Head-Fi.org › Head Gear › Headphones › In-Ear › Universal Fit › KEF M200 Hi-Fi In-Ear Headphones, Aluminum/Black

KEF M200 Hi-Fi In-Ear Headphones, Aluminum/Black

Posted

Pros: Soundstage, thunderous but not obnoxious bass, smooth, even, extended treble, large soundstage and great imaging, completely non-fatiguing sound.

Cons: Achieving proper fit takes some getting used to, isolation isn't top shelf.

MINI-REVIEW: The KEF M200 In-Ear Monitor

Posted on December 24, 2016 by rebbi1

Why I’m Rushing This Review Out The Door

I normally spend a good number of hours, spread over many days, writing posts, especially reviews, for this site. I’ve never felt a lot of time pressure to “crank out posts,” as manifested in the generally leisurely pace of new posts on my site, Steve’s Audio Blog.

I’m making an exception here, though, because the terrific product I’m reviewing today is currently on sale for less than half its normal retail price, direct from the manufacturer, and I want as many of you as possible to get in on this deal before it vanishes.

The KEF M200

I’d been looking for a reasonably priced IEM that could serve as both my everyday and “end game” earphone. I wanted something with an even, un-hyped treble, good imaging, large soundstage, realistic midrange tonality and substantial but not overpowering low end “grunt” when called for.

I wouldn’t have considered the M200 if not for its enthusiastic inclusion, both this year and last, among the recommended IEM’s in Head-fi.org’s annual Buyer’s Guide. (Scroll down this page to see Head-fi Editor Jude Mansilla’s assessment of the M200.) The description of the M200’s virtues in the Buyer’s Guide checked all my preference boxes, and I managed to score an open-box pair on Amazon.com for around $100.

m200-4

Package Front

 

m200-6

Behind the front package flap

m200-5

Package Back

I was also intrigued by the M200 due to my roots in high end home audio. KEF is a long established and deeply respected high end speaker manufacturer from the UK. Their stratospherically priced Blade and Muon floor standing speakers are widely considered two of the best out there, and their budget (by insane high end audio standards) and petite LS50 stand mount monitor has sold by the bucket-full since its introduction several years ago garnered ecstatic reviews in the audio press.

Basic Description

Without repeating a bunch of descriptive information that you can read on the M200 product page, suffice it to say that the M200 sports two, cleverly mounted dynamic drivers per housing: a bass driver and a mid-high driver. The treble driver is closest to the ear and the bass driver lives in its own chamber to the rear, with ports that deliver the low end around the treble driver and into the nozzle. The housing is made of feather-weight aluminum. This is a good choice because, as all the M200 reviews point out, the housings are fairly large, so a denser material might have yielded an uncomfortably heavy earpiece.

The M200’s also sport a distinctive, rubbery ear hook on each unit. The rubber material has some sort of inner core that holds its shape, allowing you to get a secure fit with the ear hook behind your upper ear. Although the wires hang down from the M200, the ear hook effectively serves the same “anchoring” function as a behind-the-ear cable arrangement does for IEM’s meant to be worn in a “cable up” position.

m200-1
m200-3

There’s a bit of a learning curve to getting a good fit with the M200. You put the tip into your ear with one hand, tug on your earlobe or the top of the ear with the other to open up the ear canal, and once the tip is inserted, you rotate the housing toward the back of the head until the hook rests against the ear. KEF America has even provided an instructional video on YouTube to show how it’s done:

The ear hooks help to secure the housings. This is a GOOD THING, especially because the nozzles of the M200 are unusually wide and might be prone to falling out of the ear without the ear hooks.

My pair, which was probably from older stock, only came with silicone rubber ear tips in three sizes; newer stock comes with Comply tips, too. But I must give customer service kudos to KEF America, here: when I wrote to them to ask where I could purchase the right size Comply tips, they sent me some for free. Nice!

Just a note on tips: due to their somewhat gummy surface texture, the Comply tips I got from KEF did provide a more secure, this-will-never-slip-out fit than the silicone tips, but I found that they also rolled off the high end and dulled the overall sound. I’ve stuck with the silicone tips ever since.

m200-2

The M200’s include a nice microphone and remote control attached to the right channel cable. It’ll take your incoming calls and control an iPod or iPhone with volume, track skipping and play/pause.

