Philips Fidelio L3 headphones review: Seriously sophisticated sound

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(Pocket-lint) - Since the satellite of true wireless in-ears blew up, determination haven't been each that galore high-quality wireless over-ear cans to grace the headphones scenery successful 2021. Until now, with Philips' Fidelio L3 making an assured connection astir the benignant of prime you tin get successful this market.

These over-ears diagnostic progressive noise-cancelling (ANC), interaction controls connected the earcups, and a wide-reaching audio signature - including Hi-Res Audio enactment - that sets them up to beryllium an instant favourite. But determination are a mates of caveats.

Design & Comfort

  • Dimensions: 304mm (H) x 160mm (W) x 52mm (D) / Weight: 360g
  • Buttons: on/off; ANC control, dependable assistant
  • Auto intermission upon removal
  • Philips Headphones app

Slip the headphones retired of the container and it's the included transportation lawsuit that you'll spot first, a trapezoid-shaped zip-up container, implicit with Philips branded loop to the precocious side. It's bigger than immoderate transportation cases, specified arsenic the much slender 1 with Bose's NC 700 Headphones, but its stiffened panels and brushed interior lining volition support the Fidelio L3 protected nonetheless.

The headphones themselves are nicely understated: determination are Philips logos towards the transportation constituent betwixt earcups and headband, but they're not ample oregon obtrusive; portion the debossed 'Fidelio L3' connected the headband is thing you'll lone glimpse if the airy catches it a definite way. Shades of achromatic and a much satin grey metallic are the full of the subdued colour palette - the latterbeing the colour of the metallic 'rings' to which the astir free-floating earcups are attached.

Comfort is considerable, successful peculiar acknowledgment to the ample aperture of the earcups. Even large ears aren't going to get chapped successful these. Then there's the brushed Muirhead leather coating the plush memory-foam cushions. We've had the L3 adorning our caput for days during a week oregon truthful of use, and the comfortableness lone goes from bully to large implicit clip acknowledgment to this good considered enactment of materials and design.

The acceptable is besides arranged truthful the headband sits reasonably vertically implicit the head, which helps debar it slipping astir - the benignant of question that tin origin dependable illustration changes successful plentifulness of rival headphones. Sure, you tin inactive reposition the L3's earcups comparative to your receptor to get a antithetic (less desirable) dependable profile, but that's not going to hap unless you're being purposeful astir pushing them around.


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In presumption of controls determination are a fewer additions: carnal buttons beneath the earcups connected some sides; touch-sensitive tap- and swipe-based controls connected the main exterior portion of the close earcup only; and there's besides an app.

In presumption of carnal buttons, the near broadside features the powerfulness button, portion the close features Bluetooth pairing and dependable adjunct control. There's a somewhat muffled dependable that talks to you based connected those buttons' usage - "power on", and truthful distant - which is utile fixed however adjacent unneurotic the brace of buttons is connected the close broadside (by which we mean they're acold excessively close).

Then there's the touch-based controls, which are delicate capable to beryllium highly responsive. That's large connected the 1 hand, but sometimes it's hyper responsive - you mightiness beryllium trying to skip a track, for example, but alternatively intermission the euphony arsenic the headphones registry a cardinal pat alternatively than back-to-front swipe. It'll instrumentality practise to get this close and we've seen it implemented acold amended elsewhere, specified arsenic successful the Bose NC 700 Headphones. That said, the L3's auto-pause/play erstwhile removing/returning the headphones from/to your caput is ace and has been accordant passim our use.


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Last up is the app - called Philips Headphones - which with our archetypal brace of reappraisal headphones was of zero usage to america arsenic it crashed each clip (tested connected 4 antithetic Android phones and 1 iPhone). Philips sent an further brace of L3 headphones to a colleague, who had nary specified problems, truthful we tin lone enactment this down to an interior bundle mentation successful the headphones themselves. Off-the-shelf models shouldn't endure this issue. Still, we were capable to unrecorded without the app to beryllium honorable - it has EQ accommodation and immoderate controls, our colleage tells america - due to the fact that sometimes it's small much than a distraction anyway.

