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Philips Fidelio X2HR Review (headphone)

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I own the X2 (not HR), Sennheiser HD650 and ATH-MX50x. Out of those three, the X2:s provide the listening experience I like the most - but not for all content! For some recordings, like The Beatles, Lady Madonna (Tidal, 2009 remaster) I find them gritty and harsh, for others like Cat Stevens, The First Cut Is The Deepest (Tidal) they sound unpleasantly bright. On a few occasions there can be a rather scary rumblimg in the deep base, for example on John Lennons rendition of Stand by Me (YouTube). But for 85-90% of my listening with more mellow recordings ( for example The Stranglers, Golden Brown or Nina Simone, Sinmerman - Tidal MQA) I find them to sound more alive, charming and spacious than the HD650 which, while somtimes less abrasive, sounds a bit dull to me by comparison. To my taste the M50x falls somewhere in betwen. Reducing the volume does seem reduce the abrasiveness of the X2 on those occasions where it is an issue.

I thought this was quite inreresting, as the measurements herr seem to correlate to what I thought I was hearing. For me, the take home message seems to be that the X2HR does a lot of things right. But maybe the HD650 is easier to EQ - that is on my to-do-list. Meanwhile thank you for your hard work bringing us these inreresting reviews!
 

DualTriode

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Who said none of it matters ?
I built one many years ago because I find it useful.
Fact remains that the same exact headphone will measure differently on different rigs.
That's a fact of life.
The take away is: when you want to EQ don't rely on one specific rig.
I have been out driving in the rain and redwoods here today on the California North Coast. Fun stuff.

I like your flat plane test fixture. All the ears; real and fake are removed from the mix.

All the stuff you call compensation is unnecessary and serves to add more confusion back into the mix.

What is missing is straight up calibration. Without calibration and knowing actual sound pressure levels there is no way to compare your measurements to measurements made on calibrated instruments. There is no way to compare your compensations to calibrated equalization curves.

Looking at your site I saw Panasonic WM61A microphone capsules mentioned. I recalled Linkwitz using the same Panasonic WM61A microphone capsules. Linkwitz disconnected the internal microphone FET and made custom lab made preamps. (20 years ago) I made the same setup to put on my glasses to use as recording microphones. See the linkwitz link. If any one wants to do the same you can still find the Panasonic WM61A microphone capsules on Amazon.

Thanks DT

http://www.linkwitzlab.com/sys_test.htm

https://www.amazon.com/Omnidirectio...+wm-61a&qid=1610517933&sr=8-1&tag=googhydr-20

https://www.linkwitzlab.com/Recording/AS_creation.htm Fig. 4. Glasses
 

solderdude

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Yes, I know the WM61 modification and that you can increase dynamic range.

And yes the rig is calibrated in SPL and when you compare my plots to those of calibrated rigs you will see it comes very close.
Of course, with angled drivers it can be a few dB off in the 2-5kHz range.
The results from the rig (and its correction) have been 'confirmed' by ear using flat (at 1m) monitors compared at 1m to check if it is correct.

The 'still available' WM61A capsules' are all fakes. I had a bunch here and they measure differently from the few real WM61A.
They look exactly the same though.
 
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I've owned a couple dozen headphones, just like probably anybody in these threads reading. Nothing terribly expensive - maybe $300 cap.
The universally highest acclaimed headphones I've owned were HD600 and HD650, both since sold. I've owned and tried Grado, Denon, multiple Sennheisers (which I generally like), Sony, etc, etc etc. To my ears these Philips X2HR are my personal favorite so far, that I've owned - that won't change because of a review. I made my personal preference decision doing A/B listening without consulting a review. I hate to see some people in this thread say, 'darn, these were my favorite headphones, until this review.' You like em before the review? You'll still enjoy listening to them after the review. Right?

Relatively easy to drive, super comfortable with the oversized pads and internal cup size - they don't touch my ears at all, standard jack so you can use any cord you want or add a V-Moda mic for headset use, they sound great to me with nice feel good bass, and a nice big soundstage (for headphones), and at the $100-$120 price point they have a really high quality build, look and feel --> better than almost anything else I've owned.
I don't EQ them, I like them just the way they are.

