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[REVIEW] Audiofly AF78 Hybrid IEM: A Very Brave Proposition

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

Audiofly Af78 Review

 

Intro

Audiofly are a brand new company on the audio scene from down under in Australia. So they are a new company so why should you take interest? Well they seem to be very ambitious to say the least, as the flagship of their first line-up is an earphone with a hybrid set-up using both a dynamic driver and a balanced armature driver. This may not be the first time that the audio world as seen this set-up but it is still very darn unique with the only similar set ups that come to mind being the UE Super Fi 5 EB, Scosche IEM856, Atomic Floyd Superdarts, UM Merlin (custom) and finally the super expensive AKG K3003.

 

So what else do they offer other than the unique hybrid design? Well they look stunning and not in a mainstream way. Their website homepage is very cool and hip with a montage of tiles in which there is someone wearing an earphone and then hovering over it will reveal what earphone it is and then it will also act as a hyperlink to that earphones product page.

 

Also it is their want to perfect their products before releasing them and they have changed the cable design and also other parts of their product. Being based in Australia they are also making sure that they have distribution worldwide before they release them which is great as they will be available for everyone and not like TDK who released the BA200, which are still seemingly not available to anyone.

 

So their unique, look great and seem to be making sure that they are perfect, well I think that is more than intriguing enough.

 

DSC02666.JPG

 

 

Set-up

I have used these driven straight out of my Cowon J3 with FLAC and some MP3 and my iPhone 4 with AAC and some Apple lossless. I have tried all the tips and settled on the medium stick tips for the best sound and fit.

 

The music I test with will be from my collection of music that is to my preference but I also have listened to most genres with these and my sound review will be based on how they perform all round each genre.

 

I am open to do some additional testing with my iMac and my cMoy and O2 amp if anyone would like that.

 

Build Quality/Design

Starting wit the design I am going to start with simply saying these are BEAUTIFUL. I am going to start with saying they are stunning down t every little detail and even the jack. Most earphones’ jack with have two black bands on them. If you check now I bet your whole collection with have black bands. Well these have purple bands and call me silly but I think that’s pretty cool. Then the shiny metal jack housing also is pleasing to look at and the rather small y-split is plush metal with a silicone inside with the Audiofly logo on, very nice.

 

The housing are of course the best bit and they have a sexy back of the housing with a plastic grille with a metal Audiofly logo on it and that has as ring of metal around it. The rest of the housing is then just black plastic.

 

The one design let down to me was the lack of a cable cinch which I use quite a bit, especially with cable down earphones.

 

As the AF78’s use metal it is not only handy for their look but also their build quality.

 

Starting with the gold plated jack, which never crackles and are housed in solid metal. This housing could pull an airplane and is very possible the most solid one I have come across. It has flexible but taut silicone strain relief, which looks like it will keep in great shape.

 

The cable has unfortunately retained a lot of its shape from when its was wrapped up to ship and has all manors of kinks in it. It is coated in material, which looks like it will keep it protected, and is fairly thick and after passing the y-split it only seems to get the slightest tad thinner. The y-split is so small and low profile I doubt anything will happen to it especially since it has a metal shell.

 

The housing is shelled at the back by metal keep the plastic grille safe and the front of it is a very solid plastic with a very think sound tunnel. I doubt any one will really have any build quality issues. Audiofly’s time spent perfecting them has paid of here for sure.

 

DSC02667.JPG

DSC02668.JPG

 

Accessories

Now as my AF78 is a review unit it did not come with packaging or all the accessories. I got a small case and 3 pairs of tips in small mediums and large. However I do have a list of what you will receive if you purchase these.

 

The mass product AF78 (to be released in a month) will have the following features:

            Storage box

            Portable storage tin

            Sound port cleaning brush

            Air-line adapter

            Line-spliter (enabling 2 people to listen)

            A range of ear tips:

  • 4 silicon tips - S/M/M/L
  • 2 foam tips - M/L

 

So they are definitely treating you to a nice range of goodies with it and I am very impressed by the fact you get a storage box and a storage tin.

