Audiofly Af78 Review
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.
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.
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.
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:
Portable storage tin
Sound port cleaning brush
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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