When I bought them I sold my Sennheiser HD-6XX (HD-650 equivalent) shortly after because I preferred the X2HR in my A/B testing. Since then, for about the last year, the X2HR have been my daily driver for PC gaming use. I personally preferred or found equitable almost everything about my X2HR over the HD-6XX bullet by bullet so have no reservations on selling the HD-6XX. To each his own I guess. I've not found them harsh, personally, but I don't really do critical listening with them. I just enjoy them for what they are very comfortable gaming headphone/headset that I think sounds great. I'm not challenging the objective measurements, just perhaps encouraging a potentially interested party to not dismiss them outright. Perhaps you may, subjectively enjoy them quite a bit - if not - they are easy to resell and try something else. To the guy who said they had SHP9500, liked them, and had considered upgrading to these before this review. I say still do it. The X2HR are a small nudge better than the SHP9500 is almost every way and I too like my SHP9500 (I still have). Sound between the two is certainly similar - a bit better bass and comfort on the X2HR when I compare them side by side.
 
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I have the original X2 and really love them. They're my current office cans. I really don't have anything bad to say about them, they are pleasant to listen to and easy to drive with a very hi-fi sound. I have some tinnitus in the jet engine range and peaky treble jumps out at me. My DT880s set it off, but I've never had a problem with the X2. Super comfortable too. I'm sad the new model doesn't live up to the old one.
 

DualTriode

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Yes, I know the WM61 modification and that you can increase dynamic range.

And yes the rig is calibrated in SPL and when you compare my plots to those of calibrated rigs you will see it comes very close.
Of course, with angled drivers it can be a few dB off in the 2-5kHz range.
The results from the rig (and its correction) have been 'confirmed' by ear using flat (at 1m) monitors compared at 1m to check if it is correct.

The 'still available' WM61A capsules' are all fakes. I had a bunch here and they measure differently from the few real WM61A.
They look exactly the same though.
Corrections “confirmed” by ear I am sure is the gold standard. I am also sure that my “confirmed” by ear headphones with corrections are not the same as yours.

“Confirmed” by ear has none of that precision or accuracy that objective measurements require.

If I can find them I will put a real WM61A capsule inside the headphone on the flat plane test fixture to see what the WM61A looks like next to a calibrated GRAS 46AO microphone. There is a baggie around here with new old stock capsules from years ago.

I have no clue about your corrections or calibration. Data?

Thanks DT
 

Francis Vaughan

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For some recordings, like The Beatles, Lady Madonna (Tidal, 2009 remaster) I find them gritty and harsh, for others like Cat Stevens, The First Cut Is The Deepest (Tidal) they sound unpleasantly bright. On a few occasions there can be a rather scary rumblimg in the deep base, for example on John Lennons rendition of Stand by Me (YouTube). But for 85-90% of my listening with more mellow recordings ( for example The Stranglers, Golden Brown or Nina Simone, Sinmerman - Tidal MQA)
One wonders what correlation there is between these preferences and the mastering systems used. These recordings cross a few generations of recording technology and even when remastered there is a huge range of possibilities in how the sound was treated and just what is meant by remaster.
Comparing preferences with the various phones equalised would be very interesting.
 

solderdude

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I have no clue about your corrections or calibration. Data?
https://www.mediafire.com/file/jdbtktl8z5dd1zs/WM61_mic_amp_B-PCB.pdf/file

Calibration (SPL) is done with a dB meter that I once calibrated when I had the chance to compare it to a 'real' one.

Corrections “confirmed” by ear I am sure is the gold standard. I am also sure that my “confirmed” by ear headphones with corrections are not the same as yours.
As you can see the corrections needed (bass correction) is what's confirmed by ear and has a 'natural' 6dB octave correction instead of the pre-determined 'bass boost' that could only be adjusted in level at Harman testing.
That correction is done 'by ear' using monitors and by listening at, to me, 'normal listening levels'.
That will differ from yours and is level dependent.
In level it actually is slightly different from Harman (mine is less 'boosted') and differently shaped.

I am NOT claiming to follow any standard nor have I ever. I made my own 'standard' suited for me. I don't give a crap about other standards nor that my method isn't peer reviewed and not considered accurate. :)
 

DualTriode

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https://www.mediafire.com/file/jdbtktl8z5dd1zs/WM61_mic_amp_B-PCB.pdf/file

Calibration (SPL) is done with a dB meter that I once calibrated when I had the chance to compare it to a 'real' one.



As you can see the corrections needed (bass correction) is what's confirmed by ear and has a 'natural' 6dB octave correction instead of the pre-determined 'bass boost' that could only be adjusted in level at Harman testing.
That correction is done 'by ear' using monitors and by listening at, to me, 'normal listening levels'.
That will differ from yours and is level dependent.
In level it actually is slightly different from Harman (mine is less 'boosted') and differently shaped.

