 to now being 300 -260 Which is a bit of a bummer, not to say that it is not worth the 260 and what not but I know I can find a slightly used headphone that is potentially even more to my liking for less in the forums and ebay. I remember people sellig their x1 for 170 now they are sellling them for 250. I really hope the x2 delivers something special because they have a decent amount to live up too. I currently am trying out two closed models and have been comparing my own HD600. The T70p and the modded T50rp the ZMF X Vibros. To be honest the they all sound amazing, and I am kind of in the air if I want to sell one so I can try out the X2 when it is out.

                • Reply September 22, 2014

                  dalethorn

                  I would have a hard time giving up the T70p (Tesla), the ZMF vibro (planar), or the HD600. The HD600 is a reference headphone, and the other 2 are Tesla and a planar about to become a legend. The X2 could sound better than any or all of these for the first few weeks, but eventually you’d miss these 3.

              • Reply September 21, 2014

                Ege Özcan

                btw I tested the fidelio x2s at canjam today and they were awesome. after a side-by-side comparison with L2’s, it’s amazing that they had found so much room to improve.

    • Reply September 20, 2014

      Headfonia_L.

      Why not the T51P? Something different

    • Reply April 9, 2015

      Rafael Capelo

      Hi Joel, see you bought the L1 and was worried about the isolation as I’am. What did you think about it?. Do you think It would bother someone sitting next to you in the airplane or bus travel?. I’m thinking about getting the L2 that is also semi-open, but worried about this, also considering the M1 causs its closed back…

      • Reply April 10, 2015

        dalethorn

        The M1 that I had sounded the opposite of the L1 that I had. L1 had good relatively strong bass and sparkly treble, where the M1 had a very recessed treble.

        • Reply April 10, 2015

          Rafael Capelo

          Thanks for the opinion! What about the sound leakage? Do you think its too much?

          • Reply April 10, 2015

            dalethorn

            I don’t have an actual example of leakage for the L1 that I had, but since the isolation was almost none, the leakage would be enough that you couldn’t use it in a public library at normal volume. I’ve almost never had a problem on a train or plane though, unless I’m playing very loud next to someone who’s bothered very easily.

        • Reply April 10, 2015

          Rafael Capelo

          Thanks

      • Reply April 12, 2015

        Joël Bühler

        Hi Rafael,
        The L1 sounds really good and they are enough loud…but I think you would bother someone with your music 😉
        Actualy I’m using the Shure SE 315! =)

  • Reply October 2, 2014

    willy vlyminck

    All the superlatives are justified, I have the L2 since a week, and it is almost frightening how much better this headphone compared with the overhyped Momentum,which by the way, I wanted to like, but it just didn´t work for me, not that I am a difficult person but the main demanding I have to headphones is natural sound, when I hear a Steinway it should sound like one and not like a Fender electric piano 🙂 It have the natural smoothness of my Grado GR10, and that says a lot if not all..I did just listen to some Steven Wilson works, and was extremely pleased with what I heared and the bass is also exellent in case anyone would doubt, altough I can not speak for the kind of bass required for today´s mainstream styles, but for avant-prog rock, the bass is topnotch. Can´t wait to hear the X2 🙂

    • Reply October 2, 2014

      Headfonia_L.

      X2 is darker, bigger bass, not as tight and fast. Technically I prefer the L2

  • Reply October 21, 2014

    Biergourmet

    Hi, how is sound leakage on these phones? And is it possible to exchange the cable? I do’nt need a microphone.

    • Reply October 21, 2014

      Headfonia_L.

      It leaks quite a lot of sound actually. Yes the cable can be changed but you’ll have to find one where the 3.5MM plug fits

      • Reply October 21, 2014

        Biergourmet

        Thanks, just noticed that it is a semi-open phone. Innerfidelity’s measurement says: Broadband Isolation in dB -8 dBr. Not really much 🙁

  • Reply March 16, 2015

    Akis

    How do these compare with the X2’s. The L2’s look less challenging on the head.

    • Reply March 16, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      they are much more fashinable yes, but the headband starts to hurt on top of your head after a few hours. The L2 is more forward and faster sounding than the X2. I think they’re about on par for what technicalities are concerned but the X2 is a lot warmer and smoother. I like both their sound but the L2 could use some more bass. X2 is pretty perfect but it doesn’t have the WOW effect my HD650 still gives me (the Sennheiser scales a lot better)

      • Reply March 16, 2015

        Akis

        Thanks for a super-fast reply. That means the X2 are the ones for me then.

