We’ve only tried a couple of products from KEF before, the LS50 and LSX speakers and boy, they blew our minds. They have now released a new pair of earbuds, the Mu3 and I’ve been using them for the last couple of weeks.
- Active Noise Cancellation
- Bluetooth 5.0
- IPX5 Splash-Proof
- 24hours charge, 9hours in buds + 15hours additional in case
- Fast charging (5mins = 1hour use)
From the get-go, the unboxing experience is premium and when you lift away the documentation, there is the shiny silver case, sunken within the cardboard box and it looks great. The case has a metallic silver finish, it’s rounded and curvy. It’s lightweight, very small and feels very premium. There is a single indicator light to the front of the case, with the USB C port at the rear for charging. Opening the case for the first time, the hinge has some weight too it and offers a smooth opening motion, unlike anything I’ve experienced before. Inside the case is black, it’s obviously moulded for the buds and includes some subtle branding and a single word ‘Lovegrove’. Why? When the person that designed the earbuds was a guy called Ross Lovegrove. Take the earbuds out and you can see the two metal prongs required for charging and there is the standard magnetic connection between bud and case.
The earbuds follow suit, with that metallic silver finish. They each include a push-button, which is used to control your content. The earbuds are very lightweight and include just a single rubber ear tip. They have been ergonomically designed for a snug fit within your ear but they do not include any further support from say a secondary rubber wing that can be found on some buds now. There are four different sized tips provided, so you should be able to get a snug fit.
The quality of the case is the best I’ve ever seen from any pair of earbuds, period. The case is well built, well designed, it’s lightweight and I like the way it looks. The earbuds look just as good, but the finish of them is slightly less refined.
In the box, you get the earbuds in the case, plus 4 sets of silicone tips (large, medium, small, short), USB-C cable and associated paperwork. The earbuds only come in a silver finish and the case does not include wireless charging.
As for controls, the earbuds are not touch-sensitive like most, they have a push button instead, with the logo part on each bud being the button. All the gestures are detailed within the quick start guide but in brief, a short tap on the right is play/pause, long tap on the right is volume up, long tap on the left is volume down, double tap on right for next track and short tap on left to switch between ANC on, ambient and ANC off. I like that they have allowed for volume control on these, which is quite a rarity now as most others don’t include that level of control. It does look like they have opted for volume control over a previous track option. You can also control the voice assistant and answering calls as well.
Moving onto audio performance and it is fantastic. The MU3’s offer a beautifully crisp, vibrant and deep sound profile. I listened to a number of genres, pop, rock, country stuff and it’s been a joy. I can just set an album or playlist to play and that’s it, I’m in the music and away from it all. Everything is very well balanced, highs and mids from instruments and vocals are very prominent and then when that bass drum or bass guitar drops, there is ample bass, rounding everything off nicely. The best audio experience is with ANC on and so it should be, and speaking of ANC.
The earbuds come with ANC or active noise cancellation, plus ambient mode. Scrolling through the three options, ANC On, Ambient On and ANC Off, there is a very noticeable difference. When off, there is a nice level of passive noise cancellation but I can still hear my keyboard taps, my PC working and the aeroplane flying over. Turn ANC on and the background noise has deadened (is that a word?). I can still hear my keyboard taps but the PC is silent and I’m guessing the aeroplane has passed now. In the outside world, the difference between blocking out passing cars, people chatting, or kids playing over the local park, is night and day and I’m impressed. Turning on ambient mode however and it’s just a lot of white noise and sounds appear to be amplified when compared to having ANC off and just the passive cancellation. It works and what is weird, the audio quality isn’t all that compromised, which is very impressive. I’ve seen ambient mode come in all forms before, usually they just try and reduce the overall volume or mess with the audio quality but none of that with these which is great. That white noise you hear when there is no content playing, it’s not very noticeable at all when music is playing. There are voice prompts when switching between the three, so no problem with not knowing which one you’re on.
Connectivity was good, easy to set up and I’ve not had any problems with pairing or syncing. If you want to use just one earbud, that’s fine, you need to take them both out, pair them with your smart device, then put one back into the case and be on your way. I tend to forget about testing calls with earbuds but by chance, I received a couple of works calls while they were in and they sounded fine on my end and had no complaints from the other either.
When it comes to comfort, I tend to steer towards earbuds with extra support, either in their shape or from the addition of a rubber wing but in this instance, I’m pleasantly surprised with how comfortable and secure the Mu3’s are. I even went as far as to use them for one of my spin classes and to my surprise, I only had to fiddle with the right bud once, so that’s good. Battery life looks ok, 9hours per charge with ANC on, which is pretty good but then the case only carries another 15 hours. Sure, 24hours is a long time and probably not a problem for anyone but the last few earbuds I’ve checked out were going 40, even 50hours from the carry case.
So there we have it. The KEF Mu3 earbuds sound fantastic and with a retail price of £200, a worthwhile purchase. The build quality of the case and earbuds is the best I’ve seen in a long time, the audio performance to match. What would I have liked to have seen? An EQ option from a KEF app, offering the ability to fine-tune frequencies to suit the user’s preference/music genre.
For more info, head over to the official KEF website.