AudioFly - AF1120 - Universal 6-Balanced Armature Driver In-Ear Monitors

Average User Rating:
4.5/5,
  1. HiFiChris
    4.0/5,
    "Audiofly AF1120: Six tiny Men at Work"
    Pros - neutral bass response, detailed midrange without "cheating", smoothness, detail retrieval and separation in general, comfort, awesome storage purse
    Cons - 5 kHz dip might lead to too much smoothness/politeness/lack of byte/boringness for some
    Preamble:

    Originally posted on my German audio review site, the "Kopfhörer-Lounge", here comes my review of the Australian Audiofly AF1120 6-BA flagship in-ear.


    Introduction:

    Audiofly, an in-ear and headphone manufacturer from Australia, is probably not the most widely spread or known name among audio and music lovers because the company that was founded in 2012 is not doing excessive advertisement and marketing. Nonetheless they have their products offered by many stores and distributors worldwide and have just recently established a European branch, Audiofly Europe (https://www.audioflyeurope.com/). Nonetheless the Audiofly brand does have a good reputation and is also known among musicians since their products also aim at stage monitoring purposes.

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    Currently, Audiofly’s most recent model and flagship in-ear monitor is the AF1120, a model with six Balanced Armature drivers per side that are divided by a three-way crossover. It continues the manufacturer’s line of multi-BA in-ears that were generally received positively by the press and worldwide customers, including the German audio community.

    What Audiofly’s sextuple-BA in-ear sounds like and how it performs, also in comparison with other well-established multi-BA in-ears from other manufacturers, is what this very review will summarise.


    Acknowledgement: Before I go on, I’d like to thank Audiofly Europe for supplying me with a sample of the AF1120 in-ears free of charge for the purpose of an, as always, honest as well as unbiased review and evaluation.


    Technical Specifications:

    MSRP: €699/£599/$699; street prices are lower
    Drivers: Balanced Armature
    Driver Count: 6x BA per side
    Acoustic Ways: 3


    Delivery Content:

    I don’t know if people actually read this parts of a review anyway instead of just looking at the photos, since this is the least interesting and informative section as the sound is what is the most interesting and important, but no proper review goes without mentioning these things.

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    Anyway, the AF1120’s delivery content is definitely quite impressive: While a cardboard sleeve with nice information and photos is certainly not be new to you, along with a magnetically attached lid with a blue strap to open it more easily, a packaging that is canvas-coated likely is – and this is exactly what you get from Audiofly: an in-ear that comes in a packaging that is canvas-coated (how cool and unique is that?!).

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    Inside, you will find the in-ears with the cable already attached, three pairs of Comply Foam tips (one pair is already installed), three pairs of black single-flange silicone tips, three pairs of black triple-flange silicone tips, an airplane adapter, a 6.3 to 3.5 mm adapter, a cleaning tool, an Audiofly sticker and an extremely nice carrying case that I will talk about more in-depth in the “Looks, Feels, Build Quality” section of this review.

    You really get a unique and premium overall package with the AF1120 with plenty of nice accessories.


    Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

    A true highlight is the carrying case – it is quite big but sturdy and looks and feels very premium. No, you don’t get a standard plastic, fabric or metal carrying case but instead a zippered storage wallet that is made of waxed canvas with a brown pleather Audiofly logo, along with an orange application that reads “AF1120” and “six drivers in-ear monitors” next to a white surface where the in-ears’ owner can sign with his or his band’s name (the AF1120 is also designed as a musician’s monitor after all).

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    Inside, there is plenty of room, a spare pocket and soft bolstering with synthetic velour-like material.

    So even though the case is rather on the larger side, it is just gorgeous and I suspect that the percentage of people who would not like it is really small.

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    The silicone ear tips are nicely soft by the way and don’t show any build flaws.

    The AF1120 has got transparent plastic shells that let you see the package of six Balanced Armature drivers in each shell. Those shells, while they are nothing really special compared to some other manufacturers’ offerings when it comes to design and material choice, appear just as sturdy as they can be and are no less well-built than Westone’s and Shure’s more premium models.

    Inside the nozzle (that is not the most beautiful of most premium looking one but appears to be plenty sturdy), there is an acoustic filter.

    On the shell’s outer side, there is a black Audiofly logo whereas one can find large side indicators on the inside, and, what’s an especially nice touch, the serial numbers, model number (“AF1120”) and a sign that says that the in-ears were designed in Australia.

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    Audiofly uses removable cables with the AF1120 that feature rotation-locked MMCX cables. The rotation lock is achieved by two notches on either side so the MMCX sockets and plugs are less prone to rotating and wearing out although they can still rotate without excessive force. The downside is that most aftermarket cables will likely not fit.

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    The cable is very flexible and has got twisted conductors above the large y-splitter, which is the common standard for most traditional high-end and professional in-ears. A transparent chin-slider is present as well.

