Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to test out an extremely wide range of headphones and headsets. In that time I have refined exactly what I like in a headset and none of the headsets I have had come in checked the main few bells for me. I love full-sized headphones and headsets, I have a big head and love when the cup isn’t pushing or touching my ears. For the headband, I prefer a suspension design. I love velour padding, this is one of those options that almost none of the normal designs have other than the old Sennheiser’s and recently Steel Series offered them as an upgrade. Then of course I want solid audio quality and an open design if possible to keep from getting to hot. Well, Philips sent a note over about their successor to the Fidelio X2 which not surprisingly is named the Fidelio X3 and they have the velour ear cups, suspension headband, and a large open-air design. But do they also sound good? I’ve been using them for the last few weeks and with them coming out this month I wanted to take a closer look at them and check out their performance.

Product Name: Philips Fidelio X3

Review Sample Provided by: Philips

Written by: Wes Compton

Amazon Affiliate Link: HERE

 

Specifications

Materials

Muirhead leather

Velour

Kvadrat fabric
Aluminum

Acoustic system

Open

Product dimensions

Depth - 11  cm

Height - 23  cm

Weight - 0.38  kg

Width - 19  cm

Cable Connection

detachable Oxygen free cable (3m)

Distortion

<0.1% THD

Diaphragm

LMC

Speaker diameter

50 mm

Sensitivity

100 dB @ 1mW

Maximum power input

500 mW

Impedance

30 Ohm

Frequency response

5 - 40 000  Hz

Magnet type

Neodymium

Type

dynamic

Included Accessories

3.5 - 6.3 mm adapter

Cable clip

Warranty

1 Year

 

 


Photos and Features

So the Fidelio is Philips’ audiophile headphone subbrand and the X3 is their new open-air flagship. So I was expecting to see something completely different for the packaging that would set it apart from the rest of their lineup. But when it comes to the outside of the box that didn’t happen. The from has a picture of the X3’s which isn’t the most flattering and then they have a light blue background which is similar to their other models. The Philips logo is in the top corner along with the Headphones under it that tells you what product line this is if the picture wasn’t enough. Then below that, they finally have the model name. It is at least in a chrome finish at least, but a larger placement of the model name and the Fidelio brand on a black box or even gold for the font might better express what is inside. The back has another picture and this one at least shows the earcup design and the suspension headband. They then list off a few key features like the feather light design, “timeless elegance”, “designed for audiophiles”, and “like a concert hall for your ears”. Three out of the four would chase me off, I mean mention the premium finishes or maybe the detachable cord. The X3’s website has 8 features and descriptions that would have worked. But at least they did include a specification listing on the side of the box.

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At least when you open things up you have a thick box that is significantly different from other Philips models. Not to mention the flip-up front panel with foam on the back. You also see the X3’s wrapped up in a bag as well, sitting in a plastic tray. Still not as “fancy” as I would expect, but they do come well protected which is all that is important.

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In addition to the bagged headphones, there is a box at the top which has a few accessories that you might need. So starting from the left you get a cable clip with the Philips Fidelio branding on it. Then next to that is a 3.5 to 6.3 adapter. Then they provide two complete sets of cables. They are both extremely long at 3 meters or just under 10 feet for us imperial weirdos. They have two connections that go to the X3’s. one for each ear. Both of those are black and have small indications for left and right. Then the larger plug is where things are different. The one on the left in the picture below is the standard 3.5mm plug and then on the right is the TRRS 2.5mm. Which was used in phones in the past but not recently and is used in some amps. Both cords are thick and come with a black sleeving and are listed as oxygen-free.

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So interesting enough, there isn’t any documentation for the X3’s but it does come with documentation on the leather. They went with Muirhead leather and this book shows some of the advantages of their leather.

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Then we of course have the headphones themselves which come in this black bag. With the fancy leather talk and everything else, I may have been expecting a little more. But this is a basic bag and it does keep the X3’s safe from scratches. But they aren’t heavy-duty enough that I would seek them out later to put them away in or to take them places. Which I think the X3’s should have.

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Now we can finally get an actual look at the Fidelio X3’s and I have to admit that they look great. When I think of audiophile headphones I normally picture ugly black headphones with metal mesh or in some cases extremely expensive designs with earcups carved out of expensive woods. On the other end of the spectrum, the more trendy headphones focus on bright colors and visible branding. Philips didn’t go either direction with the X3’s. This is a more modern look with a cloth-covered earcup with a mix of black and white in the fabric. Then for the framing, the earcups almost look like they are floating with the aluminum frame having a gap around them. The aluminum framing wraps around and is covered in leather to give it a black finish.

