Being one of the world leaders in the production of Hi-Fi loudspeaker systems, KEF has not yet manifested itself in the headphone market. The new M500 is designed to correct this omission. The first impressions of getting acquainted with the headphones are the most positive. A high-quality hard case with a zipper, in which the pair is folded, takes up minimal space and fits easily into any shoulder bag. The design uses aluminum, matte plastic and leather. There are no deliberately decorative elements, but at the same time, the contours and curves give the model a fair amount of originality. As a result, the impression of an expensive, prestigious thing is created.
The device is universal – the advantages of good technology in combination with it are obvious, but portable players also benefit from what would be achieved by using standard headphones. The wire is single-sided, detachable, and there are two types of cable included. The first is standard, designed for connection to any devices that have a mini-jack output with a diameter of 3.5 mm. The second is equipped with a remote control for Apple gadgets and a built-in microphone, turning the headphones into a fully functional mobile headset. Visually, the block looks like a monolithic block with keys, the shape of which corresponds to its purpose. True, their microscopic sizes do not allow them to be distinguished by touch, which makes using such buttons extremely inconvenient, and even impossible with gloves.
The headband of the KEF M500 is very elastic, and coupled with fairly soft ear pads, this results in almost imperceptible pressure on the ears. Even though cups for correcting anatomical features have only one degree of freedom (tilt), comfort here is at the highest level, which is conducive to long sessions. The inevitable consequence of all this is weak fixation, and therefore the pair is clearly not intended for sports, and in general it is better to avoid sudden head movements. However, the structure itself looks relatively durable, and a fall is unlikely to be fatal for it. Noise insulation is average. External sounds penetrate, but in a rather muffled manner and do not interfere with the enjoyment of music. But leakage in the opposite direction is almost completely absent, which is important for new parents.
40 mm dynamic drivers are a kind of average standard for modern on-ear headphones, however, given the small size of the earcups and the small dimensions of the model, this diameter can be considered the maximum. The sensitivity of the pair is relatively high, which provides acceptable compatibility with portable equipment. However, to unlock the potential of the KEF M500, most smartphones and pocket players require an additional amplifier, and laptops could use an external DAC to correct the inherent shortcomings of their audio part. In a word, the device is universal – the advantages of good technology in combination with it are obvious, but portable players also benefit in comparison with what the use of standard headphones would provide.
I would especially like to draw your attention to the truly epic, large-scale panorama. In this sense, the KEF M500 are very reminiscent of KEF speakers – this feature can be called a signature character. The sound of the new product is characterized by an even range and well-balanced frequency coverage. The result is a lack of genre specificity, high requirements for the signal source and a somewhat detached interpretation of the audio material. Subtle nuances do not remain out of sight, so high-quality recordings play with a variety of colors and halftones, but any defects in the phonogram and compression are noticeably manifested. It is optimal to use either decent DACs and amplifiers, or Hi-Fi equipment specifically designed for working with headphones. With a high-end path, you can even feel the difference between the pass-through and equipped with remote control and microphone cables included in the kit. A simple cable is preferable for serious equipment, while a headset cable is suitable for gadgets and laptops, where its shortcomings are completely invisible, but convenience comes to the fore.
Characteristics: KEF M500
Type of emitters, acoustic design – dynamic, closed
Headband, type (design, materials) – sliding (aluminum)
Material of cups – aluminum, plastic
Finishing of ear pads – leather
Connection – wired, detachable cable 1.3 m
Speaker, mm – 40
Frequency range, Hz – 20—20,000 (conditions not specified)
Resistance, Ohm – 32
Remote control – yes
Microphone – yes
Weight, kg – 0.208