        I also have some HD700 that I need to make a decision on whether to keep? If I do, I feel I would also like to invest in a Bottlehead Crack amp to get the best out of them.

        The sound is so different to the everyday X2 headphones (which have the more easy-to-live-with, rich, warm sound).

        I’m thinking of maybe keeping both. But then should I spend the combined cost of X2’s and HD700’s on an other alternative i.e. one set of headphones that do it all?!

        I’m using an AK100 II as a source and the X2’s are a great fit but on some tracks the HD700’s have so much more resolving power albeit at the expense of sounding a little clinical.

        Love the website. Keep up the great work.

        • Reply March 16, 2015

          dalethorn

          A good planar would be interesting. The HE560, one of the new Oppo’s, or Audeze EL8 etc.

          • Reply March 16, 2015

            Akis

            I’d love to try the EL8’s. I do already have 3 headphones purchased from Amazon that I’m auditioning (the HD700’s, the X2’s and Momentums that I haven’t even unboxed) that I have to make a decision on soon.

            It’s very difficult to do any analytical listening in a shop environment with a limited amount of time, so buying/trying/returning seems to be the best way.

            I don’t want to tie-up any more money (or waste people’s time) unless there’s a good chance I will keep the headphones I now try.

            I’ve already returned some Beyer T51i’s. The Momentums were meant as an alternative to the T51i’s.

            The EL-8’s are £600 in the UK ($870).

            • Reply March 16, 2015

              dalethorn

              The B&W P7 might be a viable alternative to the X2, and certainly to the Momentum.

              • Reply March 16, 2015

                Akis

                Looking for that one headphone that does it all.

                But I fear that other than the real thing (the live event) every reproduction is simply just that and we spend time and money trying to get close to something we can never get right by definition.

                • Reply March 17, 2015

                  dalethorn

                  There is a payoff though, in that when you combine your own experience with what you read here (and elsewhere), before you buy and after you buy, you get a pretty good feel for which headphones best represent your music – giving you I guess the most detail or experience for your money, with proper balance. For me, the P7 gives me a full-up experience somewhere near the lower end of my ideal sound, and headphones similar to the latest LCD2 at the top end. I only wish I had everything in between. But once you get a “really good” headphone you feel comfortable with, you can focus on getting the best out of it with an amp that has the right synergy. That’s the tricky part for me – I’m always surprised at the sound of any new amp I get. There are still ‘objectivist’ guys who think they all sound pretty much alike, but when you listen to enough of them with the same headphone, you eventually hit the sweet spot.

                  • Reply March 17, 2015

                    Akis

                    Thanks for your time and comments.

                    Not wishing to drag this more off topic and hoping to give something useful to other readers from my experience:

                    – When I plug the X2’s in and listen to ‘my music’, I am never disappointed, nothing jars, nothing detracts. They are really a great headphone. So that’s that then?

                    – Well not quite. The HD700, on some tracks, are clearly better – more detail, more layering, more air, more feel. But at a cost. Things now do jar in places of the track – sibilant in places, less warm, change in tempo, busier sound.

                    – You start to think maybe the HD700 are more accurate and that’s the way the track is recorded. The X2’s maybe are tuned to be more rose-tinted. Maybe the right small valve amp would help tint the HD700’s a little to help them with the track?!

                    My point is do you ever reach a satisfactory conclusion? If you buy top of the range Audeze’s, does all of your music sound comfortable to you and do you stop picking holes or looking for improvements? I’m guessing not. I’m guessing when something then jars, you blame the recording as you have ‘the best headphones’ so it can’t be their fault.

                    In conclusion, for me the X2’s are great everyday, wear and enjoy the music headphones. Others like the HD700’s give you more but are high maintenance. I’m thinking of sticking with the X2’s as my daily wear, whilst still trying to find Nirvana with 1 more expensive offering / amp combo.

                    • March 17, 2015

                      dalethorn

                      I found a magic solution called EQ. And I don’t mean to open the Pandora’s Box on that one, but here’s the key: Just like when you restrain yourself from visiting the loan shark to buy all kinds of goodies you can’t afford, you restrain yourself from using EQ to attain perfection – you go after the most problematic sibilant frequency and let the others go. If it makes a difference (and it should) then you’re better off. You can even retune a couple of problems, not just one. Every headphone has multiple resonances and suckouts, and while the mfrs. dampen most of them pretty well, they’re not 100 percent. I’ve found that reducing the problems (not trying to be perfect) really makes the sound more natural and alive, but it takes practice.