Oh, and speaking of the cable, I’m happy to report that microphonics (the amplification of any rubbing between the cable and your clothing, etc.) is almost non-existent here. Hurrah!

Pros:

The M200’s have a balanced and superbly fatigue-free sonic signature. The upper end is smooth and even, without any trace of the upper-midrange spike that – while in many other earphones masquerading as “transparency” or “detail” – can easily render some inherently lively recordings, especially rock and hop-hop, painfully unlistenable. The M200 top end sounds extended and airy without being overly bright. The all-important midrange, where most of our music lives, including vocals, sounds just right to my ears, present but not overemphasized. The bass is slightly boosted, but so well controlled that there’s no muddying of the higher frequencies by an overzealous bass hump. In other words, rumbling, cavernous bass response is there when you need it, but it never feels phony or obnoxious.

two_against_nature
As I’ve mentioned in other posts, one of my bass response test tracks is Steely Dan’s Negative Girl from their Two Against Nature CD. The M200’s are the only earphones I’ve yet auditioned (including several that sell for a great deal more money) that completely nail the very, very low notes played on a 5-string electric bass guitar in the opening bars of that jazzy track. It’s pretty thrilling to hear this done right. Also, all the synth bass grunt of Lorde’s Pure Heroine, especially on the hit track Royals, sounds as thunderous as it should.

lorde_pure_heroine

Imaging with the M200’s is precise and the soundstage, if the material warrants it, is HUGE. To offer one familiar yet obscure example,

edwinstarrwar

take Edwin Starr’s great, angry howl of a Vietnam era protest song, War: 

“War / Good God, y’all… / What is it good for? / Absolutely NOTHING!”

During each chorus, someone’s totally killing it with some very flashy tambourine work in the right channel. On the M200’s, that tambourine is located way, way off to the right, clear as can be. It makes me grin.

I could say a lot more about the M200’s sound, but I’ll simply repeat that there is zero fatigue factor with these lovely IEM’s. It’s trite to say so, but I can listen for hours and not tire of the sound.

Cons

Alas, nothing’s perfect. Here’s my list of caveats and (minor) disappointments:

The M200’s come with a very sturdy zippered hard case (not pictured). It’s great for storage, but far too big to fit in a pocket or purse. I’d like to see something more pocket friendly included in the package.

Isolation from outside noise is, for whatever reason, only “okay,” even with a good seal. This isn’t a deal breaker for me, but it’s worth noting if, say, you regularly use your cans on noisy commuter trains and really need the ultimate in noise reduction.

Fit: I’m fine with the fit of the M200’s, but be aware that, at least from the reviews I’ve read, that’s not true for everyone. As I mentioned earlier, the diameter of the nozzle is unusually wide, and the use of the ear hooks takes some getting used to. Get a good seal with the ear canal and these will transport you to sonic bliss. Get a crappy seal and you ‘ll never hear what the M200’s can really do. Also as mentioned earlier, the Comply tips will make it easier to achieve a stable, slip-resistant fit, but at the possible expense of high end extension.

In Conclusion

I adore my M200’s. They make music come alive. They’re the closest thing I’ve heard to what I imagine it would be like to hang a pair of high-end home loudspeakers on both sides of my head. And considering how high the prices of the best IEM’s have climbed, they are a stone cold bargain at their US $200 asking price.

But wait, there’s more:

ON SALE NOW!

From now through December 31, 2016, while supplies last, you can “steal” the M200’s for (drum roll…) US $69! Holy cow, folks, that’s the deal of a lifetime! I jumped on board and bought a second pair to have in case mine get lost or damaged. Here’s the sale pageat Kef America. Click now or lose out!

That’s it for this review.

As always, be kind to others and enjoy your music!

 

Posted

Pros: Comfort - very light, Design - original, Sound Quality - good soundstage and very detailed

Cons: None!

I purchased these earphones a couple of weeks ago and have had the urge to write a review. However, I needed too make sure that they were fully "burned" and used in different environments to see how they performed before taking the plunge.

