TP-Vision’s OLED televisions under the Philips brand name are among the best-performing television screens in the market today. In addition to good image quality (also read our image review), the top models from the OLED + model line deliver exceptional sound quality according to the trade press. The moment Bowers & Wilkins invites Music Emotion to listen to the Philips 65OLED984 top model at our leisure, we say no no.
Philips 65OLED984 listening session with B&W soundbar and subwoofer
Now we don’t find it necessary to use this bulky and extremely fragile television for a 60-minute listening session to come our way. We prefer to listen to the television at one of the official dealers in the Netherlands. This time, in consultation with Bowers & Wilkins, we chose to visit the Audio Expert based in den Bosch. This saves us at least two hours of unpacking, installation and packing time.
After we first scored a box of authentic Bossche bulbs (sort of high-end moorheads) on the Stationsplein for the home front, we meet Bas van Oosten of Bowers & Wilkins in the spacious Audioexpert showroom at Hinthamerstraat. Before we focus on the quality of image and sound, Bas first fully talks about the technical details of this premium OLED television and about the collaboration with Philips. Below we view some excerpts from film and music concert.
With its unique features, Philips is taking a clear step to the forefront with this OLED + television. This television is of course equipped with the unique Philips Ambilight technology. The styling of this Philips 65OLED984 / 12 is also distinctive. With the included designer foot, the screen is at an optimal viewing height and can be placed anywhere in the room. If desired, the screen can also be hung on the wall with an additional wall bracket. The television is delivered including a wide soundbar from Bowers & Wilkins. Like the television, this soundbar has a sober and sleek styling. The speaker cloth comes from the Danish company Kvadrat and this gives the television as a whole a more contemporary and above all exclusive appearance.
Despite Bowers & Wilkins ‘only’ the soundbar takes care of it, the manufacturer draws for this collaboration all its knowledge and expertise. The wide housing is divided into three separate and completely separate compartments for the left, right and center channels. With this the drivers of the different channels did not influence each other. The compartments are made from high-quality plastic that has been specially developed for audio applications. These compartments are internally provided with the well-known Bowers & Wilkins Matrix structure. This prevents resonances and the distortion of cabinet parts as much as possible. This is audible due to the lack of cabinet coloration (= distortion) in the sound.
The three two-way bass reflex sound channels each have a powerful 10 cm woofer and a 19 mm titanium dome tweeter. For the left and right channel, the tweeter and the woofer are housed in the same housing. The center compartment only has a powerful mid and low woofer. The total of three audio amplifiers have an RMS music capacity of 60 Watts and also have Digital Sound Processing (DSP) to achieve a powerful low-level reproduction despite the modest cabinet volume.
The three matrix cabinet parts are then Mounted resonance-free next to each other in the soundbar housing, so that any resonances do not have an adverse effect on the tweeter of the center channel mounted in the leg. The mounting of this tweeter is one of the most distinctive features of this television. A technique that Bowers & Wilkins has been using with its premium Hi-Fi speakers since the 1980s.
The idea behind the tweeter-on-top principle is that this is the radiating behavior is improved by reducing diffraction, or reducing unwanted reflections at the enclosure edges, with which the radiating pattern is adversely affected. This creates a better and more spacious stereo image. Moreover, this tweeter-on-top construction ensures that the tweeter is optimally disconnected, just like the manufacturer’s loudspeakers, so that resonances affect the reproduction of treble as little as possible.
Experts will probably notice that the tweeters of this premium Philips OLED are not the same as those used by Bowers & Wilkins in its Hi-Fi speakers. These have a dome made of titanium. For its Hi-Fi speakers, the manufacturer opts for aluminum dome tweeters in the 600 series, carbon dome tweeters in both the 700 series and in the Formation Series and Diamond dome tweeters in the highend 800 series. These titanium tweeters have been specially developed for this Philips OLED.
Like the tweeters that Bowers & Wilkins applies to its Hi-Fi speakers, the break-up frequency of these tweeters is 38kHz far above the hearing limit. . The break-up effect is the resonance (and distortion) of the titanium dome at certain frequencies. This distorts the sound in (especially) this area. This happens with every driver from every manufacturer. Why is this so important now? The higher this break-up frequency, the less distortion is generated in the audible area. This can be heard even by untrained listeners through a cleaner and much quieter sound reproduction.
Sound quality of Philips 65OLED984 with B&W soundbar
During the first film fragment of the war film 13 Hours, dating from 2018, we experience an excellent reproduction of dialogues, the dynamic reserves and the way in which the many sound effects flow into the space. Despite the limited dimensions of the soundbar, it creates a convincing stereo image. In the scene shown to us, bunches of grenades fall and we listen to the impact of the blow and the falling of debris around the place of impact. The effect is of course not as spatial as in a DTS or Dolby Atmos surround environment, nevertheless we praise the spaciousness with which the sound is reproduced in 3-channel stereo.
