Allison Murray/ZDNET

Good sound is easily detectable — you know it when you hear it.

Also: The best soundbars

While the Philips Fidelio FB1 soundbar produces dynamic sound, it lacks that “oomph” one might expect from an $800 soundbar. It still has all the bells and whistles an audiophile or soundbar enthusiast might want or really appreciate if they wish to fine-tune their listening experience, but for the average person, you can buy just as good of a soundbar for half, even a quarter, of the price.

All that being said, the soundbar is currently $100 off on Amazon.

First impressions

To clarify: I’m not saying this isn’t an impressive soundbar. Take, for example, its specs. The Philips Fidelio FB1 soundbar has two up-firing speakers, 15 drivers running off a rated 310W of amplification, Dolby Atmos, Play-Fi compatibility to connect to extra subwoofers or speakers, as well as Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility.

It also comes with an included mic that intelligently adjusts each channel’s output to deliver sublime surround sound.

The setup for this soundbar can be a little complicated. The most challenging part is finding where to put it since it’s so large (53.94 x 8.66 x 14.96 inches and almost 16 pounds). After that, it takes some plugging and unplugging of cords to figure out what works for your current setup. For example, I initially connected it with an HDMI cable, and the sound was less than satisfactory (this may be due to the age and quality of my TV).

But after connecting with an Optical cable, the sound was much better. However, the Optical cable did not allow for control of the TV and the soundbar using one remote. (Philips provides a separate remote for the Philips Fidelio FB1 soundbar should you need it.)

You can control the sound profile and add customizations — such as EQ presets or the audio balance of each speaker in the soundbar — via two different apps, but the user interface of these apps wasn’t intuitive. I also felt they could have been easily combined into one app.

Listen up

After the setup and finally figuring out the right way to optimize it, it did exceed my expectations with certain media. Listening to a crackling Yule log on the TV felt like your head was literally inside the fire, with flames and sparks flying all around you.

A vertical mic next to a black soundbar on a wooden table

Allison Murray/ZDNET

TV and movies were impressive as well. The integrated subwoofer took action movies up a notch, while TV sitcoms sounded much crisper and clearer.

The poor audio quality of older media was apparent compared to simply listening on the TV. For example, a black-and-white movie from the 1950s or a 2001 pop song music video on YouTube had more subtle static than a newer Marvel film or a 2022 Spotify-released track.

It’s important to note that Philips sells a separate subwoofer that should enhance the soundbar, but I could only get my hands on the Philips Fidelio FB1 soundbar alone.

Best for audiophiles

All in all, this Philips soundbar provides hefty sound to match its equally as hefty build. If you’re really into playing around with different options and customizations, it’s a soundbar that will provide you with a sound perfect for your ears and for whatever you are listening to. The average listener may not notice these subtleties, so it’s probably best for anyone not into soundbars or audio to get something cheaper and easier to configure.

Also: The best cheap soundbars

However, if you want to try it and are intrigued by its customization options, the Philips Fidelio FB1 is currently $100 off at Amazonwhich is closer, I think, to the price it should be worth.

Source link