Value for money 2/5
Apple may have started the talk
about Lightning-connected headphones, but Philips is the first to
deliver such a product with the Fidelio M2L. This pair of headphones
uses a Lightning cable instead of an audio cable that plugs into a
3.5mm headphone jack.
Having a Lightning connection means the M2L works with a digital
audio signal, unlike most headphones that work with analogue signals.
The digital signal feeds its built-in 24-bit 48kHz digital-to-analogue
converter (DAC) for a high resolution sound quality.
It also means that this pair of ear-phones functions only with Lightning-compatible sources, such as the iPhone from Apple, the iPod or the iPad.
In terms of looks, it resembles any other pair of headphones. It has
a cushioned leather headband and two earcups, each housing a 40mm
neodymium driver. The hinged headband lets you to fold the earcups flat
On the right earcup is a small volume control rocker and a clickable ear shell.
Turn the rocker up or down to increase or lower the volume. Press
the ear shell once to play or pause a song, twice to skip forward, and
three times to skip backward. Rewind a song by pressing the ear shell
three times and holding it.
Its all-black design looks classy. I also like the comfortable
memory-foam earpads. The M2L's 24-bit DAC may be overkill if your main
music source is the iTunes Store, or if you only use Apple's iOS music
app. This is because iTunes sells largely 16-bit lossy music tracks,
while the iOS music app can stream only 16-bit music.
To tap its full potential, you should feed it with lossless music,
like those ripped in the Flac format. To play such music via iOS
devices, you will have to use third-party apps such as Flac Player+ or
I tested the headphones with Flac-encoded classical tunes. I also
listened to Mastered for iTunes (MfiT) pop songs from the iTunes Store.
MfiT tracks are said to sound better than others at the store. I used
both the iPhone 6 Plus and latest-generation iPod Touch.
The M2L impressed with classical tunes. With Claude Debussy's Jeux
de vagues, for instance, I could hear the different instruments
clearly, while bass was strong and not overbearing. Indeed, its dynamic
and full-bodied delivery sounded so good, it made me want to throw away
the well-regarded EarPods earphones that came with my iPhone and iPod
But things got much closer with pop tracks. I found the EarPods
nearly as enjoyable as the M2L with such tracks, especially when it
came to vocals.
Overall, I am happy with the sound quality of the M2L. Ironically, I
feel that its biggest bugbear has to do with one of its main selling
point. By going with Lightning and doing away with a 3.5mm connection,
it excludes the headphones from use with many regular mobile devices
and music players.
The Philips Fidelio M2L looks good and sounds great, but its Lightning connection narrows your music playing device options.