1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

Audiofly AF1120 MK2

Rating:
4.25/5,
  1. Brooko
    Audiofly AF1120 Mk2 Review
    Written by Brooko
    Published Jan 4, 2020
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Build quality, comfort, frequency balance, mid-range, speed and clarity
    Cons - Cable can be tangly, could benefit from more sub-bass extension, slightly splashy in cymbal presence area
    [​IMG]
    INTRODUCTION
    My first real quality IEM was the Shure SE420 (many years ago) and as such I’ve always had a bit of a soft-spot for multi-BA based ear-phones. The SE420 led me to Shures SE315,425, 535, and later to multi-BAs like the Alclair Curve, 64 Audio U6 and U10, Earsonics ES series, and the Fearless S8 (just to name a few). I like their speed, their mid-range tonality, and generally their fit / comfort. Because I travel a lot, isolation is also important to me – and the Shures were master of that. Fast forward to present day and Australian company Audiofly have sent me their AF1120 Mk2 for review. Lets see how it stacks up against others I’ve tried.

    ABOUT AUDIOFLY

    Audiofly is an Australian audio company, founded in 2012 with the primary aim to design pro audio products for both musicians and also music lovers. Although their first products mainly centred around Inner Ear Monitors (for stage and personal use), they now have a comprehensive range of products including IEMs, wireless earphones, a full sized headphone and a range of replacement cables. Perhaps their website best explains their philosophy in their own words.

    BUILT FOR MUSIC
    Audiofly is about our love of music and the relationship we have with music through gear.”

    Audiofly’s website and Facebook page are each linked for those wanting more information

    DISCLAIMER
    The Audiofly AF1120 Mk2 that I’m reviewing today was provided to me as a review loaner. It will be returned following the review. The retail price at time of review is ~ USD 699.

    PREAMBLE
    If you haven't read any of my reviews, I suggest starting here, as it will give you an insight into my known preferences and bias. This may be useful for interpreting my comments and applying them to your own preferences.

    For the purposes of this review - I used the Audiofly AF1120 Mk2 straight from the headphone-out socket of many of my portables, but predominantly the M6, M9, M11, and R2R2000. I have also experimented with a variety of amplifiers including the FiiO Q1ii, E17K, Q5, and xDuoo XP-2. IMO they do not benefit greatly from additional amplification. In the time I have spent with the AF1120, I have noticed no change to the overall sonic presentation (break-in).

    This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.

    THE PACKAGE

    The Audiofly AF1120 Mk2 arrived in a 156 x 167 x 58mm box and lid. The lid has a photo of the AF1120 on the front, and lists the specifications and accessories on the rear. Opening the box and lid reveals a pelican case (105x140x50mm) which contains the accessory selection. The AF1120 Mk2 are snugly encased in a custom foam enclosure.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The full accessory package includes:
    • AF1120 MK2 in-ear monitors
    • Dome silicone tips: S, M, L
    • Tri-flange silicone tips: S, M, L
    • Comply® foam tips: S, M, L
    • Pelican type case
    • 3.5mm to 1/4” adaptor
    • Airline adapter
    • Cleaning tool
    • Cable clip
    This is a good accessory package, and in-line with the overall asking price.

    THE TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
    [​IMG]

    MEASUREMENTS
    The graphs I use are generated using the Vibro Veritas coupler and ARTA software. Ken Ball (ALO/Campfire) graciously provided me with measurement data which I have used to recalibrate my Veritas so that it mimics an IEC 711 measurement standard (Ken uses two separate BK ear simulators, we measured the same set of IEMs, and I built my calibration curve from shared data). I do not claim that this data is 100% accurate, but it is very consistent, and is as close as I can get to the IEC 711 standard on my budget.

    I do not claim that the measurements are in any way more accurate than anyone else's, but they have been proven to be consistent and I think they should be enough to give a reasonable idea of response - especially if you've followed any of my other reviews. When measuring I usually always use crystal foam tips (medium bore opening) - and the reason I use them is for very consistent seal and placement depth in the coupler. I use the same amp (E11K) for all my measurements - and output is under 1 ohm. Measurements above 9-10kHz are generally problematic with any hobbyist set-up, and should be disregarded, but generally my measurements from 20Hz to 9-10kHz have proven to be relatively close to many of the measurements of the manufacturers who support me.
    [​IMG]

    The graphs are provided merely as a point of discussion, and later in the review I've included comparisons to other IEMs for similar reference. Channel matching is very good and is consistent over the entire frequency range.