                    • March 17, 2015

                      Akis

                      Good advice again. Thank you.

                      I’ve placed an order for a Bottlehead Crack to try with the HD700’s.

                    • March 18, 2015

                      dalethorn

                      Be sure to report your experience with it.

  • Reply March 23, 2015

    willy vlyminck

    I really like my L2, and bass is exellent, at least for my taste of music, (prog,avant-prog,)where the bass guitar is much more than only a part of the rhytm section.The headphone is a perfect partner for my FiiO X1. I am looking for an in ear that comes close to the L2 Lieven, if you have any idea, don´t hesitate… My IE80 goes in this direction, but doesn´t have the 3D sound and the space of the L2, neither is the bass so clean, My Grado GR10 is a perfect match for my iPhone/ iPod but not for the X1., so an in ear alternative for the L2 would be great.

    • Reply March 23, 2015

      dalethorn

      I thought the IE800 was fantastic. It’s not so much a wide stage, but amazing depth. Usually if I hear bass and treble enhanced, I think of it as V-shaped, but I loved every bit of the IE800 spectrum.

      • Reply March 24, 2015

        willy vlyminck

        The price is a bit beyond my budget, and following the threats of the IE800, it seems there is a lot of complaining, which is not ok for a product in this price range, altough I understand that an IEM sounding like the L2 can’t be cheap…

        • Reply March 24, 2015

          dalethorn

          I think part of the problem is that a lot of the “richness” in the sound that multi drivers and crossovers add is missing in the IE800, and users who are familiar with those IEMs just won’t like the IE800.

          • Reply March 24, 2015

            willy vlyminck

            Most complains are from a technical nature, as for example a stiffening cable. On the sound matter there is a positive consence.

            • Reply March 24, 2015

              dalethorn

              The main complaint I remember is the cable detaches below the ‘Y’, not at the ear pieces, so may require sending to Sennheiser when replacement needed.

              • Reply March 24, 2015

                willy vlyminck

                I know, they give good service but for 700 Euro, you may expect a perfect product, There are far lesser expensive in ears, who never causes trouble, I think of the IE80, never had any issues with that, but unfortunately the bass is not so clean and 3-D as with the L2, if it is fair to compare over ears with in ears?

                • Reply March 24, 2015

                  dalethorn

                  It is OK to compare because you and I both have the experience. So I understand. But 2 things: I don’t think the IE800 is very fragile, and I don’t think the price means it has to be rugged or perfect. But I always treated mine very carefully. If you need to just throw it into a bag etc. for convenience, then probably not a good idea. I found a tiny case for my IE800 that was very quick and convenient to put the earphone into, and also protected it. Putting it into the Sennheiser case was a time waster.

                  • Reply March 24, 2015

                    willy vlyminck

                    I use this one for my GR10 and IE80

                    • March 24, 2015

                      dalethorn

                      OK – that looks good. As long as you use the case when not listening you should be good. I think the reason I’ve had a few headphone cables break is because of the weight of the headphones – when a cable snags there’s a lot of weight pulling against that snag. With IEMs that shouldn’t happen unless the IEM cord is somehow immovable on one end and the other end is snagged. Of course nobody can guarantee anything.

    • Reply March 24, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      I have to say I only listen to customs. There are some universals I like but they don’t seem to be what you’re looking for.

      Probably Nathan has a better idea, he’s our IEM guy

      • Reply March 24, 2015

        willy vlyminck

        Customs are certainly the optimal choice if you want to have sound like an over ear headphone, the only problem is that they are incredible expensive, but I will ask Nathan if he know a more down to earth solution

  • Reply March 25, 2015

    Gabriel Ross

    L. Here in the States I was able to get a pair of L2’s from a seller in Japan. Since that time your good word about Forza, encouraged me to order a aftermarket cable. Neutrik straight 3.5 mm, with 1.5 m Quad hybrid series cable. Every thing improved of course, highs are perfect and the bass has improved. I just wanted you to know how much Headfonia, is helping me to enjoy my music collection. p.s., I D.I.Y my CD’s to windows on WAV, it seems to be a good way to go; do you agree? HFN#1. Thanks.

