Tag Archives: Earphones and in-ear monitors

Bowers & Wilkins Upgrades In-Ear True Wireless Headphones

The following is a press release issued by Bowers & Wilkins.

The original Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 & Pi5 in-ear noise cancelling headphones, launched in April 2021, redefined expectation in the True Wireless category and marked the renowned British audio brand’s first entry into the TWS market. Now the brand has built upon the universal acclaim for its first-generation in-ear True Wireless headphones, with the introduction of two new upgraded models, the Pi7 S2 and Pi5 S2. Replacing the first-generation models, the two new designs reaffirm their status as the best-sounding True Wireless earbuds in the category.

The best just got better

Pi7 S2 maintains the industry-leading hi-resolution sound of its predecessor, while making valuable upgrades to connectivity, earbud battery life, user experience, and introducing three new premium finishes. Both Pi7 S2 and Pi5 S2 feature upgraded wireless connectivity via a re-engineered antenna design with increased Bluetooth range to up to 25m ensuring an even more stable, high-quality listening experience.

Both new models feature an improved earbud battery life, now offering five hours of listening time before a recharge is required. They continue to offer a quick charge function delivering an additional two hours listening time from just a 15-minute charge. Of course, the charging cases for each model provide additional battery life, with a further 16 hours available for Pi7 S2 and 19 hours available for Pi5 S2.

Premium design, new finishes

Pi7 S2 and Pi5 S2 continue to offer the class-leading, premium design expected from Bowers & Wilkins, while introducing a wide range of new, refined finishes. Pi7 S2 is available in three new colors; Satin Black, Canvas White and Midnight Blue. With Pi5 S2, Bowers & Wilkins has introduced its widest range of headphone colors to date, available in Cloud Grey and Storm Grey, and in new vibrant colors, Spring Lilac and Sage Green* (*available in Spring ’23).

Seamless user experience from the Music App

Pi7 S2 and Pi5 S2 are the latest headphone models to be fully integrated with the Bowers & Wilkins Music App. Offering a seamless user experience, complete with set-up, configuration of noise cancellation modes, and wear sensor adjustment, the Music App also supports hi-res streaming capability direct from your mobile device to your earbuds via services such as Qobuz, TIDAL and Deezer.

Smart, intuitive features

The Pi7 S2 continues to offer Wireless Audio Retransmission, a breakthrough feature originally introduced in the first-generation model, enabling users to connect to an external audio source – such as an in-flight entertainment system – and then wirelessly retransmit audio from that source to the earbuds, via the Smart charging case, all in outstanding sound quality.

Both models can be controlled via a simple one-button user interface – a single capacitive button on each earbud that can perform multiple tasks simply and elegantly – coupled to voice assistant support via either Siri or Google Assistant, depending on the connected device. The Bowers & Wilkins Music App also offers a range of user adjustments for customers who wish to fine tune their earbuds to their preferences.

 True Wireless sound, redefined

As the flagship True Wireless model, the Pi7 S2 continues to offer support for Qualcomm® aptX™ Adaptive allowing high-resolution music transmission from compatible streaming services and devices, enabled by 24-bit/48kHz wireless transmission between each earbud. Together, these two technologies continue to make the Pi7 S2 one of very few True

Wireless earbuds able to support high-resolution audio all the way from your music source to your ears.

Pi7 S2 features 9.2mm bespoke Bowers & Wilkins drive units, joined by a high-frequency ‘balanced armature’ driver, with each of the four drive units in the system actively driven by its own amplifier. Pi7 S2 also offers Adaptive Noise Cancellation to automatically monitor, analyze and adapt to its surroundings in order to produce the best possible, uninterrupted listening experience. That ANC system is paired with six microphones – three in each earbud – for crystal-clear sound quality with phone calls.

Class-leading, True Wireless sound

The new Pi5 S2 also continues to offer the best audio performance in its class, with TWS technology for robust, high-quality earbud-to-earbud synchronization, coupled to a single 9.2mm bespoke drive unit

in each earbud. The Pi5 S2 supports CD-quality playback thanks to the inclusion of high-quality aptX wireless transmission of music from an aptX-compatible mobile device. Pi5 S2 also offers seamless access to user-selectable noise-cancelling plus an ambient pass-through mode, and it features twin built-in microphones per earbud for high-quality phone calls.