    BUILD
    External
    The AF1120 Mk2 has a peanut/jelly-bean shape design. It is designed to ergonomically fit snugly inside your outer ear cavity, securely held inside the Concha with the front snugly fitting adjacent to your Intertragical notch.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The outer shell material is a 2 piece transparent composite polymer. The internals are easy to see (which I really like). The outer face is clear with the Audiofly logo on both earpieces. The internal face is very smooth, is printed with L and R markers and (not utilising a dynamic driver) has no external vent or port. The housing has an end to end length of 20mm, height of 14mm and depth of 10mm (excluding the nozzle). The nozzle is angled nicely forward and up, and is 9mm in length. The nozzle diameter is 3mm, has no lip, and is a natural fit for Shure Olive foam or Comply T100 tips. It has an in-built wax guard.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    At the top rear of the AF1120 Mk2 is a forward pointing standard MMCX socket. The socket is very firm with the supplied cable and feels sturdy. The AF1120 comes with a single ended copper cable with an outer cloth like sheath reinforced with Cordura fibre for added strength. Between the earpiece and Y-split is a very thin twisted pair. Below the Y-Split (the the plug) is the sheathed cable. The cable has preformed ear-loops with a very small and quite hard to read L/R indicator on the plugs (Audiofly – something easier to read would help!). I find these loops quite comfortable and work well. The Y-split is hard plastic polymer with a clear tube neck cinch. The jack is 3.5mm, right angled, and gold plated. The cable is well built, and light and comfortable to wear (virtually no microphonics), but does tend to tangle easily (careful cable management required).
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Internal
    Internally the AF1120 Mk2 uses an all Balanced Armature driver system. It uses 3 sets of dual BA per earpiece for low, mid-range and upper frequencies and a 3 way passive crossover with Butterworth filter. Internally there is also a custom sound chamber to assist with both holding the BA drivers in place, and also for assisting the desired tuning.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION
    Internal and external isolation is extremely good as you’d expect for a non-ported IEM. It does ultimately depend on tip choice and seal. I would rate passive isolation as well above average and usable on public transport. Although it does not completely block out aircraft drone, by the time you add music, you aren’t hearing cabin sounds.

    Fit and comfort thoughts are very subjective, and will vary from person to person. My experience has been one of complete satisfaction – the AF1120 are so small and light-weight. It has been designed for an ergonomic fit (much like a custom monitor). For me they are a perfect, sit inside my outer ear, and basically disappear within a few seconds of wearing (I could forget they are in). I have slept with them intact, and woken hours later with them still there and no discomfort. The AF1120 is designed to only be used cable over ear.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The AF1120 has a no lip on the nozzle, but the nozzle itself is quite long. Usually no lip is one of my critiques, but for this sized nozzle – you’re going to be using the supplied tips, or something similar to Westone or Shure tips anyway. And the supplied tip fit really well, as do my preferred Shure Olive foam tips. None of my standard tips fit (too loose), but I didn’t expect them to. They are a relatively shallow fitting IEM, but the nozzles are long enough for most tips to seal effectively. Foam still gives me the best combination of seal and comfort and these also remained very secure on the nozzle.

    SOUND QUALITY
    Most of the testing at this point was done with my FiiO M11, no EQ, and Shire large Olive foam tips. I used the M11 simply because paired they gave me a very transparent window to the music with low impedance, and more than enough power.

    For the record – on most tracks, the volume level on the M11 was around 40/120 on low gain (depending on the track) which was giving me an average SPL around 65-75 dB. Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list https://www.head-fi.org/f/articles/brookos-test-tracks.17556/

    While testing I constantly switched with my Alclair Curve to give me a good reference base-line.

    Relativities
    • Sub-bass – In reasonable balance with mid-range but ultimately sitting below both mid-bass and upper mid-range. Extension is good and the sub-bass rumble is definitely audible (Lorde's “Royals), although a little subdued. The bass is typical of most BAs I’ve heard. It is quick with clean decay and good speed.
    • Mid-bass – above sub-bass and about even with upper mids, and has medium impact. The bass timbre and definition is quite clean and clear, and this is bass quality and that most people should enjoy. Bass lovers may be missing some overall quantity, but I personally find it nicely balanced. With Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” there is sufficient impact whilst still maintaining clarity. Its not thumping – but its definitely there.
    • Lower mid-range – very slightly recessed compared to bass and upper mid-range. Both male and female vocal fundamentals are excellent though. Male vocals still come across with good body, and I’ve really enjoyed the likes of Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), Shaun Morgan (Seether) and Joe Bonamassa.
    • Upper mid-range – There is a slow and shallow rise from the lower mid-range to a peak at 3-4 kHz, then a drop through 5kHz and extended progression to the lower treble. The transition from lower to upper-mids is cohesive, and there is enough presence to provide both detail and presence. There is some euphony with female vocals, but it never over-done. The upper and lower mid-range on the AF1120 Mk2 is definitely it’s strength.
    • Lower treble has a peak at 7-9 kHz, and then drops away a little through 10 kHz. The peak at 7 kHz gives detail and brilliance with cymbals, although the decay on the cymbals “splashes/crashes” just a little more than actually ‘shimmering’. Its still really well done – but after listening to AMEs Argent recently and its electret treble extension, nothing will ever be quite the same for me again.
    • Upper treble appears to extends quite well but is below the rest of the signature. It is difficult to capture properly on my measurement rig, and with my “aged” hearing I no longer notice much over 12 kHz anyway.
    Overall this is a reasonably well balanced monitor with a very slight lower treble emphasis. It sounds quite natural and very well balanced.