    • Reply March 25, 2015

      dalethorn

      Did you mean that you rip your CDs to WAV files and store those files on the computer?

    • Reply March 25, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      I’m so happy to read that. Enjoy your setup. The L2 is nice.
      WAV is a good format but I hardly ever use it, I always go for FLAC

      • Reply March 25, 2015

        dalethorn

        I always rip my CDs to bit-perfect WAVs, then make FLACs from the WAVs, then make 320k CBR MP3s from the WAVs, then toss the WAVs. When the FLACs are re-converted to WAV, they are bit-identical to the original WAV files. The MP3s go onto portable players (Apple), and a few of the WAVs go onto one Apple device for testing with DACs.

        There are people who claim that the WAVs may sound slightly better than equivalent FLACs, due to the burden the player has of uncompressing the FLACs in real-time, however, even if it’s unlikely, something to be aware of.

        • Reply April 12, 2015

          johthor

          Would you share which software you prefer to use when you rip from CDs? I actually do the same as you when ripping from my CDs. I have been using dbpoweramp but would like to know what you prefer to use. Thanks

          • Reply April 13, 2015

            dalethorn

            Usually Foobar2000, with the verify turned on. Sometimes it reports errors and I may have to do the songs one by one. But I’ve also ripped to WMA with Windows Media Player, or even Mac lossless with iTunes (not recently). When I use Foobar to convert WAV to FLAC and FLAC to WAV, those conversions are not only lossless, the WAV-from-FLAC is always identical to the original WAV, just as though I did a PKZip and PKUnzip.

          • Reply April 13, 2015

            Haryanto Suryonoto

            Try dBPoweramp. Can do accuraterip.

          • Reply April 13, 2015

            Headfonia_L.

            dBPoweramp is pretty darn good, I use it too.

  • Reply April 9, 2015

    Rafael Capelo

    Great review. I’m thinking of getting the L2 after so good opinions about it, and the cost-bennefit in my country is great. I have some concern about the isolation for travelling neightboors, since I use it a lot in airplane or bus travels. Seen some coments saying it may boder people sitting next to me, and other comments saying its ok. Even considering the M1 cause its closed back, but really wanted an over ear headphone with this quality. How would you compare the isolation of the M1 and L2? And the sound quality? It would be great to hear the opinion of the L2 owners =). Thanks

    • Reply May 17, 2016

      Lucas Meyer Galibier

      Cara, eu comprei um e gostei demais, se ainda quiser comentários ou tiver dúvidas, é só perguntar 🙂

      • Reply May 17, 2016

        Rafael Capelo

        Obrigado, eu também comprei e acho muito bom. Mas já quebrei o cabo com controle, é frágil hehehe

        • Reply May 17, 2016

          Lucas Meyer Galibier

          Por nada!
          Bom saber que é frágil, mas como o seu quebrou? no botão ou o cabo mesmo? pq como o meu chegou faz uma semana, seria bom saber quais cuidados deveria tomar sabe…

          • Reply May 17, 2016

            Headfonia_L.

            english please guys

            • Reply May 17, 2016

              Lucas Meyer Galibier

              Oops, sorry!

              • Reply May 18, 2016

                Headfonia_L.

                I was about to delete that before you eddited it 😉

          • Reply May 17, 2016

            dalethorn

            Translate: You’re welcome! Good to know that it is fragile, but as your break? the button or the same cable ? pq as mine arrived a week ago , it would be good to know what care should have known …

          • Reply May 17, 2016

            Rafael Capelo

            Nessa parte laranja do botão, pois o cabo gira livre e acabou torcendo até partir o fio. Coloca uma fita isolante pra ele não ficar girando hahaha

        • Reply May 17, 2016

          dalethorn

          Translation: Thank you , I also bought and I think very good. But I broke the cable control, is fragile.

      • Reply May 17, 2016

        dalethorn

        Translated: Man, I bought one and I liked it too , if they want to comment or have questions, just ask.

