Our VerdictThese entertaining, comfortable cans are really worth a look-in ForSmooth, neutral soundRhythmicTaut, punchy bassGood…
Best Philips Fidelio B5 Black Friday Deals 2021
A nifty little soundbar that provides a thrilling, immersive surround sound performance
Expansive, immersive and open sound
Subtle detail and exciting dynamics
Features multiroom/surround speakers
The Philips Fidelio B5 is a shape-shifter – a soundbar that, because of two detachable speakers, can transform itself right into a surround sound system, in addition to a Bluetooth-powered multiroom system. All of this from one package no extra wires.
The B5 may be the natural successor to the 2013 Award-winning HTL9100, with the multiroom aspect being the largest update.
The B5 can be less expensive at £550 – the HTL9100 was £600 whenever we first tested it.
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But this shape-shifting soundbar is no gimmick. Whether you’re using it as an easy soundbar or as a surround system, the Fidelio B5 gives a hugely entertaining and viable surround sound performance.
It’s a great intensify from your own TV’s sound. The B5 breathes texture and dynamics into an bout of Doctor Who, with the special effects sounding punchier than they might coming straight out the TV’s speakers. Voices are obvious, subtle and filled with character.
The sound is satisfyingly solid, too. There’s an authoritative weight running through the entire balanced frequency range, lending solidity to the smooth high class, in addition to delivering a lot of wallop and grit to the bass performance.
With the thunderous action of Mad Max: Fury Road on screen, the B5 is nuanced enough to tell apart the many textures and layers of different engines roars. It’s a convincing performance, with the B5 maintaining the fast-paced action.
If we’d one criticism, it could be that the Q Acoustics Media 4 (£330) is merely an impression more cohesive and insightful.
However, the B5 offers an open and spacious sound that’s unmatched by rivals in this cost range, including the Sony HT-RT5 or the Yamaha YSP-1600. It’s an extraordinary spread of sound, causing you to feel completely immersed in what you’re watching. Even Pointless sounds that bit grander.
With the trunk speakers deployed, that sense of immersion is enhanced. The rears don’t attract undue attention (unlike those of the Sony HT-RT5). Instead, they subtly add atmosphere to the B5’s efficiency.
Most impressively of most, there are no gaps between your bar and the rears. All elements of the B5 – the key bar, the subwoofer and the rears – integrate seamlessly, creating an in depth and balanced circle of sound.
The B5 performs admirably with music, too. Streamed over Bluetooth, Fiona Apple’s EACH AND EVERY Night is lively and detailed, with her lilting vocals profiting from the B5’s agile rhythm and handled dynamics.
Snap the rears back to place, and the song sounds more solid and cohesive with the entire soundbar intact.
Build and design
The B5 looks every inch a lifestyle product, using its curved, flat design, elegant cloth finish and sleek aluminium panel. Build and finish quality are impeccable. You need to make space for this before your TV, however the design is flat enough that it won’t obstruct underneath edge of the screen.
Beneath the cloth grille, you can find two 7.5cm drivers and two 25mm soft-dome tweeters, whilst every rear satellite contains one full-range driver. The downward-firing wireless subwoofer packs 90W of claimed power.
It’s tall and fairly slim, so that it is simple to tuck away in the corner of your room.
Now for the shape-shifting part: the ends of the soundbar detach smoothly to be rear speakers – or multi-room speakers – that talk to the soundbar wirelessly.
The B5 is clever enough to discover when the ends detach, with the ‘surround on-demand’ option on each flicking to transform them into rear speakers.
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Place them behind you as you’ll with traditional rear speakers, (we’d recommend dedicated means them, although they are able to just as easily rest on any surface), and unlike rivals including the Sony HT-RT5, they don’t need any extra wires to plug them in to the mains. It’s a stylish and cleverly-designed system.
The trunk speakers are battery-powered, with each lasting up to claimed 10 hours when in surround mode (five if using Bluetooth). The LED changes colour from white to red to point when the battery is low. To recharge, just reattach them to the key soundbar unit.
Philips also contains an auto-calibration set-up to make sure you get the perfect surround sound from the B5. The calibration only works when the trunk speakers are deployed, another clever touch from Philips.
Press the calibration button on the remote and it’ll optimise the 4.1 system to fit your room in seconds.
Features and connectivity
You get two HDMI inputs and an output with ARC (audio return channel), alongside single inputs apiece for coaxial, optical, and some analogue RCA.
You can stream songs from your own smart device using aptX Bluetooth. Pairing is swift, while compatible devices makes it a swifter process using one-touch NFC (near-field communication). Simply tap your device against the NFC logo on the proper side of the central metal stripe.
Both rear speakers could be switched into Bluetooth mode, and since they’re completely wireless and easily portable, you may take them into different rooms, and voila! – a multiroom system, without extra set-up, wires or fiddling with apps.
The Philips Fidelio B5 is an outstanding soundbar that is distinguishable from its price rivals. For £550, you get a satisfying, cinematic performance.
The true competition for the Philips Fidelio B5 may be the Award-winning Q Acoustics Media 4. The Media 4 doesn’t have any HDMI connections or detachable rear speakers for surround, nonetheless it does delivering a stunningly detailed, musical and dynamic sound for £330.
However, that doesn’t eliminate from precisely how enjoyable the Fidelio B5 is. The ingenious design, its expansive and detailed sound quality,