KEF Mu3 true wi-fi earbuds overview: Magnificence and the beat

KEF Mu3 true wi-fi earbuds overview: Magnificence and the beat
MSRP $230.00

“Regardless of so-so ANC, their smooth design and nice sound make for an interesting package deal.”

  • Stunning design
  • Comfy match
  • Implausible sound
  • Superb battery life
  • IPX5 water resistance
  • No app for EQ or management tweaks
  • No wi-fi charging
  • Mediocre ANC and transparency
  • Mediocre name high quality

KEF is likely one of the most famed names in hi-fi, because of audio system which have impressed reviewers and fanatics for years. The corporate’s wi-fi LS50 bookshelf audio system are an ideal instance of what occurs while you merge basic acoustic know-how with modern expertise. So it was with nice anticipation that I took supply of the corporate’s very first true wi-fi earbuds, the $230 KEF Mu3. With heavy competitors from Sony, Bose, Jabra, Sennheiser, and Grado, did KEF carry sufficient of its top-flight audio engineering to the Mu3? Let’s have a look …

What’s within the field?

KEF Mu3 True Wireless Earbuds
Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

Inside KEF’s all-cardboard and simply recyclable field, you’ll discover the Mu3 inside their charging case, a USB-C charging cable, three additional sizes of silicone eartips (plus the default mediums put in on the earbuds), and quick-start documentation.


Let’s get one factor clear instantly: The KEF Mu3 are drop-dead beautiful. Each the earbuds and their charging case appear like sculptures forged from extremely polished aluminum. They’re clean and glossy, and in the event you depart the charging case in a extremely seen place like a espresso desk, desk, or kitchen counter, I assure folks received’t find a way to withstand selecting it up simply to really feel it.

For individuals who like getting misplaced within the particulars of their favourite tracks, the Mu3 are more than pleased to oblige.

The eye to element continues proper all the way down to the hinge mechanism. Most charging instances have flimsy lids that really feel like they may break in the event you’re not cautious. When their magnets aren’t conserving them within the closed place, they flop round worryingly. The Mu3’s lid feels luxurious by comparability, with a hinge that jogs my memory of a laptop computer display screen — it stays put in any place from all the way in which open to completely closed.  With its aluminum-looking end, it’s mainly the MacBook Air of charging instances.

Don’t just like the high-gloss end? KEF added a second coloration choice in August 2021: Charcoal grey, which makes use of a matte end and a darker coloration for each the earbuds and charging case.

Sadly, the case can be sort of cumbersome, so regardless of its sensuous curves, it’s not very pocketable. However that’s OK — KEF seems to have used a tricky clear outer layer on the plastic, and I feel it’ll resist scratches brought on by different objects.

These earbuds even have a really acceptable IPX5 water-resistance ranking, which ought to defend them from something however precise immersion in water.

Consolation and controls

KEF Mu3 True Wireless Earbuds
Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

The KEF Mu3 include 4 sizes of sentimental silicone eartips, which ought to imply that the majority of us will have the ability to get a great seal. And right here’s some beneficial recommendation on that entrance: If you happen to really feel the necessity to cram the earbud deep into your ears (which is feasible given their small dimension), you’re most likely utilizing the improper dimension of eartip.

They didn’t budge in any respect and had been very snug even after a number of hours of steady use.

Pushing them in too deep is not going to solely trigger discomfort, nevertheless it additionally reduces each sound high quality and noise-canceling effectiveness. I found that the onerous manner. I additionally discovered that with the most important eartip, I used to be capable of gently insert the Mu3, and so they didn’t budge in any respect and had been very snug even after a number of hours of steady use.

KEF has employed bodily buttons on the Mu3, and that’s undoubtedly a great factor. Contact controls might be finicky at one of the best of instances, and I a lot want actual buttons once they’re obtainable.

These buttons are simple to press, however unusually, the precise button had a extra pronounced click on response to it than the left.

With a mix of single-, double-, and long-presses, you’ll be able to management every part aside from skipping again a observe. However there’s no method to customise these gestures by way of a smartphone app as a result of KEF hasn’t created one for the Mu3.

There aren’t any put on sensors both, so pulling out an earbud received’t robotically pause your tunes.

Sound high quality

KEF Mu3 True Wireless Earbuds
Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

The KEF Mu3 are pleasant to take heed to. Their vibrant and clear highs, exact midtones, and expertly executed bass result in surprises with each new observe you fireplace up. There isn’t a hint of the muddiness that usually hampers lesser earbuds. Throwing on instrumental jazz requirements like Dave Brubeck’s Summertime or Duke Ellington’s St. Louis Blues helps you respect the sheer musicality of KEF’s tuning, to not point out the soundstage, which is so tightly managed that you just really feel like you’ll be able to measure the space between devices all the way down to the inch.

