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Philips Fidelio X2HR Review (headphone)

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Fidelio X2HR open-back headphone. I bought mine on sale for US $116 but current price is US $145 including Prime shipping on Amazon.

The X2HR reminds of Grado headphones if they grew double in size and substance:

Philips Fidelio X2HR review open back headphone.jpg


Let me warn you that if you have any insecurities about losing your hair, it going gray or both, this is NOT the headphone for you as the pads gather any such falling hairs! :) Otherwise, this is a very comfortable headphone with large cups. The elastic band on top eliminates the need for adjustability and reduces moving parts.

A long, stiff and microphonic cable comes standard with it:

Philips Fidelio X2HR review open back headphone stiff cable.jpg


Fortunately the cable uses standard 3.5 mm connectors so you can use your favorite replacement.

Overall my impression of design, feel and usability is positive especially for the price.

Note: The measurements you are about to see are preformed using standardized GRAS 45CA headphone measurement fixture. Headphone measurements require more interpretation than speaker tests and have more of a requirement for subjective testing as a result.

Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR Measurements
Let's start with the X2HR frequency response measurements:

Philips Fidelio X2HR Frequency Response Measurement.png


We have fair bit of good news here. Response more or less hugs our target preference curve from 40 Hz to 4 kHz or so. Bass response also extends lower than it typically does. Concern is around a set of jagged peaks in higher frequencies witht he first one being the worst at 5.3 kHz. The peaks seem to be distanced regularly at 900 Hz or double that. Seems like the driver resonates at these regular intervals. This means if you happen to have high pitched notes that are at these frequencies, they will be amplified and cause brightness. But if you don't, then they won't and tonality will be more correct.

Subtracting our response from the target preference curve we see the deviations more clearly:
Philips Fidelio X2HR Measurements relative frequency response.png


I was surprised by the high level of distortion:
Philips Fidelio X2HR Measurement distortion.png


Not only do we have the classic distortion below 100 Hz or so, we also have some peaking around 270 Hz. If you look at the frequency response graph, you see a bump in that area. This is "good news" because we can take that bump down with equalization and with it, also reduce distortion. Group delay shows the same issue:

Philips Fidelio X2HR Measurement Group Delay.png


Back to distortion, here is the absolute level:
Philips Fidelio X2HR Measurement THD distortion.png


Impedance varies with frequency:

Philips Fidelio X2HR Measurement impedance.png


And at 40 ohm or so, it is pretty low. So when you look at my headphone amplifier tests, pay attention to 33 ohm load tests for ability to drive this headphone.

Good news is that the X2HR is rather efficient:

Most efficient headphone review 2021.png


Subjective Headphone Listening Tests
The immediate response is typical of peaking high frequency speakers and headphones: "oh this sounds good." A few seconds later that changes to, "but wait... it is quite bright!" Per objective testing earlier, the brightness comes and goes. Female vocals were annoying to listen as the sharpness would pierce your ear and then go away. Mind you, they were also "attractive" in that they were not too distorted and brought a great sense of spaciousness. On that front, spatial qualities of the X2HR is quite good.

Equalization was tougher than normal due to plurality of resonances:

Philips Fidelio X2HR Equalization Roon Player.png


Usually equalization has completely positive results across the board. Not quite here. Shaving off those resonances also collapses the soundstage by some 20 to 30%. That is such a nice effect that you hate to give up. But give up I did as the headphones just sound way too bright to me.

Note that even with my EQ, it still sounded a bit bright to me. I could get rid of that with increasing the strength of the shelving filter but then it would cost even more in soundstage.

On bass eq, you notice that I dialed in very little of it. The reason was distortion. Turn up the level and each note clips. Turned up even more and you get a sequence of "brrrrrrr" with which each "r" representing a tick. "Fortunately" the clipping is gradual and proportional to volume and doesn't make you think the thing is going to blow up on you. It is funny as in the first instance of hearing them it almost sounded like it was part of the music given its regular cadence. So I reluctantly lowered the EQ to what you see there. Without EQ, the problem is almost not there unless you listen very loud. It seems that Philips has done most of the boosting they could already.

Conclusions
The Philips X2HR has a lot of good qualities at attractive price. High comfort factor, good spatial effects, and nice tonality in low to lower treble. If you are sensitive like I am though, the highs will get to you and get to you fast. And again, if you are like me and want to listen loud to a track or two, the low frequency distortion can be annoying.

Equalization salvages the headphone at the cost of some soundstage. I personally would not buy it, hoping we can find another headphone in this price range that doesn't give us compromises as the EQ did here.

I cannot recommend the Philips without EQ. With EQ, it is close to getting my recommendation. At the end, I decided to pass. You may disagree and I would be fine with it. :)

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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sweetchaos

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#2
For Equalizer APO users:
Preamp: -3.2 dB
Filter 1: ON LS Fc 40 Hz Gain 3.0 dB Q 1.0
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 277 Hz Gain -1.7 dB Q 4.0
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 1650 Hz Gain -2.0 dB Q 3.0
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 5191 Hz Gain -6.0 dB Q 6.0
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 8200 Hz Gain -2.4 dB Q 5.0
Filter 6: ON HS Fc 12000 Hz Gain -3.0 dB Q 1.0
For more info, see List of Amir's Headphone PEQ filters.
 
