HANDS-ON: Philips Fidelio SoundSphere DS9800 speakers with Airplay

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First revealed back in May, Philips’ Fidelio SoundSphere DS9800 speakers represent the brand’s top end in home audio, not only in terms of sound quality, but in their unusual design too. We headed down to a press preview to catch a glimpse of the speakers. Here are Tech Digest’s hands-on thoughts as to what £699 worth of audio gear looks and sounds likes.

The Philips Fidelio SoundSphere DS9800 speakers are quite unlike any speakers you’ll have ever seen. Like two lopsided, foot-high, half-cut aubergines, the speaker’s tweeters sit outside of the main body of the unit on the end of a branch-like bracket. It looks great, but it’s more than a simple matter of aesthetics; they result in a less directional soundscape, meaning you should get a decent feeling of stereo separation no matter where you are stood in relation to them. It also means that the sound pumped from the larger drivers within each unit won’t interfere as badly with the tweeter’s cross-over range frequencies. As a result, you get a beautifully crisp sound, highly detailed, but with the potential for bowel-rumbling bass.

The addition of AirPlay support means this set is most likely to appeal to Apple fans, allowing for wireless streaming from Macs, iPod Touch devices, iPads and iPhones. This negates the need for a central control unit, and while the speakers do look a little lonely as a result, you can imagine them fitting in beautifully at an Ideal Home Show “Home of Tomorrow”.

Though AirPlay support means that there’s no need for a physical dock, Philips do offer one that charges Apple devices (but does not send audio to the speakers) should you still need a central focal point for your music collection. Those of you who don’t buy into the cult of Apple can still enjoy your music through the speakers too by using the AUX Input on the unit’s rear, though of course this adds an extra cable, alongside the one tethering the two speakers together, into the equation.

An iOS app however further shows which tech fanbase Philips are aiming at with the SoundSpheres. It offers full volume, playlists and sleep timer functions among others, meaning once the speakers are plugged in and placed in your living room, you should in theory never have to go anywhere near them ever again.

£699 is a lot of money for a speaker set, but it seems you’re definitely getting what you pay for here. The Fidelio SoundSphere DS9800 speakers look and sound great. We’ll keep you posted on our more exacting thoughts when we get some more hands-on time with the speakers in the coming weeks.

Scroll down for some more pics of the Philips Fidelio SoundSphere DS9800 speakers

Gerald Lynch

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