Philips Fidelio has been associated with quality audio for many years and is finally back, starting with a new version of its much-loved stereo headphones: the Philips Fidelio X3.
TP Vision is now responsible for all audio products under the Philips name as well as the TVs, in the UK and Europe at least, so has decided to bring back one of the most recognisable premium audio brands around.
Its first product since taking on the name, the X3 headphones are for music purists who prefer to listen in the comfort of their own homes. They are open-back and unapologetically tethered to ensure that audio transmission is kept as artefact-free as possible.
The cables are even wired to each ear, to provide the best stereo separation and reduce crosstalk. These are not headphones designed for a Tube journey, but to enjoy that 1969 vinyl pressing of The Kinks' Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) at any volume you like.
For that reason, the Philips team have tuned the X3 pair as neutral as possible - with enough bass to matter without forcibly hiding mid or high frequencies.
In our listening test - using a provided portable digital player with some lossless tracks stored on it - we could hear every note, the timbre of the pianos, for example, as even the slight echo of the recording room on some of the songs. Impressive stuff. Especially so considering the price of €349 these will be released at when available in "early summer".
Each ear is fed through a 50mm neodymium driver - similar to their X2 predecessor released in 2015. They are high-res certified by the HRA and offer a frequency range of 5 - 40,000Hz.
The premium angle doesn't stop at the audio quality. The build of the X3 headphones is exemplary too, with Muirhead leather on the headband and Danish Kvadrat acoustic fabric on the outer shell of each earcup.
The 'phones benefit from memory foam ear-pads covered by velvet material for comfort. We feel that we could have listened for hours without them becoming too heavy or constrictive.
Of course, with the open-back structure, you won't really be able to listen to your favourite music while someone else watches TV in the same room - they'll end hearing the same tracks as you, only more muffled. But, boy will you enjoy your end of the bargain.
We can't wait to fully try out the Philips Fidelio X3 over-ears, not least because we've always loved the X2 pair that precedes them. And, we'd also like to give them a whirl on a wider selection of music choices.
In the meantime, we're happy to welcome the Fidelio brand back with open arms and hope it leads to other innovative audiophile speakers and systems in the near future.