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KEF M500 Hi-Fi Headphones Review

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KEF M500 Hi-Fi Headphones

We have a winner!

I won these headphones at a KEF drawing during the New York Audio Show, held recently at the Brooklyn Marriott hotel. KEF neither solicited nor was I obligated to review the M500, but since I have really enjoyed listening to them for the past few weeks I thought I would let Dagogo readers know of their capabilities. I’ve been lucky with show drawings because I also won a pair of ACI Emerald XL loudspeakers a few years ago at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. Now if I can only transfer this luck to a mega million dollar winning lottery ticket.


KEF goes from making cones to cans

KEF is well known for manufacturing quality speaker systems. I recently reviewed the company’s R300 stand-mount loudspeakers and thought the model represented excellent value. The M series, consisting of the M500 headphones ($299.99 retail) and the M200 earphones a/k/a ear buds ($199.99 retail), is KEF’s first venture into the ever popular and burgeoning headphone market. Both models were introduced in mid-2013, and have achieved some buzz on the World Wide Web.

The KEF M500 are on-ear headphones, providing good sound isolation. Certainly better isolation than some other on-ear or larger over-the-ear designs I’ve auditioned. While not shutting out noise as well as noise-cancelling models, the isolation is good enough that I have to be conscious of my surroundings whenever I use them outside, or I could easily get into an accident. Since I like to use the M500 both indoors and outdoors, I want to be able to hear someone trying to get my attention and don’t want a completely noise-cancelling model.

Designed with a modern sleek hi-tech appearance, I find them stylishly appealing. For fans of anti-modern design, you probably think they belong on the heads of robots. They are reasonably light weight and I found them fairly comfortable to wear for long listening sessions. Utilizing moderate pressure, the aluminum headband prevents the cans from slipping off my noggin while not feeling too tight, and the clever multi-directional hinge mechanism allows the M500 to fold smartly in its carrying case. Because the M500 is not heavy, they work equally well at home with your main or desktop system and on the go with your portable device.

The ear cups are nicely padded with memory foam, and are angled toward the back of the head when worn in the listening position. For my head shape, I found the most comfortable position resulted when the headband is also slightly tilted toward the back of the head. The most comfortable position for an individual will be determined by the shape and size of one’s head.

Included for your hard earned money are two tangle free flat wire detachable cables. One of the cables has an inline remote/microphone with volume control, and is intended for iPhone users. The other cable is plain Jane and probably will not be invited to the prom. There is also a nifty twin plug adaptor for airplane use, a ¼ inch standard headphone adaptor, and a hard half-moon or empanada shaped carrying case to complete the accessories lineup.

For this review, my Asus laptop (dedicated for music and loaded with JRiver 20 music player), and a newly purchased iFi Micro iDSD DAC were pressed into service. I bought the Micro iDSD and iPhono after my recent massive three-part iFi review of some of their other products, because I was thoroughly gob-smacked by their sound and outstanding value. My Sony MDR-7506 over-the-ear studio monitor headphones were used for comparison and counterpoint.

KEF M500 Hi-Fi Headphones

KEF M500 Hi-Fi Headphones

7 Responses to KEF M500 Hi-Fi Headphones Review

  1. Bill says:

    Yes it figures that a great speaker manufacturer makes a great headphone. Thanx for the review Paul being a headphone freak I may just pick up a pair of these. By the way what shape is your head?
    Bill P.

  2. Paul Mah says:

    Hi Bill,

    My head is irregular, just like my body size. Lol.


  3. Dave says:

    I too own the M500 and powered as well by the iDSD Micro via an iphone and now using the TIDAL app. I recently heard the Oppo PM-2 the other day..

    The form factor of both sets of cans is amazingly similar with their designs. I think the M500 holds its own quite well. A good buy

    • Paul Mah says:

      Hi Dave,

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the M500. Although I haven’t audition the PM-2 yet, I have listened to the more expensive PM-1 briefly. I thought the PM-1 sounded good, but was expecting even better sound given the cost. How do you like the TIDAL app?

      Happy Holidays!

  4. Dave says:

    TIDAL is fantastic! I’m exploring the music of artists like never before. I am also running TIDAL on my Squeezebox Touch as well via the Ickstream third-party app.

    Also like the offline feature on my iPhone to listen on the go. Sound quality is great.

    • PaulMah says:

      Hi Dave,

      You haven’t experienced any dropouts or stutters like some other users I’ve read? The sound quality and choice of music are two reasons why I’m planning to get TIDAL to work with my iPad, but I’m going to wait a while until the company stabilizes the platform.


  5. ro says:

    In this format (i.e. on-ears foldable headphones, without any battery that could eventually fail), and in regard of sound quality, the two bests headphones currently available are the KEF M500 and the Thinksound On2 (both sell for roughly 100 bucks by now)

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