Philips Fidelio E5’s wireless speakers take the mess out of surround sound

Cinematic audio on demand, minus the cables and the clutter

Surround sound systems are a pain in the you-know-what…
Not this one. Philips knows that trailing cables around your living room can be a drag – not to mention a surefire way of making your floor resemble Spaghetti Junction – so it’s made a 5.1 system that doesn’t need much in the way of setup.

So is the Fidelio E5 wireless?
Well, not so much a case of “wireless” as one of “less wires”: the system’s front speakers will still need to be hooked up to a power source, but you won’t need to trail cables from the front unit all the way to the back of your sofa, because the rear pair are battery powered (a charge is good for ten hours, according to Philips).

More after the break...

Wait a sec – shouldn’t that be “fewer wires”?
OK, Captain Grammar. But where were we? Oh yeah, so the Fidelio E5 can work either as a 2.1 or a 5.1 system. The tops of the front pillar speakers detach to become the wireless rear speakers. So if you want, you only need to set up the 5.1 array when it’s time to watch a movie. There’s a wireless subwoofer too, to provide those neighbour-bothering low-end bass sounds.

And the centre speaker?
That comes courtesy of clever psychoacoustic tech. The two front speakers are able to use soundbar-style fakery to create a centre channel without the need for a separate speaker.

Sounds good on paper. But what about in the flesh?
Well, we did give the system a listen almost a year ago when Philips first demoed it at IFA 2013. But a huge hall full of hundreds of people milling about and talking isn’t exactly ideal test conditions. So we can’t say how well Philips has pulled it off until we've given the E5 a proper review.

What else does it offer?
A couple of HDMI inputs mean you can hook up two good quality sources – say a cable box and a PS4 – and there’s also Bluetooth for audio streaming, accompanied by NFC for easy pairing with suitably-equipped tablets and phones.

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