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Speaking of the headband, as I said at the start. The Fidelio X3’s have a suspension headband which is my preferred headband. At least for me, they press on my head less than a normal headband. Especially up at the top. Both the suspended band and the main aluminum headband for the X3’s are covered in the Muirhead leather. I’m far from an expert on leather, but the finish is soft to the touch. Especially on the suspended bad which has padding inside. The edges have a rubber piping on them for durability as well. The aluminum band is covered in leather as I mentioned and if you look close you can see where they joined it together on the underside. The leather is glued directly to the band and there isn’t a transition or anything where it ends. Just a perfectly straight cut rather than folded which would be thicker. The suspension band uses two flat plastic bands connected together with elastic connecting the two to give the band its suspension effect.

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The outside of the earcups are covered in the black and white material that looks like tweed but is much softer to the touch. This covered up a very open-air plastic earcup frame which when feeling through the fabric feels like a honeycomb design. This open-air design helps keep ear temperatures down and allows sound around you in. For me, the open-air design is nice for cooling. But I also like that I can hear everything around me. But obviously, if you are trying to block out outside noises, kids, pets, etc a closed-ear design would be best for you. This side view also lets us see the floating design a little better, the earcups mount to the aluminum frame with two mounting points on the sides that let the earcup pivot up and down. But the design doesn’t have any side to side movement and the headband doesn’t let the cups sit flat. The Philips branding is simple and not too in your face which I love and from far away it blends in. While the X3’s still have a distinctive look that you would spot. A great example of Design over Branding.

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The bottom of the earcups have 3.5mm jacks on both which pair with the included cables that both have two jacks, one for each ear. This is because the headband design doesn’t have any cables running between earcups and it also lowers the possibility of damage in the long run. The cord is replaceable where if it was in the headband it wouldn’t be as easy. My only complaint here is that the only indication of which side is which is on the cable and it is small and hard to see. I like that the headphones can go either way. But for the cord, a lightly better way to spot left and right would be nice.

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We then have the earcup padding which as mentioned previously is covered in a soft black velour finish. Inside of that, they went back to the name brands with Kvadrat fabric for the black that covered the driver. They did this specifically because the fabric is acoustically transparent. The padding for the earcups comes in at around an inch thick with memory foam and while the padding is thick the opening is still large as well. Inside, creating the music they went with 50 mm drivers with diaphragms composes of multiple polymer layers filled with damping gel. They are Philips Layer motion control, like the previous X2 and have a sensitivity of 100 dB @ 1mW and a frequency response of 5-40000 Hz which for comparison on the gaming side of things. The Sennheiser Game Zero’s are 15-28000 Hz.

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One of the other qualities that Philips pushed for the X3’s was keeping them lightweight. If you think about it, the main reason a headband can get uncomfortable is from the weight pushing down. So less is more when it comes to comfort and the X3’s without the cord comes in at 334 grams or 11.78 ounces. The previous X2/27’s were 13.4 ounces. Now headphones like the Sennheiser HD599’s do come in a little less at 10.4 ounces. But I was surprised with the overall weight considering the aluminum frame and use of leather.

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Audio Quality and Performance

For testing, I have been using the Fidelio X3’s for a few weeks now on my main PC. Which means I have been listening to o music on them while working, watching TV shows, movies, YouTube, and Twitch at night, and well as getting in gaming which has mostly been LoL and Flight Sim 2020. Overall though I have had the chance to use the X3’s in various situations and wear them for long periods of time as well.

For me, comfort is always the number 1 priority with headphones and headsets. I need to be able to wear them for extended periods of time when listening to music and working or gaming late at night. This is where the suspension style headband is key for me. I have a big head and a lot of the traditional style headphones/headsets are heavy and push down at the top of my head. The suspended leather band spreads that out better across my entire head. Which when combined with the lightweight of the X3’s here made things very comfortable. I had no issues with the headband, even when wearing them for hours. The earcups were the same as well. The large earcup size kept them completely off of my ears which is where I normally get uncomfortable. Then the velour with memory foam, which was thick, keep the inside from touching my big ears. Even with the X3’s having a tight grip, I didn’t have any issues with the cups hurting or being uncomfortable. That grip though does help keep them in place.

