Like a Boss: The Philips Fidelio X2 Page 2

Philips_X2_Graph_X1X2FRCompare

Ha!

Yes, after all that talk about how difficult it is to interpret measurements, that's exactly where I'm going to start my discussion of my listening experience.

The raw frequency response plots above compare the X1 (green and blue) to the X2 (red and orange). Plots are aligned at 800Hz. The first thing to notice is that the X1 is slightly more "U"-shaped in response than the X2. Below 800Hz the X2 plot shows essentially a flat response to 180Hz before beginning to rise about 5dB to peak at the primary driver resonance at about 60Hz. Below 60Hz the bass response falls of at about 12dB/octave which is basically unavoidable with an open headphone design. In contrast, the X1 rises slowly with decreasing frequency below 800Hz to peak at 60Hz at close to 10dB higher.

To my ears this is a very important change. When reviewing the X1 I considered it an open headphone for bassheads because of this ever increasing response and significant bass elevation. The X1 sounds warmer and thicker in the low-mids and bass than the X2. I usually site the desired neutral target for bass rise as about 3-5dB below 120Hz. It seems to me the X2 gets pretty close to this, and to my ears the bass response in the X2 is entirely appropriate. By that I mean that I consider this profile as neutral, and not bass emphasized. (See Harman response curve info here, here, and here.)

The fact that this is an open headphone having the natural steep roll-off below the primary driver resonance at 60Hz does, like all open dynamic driver headphones, cause the bass response to be slightly loose sounding. I have to say though that the bass response of the X2 is excellent for an open headphone...certainly one of the best I've heard. The tonal balance to me seems so spot on that it's very easy to forgive the slight looseness.

To those who might be worried about a lack of extension I'd point out that you have to get down to about 30Hz before you cross the level of the mid-range. This is a very tasty mid-range to bass response profile—a nice strong bass response with nary a scent of bloat or thickness in the low-mids, which I did perceive in the X1.

Above 1kHz both cans rise to a peak at about 3.5kHz—which is right in line with the Harman target—but the X1 peaks about 3dB higher than the X2. So, from 60Hz to 3.5kHz the X1 is moderately more "U" shaped, and sounds it. The upper-mids and low treble of the X1 sounds slightly withdrawn due to the bass and mid-treble emphasis relative to the X2, and vocals do sound slightly more distant on the X1 than X2. The X2 in this area sounds remarkably neutral. The balance between 60Hz and 3.5kHz is simply terrific.

And now to that dip between 5-8kHz on the X2. Let me quote myself from the sound quality section of my X1 review:

The treble with these cans has me a bit baffled. In some ways it's just a bit gritty sounding, cymbals and brushes on drums are just a tad edgier than natural. On the other hand, the imaging is quite good, and an open sense of space is apparent; these things usually require pretty good treble response.

Well, I think that reduction in the mid-treble with the X2 did do some very good things to neutralize the edgy sound I was hearing from the X1. In addition, and it's not particularly easy to see, the X2 response above 10kHz is about 5dB higher in level than the X1. It's a bit noisy up there due to all the reflections, but you can see the red and orange traces are generally above the blue and green ones. What I hear is a better sense of balance throughout the treble ranges with the X2. Cymbals seem to have the right mix of crash, clang, and shimmer, while with the X1 there a sense of artificialness when the treble ranges are out of balance.

Philips_X2_Graph_X1X2300HzSWCompareAdditionally, this particular treble response gives the X2 a much better sense of stereo imaging, delivering greater width and depth than the X1. At this point I have to bring out my one complaint with the X2: it still does seem a little gritty sounding. While the treble has terrific balance, it's not quite as refined as I'd like, but it's certainly very good for a $300 headphone.

In the 300Hz square wave response shown to the right, you can see that the X1 is somewhat less noisy subsequent to the initial edge. This would normally lead me to believe the X2 is harsher sounding than the X1, but it doesn't quite come out that way perceptually. Yes, I think both cans has a slightly gritty and bothersome treble, but the treble balance of the X2 is so much better that it seems like the grittiness is significantly less apparent.

I think what we're seeing here is the iterative process of excellent product development at work. The X2 has clearly better balance than the X1 to my ears—a great step forward. I expect we'll see Philips working to keep the spectral balance spot on as they work on creating a cleaner transient response moving forward. I'll add however, it may be that methods for continued improvement may up the cost of the final product. It may very well be that the way toward better response will involve more expensive materials and methods, and the next step forward may have to be a more expensive headphone. That's fine with me, I think the X2 is an outstanding value at its price, and at this point I'd totally welcome Philips attempt at a $600 headphone.

Comparisons with the Sennheiser HD 600
Any of you who have read my HD 600 review will know I hold them in high regard. In fact, many enthusiasts believe they may be the most important headphone in the hobby. Well, I don't think the X2 is going to change that—the HD 600 was a great headphone very early on and will forever hold an historic place in headphonedom—but I do think the X2 is the first headphone in the mid-priced, open headphone class that might deliver a superior listening experience.

