Philips fidelio L3 review: The most sophisticated Bluetooth headphones on the market – The Independent

January 20, 2022 by No Comments

There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and the regular release of wireless headphones. The market is as saturated as kitchen paper in a swimming pool, with a legion of £100-200 pairs that are perfectly acceptable for the vast majority of listeners as a solid investment in their audio enjoyment.

Once you get to the upper end of that price bracket and above, you’re stepping into serious territory. There are some regular members of the 200+ club: brands like Sony, Bose and Sennheiser produce headphones of such quality that it’s hard to know where to go next in terms of improvement.

One brand that has moved away from its audio roots in recent years is Dutch leviathan Philips. Founded in 1891 as a lightbulb manufacturer, it was a few years later that the company went into radio building, one of the many electronics products the brand was trusted to produce.

However, a change of direction in 2013 saw the word “Electronics” dropped from the name and a refocus on healthcare technology. Luckily, that’s not to say that the audio arm of Philips is lost to time: enter the Philips fidelio L3 Bluetooth ANC headphones. Finding themselves in the rarefied company of the Bluetooth big dogs, the brand’s reputation for sound partly relies on the success of the L3s. Do they manage to live up to the name?

How we tested

Like all headphones reviews, we made sure to give the L3s a real run out, both in terms of musical versatility and pure wearability. We wore them for most of a working day, including while writing this review, to test their physical comfort along with the vibrancy of their sound: do they begin to get a little boring after a while listening to them? Does the sound start to feel flat, or do they retain your attention?

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On top of that, we tested the active noise cancellation (ANC) capabilities: could we hear external noise when in full ANC mode? Does transparency (or “awareness” to Philips) offer a usable way of speaking to someone while still wearing the headphones? We also used the L3s to call a very patient friend who helps to test each pair we review for their call quality. In a way, we’ve really tested the friendship more than headphones.

Philips fidelio L3 headphones: £259,


  • Noise cancellation: Adaptive ANC
  • Weight: 360g
  • Battery life: 32 hours with ANC (38 hours ANC off), with six hours from 15-minute fast charge
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1 with aptX-HD, 2.5mm headphone socket
  • Rating: 9/10


The fidelio L3s certainly look the part: they’re a mature, sophisticated pair of headphones that would suit pretty much any situation. You can imagine an advertising campaign starring attractive 30- and 40-somethings that take the headphones “from the boardroom to the basketball court” or a similar punchy tagline (we’re available for ad commissions, Philips).

The cups are quite large, with an exoskeleton that connects the headband to each and serves to add some flexibility to the fit. It looks good and does the trick, helped by the Muirhead Cairngorm leather cushioning on each can that makes wearing the L3s for prolonged periods a doddle. The headband keeps the L3s perfectly in place without straining your …….



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