I am NOT claiming to follow any standard nor have I ever. I made my own 'standard' suited for me. I don't give a crap about other standards nor that my method isn't peer reviewed and not considered accurate. :)
Okay then, when I hear you speak of measurements, plots, calibration and accuracy I will think of knots on a rope. As in “Mark Twain”.

https://www.thoughtco.com/what-does-twain-mean-740683
 

solderdude

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I never speak of accuracy and calibration when it concerns my acoustic measurements. Nor will those of others represent the whole truth. These measurements too are all suspect. The measurement equipement may well comply to standards but that doesn't mean much to me when it comes to acoustics and perception.

The word plot is clear.. a plot is a graphic representation of measurements regardless of the accuracy thereof.
 

DualTriode

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@solderdude,

If I stand on my head in the corner your plots are beginning to make a little more sense to me.

To help me see more clearly what you and your rig are measuring I would like to see your plots with all the personal preference, equal loudness contours and any other convolved stuff removed. With all your personal preference transfer function stuff included your plots are no longer measurements.

The vertical scale of your plots are labeled in dB’s. Please define the vertical scale, include something about equal loudness contours and personal preference things to avoid others being confused and thinking that it is Sound Pressure Level or something else objectively measured.
 

solderdude

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The bass correction is made public and fixed. It is not level dependent.


The vertical scale is dB SPL, I assume everyone gets that. It does not say 'Phon' so there is no equal loudness contours involved.

The shown plot is what comes out of the mic pre-amp in line level. It is the mic signal with 16kHz correction and bass correction.
The latter with a more natural slope and less compensation than the artificial bass boost from Harman but for the same reason.
 

richard12511

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That is not the point. I just asked for a correlation between the look at measurement results and actual listening.

There is always room for assumptions based on experience. Still, it remains kind of theory as long as it is not fully proven in practice, which is the actual listening on your head. No one can give a guarantee that a headphone that measures good does also sound good in practice. Same for the opposite.

Since we cannot try and own every can on earth we have to find some balance between those worlds.
My credo is to use measurements for orientation. not judgement.
This is very reasonable, but your first reply to him made it seem like you were saying that only owners(or people who've heard it) could offer performance opinions. Offering opinions and passing absolute judgment are different things imo. I don't mind reading opinions from either set of folks, though I'll obviously weight those opinions from owners more heavily. Still, there are very knowledgeable folks I'd like to hear from who may not have heard a particular headphone.
 

richard12511

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EDIT: actually I'm gonna say it's not that great value for the money as it's £25 more expensive than my favourite headphone the K702, which I think would outclass it based on the measurements I've seen along with my experience of the K702 (after EQ).
It can still be a great value without being as good as the K702. 'Great' doesn't necessitate 'best' ;)
 

Robbo99999

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It can still be a great value without being as good as the K702. 'Great' doesn't necessitate 'best' ;)
Ha, well that's quite true! I hope Amir measures the K702 one day....I think it could still be my favourite even if Amir wasn't to like it & if it didn't measure well, but I'm quite confident it would get an OK rating at least.
 

Jimmy

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The K702 and the Fidelio X2?? are like apples vs oranges, almost opposite poles of the spectrum, they can be complementary, the K702 is much more system dependent, regarding sound signature it's like a baby HD800 (saving the distance, of course), while the Philips is more like a pair of warm bookshelf speakers, but losing transparency in the process.

For regular users probably the Fidelios are a safer bet, although probably the K702s are technically superior but less enjoyable. For me both are not fully comfortable in different ways, the Philips because of weight and clamp pressure, the K702 because it causes me pain in the top of the head (and I'm not bald, so there's some natural cushioning).
 

DualTriode

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I never speak of accuracy and calibration when it concerns my acoustic measurements. Nor will those of others represent the whole truth. These measurements too are all suspect. The measurement equipement may well comply to standards but that doesn't mean much to me when it comes to acoustics and perception.

The word plot is clear.. a plot is a graphic representation of measurements regardless of the accuracy thereof.
Okay @solderdude, I think that I understand better now. The convent DIY place to put the bass adjustment is in the microphone preamplifier. It is your project; put the bass adjustment where it fits in the process for you.

My analytical processor wants to put the bass compensation somewhere else in the process.

At the point of putting the headphones on the flat plane test fixture I do not care how the headphones sound, I just want to know how they test. A consistent way of testing will make comparison of test results possible. You know things like noise, impedance, frequency response, sensitivity, distortion and stuff like that.

I like that you have removed fake and real ears from the process.

Measurements first, then theorizing, adjustments, listening, transfer functions, more theorizing and more testing. Wash, rinse and repeat in any order that you like.

Thanks DT

Thanks DT
 
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