    Below the y-splitter however, the cable is nylon-/fabric-coated. While this looks nice and can help with reducing microphonics in some cases, it would not have been my personal first choice since that kind of coating can soak fluids such as sweat and may fray over time.


    Comfort, Isolation:

    The in-ear bodies’ shape reminds me of Shure’s and Westone’s models but is not exactly the same – Audiofly’s design is still unique in its own way.

    Ergonomics are excellent nonetheless and the inside of the shells is also curved, resembling the ears’ natural shape and ergonomics.

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    Unless you have really small ears, fit will likely be no issue at all.

    Unlike many in-ears, the cables don’t feature any memory wire in their ear guides that are still shaped/curved nonetheless. They bend nicely around the ears and automatically adapt to the ears’ radius. So even though there is no memory wire inside the ear guides, they still adapt to the ears’ radius easily and automatically.

    Microphonics are close to being inexistent.

    Noise isolation is really good, as it could also be expected from closed in-ears with this kind of shells.


    Sound:

    My main source for listening was the iBasso DX200 (AMP1 module that has got a very low output impedance).

    The largest included single-flange silicone tips were used for the sound evaluation, comparisons and casual listening.

    Tonality:


    I am inclined to call the AF1120 neutral or neutral-ish, but this isn’t exactly what it sounds like. “Quite neutral bass with inoffensive and polite mids and middle highs” or “very smooth, relaxed, inoffensive and great for fatigue-free listening” are much better fitting descriptions but not really what entirely describes the Audiofly either, so let’s investigate this more in detail:

    Its bass is practically neutral and just shows a mild hint of body in the fundamental range compared to an in-ear that is diffuse-field flat in the lows, such as the Etymotic ER-4S/SR.

    Compared to the Etys that are absolutely flat in the bass (some would say “lifeless” to which I would agree, however in a desirable way in their specific case), the AF1120 has got ca. 4 dB more in bass quantity, which makes its bass just as present as the also fairly neutral sounding Noble Audio SAVANNA that however shows some roll-off in the sub-bass unlike the AF1120. Compared to the also fairly neutral Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors, the Audiofly has got just about 1 dB more presence in the lows.
    Extension to the sub-bass is flat without any roll-off.

    So calling the bass neutral and fairly flat is definitely what describes the Audiofly AF1120’s lower registers pretty well.

    The midrange of the AF1120 is slightly heading into the darker direction, but definitely not into the warmer since the lower vocals aren’t really emphasised.

    The highs, from there on, are more in the background and on the somewhat darker and especially smoother, pretty relaxed side.

    The upper midrange/fundamental range between 2 and 3 kHz takes a moderate step back, followed by a dip centred around 5 kHz in the middle highs. Highs start climbing again afterwards towards 10 kHz where they are neutral again but don’t cross the ground line anymore but only barely touch it around 10 kHz, making the overall treble response rather relaxed, smooth and inoffensive with still correct levels around 10 kHz in the upper treble.

    While the sine generator indicates flawless extension past 16 kHz, there is not that much subtle super treble sparkle audible with music, although one can hear that the Audiofly extends higher than the Shure SE846.

    Overall, there are no sudden dips or peaks audible when doing sine sweeps. Instead, the highs are fairly even and smooth, however with a relaxed character, especially around 5 kHz in the middle treble. This relaxation and dip is definitely rather strong and even surpasses the Westone W4R’s level of smoothness and inoffensiveness in the middle highs – which definitely says something since the W4R already is an in-ear with a very smooth and relaxed middle treble tuning.

    Upper treble response is quite soft – cymbals are never sharp and sibilants don’t exist either, however the highs and cymbals can come across as being a bit too polite/inoffensive at times and maybe a touch more bite in the upper range probably wouldn’t have hurt, along with a bit more vocal glare.

    In terms of timbre, a bit less softness with cymbals would have been somewhat more realistic.

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    The AF1120 definitely portrays a rather unique sound signature that is relaxed, smooth, even, inoffensive and great for fatigue-free listening, and it is definitely nice to have an in-ear manufacturer that offers a different kind of sound signature that still sounds harmonious and pleasant.

    What is nice about the Audiofly’s tonal tuning is that it makes less well mastered, mixed and recorded tracks more bearable because of its smooth but not analytical nature.

    Resolution:

    What is quite striking, in a positive way, is that the bass is tight and very quick – even for Balanced Armature standards. Decay is just as long as it needs to be and there is no hint of softness or slowness at all. Control is simply great as well.

    In its character, along with its rather neutral quantity, the bass could definitely be described rather as “analytical” than as “euphoric” or “bodied and textured”.
    Compared to the mids, I miss an ever so slight bit of details and layering in the lows, which is however criticism on a high level.

