Powerful, poised sound quality with genuine surround
Generous features and connections
Clever, elegant design and top-drawer construction
Lacks Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding
Upward-facing display panel
Might block TV remote sensor
Review Price: £549.99
Detachable wireless rear speakers with built-in Bluetooth
Bluetooth with apt-X, AAC and NFC
210W total power output
Dolby Digital, DTS and Dolby Pro Logic II
Two HDMI inputs and ARC-enabled output
Automatic spatial calibration
What’s the Philips Fidelio B5?
The Fidelio B5 can be an impressive soundbar with a set of detachable wireless speakers that deliver true surround sound – a concept that Philips calls “Surround on Demand”. It’s the follow-up to Philips’ exceptional HTL9100 from a couple years back, and comes with a few new features and a lesser price – although at £550 it’s still more costly than your average soundbar.
The beauty of the system is you could whip out the trunk speakers for movie night, then stow them away neatly in the soundbar when you’re watching TV or hearing music.
Philips Fidelio B5 – Design and Connections
The B5 is a great-looking soundbar, styled with Philips’ customary flair. It features the same “airfoil” design as the HTL9100, with alluring curves at the front end and rear which make it appear to be a teardrop from the medial side. It’s mostly covered in black cloth with a brushed silver panel in the centre, bisecting the left and right speakers. Construction is solid and robust, as you’d expect as of this price.
The only button is a power type in the centre that glows red in standby, although an NFC touch point is buried behind the right-hand speaker cloth. A big display panel on the left side provides info on inputs and volume levels, but because it faces upwards when laid on a set surface it’s fairly difficult to see (however, not impossible).
The detachable speakers slot in to the sides of the soundbar and charge when docked. When disconnected they works extremely well as surround speakers or individual Bluetooth speakers, that is a recent addition to the feature list. They’re also covered in black cloth, with a glossy finish privately panels. There are two buttons – Surround on Demand and Bluetooth – which permit you to switch between your two modes. Each button has a tiny Resulted in indicate which function is selected.
The B5 could be put on a TV stand or mounted on the wall. An integral sensor detects its orientation and adjusts the sound accordingly. At 70mm high, it sits fairly low on a set surface and really should duck under your TV screen – although there’s a chance it might obscure the infrared sensor.
Selecting rear sockets is great. You get two HDMI inputs and an HDMI 1.4 output with Audio Return Channel, which sends audio tracks from it to the soundbar, and permitting you to control the soundbar volume with the TV’s remote. These sockets are helpful if you need to perform a Blu-ray deck or Sky box through the soundbar and take good thing about its built-in Dolby Digital and DTS decoding.
They’re joined by optical and coaxial digital inputs, analogue RCA and 3.5mm mini-jack inputs, and a USB port for service use. That’s a generous selection, although nearly up there with the Arcam Solo Bar Plus. And as I remarked in the HTL9100 review, when wall-mounted the HDMI cables stand out awkwardly at the very top.
At 510mm high, the subwoofer can be an unusually tall affair. However, its narrow depth and width make it surprisingly simple to squeeze into tight spaces. It’s attractively styled in a dark-grey finish with curved corners and four strong feet that elevate it off the bottom. Thus giving the down-firing woofer a good amount of room to breathe. It’s paired with the soundbar at the factory, nevertheless, you may use the pairing button on the trunk to reconnect if it drops out.
Philips Fidelio B5 – Features
The detachable wireless speakers will be the apparent highlight. They talk to the soundbar by using a proprietary transmission system that eliminates interference from other wireless devices. The machine switches to surround mode automatically when the speakers are detached – a clever touch. The “Near Me” mode lets you shut down sound from the key bar and listen through the surround speakers only.
The primary bar features Bluetooth with apt-X and AAC support for high-quality music streaming from compatible devices. The opportunity to stream via Bluetooth to individual surround speakers is a genuine bonus in the event that you get the urge for a few tunes in the garden. Each one offers 8W power output and lasts around 10 hours on a complete charge.
The 120W soundbar’s speaker array carries a couple of 3-inch drivers and two 1-inch soft-dome tweeters – part of what Philips dubs “SUPERIOR Sound”. Inside each surround speaker is a 3-inch full-range driver, as the bass reflex subwoofer has a 6.5-inch woofer and kicks out 90W of power.
There’s on-board Dolby Digital and DTS decoding, plus Dolby Pro Logic II expands stereo sources to five channels. Having less Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding continues to be a shame, however, not a deal-breaker. Philips in addition has thrown in a couple of sound modes including Movie (surround), Music (stereo), Voice and Night.
Philips Fidelio B5 – Setup and Operation
Once you’ve rigged up your cables and paired the wireless speakers, it’s time to tweak the sound. That’s a fairly easy process because of the built-in spatial calibration mode, which customises the surround speakers for your room using white noise test tones. It happens in two stages – first it computes the listening zone, then it balances the left and right speakers according to your seating position. It’s an instant and painless process.
The B5 is operated by an extraordinary new remote, an upgrade from the oval zapper given the HTL9100. The buttons are thoughtfully placed, with central volume controls flanked by bass and treble +/- keys, whilst every input gets its button at the very top. Particularly useful will be the dedicated controls to improve lip-sync issues also to adapt rear channel volume. The ergonomic handset and buttons have a good solid feel and the brushed finish is a good touch.
Philips Fidelio B5 – Performance
Similar to the HTL9100, the B5 is a beautiful performer, offering powerful and refined sound. But why is it stick out is the utilization of real rear speakers, which brings you nearer to a genuine home-cinema experience than any other soundbar in the marketplace – even Yamaha’s celebrated sound projectors.
There are so many positives it’s hard to learn where to start. First, I’m massively impressed by the B5’s natural, well-integrated sound. There’s a pleasant balance over the frequencies – everything just sounds right.
The subwoofer underpins action scenes brilliantly with deep, meaty bass, but never sounds bloated or overpowering; the soundbar attacks mid-range and high-frequency effects with vigour, but always stays the proper side of brightness; and dialogue is constantly detailed and intelligible. Speech appears like it’s from the middle of the screen, regardless of the insufficient a dedicated centre channel.
If you think the total amount needs tweaking, no issue – the B5 offers you great overall flexibility over the audio tracks output. There are three sound modes, bass/treble controls and separate volume levels for the key and rear volume, and that means you can simply locate a sound that suits.
But what most of the people want from a soundbar is power and volume, and the B5 doesn’t skimp on either. The wonderful subwoofer plays a significant role in conveying scale and size – massive lumbering beasts in movies such as for example Godzilla and Pacific Rim are