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Philips Fidelio FB1 review: An attractive, bass-heavy single-box soundbar

Our Rating :
£799.00 from
Price when reviewed : £799
inc VAT

The eye-catching Philips Fidelio FB1 manages to conjure up deep bass without a separate subwoofer


  • Surprisingly deep levels of bass
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
  • Attractive design and solid build


  • Front-heavy delivery
  • No 4K@120Hz/VRR/ALLM passthrough

The Philips Fidelio FB1 is designed to take the bass capabilities of a single-box soundbar to new depths by incorporating a pair of built-in woofers. It supports object-based audio, along with a host of other useful features, while its eye-catching design includes ring lights around the up-firing drivers.

It’s a design that undoubtedly helps the soundbar stand out from the competition, but with a front-heavy delivery and minimal surround presence, the FB1 doesn’t sound quite as good as it looks, despite some impressive audio chops and overhead Atmos effects.

Philips Fidelio FB1: What you need to know

The Philps Fidelio FB1 soundbar forms part of the brand’s premium audio range and uses a 5.1.2-channel speaker layout – although psychoacoustic processing expands this to 7.1.2 by creating extra virtual channels. There’s a total of 15 drivers crammed into the sleek cabinet, and while there’s no separate subwoofer, a pair of built-in 3.5in bass drivers handle the low-end.

The Fidelio FB1 decodes Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and IMAX Enhanced immersive audio formats, has extensive connectivity that includes eARC, and supports features such as DTS Play-Fi and Apple AirPlay 2. The inclusion of DTS Play-Fi allows for multichannel and multi-room options, while the ability to work with Alexa and Google Assistant adds smarts and a degree of voice control.

Philips Fidelio FB1: Price and competition

The Philips Fidelio FB1 can be bought from most major retailers, and currently costs £799. While not excessively expensive, it’s still fairly pricey for a single-box soundbar and is clearly designed to compete with similar high-end models such as the Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 (£899), Bose Soundbar 900 (£799), and Sonos Arc (£799).

If you want to expand the Fidelio FB1 from a virtual 7.1.2-channel system to an actual 7.1.4-channel speaker configuration you can add a pair of Fidelio FS1 wireless speakers for the rear surround and overhead channels, and a Fidelio FW1 subwoofer to handle the LFE channel. That combination of speakers and the FB1 soundbar will set you back in the region of £1,800.

Philips Fidelio FB1: Design and features

The Philips Fidelio FB1 is reasonably large, measuring 1200 x 120 x 73mm (WDH), but uses a sleek cabinet and elegant design that won’t dominate the space under your TV. Its size means you can partner it with some fairly large screens, while the matte dark grey finish ensures it remains discreet and doesn’t reflect what’s on the screen.

The Fidelio FB1 is surprisingly attractive for a soundbar, with rounded corners on the cabinet and Muirhead leather trim that separates the top, front, and side panels. This lends the soundbar a degree of class, while the mesh metal grilles add a robust element to the overall construction. It weighs in at a hefty 7.2kg but is extremely well made.

There’s a display on the front right of the soundbar, but because it’s located behind the metal grille, it can be hard to read sometimes. There are ring lights around the up-firing drivers that illuminate when the FB1 is decoding an object-based audio format – which looks cool – although you can turn this feature off if it becomes annoying or distracting.

In terms of object-based audio formats, the Fidelio FB1 supports Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and IMAX Enhanced. The Philips also supports DTS Play-Fi, which not only adds multichannel and multi-room capabilities via other compatible devices but also playback of music stored on a network, including high-resolution audio formats.

The Fidelio FB1 uses a 5.1.2-channel speaker configuration, with front left, right and centre channels, side-firing width channels, and a pair of up-firing overhead channels. These full-range speakers are composed of a total of 13 drivers and tweeters, backed up by a pair of 3.5in woofers for low-end extension down to an impressive 40Hz.

All these speakers are driven by a total of 310W of amplification, with peaks up to 620W when needed, which allows the entire system to be driven loud without ever feeling strained or running out of steam. There’s a wonderful sense of cohesion to the overall soundstage, while the built-in subwoofers integrate seamlessly with all the other speakers.

The Fidelio FB1 also comes with a calibration microphone that connects to the soundbar using a 3.5mm jack, and when plugged in, the room correction feature runs automatically. This plays a series of test tones that are measured using the microphone, and the overall sound is then optimised to eliminate the more egregious acoustic aspects of your room.