    Speech intelligibility is really good and the level of details is as well – but it is probably not that striking upon first or quick listening, which is a side-effect of the polite and very smooth treble tuning. Due to the quite recessed 5 kHz rage, the AF1120 won’t have a “hey, I’m uber-revealing” kind of character.

    Doing more extensive listening and comparisons, as well as listening to the Audiofly for a longer amount of time, then reveals that it actually has a nice, highly detailed presentation that is just not as striking.

    This definitely fits well to the inoffensively smooth signature that is best-suited for fatigue-free listening and people who don’t like in-ears that have an aggressive treble tuning but don’t want to miss out the upper treble.

    Midrange resolution without cheating with any emphasis really is a great strength the Audiofly has – it has got real details and resolution without needing to emphasis a specific frequency range to make the details appear more present.

    That the AF1120 is a well-resolving in-ear does not solely become obvious when listening to it for a longer period of time, but also when reducing its middle treble recession with the help of an EQ.

    Strangely though, even though tightness and speed are nothing the Audiofly lacks, its resolution seems to decrease slightly with faster recordings – not by much, but this effect is present to a slight degree.

    Even though vocals could use somewhat more glare in the presence range and middle treble, minute details are excellently presented and not lacking at all.

    The highs’ resolution is good as well but due to their rather soft character, separation in the treble lacks slightly behind the bass and midrange.

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    Summarising, one could say that all of the details and resolution are present but not especially highlighted. Is the level of details adequate for the price though? Yes, it is.

    I am also very inclined to also say that the AF1120 is a perfect in-ear for background listening while maintaining a really high technical level without fatiguing.

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    Soundstage:

    The Soundstage is fairly wide and has got a quite precise localisation and separation of tonal elements without reaching the spatially best in-ears in the four-digit price range.

    There is some spatial depth so that the soundstage doesn’t appear flat, however it is (maximally) just half as present compared to the width wherefore the soundstage appears more oval and wide than three-dimensional and circular.

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    In Comparison with other In-Ears:

    Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors (€1149):

    The Audiofly has only got 1 dB more bass quantity than the UERM, making it still very neutral in the lows.
    The UERM have got the more neutral/flatter midrange timbre and don’t appear dark in the upper mids.
    The UERM definitely carry more brightness in the highs and definitely not as recessed as the AF1120 is in the middle treble around 5 kHz. Both don’t have the perfect upper treble timbre – the UERM have got an emphasis in this area that can be a bit too bright at times whereas the Audiofly has got a slightly too soft upper treble response. The UERM are more accurate in the highs though.

    The UERM are minimally tighter in the lows with slightly more details while the AF1120 is minimally faster sounding there.
    Speech intelligibility and midrange resolution are almost on the same level with the AF1120 having an ever so slight, razorblade-thin edge over the UERM that however have a more revealing character in the upper mids due to their more neutral timbre and flatter midrange/upper midrange tuning.
    Treble separation is more precise on the UEs’ side.

    The UERMs’ soundstage will depend more on the recording but will be slightly sharper and more precise, with a more three-dimensional presentation.


    Noble Audio SAVANNA ($499):

    Both in-ears have got similar levels of bass quantity but the Audiofly does not have any roll-off in the sub-bass whereas the SAVANNA does have a moderate one.
    Midrange timbre is comparable up until the central mids while the Noble is a little less dark in the upper midrange and middle treble range.
    The SAVANNA is a rather smooth sounding in-ear in the highs as well, but certainly not as relaxed.
    While the Audiofly is a smooth and relaxed, inoffensive sounding in-ear with a fairly neutral bass response, I would characterise the Noble as the more neutral and accurate monitor.

    The Audiofly has got the slightly tighter and quicker bass response while resolution and control are definitely on the same level in the lows. The SAVANNA seems a bit more textured and layered though.
    The Audiofly has got the slightly higher midrange resolution while both are almost on-par in the highs with the Noble being less soft in the upper treble.

    The Audiofly has got the wider soundstage while the Noble’s is deeper and therefore creates a greater sense of three-dimensionality. Separation is just ever so slightly cleaner on the Audiofly’s side.

    Westone W4R (~ €439):

    The W4R has got the noticeably stronger and thicker bass response while both share a fairly similar midrange timbre (with the difference that the Westone’s lower midrange is somewhat warmer).
    The W4R is already an in-ear that is quite smooth and relaxed in the highs, with a 5 kHz recession. The AF1120 is an even slightly more relaxed and smoother sounding in-ear, with the slightly stronger 5 kHz recession.
    Upper treble levels are about comparable again.
    The Westone’s highs sound a bit more realistic in comparison (cymbals are more direct compared to the Audiofly that reproduces them in a softer manner) while still maintaining a good level of smoothness.

