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

Launch SRP: S$1299

Design & Features

Black & Classy Pods

As shown earlier, the Philips Fidelio SoundSphere consists of three main components: a pair of cylindrical speakers and a charging dock. The package also includes a bunch of accessories, such as a power cable, an auxiliary cable, and a remote stick. Now, this set of lavish iPod docking speakers was obviously made to be seen as a centerpiece and not to be concealed in some dingy corner of the bedroom. For starters, the two black speaker cabinets are fashioned out of handcrafted wood with chrome-like accents rimming its drivers. Understandably, copious amounts of lacquer have been applied to the speakers to give it that shiny gloss. We also reckon that the wood-bending process involved in crafting these curvaceous cabinets has to factor into the product's hefty price tag as well. As for its drivers, the Fidelio SoundSphere carries an elevated 25mm tweeter erected over a 127mm mid-bass driver on each speaker unit. According to Philips, this "frees the tweeters from vibrations or standing waves with the bass/mid range driver in the main cabinet and also limits refraction caused by sound waves reaching the edge of a box or baffle edge".

The elevated 25mm soft dome tweeters are encased in a thick aluminium enclosure, while the 127mm mid-bass drivers are angled slightly forward to ensure "reproduced sound reaches the listener at the same time".

The soft speaker grilles are held in place by magnetic rims. They help protect the mid-bass drivers, and they are also easy to remove if need be.

Bass response on the Fidelio SoundSphere is augmented by curvaceous reflex ports situated behind the speaker cabinets.

The active speaker (left channel) houses a 2 x 50-watt digital amplifier as well as an integrated Wi-Fi adapter within. Turn the speaker around, and you'd spy a Wi-Fi setup and power buttons, plus a 3.5mm audio inlet if you prefer to wire your portable media or audio player to the DS9800W. A set of binding posts (speaker terminals) are found on both speakers. Apart from this, the Fidelio SoundSphere was designed to work predominantly with Apple's AirPlay, one which enables you to stream music from an iPhone, an iPod Touch, or an iPad, as long as the unit is connected to your home's wireless network. In other words, the bundled charging cradle is essentially a 'dumb' dock, used mainly for mounting and charging purposes. Another key highlight of the DS9800W is Philips' incorporated FullSound technology, something we've showcased during our trip to Leuven in 2010. In a nutshell, FullSound is a post-processing algorithm designed to restore 'lost' audio details related to compressed music files. We'll see how this holds up when we run the Fidelio SoundSphere through our slew of MP3 tests in a jiffy. 

Most of the controls are located behind the left speaker. And that includes a 3.5mm jack, standby button, status LED, Wi-Fi setup button, AC inlet, and a pair of binding posts.

Things are quite uneventful on the right channel. Given that most of the circuitry are housed within the left speaker, it's only natural to find a pair of speaker terminals here.

The charging cradle comes with a universal dock and a backrest to support the mobile device. Next to it is a simplistic remote with buttons for enabling playback via AirPlay or the auxiliary input.

8.5
Design
9
Performance
9
Features
8
Value
7.5
The Good
Attractive design
Detailed and punchy sound
Balanced delivery
The Bad
Finicky AirPlay setup
Dock is only for charging purposes