The new Pi7 S2 and Pi5 S2 in-ear earbuds are available from bowerswilkins.com and select retailers from 25th January 2023.

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Apple AirPods Pro 2: Suitable for high quality music?

Apple AirPods Pro 2 have several pros and a few cons

Nextscreen, LLC CEO Tom Martin reviews the Apple AirPods Pro 2, the latest ear buds from the Cupertino company.

Tom discusses the problems faced by most Bluetooth earbuds and if the new AirPods can compensate, but ultimately answers the question, “Are Apple AirPods Pro 2 suitable for high quality music?”

Watch the video below to see the entire review.

You can see this video and more on the Hi-Fi+ YouTube Channel, such as Tea Time with Alan and Pete.

Hi-Fi+ Editor Alan Sircom and Publisher Pete Collingwood-Trewin talk about what’s happening in the high-end audio world.

Tea Time with Alan and Pete is just one of several new series on the Hi-Fi+ YouTube channel designed for audiophiles of all levels.

Another series is History of Audio, which aims to teach viewers a little about the History of Audio, which might be a trip down memory lane for many. It also hopes those who watch will learn from the varying experiences of other audiophiles through their trials and tribulations with different equipment.

While you’re on our YouTube channel, be sure to check out our Audio Basics series. So far, this series has covered what makes a great stereo system and how to find a great stereo system.

Soon, you can find reports from manufacturers at audio shows from around the world. You can see the likes of Aurender, Focal Naim, AudioThesis, Schiit Audio, and Magnepan, just to name a few. Right now, you can see what debuted at AXPONA 2022 and a bit from the Texas Audio Roundup, including background on the Magnepan LRS+. You can also see videos from Pacific Audio Fest in Seattle, CEDIA 2022 in Dallas, and you’ll see reports from Capital Audio Fest coming next month.

You can also see additional product reviews as well as more from CEDIA Expo 2022 in Dallas on the hi-fi+ YouTube channel coming soon.

Be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel so you don’t miss any episodes!

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NXEars Opera

NXEars is one of many newcomers in the personal audio space, but it comes with a lot of back-story and all of it is good. The brand was founded in California and builds in China; its founder was one of the brains behind NuForce and a former Knowles engineer, which gives the company a unique insight into what a pair of IEMs will be used with, and the construction of drivers used in most earphones, custom and universal in-ears.

NXEars may be comparatively new, but its three-strong range has already caught the attention of the personal audio cognoscenti and the Sonata, Basso and the flagship three-way, eight-driver Opera we’re testing here. Two distinct technologies unique to the brand have been noticed in a very contended world.

NXEars Opera

All three IEMs use NXEar’s unique Aperiodic Ground Loading (AGL) system, which manages to retain the core of a good IEM (shutting out the world outside) while reducing the pressure build-up that comes from pushing a mostly rigid structure into your ear. AGL restores the balance of natural pressure that occurs in the ear canal. In addition, the Opera uses NXEars’ own ‘Linear Phase Crossover’ system that corrects the irregular phasing that is an unfortunate function of multi-driver setups; even the eight Knowles balanced armature drivers, tuned and used in the Opera.

All eight drive units would occupy the same physical space in an ideal world, but this is impossible. Those different driver positions and a range of bandwidths from each driver means phase issues, even frequency cancellations. These problems go away by adding time and phase alignment to the crossover.

Opera storage

Opera comes in a black storage case in a nice white box with an NXEars on the outside. Inside are the Operas themselves, with a good Mono-crystal 6N copper, eight-conductor braided 3.5mm cable, four pairs of silicone and two pairs of foam ear tips, some clips, a smaller pocketable case, a cleaning tool and some documentation case candy. The 3D-printed earpieces are made of semi-transparent dark blue with a distinctive Stardust Blue design on the outer facing.

Each model’s outer facing is unique, and the logo is etched into this front face. The small logo is ‘subtle’, to the point of almost complete invisibility. As with most Custom and Universal-Fit IEMs, the Opera ‘screws’ into your ear, making a complete seal, then the cable has a curved strain relief that hooks over the top of your ear.