 

Out of the accessories listed above I only think I got the silicone tips which seem good and I get a good seal on them but I do not see why they chose to print Audiofly on them.

 

I did get a case but it is by the looks of things not what you get with the final package, as it is a small velvet pouch about half the size of the TDK BA200 one. It’s very soft and portable but slightly too small it seems to easily get the earphones to fit inside.

 

Comfort/Fit

I got a good fit with these pretty quickly with the stock medium tips and could fill the seal. These may of course differ depending on your ear size but for me was very good.

 

They are fairly comfortable due to their fairly shallow fit and ergonomic shaping. I would also like to mention that these are made to be worn cable down and that is the most comfortable way but you can also wear them cable over the ear but the seal does suffer.

 

The sound nozzle is angled to fit nicely into your canal while the rest of the housing is rounded so it sits in your ear nicely without any suffering. These do not by any means disappear into your ear but sit there rather nicely.

 

They also very handily do not stick out of your ear at all and I have found that these are actually very sleepabale with great comfort and know harm done at all to the earphone!

 

Isolation

As I have already mentioned these have a fairly shallow insertion depth and do not extend too much into your canal. This leads to a subpar isolation, which struggles to block a tad of ambient noise. This is mainly noticeable with no music playing in which you can here most of your surroundings but even with music playing at a nice listening volume, roughly 50%, I can sometimes here my family.

 

Microphonics (Cable Noise)

The fabric cables are not absent to the annoyance of microphonics but they do well are getting rid of them nonetheless. I have worn them cable down and I have been happy walking around with these and unless I really hit them I have not really heard any cable noise. This is quite handy, as these do not have a cable cinch, which normally would help, or a shirt clip. If you want to reduce it to known they can be worn over your ear but I do not see the point and you just lose comfort and seal.

 

Burn-In

By what I am about to write I do not want to cause any upsets or arguments as this topic can be seen as a sour subject. These have had roughly a 100 hours now of use and burn in combined. As burn in is not scientifically proven this all could be mental and happening in my head but in the case that it does happen I recommend burning them in as in my personal experience I have noted improvements which have a massive impact on my enjoyment factor, so dint make any irrational decisions after listening to them out the box.

 

Soundstage and instrument separation

There is a soundstage, which gets beyond headspace but nothing more and I would describe it as average. The width is just beyond your ears and there is a slight depth to it. I would say that the best thing about it is the height but there is nothing very special here.

 

Now the instrument separation is rather peculiar and this is clearly down to the use of the crossover in these! The dynamic driver is not the fastest and all the midrange and bass instrument are not easy to distinguish and is all quite blended in. However the guitars, piano and other high frequency instruments are separated beautifully with loads of air and grace in between it and the other instruments, which is of course very nice.

 

Bass

The dynamic driver in the AF78 delivers the bass and it does a very nice job of it. Mid-bass quantity is nothing extreme but it is bigger than what most balanced armature drivers can produce and it is very well textured. It hits very nicely and pushes the air great giving you very satisfying impact which is well bodies and not over the top that will satisfy pretty much everyone. There is a bit of bass bleed encroaching on the mids but is nothing to cry over. Being dynamic it does lack speed and details are not the best. I am also happy to say that there is no hump in the mid-bass an they sit inline with the mids very nicely or maybe slightly behind.

 

The extension is very deep going to very low depths and you hear some really deep sub-bass which is of course complimented by a nice bit of rumble. Not head pounding or earth shaking but an amount you can appreciate.

 

Midrange

The mid-range is not up my street (even though they are forward) at all and is close to a disaster with a clearly poor crossover. It is the higher mids, which I really cannot handle and they sound beyond weird and rather ‘wrong’. The balanced armature driver in these handles the highs while the dynamic driver has the mids and lows. The higher mids (mainly female vocals) has this unnaturally large decay, which is like the singer is in a tunnel, and there is an echoe. It may suit you I guess but not me. The lower mids are much better however and are warm (slightly tainted by the mid-bass) and deeper male voices sound a lot more pleasing.

