Philips Fidelio P9 Review

Philips Fidelio P9

Music is something people from all over the world can relate to and appreciate. Most people carry around their music by plugging their white earphones into their ears and pressing play on their favorite iDevice. What happens if you want that portable experience, but want to share the music with other people, like those boom boxes from the 80’s people used to carry on their shoulders? Luckily, this is the year of 2013 and technology has advanced to streaming audio over Bluetooth and having great batteries lasting for days.

The first real contact with a modern day boom box for me personally was a couple of years ago when the original Jambox from Jawbone was released. It had superior sound quality for such a small size and for that price. Times change, and Jawbone recently released a new, bigger version of their popular speaker – the Big Jambox.

This time however, other players have entered the market as well, competing for both the smaller form-factor of the original Jambox and for the larger one as well. I was convinced that there had to be something else out there with features matching, or even surpassing, those of the Jambox.

Philips recently released their new premium speaker Fidelio P9 (the link goes to the Swedish site. It is not yet available on the US site, but Google Translate may help), and it looked like the perfect portable speaker featuring natural materials such as leather, metal and wood. A lot of care and consideration has been put into not only getting a great sound, but the timeless design and smart features.

The outside

The speaker is carefully wrapped in a built-in and non-detachable leather cover, which also doubles as a stand. The detachable side of the leather flap has magnets similar to the iPad SmartCover built-in, which are used to securely fasten the cover when used as a stand. When closed, it keeps the cover firmly in place, and as a smart feature, it automatically turns the speaker off after a few seconds, just like when the SmartCover turns the iPad off.

The stand can be used in several different positions, making it easy to tilt the speaker to get the perfect speaker-to-ear angle.

The battery level can be viewed simply by touching the speaker. Four different white diodes briefly light up to indicate the current charge, and fades away after a few seconds.

The ports

The speaker does not use a standard micro-USB port for charging, but instead has an old-fashioned charger. This is usually no problem, since you will get around eight hours of battery life according to the specs, which lets you keep your charger at home, or at least in a bag.

In addition to Bluetooth audio using A2DP, the P9 speaker also includes a standard 3.5mm jack for plugging in devices without Bluetooth. There is no audio cable included in the package though, which really a bit strange for a premium product, considering that one of their main competitor, Jawbone, includes a great flat cable with their speakers.

The leather cover is not the only “smart” feature. There is a standard USB port on one side of the speaker, which lets you charge your iPhone or other USB powered device, taking power from the speaker batteries. This is a fantastic feature, and there have been reports of getting three complete iPhone charges from the speaker.

The inside

If we remove the speaker grille and take a look behind, we find four 2 inch full range woofers, and two 3/4 inch soft dome tweeters. There are in addition two passive elements on the back using Philips wOOx technology for an increased bass response.

These speakers put out 20W RMS, which is enough to fill a normal sized room without any problem.

The sound

The most important property of a speaker when it comes down to it, still has to be the sound quality – and this is where the P9 really excels. The sound is crystal clear even when turned up loud, much thanks to the separate tweeters and wOOx membranes. If you are a fan of loud music, you will not be disappointed.

The problems

The Fidelio P9 is a great product with few shortcomings, but there are however a couple of small annoyances.

From time to time, when you connect to the speaker using Bluetooth, the connection can suddenly drop and reconnect causing a skip in the music. The solution is to disconnect the Bluetooth connection from my iPad and reconnect the speaker. For some reason, it will work fine at least until the next time the speaker is connected to a device.

Another small issue has to do with the leather cover. It is fastened with screws on the speaker, but the cover is not perfectly aligned with the speaker, meaning that the center of the cover does not match the center of the speaker. It is easily visible on the edges, and the difference is at least a couple of millimeters.

Conclusion

After using the speaker for a while, I have to say that I am very satisfied with it. It works great and sounds fantastic. I have been using it with everything from romantic dining music to Friday night parties, and it has worked great in every instance I have tried it.

