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Porsche teams up with British hi-fi firm for trio of new audio products

Jonathan Bray
29 Sep 2016
KEF Motion One
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Bluetooth speaker and two pairs of headphones lead new line of Porsche Design KEF audio products

British hi-fi company KEF has announced a series of new audio products, produced in collaboration with German design studio Porsche. It’s not the first time the two companies have joined forces, the two companies having worked before on a range of headphones, but the new products branch out a little further to include a Bluetooth speaker. Of course, there's also a pair of headphone products as well, including a pair of in-ears and over-the-ear noise-cancelling cans.

KEF is no slouch when it comes to design, as it demonstrated with the KEF Muo Bluetooth speaker I reviewed for our sister title Alphr late last year, but these new products are a cut above. All three look stunning, with brushed “titanium” finish aluminium in abundance and a real feel of quality.

Gravity One Bluetooth speaker

All three products look gorgeous, but you can expect sound quality to be good as well. The KEF Muo might be expensive at around £300, but it’s the best Bluetooth speaker of its size I’ve ever laid ears on, and I have high hopes of the same for the Gravity One, its newest Bluetooth speaker.

The speaker’s “winged” chassis is hewn from a single block of aluminium and hosts a similar driver arrangement to the Muo. It utilises KEF’s Uni-Q drivers to produce 360-degree audio, combined with “twin force-cancelling auxiliary bass radiators”, which fire both up and down in an attempt to produce convincing, yet controlled bass.

KEF Gravity One Bluetooth speaker

It’s difficult to say how good the speaker is at this stage, as I’ve only had the opportunity to listen to it very briefly, but since it comes from the same audio engineers who produced the KEF Muo, it's probably safe to say it will be pretty good.

Either way, connectivity and features look good. The Gravity One supports the aptX audio codec for improved audio quality, has a 3.5mm auxiliary input so you can use it with legacy devices or as a makeshift TV speaker, and has a built-in battery capable of delivering up to ten hours of listening time away from the mains.

Surprisingly, given the cachet of the Porsche Design brand, the Gravity One won’t cost that much more than its cousin, the KEF Muo, coming in at £330, but that’s still pretty pricey for a Bluetooth speaker.

Space One noise-cancelling headphones

If you thought that was expensive, it's nothing compared with the super-luxurious Space One over-the-ear headphones. These will set you back the princely sum of £370, but for your money you’re getting one hell of a good-looking product.

This is serious audio hardware: all decked out in solid-feeling aluminium (with a “sand-blasted titanium” finish, no less), and super-plush leatherette, with memory foam providing cushioning for your ears. They’re certainly pretty comfy to wear, but again the environs of a press event aren’t the best for assessing sound quality. That will have to wait until I have a review unit clamped to my ears.

The Space One’s killer feature, however, isn’t design or comfort, but active noise cancellation. In addition to a pair of 40mm neodymium magnet drivers, the headphones use built-in microphones to detect ambient noise and cancel out distracting external noise. As with other active noise-cancelling headphones, they won’t eliminate external noise entirely, just low-level rumble and hum of the sort you usually get on aircraft and trains.

Disappointingly, the Space One aren’t wireless like the supremely brilliant Bose QuietComfort 35, but the sound profile is likely to be a touch more “audiophile” in nature, given KEF’s hi-fi heritage. KEF claims they’ve been specially tuned to reduce external noise “without affecting the nuances and details that bring music to life”. Watch this space for the full review.

Motion One wireless in-ear headphones

Last but by no means least is the Motion One, a pair of in-ear, around-the-neck wireless headphones, which look just as attractive as the Gravity One and Space One, just in a smaller package.

The Motion One is the cheapest of the trio, costing £220, but they're nonetheless fully featured, offering both aptX Bluetooth and – unusually for a wireless in-ear headphone – a wired connection for high-resolution audio, or for when your battery dies.

To top it all off they’re water-resistant, have up to ten hours of music playback, and in a nice design touch, the cable pivots at the earpiece housing so you can either route it traditionally, straight out of your lugholes, or over the top of your ears.

KEF Motion One headphones

The pivoting cable also relieves strain on what is normally a weak spot for in-ear headphones, so it's possible that they'll prove more robust than most as well.

The new lineup of KEF and Porsche Design products will be available to buy from the end of September, and we’ll be getting all three in to run through their paces as soon as we’re provided with review samples. I’m hoping they sound just as good as they look.

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