Bass response of the X2 is tighter and significantly more satisfying in level. Treble response is a little less grainy on the HD 600, but it doesn't seems as well balanced. Image width and depth is much better on the X2. Mid-range is about the same on both, but the overall impression of the sound is much nicer on the X2. It's almost as if everything is accentuated on the X2, the overall balance is so good it's as if you get instant access to the whole of the music.

The only good reason to purchase an HD 600 over the X2, in my opinion, is when you're pairing it with a high output impedance tube amp. The 35 Ohm impedance of the X2 just isn't going to pair well with a 100 Ohm output impedance OTL amp. The HD 600 will remain an important headphone for those applications...unless Philips comes out with a 300 Ohm X2, then all bets are off.

Summary
With their offerings over the past year or so, I think Philips has become one of the major power-houses in headphone development. And for me, the X2 may be their best effort yet. For the first time, I think I'm hearing a near perfect tonal balance in a headphone—it's as if the entirety of the music is front and center. On top of that, its open design and attention to detail delivers superb headphone imaging without giving up any dynamic excitement. I'll nit-pick a bit and say it doesn't have quite the bass extension and tight punch of the very best planar magnetic cans, and the treble can sound a bit gritty at times, but in this class and price range I think it tops the charts.

Build quality, styling, ergonomics, and comfort are all good, but I do think the headband hammock elastic is a tad tight. Unlike the X1, the X2 does have replaceable ear-pads—thank you Philips! The cable impedance has dropped to acceptable levels, and the flush mounted 3.5mm TRS entry jack on the left earpiece will allow for easy upgrades to aftermarket cables, if one so chooses.

The Philips Fidelio X2 is going to hit the Wall of Fame like a boss. The only thing keeping it from knocking the HD 600 off the wall is its low 35 Ohm impedance that makes it a poor match for high output impedance tube amplifiers—something that the HD 600 does very well. But for most folks seeking a solid mid-level headphone audiophile experience, the Philips Fidelio X2 may be just the ticket. A huge thumbs-up from me!

Video

Resources
Philips home page, X2 product page is not up yet as of this writing.
A very good review on Head-Fi here, and X2 thread here.

COMPANY INFO
Philips
1600 Summer St.
P.O. Box 120015
Stamford, CT 06912
888-744-5477
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
ManiaC's picture

Thanks Tyll for review!

BarbecueGamer's picture

I trust your opinion over any other. We both have the same tastes, I have always agreed with you. So, I was hoping you could make my decision much easier. I'd greatly appreciate it if you could please tell me which headphone do you think has better sound, the NAD Viso HP50 or the Sennheiser Momentum?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Personally, I like the HP50 better.
Bryan B.'s picture

Thanks for the review of the X2, I was just wondering in regards to the X1's... They have that magical bass (IMO), that overpowers everything and makes EDM so much fun (as I thought the treble still had that sparkle).

If I get the X2s will I lose that overpowering bass or can I still EQ it? It was just weird with the X1s I will go to work the next day and still be rocking to a bass signature from last's nights track, which I have never had before with a headphone.

-Gast-'s picture

Im not the one you asked, but a short opinion on the Viso: Its great sounding but i dont like the quality of the headband adjustment. Mine made nasty clicking sounds on one side (not the mechanism itself, the part where it should be attached and not move moved a little causing noise and made me think that it will brake there someday) and the part that slides in the headband seems to be a little weak. I got marks/scratches on mine at the sizes i set them.
I sent them back mostly because of that issue with the cracking mechanism. Sound was fine. I would go for Momentum/Urbanite now.

kuzami's picture

Urbanite>Momentum for me, if you don't mind the slightly bass-heavy sound.

NADscratch's picture

i own the hp50 and i personally really like it. the sound is really great. i do have to say that i have dropped it 5-10 times and (accidentally) tugged the chord out roughly a bunch of times. i am pretty sure the cable is damaged, but i haven't tested it yet. it comes with two cables, one with in line volume rocker/mic, one without, so i could easily test it. i assume this because sometimes when i'm listening with it on my bike everything moves around and i get crackling noises/silence for brief moments.

i'm sure if you don't beat it up like i did you'll be fine though.

the Momentum is available in most stores that sell headphones, you should be able to test it.

also, of course everything comes down to personal preference, but i hate the way the Momentum looks.

castleofargh's picture

the video has some nasty noise, don't know what caused it, but I hope you find out before doing the next one ;)
appart from that, nice reading thank you.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Yeah, I know. It's actually a known bug in my Canon 7D audio...a friggen $1500 camera. We'll just have to live with it 'til I can budget for a new camera. I'm working on it.
SkylarGray's picture

Tyll, have you tried the Magic Lantern firmware?
http://www.magiclantern.fm/

You may be able to resolve the audio issues with it. I think you would also hear huge improvements by adding an external shotgun mic or a lav mic. Less expensive than a new camera.