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ROOSKIE

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#3
This was just on sale for $99. Almost bit but glad I waited. Based on this review this is likely not for me.
Certainly not a bad showing though. Nice job.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #4
BTW, I forgot to mention that I added 1 dB to balance the channels a bit more. They fit quite well on the fixture but one channel continued to be lower than the other as you see in the measurements.
 

Robbo99999

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#5
I'd definitely say that this is a lose for this headphone rather than a win! Frequency response looks pretty good until you get to 2.5kHz and then you see a series of oscillating unfixable (not EQ'able) peaks & dips, combine that with the distortion in the bass then you've got a pretty poor tasting recipe, worth a pass on this one I think. It does seem to have soundstage on it's side though, although Amir noticed EQ'ing out the brightness reduced the soundstage.......cheapish soundstage headphones I would recommend AKG K702 as an alternative.
 

YSC

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Hi amirm, just curious did you check the sealing? I just wonders even with the zoomed in vertical scale it seems your measurement seems the bass drop off is more severe than others out there? Just thinking if it would affect the desired bass eq
 

Robbo99999

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Hi amirm, just curious did you check the sealing? I just wonders even with the zoomed in vertical scale it seems your measurement seems the bass drop off is more severe than others out there? Just thinking if it would affect the desired bass eq
Bass drop off is pretty much the same as what Oratory measured as seen in the following pic (the raw response is on the left & his EQ'd measurement on the right), so I would say that the bass measurement is accurate considering the correlation:
Philips X2HR.jpg


Interestingly, his measurement shows a lot less severe peaks & dips in the treble than Amir's measurement.....but this could well be due to the effect of smoothing as he shows an average curve from multiple measurements, which is indeed an argument for saying that Amir's showing of a single optimised measurement is more revealing in the detailed characteristics of the headphone (although it may be less useful for EQ purposes).
 

Alice of Old Vincennes

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#9
I am former owner of Grado. If anything like Grado, you will lose more than hair. Seem comfortable at first. After a few weeks your temporal lobes and mandibles will thin out due to bone loss. Sennheiser HD 598 and 599 are most comfortable headphones on earth. My teenage son has glued those on for years. He seems normal mentally and physically (at least for a teenager.)
 

solderdude

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Bass drop off is pretty much the same as what Oratory measured as seen in the following pic (the raw response is on the left & his EQ'd measurement on the right), so I would say that the bass measurement is accurate considering the correlation:
View attachment 105037

Interestingly, his measurement shows a lot less severe peaks & dips in the treble than Amir's measurement.....but this could well be due to the effect of smoothing as he shows an average curve from multiple measurements, which is indeed an argument for saying that Amir's showing of a single optimised measurement is more revealing in the detailed characteristics of the headphone (although it may be less useful for EQ purposes).
Here's my flatplate measurement:


and the CSD:


and square-wave and pulse response:

The subbass roll-off and 5kHz ringing are clearly visible both in the CSD and scope shot as well as FR

distortion at 90dB SPL:

Higher distortion in the bass, not so audible at 'normal' listening levels (our ears are very insensitive to distortion that low in freq.) but indeed you should not boost the bass a lot and play that loud as it will audible distort.

my modifications lower the treble and 'tighten' the bass a bit.


I agree with Amir, high VFM, sensitive enough for portable devices, treble and microphonic cable are downsides. No original pads available.
For me too much bass (not a Harman fan) in stock form. Good imaging (above average). As I don't play it loud and do not EQ up the subbass I have never reached levels where it audible distorted.
 
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Jimmy

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#14
In my experience, there's a lot of sample variation with these headphones, I purchased the original X2 in 2014 when they released and Tyll reviewed them favourably.

My unit has good channel matching and they sound warm, with no high frequency peaks that I can't tell by ear, although they are too warm for my liking, with excessive bass.

Over the years I didn't use them that much, and since people were praising the X2 HR variant, that in theory should be identical, I bought one new for about 80€ during black friday.

To my surprise the HR while retaining the bassy character sounded nothing alike my old X2, much brighter (almost V-Shaped), and with considerable channel imbalance, so I returned them.

The good thing about these is that they can play very loud from portable equipment. I used them mostly with a Bluetooth receiver as wireless headphones, but they are too bulky and since I purchased a Shure Aonic 50 they almost see no use.

The Shure's soundstage is narrower but the FR matches better to my liking and they are less bulky for TV and bed listening.
 
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Robin L

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#18
What is an example of a non-microphonic headphone cable, that can be used to replace a microphonic one?
I have a thin 1 meter cable I wasn't using, much more flexible than stock. The cable terminates in a 3.5 mm plug on both ends, so it should be very easy to find replacements. Using a pair around the house there was an unanticipated problem: the top of the headband is so big it would get caught on odd things, like the ficus in the kitchen. It sounds good attached to a low power device. However the AKG K371 I got soon after is even more efficient, its headband is low and fits snug to the head and comes with 3 cables of different lengths. As far as I can tell, the AKG 'phones don't have the treble issues of the X2HR 'phones.
 
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Robbo99999

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3125b

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#20
Again noticable channel mismatch. Seems like that is an ongoing problem despite Philips' claims of fixing it.
For the sales price of ~100€ these certainly are competent headphones, but the lack of even basic replacement parts like earpads keeps me from buying them.

I strike back with their own weapons.. :cool:
I've seen that too a while back, posted it in a German forum and had a good laugh at it. I'm just not sure if that is actually from Philips or just made by an Amazon seller.
 
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