    Resolution / Detail / Clarity
    • Very good cohesion in the mid-range, and the slight progression through upper mid-range provides detail in the presence area with good clarity and texture especially around vocals and guitar.
    • Good upper end detail (hi-hats/cymbals) with reasonable decay.
    • Clean and clear signature with enough bass to compliment without losing any detail.
    Sound-stage, Imaging
    • Very clear directional cues, just at the periphery of my head space – so reasonably intimate feeling of width and depth.
    • Imaging is clean and there is good separation of instruments without being clinical. No signs of smearing.
    • Decent sense of immersion (applause section of “Dante's Prayer”) with an impression that the crowd is around you (you are sitting right in it). Nice sense of depth as well – although width seems slightly stronger.
    • Live recording of Lakme's “Flower Duet” (Netrebko and Garanca) had good presentation of space – especially as the singers move from front to rear of stage. Not as good as the likes of 64Audios U10 – but still quite compelling.
    • “Let It Rain” had fantastic sense of 3D (the way it is miked) and sibilance is present - I know it exists in the recording. Not enhanced or over-emphasised which is a good sign that the 7 kHz peak is not over emphasised.
    Strengths
    • Speed and texture of both sub and mid-bass.
    • Spherical sense of stage (a little left/right – but not excessive), and intimate rather than overly spacious
    • Excellent mid-range which suits both female and male vocals.
    • Slight euphony with female vocals in the upper mid-range
    • Detailed and clear with no brittleness
    Weaknesses
    • Sub-bass, while present, has very slight roll off
    • Very slightly splashy in the cymbal presence area
    AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS
    The Audiofly AF1120 Mk2 doesn’t need amplification for overall volume – and because its impedance is a relatively low 11 ohms, a source with an output impedance of around 0-1.5 ohms (to meet damping requirements) should make the best match. Most good sources should easily sit in the 0-1 ohm range. I did try the AF1120 with a higher impedance source (3 ohms) and there was a subtle shift in tonality (it became slightly brighter).
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    With the M11 around 40/120 low gain volume covers my normal 65-75 dB listening level. With M9 the range is 42-45/120 for the same listening volume. The AF1120 is pretty easy to drive, and even the diminutive M6 has no problems driving them and sounding extremely good to boot. Most decent sources (including smart-phones) should;d be able to power them well. The secret of course is to make sure the low impedance is managed.

    Next up was amplification, which meant testing with the Q1ii, E17K, Q5, and XP-2. In each case I noted a slightly different tonality (especially with the XP-2) but noticed no real differences in dynamics on any of the additionally amped sources. The XP-2 (via bluetooth) added some extra warmth which was actually quite nice, but IMO the AF1120 can do perfectly well without additional amping.

    RESPONSE TO EQ?
    Personally I find the AF1120 pretty much aligned to my personal tastes with regard to default signature. To test EQ ability though, I used the M11’s built in EQ to give a slight boost to sub-bass and a small cut at 8kHz. The lower treble cut reduced some of the splashiness of the treble with cymbals, and the sub-bass boost definitely increased the audible rumble. However whilst I’d probably keep the small 8kHz drop – the sub-bass increase does hit the clarity a little, and to be honest I like the bass the way it is. Its nice to see what the drivers can do though, and if you like tinkering, you’ll enjoy fine tuning this IEM to your preferences (it responds well).

    COMPARISON WITH OTHER IEMS
    These comparisons were all done with the M11, (no EQ) – and volume matched using a calibrated SPL meter and fixed 1kHz test tone first. For this series of tests I’ve tried to look at both value and quality – pitting the AF11230 Mk2 against other similar BA based IEMs (with a hybrid thrown in for good measure). For comparison I’ve used FiiO’s FA7, FH7, Alclair’s Curve, Earsonic’s ES3, Fearless Audio’s S8F and 64Audio’s U10. This is pretty subjective, but the graphs do show relativity against the other IEMs for reference.

    Audiofly AF1120 Mk2 ($700) vs Alclair Curve ($250)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Build fit and comfort
    The Curve is dual BA vs the AF1120’s six. Both have an extremely ergonomic shape and both fit perfectly. Both are well crafted from a plastic polymer and have well made replaceable cables – my preference would be for the two pin Curve (personal). In this comparison, its a tie on build quality comfort, and ergonomics.

