The Philips Fidelio B1 is a fairly compact soundbar, suitable for smaller (living) rooms. There is also a wireless subwoofer. Does a compact speaker or a compact sound reproduction mean that the Fidelio B1 can easily fill a room?
Philips Fidelio B1 – design and installation
The Philips Fidelio B1 is a very compact soundbar, with dimensions of 40 cm wide, 11.5 cm deep and just 5.7 cm high. He almost falls short of other soundbars that we’ve tried over the past few months. This speaker is also intended for smaller living rooms or other rooms in the house, where a large speaker does not really fit – both in appearance and sound. A compact soundbar also provides sound reproduction of course and that does not always have to be a problem. Certainly not when you live in a small house. The Fidelio B1 has a suggested retail price of 499.99 euros.
The B1 is beautifully finished and exudes quality. At the top are some metal buttons with which you can control the device, but those functions can also be consulted with the included remote control. There are two drivers on the sides; on the front of the device too. With a technique called Philips microbeam , the sound must be spread evenly throughout the room. There is also a 5.1-amplifier that deals with all six channels of the compact speaker.
The subwoofer is remarkably narrow, but looks equally stylish. The installation of both the speaker and the subwoofer has been done. You place the devices in the right place, put the plug in the socket and you’re almost done. Unfortunately, the package is delivered without a cable through which the audio can pass. There is no hdmi or optical cable, so you will have to buy it separately. That is strange, especially for a soundbar where you still pay a considerable amount. You can (probably) not start immediately.
In addition to a connection for an optical and HDMI cable, you can also connect devices via hdmi arc , usb and bluetooth. There is also an analogue input. Unfortunately, the B1 does not offer support for hi-res audio and you will need to do it with streaming services and wav and mp3 files when you play music through the usb input, for example. Furthermore, there is an LED screen at the front to indicate which function you are currently using. And if the speaker is off, you can always use it as a digital clock.
Philips Fidelio B1 – use
For the most part you can easily use Philips Fidelio B1. It all speaks for itself. Turn bluetooth on, pair your smartphone and you can start listening immediately. The same applies to the other connections: connect a device to the speaker and the rest indicates itself. What does not work very well is listening to music via the USB port. There is no app for this soundbar, so you will have to work with the screen on the front. And it can barely display little information.
That’s why we listened almost exclusively to music via the optical cable (from Xbox One with Microsoft Groove to TV, to the soundbar) or via bluetooth (with the same app, but from a smartphone). That just works well. However, when you try to watch video content, you notice that something is not right. Now several soundbars suffer from this, but we have noticed that the sound is never the same as the picture. Yes, you can set the delay of the sound by a few milliseconds, but that was not enough.
And just when you think you have found the right setting, it changes again in the middle of the movie or series you watch. The lag between image and sound is worst when you stream video content via Netflix, Plex or YouTube, for example, and less if you watch regular television. Constantly keeping track of the audio in relation to the image is a tedious task – one that we have been working on for too long and which has sometimes caused us to enjoy the image less.
The remote control lies comfortably in the hand and offers the user all the functions that are needed. You can change source and mode with a simple press of the button and can also adjust the bass and treble. In addition, there are buttons available for setting the LED screen (which you can even turn off, if those lights annoy you) and you can use it to control the music of a USB stick. As said, that does not always work well, because you can never really see what you’re doing right now.
Philips Fidelio B1 – audio quality
For the size of the Philips Fidelio B1 we can say that an impressive sound comes out. But then there is already a side note to the judgment and that you should not really want for a speaker of just under five hundred euros. The bass sound is powerful and that’s pretty good for the size of both the soundbar and the subwoofer. We enjoyed it very much during Marvel’s Luke Cage and two seasons of American Horror Story, because music has a big part to play.
However, the bass sound is mainly bombastic. The sound is well present and can fill a room, but clearly lacks nuance. The level can be adjusted by the user, but in general you can say that the bass sound sometimes sounds overwhelming. We are not entirely satisfied with the higher tones. The Fidelio B1 is not capable of making high notes sound beautiful and even seems to cut off at a given moment, for the audience. And that makes for a very warm sound experience.
We have not tested the speaker is a large environment, but in a small one – because that is what the B1 is meant for. Yes, the device is more than capable of reproducing the sound well, balanced and scattered, but – again – you expect more from a soundbar of this amount. Maybe not of this size, because Philips seems to have pulled a lot out of the closet to realize this sound quality. It is just not enough in many cases. Is the soundbar half cheaper, then it is a different story.
The Philips Fidelio B1 has three sound modes. One for films (and series), music and with an emphasis on voting. We can also really recommend using these modes to ensure that you can fully enjoy the speaker. But in general it does not change our opinion about the performance of the B1, because the defects simply remain in the picture. Both in terms of quality and the aforementioned delay. The soundbar does not really weigh behind the sound of the content.
Philips Fidelio B1 – conclusion
And you also immediately have the conclusion. There is no weight in the sound reproduction. Is the sound reproduction better than that of the average television? Doubtless. Can you have something on Philips Fidelio B1 in a small living space? That too can be argued. But only when the price drops and when you can live with some disadvantages such as cutting off the higher tones, the moderate synchronization between image and sound, and the sometimes bombastic bass sound. The audio reproduction can fortunately partly be adjusted with the remote control to your own hearing and wishes.
In addition, it is separate that no cable is included for the connection of the Philips Fidelio B1. So you will have to have a cable yourself (although that will not be a big problem nowadays) or you still have to buy one. In general, the Philips Fidelio B1 can present a wide and large sound field, which is certainly audible in smaller rooms, but it lacks the finesse you expect in this price range. Are you looking for a small soundbar, wait until the price of this model has dropped.