 

This is my first ever headphone review, so please bear with me - I can't say that I know all the right terms or generate scientific diagrams and charts, but what you will read is an honest account.

 

I hope you enjoy it...

 

Introduction

My musical tastes are quite eclectic, ranging from Jazz, Electronic, Classical, Rock and Soul music (classic rock being my preferred genre).

 

I have owned many headphones / earphones over the years including Grado SR80i's, Bower Wilkins P5 and P3 as well as Monster Beats, AKG, Sennheiser, Shure SE series (110, 115 and 215), Bang & Olufsen A8 and Creative Aurvana AIR and Live.

 

Media and Source

OK, first of all just a bit background about the media I used for my tests. I use my iPod Classic 160GB linked up to a FIIO headphone amp using a line out dock cable.

All my music is burned from lossless files to AAC high quality VBR using dbpoweramp. I have a number of different FIIO Amps: E6, E11, E12 and E17.

I conducted tests using each one but found the E6 to be the best fit (I think the E11, E12 and E17 are better suited to a headphone with a higher impedance).

 

The music I have been listening to on these earphones thus far are The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Who, The Beach Boys, Queens Of The Stone Age, Miles Davis and Marvin Gaye.

 

Out of the box

The earphones come in a nice sized box, with a flap that opens at the front making it easy to access the earphones and carry case.

 

Accessories

The earphones come with a very nice sized and sturdy headphone case. Within the headphone case there is a travel adapter and 2 extra pairs of silicon ear tips (large and small).

The earphones already come with a medium sized pair of ear tips.

 

Initial Impressions

The earphones do look bulky, but not in an unattractive way. However, the main concern was how they would stay in place in the ear based on their size.

This was quickly alleviated when picking the earphones up, they are extremely light, I would even go as far to say they are "feather" light.

 

Ergonomics, Design and Fit

The problem with most over in-ear hook earphones is comfort, particularly when wearing glasses.

The Bang Olufsen A8 are a prime example where they become discomfortable over short periods, and can be incredibly frustrating to get a good fit.

In fact, i would say this the case with most earphones of these type.

 

The first feature that sets the KEF M200s apart from any competition is the fact the hooks are made from a very light and flexible rubber material.

Whilst this may sound rather tacky, I actually think it is actually one of its strengths.

This is essential for listening to music over long periods, the flexibility allows you to make adjustments whilst on the move without compromising your listening experience.

I would even go as far to say this design is revolutionary in terms of earphone ergonomics, a very simple yet effective way of designing an in-ear earphone that caters for different ear sizes and shapes (something that most headphone manufacturers do not always take into consideration).

 

To insert the earphones you have to use a swivel motion, fairly straightforward.

Of course, you need to do some slight tweaking to get the best fit, which may involve changing the silicon tips for a different size.

But I didn't find this laborious compared with other earphones where you are constantly having to readjust to get a decent fit.

 

Once the earphones are in you ear you realise just how light they are.

 

Sound Quality

Along with comfort and fit, in my opinion the sound quality is the most important aspect of the listening experience.

The real test is wearing the earphones for prolonged periods within different environments.

 

My initial impressions was that I couldn't believe something so small could generate such a wide, detailed sound.

The bass wasn't thumping or distorted and the treble wasn't too recessed. Everything appeared to be in right place.

 

The great thing about these earphones is that after a while, you forget you are wearing them.

In fact, the sound takes over, it is easily to get lost inside the music.

This to me is a testament to the design of these earphones.

 

After a couple of days of use, i didn't notice much change in the sound, although it did feel a bit "looser".

This may have been due to my ears getting used to the sound of these earphones as opposed to anything else, but that was because I found myself listening to these for really extended periods, a lot more compared to previous earphones I have owned.

 

One of the key factors when listening to any type of headphone is sound quality.

If the source is poor then you will not derive a decent sound. This is why it has taken me years to get to a level where I can comfortably say they are getting the most out of my music.

As mentioned previously, all my music is original burned from source to lossless (either FLAC or Apple Lossless).

For the sake of size on my iPod, i then convert them to AAC High VBR using dbpoweramp, which is as near as lossless quality you can get with a compressed, lossy format.