For individuals who like getting misplaced within the particulars of their favourite tracks, the Mu3 are more than pleased to oblige.

After I first popped them in, I used to be disillusioned with the bass, nervous that in an effort to attain that so-called “impartial” or balanced EQ, KEF had gone too conservative with the low finish. Seems I had merely wedged the earbuds too far into my ears.

As soon as I discovered my mistake, I found that not solely is there loads of bass on faucet however that the Mu3 are capable of deploy that bass selectively, hitting you with a deep resonance solely when it’s referred to as for.

The transparency (ambient sound) mode doesn’t let in as a lot sound as I’d like.

I feel the Mu3 are nearly excellent in the case of EQ, however listening experiences being the subjective issues that they’re, it is best to know that the shortage of an app means there’s no method to rebalance the sound signature if it’s to not your liking.

Noise cancellation and transparency

KEF Mu3 True Wireless Earbuds
Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

Lively noise cancellation (ANC) has turn out to be a typical characteristic of high-end true wi-fi earbuds, however there’s nonetheless fairly a giant distinction when it comes to how every mannequin performs. The Mu3 ship a noticeable discount of low-frequency noises when ANC is engaged, nevertheless it’s a far cry from the cone-of-silence provided by the Apple AirPods Professional, Bose QuietComfort Ear Buds, and the Nuheara IQbuds2 Max.

Equally, the transparency (ambient sound) mode doesn’t let in as a lot sound as I’d like. Conversations are actually simpler with it on, and also you do get higher situational consciousness, nevertheless it’s not that magical “hey, it’s like I’m not sporting earbuds” sensation that these different fashions ship.

With out an app, there’s no method to dial in both perform, and no method to change the ANC set off motion. A single press on the left earbud controls noise cancellation, nevertheless it forces you to toggle between three modes (ANC, off, and transparency) as a substitute of letting you swap between ANC and transparency that are actually the 2 most used modes.

Battery life

KEF Mu3 True Wireless Earbuds
Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

KEF actually shocked me right here. Most true wi-fi earbuds — even actually costly ones — normally clock in between 5 and 7 hours of battery life per cost. However the Mu3 ship 9 hours — and that’s with ANC turned on. That’s not the longest time by any means, nevertheless it doesn’t must be. With one other 15 hours within the charging case, you get a full day of use earlier than needing to plug in with the USB-C charging wire.

Higher but, additionally they have a five-minute fast-charge system that offers you an additional hour of playtime. My solely actual disappointment is the shortage of a wi-fi charging choice. When KEF initially introduced the Mu3, wi-fi charging was among the many listed options, so this may increasingly come again in a future model.

Name high quality

I’ve observed a powerful correlation between a pair of earbuds’ ANC/transparency efficiency and their name high quality, and the Mu3 aren’t any exception. They battle a bit to maintain your voice from getting misplaced amid competing background noises, and there’s a raspy, skinny high quality to the sound that does get picked up.

They doubtless do a lot better when indoors, however outdoors, the place a number of calls appear to occur on earbuds, the Mu3 ought to solely be used sparingly.

Our take

Although they lack among the options we’ve come to anticipate on true wi-fi earbuds at this value, the KEF Mu3 are fantastically crafted, sound wonderful, and have a beneficiant battery life.

Is there a greater various?

Nearly as good because the Mu3 are, you’ll discover extra options with comparable sound high quality and costs from these rivals:

The $230 Sony WF-1000XM3 have app-supported EQ, tunable ANC and transparency, longer whole battery life, higher name high quality, help for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, and customizable controls

The $230 Jabra Elite 85t have app-supported EQ, wi-fi charging, tunable ANC and transparency, customizable controls, a find-my-earbuds characteristic, and higher name high quality, however they don’t sound fairly as crystal clear because the Mu3.

The $230 Grado GT220 sound similar to the Mu3 and so they cost wirelessly, however they don’t have ANC or transparency mode and so they’re significantly bulkier.

How lengthy will they final?

The KEF Mu3 look like constructed very effectively with high quality supplies. KEF backs them with a two-year guarantee, which is best than many rivals. Whenever you add of their IPX5 ranking, I feel they’ll final for a few years if correctly cared for.

Must you purchase them?

Sure. The Mu3 ignore a number of bells and whistles, focusing as a substitute on stunning design, a cushty match, very good sound, and nice battery life. However so long as you’re OK with this trade-off, they supply an ideal listening expertise.

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