 

Treble

Now a completely different driver produces the treble and this is were the magic is. I am unsure what driver it is but I can assure you it does some very nice highs. Although they highs actually sit slightly behind the bass and mids in presence these are still clearly their and are oh so transparent and revealing. Details are just great and when you’re listening to a piano piece or a guitar solo you are one very happy listener. All I would ask for is for a bit extra sparkle and for them to just stick with the mids and bass and I would not complain if they led the show. They are never sibilant or harsh and are actually great sounding.

 

Overall

For Audiofly’s entrance into the world of IEMs they have released a very pleasant sounding earphone in a very competitive price range. It is of course by no means perfect and they could definitely have improved the crossover for a start but you have to give them kudos for their ambition. I think for $200 these are by the far the best looking earphones you can get, are growing to be more and more comfy with time and also come with a great accessory pack to draw you in even more I can see these catching on for sure! I think that Audiofly can be happy with them and I cannot wait to see what they offer in the future.


Edited by Swimsonny - 6/25/12 at 3:11pm
post #2 of 29

Nice review Swimsonny. My review will have little bit of a different take on the AF78, but I agree with a lot you've stated (especially about the crossover). But my review will include two of their other products. Nice job! 

post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericp10 View Post

Nice review Swimsonny. My review will have little bit of a different take on the AF78, but I agree with a lot you've stated (especially about the crossover). But my review will include two of their other products. Nice job! 

Thanks a lot man! I am looking forward to yours. When you say that you have a different take Is that you saying that you hear it different or just your layout and way of going about writing it will be different? (you don't have to reveal any details I you don't want to!).

Yeh I think the crossover was the let down and it is of course a huge dependent on the sound and a reason why some companies (I.e Etymotic) choose not to dabble with them I guess.

As for the other products I wonder how they compare up as the price difference is rather large!
post #4 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swimsonny View Post


Thanks a lot man! I am looking forward to yours. When you say that you have a different take Is that you saying that you hear it different or just your layout and way of going about writing it will be different? (you don't have to reveal any details I you don't want to!).
Yeh I think the crossover was the let down and it is of course a huge dependent on the sound and a reason why some companies (I.e Etymotic) choose not to dabble with them I guess.
As for the other products I wonder how they compare up as the price difference is rather large!

I hear them a bit differently. For example, I think I like the mids a little (maybe a lot) better than you. Well, certain aspects of the mids. And these definitely get better with burn-in, but I also find them to be a different beast with a good DAC and desk amp. I'll leave it there for now. As for value, well I'l save that for the review too. Again, very good job!

post #5 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericp10 View Post

I hear them a bit differently. For example, I think I like the mids a little (maybe a lot) better than you. Well, certain aspects of the mids. And these definitely get better with burn-in, but I also find them to be a different beast with a good DAC and desk amp. I'll leave it there for now. As for value, well I'l save that for the review too. Again, very good job!

Okay. That's understandable but I just found the mids to slow and two long in decay. I was not sure if I was to harsh on them but I am gonna stick with what I put.
Yh I forgot to put a burn/in section, I always put one explaining how long I have burnt in for. I normally to review do 100 hours but these didn't quite get that and must be on about 85 hours. It did help your right and sorted a lot of the problems I had apart from the mids, which it still helped!

Well i will for sure check them out with my O2 and if it grants it add a amping section!
Look forward to your write up on them!
post #6 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swimsonny View Post


Okay. That's understandable but I just found the mids to slow and two long in decay. I was not sure if I was to harsh on them but I am gonna stick with what I put.
Yh I forgot to put a burn/in section, I always put one explaining how long I have burnt in for. I normally to review do 100 hours but these didn't quite get that and must be on about 85 hours. It did help your right and sorted a lot of the problems I had apart from the mids, which it still helped!
Well i will for sure check them out with my O2 and if it grants it add a amping section!
Look forward to your write up on them!

 

 

There's no right or wrong, my friend. We all hear differently, and I agree, the AF78 has some issues that need to be worked out, but there are some aspects I like about it too. 

