Philips Fidelio B97 review: Wide fidelity and IMAX Enhanced certification – News


We discovered the Fidelio spirit many years ago, appreciating a good quality of reproduction but above all the excellent idea of ​​detachable speakers. The Philips Fidelio B97 retains qualitative ambitions, the ability to detach the surround speakers and adds – this is a first in a soundbar – an IMAX Enhanced certification.

By Bruno Orru

The Fidelio logic applied to soundbars is simple: create a quality sound environment when the TV is on (series, movies, games) or off (music). For the first challenge you have to create immersive sensations underlined by good bass and for the second challenge you have to charm the ears… ha yes, there too with good bass. For streaming, this can be done via Wi-Fi via the Philips Sound app, directly from a mobile device via Bluetooth or of course as a disc source via HDMI. The B97 relies on the DTS Play-Fi protocol to create a wireless stereo audio network and works with Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Home voice assistants.

Multiple layouts
The B97 is a fairly long bar; to within a few centimeters, equivalent to the width of a 165 cm television. It offers a 7.1.2 configuration. with direct front radiation 3 left, center and right channels, each with its own dedicated woofer and tweeter. This crew benefits from a bass-reflex decompression chamber to extend the response in the lower midrange. The tests will prove that the transition with the subwoofer (around 150 Hz) is rather harmonious.

2 speakers are angled at 70° to cause ceiling bounce and 2 more radiate to the sides to extend musical stereo or promote lateral dispersion of sound effects. For the rear area, Philips continues this excellent idea of ​​detachable speakers operating on battery and therefore truly wireless. It is possible to hang them on the wall (fixings delivered in the box), or place them next to or behind you from time to time thanks to their dedicated base. These removable speakers have a loudspeaker which radiates quite diffusely towards the spectators, positioning at ear height is still recommended. The physical offset to the rear is obviously key to maximizing the sound immersion of multichannel mixes, even more so when these are Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. Note that the B97 is the first IMAX Enhanced bar; we were able to verify that the IMAX DSP is triggered in a Blu-ray or streaming source (Sony Bravia Core platform).

Last crucial element, the voluminous wireless box which comes in an elegant ultra-rigid ABS plastic casing. It is equipped with a 20 cm loudspeaker loaded with Bass-reflex.

Above the fight
The B97 quickly demonstrated that it was above the fray with the ability to be subtle and balanced in musical listening. It is also convincing in terms of ventilation, especially on the side (with the surround speakers attached), revealing a wide and deep soundstage. The atmosphere of a pop concert like that of Katy Perry is reproduced with conviction, creating a large frontal dome. The dynamics are wide, with the subwoofer supporting without exaggeration and with beautiful nuances.

In TV and movie series, with the surround speakers attached, the sense of three-dimensional space is one of the best we’ve seen lately. In simple 5.1, Dolby Atmos or DTS IMAX the elevation is real and accompanied by great dynamics facilitating the perception of sound details, inaudible in less transparent configurations. The bass is not particularly demonstrative and that’s good because it’s better controlled, with a good transition with the lower midrange of the bar. Obviously with the surround speakers located behind the spectators, this fuses, creating a physical surround impossible to (re)produce in virtual.

In conclusion
The Fidelio B97 stands out from the current production by a certain finesse of restitution where others are demonstrative, tiring in the long run. Musically or in cinema / games you will have an excellent immersive capacity and a vigorous but nuanced sustain in the bass.

What I appreciate: A certain sound elegance in music, cohesion and immersion in cinema, truly wireless detachable speakers

What I dislike : To be reserved for large screens and living rooms, an equalization would be a plus

Indicative price: €1,190

A few words of technique

Decoders

Dolby: DD/DD+/TrueHD/Atmos
DTS: HD HRA&MA/:X/IMAX
HD audio: WAV, FLAC, ALAC, PCM
Audio SD: MP3, AAC

Other functions

4K Ultra HD: HDR10, 10+, Dolby Vision
Certifications: DTS Play-Fi, Chromecast / AirPlay 2
App: Philips Sound
Voice control: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple Siri
Wi-Fi/Bluetooth: Yes / Yes

connectors
– 1 HDMI 2.1 input / 1 output (HDCP 2.3, CEC, eARC)
– 1 optical audio input
– 1 3.5mm audio input

Numbers

Power (peak) 450 W
Frequency response (bar + box): NC
Dimensions (W x H x D) / weight:
Bar: 131.2 x 5.56 x 12 cm / 7 kg
Box: 23 x 40 x 40.7 cm / 9.6 kg
Average consumption: 35 W

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