Philips Fidelio E2
5th Mar 2014 | 14:50
The E2 is a decent two-speaker setup that offers sound far above its pay grade.
Philips has been making a splash in the mid-price audio market for some time now, with its Fidelio range offering up good-quality speaker packages that nearly offers superior sound quality.
Its recent efforts, though, have been in the burgeoning soundbar market - with the more expensive Philips Fidelio HTL9100 blessed with both fantastic wireless surround sound capabilities and the novel idea of having detachable satellite speakers.
The new Philips Fidelio E2 range is offering something that little bit different - it is a two-speaker option that is a viable soundbar alternative. If you are after a similar modular approach as the HTL9100, then the Philips Fidelio E5 is worth checking out.
The E2 range offers brilliant sound from a small-ish footprint and can just as easily become your TV's next speaker system as it can a wireless music setup.
The Philips Fidelio E2 was extremely simple to setup. From a sealed box to fully functioning sound system it took me no more than five minutes.
But, hey, I am a sucker for not reading manuals and getting stuck right in. It was simple because all that was needed to connect the two speaker together with the stupidly long supplied cable wire (3 metres in total), add the plug and that's it. Well it is if you just want a standalone streaming audio system.
Connecting it up to a television took a little more time but at least there are myriad options. There's an HDMI Arc connection for this (great if your TV supports this as the speakers can then be controlled through the TV remote), as well as an optical slot and the ever-present coaxial.
All of these connections reside on the left speaker. The right merely has the power lead connection and the slot for the speaker-connecting cable.
All of these inputs and outputs mean that this E2 setup is as comfortable as a two-speaker TV audio enhancer or a standalone product.
The first thing I tried with the speakers was connecting up my Samsung Galaxy S4 via Bluetooth 3.0. I did this by tapping the controls on top of the left speaker. This is where Bluetooth activation, volume control and the off switch reside - not that you would know with touch alone as the controls are seamlessly integrated into the E2's decent design.
Both these speakers are clad in a dark-grey cloth, with smoothed edges hinting at a premium feel and look. On top, there's a decent wood finish and the control markers are subtly painted on top of this.
Pressing the hidden button - the top rocks slightly when you tap it - it did feel a touch flimsy and we did knock the speakers offline a few times just with a little press. So it is probably best to use the accompanying but rather small remote to control your music.
Bluetooth pairing took seconds on the speakers with my phone, though, and if I was really impatient and wanted it done quicker I could have just used NFC - something the Philips Fidelio E2 also supports. When I did have a lazy moment, the NFC touch and connect worked as quickly and as painlessly as it should.
This leads us on to the most impressive thing about the Philips Fidelio E2: its sound. Given that it is compatible with the aptX codec, audio can be piped through it with little-to-no degradation - as long as your phone is compatible. The S4 I used was compatible so I put on Velvet Underground's Sunday Morning - the warm treble of the intro sounded beautifully crisp.
The speakers output at 100w, so there is an average amount of oomph in them. But, again, the E2 surprised me by offering up a large, rich sound that just shouldn't be allowed at the price of the speakers.
Changing the music to Mogwai's Remurdered - at 320Kbps - the intensity of the track was replicated well, offering up the right amount of bass when the synths and drums kick in at the halfway point of the song. The sound is even more impressive when you take into consideration that each speaker only has a 1-inch tweeter and a 4-inch driver for its mid-range.
Movie soundtracks worked well too. Listening to Captain Philips' gripping soundtrack through the speakers was a joy. The percussive build up of Varèse Sarabande's music complemented the immediacy of the visuals - although we would say the occasional brassy rumble did sound muddied compared to the pin-sharpness at the higher end.
Soundbars may well take pride and place in most people's homes, especially when space is at a premium, but this doesn't mean a setup like the Philips Fidelio E2 shouldn't be considered.
There's definitely something in having two separate speakers to position how you want for optimal listening - and the inclusion of a three metre cable in the E2's box gives you that little bit of extra freedom that you just don't get with a soundbar.
Philips, with the E2, has shown that there is definitely still life in separate speakers in the mid-range market, offering up a piece of kit that's both great and easy to use.
It's always great when a pair of speakers come along and offer more than you expect. The Fidelio E2 range comes equipped with a solid sound that works great when streaming music and just as well as a speaker setup for your television.
Cranked right up, the lower sounds did strain for clarity and the wood finish won't be for everyone but there really isn't much more to moan about here.
Slight sound niggles aside there is a lot to love with the Philips Fidelio E2 speakers. Coming in at a price point that (literally) sounds to good to be true, they will be hard to beat in their category.
The only issues you may have are with styling - the wood finish won't fit all living rooms - and an occasional low dirge but these are slight complaints when the overall package is such a multi-faceted delight.