 

By the way, go to Dsnuts' CKM500 thread and see what I wrote about those. Now those are some IEMs I spent $72 (not counting shipping) and the sound is definitely in the $200 range without a doubt (or better). I'm saying this and I just received them today without benefit of burn-in.

post #7 of 29

Thanks for the review Swimsonny, very nicely done too. It makes me really want them, but I'll wait to see some more reviews first. 

post #8 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericp10 View Post

 

 

There's no right or wrong, my friend. We all hear differently, and I agree, the AF78 has some issues that need to be worked out, but there are some aspects I like about it too. 

 

By the way, go to Dsnuts' CKM500 thread and see what I wrote about those. Now those are some IEMs I spent $72 (not counting shipping) and the sound is definitely in the $200 range without a doubt (or better). I'm saying this and I just received them today without benefit of burn-in.

Oh no of course there is not. Oh yeh but i found the highs to be very nice (just to relaxed and behind) as well as the bass to not be over the top and have a very good mix of quality and quantity.

 

Great right up on the CKMs and i reckon i would enjoy them! What really impressed me is that you said they really blow the TF10s away and i think that they are amazing earphones. I am guessing that they are then a lot better than these? The fact that they are being put with some big names such as GR07 and FXT90 (although i am still yet to hear them) is very impressive. I will be getting to listen and spend time with another of donuts discoveries very soon and that is the CKS-77! I can not warrant the purchase at these moment even with the cheap price but that is mainly just through the shear amount of reviews i have to get done!

Quote:
Originally Posted by AyeCee View Post

Thanks for the review Swimsonny, very nicely done too. It makes me really want them, but I'll wait to see some more reviews first. 

My pleasure and i am glad that you enjoyed it! Yeh, after a bit more time i think the bass will suit you nicely, i am guessing what i wrote about the bass is up your street? ;) Also if you really can not wait then i recommend checking out the for sale forum or my profile ;)

post #9 of 29
nice review man smily_headphones1.gif

regarding mids - get a good basic EQ with reasonably wide bands and try the following:
-2db @1khz, +1db @ 2khz, +2.5db @ 3khz, + 3 db @ 4khz, + 3.5 db @ 5 khz.

(or a parameteric one with an approx / slant from 1k to 5khz)
or a eqing down equivalent curve to prevent clipping.

and let me know what you think of the changes in the sound and mids, or do you still think it's lower mids decay not amount of lower mids vs the rest of mids?
post #10 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks mate!

I am not a big EQ man and don't really like using it. I did mess around on my J3 with a bit of machbass which turn them into a bass monster.
It is mainly the high mid decay that annoys me but I will give what you sai a try when I get home and get baçk to you!
post #11 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swimsonny View Post

My pleasure and i am glad that you enjoyed it! Yeh, after a bit more time i think the bass will suit you nicely, i am guessing what i wrote about the bass is up your street? ;) Also if you really can not wait then i recommend checking out the for sale forum or my profile ;)

Yeah the description of the bass really intrigued me! also check your pm's :)

post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 
Ahah just as I thought it would wink.gif yeh replied!
post #13 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swimsonny View Post

Thanks mate!
I am not a big EQ man and don't really like using it. I did mess around on my J3 with a bit of machbass which turn them into a bass monster.
It is mainly the high mid decay that annoys me but I will give what you sai a try when I get home and get baçk to you!

any thoughts? My D2+ eq does ok as well for the things I've suggested (I assume J3 would do well as too)
post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by svyr View Post


any thoughts? My D2+ eq does ok as well for the things I've suggested (I assume J3 would do well as too)

Yeh i just tried. It does neaten them up for sure, you smoothen out the crossover point a bit and slight balance out the FR.

post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swimsonny View Post

Yeh i just tried. It does neaten them up for sure, you smoothen out the crossover point a bit and slight balance out the FR.

I'm somewhat sure Audiofly screwed up the tuning. I'm not sure why they didn't measure or hear it...
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