NXEars Opera

The Opera IEM has a standard MMCX connector and nozzle length to allow aftermarket cables and ear-tips. While the cable is good enough not to need an upgrade (although upgrades do improve the performance), this is a good plan because the choice of ear-tip is vital. As the AGL system relieves pressure build-up in the ear canal, the performance of the Opera is strongly contingent on making a good seal with the ear-tip itself.

However, unless they are a dreadful fit for your ears, I would recommend using the medium silicone tips fitted as supplied for the first 50 hours of listening to let the Opera’s drivers loosen up, then find the best fit knowing the Opera’s tonal balance is as good as it’s ever going to get.

Single driver over balanced armatures

Of late, I’ve found myself more drawn to single-driver IEMs rather than models with multiple balanced armatures. This is because many such models trade ‘long-term listening’ for ‘short-term excitement’; multiple drivers often sound exciting initially but ultimately wearing. The Opera is a delightful exception; the sound is detailed but not aggressively so, with a more natural and traditional loudspeaker-like presentation in all the ways that count (as in ‘refinement’ rather than ‘box coloration’ of course). It has the insight and drive of good IEMs but without the overtly exuberant or hyper-energetic sound commonly associated with the breed. There’s rich, chocolatey darkness to the sound that is more beguiling than muddy, which is truly excellent.

That richness extends down into the midrange, with a valve-like warmth and naturalness to the sound. Perhaps more significantly, there’s a seamless coherence to the sound across the frequency range that gives the Opera a sort of analogue-like openness and musical integrity often lost on multi-way IEMs. This, coupled with a surprisingly large and delateralised (perceived to be way outside of the listener’s head) soundstage, make the Operas a model of refinement in the true high-end audio sense.

It’s not all rosy, however. Or perhaps the point is it is a little too rosy at times. While I like the Opera very much for not making a bright, forward, and uneven presentation, by the same token, this can work against the Opera when playing more laid-back music, especially older, slightly rolled-off treble sounds. This can end up sounding too soft and saccharine sounding at times. But this is a trade-off I’d happily make compared to the sharp stinging treble of many IEMs.

Where the Opera shows itself to be a true star, though is in the lower regions. Bass is at once fast and warm and quite ‘meaty’ sounding. But perhaps what attracts me to the NXEars Opera sound is the way it doesn’t dissect the music in the way many IEMs can. It’s still an extremely analytical sound and gives you excellent insight into what’s going on with the music played, however, and instead focuses on the whole musical presentation. That suggests a more mature, sophisticated musical ear behind the voicing of the Opera and highlights how its tuning has paid off.

The pressure’s off

Finally, a word on that AGL system that reduces pressure in the ear canal, and that word is ‘wow!’. It works and delivers effortless long-term listening without that uncomfortable ‘underwater’ pressure build-up.

The NXEars Operas are at once easy to drive, easy to wear, and easy to listen to. They need a long run-in, and you must use the right ear-tips to get the most out of them, but it’s worth the effort if you crave refinement!

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Type: Balanced-armature, universal-fit in-ears
  • Impedance: 18 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 100dB
  • Price: $799

Manufacturer:

NXEars

URL: nxears.com

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Shure releases Special Edition Purple SE215 Sound Isolating earphones

LONDON, September 20, 2022— The wait is over! Fans of the anticipated Shure Special Edition Purple SE215 can now purchase the Sound Isolating™ earphones online and via select retailers for £109 (UK RRP).

The purple colour was selected after a global vote across 60 countries, enabling the voice of every fan to be heard. By adding the purple earphones to the 215 lineup, listeners can express themselves with this trending colour, whether they are listening to music during their daily commute or on stage.

The Special Edition SE215 purple colour variation provides the same amazing audio quality and comfortable fit as the SE215 in other colour variations. Delivering clear sound and deep bass, along with Shure’s esteemed sound isolating design, the earphones keep noise out and provide an immersive audio experience in any location. The Special Edition purple SE215 earphones are also equipped with wired to wireless flexibility to ensure they fit users’ needs. 