  • Reply April 28, 2015

    Marco Mare

    What is “jpop” kpop”?
    Call them with their name: CRAP
    The majority of US “music” is pure GARBAGE and what is tragic is that the people of US is completely unaware of what REAL MUSIC is.
    The dumbness of so many Americans is so pathetic.
    (c)rap (s)hit hop du(m)bstep alternative techno punk grunge etc…all of this garbage is just noise for monkeys.
    Incredibly US gave birth to modern Music like rock-blues-jazz-funk-soul etc….
    Nowadays music means NOISE and not harmony for too many idiots.
    This is like humanity is returning to the stone-age

    • Reply April 28, 2015

      dalethorn

      Most people aren’t serious music lovers, they just like a melody or a beat to play in the background while they do other things. Other people – young people for example – use their ‘music’ to frame their culture, and most of them will be listening to “music of your life or era” when they’re older, just to remind them of a better time before they had to go to work, to a horrible job to support their families. The marketing people understand this, and the stuff they churn out rarely affects audiophiles. Fortunately, unlike bygone eras, we can find what we like in a lot of different internet forums – Soundcloud, whatever.

      Oh, BTW – a lot of audiophiles, maybe even the majority, play their favorite music while they do other things too. Cruising the internet especially.

    • Reply April 29, 2015

      George Lai

      I don’t like JPop or KPop but I wouldn’t call them crap. People don’t purposely like music because they like crap. Different cultures listen to different kinds of music and we should all respect that.

      “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach

      And whilst we are on the subject, some U.S. music had their origins from their immigrants from all over the world.

      • Reply April 29, 2015

        Marco Mare

        The problem is that what some ignorant people calle “music” is NOT Music at all.
        The term Music do NOT means ANY possible sound,but it means that there are rules of harmony and melody to be respected,otherwise is just random noise.
        In order to be Music it needs REAL singers REAL musicians and REAL instruments to be used .
        The lack of intelligence and culture is the result of the primitive unintelligent noise that the media want us to swallow.

        • Reply April 29, 2015

          dalethorn

          I don’t follow “media” and neither should you. It just gets people upset for nothing.

      • Reply April 29, 2015

        dalethorn

        “Long way from home, can’t sleep at all, you know another mule is kickin’ in your stall.” — Howlin’ Wolf a.k.a. Chester Burnett, migrated from the plantations of Mississippi to urban Chicago. Same country, but two different worlds. Huge influence on Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, Animals, Cream, many others.

        • Reply April 29, 2015

          George Lai

          Indeed, Dale. It is also thought that U.S. blues were influenced by African roots.

          There’s a Malian artist – Ali Faraka Toure – whose music has so many underpinnings in US blues and he has never heard US blues. When Ry Cooder, I believe, found him, he couldn’t believe the similarity.

          • Reply April 29, 2015

            dalethorn

            Good reference. I have over 10 thousand blues tracks on tape from my wife’s late brother, tracing plantation blues from the 1920’s through the urban blues of the 1990’s. Similarities work both directions, interestingly enough – you hear artists of today reflecting some of the early riffs, and occasionally you even hear a few bars in a 1920’s recording that sounds amazingly modern. I have a CD by Miriam Makeba of South African “field” songs that I believe were ancestor to much of the ‘spiritual’ songs of the American plantations.

          • Reply April 29, 2015

            dalethorn

            There is one problem with the reference to “primitive unintelligent noise” etc. The clues are found in language itself – for example the predecessor to English, the Indo-European, has many times the complexity of English. Navajo and other native languages here are far more complex than English, simply because the thoughts and history of the peoples were kept in the head and not generally written down. Listen to some of the pow-wow songs of American Indians, and after awhile you’ll be transported to a different level of song appreciation, or you’ll be cut off completely due to ignorance of the language and culture. If you stick it out, it will transform you, in a good way.

  • Reply May 24, 2015

    Anon

    Hi guys, great review. two things in respect to the L2:

    1. Would a Fiio X5 be a preferred pairing to a Fiio X3 II? As in would the price increase be justified? I also know the X5 II will be released soon so is it worth waiting?

    2. For hip-hop would the HD650 be better suited than the L2? The laid back signature of the HD650 makes me think otherwise but then again you say the bass impact is better on the HD650 than the L2 so i’m really not sure. What do you think?

    • Reply July 25, 2015

      willy vlyminck

      The L2 will just do great with any of the FiiO´s because it doesn´t require much power. I don´t listen to hip-hop but apart from the the L2 does really well with plenty of (sub)genres. Thx to Lieven, I did buy the L2, and I think in it´s segment it is one of the very best no matter the price. The L2 is also very beautifull made, at a level you normally find only at headphones, costing the double or triple.