In the second excerpt from A Star Is Born (2018) we experience Lady Gaga like never before. In fact: we had not even recognized her due to the lack of makeup. Actually quite a beautiful woman. We look at the fragment where after taking a respectable gulp of vodka she enters the stage and her lungs from her body sings from behind a grand piano. The power and definition of her voice in combination with the full warm sounds of the piano let us swallow. This is not bad at all. Certainly when we consider that the representation of a female voice and of a piano are one of the most difficult musical elements to represent in a realistic way. Many premium Hi-Fi sets even have difficulty with this. Here, however, this Philips 65OLED984 with Bowers & Wilkins soundbar succeeds with flying colors.
The third fragment comprises a few minutes of Bohemian Rhapsody. This biographical film from 2018 tells the romanticized story of the British rock band Queen. Although we are not real diehard Queen fans, the trailer immediately grabs us. Here too we experience excellent intelligible dialogues and a wonderful variety with dynamic live performances. What strikes us as a whole is that this soundbar does not sound too thin, but especially not thick or bloated. When we compare this soundbar with the Formation Bar that Bowers & Wilkins has previously introduced, the slightly fuller / warmer tone of this Philips definitely appeals to us. If the dialogues are not clear enough for you, then the midrange only needs to be raised a little to give the voice à la Bowers & Wilkins a little more definition.
One of the biggest pluses of this television is perhaps the RCA subwoofer output. This makes the choice of subwoofers virtually unlimited. For this listening session, Bowers and Wilkins brought their most compact 8-inch ASW608 subwoofer, the entry-level model from the 600 Series from Bowers & Wilkins. After this we listen to all film clips again. We are very impressed that the subwoofer does not shout or make the entire sound spectrum too fat. The sub supplements especially in the lowest “tactile” regions. With the war film 13 Hours, this sub drums us with big blows on the chest when the shells hit. With both music films, the subwoofer creates a very nice ambiance and shows a wonderfully layered bass response. After this we listen to various concerts via YouTube. This Philips opens up a whole new dimension for YouTube concert goers and music lovers.
The image quality of the last generations of OLED televisions is very good, as our earlier review has shown . This Philips 65OLED984 OLED + television is therefore no exception. But let’s be honest. The latest generation of OLED screens is not inferior in terms of image quality. Certainly not when the panels, just like this Philips, come from panel manufacturer LG.
After we have listened to the OLED television including this compact sub, we can actually conclude only one thing. This Philips OLED is by far the best sounding television of the moment. If we were to be smaller, this combination would be sufficient for the reproduction of image and sound. Here the additional subwoofer is not even a requirement for us. Without the sub, this television sounds great. The subwoofer only completes the total experience to the last detail.
When we look at the price, it is not too bad. Of course, the suggested retail price of just under 5,000 euros for the 65-inch version is not for everyone, but when you are in the market for a premium OLED television and a good sounding loose soundbar, the investment amount quickly comes close. If you prefer a 65-inch Philips OLED with a Dolby Atmos soundbar, then you could also take a look at the Philips 65OLED934 television.
Despite our great pleasure with this ‘Bowers & Wilkins powered OLED +’, there are a few minor comments. When we send music streams to the television via Tidal or internet radio, the image does not automatically switch off. Despite the risk of burn-in in the last generations of OLED screens, the burn-in danger with still images remains real. Philips tells us that the screen can be turned off via the settings when music content is being played. This is certainly a point that you should pay attention to if you also like to use streaming music services.
Given the earlier introduction of the Bowers & Wilkins Formation series, we had actually hoped that this Formation technology would also be included in the last generation of Philips televisions would have been implemented. We see this television match perfectly with the subwoofer and with two or four Formation Flex speakers from the Formation Series. Realistically speaking, this is still a little too early. The technology is still too new for this. Perhaps a nice feature for the revival of the legendary Philips Matchline Series? “Philips Matchline. Powered by Bowers & Wilkins Formation ”. Sounds okay, we think.
Conclusion of Philips 65OLED984 with B&W soundbar
With the Philips 65OLED984 OLED television, TP Vision has a strong asset. Thanks in part to Bowers & Wilkins, there is currently no television that surpasses this OLED + from Philips in terms of functionality and total experience. The image quality is sublime and the sound quality superior. If you are considering purchasing a new television in 2020 and you would like to spend a few more euros on it, then we definitely recommend that you “experience this Philips 65OLED984 OLED at a dealer nearby”. But beware of this. This television is 100% addictive.