You should be able to get great video on a 7D...but it needs some help beyond its stock config.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Tried an external mic, but it didn't work. That's when I did some on-line research and found the problem is a deep bug in the firmware...no update to fix it as yet.
SkylarGray's picture

Okay, that sucks. Have you tried the ML firmware and playing with the gain?
https://builds.magiclantern.fm

pieman3141's picture

It's usually not recommended to plug in a mic into a camera. You can instead use a shotgun-ish mic (Rode is the cheap go-to option), point it at chest level, and use an external recording device like the H4N to get better sound. A lavalier mic will help greatly too, especially with knocking off environmental sounds.

Lawk's picture

Interesting cans! Don't own open headphones. Would still like to see new Philips A5 Pro DJ.

Side note: the frequency response graph says ATH-M50 vs M50X instead of Philips X1 vs X2. The graph seems to be right, I doubt M50X has such a bass drop off :P

avens's picture

Would you say this is the best low (more like regular) impedance headphone on the market?

mikeaj's picture

Tyll, if you run a sweep from 5 - 10 kHz, does it in your estimation sound like a notch, or are you finding yourself agreeing that the level sounds about right? Or at least, more right than the X1. Maybe the correct level is in between the two, but if so, I guess it's usually better to have a notch than a peak.

Also, I can't help but notice that the Oppo PM-1 and PM-2 have a notch in the same part of the treble. These are also said to be tuned by ear. Coincidence...? Don't think so. Probably. Maybe?

Jay_WJ's picture

You nailed it.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Maybe. I think I heard it, but notches are notoriously difficult to hear reliably due to all the resonances in the cans. Differences between my personal ears and the dummy head and small placement differences make it troublesome. But again, I did think I heard a softening there.
Jay_WJ's picture

Measurements do not lie. I do not agree that these measure worse than X1. I can immediately see the X2 WILL sound better to me than the X1. Both follow existing target curves relatively well whether the target is DF or OW, perhaps better the OW. BUT except the high-freq peak, X2's response at 5 kHz - 8 kHz is lower than X1. This is a critical band in my experience that makes perceived sound fatiguing if accentuated above the target curve. X1's curve is exactly like that. I would choose X2 over X1 any day ONLY by measurements.

Visigoth's picture

Tyll, how would this compare to the Sony MDR-MA900? Does the Philips X2 sound superior to that particular headphone?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Sorry, Haben't heard it.
Claritas's picture

It's so funny how coa and I noticed that.

X2 could be interesting though--with mods.

tony's picture

You must've adjusted your color balance a bit , still on 720p though , your colors have a nice darker contrast , voice still sounds like the mic is in a toilet paper tube , a tunnel kind of sound with a bit of echo .
The X2 review , welllll , we already have plenty of great transducers yet they keep working to improve on em , for $300 ? , greatness for less $$$ , things keep getting better and better !
And the old timers try to resurrect Vinyl from death ! , oh-dear .
I had access to the HD800 and it's matching 800 Amp at the Detroit Headphone Show , it was lovely , now I see why you love em so . Gonna have to sell-off my HD600 and go with the HD800s , never heard anything that good in my entire life , they're Hospital Grade Opiates , lushly smooth , a $3,500 or more investment . Once a person hears em it's gotta have em and no looking back , they sounded great despite the high noise of the event !!!
Hope you are well received at RMAF , people might be a bit edgy about your ascendancy , at such a young age too , rather new to be a respected Guru and not at all from our Industry's Roots in Tube Analog Audio , welcomed to Important Industrial Design Centers , listened to by Key Design decision makers , mc'ing important Seminars , your own TV Show bit with colorful wardrobe department . On top of all that , you're somewhere in Fly-over country where the Polar Bears chase down stray house pets and a Motorcyclist , oh-my , not even a Harley ! You own the "Wall of Fame" , I've heard it from a number of people . You da Boss not the X2s !!

Tony in Michigan

Long time listener's picture

Hi, I'm not sure why you say the square wave for the X2 looks noisier. Well, visually it "looks" noisier, but analyze it for a minute. It "looks" more like a square wave, since it has more of a square top, and while there are some ups and downs, if you look closely they seem to be actually lower in amplitude than in the X1. Visually, the broad ripples of the X1 wave "look" smoother than the tight zig-zags of the X2, but they're not. So your hearing is correct, and the measurements reflect it, I think.

DrForBin's picture

hello,

AKG fanboi here.

how do these compare to the K712 PRO.

thanks

Jazz Casual's picture

"If it measures good and sounds bad, -- it is bad. If it sounds good and measures bad, -- you've measured the wrong thing." :)

Impulse's picture

I gotta say I didn't expect Philips to have changed much (beyond the pads/cable), but I guess little tweaks can indeed go a long way.

I didn't think you'd end up gushing so much about them either, I almost jumped on the X1 recently (since they're back down to $220) but I'm glad I held off for this review.

I'm pretty excited to try the X2, did Philips actually confirm stateside availability this year? Think I read a rumor saying their US distribution was having issues...

I sure hope not, at $300 or even $350 I'd be all over these the second they're available on Amazon.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Philips USA told me they're slated for availability in Nov on Amazon at $299.
Impulse's picture

Thanks for the confirmation. I think I'll go ahead and order them right now on Amazon. They aren't in stock yet but they're available to order at $299, I imagine they'll ship whenever they're actually in stock next month.