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Sound Quality

  • Closed cupful design, 40mm drivers
  • Frequency response: 7Hz to 40kHz
  • Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling (ANC)
  • Battery: 32-38 hours per charge; USB-C charging
  • Bluetooth 5.1; supports: SBC, aptX, aptX HD, AAC / Hi-Res Audio

So the Fidelio L3 is subtle by design, supremely comfortable, and its dependable is earnestly blase too. The benignant of immersive prime you tin get from over-ears compared to little comfortably fitting in-ears is truly rather something; and arsenic these headphones remainder similar a unreality connected your caput it's a non-obtrusive mode to get heavy into your music.


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From our precise archetypal perceive the happening that stood retired is the sizeable articulation successful the higher-end frequence ranges. The benignant of sharpness these headphones tin present without ever, indeed, sounding too sharp is rather something. Hi-hats, for example, instrumentality connected a full caller meaning, truly giving tracks an unfastened and airy soundstage - but 1 that's besides firmly grounded acknowledgment to the mode the remainder of the scope is handled.

That's backed up by taut bass transportation that, arsenic the spec details, is susceptible of hitting highly debased levels - allegedly to 7Hz, but you'll ne'er adjacent perceive that, arsenic it's not audibly feasible. Still, crank retired immoderate underground bass tracks connected these headphones and they won't disappoint: nary low-end enactment is excessively much, yet you won't beryllium drowning successful a oversea of escaped bass that's retired of power - rather the opposite, successful fact.


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In the mediate frequence range, arsenic the bass is truthful choky and the high-end truthful separated, there's roominess to let vocals to astir interval astir your headspace. You'll drawback further airiness from rasps and breaths from classical vocal deliveries, adjacent drawback reverb tails spanning into the premix much than your speaker-based listens volition ever person revealed. And it's ever amusive to observe caller delicate touches to your favourite tracks - that's the benignant of item the Philips Fidelio L3 tin reveal. 

Feed the champion root you perchance tin to the L3 and you won't beryllium disappointed either. With Hi-Res Audio support, acknowledgment to aptX HD, those Tidal streams volition dependable other peculiar to your ears.

This is each backed up with progressive noise-cancellation (ANC), which is portion of the bundle successful keeping that dependable illustration arsenic we've described. It's not class-leading successful presumption of really cutting retired outer ambient sound entirely, however, truthful if you privation that 'in a bubble' benignant of sensation - arsenic if chopped disconnected from the satellite wholly - past you'll apt privation immoderate much travel-focused headphones, again specified arsenic the Bose NC 700 Headphones.


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Lastly there's longevity, which astatine 32 hours per complaint is surely a decent innings. That's a afloat 4 moving days immersed successful ANC. And fixed however comfy these headphones are you astir apt could so deterioration them for that long. Recharging is via the exposed USB-C larboard to the basal of the near earcup.


If you're looking for a portion of apical prime comfortableness with blase audio prime to footwear past the Philips Fidelio L3 delivers 1 of the astir outstanding over-ear experiences of immoderate headphones released successful 2021.

However, the Fidelio L3 can't present class-leading progressive noise-cancelling (ANC) - truthful if you privation to more-or-less region each of the extracurricular world's ambient sound past look elsewhere - and the app, successful our experience, has immoderate issues.

Still, if it's crisp high-end, floaty mid-range, and taut low-end dependable prime that you're looking for past the Fidelio L3 delivers an impressively articulate soundstage - and that, supra each else, is the cardinal selling constituent and wherefore these cans are ultra-easy to recommend. The terms is precise fair, too, fixed however outlandish immoderate competitors' asking prices are.

Also consider


Alternatives photograph  1

Bose NC Headphones 700

If you privation much aggravated noise-cancelling for erstwhile connected the go, these are the headphones to choose. Ideal for travellers, too, fixed their smaller framework and fitting. They bash outgo a chunk much currency though.


Writing by Mike Lowe. Originally published connected 9 August 2021.

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