The reason I mention this is because I think it is important to point this out, because if you are listening to music which is sourced at the lower end of the spectrum (MP3 or AAC 128kbps) then you will not get the same sound experience.

This is also the case I found with other reference / high quality headphones.

 

The sound coming out of these is truly immense - the combination of a 10mm LF driver and 5.5mm neodymium MF/HF driver is the key to the detailed, natural sound across a diversifying frequency range.

This makes it pretty faultless when listening to different music genres.

For example, some earphones struggle when there is a lot of detail going on, making difficult to pick out the individual musical elements.

Some manufacturers try and rectify this by increasing the bass and recessing the treble, creating a very unnatural sound.

However, with the KEF design I would go as far to say that they are incredibly natural sounding to the point where you can pick out different song elements (listening to the "Dark Side Of The Moon" album by Pink Floyd was a great example, an album that I am extremely familiar with.

The song flow from "On The Run" and "Time" was absolutely amazing, especially when the clock chimes come in at the beginning of "Time", the chimes were extremely precise and pristine). When I listened to John Coltrane's "Love Supreme" album, I felt I was in the room, his sax was cutting right into me. Absolutely amazing!

 

On The Move...

 

So came the real test, how would these earphones fair when on the move?

 

When on the street hanging with the kids, I found the earphones sufficient enough to drown out their screaming.

I wouldn't say they are 100% sound isolated, there are moments within songs where outside noise will interfere, although I didn't find it terribly off putting. I found on some occasion adjust the rubber hook and moving the earphone a little bit ensure most external noise was eliminated.

 

The real test of any headphone / earphone is the dreaded commute on the London Underground and the constant rabble of rush hour traffic.

On my journey into London, which took over an hour, i didn't encounter any external interference, I was totally immersed in my music and didn't even notice the ticket inspector asking to see my ticket.

 

Upon walking along the London streets, again the constant buzz of traffic and busting crowds didn't cause any interference.

There is obviously a downside to this, as I found when I was nearly mowed down by a cyclists - by blocking out the external noise and entranced by the overall listening experience makes you immersed to what is going on around you, therefore there were times when I had to either turn down the volume on my FIIO Amp or taking a break from the music.

 

Conclusion

Mesmerising and quite simply stunning, best earphone I have ever possessed or listened to.

You will have to pay in the region of £150 to acquire these, which some may quibble at.

Making comparisons to the other players in this very competitive market, I would say these earphones fair a lot better.

The ergonomic design and sound truly set these earphones apart from their rivals.

 

I have not heard of KEF before, I know they are renowned for producing high quality speakers.

To my knowledge, this is their first foray into the headphone market and boy have they arrived.

Therefore, I would not hesitate at recommending this like minded music lovers, who wish to maximise their listening experience whilst on the move.

 

Go and try them yourself, you will not be disappointed! 

Posted

Pros: build quality, Transparency of sound, BBBAAASSSSSSSSSSS

Cons: the fit, only remote version being sold

it take some time to fit these properly

one of a kind sound

great mids and highs, female vocal is good, male vocal a bit thin.

At this price range, you can not get better bass, its the kind of not tight moving coil bass, the amount and the extension is out of the world. mids are not distorted due to 2 drivers config

good soundstage and transparency

Posted

Pros: beautiful detailed and clear sound, great bass, mids and highs, build quality

Cons: a little hard to fit for those with small ears( foam tips needed), expensive

This is my first review here. Previously owned Beyerdynamic DT 770 , Audio-Technica m20, Sennheiser Momentum on-ear. Stil have a pair of AKG k450.

I exchanged Sennheiser Momentum on-ear for those headphones. They were brand new, unused. I use them with Fiio x3.

First impressions- solid aluminum build, very light, even the rubber band that goes behind the ear looks very sturdy. Nice little carry box and plane adapter.

You have to watch the video provided by KEF on the website to get maximum seal. i have small ears, and somehow narrow ear canal and this makes it quite hard to get them in correctly.They do come in 3 sizes, but the rubber tips i think do not go well with these headphones.i ordered Comply s500 foam tips(10 $) and i m sure those will work better.I think the standard rubber tips will work well only with medium and large ears. If you manage to get the seal, the sound is mighty impressive, and that big driver really kicks in. Also the rubber band behind the ear keeps them well placed. Another thing- you can wear them with glasses, no problem.