I'm a little surprised they debuted these at $300, wasn't the price of the X1 higher at launch? Or was that just retailers going over MSRP due to demand? I remember the X1 were available for months in Europe before they showed up in the US.

I believe I read the sale of Philips' headphone/audio division to Funai didn't actually go thru, did that ever come up while talking with the reps and engineers you had contact with? I'm just curious here.

Elmariachi43's picture

Hey ive been using the hd600 through a RSA sr-71b with balanced cable. Do you think i would get better results from the x2 then The hd600 with balanced output? Thanks!

markus's picture

"... there is not a pressure magnitude/frequency dummy head measurement curve that fits all headphone architectures that is a perfect target to satisfy all."
Well that's why a parametric EQ is a MUST for everyone!! Kill your ear canal resonances. It makes listening by headphones so much nicer.

maricius's picture

Great review Tyll!!

Just when I thought I was getting the hang of reading headphone measurements… back to learning.

Also, when, if you are still going to, will you post the review for the Philips Fidelio L2? I'm very keen in hearing your opinion of them seeing that Jude and the guys at Headfonia have them in high regards, not to mention you also previously mentioned that they sounded quite a bit better than they measured.

Cheers,
Marc

valissax's picture

me too, please!!

alexnishi's picture

Hey there Tyll!

You said that the X2 has a tighter bass than the HD600. How would you compare the X2 to the HD650, which people claim to have a better bass response than the HD600?

Keep up the good work! You are a benchmark in this sweet i new hobby of mine.

Thank you!

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I think the X2 bests the HD650 bass. It's a little more emphasized down low where it should be, the HD 650 really doesn't have any low bass emphasis.
muad's picture

Hey Tyll,

I am just about to preorder these as a replacement for my hd650, which I consider almost perfect if it weren't for the lack of bass. I was just wondering if the 10khz peak is causing sibilance.

Thanks!

alexnishi's picture

What is your setup sibilance? The HD650 aren't basshead phones, but aren't supposed to be lacking there either.

muad's picture

No, that's why i said they lack of bass. They roll off and thus have a lack of perceived low bass. Everything i have tried as replacements have sibilance. He500, k712 etc. The x2 have a spike at 10khz same as the aforementioned cans.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Maybe a little. The X2 seems slightly to edgy to me...but just slightly.
muad's picture

Ok, I am going to take a chance on these. Was disappointed with the he500 and K712 sibilance. Fingers crossed...

forkboy1965's picture

Thought you may want to fix such for posterity...

"slightly withdrawn do to the bass and mid-treble emphasis".... we need a "due" here.

Otherwise... very glad to read there is so much work being done on subjective listening tests. No doubt measurements offer a good starting place, but I wouldn't dream of buying anything like headphones without first listening to them and for as much time as a salesperson will give me!

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Thanks.
bronson's picture

"but in the end, it's what the ear hears that counts" amen to that for sure.

I've the X1 and love em - serious amount of HP for your monies - possible the best value open bk available currently?

Great to see Phillips pushing their envelope to bigger and better but for me, I'm going to pass on the X2 in hope of Phillips really going for a big win with something very special as you suggest - something extraordinary in the $600 - $1000 price bracket. I think there's definitely a baying market for such, just look at the fervour surrounding the SONY Z7 for that validation.

Thanks for this review and your YT one too on this new offering from Phillips.

ps nice shirt ;)

kuzami's picture

Hey Tyll, first I wanna say that I enjoy your reviews. Keep up the good work! Now, to my question. I am an electronic music producer, and I have been looking for a comfortable pair to use in the studio (composing, mixing and mastering, the latter two as a reference to my studio monitor speakers) as well as some home listening. I have been looking at the Focal Pro, but I don't think I could wear them for more than an hour straight. So, finally, my question: do you think these headphones will be suitable for my needs?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
As long as you can deal with an open headphone, sure. If you need sealed cans, I'd have a look at the NAD VISO HP50.
kuzami's picture

Okay, thanks :) I can definetely deal with open cans, I don't plan to use them in noisy enviroments, for that i have my V-Moda M100's.

Three Toes of Fury's picture

Thanks dude for another outstanding write up. I love how you have incorporated items and discussion points from the recent threads around headphone profiling (data vs human eval vs mixture of both). I also appreciate your sharing the Philips engineers comments...the details around dummy-head measurement systems is helping me understand more about the challenges of effective data-driven measurement systems.

Quick question: is it safe to assume that the X2's will be easily driven by a portable player? I think so..as you mention they are 35 Ohm. If so i think thats a pretty impressive accomplishment as you compare them to the HD600s (300Ohm)...thou the open cans are really not ideal for on-the-go use. hrmm. Hopefully this sound improvement continues for their closed and semi-closed lines (L2?..and maybe M2 if they make one?)