    Sound & Value
    As you can see from the graphs, these are two very similar sounding monitors. The bass is practically identical, with the main difference in the upper mid-range and lower treble (and this is a different flavour rather than being a different sound). The Curve has slightly more euphony with female vocalists and a little less splash in the lower treble. The AF1120 has slightly better male/female vocal balance, but a little more emphasis in the lower treble. It also may have a slight edge in instrument separation and imaging – but its not a game breaker. Both are incredibly well balanced and a joy to listen to. For me personally, I’ll stick with the Curve but either are a good recommendation.

    Audiofly AF1120 Mk2 ($700) vs FiiO FA7 ($300)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Build fit and comfort
    The FA7 is quad BA vs the AF1120’s six. Both have an ergonomic shape and both fit perfectly. Both are well crafted (from resin or plastic polymer) and have well made replaceable cables – with the AF1120 Mk2 cable being lighter and more pliable. In this comparison again its a tie on build quality comfort, and ergonomics.

    Sound & Value
    These are chalk and cheese. FiiO tried to add some warmth to their signature, and elevated the bass – a lot compared to the mid-range. The mid-range (if you cut the bass) is almost perfect, but in its default signature, it is overly warm, lacks definition, and is highly bass emphasised. The added bass bleeds into the mid-range, and it sounds cloyingly dark. The AF1120 Mk2 in comparison has balance and clarity, whilst still keeping a tonality which works well across most genres. A good example of tuning both bad FA7 and good AF1120 Mk2. Here the AF1120 wins by quite a margin and is well worth the additional cost.

    Audiofly AF1120 Mk2 ($700) vs FiiO FH7 ($450)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Build, fit and comfort
    This pits a 5 driver DD/BA Hybrid vs the 6 driver all BA AF1120 Mk2. Both IEMs have ergonomic shells and are very comfortable for long term listening. Both also have replaceable cables. Comfort and build quality here is shared. Personally for me, fit is slightly better on the AF1120 Mk2 and it wins in terms of isolation. The FH7 has the better cable.

    Sound & Value
    There is some similarity with these two IEMs, but the differences shown in the frequency response don’t quite show the true story. The perceived bass of the FH7 DD is closer than the graphs show vs the AF1120 Mk2 BA delivery (the AF1120 Mk2 does have more overall mid-bass impact though, and is quicker). Mid-range is somewhat similar, but the main difference comes with the more forward mids of the FH7 vs the more classical slow rise of the AF1120 Mk2 (from lower mids to upper mids). Both are clean and clear though, and both very well balanced. The FH7 is a little leaner whilst the AF1120 Mk2 is a little fuller. My preference here is the AF1120 Mk2.

    Audiofly AF1120 mk2 ($700) vs Fearless S8 Freedom ($489)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Build, fit and comfort
    The AF1120 mk2 is a 6 driver BA vs the 8 driver Freedom S8. Both IEMs have extremely ergonomic shells and are superbly comfortable. Both also have replaceable cables, although the S8 Freedom’s is arguably better quality. Comfort, isolation and build quality here are shared.

    Sound & Value
    Somewhat similar overall tonality. The AF1120 has better end to end balance, and although the bass looks lighter, the balance with the rest of the signature doesn’t make it sound bass light to me. Everything in a signature is relative. Both have very quick transients and do detail really well. The S8 Freedom has more emphasis in the lower end and a smoother overall tonality. The AF1120 has the better end to end balance with a slightly brighter top end. I really like both, and the winner here depends on the tonality you’re looking for.

    Audiofly AF1120 mk2 ($700) vs Earsonics ES3 ($399)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Build, fit and comfort
    The AF1120 mk2 is a 6 driver per side BA vs the 3 driver per side Earsonics ES3. Both IEMs have ergonomic shells and are very comfortable – but the nod would go to the Audiofly AF1120 for a slightly smaller and better fitting body. Both have very good build quality and replaceable cables, and my personal preference is for the 2 pin ES3 cable. Comfort, isolation and build quality here are comparable.

    Sound & Value
    These two have quite different tonality. The ES3 is very flat through the mid-bass, but has elevated sub-bass. So it is a very clean and clear monitor which sounds somewhat lean, but has some bottom end kick. Personally I find the ES3 can be a bit dry with male vocal fundamentals. The AF1120 may not have the bottom end kick – but it has a fuller mid-range, and ultimately sounds more natural. Both have very quick transients and handle detail really well. For my preferences, I much prefer the AF1120 despite the rather large price differential.

    Audiofly AF1120 mk2 ($700) vs 64 Audio U10 ($1300)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Build fit and comfort
    The U10 is a 10 driver per side multi-BA IEM vs the 6 driver per side AF1120. Both are extremely well made with ergonomic shells and replaceable cables. The U10 is slightly bulkier, and the AF1120 does ultimately fit a little more comfortably. Both have replaceable cables, although I prefer the U10’s 2 pin model. The U10 has the advantage of changing modules to control tonality, but at the cost of some isolation.

