Philips Fidelio SoundSphere DS9800W Docking Speakers - High Fidelity At A High Price

Launch SRP: S$1299


Of Triffids & Docking Speakers

When I first laid eyes on Philips' Streamium Hi-Fi Micro System two years ago, I was instantly reminded of a literature classic I used to study in school. The book in question was "The Day of the Triffids", penned by John Wyndham in 1951. What's the relevance? For starters, Philips' elevated tweeters reminded me of the Triffids' bulbous head which extended from a stockier body via an elongated 'neck' or stem. The woofer below was reminiscent of the Triffids' body, although Philips' Streamium obviously lacked the Triffids' organic legs to walk on. More recently, Philips adapted a similar design with their high-end docking speaker system, or the Fidelio SoundSphere DS9800W Docking Speakers to be exact. By combining attributes from their Fidelio and SoundSphere range, the Dutch company has reworked their latest pair of docking speakers with a more curvaceous form factor (also known as SoundCurve) to reduce internal resonance within the speaker's chassis.

It might not fall into the same class as Lalique's exorbitant AeroSystem One iPod Tower (which costs 12,000 Euros), but Philips' DS9800W dock still comes with a rather hefty price tag for a pair of wireless speakers. Question: Is it worth its four-figure sum?

Priced at S$1,299, the DS9800W is currently Philips' most expensive pair of premium docking speakers; even more so than the Fidelio Primo DS9 we've reviewed not too long ago. You might notice there are no wires linking the central dock to the speakers. And that's because the DS9800W depends on Apple's AirPlay for audio transmissions instead of a wired solution. The dock is plainly for charging and mounting purposes, although it isn't necessary to leave your portable device there if you aren't charging it. Power, auxiliary, and binding cables to the speakers still apply though. The DS9800W also supports most permutations of Apple's mobile devices via its universal dock, and that includes the iPod Touch, the iPhone, and the iPad as well.

It all sounds sweet on paper, but to fork out more than a grand for a pair of stereo speakers is quite a tall order for most of us. Those who are interested in the inner workings of the Fidelio SoundSphere might want to know that the DS9800W carries a Cirrus Logic DSP. However, Philips was unusually coy about the speaker's specific chipset. Having said that, let's find out if these pods truly sound as good as they look.

The Good
Attractive design
Detailed and punchy sound
Balanced delivery
The Bad
Finicky AirPlay setup
Dock is only for charging purposes