Peace .n. Living in Stereo

3ToF.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
They're pretty sensitive, and play plenty loud on my phone.
neo's picture

Great review Tyll!! What would you personally choose between the philips or an hd600/650 driven by an OTL amp such as the crack or woo wa6?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
With an equivalently good and properly matched amp I think I'd take the X2...but it's probably more about what you're looking for. While I really like the laid-back sound of a Crack and HD 600, I think the X2 gets things a bit more tonally correct.
balkanguy's picture

There R 3 main factors in good headphone design:
1) Sounds good with EVERYTHING (no 'fatiguing colorations'). This requires a smooth, descenting (from lows 2 highs) EQ curve.
2) Goes LOUD without distorting or changing sound 'signature' (mostly a factor of mechanical design like voice coil length &/or magnetic field uniformity)
3) Is EFFICIENT = goes really LOUD with power output available on N E typical cheap device, such as an average computer's headphone output.

Lastly, keeping in mind that many people have SIGNIFICANT hearing damage is important, because those people will tolerate just about N E piece of harsh, shrill, unbalanced 'balanced armature' krap in existence =)) I liken BA types 2 fans of metal dome tweeters or midrange drivers. They ALL sound absolute krap, VERY distorted-sounding, mainly from the odd breakup in the decay pattern. Doesn't matter if they can make a fancy square wave. They SOUND like trash. When designing 4 real human beings instead of fans of nails-on-blackboard madness, smooth is the way 2 go. EVERYBODY likes Koss Porta Pro phones. They have flaws = kinda' muddy, but 'nice with everything' pretty much. People can always add highs & roll off lows with EQ if they want. The SMOOTHNESS is the most important thing, & Y Koss PURPOSELY KILLS the performance of their cheaper Porta-Pro variants like the over-ears by using metalized drivers 2 fuk up the sound, much like Gib$on guitars will cripple it's lower end products just 2 separate the market & keep the 'people buying the price' in their pens. Don't B a sucker. IGNORE price. It has absolutely NOTHING 2 do with sound quality in the headphone market. This is a GOOD thing, because the Koss KEB15i, with a bit of redesign, is the best headphone on Earth & only costs about eight dollars now =))

Seth195208's picture

..you're acting a totally MANIC, I will take your WORD and purchase the BPOE. They better B GOOD, DAMMIT!

exsomnis's picture

Hi Tyll, thanks for the great review, it's as detailed and informative as always.

Sorry if I've missed it but what amp did you do your critical listening on? I've actually done a quick audition with the X2s before this and while I did hear some hifi-ness in the mids to highs, on my iPhone the bass was so severely pronounced as to be unbearable.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I listened to them on my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone, A&K120, HeadRoom Max, and AURALiC DAC and Amp.

I think a properly emphasized bass does take a little getting used to (like any sound). I find I prefer that Harman low frequency boost after hearing it on a number of headphones (NAD VISO HOP50, Focal Spirit Pro, Shure SRH1530, ext).

SevenPlus's picture

How good did they sound on the S3? Are these good headphones to be used just with a mobile device for listening mostly EDM, or would you suggest something different (X1, ATH-M50x etc)? (I will be listening at home, don't need any isolation)

In the X1 review you mentioned that the X1 is "a really great headphone for EDM". Are the X2 "even greater" in this regard (EDM)?

Thanks!

Tyll Hertsens's picture
One note of caution here: I'm not a big fan of EDM or a cultural fit into the scene, so my esthetic values may make it impossible to answer you with precision...it is all subjective, you know. Frankly, I'd think most EDM listeners would prefer sealed cans that can do a better job of achieving sub-bass than open headphones. The real advantage of the X2 for many will be their excellent imaging...or maybe sense of space is a better word. The bass is damned good though on the X2, and I'm sure it will satisfy many folks wanting a better sense of thump than they get with measured flat bass response cans.

RPGWiZaRD's picture

Any chance you could have a look at the new Philips A3-PRO and A5-PRO sometimes? :) I've seen frequency response measurement on head-fi and it looks pretty good.

RPGWiZaRD's picture

And the headphone itself is nice, especially A5 accessory-wise with 3 choices of pads made for it and the headphone looks like built like a tank, yet looks very nice at the same time. Probably a headphone which can replace V-Moda M100 in WOF.

bronson's picture

Hey RPGWiZaRD, so ULTRASONE Sig DJ's not besting the Q40's for you bro?

http://www.head-fi.org/g/i/1206569/kirtash-y-victoria-vs-ultrasone-signa...

I own & enjoy the A5Pro and agree that continuing the Phillips flow would be interesting to hear Tyll's impressions of the Armin Van Buuren collaborated A5Pro offering.

Not sure if A5Pro will do it for you though as it doesn't have the kind of bass centric sound signature of the Q40 or that matter the Sig DJ's. I find the A5Pro far more nearer to neutral sounding in the bass dept.

