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 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 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.
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 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 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.
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.