    Sound & Value
    There is a large price difference here, and the reason for choosing this comparison was because both are incredibly natural sounding monitors – with very similar mid-ranges. The U10 has more bass, but it actually has about the same overall impact because of the Apex modules (they measure bassier than they actually are). The bigger difference is at the other end of the frequency where the U10 has a little less lower treble emphasis and consequently isn’t quite as splashy with cymbals. There is a little more decay. The U10 is also a lot more open sounding (again the Apex modules). What both IEMs have though is a wonderful balance in the mid-range, and excel with both male and female vocals. The fact that I can favourably compare two IEMs with this much difference in price is a testament to the AF1120. Ultimately the U10 is slightly better (IMO), but if you’re on a tighter budget, the AF1120 will give you a similar signature for almost half the price.

    VALUE
    Always hard to judge, and especially when an IEM starts sitting in the $500 - $1000 bracket. Ultimately the AF1120 Mk2 delivery an excellent overall tonality, and a very special mid-range which (IMO) does sit it above most IEMs in the under $500 bracket. Ultimately is it a screaming bargain? I think it meets its overall value position – good build, good accessories, good comfort and fit, and a really balanced sound. Its not a dead-set “sonic diamond” bargain – but it does justify its price point.

    AUDIOFLY AF1120 MK2 – SUMMARY
    This was my first experience with Audiofly, and I have to say – they know how to tune a monitor pretty well. The AF1120 Mk2 meets its target as their flagship universal. Add in a very good accessory package, extremely good build quality, overall design, and exceptional comfort and you have a great overall package. If I had one recommendation on build, it would be to rethink the cable. Control those tangles with a change in design and it would cease to be a potential issue.

    The tuning is mature and balanced across the spectrum. It has good extension at both ends, although perhaps slightly lean in sub-bass, and slightly emphasised in lower treble. Neither tuning choice is a mistake though – as a whole, the AF1120 Mk2 really works. It has a very natural overall tonality, and sounds great with both male and female vocals. I’ve had the AF1120 mk2 for almost 3 months, and for me its been a slow burner (impressing me more and more as I’ve spent time with them). They aren’t an IEM which immediately grabbed my attention, but one where my appreciation of their strengths has increased as I’ve got to know them better. Ultimately for me, that generally indicates a longer term keeper. If I didn’t have the Curve and U10, I’d be very tempted to get a pair. I will (based on my experience with the AF1120 mk2) unreservedly recommend them. For $700 they are not cheap – but IMO they do represent reasonable value.

    My sincere thanks to Michelle and also the team at Audiofly for allowing me to review the AF1120 Mk2. I will miss having them around.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
      ValSilva, sainteb and B9Scrambler like this.
  2. ryanjsoo
    Composition, Coherence, Cleanliness
    Written by ryanjsoo
    Published Nov 25, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Perfect ergonomics with tiny, low-profile housings, Universal MMCX, Excellent balance, Outstanding midrange timbre and resolution
    Cons - Smooth treble can lack detail presence, Modest end to end extension
    Pros –

    Perfect ergonomics with tiny, low-profile housings, Universal MMCX, Excellent balance, Outstanding midrange timbre and resolution

    Cons –

    Smooth treble can lack detail presence, Modest end to end extension

    Verdict –

    The AF1120 rewards those valuing accuracy, balance and a natural tone with perfect ergonomics and a newly upgradeable cable on top

    Introduction –

    Forged in the passionate flames of local music lovers, Australian audio company Audiofly seeks to provide sounds that suit both professionals and enthusiasts at flexible price points. In accordance, their product line-up is split between convenient consumer models and high-end monitors only found in specialist stores. The AF1120 is their magnum opus monitor, featuring a whopping 6 balanced armature drivers per side coordinated via 3-way electronic + acoustic crossover with Butterworth filter that keep the sound as flat as possible. Fans of the site might have read my review of their 1st generation flagship that blew me away with its linear, almost perfectly balanced sound and superb ergonomics. However, there were caveats, most notably its thin, tangle-prone cable with keyed MMCX that prevented the use of third party replacements. Audiofly has since updated their entire line-up with new models and 2nd generation refreshes of their hit classics. The 2nd Generation AF1120 features the same gorgeous sound and design now with universal MMCX connectors. You can read more about the AF1120 MK2 and treat yourself to a set here.



    Disclaimer –

    I would like to thank Audio Fly very much for their quick communication and for providing me with the AF1120 MK2 for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.



    Accessories –

    [​IMG]
    The new AF1120 has a beefed-up accessory set that showcases its professional application. From a pelican style hard-case with non-scratch velvet interior to the 1/4″ adapter and assortment of silicone, foam and tri-flange ear tips, the AF1120 includes anything an audiophile could want. The addition of genuine Comply foams that offer greater noise isolation is a great addition for frequent travellers too in addition to a gold-plated aeroplane adapter.