Philips Fidelio FB1: Connections and control

The Philips Fidelio FB1 has an extensive set of connections, with an HDMI input, and an output that supports eARC (enhanced audio return channel). Both also pass 4K/60Hz, and every version of HDR (HDR10, HLG, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision). However, gamers should know there’s no passthrough of 4K/120Hz, variable refresh rate (VRR) or auto low latency mode (ALLM).

In terms of other physical connections, there’s an optical digital audio input and a USB port that supports MP3, WAV, and FLAC files. When it comes to wireless connectivity, there’s dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, and Apple AirPlay 2, plus there’s also built-in Chromecast, Spotify Connect, and DTS Play-Fi, with the latter adding multichannel and multi-room expansion options.

There are some basic touch-sensitive buttons on the top of the bar, while the bundled remote control offers all the main features but uses a very minimalist approach. Probably a bit too minimalist, because most of the buttons just use less-than-intuitive icons, and the volume controls aren’t even labelled. The ability to work with Alexa and Google Assistant also adds a degree of voice control.

The Philips Sound app integrates with DTS Play-Fi, adding streaming services like Spotify, Tidal, Amazon Music, Qobuz, Deezer and internet radio. The Philips Fine Tune app offers control of the volume, EQ selection, surround modes, and levels for the surround channels. This app makes setup easier and is a preferable control option compared to the remote and hard-to-read display.

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Philips Fidelio FB1: Sound Quality

The Philips Fidelio FB1 produces a soundstage with width and height, creating an acoustic presence that can envelop even the largest screen and fill the first third of the room with audio effects. This accomplished overall delivery is also tight and detailed, with a treble that’s rendered with flair, and a midrange that’s clear and well-defined.

The twin woofers produce deep bass with swift transients and a degree of poise that gives drums and other low-end effects speed, depth and attack. The lack of a separate subwoofer is rarely apparent, and the 3.5in woofers don’t disgrace themselves even when handling the appropriately monstrous bass of a film like Godzilla vs Kong.

While not quite as powerful as a large separate subwoofer, the Fidelio FB1 lays a solid bass foundation that supports all the other channels. The soundbar handles the 5.1 soundtracks of TV shows and films with energy and excitement. The side-firing drivers add width, while the dedicated centre speaker ensures dialogue remains clear and focused on the screen.

When it comes to Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and IMAX Enhanced the Fidelio FB1 really comes into its own, with the up-firing drivers producing excellent overhead effects, and helping to create a three-dimensional presence that spreads out across the ceiling and side walls. There’s no real surround envelopment at the back, but that’s to be expected given the lack of rear speakers.

A full-bodied Atmos soundtrack like Top Gun: Maverick delivers plenty of scale, with jet fighters zooming across the room and the bass giving the engines real power. There are four levels of Atmos decoding, designed to deliver Minimal, Small, Medium and Big amounts of overhead action. These various settings are intended to accommodate different ceiling heights.

If you have a large collection of Blu-rays, you can also take advantage of the DTS:X decoding, and a film like Jurassic World: Dominion will feel more like a sonic assault. The Fidelio FB1’s low-end prowess is undoubtedly in part due to the inclusion of IMAX Enhanced support, allowing it to handle the increased bass extension of this less-common format.

There’s a DTS: Neural X upmixing mode that creates a more immersive experience from non-object-based soundtracks by making use of all available channels. There are also various sound modes, with the Movie preset generally the best bet, in part because the Surround AI setting tends to boost the height/surround effects at the expense of the overall cohesion.

While you can add compatible wireless rear speakers and a separate wireless subwoofer, this obviously increases the cost significantly and detracts from the main appeal of the Fidelio FB1: its ability to deliver a superior sonic performance in a convenient fashion, while also keeping the price down compared to a multi-component system.

Philips Fidelio FB1: Verdict

The Philips Fidelio FB1 manages to produce the kind of deep bass usually associated with a separate subwoofer remarkably well and is among the most attractive all-in-one soundbars around thanks to its sleek design and eye-catching light-up drivers.

It has power to spare and delivers an immersive soundstage, clear dialogue and well-placed effects regardless of whether you’re watching Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and IMAX Enhanced content. However, its delivery is very front-heavy and demonstrates little in the way of surround presence, and while you can add rear speakers and a subwoofer, that will add to the cost significantly.

There’s also no passthrough support for next-gen gaming features like 4K/120Hz, ALLM or VRR either, but otherwise, the Philips Fidelio FB1 is an impressive and elegant single-box soundbar solution.

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