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Philips Fidelio XS1 Soundstage review

Richard Easton
29 Oct 2015
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Philips Fidelio XS1 teaser
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
400
inc VAT

The Philips Fidelio XS1 is one of the best looking soundbases available and its sound quality matches its looks

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Specifications

Speakers: 3, RMS power output: 320W, Dimensions: 730x331x40mm, Weight: 5.3kg, Dock connector: None, Networking: Bluetooth (SBC, aptX, AAC)

From headphones to speakers, the Fidelio range has always been home to classy looking audio equipment. The Fidelio XS1 Soundstage is another; it’s one of the best looking soundbars we’ve seen and certainly lives up to the marque’s rich heritage.

Your TV sits on top of the XS1, making it more of a sound base than a sound bar. The Soundstage name is apt, however, as it delivers room-filling sound with aplomb. A traditional soundbar might be a welcome upgrade over the speakers built into a flatscreen TV, but they too can be limited by thin designs that result in lifeless sound. This isn’t an issue with the SX1, with the larger speaker cabinets giving audio more impact and presence.

In spite of this, the XS1 still looks thin and elegant when viewed face on. It’s only 40mm tall, and is strong enough to support 40in to 65in TVs weighing up to 44kg. The low-profile design is useful if you have a larger TV, or a stand with feet at either side rather than a single central foot, as it can slide into the space between them. There was still about 10mm of clearance between the bottom of a 55in Panasonic TV and the top of the XS1, but it might be worth getting a ruler out before you buy.

Philips Fidelio XS1 low clearance

^If your television doesn't physically sit on top of the Fidelio XS1 you might find there's very little clearance between the two

There’s still room inside for six full range drivers, with each delivering 20W. The left and right channels have two drivers each, with one firing forwards and the other firing out the side to widen the soundstage. Two dedicated centre channels should deliver crisper vocals and dialogue.

The speaker grille on the front face extends around the sides, with a silver accent adding a touch of class to the edges. An LCD display is hidden behind the grille, lighting up to let you know which source is active and the current volume. You can lower the brightness or turn it off altogether if you prefer, so that the front is completely uninterrupted. The top has a glossy piano black finish that looks stylish, but has a tendency to show up dust as all glossy objects do. Be prepared to occasionally give the surface a good wipe down.

The accompanying wireless subwoofer has an equally interesting design. It too is a large, flat platform, roughly the same size as the main unit but slightly thicker at 90mm, in order to accommodate the two 6.5in woofers. The idea is that you can slot it under a cabinet or behind a sofa to hide it out of view. A vertical stand is included in case you can’t fit it underneath your furniture, to prevent it from toppling over.

Philips Fidelio XS1 buttons

There are physical controls on the main unit, but they are hidden away at the side and placed quite close to the back. The included remote is far more convenient; it has dedicated buttons for each input source, bass and treble adjustment, an EQ toggle and a Voice mode switch which emphasises the centre channel to make dialogue clearer. You can also adjust the audio delay, in case there are any synchronisation issues with your TV.

Philips Fidelio XS1 remote control

The Fidelio XS1 is well-equipped in terms of connections. There’s an HDMI input pass-through, as well as HDMI ARC for connecting to your television. It's a slight shame the HDMI pass-through isn't HDCP 2.2 compliant for passing through Ultra HD content, but that won’t be a deal-breaker for most people. Connecting over HDMI ARC will let you control the sound base volume using your TV’s remote control, as well as outputting the audio from anything connected to the television. You might need to enable HDMI-CEC through your television’s settings menu to get the two devices to co-operate, but once you do it’s a seamless experience.

Philips Fidelio XS1 connections

There are also digital optical and digital coaxial connections, RCA, 3.5mm auxiliary and a USB port. The latter will let you connect a flash drive or external hard disk to play MP3s. Bluetooth is available too, with support for the less-lossy aptX and AAC codecs for better sound quality from compatible devices. There’s even an NFC contact point on the front to pair Android devices with a tap.

The XS1 sounds rich and detailed, lending itself to both films and music. The side-firing speakers give wonderful stereo separation and dialogue from the centre channels was always crisp and clear. Even in films with difficult sound mixing, such as Interstellar, it’s easy to hear everything that’s said. We didn’t ever need to enable the Voice mode. You can quickly jump between preset EQs using the remote control, and with adjustable bass and treble levels you can customise it to your taste.

The subwoofer, too, gave some real presence to the lower end, with the sort of bass that you can really feel. Explosions had impact and weight behind them, so watching an action-packed film such as Transformers instantly becomes more exciting. The XS1 can happily replace your living room speakers for listening to music, too. Over Bluetooth, music sounded excellent, with delicate warmth and tonality across many different genres. Essentially, the Fidelio XS1 sounded great with anything.

Between the incredibly classy design, fantastic sound quality and bountiful connections, there’s a lot to like about the Fidelio XS1. At £400, it’s very good value too. We’ve tested soundbars that cost much more, but sound worse and have fewer connections. The Fidelio XS1 is an instant favourite and deserving of a Best Buy award.

Hardware
Speakers3
RMS power output320W
Subwoofer option200W (included)
Rear speaker optionNone
Dimensions730x331x40mm
Weight5.3kg
Ports
Audio inputs3.5mm stereo, optical digital, coaxial digital
Audio outputsNone
Video inputsHDMI 1.4
Video outputsHDMI 1.4
Dock connectorNone
USB portUSB
NetworkingBluetooth (SBC, aptX, AAC)
NFCYes
Features
Video playback formatsNone
Image viewing formatsNone
Audio playback formatsMP3
Smart TV appsNone
Buying information
Price including VAT£400
WarrantyOne year RTB
Detailswww.philips.co.uk
Part codeFidelio XS1/12

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