About Shure

About Shure Shure (www.shure.com) has been making people sound extraordinary for nearly a century. Founded in 1925, the Company is a leading global manufacturer of audio equipment known for quality, performance, and durability. We make microphones, wireless microphone systems, in-ear monitors, earphones and headphones, conferencing systems, and more. For critical listening, or high-stakes moments on stage, in the studio, and from the meeting room, you can always rely on Shure.Shure Incorporated is headquartered in Niles, Illinois, in the United States. We have nearly 40 manufacturing facilities and regional sales offices throughout the Americas, EMEA, and Asia.

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Meze Audio RAI Solo in-ear monitors

It’s very nearly a decade since Antonio Meze founded Meze Audio in Baia Mare, Romania – and it’s safe to say that his company has prioritised quality over quantity ever since.

Just have a look at the model line-up on the company’s website and you’ll see what I mean. Meze Audio’s entire product range runs to two variations on its Model 99 over-ear headphones (the ‘Classics’ and the ‘Neo’), a properly expensive (€3k) planar magnetic ‘Empyrean’ over-ear design, and the RAI Penta five-driver in-ear monitors that Mr Editor Sircom enthused about so fulsomely in issue #181.

And now there’s a fifth Meze Audio model: the RAI Solo. At roughly a quarter of the price of the RAI Penta, the RAI Solo is the in-ear monitor with which Meze Audio intends to engage with the mainstream.

Of course, one man’s ‘mainstream’ is another’s ‘disturbingly esoteric’ – and it’s safe to say the RAI Solo may not be the in-ear monitor the mainstream (which, let’s face it, is a fairly disparate group of people at the best of times) thinks it’s waiting for. It’s not wireless, it doesn’t have any active noise-cancellation, and there’s no sign of a control app. It rather looks like the mainstream is going to have to come to Meze Audio, rather than the other way around, after all.

RAI Solo may have been designed to sell at a price that can reasonably confidently be described as ‘mainstream’, but that doesn’t mean Meze Audio has sacrificed any of its increasingly obvious principles. RAI Solo is a combination of some pleasantly original thinking and the sort of rigorous engineering with which Meze Audio is becoming synonymous.

The housing of RAI Solo is a two-piece injection moulded stainless steel arrangement. It’s durable, extremely low-resonance, lends itself happily to mass production and – let’s not be coy – looks pretty good in its raw, brushed state. Meze Audio has achieved an agreeably anatomic fit with the RAI Solo – so while they’re far from the most lightweight earbuds around, they prove easy to wear for hours on end. In combination with the generous selection of eartip options Meze Audio provides, the RAI Solo are among the most comfortable in-ear monitors around.

Each earbud is joined to a 1.3m silver-plated cable using micro-miniature coaxial connectors. The RAI Solo are supplied with a cable terminating in a rhodium-plated 3.5mm jack, but the cable’s detachable nature means a switch to cable terminating in either a rhodium-plated 2.5mm jack or a gold-plated 4.4mm jack is possible. It’ll cost you, mind. The cable itself is ‘tangle-resistant’ – and if ever there was a piece of overtly disingenuous marketing-speak, ‘tangle-resistant’ might well be it.

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Westone ES80 custom-fit in-ear monitors

Westone ES80 custom-fit in-ear monitors

Westone Laboratories, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA, is one of the world’s oldest and most experienced manufacturers of universal-fit earphones and custom-fit in-ear monitors. Moreover, the firm has established an enviable reputation for expertise in all things in-ear related, which explains the company’s well-deserved slogan: “Westone: The In-Ear Experts”. Over the years, Hi-Fi+ has favourably reviewed a number of Westone models including the ES5 and the then-flagship ES60 CIEMS as well as the W60 and W80 earphones—the latter representing a groundbreaking effort to achieve landmark levels of sonic openness, frequency extension, and overall accuracy and neutrality. Over time Westone ...

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1MORE True Wireless ANC in-ear headphones

1MORE True Wireless ANC in-ear headphones

The headphone world thought the sky was falling when Apple decided to can – pun intended – the headphone socket. While there were still ways to use a wired headphone, pretty much on that day, a lot of the world waved goodbye to wires in their portable audio, and never looked back. In fairness, what also happened was a number of companies upped their game and released high-performance wireless personal audio products. 1MORE’s True Wireless ANC in-ear ‘headphones’ – the first True Wireless design to receive THX approval – are a great example of how far this technology has progressed. ...

