REVIEW: Audiofly AF56
Driver Type: 13mm Dynamic Driver
Magnet Type: Neodymium
Frequency Range: 18-20 KHz
Cable Length: 1.2m
Plug Type: 3.5mm gold plated
Impedance: 16 Ohms
Sensitivity: 118dB at 1 kHz
MSRP: AUD$99.95 / AUD$109.95 w/microphone, from Audiofly.com ; Street price could be lower.
Available in 3 color schemes: 'Vintage White', 'Vino' and 'Blue Tweed'.
After having the chance to try the AF45 (review here) the AF56 are truly what I was expecting, a nice improvement from their lower priced siblings. Not only in sound, but in design and comfort as well.
Build & Design:
Housing design aside, everything else is exactly the same as the AF45, which means great build quality and nice looks. The straight plug is very sturdy and well relieved. The Y-cable is one of the best and nicest, a braided Kevlar reinforced cable, covered by Cordura fabric on the outside. I really like this cable, it's soft, smooth, and very easy to store. Microphonics are noticeable, but the cable doesn't move around too much.
As for the housing design, this time Audiofly chose a "half-in-ear" design to carry the larger 13mm driver. They may not be easy to wear upside with the cable around the back of the ear, but I don’t think they're meant to be worn like that.
Like the previous model, the Right side is marked with Braille writing on the strain relief, while the Left side has an 'L' printed on the nozzle. On the M version the microphone is placed on the left side, and the control button on the Y-split.
Fit, Comfort and Isolation:
To my surprise, unlike other half-ear IEM earphones I owned, like the ATH-CKM500, the AF56 fit my ears instantly. They are very ergonomic and comfortable for long listening sessions, similar to a small regular earbud (not in-ear). Even though the included ear tips are the same as the AF45's ones, they aren't scratchy at all (I believe it's because the shallower fit).
Isolation is pretty good even with the fairly shallow insertion. On par with the AF45, much better than the ATH-CKM500, so no need to raise the volume really high even on more crowded areas.
Not much here, just 4 pairs of ear tips, 1 Small, 2 Medium and 1 Large. And this time, a very nice storage tin, but still small just to store the earphones.
Even though I can't complain about the accessories quality, for the price tag, I'd expect more quantity and variety.
The earphones were given about 40 hrs.
The AF56 are not just an improvement over the AF45 in design and comfort, but also, and mainly, in Sound. They offer a much bigger and very lively sound with better overall balance.
Not unlike the AF45 model, the bass is very dominating. But this time, the AF56 offer a better achieved low end giving more room to the rest of the frequencies to play their part. The bass is really huge and surrounding, very engaging indeed. In terms of quantity alone, these are even with the 45's, a large amount of bass everywhere, but in comparison, these are more focused into the sub-bass regions rather than mid-bass. Compared to the ATH-CKM500, the AF56 still have more mid-bass kick, while the Audio Technica manage to reach deeper. As for quality there's no complaining here; it's tighter, faster and much more controlled. Full bodied with excellent texture and well layered.
Climbing to the midrange, they may not be the main attraction and the sole reason to get the AF56, but within the AF line, the midrange is clear and well detailed. Not necessarily recessed, but more distant compared to the highs, let alone the lows. As for vocals, they have a more neutral position, drier and colder in nature, and just a tad veiled on heavier tracks. Male voices carry more weight from the upper-bass, while female voices are brighter and a bit edgy at times due to added enhanced treble.
As for the highs, they are more balanced together with the lows, especially when compared to the AF45 which offered a much smoother and forgiving upper-end. Treble is more emphasized, crispy and well extended, full of energy and a bit harsher with brighter music. EDM, Techno,Trance and similars really shine with these. Overall clarity is good and it is not hard to pick up small details, but can't match the CNT driver based phones such as the CKN-70 and FXD-80, but at least are smoother and easier to listen than those.
Soundstage is quite impressive, really huge and spacious with an immersive 3D feeling; definitely one of the main strengths of the AF56.
As an Extra, I also tried them with some Meelec bi-flange tips. Fit was much shallower and isolation lower. As for the sound, the results were as expected, a smoother and less aggressive sound. Midrange is slightly thicker and warmer, with a more hint of space and air.
The AF56 are very well built, look very nice, and comfortable. Their kind of V-shaped signature may not be suited for everyone, but they do offer a big, surrounding, enjoyable and exciting sound.
Some extra pictures:
Edited by Zelda - 2/11/14 at 6:07am