RPGWiZaRD's picture

Yea, I ended up now going back to Q40 and probably will put up Signature DJs for sale sometimes soon. They did provide technical improvements, especially in terms of soundstaging and airiness. But for my taste the Sig DJs were slightly too bright / mids slightly too recessed. I'm looking for a fullbodied, up-front and bassy (punchy) sound. The Sig DJs got very close with the added foam I put in the cups to balance out the mids/highs but the comfort/fit issues and the fact that Q40 seems to entertain me just as much and possibly slightly more (works better with badly mastered music), decided it for me.

I'm personally looking for the "punch" characteristics in bass, the digiZoid ZO amp can boost the bass pretty nicely. You know the kind of invisible sound like standing near a "drumset" and feeling that impact of every drum hit. Both Q40 and Sig DJs do that well.

sszorin's picture

What is your PERCEIVED volume drop of the middle frequencies ? Are the mids of X2 mildly or moderately recessed ?

MarkThompson's picture

I've actually been quite happy with my Philips Fidelio X1, think I might get the X2 too :)

Mark Thompson
http://www.headphonesunboxed.com/

MarkThompson's picture

Though I have to say they are a bit too tight in my opinion, or maybe it's just that my head is too big, not sure.

MarkThompson
http://www.headphonesunboxed.com/

funambulistic's picture

Perhaps some, ahem, "moderation" is in order...

hutnicks's picture

IT's banHAMMER time:)

Man is that dude going to be embarrassed when he gets back on his meds and reads what he posted

luisriva's picture

I'm in line waiting for Amazon to start selling these headphones... Thank you for this deep review.

Spy's picture

Hey Tyll, thanks for another great review.

How would you compare the sound experience of the Philips X2 vs NAD HP50 ?

Which headphones do you prefer to listen to (let's assume in a quiet enviroment where sound isolation doesn't matter).

ar's picture

I'm not Tyll, but I much prefer the X2 sound to HP50. Though I put a ton more hours into listening to X2.

Go somewhere where they would have both... though I failed to find a place that would have both - it's been a while.

Dizzy's picture

My thoughts on both of these: Overall, Fidelio X2 are the better headphones for detail, soundstage, and musicality. They are, however, ever so slightly coloured in their presentation. They're also less neutral with a bit more bass emphasis.

In comparison, HP50s are very neutral, very uncoloured. The HP50s do nothing wrong, but nothing wows you either. They do it all well in a very fatigue-free package that is also portable, closed, and easy to drive. They're fatigue-free because they're just pulled back a little on mids and trebles, ever so slightly veiled, if you wish. It's exactly what you want if you want headphones for work, because they are so fatigue-free and because they still sound good at quiet volumes.

HP50s are great for commuting and work and only a small step down from the X2s. I'll choose the X2s at home any day of the week however because you just enjoy every song with them. They make me enjoy music that I thought I didn't like.

They're also direct opposites in build: The HP50s are compact, light, and plasticky, whereas the X2s are huge, solid, bulky metal things that would make you look like a fool in public.

Neither is bad. Both outdo both my Bose QC25s and my old Sennheiser HD595s.

Mad Lust Envy's picture

Tyll tends to have very, very similar tastes to mine (nowadays), and his compensated graphs is among the best at giving a very good idea on a headphone's sound (it hasn't let me down yet).

Looks like the X2 is my next headphone. That detachable cable (I like to add a V-moda BoomPro mic cable for gaming), the fact that it's open, not pleather/leather padded, and warmish bass sold me.

I really liked the X1, but it's fit wasn't perfect, and the bass was a bit too loose. Looks like they fixed the two biggest issues I had with the X1. I also like that they attenuated the 5khz-9khz range, as that is definitely among the worst areas in sound to have even moderately emphasized. If any treble range deserves a peak, it's 10khz, not anything before that.

I think the X2 is going to be a HUGE win for Philips.

DaveinSM's picture

Great to see that they fixed all the issues with the X1. Maybe it's the skeptic in me, but the alignment pin and hole in the new replaceable ear pads are to ensure that we have to buy the replacement pads from Philips and not an aftermarket 3rd party pad maker.

lr99gt's picture

Hi Tyll,

Long time reader and this thread finally made me decide to post. I have already purchased the NAD HP50 based on your recommendation and have really been enjoying them. Previous to that I had a D 1001 Denon which recently broke so I am looking for another set. I have narrowed my search down to these 3 and would like your advice since I cannot audition these myself:

Philips X2 ( Do you prefer this to the NAD HP50? )
Oppo PM2 ( is it worth the price jump over the x2? )
Pandora Final VI ( have you had a listen to these? Reviews sound interesting )

I realize the last is sealed which doesn't make or break it for me. Comfort and sound quality are important. I would like something with a slight bass boost. I also want something that can be amped with my AQDF since I use it from my laptop mostly.

Any advice is appreciated!

Thanks Tyll!

DiRo's picture

Hi, These X2 seems like a great value considered comparable for 1/4 less. Was reading though the comments unless I messed it was wondering how these compare to the HE-400 now HiFiMan have dropped them to exact same price at $299? Thanks

Jazz1's picture

Thank for the review. I'll have the X2's on my hot little ears this Sat. Great way to enjoy Thanksgiving weekend. They are going to sit right next to my HD-650's.

macauley86's picture

Has anyone had the chance to compare the Fidelio X2 and the Sennheiser HD 598 for both music reproduction and comfort over extended stretches of time?
Thank you

Jazz1's picture

New headphone fever here! I'm sure it is probably too soon to give them my best opinion. But, I have to say they are very comfortable, and the self-adjusting feature of the leather headband strap is much appreciated.

