Audiofly has made the most comfortable IEMs that I've placed in my ears. They are probably the easiest to insert as well. I was ready to plunk down the cash and go the custom route, but these have changed my mind. The manufacturer was kind enough to include Comply brand tips in their packaging, which certainly entirely alleviates feeling of having foreign bodies in my in my ears. I've easily listened to them for 40 hours in the week since I received them and there has been zero discomfort. I've had them in my ears when I went to sleep and awoken without realizing that they were still in place. I started to get up, until I felt the cord tug, then turned the music back on and continued enjoying.
They are also designed very ergonomically, too. The driver housing fits perfectly in my ear and the stems are at a perfect angle. The over ear cables are moldable and the connector locks into place on the driver housing with a couple of matched bumps. This mechanism keeps the cable from flopping around, but allows for easy adjustment to the up or down configuration. I am able to compress the foam tips and get them in place quick and effortlessly enough than I can hear and feel them slowly close off sound from the outside world.
The twisted rubber cable that exits the moldable section is slightly microphonic and the contact it has with my ear or neck is often the only indication (besides the music) that I still have them in my ears. They meet at a wide rubber splitter, after passing through a clear adjustable tube.
The rest of the cable is wrapped in "CORDURA® fabric" and is not at all microphonic. It's quite sturdy, yet flexible, and gives the impression that it is the toughest part of the operation. The 90 degree 3.5mm jack tapers down to the plug, which looks like it could fit a variety of phone cases.
Audiofly settled for a simple "a" logo on the jack, instead of their complete name. And a lower case "a" at that.
AF180 Jack vs. Shure SE535 Jack (Click to show)
Speaking of plugging it into a phone, the AF180's are pretty forgiving of sources. There is still a marked reduction in sound qaulity from a good source, but they remain an enjoyable listen while piping MP3's from the internet.
I put in almost all of my listening time with standard and high resolution FLAC files from my FiiO X5. I connected them to desktop amps and while there was an expected improvement, my purpose for these is portability.
Bass full and has surprising impact. Fingers on strings can be felt just as well as pedals on drum heads. Often the impacts persist through all kinds of business going on in the treble. It never gets truly booming, but it is believable and is separate enough to discern alongside the higher frequencies. Lower frequencies are fast and warm, which is a continuing trend for the IEMs sound signature.
Mids are warm and usually without fuzziness. They can be syrupy when playing the mid-centric music that has norm for recent recordings, but their speed usually keeps things from becoming muddy. On well recorded tracks, vocals are dry and clear and very pleasant. Instruments are believable and balanced. Mids don't overpower other frequencies nor are they ever really overpowered either. The midrange also packs plenty of punchiness. Toms, snares and synths can find their attacks impactful right next to the bass. Pianos are euphonic and lifelike and decay naturally.
Highs are always sparkly. The AF180's have great extension, too. Adding the fourth armature to achieve their "15Hz -25KHz" range seems to have worked, since most instruments feel like they can achieve those high frequency harmonics that make them sound more natural and less hollow.
The high treble has plenty of brightness without harshness. They are, of course, the fastest part of the spectrum, but they don't sacrifice much of their warmth, either. Cymbal attacks are fast and have great decay. Likewise, other high-pitched synths and percussion are always audible over the heavier parts of the music. It not as airy nor separated as I would have preferred, but that's really only in comparison to my LCD-2's. The
Surprisingly, these IEMs manage to show a fair bit of soundstage. There are plenty of instruments whose placement occurs outside of the headspace. My ears have twitched several times in response to sounds that came from inside my ear canal, which is a rare thing among my many in-ear headphones.
The packaging is just as impressive. No expense appears to have been spared on the box or its contents. There are plenty of tips and accessories, but the real highlight is the carrying case. It has plenty of space, easy access and extra holding compartments in the back. It's all wrapped in aged, distressed leather with a soft elastic band to keep it closed. Look at this handsome guy:
The only problem I had with these IEMs was an intermittent loss of sound in the left channel. I contacted Audiofly about it, but I hadn't received a reply, yet. The issue hasn't reoccurred in several days and I only recalled it when I was trying to come up with something negative to say.
The Audiofly AF180 is a complete and natural sounding headphone. It trades a slight bit of analytical detail to reproduce realistic music. It is a step or two on the warm side of neutral, but has plenty of brightness and clarity. It's a versatile headphone, as well, scaling well with most every genre, source and at all listening levels.
I was looking for a portable counterpart for my Audeze LCD-2's and I believe I have found that in the Audiofly AF180's. They are both are extremely comfortable, versatile and fun to listen to.