The IFA tech show might not be going ahead in the traditional sense this year but manufacturers are still using it as an online platform to launch new products. Philips is a good example: the Dutch firm is launching a swathe of new audio products in 2020, including a new pair of premium ANC headphones – the Philips Fidelio L3 – that will appear in shops later on this year.
Very much the headline act, the Philips Fidelio L3 headphones go head-to-head with market leaders like the Sony WH-1000XM4 and the Bose 700 Series and come with some attractive-looking features.
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As most premium headphones seem to these days, the headphones have ANC (active noise cancellation). However, Philips is also focussing strongly on comfort and convenience with a premium leather headband, manufactured by Scottish firm Muirhead, and the ability to pause and resume playback when the headphones are removed from your ears and put back on again.
In terms of design, the L3 looks a lot like a wireless version of the premium Philips Fidelio X3 launched earlier this year complete with an anodised pair of aluminium arms holding circular earcups suspended within.
Touch controls are built into the surfaces of those earcups and the headphones come with support for Bluetooth 5 and the aptX HD audio codec (as well as AAC and SBC).
Philips also said it had been working hard on the passive noise cancellation, introducing “superior memory foam” and leather to deaden ambient noise in conjunction with improved “hybrid” active noise-cancelling technology.
Battery life on the new headphones is a claimed 30 hours with ANC continually on – not too shabby – and the L3 also come with Google Assistant compatibility. The price of the Fidelio L3 will be £300 and they’ll be available to buy in October 2020.
Philips also took the opportunity to announce a cheaper pair of over-ear headphones – the H9505 – which sit between the new L3 and the superb-value Philips PH805. The H9505 will cost £250 and will be available slightly later, in November 2020.
Alongside the new headphones, Philips unveiled a barrage of other new audio products, topped by a pair of new Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbars, the Philips Fidelio B95 and B97. The latter looks the most interesting of these. Just like the older Philips B5 soundbar it comes with detachable, battery-powered speakers that can be positioned to the side or behind your seating position to provide full surround sound “on-demand”.
The Fidelio B97 is a 7.1.2 soundbar and it looks pretty beefy on paper. The system has a total of 17 drivers – six tweeters, eight bass/mid woofers, two upwards firing Atmos speakers and one 8in bass driver in the supplied wireless subwoofer – and it’s powered by 500W of amplification in the soundbar and 240W in the sub.
There’s support for both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X – good news for Blu-ray fans – and Philips also claims it’s the world’s first IMAX Enhanced Certified soundbar. Additionally, you’re getting Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa support.
The Philips Fidelio B95 is the cut-back version of the B97 but still looks like it will pack a punch. Just like the B97 it comes with Atmos and DTS:X support. However, it lacks the surround on-demand system of the B97 and delivers audio over a 5.1.2 channel setup instead of 7.1.2.
The Fidelio B97 and B95 will cost £1,000 and £800 respectively.
Rounding off the selection of new audio products is a pair of new wireless smart speakers: the 40W W6205 and the larger 80W W6505. Designed to work over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the speakers support Chromecast, Apple Airplay and Spotify Connect.
In addition, both have Alexa and Google Assistant capabilities and LED lights that can be synchronised with a Philips TV’s Ambilight system.