Philips Fidelio L3 review – quality above all else

Philips Fidelio L3 review - main photo showing the headphones unfolded
Philips Fidelio L3 Review $ 199
  • Sound quality
  • Production quality
  • Convenience
  • Comfort of use (gestures, additional functions)
  • ANC
  • Accessories
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Philips Fidelio L3 review in three sentences

Philips Fidelio L3 is definitely likeable. If the most important thing is sound quality and performance, then it is hard to find any competition in this budget. However, if we care more about utility functions, it is worse in this respect.

Benefits

  • Sound quality
  • Production quality
  • Asymmetric pads
  • Good battery life
  • Convenience (in my case)
  • Quality of accessories

Disadvantages

  • Average ANC
  • The gestures are very lame
  • App

The Bluetooth headphone is springing up in the market like mushrooms after rain. Some focus more on usability, others on sound quality. The Philips Fidelio L3 review will show what the manufacturer focused on and whether he did it well. 

Set and price

Accessories from the set with Philips Fidelio l3

Philips Fidelio L3 come to us in a small package with a standard manufacturer’s design. Inside we find a nice set, in which, apart from the headphones, there is a very well-made case, a cable for charging the headphones and a 3.5 mm cable for connecting the headphones in case of discharge.

Philips Fidelio L3 currently costs USD 199, but in June they were available for USD 149. 

Specifications Philips Fidelio L3

  • Bluetooth 5.1 with SBC, AAC, aptX and aptX HD codecs, which you can read a little more about in our Bluetooth codec tutorial.
  • Four microphones for ANC support
  • Two microphones for conversations
  • Google Fast Pair, Quick Pair, ANC, Siri and Google Assistant support
  • The declared working time with ANC is up to 32 hours, without ANC up to 38 hours. 
  • Charging time is approximately 2 hours
  • Weight: 360 grams

Are the Philips Fidelio L3 well made?

Buttons on the headphones Philips Fidelio L3

The Fidelio L3 are not well-made headphones, they are even well-made . Starting at the bottom, both domes are made of easily dirty plastic, but are held by an aluminum cradle that surrounds the headphones. In my opinion it looks very good and at the same time increases the premium feeling when we hold them. The pads are made of very high-quality natural leather , and in addition they are asymmetrical. Their part at the front is slightly thinner than at the back. 

It is not possible to fold the headphones

Unfortunately, the Fidelio L3 does not fold, but the earcups rotate 90 degrees, so they take up a little less space. However, the pivot mechanism is very loose, and the earpieces may turn as long as they do not lock together. The mechanism of opening the headband is too stiff, it is too stiff. Correcting it on your head is possible, but not very pleasant. The headband itself is again of very good quality. Metal additionally reinforced with plastic definitely inspires my confidence in the sliding element. The upper part, where it touches the head, is suede, with a fairly skinny pillow. From the top, we find again high-quality natural leather, with an embossing and the name of the headphones. 

Buttons and connectors

The Philips Fidelio L3 has three buttons, as well as two sockets. In theory, a standard set, but here is a touch panel. The button on the right earbud, next to the USB-C socket, is responsible for turning on the headphones. There is a separate button for Bluetooth pairing on the other earpiece. On the one hand, this solution is a bit surprising, because manufacturers often use a multifunctional button, but on the other hand, it is very convenient when we often move between devices . The last button is responsible for calling the voice assistant.

Philips Fidelio L3 – unusual convenience

A sensor that checks if the Fidelio L3 is worn on the head

The Fidelio L3 are headphones that fit quite tightly against the head. People with a wider head may experience discomfort, although high adjustment can minimize it. The material from which the pads are made works much better at high temperatures than that of the Sony WH1000XM5 . The headphones rest on them quite strongly, which makes the headband relatively indifferent to comfort. If I loosen the headphones too much, I feel a bit of discomfort with it, but most of the time it was very good. 

There are additional functions, but they could be better

Fidelio L3 headband

Philips in the Fidelio L3 model made available the option of gesture control, transparent mode and detection of whether the headphones are on the head. Each of them has their own problems that can be annoying at times. 

Sometimes gestures are detected, sometimes not

In pure theory, the operation is very simple. Front-back to move tracks, up-down for volume. The volume is shared on the device and the headphones. The Fidelio L3 are quite loud , so you should turn them down before putting them on, and then adjust the volume on the handset. Unless, of course, this option works, because often the headphones detect any shifting as touches, which end up pausing the music. The same applies to track control, although I got the impression that I had a problem less times in this situation. The best way to avoid gestures being misread is to slide your finger across the entire handset. If we start halfway through, the headphones won’t recognize it properly.

Do you slide your headphones around your neck? The music continues to play

With the headphones removed completely, the music would always stop playing. However, if I only slipped them around my neck, for example in a store, it often happened that the Philips Fidelio L3 continued to play. Even with full rotation of the shells, but in a situation when they are in contact with some surface (T-shirt, table top, case), the music will turn on anyway. This is annoying in the long run and definitely less polished than in the previously mentioned Sony WH1000XM4

Listening to your surroundings has one big problem

This mode is as important to many as the ANC. It is very useful while cycling, when we want to talk to someone, or when we want to be sure that we hear a child’s cry, or a bicycle bell in the street. In the case of the Philips Fidelio L3, it works very well as long as the environment is not quiet . Then the hum of electronics and microphones trying to pick up more than you can hear is very audible and irritating. In the city, the situation is much better and more pleasant, because the sounds of the city itself are much louder than the noise. 

