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KEF M500 headphones

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Gadgets: KEF on-ear headphones

  • August 31, 2013 - 5:25 PM

Good Sound, Sleek design

KEF M500, $300 www.kef.com/html/us

The British audio company KEF has been making speakers and studio monitors for more than 50 years, but it only recently turned its attention to headphones.

That half-century of craftsmanship really shows in KEF’s M500 on-ear headphones, which provide great style, comfort and sound. At $300, the M500 headphones are aimed at the higher end of the consumer market. They are available directly from KEF or through retailers like Best Buy and Amazon.com.

The headphones, which won a 2013 Red Dot design award, are elegant yet simple. The lightweight aluminum frame and memory-foam ear cushions make the headphones comfortable to wear, even for extended periods. A flexible headband and multidirectional hinge above the earcups allow the headphones to easily adapt to different head sizes. They also can swivel to lie flat or fold up for storage in a supplied carrying case.

Sound through the headphones is vivid and full. On-ear headphones usually don’t offer a good seal, but these do a remarkable job of blocking noise. And they are comfortable.

heard but not seen Niles Cynema Soundfield, $1600+ www.nilesaudio.com/index.php

The Niles Cynema Soundfield in-wall sound bar may not be the ultimate in home theater surround-sound equipment, but it does one thing other sound bars do not: it fits flush to the wall, with no unsightly cabinet, and has a grille that can be painted to disappear into the décor.

Once a cutout is made in the wall, a supporting rail is installed that the Niles Cynema Soundfield components hang from.

The Cynema Soundfield doesn’t require modification to the studs behind the sheet rock, nor does it need to run wires to a separate amplifier. Speakers, amplifier and a wireless signal out to an optional subwoofer are all enclosed in a design that an experienced installer can have set up in about an hour.

The sound bars come in three sizes — 48 inches ($1,600), 55 inches ($1,750) and 60 inches ($2,000). The 48-inch model can be bought without the amplifier ($1,200). One interesting feature is that the in-wall amplifier turns itself off when the TV shuts down, so you don’t have a needless draw of power.

NEW YORK TIMES

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