The only thing missing is the 3.5mm audio cable which is not included in the package. Without it, I can not test the speaker when playing games such as Call of Duty, since the slight delay would cause things to become terribly confusing.

XBMC and Spotify

XBMC is a superb media center application for your Home Theatre PC, and thanks to OpenSpotify it is now possible to do all sorts of integration — for instance integrating Spotify in XBMC!

The project is called spotyxbmc so just download it and try it out. It is built from the latest XBMC release so you should be good, just copying over your user profile.

Cool features include the ability to import Spotify albums into your own music library, which blurs the lines between local and remote music in a beautiful way. It is also possible to browse your playlists and the various top lists. Just one thing, it requires a Premium Spotify account.

Remember that this is alpha, so it does crash occasionally. Fortunately, just restart xbmc and you are good to go.

“Lips” playlist in Spotify

To rival the Singstar empire, Lips was recently released for Xbox 360. It’s a great game and it has lots of songs. More songs can be downloaded from the Xbox Market Place.

I added all default songs to a Spotify playlist so you can listen them all. This is for the Swedish release of the game, since the songs are sure to differ depending on the intended market. Enjoy!

Spotify Lips

iPhone app: Tap Tap Revenge

It’s time for the first iPhone game to be featured here. The game is called Tap Tap Revenge and is a music game in the spirit of Guitar Hero. The graphics are great and with the recent update, the game has become far more stable and a lot faster.

The most welcome feature in the game is definitely the online play capability. In this mode, one can battle many players in three different difficulty modes. If you don’t have the song being played in the current room, it will be downloaded automatically. This works very well, as long as the song download isn’t interrupted.

You will definitely have lots of fun for hours with this game, it’s free and available in the App store! There is really no excuse for not trying this game.

Spotify — the future of music

Spotify, now in public beta, takes a whole new approach to music. All music resides on the Spotify servers, and as a user, you stream the music using the internet.

Where it gets interesting is that you can either pay a fixed fee and listen all music you want without any interruptions. There is also a free option, where short commercial messages are inserted between songs in intervals which seem to be around half an hour.

Since the software is in public beta, you need an invite to use the service. If I happen to have an invite, I will of course share it with commenters to this post. There is another option though — paying for the service for a month. If you like the service after using it for a month, just continue paying or terminate the subscription. Your account will then become a free account, and you can continue to use Spotify, but with the ads injected.

There is a Windows and Mac client available at this moment. There have been reports that the Windows version works fine in Linux using Wine, so definitely try it out.

So how does is look like? The following view shows what is new in Spotify.

The next image shows the top list. This can be customised to only show a specific country or the whole world.

The main album view looks like the following. On the top, there are five top hits for that particular artist. It is followed by all albums available, and singles follow. The next section is devoted to albums where the current artist has one or more tracks, which are highlighted.

I have some suggestions to make Spotify even better (in no particular order):

  • Last.FM integration.
  • Music browser (browse by genre, year, artists etc.).
  • Mechanism to correct faulty tags.
  • Social part where users can share songs, playlists and watch each others listening habits.
  • iPhone application

Some of these points seem to be in progress right now, but time will have to tell what will happen in the future when the services goes mainstream, which I am sure they will, as long as they can provide a smooth service without interruptions and errors.

Trying out GarageBand

Being a Mac user, I of course have iLife installed, but GarageBand is one application which I haven’t tried out — until now.

[audio:http://johnny.chadda.se/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/my-song.mp3|titles=My Song]

GarageBand makes it super easy to create your own song even if you can’t play any instruments. There are hundreds of free high quality samples to choose from if there is need. There are also external Jam packs which extends the basic package to include vocals and other instruments.

GarageBand

I created this song in a matter of minutes. The samples are of course from the bundled library, but it’s very easy to record and arrange your own instruments. Yes, the vocal track is empty. I thought I’d spare your ears.

Download song