There is something missing from phone calls

Fidelio L3 in a case

The microphones with which the Philips Fidelio L3 headphones are equipped have their better and worse moments. In most cases, headphones pick up our voice well, even in louder environments. The problem appears with a uniform, loud noise, such as driving a car (of course in the passenger seat) or traveling by public transport. The other party, as long as they are in a quiet environment, then has no trouble understanding what we are saying, but they usually hear the background noise quite strongly. It is much better with more random background noises, such as music or a dog barking. Then the other side almost always hears us well. 

ANC is very average

The Fidelio L3 handset up close

The ANC in the Philips Fidelio L3 headphones is definitely not impressive. The level is similar to headphones, which cost USD 50-100 less than the hero of today’s review. A very big problem is the strong noise of the electronics, which was also noticeable with the raised ambient sounds. The headphones cut off voices from outside the door or constant loud noise quite well, but they have problems in a changing environment.

Higher tonal sounds, such as a mechanical keyboard or children’s squeals, reach our ears almost unchanged in relation to the switched off ANC. Generally speaking, if you plan to use the Fidelio L3 in the office, at home, or on a walk in a quiet place, then they are perfect for it. If we focus on a strong cut-off in the middle of the city or in the subway, it is worth looking towards the previously mentioned Sony WH1000XM5, or their older version, WH1000XM4. 

Fortunately, the Fidelio L3 has good passive soundproofing

Which further enhances the effect of ANC. Quite often, I preferred sound without ANC, so that the brain itself would cut out ambient sounds, especially if they were uniform.

A sound that is Philips’ forte

The Fidelio L3 in almost full splendor

Personally, I really like the sound of some Philips headphones, such as the Fidelio X2HR or the SHP9600. This time the manufacturer led the signature a bit differently, because the headphones are somewhere between the aforementioned models. Some of the vocabulary may be slightly incomprehensible, so I also invite you to my headphone ranking, which includes a tutorial part that translates most of the terms . I would also like to mention that the sound of the Philips Fidelio L3 headphones depends heavily on their arrangement on the head. In my case, it was best to move the headphones as far forward as possible, so that the pads just touched the back of the ear. 

There is a lot of bass, but it is not bad in terms of quality

Well, maybe except for the lowest bass, which tries to show some texture, but is still too withdrawn from the rest. I believe that a slight boost in this range is a sonic plus, especially since the headphones handle equalization well . The mid bass is one of the best I’ve heard from wireless headphones. It is incredibly musical and grateful to listen to, gives a lot of dynamics and is simply very pleasant. The upper bass is also quite good, although I would not disdain a slightly harder kick. Basically it is well marked, but quite soft and slightly overshadowed by the midbas. 

The diameter is set back, but fully legible

The Fidelio L3

The male vocals are located a little deeper than the bass. They are also a bit dryish, but at the same time sound relatively natural. It sounds good when listening to calmer music, like Kortez, but a bit worse when we want something like the work of Kendrick Lamar. In this situation, a bit of an extra claw is missing. The female vocals, however, are a bit closer to the listener. 

They are still not in the foreground, but are sweeter than male voices. The whole midrange is also very good in terms of resolution and details. Although the highest codec available is AptX HD, the headphones are technically very good. The whole is also presented in a pleasant, not exaggerated way. The Fidelio L3 does not force us to use all aspects of the songs, but we can certainly hear elements in the music that cannot be heard on weaker headphones. 

Mountain? It is, but it does not impose itself

The highest tones in the Philips Fidelio L3 are not hidden, but they are definitely softened, although the cymbals in the Daft Punk pieces can present themselves very nicely. They are very vibrant and musical, without a gram of sibilization or hissing . The whole thing is well-balanced and works well for both calmer music and aggressive electronics and metal. The treble reacts a bit worse to the equalizer than the bass, but you can easily try to adjust it to yourself. 

The scene is pretty decent but very predictable

Philips Fidelio L3 provide a fairly wide and deep sound stage, along with interesting positioning and good directivity. However, it is worse with holography, because most of the sounds are set on one line, although many people will like this sound very much. Still, for wireless headphones in this budget, it’s still very good. When using headphones on the cable, we can easily play more demanding FPS games in them and quite accurately determine the position of the opponent. 

The app is there, but it’s not worth bothering with

We can use the manufacturer’s application to operate the Philips Fidelio L3, but its level is so poor that the only moment when it comes in handy is when you want to try the equalizer. All in all, the only thing that is in the application is the selection of ANC / listening / nothing modes, which can also be operated using the button on the handset . The application itself is slow, often does not connect to the headphones and is simply problematic. 

The battery is pretty decent

Fidelio L3 headband from above

The manufacturer promises 32 hours of work, which is definitely a achievable result, although I managed to get around 25-28 hours with ANC and a volume of 60-70%. Without ANC and at a low volume level, we will be able to break through around 30 hours without any problems. The headphones themselves charge relatively quickly, around an hour and forty-five minutes is enough to fully charge the headphones. 

Philips Fidelio L3 review – summary

Philips Fidelio L3 review - main photo showing the headphones unfolded

I think I can honestly say that I liked the Philips Fidelio L3 a lot. They have their shortcomings, such as average ANC, high electronic noise in the ANC and transparent mode, quite a strong pressure on the skull, but at the same time they are well made and present a very high level in terms of sound quality. Many people should like their sound, but it is a pity that the “i” dot was missing in the form of the LDAC codec. Still, these headphones are definitely worth recommending and considering in this budget.

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