At first glance, the KEF Porsche Design Motion Ones look like they mean business, with a rather macho black-and-metal aesthetic. These are neckband-style earphones, meaning the makers have tackled their battery life woes by putting the cells in a rubberised neckband that connects the two earpieces. This is also where KEF and Porsche have situated the controls, the micro-USB charging port and a microphone.
The aluminium earpieces feature a clever pivoting mechanism that allows you to adjust the angle of the earphone according to preference. They’re also magnetic, enabling them to latch together when not in use, and they have IPX5 certification, meaning they’ll take a moderate spraying with water/sweat/your liquid of choice.
Bluetooth set up on my Pixel XL was painless: power the earphones on, and once your mobile device has found them, tap to pair them and a robotic voice should intone “connected”.
I tried the Motion One earphones out in the setting they’re meant for: the gym. While the earpieces themselves are comfortable, the neckband bothered me. Turn your head too far to the left or right, and the cables tug the heavy rubber band awkwardly this way and that. Not a pleasant experience.
Another, smaller problem is the little rubber cover that protects the micro-USB charging port: I couldn’t get it to fit back into the port satisfactorily. It might seem a minor quibble, but for a product that trumpets its build quality, I found this oversight baffling.
Moving on to audio quality, the Motion Ones impress when compared to other popular wireless earphones. The single-driver units deliver classical, jazz, rock, hip-hop and spoken word tracks with clarity, balance and almost no discernible distortion, despite Bluetooth’s drawbacks. The name of the game is versatility: the bass isn’t massive, but it is proportionate, bringing plenty of oomph to Run the Jewels’ back catalogue. The treble is serviceable though somewhat short of crisp in the highs. The mid-range frequencies are … well, they’re there.
One stand-out feature of the Motion Ones is that they come with a set of conventional audio cables: if for any reason you can no longer rely on Bluetooth (ie the battery runs out), you can easily unplug the earpieces from the neckband and plug in the old-school wires.
Keen to compare the wired mode to the wireless, I plugged the cables into my phone’s 3.5mm jack. Charlie Parker’s Leap Frog sprang to life: the fully wired Motion Ones’ soundstage is broad and roomy – even surpassing several of my own mid-range wired earphones. Switching back to Bluetooth, the sound dropped back into a lossy, compressed drone. They’re still head and shoulders above lesser (read: cheaper) wireless earphones, but they’re far from an audiophile’s happy place.
In summary, the KEF and Porsche Design Motion Ones present the same set of troublesome trade-offs exhibited by their competitors. But if you want better-than-average sound quality, reasonable battery life and don’t mind the neckband, these might be just what you’re looking for.
Good battery life
Solid audio performance
Ability to switch to cables
Awkward, bulky neck band
Some odd design choices