    Design –

    Similar to the 1st generation model, and the rest of Audiofly’s universal monitors on that note, the AF1120 MK2 has perfect ergonomics for my medium-sized ears. The housings are transparent acrylic, showcasing the technology inside, and they are exceptionally compact especially when considering the driver count. Furthermore, the housings are very slim, forming a low-profile fit that is flat enough to sleep on, and wind-noise is also mitigated as a result.

    [​IMG]
    The housings are fully-sealed with thin, well-angled nozzles that contribute towards a deep fit and a strong seal, providing excellent passive noise isolation. The earphones fit T100 size tips and my preferred Westone Star tips provided excellent comfort alongside a desirable sound. With foams, noise isolation is further increased, silencing commute and suiting air travel, though I personally found them to attenuate the highs too much for my ears. The light, compact housings also stay put during active use and disappear in the ear, forming no hotspots extended listening sessions.

    [​IMG]
    A hallmark feature of the MK2 is the new universal MMCX connectors. The stock cable is thin with a twisted braid above the y-split and Cordura fabric sheath below leading to a rubberized right angle plug. It’s smooth, sturdy and supple, however, the tight braid does result in slightly higher microphonic noise that is only somewhat mitigated by an over-ear fit. The pre-moulded ear guides are soft and comfortable, and the ability to swap in a 3rd party replacement cable is surely appealing; especially for those wanting to use Bluetooth cables or modules in addition to audiophiles looking to upgrade and professionals who may want to replace the cable more frequently due to wear and tear.



    Sound –

    Tonality –

    I visited the AF1120 a few years ago where it stunned me with its excellent balance and tone. Sonically, I have been informed that nothing has changed, and to me, that’s a positive as I didn’t see many issues with the original – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So, the same can be said here with the MK2, which offers great balance from bottom to top and trades the sparkle and range of most flagships for a presentation that is rather exceptionally clean and composed. There are notable bumps lying in the upper-midrange and middle-treble to redeem clarity and some headroom. However, this is counterbalanced by a smooth lower-treble and light mid to upper-bass warmth that results in a coherent and natural sound overall.



    Bass –

    It’s clear upon comparison to other modern IEMs in this class that sub-bass extension is not a prime strength of the AF1120 MK2. Though it does possess some slam and rumble, sub-bass rolls of smoothly where others provide a bit more thump. This is redeemed by a punchy, lightly emphasized mid-bass that injects additional bass note body and size, resulting in a pleasantly full low-end presentation. Emphasis continues into the upper-bass which may spark more contention as this does make the AF1120 sound just a touch tubby. Nonetheless, it is not congested, bloated or overdone in any manifestation, this is a tastefully warm low-end with good depth and great coherence.

    Part of the AF1120’s appeal surely stems from its bass qualities. Though contemporary offerings from Custom Art, to name an example, offer curated decay properties, the AF1120 employs old-fashioned carburettor tuning to achieve its presentation. It is clearly a quick, agile and BA-timbre low-end with surgical driver control on top, and these qualities ensure its warmth never becomes a deficit. Detail retrieval is excellent as a result, and there isn’t an iota of flab or bloom with surprisingly good separation on top. The AF1120 has excellent pace and definition, though not perfectly transparent, it has natural quantity and its organic tone is a pleasure to the ear.



    Mids –

    Easily a prime strength of this earphone is its vocal presentation that is accurate, natural and resolving. As a result of bass emphasis, especially its upper-bass, the midrange is a touch full-bodied. In turn, a small dip in the lower-midrange can be observed followed by a gradual climb to a natural 3KHz emphasis. As a result, the AF1120 MK2 isn’t overly warm as the additional body derived from its low-end is effectively counterbalanced by its lifted clarity. The result is well-resolved midrange notes and vocals that lie in perfect balance with its bass. Though not perfectly linear, vocal timbre is excellent on the vast majority of tracks.

    [​IMG]
    As there is some emphasis here, the earphones are a touch more track dependent than earphones with less bass warmth. However, Audiofly’s colourations are very well-measured and listeners are rewarded with a sound that retains impressive vocal clarity and extension while maintaining lush body and a slightly warm tone. Furthermore, as the lower-treble is smooth, sibilance is non-existent and the AF1120’s vocals are smooth yet without a hint of veil. What we observe here is a masterful balance between body, tone and clarity with strong technical qualities.



    Highs –

    The AF1120’s high-end is quite a curiosity, with a sizeable dip in the lower-treble at 5KHz that takes some edge off percussion and strings, a rise to a small middle-treble peak and subsequent fall-off. As the 6KHz region is also a touch attenuated, the foreground of the earphone is smooth, flattering the midrange, but perhaps lacking some attack and aggression for some listeners and genres such as rock. Meanwhile, that small middle-treble bump adds a touch of clarity, so strings are still crisp and cymbal hits have ample attack with just slightly faster shimmer and decay. This contributes to a very clean foreground but can make high-hats sound slightly truncated. Notes also aren’t brittle or thin, a trait that lower-treble emphasized earphones can suffer from. Furthermore, as the emphasis is just above the lower-treble, the background remains dark, further contributing towards immaculate cleanliness.

