Better on TV than music
This is one of the market’s smallest soundboards. It sounds bigger than it looks, but has its shortcomings.
Very compact dimensions make the soundboard discreet, and it is also very user-friendly. The sound is more powerful than you would think.
Sounds not as good at music as movies, the bass is somewhat uncontrolled and the middle tones could have had more energy. HDMI does not support HDCP 2.2 and therefore not 4K Blu-ray.
With its 40 cm width, the Fidelio B1 will never look dominant, no matter what TV it’s placed underneath. The subwoofer is flat enough to slide under the couch, but wide and deep enough to accommodate a decent cabinet volume. This way you can get pretty tough bass anyway. And with the bass right under the ass, the bass experience becomes more physical.
A display in the front gives a good overview during daily use. However, the HDMI input does not support 4K video from Blu-ray (lacking HDCP 2.2). Then the player must connect directly to the TV and send the sound to the plank via the HDMI output audio return channel.
Philips Fidelio B1/12 Sound quality
The dialogue on film is clearer than with Panasonic and Creative. Alien: The Covenant has a larger sound image than the small size indicates, even though the great surround feeling fails. The subwoofer is somewhat unchecked if it is too high and must be muted to balance.
Voice audio function can be enabled for clearer dialogues, at the expense of the space feeling in the sound image. It may also sound a bit cramped. This feature is probably intended primarily for people with impaired hearing in the upper frequency register.
Otherwise, the sound board plays strong enough to provide great movie experiences. It also works well at play, we got into the action in the Forza Horizon 3 car game on Xbox One S.
In music, the bass area is somewhat disconnected from the rest of the sound, and the subwoofer is not completely rhythmic. There is also some dictation missing, singing vocals are not quite clear enough.
The Philips Fidelio B1 is user-friendly and many will fall for its discreet appearance. The sound is larger than its physical size and it works well enough on TV and movies. However, it is not our favorite on music, and there are better sound boards of about the same size. For example, the Sony HT-MT500.
A big negative is that the HDMI input does not support 4K Blu-ray.
Philips Fidelio B1/12 Characteristics
- Matches screen size: 18 “and up
- HDMI: 1 in, 1 out (ARC)
- Digital input: Optical, USB-A
- Wireless: Bluetooth
- Analogues: 3.5 mm AUX
Price: $550, –