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Philips Fidelio M1 on-ear headphones review: Clear-sounding, comfortable headphones

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Last year we reviewed the Philips Fidelio L1 headphones, a $299 full-size model that our reviewer Steve Guttenberg described as beautifully built and a true audiophile headphone that sounds sweet with portable audio devices and home hi-fi systems.

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7.2

Philips Fidelio M1 on-ear headphones

The Good

The <b>Philips Fidelio M1s</b> offer clear, natural sound and a very comfortable fit for on-ear headphones. They also fold flat, have an attractive design, and have an inline one-button remote/microphone for making cell phone calls. A protective carrying pouch is included.

The Bad

Sound comes across a little recessed.

The Bottom Line

While they fall short of delivering truly excellent sound, the well-designed Philips Fidelio M1 on-ear headphones are comfortable to wear and well-suited for day-to-day use.

However, due to its size, the L1 model isn't suited to mobile use, whereas the step-down M1 -- true to the "M" in its name -- is.

The M1 on-ear headphones feature a fairly slick and lightweight design, as well as a notably comfortable fit. They also sound quite decent, offering clear, well-balanced sound that fans of more natural-sounding headphones will like.

Design and features
What I liked about the M1s is that they fit snugly but didn't put too much pressure on your ears. There's some memory foam in the earcups, which helps increase the comfort factor, and the headphones are fairly lightweight, though they manage to feel sturdy at the same time.

The comfortable M1s have memory foam in their earpads. Sarah Tew/CNET

The headphone cord is detachable but it doesn't detach from the earpiece -- rather, the cord is integrated into the earpiece, but the connector is situated a few inches down the cord. The placement does make the cord a little easier to detach, but some people prefer cords that connect directly to the earpiece.

The cord is cloth-covered and seems sturdy, and what's nice is that it doesn't make any noise when it rubs against your clothing. Some cloth-covered cords do.

The headphones fold flat and include a carrying pouch. Sarah Tew/CNET

The cord has an inline one-button inline remote and microphone. Tap the button twice and your track skips forward. Tap it three times and it skips back. It also serves as a call/end answer button for cell-phone calls. (There are no volume controls).

The headphones fold flat, but don't fold up. A simple but nice carrying pouch is included.

The cable is detachable and incorporates an inline remote/microphone. Sarah Tew/CNET

Performance
As I said above, I liked the sound of the M1s. They sound clear and are pretty warm, neutral headphones that don't overaccentuate the bass or treble. They don't deliver a ton of bass, which will probably disappoint bass lovers, but otherwise are pleasant headphones to listen to for long periods. They're well matched to a variety music types, though hip-hop isn't one of them.

What keeps the M1s from sounding truly excellent is that they aren't terribly open or "airy" headphones; the sound feels a little recessed (the soundstage just doesn't seem all that wide).

Close-up of the headband. Sarah Tew/CNET

At around $120 online, I compared them with the $100 Noontec Zoro HD headphones, which are modeled after the Beats Solo but cost less and sound better. The Zoro HDs offer a little more dynamic and open sound than the M1s, but I found the Philips more comfortable to wear.

Another model I had on hand for comparison was the Jabra Revo headphones, which cost around $150 online. They're similar in terms of comfort to the Philips but offer more bass.

Straight-on view. Sarah Tew/CNET

Used as a headset for phone calls, the M1 headphones performed fairly well. The microphone may be a little low for some people's tastes (you'll probably find yourself pulling it up closer to your mouth when you're making calls), but callers said I sounded OK, and I could hear them fine. Of course, your results will vary according to your environment and how much ambient noise there is.

Conclusion
The Philips M1 is a very likable headphone model for day-to-day use. They may not offer truly excellent sound for the money, but it's quite decent, and just as importantly, they're very comfortable for on-ear headphones; they're right there with the Bose OE2i headphones, which I consider among the most comfortable as on-ear pairs go.

Ideally, of course, you'd find a model that offers fantastic sound and great comfort for a good price. The Philips Fidelio M1 headphones don't quite get there, but as long as you aren't looking for big bass, they're a solid, versatile day-to-day pair.

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7.2

Philips Fidelio M1 on-ear headphones

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Sound 7Value 7