We don’t like wires. Wires are rubbish. But sometimes they’re a necessary evil, at least with audio, because going without tends to affect the sound quality.
So when somebody tells us our music can sound its best without wires, we listen. And today, Philips has our ears with the Fidelio M1BTs. Of course, there’s plenty of competition. Let's see (hear) if they can manage it.
Headphones for adults
Tired of garish plastic cans? Then you’ll love the Philips approach. The dark blue-grey colour scheme is understated and grown-up, and if you are a grown-up that’s probably a good thing.
You get lovely leather on the headband and what feels like faux-leather on the ear pads, while the frame is mostly aluminium. There’s a small amount of textured plastic on the back of the ear cups.
Touchy, feely, swivelly
The leather feels very soft, and complements the memory foam in the ear pads. Short of having a pillow wrapped around your head, this is about as much comfort as you’ll get when wearing something on your ears.
Build quality is strong. After a week of being shoved into (and yanked out of) a bag, these still looks and feel pristine. The ear cups swivel 90 degrees to lie flat, and there’s a cloth bag for storage.
Admittedly, they’re not as portable as a model such as the Sennheiser MM 450-X, but those look a little too much like the sort of headphones you get on an airplane. The Philips, meanwhile, look executive.
Right on the button
At first glance, you may not notice the controls on the right ear cup. See that crescent shape? That whole panel is the play/pause button.
That means no more fumbling to find an arrow-shaped key: you can literally slap yourself on the side of the head and still get play/pause control with relative accuracy.
Hold the crescent to power up or down, or hold longer to pair Bluetooth. That happens in seconds. The little ring is another switch. Flick it up and down to change the volume, or push it in to change tracks (once to advance, twice to rewind).
It’s a comprehensive set of controls, and fairly subtle – and there's no sticky-out Bluetooth module like the one on the Bose AE2w headphones.
Under the surface, each ear cup contains 40mm drivers. Philips says the speakers are angled inwards slightly in the hope that they’ll fire straight down your ear canals. How thoughtful.
There are two microphones, so you can use the M1BTs as a hands-free headset. Our phone calls were plenty audible both in and out of the office.
Battery life is quoted as about 10 hours. It does depend on how much you use them and how loud you go, but we think they last long enough. Charging takes around three hours from flat, and if you can’t wait that long, you can revert to the bundled 1.2m cable.
These sound really good. It’s a rich, full-bodied sound, with lots of weight and bass. That being said, the tonal balance is mostly neutral, with no part of the frequency hogging the spotlight. There’s plenty of detail from top to bottom, while vocals are especially clean and clear.
These headphones support aptX Bluetooth, which offers significantly better quality if your phone (or whatever you’re playing music on) supports it. With an Apt-X connection, we got a lot more detail and stronger, punchier dynamics.
Philips Fidelio M1BT verdict
It’s hard to fault the Philips Fidelio M1BTs. They look good, they’re comfy to wear, they’re easy to use, and the sound is lovely.
If we had to nitpick, we’d bemoan the absence of noise-cancellation, but that’s splitting hairs. If you want to untangle yourself from music while maintaining the quality, this is the way to go.