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Bowers & Wilkins Reveals the PI7 and PI5 True Wireless Headphones

The following is a press release issued by Bowers & Wilkins.

Worthing, England, April 2021: Today, British audio brand Bowers & Wilkins has unveiled two new state-of-the-art True Wireless headphones – PI7 and PI5 – that bring the brand’s acclaimed ‘True Sound’ promise and acoustic excellence to the True Wireless category.

Both PI7 and PI5 models deliver the unrivalled high-resolution sound quality that audiophiles and music lovers have come to expect from Bowers & Wilkins. Now, that same signature sound quality is offered for the first time in True Wireless form, incorporating innovative and intuitive smart features designed to fit seamlessly into an on-the-go lifestyle.

Drawing on over fifty years of industry-leading audio excellence and innovation, Bowers & Wilkins reveals  another best-in-class portfolio of products that deliver your favourite music the way it is meant to be heard – as the artist intended it.

PI7 – The new industry-defining True Wireless headphones from Bowers & Wilkins.

Every element of the flagship PI7 model has been crafted to deliver the very highest level of audio performance, redefining expectation in True Wireless. PI7 features unrivalled sound quality, driven by

high-resolution 24-bit audio processing in each earbud and Dual Hybrid Drive units that work just like high- performance speakers to create a rich and immersive listening experience.

In addition, PI7 features Adaptive Noise Cancellation that automatically adapts in real-time to its surroundings to produce the best possible listening experience – so you can block out the world and focus on the music you love. It’s driven by six microphones – three in each earbud – for crystal-clear sound quality with every call, all activated though an intuitive, one-touch user interface.

Even the Smartcase is designed for an intuitive and seamless user experience. As you would expect, it can conveniently charge your device wirelessly while you are on-the-go. But, and in an industry first, PI7 raises the bar by offering a unique wireless audio retransmission feature via its Smartcase. That means you can continue to use your PI7s even when on a plane: just connect your case directly to an audio source – such as  an in-flight entertainment system – and it will retransmit sound directly to your earbuds.

PI5 – The class-leading, Bowers & Wilkins True Wireless sound that’s with you all day.

PI5 is the class-leading True Wireless headphone with all of the high quality, audio-enhancing features expected from a Bowers & Wilkins product – the perfect accompaniment to an on-the-go lifestyle.

Alongside the exceptional audio performance and call quality, the PI5 offers over 24 hours of battery life, ensuring you stay connected throughout the day. This is accompanied by advanced Active Noise Cancellation, allowing you to easily adapt to your listening environment, whether you’re working from home or on a busy street, and a fast-charging case that provides a boost of up to two hours of battery life from just a 15-minute charge.

Bold design and Smart technology.

Both models embody the Bowers & Wilkins bold design to stand out from the crowd, with accents of color to highlight the beautifully precise detailing.

Smart technology makes living with PI7 and PI5 more convenient. Both models can be configured via the Bowers & Wilkins companion App and feature a simple one-button user interface, coupled with voice assistant support via either Siri or Google Assistant. Multiple source devices can be wirelessly paired to either model allowing the user to easily and conveniently reconnect to each source as and when needed.

Developed by the same team behind the Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers found in Abbey  Road Studios, PI7 and PI5 both embody the same industry-leading engineering and design philosophy that has led to the creation of some of the world’s finest audio products.

Geoff Edwards, Brand President, Bowers & Wilkins, said: “We are excited to be venturing into the True Wireless category with our new headphones. It’s long been our philosophy, established by our founder John  Bowers, that we would only enter a new category if we believed that we could set a new standard for audio performance in that space. With PI7 and PI5, we truly believe we have achieved that.”

The PI7 True Wireless and PI5 True Wireless headphones are available from www.bowerswilkins.com on April 21st 2021 for $399 and $249 respectively.

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Noble partners with KS Distribution in the UK and Germany to increase brand awareness across Europe.

Noble partners with KS Distribution in the UK and Germany to increase brand awareness across Europe.