My ears fit nicely cushioned ear pads. I'm still going to give a slight edge on comfort to the HD650's, but I think these will loosen up on the clamping force and may equal them over time. But the clamping force of the X2 does not bother me. You don't want them falling off your head while grooving to the excellent sound.

They are lighter than I imagined when hefting them in my hands. But the HD650's feel lighter on my head. Not a complaint. I also own the Blue Mo-fi's and nothing in my collections is going to feel heavy compared to them.

Build and hardware quality are good, not great. Not even close to my B&W P7. I see a little white/silver metal or glue showing through where the headphone ring hits the speaker housing. This is a little disappointing as the marketing pictures gave them a Porsche persona. Also the Blue Mo-Fi's "industrial" metal beats these for an extra $50.00. that said the X2's aren't going to fall apart when compared to the build of the aforementioned headphones.

When you think about it, it is amazing what an extra $100.00 can get you with the P7. The leather is of higher quality on the P7. I know leather as I used to work in a shoe factory many years ago (Frye Boots anyone?) However, none of this ultimately detracts from the great sound of the X2. So I won't bring them to the Gentleman's smoking and single malt club ;) So don't chastise me for appreciating materials and quality control. The X2's may become my favorite based on sound alone.

Using my desktop rig at the moment. PS Audio GCHA and Musical Fidelity M1 DAC fed AIFF files from my iMac. I'll try my IOS devices later this afternoon.

Let me just say that Jackson Browne sounds great on these. Listening to "Running On Empty" and "You Love The Thunder" are bringing me back to Jackson's 70"s concert in Iowa City, IA sans the burning leaves smell ;) Los Lobos' "The Road to Gila Bend" has very rich guitar and the drums sound great, all without drowning out the vocals. Little Village's "Inside Job" sounds rich and balanced.These headphones really entertain!

Jazz1's picture

These sound great driven only by my iPhone 6. The guitars on Greg Caquico and Russ Freeman's "From the Redwoods" blew me away. Sonny Landreth's work also surprised me.The drum beats on Chrisette Michele's "Blame it on Me" made me look down to make sure I hadn't plugged into my desktop rig. I don't think I've heard better sound from any of my IOS devices.

Tyll your review is right on. Now I finally own one of the "Wall of Fame" headphones. Thanks!

carlosodze's picture

Hi, great review, i was about to pull the trigger on a soundmagic hp200, but now i am not sure, do you thing the fidelio x2 is worth the extra 100? i would like to buy from a bigger brand than soundmagic though....
thanks for information.

robertbratosin's picture

i dont understand the freq response here on your tests because recording to your tests the focal pro have much more sub bass and bass than fidelio x2 or x1 and you say that focal pro is very very neutral ?? than u say that x1 /x2 have more bass than q701 ,but in your test the q701 is far superior in sub bass than x1 or x2...damn, i miss something or what ? thanks

Suboceanic's picture

Tyll how are you. I hope you are great. Very nice review.
Do you find the sound of the X2? Fun to hear? Are the highs reicive?
Thank you!

nOiZepHyZiX's picture

Hi Tyll, Thank you for your great analysis of the Fidelio X2! I love my X2s, but unfortunately have come across a physical issue with them - The hex-bolt attachments at the base of the headband are starting to come loose - they look like they can be tightened, but disassembly looks a bit tricky. Might you have any access to resources available (assembly drawings, insight, etc...) for assisting in self-servicing these bad boys? Shot in the dark here, but figured your place held some hope with at least a point in the right direction to tackle this issue. I also have high-mag photos of this issue exposed if you're interested. Thank you!
Cheers,
-Matt

audioauthority's picture

I found out about these headphones by reading a review on Amazon. It made me laugh out loud so I googled more information and found this site:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/RDGLP4Z4M4I16/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&...

Now I know everything needed to purchase this product. Thank you to the great reviewer on Amazon and Mr Tyll also.

Mr Tyll your review is wonderful and very in depth.

Thank you.

AndrewG's picture

The X2 sounds like a phenomenal midrange open headphone. I have closed midrange cans that I really like (NAD Vido HP50's) but I'm wondering Tyll if you think it would be worth it to invest in an open pair for home use. (I primarily use the HP50's at work - I have a very desk-oriented desk job, if you know what I mean.)

Perhaps you could do a short article doing a comparison of open and closed designs at different price levels and for different use cases? That would be useful!