    This enables the listener to focus on foreground details despite their smoothness. Compared to the pricier EE Phantom that bears a similar treble presentation, the same micro-detail retrieval and resolving power in the upper registers cannot be observed. The earphones still possess solid headroom and extension though they do trade sparkle and some resolution for cleanliness. Still, they are resolving of fine details in the foreground and their background, though dark, does possess ample information to provide contrast and distinction between layers, providing the multi-faceted high-end IEM presentation that one would expect for the price.



    Soundstage –

    It’s clear from analysis of its treble that the AF1120 prioritizes composition, coherence and cleanliness over extension and sparkle. The result is a more intimate soundstage with expansion just beyond the head in all axis. The stage is redeemed by its excellent positioning and imaging, a by-product of the earphone’s superb balance. Chiefly, the stage is well-rounded and vocals have a strong centre image while instruments are clearly located to the sides. Layers are defined on behalf of its darker background though there isn’t huge background/foreground distinction as vocals haven’t received notable push through the centre midrange. Meanwhile, that small middle-treble emphasis translates to crisp and sharp directional cues if not a sparkly and holographic presentation. The sound is well separated despite its warmth due to rapid decay and strong separation between the three core frequency bands. Details are easy to discern and the presentation impresses especially with its coherence, remaining well-resolved throughout.



    Driveability –

    With a low 11-ohm impedance and 109dB sensitivity, the AF1120 MK2 is very efficient and easily driven to high volumes from portable sources. With a higher driver count and sophisticated crossover, the AF1120 MK2 sounds most faithful through a low-impedance source. The 10-ohm Hiby R6, for instance, resulted in a markedly brighter and more aggressive sound. Its bass rolls off sooner and is more neutral, meanwhile, the midrange is brighter and more upper-midrange dominated. Highs are considerably more forward and aggressive. Those searching for a more typical BA sound heavier on details may want to experiment with impedance adapters while those wanting the most coherent sound will surely benefit from a low-impedance DAP or IEMatch.



    Comparisons –

    Custom Art Fibae Black ($495): The Fibae Black pursues a similar tuning, however, with a smoother upper-midrange and without the middle-treble bump. The Black has a more sub-bass quantity and possesses slightly more extension than the AF1120, delivering slightly more rumble and slam. It has noticeably more mid-bass, producing a fuller, warmer low-end. This extends to the upper-bass so although bass is elevated, it doesn’t sound humped or especially off-timbre, and a sharper dip into the lower-midrange aids the retention of clean vocals. The AF1120 is cleaner yet and has faster decay. It is slightly more controlled where the Black has slower decay but also sounds more dynamic. Both are well-defined, the Black has a slightly smoother texture while the AF1120 is more separated and defined. The midrange presentation is intriguing on the Black, taking smoothness and cleanliness to new heights. With its full fundamental, modest centre midrange emphasis climbing to a 3K hump and subsequent drop off through the upper-midrange and lower-treble, it is dense, velvety and vocal forward, delivering ample clarity on top. As the lower-midrange is slightly recessed, the tone is only slightly warm and there isn’t a hint of raspiness, thinness or sibilance, vocals are defined and clear yet delightfully lush.

    The AF1120 has a more transparent midrange, boasting a more progressive climb through the centre midrange and greater lower-midrange linearity. Its timbre is slightly more accurate and its upper-midrange extension is substantially better. As the Audiofly derives its smoothness and cleanliness from the treble instead, it sounds clearer and more open but also lacks the same sense of lushness and density, pursuing a more accurate timbre and tone. The Black actually has a bit more bite in the lower-treble with a small 6K peak that redeems crispness and detail presence. Meanwhile, the AF1120 has higher emphasis, its treble sounds a bit thinner but also clearer with substantially more air and headroom. The Black rolls off gradually through the middle-treble and it has little information in the highest-registers. What it achieves with just a single driver is extraordinary, yet with regards to top-end extension and headroom, the AF1120 handily outperforms it. This is reinforced by the presentation where the AF1120 is more spacious and separated, where the warmer, fuller and darker black is highly coherent and more organised but within a smaller space.



