Review: Philips Fidelio B1/12

Better on TV than music

This is one of the smallest soundbars on the market. It sounds bigger than it looks, but has its shortcomings.

Karakter
Philips Fidelio B1/12
We think
Very compact dimensions makes for a discreet soundbar, and it is also very easy to use. The sound is more powerful than you might think.
Does not sound as good on music as film, the bass is somewhat uncontrolled and the midrange could have had more energy. HDMI does not support HDCP 2.2 and thereby does not support 4K Blu-ray.
Specifications

Matches screen size: 18” and up
HDMI: 1 in, 1 out (ARC)
Digital in: Optical, USB-A
Wireless: Bluetooth
Analogue in: 3.5 mm AUX
Website: philips.no

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With its 40 cm width, Fidelio B1 will never look obtrusive, regardless of which TV it is placed below. The subwoofer is flat enough to slip under the couch, but wide and deep enough to accommodate a fine cabinet volume. This gives you a rather awesome bass after all. And with the bass directly under your butt, the bass experience becomes more physical.
A front display provides a good overview during everyday use. However, the HDMI input does not support 4K-video from Blu-ray (missing HDCP 2.2). The player must then be connected directly to the TV and send the sound to the soundbar via HDMI output’s audio return channel.

Sound quality

The dialogue on film is clearer than with Panasonic and Creative.  Alien: Covenant has a larger soundscape than the small size would imply. However, there is no great sense of surround. The sub-woofer is somewhat uncontrolled if it is set too high and needs to be muted to get a balanced sound.
Voice audio function can be enabled for clearer dialogues, which is at the expense of the feel of the room in the soundscape. It can also sound a little crackly. This feature is likely intended for people with impaired hearing in the upper frequency range.
Otherwise, the soundbar plays powerful enough to provide a great movie experience. It also works well on games, as we could formerly feel the action in the racing game Forza Horizon 3 on Xbox One S.
For music, the bass zone is somewhat disconnected from the rest of the sound, and the subwoofer isn’t quite rhythmical enough. There is also no diction upwards. Singing voices are not quite clear enough.

Conclusion

Philips Fidelio B1 is user-friendly, and many will find its discreet appearance appealing. The sound is bigger than its physical size and it works well enough on TV and film. However, it’s not our favourite for music, and there are better soundbars at approximately the same size. For example, Sony HT-MT500.
That the HDMI input does not support 4K Blu-ray is a big minus.

Foto: Philips

Also in this test

Klipsch RSB-6

Does not follow up

A masculine expression and rugged sound does not have the power to follow up, and Klipsch lands at the bottom.

If you like the PA sound you know from concert halls and nightlife venues, you'll nod approvingly.
The soundbar does not have the power to keep up with the “tough” soundscape. It all sounds fairly flat, and Bluetooth sounds discouragingly bad.

JBL Bar 3.1

Powerhouse

No one in the class provide this sense of home cinema. JBL crushes everyone on sheer force, and the sound quality is good enough for it to take the lead.

No one in this class come close to this level of power. The subwoofer at 10 inches is especially impressive. In addition, it sounds good, and the soundbar is user-friendly.
There are those with higher resolution and even better cohesion in the tones. Does not support DTS

LG SJ8

Let the sound flow

The soundbar from LG is one of the most affordable with built-in network features and streaming of music services. It also sounds good.

The sound is crisp, with a clear dialogue on movies. The soundscape is huge, and we give a thumbs up for the network and streaming services.
It lacks power, and it can sound a little slim.

Samsung HW-N660

Perfect balance

The soundbar from Samsung has a beautiful coherence in the tones, which makes both movies and music a pleasant experience.

The soundscape is great, and it works extraordinarily well on film and games. The soundbar has a very well adjusted timbre balance.
We would like more power, and the narrow display can hold way too little text, which is why it appears in a rolling manner.

Panasonic SC-HTB250

Small and half-hearted

The small soundbar from Panasonic sounds bigger and more powerful than you might think. But it has a few issues.

The sound is powerful, with more oomph than we had anticipated. Quite a huge soundscape on film.
Bluetooth sounds miserable, and with the absent analogue input, you can therefore not enjoy music from a mobile phone.

Creative Sound BlasterX Katana

For gamers

Creative’s soundbar is for gamers and the only one in the test with USB inputs that replaces the sound card in PCs and Macs.

The soundscape gets an okay feel of surround on film and games, and the subwoofer hangs well together with the sound from the soundbar. A straightforward display simplifies its use.
The overtones are rather taciturn, the dialogues in film sound somewhat woolly, and the music lacks a little spark. The subwoofer is not wireless, HDMI is missing as is support for DTS.

Yamaha YAS-207

Surprisingly huge sound

Yamaha was first on the market with active soundbars. This is their first with DTS Virtual:X surround sound.

The soundscape is folded outward and upward. This soundbar does an excellent job in simulating true surround sound.
We miss a display, since LEDs provide limited visibility from a distance. The overtone area could be more airy.

Sony HT-XF9000

Extra dimension in height

Sony’s soundbar simulates both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X in height, thus giving an extra dimension to the soundscape. Yes, it works.

The soundscape is huge on film, and the dialogue is crystal clear. The subwoofer has also tolerable power.
It can sometimes sound a little crass in the overtones, and the subwoofer has a lot of energy in its upper range and less in the deep bass. Music in stereo is not great.

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