Philips Fidelio B1

According to Philips there’s a developing demand for smaller soundbars, as everything from consoles to media players fight for space beneath the typical Tv. 

But can the £450 (about $570, AU$760) B1 defy the laws of physics and make crowd-pleasing sound from some thing not much larger than a burrito?

In quick: it certainly can. Philips, beneath the auspices of Gibson Innovations, has done a exceptional job of compacting the average soundbar.

Style

The B1 measures just 41cm (or about 16.14 inches) which means it wouldn’t look out of location beneath a modest 30-/40-inch screen and, speaking in the most general of terms, create quality and style are wonderful, reflecting the upper mid-range pricing. 

The main body of the soundbar is protected by a rolled aluminium grille, even though the finish panels are black fabric. A quartet of shiny on-physique controls (energy, input and volume) do as they’re told, even though connections are recessed to the rear.

Speaking of inputs, there's an HDMI-In plus an HDMI ARC output. You can also hook up through a three.5mm minijack, USB or optical digital input. It is worth noting that the HDMIs on the B1 do not assistance 4K HDCP 2.two, just in case you had hopes of routing your Sky Q set-prime box by means of to a UHD Tv. Wireless connectivity comes through Bluetooth aptX with NFC pairing. 

The program ships with an appropriately compact remote control (so expect to lose it behind the cushions), which covers input choice plus volume and bass/treble adjustment.

Performance

Now, this compact design may well make you a little skeptical when unboxing the B1, but sonic performance warrants at least a single thumb up. There’s a lot more than sufficient volume right here to fill the typical tiny area, and the front soundstage is surprisingly wide. The secret to this success is a brace of microbeaming speaker drivers. 

Four drivers (two at the sides and two centered) are arranged in a cross-firing configuration, to create a wide sweet spot. There’s a pair of further soft dome tweeters in the prime of the unit, each and every used with an 18-hole waveguide that properly produces a virtual speaker array to heighten the soundstage.

Every single driver has its own amplifier module, which Philips totals at 120W. (Philips, by the way, quotes a total output energy of 320W for the program, but we’d take this with a pinch of salt.) 

The partnering wireless subwoofer is a front-ported enclosure created from everyday MDF. It has reassuring weight, and comes with a helpful plastic stand which makes it straightforward to position vertically. With a depth of just 86mm (or 3.3 inches), you will also be capable to slide it horizontally beneath the sofa. 

A frequency sweep confirms that the soundbar expends most of its energy at 200Hz and above, leaving the sub to fill in below. Consequently, the bass is fairly directional, and it becomes somewhat divorced and a small bit unruly if the sub is placed also far from the soundbar.

Vocal presentation benefits from a clean mid-range, and the sub moves a fair quantity of air. Certainly, with action-orientated Television shows the surplus of grunty low-bass can grow to be a bit overbearing by dialling it back a tad the balance quickly becomes rather much more agreeable. Duly balanced, Mad Max Fury Road is delivered with all the ferocity you'd rightly anticipate.

The B1 ostensibly handles a 5.1 bitstream, but at no point were we beneath the illusion that we had been listening to any sort of faux multichannel. Soundbar, sure, but residence cinema this is not. That mentioned, the B1 also makes for an entertaining gaming sound program – Battlefield 1 sounds suitably chaotic and visceral.

Of course, the modern day soundbar needs to do far more than add slam to movies and games. Increasingly it's the prime loudspeaker in a living area, and how it handles music is paramount, whether or not that music streamed over Bluetooth or played direct from a connected source.

Here, some of the limitations of the B1’s design turn out to be far more apparent. With two-channel music, that sub localisation can turn out to be challenging to ignore. A dedicated Music mode aids, as this smoothes out the presentation, removing the mid-range lift which serves movie dialogue so nicely the result is a much more enjoyable listen.

Overall, the Philips Nano soundbar system is tub-thumping accomplishment. It does a strong job of delivering big audio from the confines of a compact design and style. We particularly like its vocal clarity, and the unbridled enthusiasm of the slimline subwoofer – just don’t anticipate it to do pseudo-surround. 

Where the B1 falls flat is with its musical presentation. A lack of cohesion in between the sub and that microbeaming mainstage limits its appeal to these who want to stream tunes from their mobiles. Outside of Bluetooth, there’s no wireless multiroom expandability, either. 

Nevertheless, if you want huge-scale Television audio from a compact speaker, the B1 is well worth shortlisting.

We liked

There’s no doubting the actual-planet appeal of the cute Fidelio B1. With a turf war raging beneath the typical flatscreen, adopting an ultra-compact soundbar tends to make a lot of sense. Remarkably, Philips has completed a wonderful job delivering a wide, dynamic soundstage from the small enclosure.

We disliked

It is maybe odd that this modernistic soundbar isn’t ready for 4K HDCP 2.two sources, like 4K UHD Blu-ray or even the 4K Amazon Fire Television box it rather limits your connection possibilities. And whilst the B1 does a credible job with movie and Television content material, it’s a great deal much less productive with music. 

Final verdict

With its compact design and style, space-saving subwoofer, and greater-than-you-may well-picture audio clarity, the B1 gives a credible option to soundbar systems that occupy twice the space. It could have its limitations – we wouldn’t want to listen to music on it for any length of time – but for Television, motion pictures and gaming, it produces an agreeable wall of sound.

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