In 2013, storied audio company KEF followed what was then a newly-burgeoning trend for speaker companies: jumping into the micro-sized world of headphone design. The results of KEF’s efforts, the popular M200 in-ears and the sleekly-sculpted M500 on-ears, were nothing short of triumphs, the latter remaining to this day one of our favorite on-ear models around. Today, KEF has unleashed two new entries ready to battle for contention in the ever-crowded headphone market: The new KEF M400, and M100 headphones.
While the reviewer in us was hoping for a dazzling new audiophile entry, priced well above what the average listener is willing to pay (what can we say, we like expensive toys), the consumer in us welcomes a new set that cuts the price of the $300 M500 down to size — if only slightly.
At $250, the M400 are more in line with what we expect to pay for on-ear headphones, and while they borrow a bit from their chic sibling, they’re built to travel with a lighter frame to appeal to “mobile, connected listeners who know that sound matters.” It’s no surprise, in the Beats era, that the M400 are also much sportier than the M500, covered in a satiny finish set in colors like Racing Blue, Champagne White, and Sunset Orange, along with traditional black.
Underneath, the headphones boast “ultra-light” 40mm drivers with a copper-clad aluminum wire voice coil, to help achieve hi-fi performance with a total weight of just 6.2 ounces. The memory foam earpads are designed to deliver comfort and breathability, and the cans are equipped with an in-line mic and volume control for iOS and Android devices.
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It’s only natural that KEF should add another pair to the swollen ranks of glimmering in-ear headphones already available, and the new M100 appear to be a relatively fresh take on the category. Dubbed by KEF a “miniature masterpiece” showcasing the company’s renowned audio engineering chops, the M100 drop the wrap-around design of the M200 for smaller, machined aluminum “race-track” casings, with diamond-cut chamfered edges.
Inside are 10mm dynamic drivers in an angled acoustic chamber designed to help ensure the same kind of balance, detail, and dynamic expression we’ve come to expect from the brand. The in-ears are also crafted to provide a comfortable ear-piece that stays in place, in company with a low-resonance suspension ring of high-density foam to reduce distortion and control airflow. The M100 are also CENELEC compliant, meaning they’ve been designed to protect against excessive sound pressure in order to combat hearing loss.
The M100 earphones come in Racing Blue, Sunset Orange, Champagne White, and Titanium Grey.
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In addition to the new models, the classically-styled M500 are getting a new coat of paint, now available in black and white to go along with the silver set we’ve come to know and love.
All of KEF’s new headphones are available starting today, and we’ll be going ears-on with them very soon to see how they stand up to the original, so stay tuned.
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