London, just like any big, busy city is rather noisy. Some days that’s fine, but on others you just wish everyone would zip it and we’d all go about our business in civilized silence. Obviously, that’s not going to happen, so the next best thing is to put on a pair of noise canceling headphones. In our KEF Porsche Design Space One Wireless hands-on review, we enjoy their extraordinarily effective noise cancelation, which makes the world around us disappear.
Let’s take in the design for a moment. Porsche Design has given these beautiful headphones that polished, minimalist, ultra-stylish look we’ve come to expect from the brand’s tech endeavors. There’s just no fuss; no exposed cables, no oversize buttons, no flashy touch panels, and absolutely no pointless, attention-grabbing garnish. The KEF Porsche Design Space One Wireless come in black and brushed aluminum, with a small KEF logo and Porsche Design’s PD insignia on each cup. It’s mature, stark, and beautiful. If B&O Play is business casual, then KEF and Porsche Design are business smart.
We love the attention to detail. The hanger is covered in soft, black leatherette, with just the right amount of padding around the aluminum frame, while the motion for extending the frame is wonderfully dampened, giving it a solid, premium motion. The leatherette padding continues on the earcups, and is plush enough that we can wear the KEF headphones comfortably with our spectacles. This is an important point. Many over-ear headphones are annoying if you wear glasses, with the cups pulling them about in different directions if you dare to change expression. These didn’t irritate at all. The seal is strong, and although the phones aren’t tight on our head, we did get a little sweaty underneath after a couple of hours on a plane.
The design is mature, stark, and beautiful.
This is the first time KEF has incorporated Bluetooth and noise cancelation into a pair of headphones, and it’s a joy. On the train, the underground, and walking around the city, it removed just the right amount of noise, while barely impacting the quality of the music. It was most effective listening to podcasts, where spoken voice is usually drowned out by roar of the London underground. Wearing the Space One Wireless I was able to hear, understand and enjoy Tell ‘Em Steve Dave, a podcast where voice volume and clarity is notoriously erratic, surrounded by the underground din. Listening to music with noise cancelation did remove some of the spaciousness, but didn’t sacrifice any detail, and we never once wanted to turn it off for tracks we really love, because it sounded suitably similar.
A pair of 40mm KEF-tuned drivers with a 20mm neodymium magnet live in each earcup, and give a warm, wonderfully well-rounded sound. The KEF’s don’t favor midrange or bass, offering a vibrant, exciting sound that brings out the best in “big” tunes. For example, the sweeping vocals and uplifting orchestral moments in Shiritsu Ebisu Chugaku’s Kanjodensha are as joyous whether noise cancelation is on or off. Returning to test-track favorite Jidenna’s Long Live the Chief, the bass thump is strong and forceful, although we did find Boris Blank’s Electrified lacked some of its searing thrill with noise cancelation on. It still wasn’t enough to make us turn it off and let London into our ears.
The battery inside is designed to last 30 hours wireless playback with noise cancelation on, and we’d say that’s accurate. We only charged the headphones once in an entire week in Tokyo with regular use, including a high percentage of the 11-hour flight over.
The KEF Porsche Design Space One Wireless headphones are a class act.
Two 3.5mm headphone cables are included in the box should the battery give up before you can recharge, including one with inline controls for phone use, and the other without. We also like the physical buttons on the headphones themselves for controlling volume and track pause, which is easier than using a touch pad on the move. If there’s a negative to the Space One Wireless, it’s the lack of AptX HD. Standard AptX is there, but the HD codec would have elevated these way above the competition — which is very strong at this price point.
You’ll spend 350 British pounds, or about $470, for the pleasure of owning the KEF Porsche Design Space One Wireless headphones. That’s more than you’ll pay for the Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless headphones, and the Sony MDR 1000x, two of our favorite wireless headphones out at the moment. It’s similar to the Bowers & Wilkins PX, and the B&O Play H9s, which are equally as stylish and provide super sound quality. However, in our early tests, we feel the KEF’s noise cancelation is superior to these two.
From the dreamy style, the sound quality, and even the zip-up case, the KEF Porsche Design Space One Wireless headphones are a class act. There are no compromises. Noise cancelation is superb, the audio performance is excellent, and they’re as comfortable as they are good-looking. Now, excuse us while we go back to enjoying London without the infernal chatter.