KEF, well known for their luxurious Hi-Fi Speakers, has decided to take on the consumer headphone market. And so far things have been going quite nicely, since their flagship M500 Hi-Fi headphones were recently awarded the 2013 reddot design award. And this comes as no surprise since the M500 are headphones that are completely new and fresh from the inside and out.
Out of the gate, KEF is known for showcasing speaker systems that resemble pieces of art and emanate luxury, and it’s apparent that KEF wanted to translate that into their portable audio line. To that effect, the M500 is a perfect example of KEF’s signature style and grandeur, but in a much smaller and affordable footprint. Again, not a brand to be mistaken for any other, the M500 features an aluminum frame that makes these headphones the lightest pair of premium on-ear headphones that we have ever tested.
This lightweight and ergonomic design allows the headphones to cup your face and ears to provide a nice tight seal, while also being extremely comfortable to wear for long periods of time. As a matter of fact, the M500′s are also the most comfortable pair of on ear headphones we have tested to date! It also helps that the ear pads are wrapped in a super supple leather with a memory foam interior. Comfort and ergonomics aside, those Mac users will appreciate the Cupertino aesthetics that the M500′s are rocking.
Once again (since it seems to be a trend lately), the 3-button remote didn’t wow us. That is because the remote’s buttons are super tiny, even for a small hand, and they can not be easily pressed. While using headphones to make and receive calls is not something that we use all that often, being able to control tracks and the volume should be easier, and that experience feels a bit clumsy with this inline remote. That gripe aside, the KEF M500 headphones is a very solid pair of headphones. They look and feel great on your head, giving the wearer a professional and also luxurious look.
So the KEF M500 looks great, and feels great in your hands. But does the sound live up to its looks? The M500 prides itself on being an extremely balanced pair of headphones and we can’t agree enough. That said, we did have to burn these headphones in for a good 20 hours or so before we could really experience all they had to offer. However, once those hi-def 40mm dynamic drivers warmed up and the earpads had enough time to mold to our ears day after day, we really got to appreciate how these headphones perform.
The highs and mids exude crisp and clear vocals. While the bass isn’t overall very deep and defining, it does provide a warm body and balance to the overall audio spectrum. The M500 are definitely for people who prefer their music to sound clean and full of range, but not pitchy and uneven, where a lot of other headphones tend to go these days. For those that like strong highs and mids – they will love the soundstage of the KEF – you can hear the slightest crackle in some tunes. They provide a clarity and detail to some of the most subtle of notes.
KEF’s M500′s headphones are simply masterful – they look and sound exquisite, and are crazy comfortable to boot. They may not turn on those bass lovers, but for traveling executives and well-heeled ladies, these headphones belong in the first class cabin. The fact that they are easily portable with their high quality collapsible design, and leather finishes, are all just the icing on the cake. And not only can you wear them for long periods of time, but you will WANT to wear them for even longer. The KEF M500 Hi-Fi Headphones retail for $299.
The Good: Fantastic Apple-like design with excellent build quality. These are luxury headphones that look more expensive then their price tag. Great balanced listening experience. Super comfortable, lightweight, and collapsible.
The Bad: Might be too balanced for some who are looking for a more intense bass audio experience. Not impressed with the design of the 3-button remote. Takes a while to burn in and appreciate.