KEF is a stunning stalwart of the Hi-Fi world, offering a broad range of speakers for those who want to hear music as it is meant to be heard: loud and in crystal clear clarity.
Its recent team-up with Lotus proves it's a brand that understands luxury and style in equal measure, so I jumped at the chance at trying its noise-cancelling headphone range, which have been designed in collaboration - like many a KEF product - with brilliant designer Ross Lovegrove.
Enter the KEF Mu7, a pair of headphones packed with KEF's audio know how and designed to not only look great, but are ultra comfortable to wear as well.
I've been using the KEF Mu7 headphones daily for over a month now - here are 5 things you need to know...
1. Sleek, distinctive design
Straight from the unboxing, it's clear that there's been a lot of dedication to detail. The carry case looks smart and perfectly formed for the headphones. There's a compartment for the cables that has a lovely magnetic cover to keep everything in.
The headphones themselves are nestled neatly in the middle and look fantastic. The brushed aluminium of the egg-shaped ear cups is sleek and ridiculously smooth to the touch.
The bottom half headband is made of the same material and the ear cups are on hinges which means they aren't too tight on the ears, working nicely with the contours of my head. The top half of the heaband and the inner part of the cups are coated in a soft faux leather.
2. KEF brings the comfort factor
Make no mistake: these are extremely comfortable headphones that I have worn for hours with little-to-no ear fatigue whatsoever.
The faux leather encases the ears nicely and having it on the top of the band as well means that the comfort levels are superb.
The hold well on the head as well, thanks to the angled ear cups - having them on a hinge makes a real difference and meant they weren't moving up and down when I was walking on my commute.
3. Setup is simple, but software-free
The KEF Mu7 use Bluetooth 5.1 to connect to your devices and it's very fast and easy to get up and running. Interestingly, KEF has decided to not offer an accompanying app to tweak levels and enhance the audio.
Given most other headphones companies love to bundle in an app, it's a strange choice but I didn't really miss this functionality that much.
They do offer high-res, though, so if the tunes you are listening to are mastered in SBC, AAC, aptX or aptX HD codecs, the you can get up to 24 bit audio (more so if you use the accompanying cable and a DAC).
There are also touch controls - no voice, though - on the right ear cup. These worked really well in my trials, but did take a little getting used to. Also, it's a little thing but I am left handed and them being just on the right felt a little unnatural to me, as I caught myself reaching over with my left hand to use them.
4. Sound quality is superb and balanced
Given there is no accompanying app to boost or reduce bass and the like, it's great that KEF has tuned these headphones to be fairly neutral. The raga bass in Nitin Sawhney's Darling Boy danced around but didn't overpower the track. There was real warmth in the sitar, too.
The haunting piano of The Beatles' Now And Then enveloped me, while the crunching guitars of Bombay Bicycle Club's I Want To Be Your Only Pet were at the forefront throughout.
Vocals were crisp and clear in all my listens. Romy sounded like she was sitting in the same room as me when I listened to Mid Air, with Stuart Price's production sounding as it should - impeccable.
KEF really has nailed the details in the KEF Mu7's audio, with the sound clarity up there with the best headphones we have tried.
ANC-wise, it's decent but not Bose level. Not many headphone brands can reach that level so we weren't surprised.
That's not to say that there's not plenty of noise suppression going on - there really is and I like that you can choose between Smart ANC and just pure ANC but we could still hear some of the outside world.
Also, there's a tiny bit of pressure when you switch the ANC on, like you are on a plane or underwater. This does disappear but it was certainly noticeable.
5. Battery life is brilliant, charging is fast
KEF has done well with the battery life on the Mu7s. You get up to 40 hours' listening out of them on a full charge, which is plenty and up there with the best in its category.
There is usually a caveat that you have to turn ANC off to get that sort of battery life but this is EVEN with Bluetooth and ANC on. It's impressive stuff.
Charging is speedy, too. If you only have 15 minutes then it's all good as that sort of charge will mean around eight hours of playback which is a live saver for someone like me, who never remembers to charge things before big journeys.
It's worth noting that you can also use these as wired headphones which means you can hook these headphones up to a DAC, and there is another option on how to use them when the battery is depleted.
KEF Mu7: Final Verdict
I love the sleek design of the KEF Mu7. Everything from the case they come in to how they looks screams premium.
Couple this with a balanced, high-end audio experience and impressive - but not quite class beating - ANC and what you have is a real noise-canceling headphone contender that deserves to turn heads away from the likes of Sony and Apple.
The KEF Mu7 Wireless Active Noise Cancelling Headphones are available to buy for £349. The review unit we tried was the Charcoal Grey colour but Silver Grey is also available.
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