The Philips Fidelio E6/12 (or just E6) Wireless surround cinema speakers is a speaker set with build in amplifier listing a modern feature set including: Google Cast, Spotify Connect, One-Touch NFC connect for Bluetooth pairing. The set consist of a sub woofer and two satellite speakers. The top part of the satellite speakers can be detached. This allows it to be moved to the rear of the room to form a surround setup. These wireless surround speakers then operate on a build-in chargeable battery. They can also be used as Bluetooth speakers, functioning independent from the main unit, an improvement over the E5 version of the product.
For a full list you can refer to the brochure on the Philips Website: http://www.p4c.philips.com/cgi-bin/cpindex.pl?scy=CH&slg=EN&ctn=E6/12
Overall I find the build quality quite good. The product looks neatly assembled. There are no noticeable seams and the cloth covering the speakers is nicely stretched over them. The construction seems well thought trough. The build-in amplifier doesn't generate a lot of heat. The wireless surround speakers have a rubber like material bottom which prevents damage to surfaces on which they are place and also ensures they don't easily slip when you place them on a couch for instance. The main speakers have a grating supporting the cloth with prevents fingers from being pushed into the speakers.
The only exception I noted is the sub woofer. It has a clearance between the floor plate and the sub woofer which is big enough for fingers to fit in. I almost accidentally damaged the sub woofer driver when taking it out of the box by lifting it with my fingers stuck into the driver. You cannot see this gap when taking the sub woofer out of the box as the sub woofer is covered in an additional foam bag. This gap is something to keep in mind when unpacking the product and when you have toddlers in the house.
The proprietary cable that connects the left and right speaker was defective in my set. The replacement cable I received from the shop functioned properly.
My sub woofer occasionally emits some audible high frequency noise when the unit is not in use. (The sub woofer is always connected to the mains.)
Overall I find the product easy to use. Most of the features are easily accessible and their purpose is clear. It shows that it is not the first iteration of the product as improvements have been made based on experiences with previous versions. For instance, many reviews of the E5 version state that it is somewhat inconvenient that you cannot see what input is currently selected. The E6 include a display in the right speaker which gives this kind of user feedback. The display is nicely positioned behind the cloth, is well readable despite this position. When the speakers are turned off, the display is unnoticeable behind the cloth maintaining the classy look.
The sub woofer communicates wireless making it easy to position it in the room. The cable connecting the to speakers is decently long.
There is still some room for improvement though. You cannot exchange the left and right speaker. The left speaker features the connection to the mains. The right speaker features the optical, USB, Ethernet, and audio in and HDMI connections. If the HDMI connection on your TV are on the left, swapping the speakers could have been convenient.
Setup of the product is required to connect it to your Wi-Fi network and allow Chrome Cast to operate. The product will remind you to perform this setup every time you active it, until you have performed this setup. Almost all tasks can be performed via the included IR remote, but this setup needs to be done via the app. The app is available for Android and iOS but not for Windows and Windows Phone.
The app is easy to use initially starts with a basic tutorial and informs you of the available privacy settings (for Chrome Cast).
Besides being able to function as independent Bluetooth speakers the wireless surround speakers can also be paired to function as stereo Bluetooth speaker set. This is less intuitive but well described in the manual. You need to press the Bluetooth button on both speakers to switch them to Bluetooth mode and then press the power button shortly to pair them together.
Position the wireless surround speakers onto the main units requires proper (a bit careful) positioning to make sure they make connection (and start charging).
In line with the overall experience most features function as you would expect them to. I experience no problem using Bluetooth in combination with Android, Windows and Windows Phone devices. NFC pairing works nicely. DTS and Dolby decoding worked fine for me after I corrected some settings on my set top box. The speakers briefly display what kind of signal (PCM, Dolby, etc.) is being received when they receive a new signal over HDMI. This is great when debugging why your setup isn't working as expected. Since not listed in the feature set I suppose that HD audio (like Dobly-HD) is not supported. As indicated here: http://www.trustedreviews.com/philips-fidelio-e5-review this is also the case for the E5 version. Also there is no DLNA support. And when using HDMI pass though devices lost the ability to detect the resolution of the attached display. On the plus side: the fact that the amplifier is integrated and that a bass is handled by a sub woofer means really cleans up the living room. The two satellite speakers are modest in size and have a classy design.
I am going to review the audio quality by comparing the speakers to similarly priced and more expensive speakers.
The volume scales well. It can adjusted in small increments allowing the speaker to be used a low volume levels suitable for viewing movies late a night when neighbors or housemates shouldn't be disturbed. It cranks up to levels which are far to loud for our living room.
At all volume levels I found the sound quality the be on par with the price of the set. The high is defined, sparkly and clear. The mid is clear and defined. The bass I found somewhat underwhelming. It is a bit muddy, and by default I found it too loud, consistent with many reviewers of the E5 version. Fortunately the bass and treble relative volume settings can be adjusted. When I compare the sound quality to some similarly priced Alesis Prolinear 720 studio monitors featuring a 7 inch woofer I find the sound quality to be equal except for the bass, which is tighter and less muddy on the Alesis set. Of course these studio monitors don't have such an extensive feature set. The Philips set features a 2.5 inch full range driver per wireless surround speakers. A 19 inch soft dome tweeter and two 3 inch full range drivers in per satellite speaker and a 6.5 inch woofer in the sub woofer.
When I compare the sound quality to a set of Warfdale speakers with 1 treble unit, two 3.5 inch drivers and an 8 inch woofer per speaker (similar speakers retail for around €550,- per piece excluding amplifier these days) I find the high and mid perform slightly less and mainly notice the better bass performance of the Warfdale speakers. Of course these include larger and dual (integrated) sub woofers, so this is to be expected. I also noticed less dead spots (bass only) in the room with these speakers, which is due to the fact that these feature two sub woofers (according to Wikipedia). After some experiments I was able to position the sub woofer such that the bass sound is quite acceptable from all positions on the couch.
When watching movies I found the sound good. The option to use the speakers in a surround setup is really nice and functions well. Voices are clear, and if you want you can really feel the bass.
When listening to music I find the sound to be quite acceptable. If you want the best sound you can get or want to do professional audio mixing this set is not for you. If you throw in a party tough your friends will have little to complain about.
When using the wireless surround speakers independent from the main unit (on Bluetooth) keep in mind that you are only using the 2.5 inch driver. It will sound better that your average cell phone speaker but don't expect any miracles.
With the arrival of more and more smart and connected devices the ability to be future proof becomes more and more of an issue due to the rapidly changing standards and company proprietary services being used. I for one would like to be able to use a speaker set at this price point for at least 10 years.
With the viewpoint described above there are pros and cons about this set. The fact that the speakers and amplifier are integrated meas that the connectivity (Bluetooth, HDMI, etc.) cannot be upgraded without replacing the whole set. Fortunately the set employs many standards such as optical (toslink), HDMI and Bluetooth which are likely to be supported for a reasonable time. With company specific (proprietary) connectivity like Chrome Cast or Spotify Connect you could run into problems earlier if future versions of the protocol are not backwards compatible or if company support stops.
The app includes a firmware update feature, so it is possible that firmware updates will be supplied. (These can also be loaded from a USB stick.)
Most of the feature are available from the IR remote, so if the app won't run on future versions of Android / iOS it won't be needed to keep your old phone next to the couch for most tasks (except the initial setup of the set as mentioned before).
The chargeable battery is the wireless surround speakers is not intended to be user replaceable, so when it wears down you will not be able to replace it easily
I bought my set at a discount from €849,- at €749,-.