Songs listened: Michael Jackson Heal the world 24 bit 192 Khz flac- very dynamic, punchy, detailed sound ( bass turned to +2), you will hear every instrument and sound effect on Michaels band.

                          Ben Webster Ballads vinyl 24 bit 96 Khz- warm sounding but somehow analythical sound.

                         Michael Buble To be loved 16 bit 44Khz.- detailed, engaging, but you can easily feel the difference in rip quality

                         Tracy Chapman-talkin about a revolution 24 bit 88 Khz flac- very nicely reproduced the natural character of Tracys voice, no colorature.Almost like listenong to studio monitors.

So the sound is very detailed, with good soundstage, good presentation of all frequencies,very very clear. They could be used to monitor as well. 

Posted

Pros: Bass, mids, highs(sort of), comfortable! Sexy

Cons: PITA to put into ears, stock tips

For reference the only other pair of IEM's worth noting are Kilpsch S4' with triple flange tips.

 

These normally go for around $200 brand new, I got mine like new, for $115! I was originally going to buy Yamaha EPH100's but it was a fight between the Brits and the Japanese, Brits won, I was thinking about Top Gear... Having previously only listened to one pair of KEF speakers at my local Fry's I thought they were going to sound like absolute soul-less junk. (They we're the cheapest KEF's speakers possible)  Well, they didn't...at all.

 

I am writing this review in BASS mode, so I am using bass boost to maximize the bass.

 

Bass is really deep and great extension. Mids are still great despite bass boost. Highs have become a bit boring with bass boost. 

 

Very comfortable with foam tips, great isolation. However, it takes AGES to put into my ears, stupid foam tips expand too fast because the earhooks make it take longer to put in. Another thing about my ears, is that they push anything out, even triple flange with superglue, they push them out. I have to push these back in once in awhile.

 

Build quality is amazing, the aluminum is very high quality and light. The black rubber pieces are very flexible and high quality, doesn't feel like it would break anytime soon.

 

The carry case it comes with is useless with foam tips, can't close it without the foam being compressed. It's also way to small, takes me about 3 days to put them inside. 

 

I listen with these with a Sony Xperia Z2 and the iApple control thing is surprisingly not annoying, doesn't get in the way. 

KEF M200 Hi-Fi In-Ear Headphones, Aluminum/Black
By:
Description:

With two dedicated dynamic drivers, M200 hi-fi earphones allow you to enjoy the most delicate nuances of the original recording.

Details:
DetailValue
BindingElectronics
BrandKEF
ColorAluminium / Black
EAN0637203211218
FeatureCombining a 10mm LF driver and a 5.5mm neodymium MF/HF driver, KEF's unique Dual Dynamic Driver (DDD) array creates an engagingly natural sound right across the frequency range. Secure Arm folds work together with an ergonomic shell and soft silicone tips that fit snugly over the ear canal to form a tight acoustic seal that eliminates external noise, they feel so natural that you soon forget you're wearing them. M200 has an in-line microphone and remote control for iPhone and other Apple products, allowing you to operate the play functions or switch between calls and music. In the box: M200 earphones, high performance audio cable with 3-button remote/mic for use with Apple products, protective case, flight adaptor, 3 pairs of replacement silicon eartips
LabelKEF
ManufacturerKEF
ModelM200
MPNM200
PublisherKEF
StudioKEF
TitleKEF M200 Hi-Fi In-Ear Headphones, Aluminum/Black
UPC637203211218
WarrantyWarranty on parts
CatalogNumberList - CatalogNumberListElementM200
Item Height8 inches
Item Length12.75 inches
Item Weight7 pounds
Item Width4.5 inches
Package Height2.1 inches
Package Length7.4 inches
Package Weight0.45 pounds
Package Width4.2 inches
PackageQuantity1
PartNumberM200
ProductGroupCE
ProductTypeNameHEADPHONES
UPCList - UPCListElement637203211218
ReleaseDate2013-06-15
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
Head-Fi.org › Head Gear › Headphones › In-Ear › Universal Fit › KEF M200 Hi-Fi In-Ear Headphones, Aluminum/Black