Speakers Guide

Philips Fidelio Soundsphere Docking Speaker with AirPlay DS9800W review

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

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Overall rating 8.5/10
Attractive design
Detailed and punchy sound
Balanced delivery
Finicky AirPlay setup
Dock is only for charging purposes

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 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.