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Philips Fidelio B5 wireless soundbar breaks apart into individual Bluetooth speakers

Tom Morgan
4 Sep 2014
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Spread music throughout the home with Philips' latest soundbar, which doubles as three separate Bluetooth speakers

We thought Philips' idea of a soundbar that breaks apart to create a wireless surround sound system was inspired; so much so that we gave the Fidelio HTL9100 five stars and a Best Buy award when we reviewed it last year, but now the company has gone one better.

The Fidelio B5 soundbar, announced today at IFA in Berlin, takes that first concept and refines it, letting you break apart the soundbar and use the wireless satellites as individual Bluetooth speakers.

Philips knows when not to mess with a good thing, so the Fidelio B5 looks nearly identical to the HTL9100. The shape stays the same, as does the brushed metal finish, but the fabric mesh protecting the speaker drivers has been upgraded with a new coating that should make it more resistant to dust and able to withstand any liquid spills without staining.

Have a read of our guide to the best soundbars for more alternatives.

When you're watching TV, the soundbar works in stereo mode, with the wireless subwoofer providing low-end rumble from wherever you place it in a room. When you want to watch a film, you simply pop out the wireless satellite speakers from either end of the bar and place them behind you for cinema-style audio. A calibration algorithm detects where they are in relation to the soundbar to ensure balanced surround sound.

The satellites now serve a dual purpose, thanks to individual Bluetooth connections that let you take them away from the soundbar and use as a portable speaker for your smartphone or tablet. A button built into the base of each speaker switches between soundbar and Bluetooth modes, and the internal batteries should last for around 5 hours of continuous music playback. When you're done, docking the satellites with the soundbar starts charging ready for the next time you want to go wireless.

You can still use the main soundbar even when both satellites are being used for Bluetooth audio, and it includes aptX Bluetooth for high quality streaming when you're sat in front of the TV.

The Fidelio B5 is due to go on sale throughout Europe from October onwards for €799, meaning it should retail for around £650 when it hits the UK. Hopefully we'll be giving it a thorough test to see if it can live up to the excellent HTL9100 a little closer to launch.

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