KEF Porsche Design Space One Wireless

Score

Pros

  • Smart looks
  • Good battery life
  • Good sound

Cons

  • Pricey compared to rivals
  • Basic features list

Key Features

  • Review Price: £349
  • Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX
  • 30 hours battery life
  • Active noise cancellation (ANC)

What is the KEF Porsche Design Space One Wireless?

Meet KEF, hi-fi manufacturer with an excellent success rate in the land of loudspeakers. Meet Porsche Design, the luxury lifestyle arm of the company whose fast cars you can’t afford. They’ve joined forces to make a pair of Bluetooth headphones with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) – and they’re a solid offering.

They’re not exactly cheap, though, and rivals are strong. The Sony WH-1000XM2 are smarter, and the B&W PX sound better. Still, there’s plenty here to like.

Related: Best wireless headphones

KEF Porsche Design Space One Wireless

KEF Porsche Design Space One Wireless – Design

The Space One Wireless are easily among the smartest-looking headphones you’ll spot on the street. They offer a subtle design, although the aluminium headband helps to establish a premium vibe. The headband and ear pads look and feel convincingly enough like leather, although it’s actually ‘leatherette’ plastic.

There’s more imitation on the rear of the ear cups, where the plastic does a good job of mimicking sandblasted metal. I’d say these headphones look more expensive than they feel, although there is a reassuring weight to them.

Reasonable clamp force and soft memory foam in the ear pads make these headphones comfortable to wear, although they’re not for those with big ears. I found the fit a little snug.

When you’re done listening, they swivel flat for storage into a bulky hard case. I’d have preferred a folding/clam-like design, but these headphones clearly have aspirations of being easily slipped into briefcases, not stuffed into backpacks.

KEF Porsche Design Space One Wireless

KEF Porsche Design Space One Wireless – Features

As the name suggests, these are wireless headphones. They use Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX – as opposed to aptX HD, which is capable of making the most of hi-res audio.

The next big thing here is ANC, or active noise cancellation. Some headphones force you to have that on as soon as you power up, but that isn’t the case here – you can choose to have it off if you’re not in a noisy environment. If you do decide to use ANC, battery life is quoted at 30 hours.

The battery is charged via micro-USB. A charging cable is included, along with 3.5mm (buttoned and button-free), if your phone still has one of those. Oh, and there are standard controls (volume/pause/play) on the right ear.

That’s your lot. For the money, I can’t help but feel that this is a basic offering. The Bose QuietComfort 35 II, Sony WH-1000XM2 and B&W PX all cost less and offer smart features such as integrated Google Assistant or proximity sensors.

Still, there’s something to be said for tech that just works, and the Space One Wireless does that very well.

KEF Porsche Design Space One Wireless

KEF Porsche Design Space One Wireless – Performance

KEF’s hi-fi heritage definitely helps, since the Space One Wireless are in the top tier of the wireless/noise-cancelling headphone market. It’s an energetic, entertaining sound that does well in pretty much every department, with little in the way of shortcomings.

I started off with Gary Clark Jr’s ‘Come Together’ and the first thing I noticed was the low end. It’s deep, thick and powerful, and immediately I had concerns that these headphones were only good for pop. But that isn’t true at all.

The Space One Wireless are certainly willing and able to get down and dirty, and the overall signature does lean towards the warm, but there’s a tautness to the bass that ensures it never overwhelms. The more I listened, the more I came to appreciate how songs benefitted from firm and pronounced foundations.

KEF Porsche Design Space One Wireless

Vocals, too, are distinct. They’re perhaps a little too forward to be entirely neutral, but they don’t hog the spotlight either. They’re just direct and full enough to get your attention. The treble is less remarkable, but there’s little in the way of sibilance, and sound doesn’t harden up or strain when you crank up the volume.

The sound is spacious, with a nicely defined stereo image. My go-to track for testing audio panning is Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’, and the aptly named Space One Wireless didn’t disappoint in that department during the song’s strummy intro. The spaciousness does take a slight hit when you activate the noise-cancelling mode, but it’s worth it when the alternative is other people’s racket.

KEF Porsche Design Space One Wireless

Speaking of which, the noise cancellation here is pretty good. It isn’t up there with market leaders such as the Bose QC35 II and Sony WH-1000XM2, but the Space One Wireless do a better job than the B&W PX and B&O Beoplay H9i, which don’t really drown out noisy London Underground trains.

An all-round good performance, then, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t capable rivals. The Sony WH-1000XM2 not only has better ANC, it delivers a more agile sound with a greater sense of attack. The B&W PX, meanwhile, offer much more detail.

KEF Porsche Design Space One Wireless

Why buy the KEF Porsche Design Space One Wireless?

KEF and Porsche Design have come up with some fine headphones, but I can’t help feeling they’ve come to the market a little late in the game. By now, the same money can get you an excellent-sounding pair of headphones, with remarkable noise cancellation and even some smart features thrown in. However, if you’re a fan of the design, or you want something straightforward, the Space One Wireless won’t disappoint.

Related: Best headphones

Verdict

A fine pair of wireless and noise-cancelling headphones, but the competition is tough.

Score