From the KS Distribution press release Shoreham-by-Sea: Noble, the Texas based custom and universal IEM specialist, has partnered with audio distributor KS Distribution in a distribution deal set to make Noble’s finely crafted, beautifully designed custom-fit and universal-fit in-ear monitor and true wireless range even more accessible across Europe. The new arrangement will enable KS Distribution to help increase the number of retailers in the UK and Germany - giving fans of the brand and new customers more opportunities to discover and audition Noble’s uniquely hand-crafted products. Commenting on the new partnership, Jim Moulton, Noble’s co-owner said: “Noble Audio fans ...

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KEF Introduces Mu3 Earphones Designed by Ross Lovegrove

The following is a press release issued by KEF.

Marlboro NJ, 4th February 2021 – Audio Manufacturer KEF is excited to introduce the Mu3 Noise Cancelling True Wireless earphones. Designed by visionary designer Ross Lovegrove, and engineered by KEF’s UK acoustic team, these new Mu3 earphones deliver pristine, high-resolution sound on the move and provide music lovers the freedom to hear every note, every word, every detail whether on their commute, at the gym, or on the sofa.

KEF is a pioneer of high-performance audio equipment that produces pure and natural sound. From hifi speakers to wireless speakers and headphones, they are designed to deliver magical soundscapes that enhance lives. In 2021, KEF celebrates 60 years of an uncompromising commitment for world-leading audio technology. KEF’s six decades of producing the finest quality products that deliver their signature sound ‘as the artist-intended’, is embodied in their current product range honed by 60 years of passion and heartfelt ambition.

KEF’s Signature Pure, Accurate Sound

The audio performance of Mu3 earphones benefits from KEF’s specially tuned Active Noise Cancellation technology. It  enables the Mu3 to eliminate external noise without affecting the details that bring music to life.

The Mu3 delivers KEF’s incomparable signature sound as each of the Mu3s’ sculptural enclosures contain an 8.2mm full-range dynamic driver, expertly tuned by KEF’s engineering team to deliver an exceptionally dynamic and well balanced, coherent sound with rich midrange, detailed bass and crisp high tones.

Design by Ross Lovegrove

To ensure the Mu3 earphones look as good as they sound, KEF has once again collaborated with Ross Lovegrove, the designer behind the MUON loudspeaker and the MUO Bluetooth speaker. Renowned for his innovative approach and flowing, sculptural forms, Ross Lovegrove brings a new dimension to sound. Through design that embraces both beauty and technological ingenuity, Lovegrove’s ongoing collaboration with KEF is an exercise in aesthetic and engineering excellence.

The Mu3 earphones may be small, but their sculptural look offers sophistication within their compact dimensions. The pure and clean aesthetic complements KEF’s design philosophy perfectly. Great design is about more than style; the Mu3 earphones boast quality and ergonomics to match.

Compact, Ergonomic Design

The faultless ergonomic design of the new Mu3 ensures the listener has the most comfortable audio experience. The Mu3s are perfectly balanced in the ears by smart weighting, which stops them from falling out. They are available with a choice of four subtly different sized ear tips to give the most tailored fit for your ears, while also providing the perfect seal for noise isolation and to keep them securely in place.

All Day, Any Way

The Mu3 relieves the listener from the hassle of wires due to reassuringly stable, latency-free Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity. The audio performance is further enhanced by the introduction of simultaneous transmission, where both earphones receive a signal at the same time, rather than the more common approach where audio is sent to one earpiece and relayed to the other and therefore running the risk of latency. Mu3 delivers a seamless performance; they are simple to connect and exceptionally stable on both iOS and Android devices. After the simple setup, automatic pairing makes listening to the Mu3 an effortless experience.

The Mu3 earphones also boast ‘Ambient Mode’, where at the touch of a button Active Noise Cancellation is disengaged, and instead the audio picked up on the microphones is played through the earphones, bypassing passive noise reduction and providing you with instant clarity on what is going on around you. The Mu3 has high-capacity, quick-charge batteries to ensure they last for a full day’s listening even with Bluetooth and Noise Cancellation engaged, and the headphones will remain safe if you get caught out in the rain thanks to their splash-proof design.

The Mu3 earphones are available in Silver and retail for $$229.99. To discover more on KEF and the new headphones, please visit https://us.kef.com/.

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