If you’re in the market for some high quality headphones, and also want something with a cool, modern style, you might want to check out the KEF M500 headphones. I recently had the opportunity to put these to the test, and would like to share my experiences.
For starters, the M500 headphones are quite good looking. In fact, they won a 2013 RedDot Design Award. They offer a modern, minimal design, with oval-shaped ear cups which aren’t too big or too small. The ear cups are covered with a soft, perforated leatherette material and offer comfortable memory foam padding underneath. Both cups have swivel hinges for optimal positioning on your ears, and so they can fold for storage. The headband and frame of the earcups are made from sandblasted aluminum alloy, making them lightweight and durable, and adding to their good looks.
The headphones ship with a nice padded case that has enough space for the headphones when folded up, along with accessories, including a standard audio-only cable and a stylish phone control cable with a built-in microphone, both detachable, of course.
One thing to note is that the cables are flat ribbon-style variety, which means they don’t tangle easily, though they take up a little more space than skinny cords. A right-angle, gold-plated connector on the end of each cable fits neatly in just about every gadget with a 3.5mm audio jack.
In my audio tests, I could clearly distinguish sounds from 20Hz all the way up to 20 kHz, thanks to their 40mm neodymium drivers. KEF also claims their copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils help improve clarity and detail. Audio fidelity is very clean and pleasing to the ear, without overly shrill highs or boomy bass.
This makes them great for audio junkies looking for natural sound – not artificially accentuated like many other headphones. I threw a wide variety of music and sound styles at them, and found them to work well with most types of audio. They deftly handled everything from the tight electronic beats and claps of Atoms for Peace’s Judge Jury and Executioner to the bright horns and wispy flute of Quincy Jones’ Soul Bossa Nova to the clacky cowbell of Donald Fagen’s New Frontier, to the soul-stirring, fragile vocals of Sia’s Breathe Me. Yes, I have a diverse audio collection. So?
I did find that I had to drive the M500s at a slightly higher volume level than other headphones for some reason, but I was still able to get more than enough volume at the high end of the volume range, and without distortion. I found the M500s to be extremely comfortable, even after long periods of wear, and while they do a good job blocking out external sounds, they don’t overly exert pressure on your head while wearing them.
My overall take on the KEF M500 headphones is very positive. With their modern minimal style and comfort, they’re a welcome change from some of the more over-the-top designs found in today’s high-end headphones. They produce clean and natural sound and do a good job exposing the subtleties in a wide variety of musical genres.
KEF M500 headphones are available from the KEF Direct Store for $299.99(USD).