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The size of the X3’s did support my huge head as well as my wife's small head, though they look out of proportion on her as you can see in the pictures. Then the open-air design did a better job than I expected. With most open-air headphones my ears do still get warm eventually but I didn’t have any issue with that. As you might tell from all of that, I didn’t have any comfort issues at all with the X3’s. The only somewhat related issue was with the suspension headband not sliding as smoothly as I would like which if it catches at all can tighten up later making some noise. The same happens if you move the headphones around, like if you move your head side to side and they bump into your shoulders at all.

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As for the audio performance. Like I said, I tested across a variety of uses. But I started first with music and I would be lying if I wasn’t impressed right away. Frankly, while I have a solid desktop speaker setup and a few quality earbuds. I haven’t been fortunate enough to try out a proper over-ear set of audiophile headphones. So after listening to one song, I started digging through my music folders looking for songs I haven’t heard in a long time and it was like listening with new ears. The level of detail is crazy and there isn’t a ton of bass piled on top to cover things up. Though I would prefer them to have a little more bass just for my preference and I am far from someone who is cranking that up typically. I was pushing the X3’s with our Creative X7 DAC and it did leave me wondering if I needed more power. But even when cranked up there was never a hint of distortion. When turned up the bass is there and is crisp and snappy as well.

But I think the most surprising part was just how much you hear around you with the open-air design. Again, open-air is what I prefer and is what I use often. But I was surprised there wasn’t at least a little reduction in noise. Even as I sit here typing this, I can hear crickets outside while I also have music playing quietly. Now, this also means that most of the sound going INTO your headphones can be heard around you as well. So remember to be conscious of the people around you and don’t crank up anything weird or inappropriate around people you wouldn’t want to hear it.

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Overall and Final Verdict

Well going into this, I already knew that the Philips Fidelio X3 fit exactly what I like as far as the main features go. But often, those are the situations where I end up disappointed, probably because when something has all of the features I would want my expectations are very high. Well the Fidelio X3’s ended up beating most of my expectation but there were a few areas where they could improve as well.

So I love that this is an open-air design, that ended up playing a big role in the comfort for me because for once my ears never get hot. Combine that with the comfortable suspension headband, velour on the earcups, and thick memory foam padding that fit around and not on my ears. I love how comfortable the X3’s are. Being lightweight helps with that as well when it comes to more extended sessions. The open-air design also plays a big role in the audio performance for me. Because I can still hear anything around me, listening to music, especially live music is more captivating. It was also great when doing zoom meetings and in Discord because the person on the other end feels like they are in the room. Audio performance as a whole was amazing, I did spend a few hours after I first hooked the headphones up to just flip through old songs to hear them again in a new way. The other big feature, and it won’t matter to everyone. But I think the X3’s look great, especially compared to a lot of other audiophile headphones. They remind me a lot of a mid century modern furniture with the floating earcups and the outside fabric that looks like an old tweed.

Now I started, not impressed with the packaging that Philips went with. For their flagship headphones, I was expecting a little more on the outside design to set it apart from everything else they make. At least for anything in their Fidelio line. They could have also done better with the included bag that it ships in. Given the high-end Muirhead leather that they included documentation on where it came from and the Kvadrat fabric, you would think they would want you to baby things later by packing it up in a protective bag. But the bag you get is only good for keeping scratches off it during shipping. The other issue that I noticed was that the X3 has the same warranty as the rest of Philips’ headphones and headsets. You would think their Fidelio line would have a little better warranty. Or that the product lineup across the board would match warranties that other companies have like Sennheiser and Audio Technica which both offer a 2-year warranty on all headphones. The X3’s have one year.

Really though, those are all relatively small issues. The only physical issue I had with the headphones was with the suspension headband. It doesn’t slide very smoothly which means it catches sometimes and was noisy through the headphones when they do move. Which happens anytime you move around. It’s not the first suspension headband that I’ve had that issue on, but I was hoping for a little more given the price.

Which brings me to the last and most important part. How much do they cost? Well, they have an MSRP of $349 which if you are a big fan of the Fidelio X2’s might be a surprise. The X2’s can be found for around $160. But I do also think that you are getting about what you should expect for that amount of money. They do perform extremely well and have a unique design. Gamers can see these as a potential upgrade, but as a big proponent of the ModMic, I don’t think the X3’s will support one with the fabric covering most of the outside. I did my testing with a desktop microphone.

fv5editorschoice

Live Pricing: HERE

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: http://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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