ILoveMusic's picture

Hi Tyll, hi Everyone :) Thank You for Being :)
I have the CAL! for ca. 8 years - and I love them until today. One year ego I bought the CAL!2, because many reviews were like: "the CAL!2 are better than the CAL!" or "CAL!2 are a worthy successor". But I send them away... too much low frequency (for me), and not so natural sounding like the CAL!.
Then I read Your review "Like a Boss". I bought the X2. And... I don't know... (I compared them ca. 20h – rock, metal, blues, jazz, pop, electronic, reggae, rap, …). Reason ? Maybe it’s out of habit, or maybe it’s because my music source ? (I’ve got only a mp3-player: Sansa Clip+, but in my opinion it’s a good one).
Some suggestions ? Tyll ? Anyone ? :)
Thank You for any answer :)

Shane Revis's picture

own a Zune 120 and I use the Zune Pass music subscription with it. To my knowledge, there is no way to get a portable amp to work with this Zune. Because of that, I am limited to low impedance headphones. I am currently using the Grado SR-60i, which I consider to be about the best portable headphone (but definitely still just an "entry" headphone [as opposed to mid-fi or summit]). But I was recently introduced to the Philips Fidelio X2 headphone, and it seems to generally compete with the Sennheiser HD 600, which is recognized as about the best mid-fi 'phone. The Philips Fidelio X2 is low impedance (30 ohm) and supposedly sounds decent un-amped with portable players.

My questions are these.

Is this the only low-impedance (un-amped, portable decent), mid-fi headphone in existence? If not, what are the names of the other headphones?

My Zune 120 files are 196 kbps WMA quality. Is the Fidelio X2 too high quality to make files of this quality sound good?

Is the Philips Fidelio X2 a HUGE upgrade in SQ (highly noticeable to the common hearing man) over my Grado SR-60i? After all, the Fidelio X2 ($300) does cost quite a bit more than my Grado headphones ($80).

Thanks, Tyll!

I'll be VERY grateful if you reply!

Shane Revis's picture

The first sentence is supposed to say, "own a Zune 120 and I use the Zune Pass music subscription with it." The 'I' must have gotten cut off somehow.

ar's picture

There seems to be a problem with the pads on X2.

Lots of YT videos of people leaving the X2 on paper and coming back to a purple ink stains in a few min.

I had my X2 swapped because of this. Was hoping it was a "bacth run" issue of that they would have fixed a problem, but it's back.

Tyll, they clearly aren't listening to end users. Could you hit up your connections at Philips? Such an amazing product. Such a small flaw. Would be a shame if that wasn't fixed.

Happy to provide more feedback, to get this fixed.

Nexusforbes's picture

Hello Tyll, might I ask if you have heard any good news re. the Fidelio X2 challenges? I follow your great programs from overseas. A friend asked my opinion on these, but with all the negativity....

May I elaborate for a moment?

Ok, to start. Not everyone can purchase their goods at Amazon. Not all have got the time nor the financial means to - I'm paraphrasing here - buy at least five or six pairs of phones before arriving at ends journey. Heck, I won't live that long.

My concern with the Philips Gibson X2 package is that pads seem to be glued as standard issue globally rather than a once-off run gone bad. I wanted to buy them. I wanted to recommend them and I still do...sort of.

This reduces in my opinion the life span of the product. More, having contacted support division at Philips here in Europe, they demand that these phones were not detachable, never have been, never been a problem solved from the X1 era etc.

In Norway as products carry 3-5 yr warranty periods with full new product replacements or service to equal standard. But to what standard? When confronted, Philips claim " the gluing of the pads is a feature rather than a hick-up, the inking must have been once-off and that "it is mainly an American concern, dealing with typical U.S. reselling not common in Europe."" Horse manure, I say!

Sales support went so far as a total deniability of the existence of detachables at any time on the X2. Now, I happen to come across your excellent 2014 "pads detached" photo and after having viewed you review of the, at the time, new X2, I need to ask if you had a retail sample or an early version? Detachable pads are honorably mentioned on the original retail box, marketing material in the store, but sales rep doesn't want to break the seal.

Albeit, we have sturdy warranty policies, store returns are HIGHLY frowned upon. So this is actually quite important. There is no grace period. Also, I have lost track of the number of pads I have replaced on my now decade-old Sennheisers, extending the lifespan. Silly me, I actually entertained the idea of swapping them out for these X2 beauties. I still hope I can, but I don't want to invest in a company who only wants to shortchange me in return.

What is true and what is not? Have you guys heard anything of an X2 v2 or an X3 anytime soon?

Rgds,
Avid fan of InnerFidelity in Norway.

TheFox's picture

Philips posted an official statement concerning X2 issues on their support forums early this year.


- Ear cushions are fixed by glue in individual batches:
In an attempt to improve the manufacturing process, glue was added to the pins which support the Philips Fidelio X2 headphone’s removable cushions. Acoustic testing showed that this did not impact sound quality, however this modification proved excessive leading to some cushions not being detachable from the headphones in individual cases. For that reason, it has since been removed from the production process.

Maybe you should send the person at Philips who claims the pads should never have been removable that link...

Martin.'s picture

Where in Norway? So good to know I'm not the only one. I recently bought these from Elkjøp for about 100$ and what a bargain! You won't find a better product for that price. Btw, the pads on mine are detachable. I tried.

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