  • Reply May 30, 2015

    Dadbeh Shaddel

    if L2 is such an overacheiver, you should have compared it with OPPO PM2 and PM-3

    • Reply May 30, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      The OPPOs weren’t around back then. Chill

      • Reply May 30, 2015

        Dadbeh Shaddel

        oh i wasnt upset or skeptical or anything like that. I just wanted to see how they compare. also the link to this came up on your facebook and i clicked on it, i didnt realize how old it was. funny thing is, it is still hard to find one of these in the US.

        • Reply May 30, 2015

          Headfonia_L.

          Yes for some reason the Fidelio brand never really made it to the US. Very strange

          • Reply May 30, 2015

            dalethorn

            I talked to Kevin the Philips guy on Facebook about whether the original M1 was going to be re-tuned for the U.S. market, since it was delayed several months after the Europe release. He stopped responding after the first question, so I’m pretty sure that was a clue to why it came out so dark it was like having no treble. Anyway, when corporations get so big they can’t communicate at all with reviewers, just because the reviewer has a sensitive question, it’s no surprise that some products fail. BTW, I paid $250 for my M1, out of pocket.

        • Reply May 30, 2015

          dalethorn

          Philips makes some great quality headphones. I’ve had three. The SHP-9500 can be had for less than $100 now- sounds really great – just add a little bit of bass boost and it’s a total experience.

  • Reply July 25, 2015

    willy vlyminck

    Hi Lieven, did Philips already send the M2L with lightning contact ? The reviews I did find are all very positive exept for the limited use due to the lightning contact only, but I like the idea of such compact item, where Dac/ amp is included, so all you need is your iPhone7/ iPod.

  • Reply July 25, 2015

    willy vlyminck

    No problem Lieven, I just thought due to your good contacts with Philips they might send you a review sample.

  • Reply May 17, 2016

    Lucas Meyer Galibier

    Okay, thanks to the Headfonia’s review and much reading, i bought the L2.
    I would like also to thank Dale and Headfonia_L. too for guiding me about the X2 too!
    Wonderful surprise! The L2 had exactly what i was missing from my previous headphones, center imaging, and despite they said it could make some use of more bass, i found it nailed!
    It just seems to reveal what comes in the recording mastering. Bass heavy records sound very bassy for me indeed such as Deadmau5’s Imaginary friends or Matt Simons’ catch and release.
    They sound Very extended but not exagerated. It’s like if the L2s could reveal bass in all of it’s extension, from sub tho lower mids. It just have to be there.
    Another trait from them is the stage that sounds very circular, like if you were in the middle of it. Some records make me feel i’m sorta surrounded.
    Crappy files do suffer however, but thats natural.
    Thanks Headfonia!!! Next upgrade, i’ll ask you again!!!

    • Reply May 17, 2016

      dalethorn

      I really like Philips, because they not only sound good, but the build quality is superb.

      • Reply May 17, 2016

        Lucas Meyer Galibier

        Yes Dale, everything feels sort of cheap next to them.

    • Reply May 17, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      Glad you like it!

  • Reply June 2, 2016

    Dennis

    Hi,Dale and L, thanks for your recommendation. I just got my L2 today. Now i am using it with my iphone 5s directly without any DAC or Amp. I don’t know whether I am making the most of the headphone, now I find it good. To me, this headphone is very clean and gentle, like a fragile girl. the sound me makes feel lonely. it’s really good time to reflect with the headphone on. the bass is indeed not as strong as my friend’s Beats. But I got it for about $120, that’s nice at the price. thanks again~

    • Reply June 2, 2016

      dalethorn

      $120 is a great price. Take good care of the earpads, as some of the earlier Philips earpads are not replaceable.

      • Reply June 3, 2016

        Dennis

        sure. thanks for reminding~~~

  • Reply June 14, 2016

    Jorge Carvalho

    Thanks to this detailed and clear review, I made my mind and bought a Fidelio L2 too. And how pleased I am. It’s my first expensive headphone and I’m glad that I managed to get a good deal (~$145). Now I’d like to ask about good DACs and AMPs to pair with it, preferably of quality noticeable above Iphone 6 and w/o costing an arm and a leg XD. Thanks Headphonia and keep the good work!

    • Reply June 14, 2016

      dalethorn

      Dragonfly Black will improve greatly on a iPhone6 (greatly!), but if you have more money the Mojo or the Grace xxx will be even better. Lieven also recommends the Herus.

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