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(Pocket-lint) - The Philips Fidelio FB1 was announced at CES in early 2022, and now, we've finally seen it in the flesh.

At TP Vision's IFA event in Berlin, we got to experience a demonstration of the new soundbar and its modular family of wireless home cinema speakers.

It certainly looks the part, so let's dive in check out what it has to offer.

Our quick take

The Philips Fidelio FB1 offers excellent connectivity and an understated premium design.

We haven't heard it used without the optional FW1 subwoofer just yet, but the pair together sound excellent.

The sub is a significant additional cost, though, and we're very interested to see how the FB1 performs standalone.

We'll be updating this review once we've had more time with the soundbar, but our first experience was a very pleasant one.

Philips Fidelio FB1 initial review: Premium modular Atmos sound

Philips Fidelio FB1

For
  • Premium look and feel
  • Modular upgradability
  • Chromecast built-in
  • Wide range of compatible services with DTS Play-Fi
  • Excellent sound
Against
  • Fairly pricey if you opt for the full system

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Design

  • Scottish Muirhead leather trim and accents
  • Metal mesh grilles

The Fidelio FB1 has a classy aesthetic, with most of the visible sides covered in a perforated metal grille in a dark grey colourway. This is complemented by subtle Muirhead leather accents that can be found running along the chamfered edges, and also on the central control panel that's found on the top panel.

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This finish matches the FS1 speakers and FW1 subwoofer, which come together to complete Fidelio's wireless surround sound solution.

The Muirhead leather control panel feels great on the hand, so we can see why Philips chose to use it, however, we can imagine that many people will be less convinced.

It's certainly not going to be the soundbar of choice for vegan audio enthusiasts, though it's supposedly one of the most eco-friendly leather options if you're concerned with such things.

It's a fairly subtle design overall, and one that would look at home in the majority of living rooms. The FB1 is much less exciting to look at than its Ambilight-wielding FS1 siblings, but then, it's a soundbar, so you don't want it to distract from the on-screen action.

Features

  • Chromecast built-in
  • Spotify Connect, Siri, Google and Alexa support
  • DTS Play-Fi multiroom and wireless surround sound

The Fidelio FB1 is loaded with features, the most important of which is the introduction of the Fidelio wireless platform. This means that the soundbar can be paired with the FW1 subwoofer and two FS1s acting as rear speakers.

It works just like Sonos' home cinema solution, in that you can purchase each unit separately and upgrade as you see fit.

Where it differs from the Sonos system, though, is that it has full Atmos integration, with dual upward-firing speakers on the 'bar and each of the FS1 satellites. When the whole gang is used together it nets you a 7.1.4 setup, and the sub intelligently optimises its crossover frequency to match the speakers that are paired.

When it comes to hooking it up to the TV, we have an eARC HDMI connection, as well as support for optical input and an additional HDMI source. As you'd expect, the soundbar utilises a Wi-Fi connection and the DTS Play-Fi app for streaming services and multiroom functionality, but it also offers Bluetooth playback, which is another leg up over its Sonos rivals.

With Apple Airplay and Chromecast built-in as well, you'll struggle to find a streaming service that can't be played through the Fidelio FB1.

Sound Quality

  • 7.1.2 configuration
  • 15 drivers, 310 watts RMS
  • Independent enclosures for left, centre and right channels

We've only had a short demonstration with the Fidelio FB1 at this stage, and it wasn't in an ideal environment, so our at-home experience will likely differ somewhat.

We've also yet to hear the FB1 used alone, without the FW1 subwoofer, which obviously gives it a huge advantage on the low end. That said, what we've heard from the soundbar so far is excellent.

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Music sounds precise and detailed, but not overly clinical, with the excellent vocal presentation. This is aided by the warm and powerful bass notes that were handled by the FW1's 8-inch downward-firing driver, and large side-mounted radiators.

With movies, the 'bar provides spacious and enveloping sound. Of course, with the subwoofer engaged, explosions in action scenes are impactful and thunderous. What we're more interested to find out, though, is how the soundbar performs on its own.

From what we've heard so far, we've got high hopes. The FB1 will be available in October, along with the FW1 and FS1, so it shouldn't be long before we can have a proper listen.

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To recap

The Philips Fidelio FB1 is a powerful, precisely engineered soundbar with bags of connectivity. We'll need to hear more before we give our judgement, but things are sounding good so far.

Writing by Luke Baker.
Sections Philips Speakers