Philips Fidelio B8 is the world’s cheapest Dolby Atmos 2.1 soundbar system

posted on Friday, 11th November 2016 by Steve May

Dolby Atmos  Soundbar  home cinema 

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Philips is the latest brand to launch a Dolby Atmos enabled soundbar. At £899, the Fidelio B8 is cheaper than Atmos soundbar rivals from Yamaha and Samsung, and doesn’t require the outboard processor of the Onkyo LS7200 soundbar system. The B8 also has a DTS 5.1 decoder, but will not support DTS:X.

The soundbar is just 53mm tall, but features 18 speaker drivers onboard. By mixing Philips’ Ambisound technology with Atmos decoding, the B8 claims to deliver a 5.1.2 surround sound experience. Angled top and side firing drivers to create its immersive soundstage.

The partnering wireless subwoofer features a 220W amplifier with an 8-inch downward firing driver. A dome-shaped bass reflector is used to reduce localisation. Inside CI has previewed the soundbar, and found it delivers a wide soundstage thanks largely to side-angled tweeters. Two speaker modules are dedicated to the centre channel. Philips says the total sonic output of the package is400W.

On White Crop

The B8 supports Bluetooth AptX streaming and NFC. Connections include two HDMI inputs (one with ARC), plus optical and coaxial digital audio inputs and a 3.5mm line input. All HDMIs are v1.4 and so do not support 2160/50 or 60 fps, or HDCP 2.2 copy protection.

The B8 requires no calibration EQ to set-up. Philips System Architect Roel Reusens says users only need decide on the amount of volume assigned to the up-firing drivers. It will go on sale before Christmas.

Philips is also launching a small footprint B1 Nano Cinema Speaker, a 320W 41cm soundbar and sub package, priced at £449.

“We’ve done a lot of research and found there’s a demand for a smaller footprint,” Marketing Manager Darren Judd told Inside CI. “Soundbars have to compete for space beneath a TV with Sky boxes, DVD players and games consoles.”

                    Also read
                    Onkyo announces Dolby Atmos soundbar system
                    In-depth: CEDIA and IFA 2016 analysis

Philips is using microbeaming to achieve an imposing sound from such a small bar. There are four drivers angled outwards to the side, plus two cross-firing at the front which create a sweetspot of 180 degrees. There are two additional tweeters in the top of the unit used with an 18 hole waveguide which effectively produces a virtual speaker array to widen the soundstage.

As with the B8, the B1 Bluetooth and NFC enabled, but only has one ARC-enabled HDMI. The Nano Cinema Bar comes with an ultra-slim wireless subwoofer that can be placed horizontally under a sofa. 

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology journalist, who also writes for T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and ERT (amongst others).

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