    Oriveti OH500 ($499): The OH500 is a W-shaped IEM, clearly less linear than the AF1120 MK2 but also more engaging and with greater range. Its dynamic woofer permits immediately greater bass extension that is reinforced by modest emphasis that grants it greater fullness. The OH500 has a touch more mid-bass as well, but falls off significantly faster through the upper-bass, providing a cleaner bass tone. The Oriveti is without warmth where the AF1120 MK2 is slightly warmer despite not being as full. In terms of control, the Oriveti has longer decay, where the AF1120 is more defined and controlled. Into the midrange, the OH500 has a more clearly recessed lower-midrange and has a more aggressive centre-midrange emphasis that brings its vocals to the fore to match its bass. The AF1120 meanwhile, is more linear, sounding fuller and more natural but also with less clarity and vocal focus. The OH500’s vocal timbre isn’t as accurate, however, it does provide more immediacy and it has slightly better separation. The AF1120 can sound a bit congested by direct comparison. However, once acclimatized, it is the more accurate performer and more consistent in presentation between tracks on behalf of its greater linearity and more even bass/midrange transition.

    Interestingly, both earphones employ similar upper-midrange emphasis to derive clarity followed by a drop in the lower-treble to retain smoothness and avoid over-articulation. They are also very similar troughs in terms of range and intensity and both earphones implement middle-treble bumps to redeem crispness, clarity and detail presence in addition to aiding headroom. The OH500 is the crisper earphone, it is more engaging with its W-shaped tuning. Meanwhile, the AF1120 is smoother and a bit darker, it sounds slightly more organised and composed where the OH500 is crisper but also thinner and slightly more brittle. The OH500 provides a little more sparkle and extension, however, both are well-resolving earphones with strong detail retrieval in the foreground and background. The OH500 has the larger soundstage as a result, both have very clean backgrounds, the AF1120 images better and is more coherent due to its tuning where the OH500 has better tri-frequency separation.

    Campfire Audio Andromeda ($1099): Not the most fair comparison in terms of price, however, the Andro is undoubtedly a reference standard in the high-end IEM world. It too, is more W-shaped and engaging, however, it also commands convincing body and warmth, an appealing combo. The AF1120 is flatter, it is less dynamic but also more coherent and what is there is more focussed where the Andromeda has more scale and fine nuance to its sound. The Andro has superior sub-bass extension, it also has more sub-bass quantity delivering more solid slam and rumble. Its mid-bass is very similar, providing a slightly fuller, punchier low-end with more body overall. Both earphones have similar upper-bass tuning too, and both are lightly warm in their low-end presentations. The Andro has faster decay and greater control, however, as the AF1120 is a little cleaner, it delivers slightly more definition through the mid-bass. As the Andro extends further, it ends up sounding a more dynamic. Meanwhile, the AF1120 is smoother and less aggressive in its presentation while upholding almost as much detail retrieval. Through the midrange, the Andromeda sees and earlier centre midrange rise that brings its vocals to the fore, after which, it sustains emphasis until a modest lower-treble peak. The AF1120 rather builds gradually through the centre midrange to a more emphasized upper-midrange and significantly less emphasized lower-treble.

    The result is a clearer but also slightly warmer vocal on the Andromeda in addition to greater vocal extension. Meanwhile, the AF1120’s vocals are more in line with its bass, the Andromeda pushing vocals slightly behind instruments. The AF1120 trades definition for greater note resolution, sounding a touch more coherent and filled-in compared to the Andromeda. Treble is sharper and clearer on the Andromeda, a by-product of its more present lower-treble and upper-treble. The Andro is crisper and more aggressively detailed, especially noticeable with its more concise percussion and bitier strings. Meanwhile, the AF1120 sounds considerably smoother and darker in this region. It lacks the sparkle, energy and headroom of the Andromeda, servicing the midrange with its smooth foreground treble tuning as opposed to focussing on the shine of its treble in isolation. The Andro is more detailed and has more background and micro-detail, it also extends further and has a larger stage. Meanwhile, the AF1120 has more coherent imaging and sounds cleaner which enables the listener to focus on smaller details more easily.



    Verdict –

    [​IMG]
    Audiofly’s design basks in the re-emergence of vinyl records, vintage speakers and appreciation of traditional acoustic design. Much like the original AF1120, the MK2 strike me as a well-balanced earphone, a sound perhaps from a bygone era, with superb tone and midrange timbre. Audiofly’s premium offering also now lies within a newer and more sophisticated market; and where other companies have implemented technological innovations to achieve great end to end extension and resolving power from small driver counts, the AF1120’s unaltered internals begin to show their age. Contrarily, its signature remains a highlight and a very natural tuning that modern earphones have, in trend, tended to steer away from. So though lacking sheer resolving power and headroom, the AF1120 rewards those valuing accuracy, balance and a natural tone with perfect ergonomics and a newly upgradeable cable on top. In so doing, it serves as a reminder that refined tuning is timeless in the face of innovation, though that statement does come with the biggest disclaimer yet.

    The AF1120 MK2 can be purchased from Audiofly for $850 AUD. I am not affiliated with Audiofly and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.

    This review was taken from my website Everyday Listening. If you enjoyed my review, please visit my site for more articles just like it!
      B9Scrambler and Wyville like this.