It was a strange sensation – the background hum of the bus engine disappeared from my ears but I could still feel the engine vibrations from the seat. That was one of my first experience when trying out the Philips Fidelio NC1. It has been a nice pair of headphones to accompany me for the last couple of weeks while loaned on review. The Fidelio NC1 is Philip’s first pair of noise cancelling headphones, featuring 40mm drivers/closed-back on-ear, memory foam cushions, and folds to a compact size to fit neatly in my daily commute bag.
The Fidelio NC1 uses four microphones to detect ambient noise and then sends out a cancellation noise to your ears, to nullify the background noise. Turning on the Active Noice Cancellation (ANC) does improve the listening volume and bass response. The Fidelio NC1 is a closed-back style headphones, which I feel results in the soundstage feeling compressed. It uses optimized 40mm neodymium drivers which offer high fidelity. The headphones are rather neutral sounding, which is good. It is not the bass-heavy type of headphones and offers good clarity. Overall, I found it to be a well-balanced pair.
The headphones sport a black, aluminium dual tone design and looks rather professional. They are supra-aural style headphones, and while they are small and light, the ear cups are rather small, and therefore do not provide a full seal with the ears. This allows external sound to leak in though. While the noise cancellation feature generally works for the softer and continuous background noise, external music or voice chatter would still slip through. The good thing is the memory foam ear cups are rather comfortable. Coupled with the light weight, I was able to listen to comfortably for a couple of hours.
Unlike most noise cancellation headphones, the Fidelio NC1 keeps working with or without the battery. If the battery runs out, simply turn off the ANC and continue on your sound journey. This is a similar feature on the Bose QC25 that was introduced in Sep 2014. It charges with the micro USB port and you’ll get 30 hours of active noise cancelling per charge.
• Weight: 0.191 kg
• Acoustic system: Closed
• Diaphragm: PET
• Magnet type: Neodymium
• Maximum power input: 150 mW
• Sensitivity: 107 dB
• Speaker diameter: 40 mm
• Frequency response: 7 – 25 000 Hz
• Impedance: 16 ohm
• Type: Dynamic
• Connector: 3.5 mm stereo
• Finishing of connector: Gold plated
• Type of cable: Copper
• Accessories: Airplane plug, 1.0 m USB charging cable, 1.2 m audio cable, Travel case
The Philips Fidelio NC-1 is a good pair of headphones with active noise cancellation. The noise cancellation feature generally works well but sound isolation could have been improved with fuller ear cups. The NC-1 retails for $499 in Singapore, and at that price, it would definitely be compared to the Bose QC-25. I haven’t had a chance to review that set, but I had listened to the earlier generation Bose noise cancelling headphones and I think the Bose noise cancelling capabilities might still be a little better. On that note, the area where the Fidelio NC-1 excels is the design. It not only looks good, the Philips Fidelio NC1 has also been really comfortable to use.