    The AF1120 has got the slightly faster appearing bass compared to the Westone, however the W4R has got the more pronounced texture in comparison while control is similar.
    In terms of midrange details and speech intelligibility, the Audiofly holds a slight edge over the Westone.
    When it comes to the treble, the W4R sounds more direct with the slightly better separation.

    In terms of spatial reproduction, the AF1120 sports more spatial depth with slightly less width wherefore it doesn’t sound as spatially flat as the Westone, while the W4R has got the slightly more precise separation.

    Shure SE846 (€999):

    The Shure has obviously got noticeably more sub-bass quantity since it has got an emphasis in this area. The Shure’s midrange is more forward, with a thicker tone, but also with more presence in the upper midrange (it isn’t emphasised here but just shows more quantity compared to the AF1120 that is more relaxed in that area).
    The Shure is already an in-ear with a rather relaxed middle treble, however the Audiofly is even a bit more relaxed and polite here. The AF1120’s upper highs appear softer compared to the Shure’s.
    Treble extension past 10 kHz is where the Shure loses in comparison.

    The Audiofly has got the quicker and somewhat tighter bass while control is on the same level. The Shure’s lows appear slightly more resolving though, but especially more textured and layered.
    The AF1120 is ever so slightly more detailed in the mids (by a razorblade’s thickness).
    The Shure has got the slightly superior treble separation.

    When it comes to soundstage, the Audiofly renders the wider room while the Shure’s soundstage is narrower. Spatial depth is about similar with the Shure having the slightly cleaner separation and placement of instruments.


    Conclusion:


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    The Audiofly AF1120 is an in-ear that features a detailed sound with great midrange details, high speech intelligibility and a fairly neutral and very fast bass response, but is overall tuned more for a relaxed, polite and inoffensive listening experience with a recessed 5 kHz range. It has a great and inoffensive tuning for fatigue-free listening, however I can definitely see some people who might find some bite and glare to be lacking.

    Those looking for a very smooth, even and relaxed in-ear with a polite, never harsh, always inoffensive and gentle tuning, or an in-ear that is very detailed but well-suited for high quality background listening should be pleasantly satisfied with it.
  2. ryanjsoo
    5.0/5,
    "Audiofly AF1120 Review – Neutral+"
    Pros - Stunningly balanced, Exceptionally linear bass and midrange, Very detailed, Great soundstage depth and imaging, Perfect comfort
    Cons - May be a bit neutral and polite for some, Thin, tangle-prone cable, Loose, keyed MMCX connectors, Sub-bass extension isn't as exceptional as the rest of the sound
    Introduction –

    Audiofly are an Australian manufacturer that has gradually risen from obscurity to modest popularity, though you still won’t see talk of their new models as you would of something from Sennheiser and even some more popular Chi-fi iems. And that’s because Audiofly is a much more professional orientated company, much like 64Audio and Westone, the majority of whose products are dedicated towards stage and recording use. Of course, despite this focus, Audiofly’s products also hold great value to the audio enthusiast community due to their neutral, technically proficient tones.

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    I actually have a personal affinity for the company, they’re local and I had a great experience with their triple driver hybrid, the AF140. I also admire the originality of their designs and the variety of their tuning between different models. So when I heard about Audiofly’s new 6-driver AF1120, I was nothing but intrigued. Let’s see how Audiofly’s newest premium in-ear performs when compared to in-ears from some of the most respected brands on the market.



    Disclaimer –

    I would like to thank Audiofly very much for their quick communication and for providing me with the AF1120 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.



    About Me, Background, Gear of choice, Preferences and Biases –

    I generally prefer a u-shaped sound that is close to neutral. I like a lot of detail and clarity but can appreciate a smooth, laid back sound. I’m not particularly treble sensitive so I may be more forgiving of brightness over darkness. I will note if I use a different eartip/pad/cover during the review and describe the sound changes.

    Read More



    Accessories –

    My review unit didn’t come with any packaging though the models I’ve purchased in the past were packaged within a nice box. Retail AF1120’s will too though I’m not too fussed about the lack of box anyway.

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    Instead, my set came simply within the waxed canvas carry case which provides fantastic drop protection to the in-ears in addition to some water resistance. The case is quite large, fitting a medium sized DAP in addition to the earphones and some accessories though an additional soft pouch would be nice for more portable use.

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    The case also contains the accessories and papers, Audiofly provide the buyer with a comprehensive setup that guarantees a solid fit and seal. The AF1120 comes with Medium Comply T100’s preinstalled with small and large tips in separate bags. In addition, Audiofly include 3 triple flange and 3 single flange silicone tips. The earphones also come packaged with an aeroplane adaptor and 3.5mm to 1/4″ adaptor.



    Design –

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    The AF1120’s may not be the most visually striking earphones and they certainly don’t draw the eye like the Campfire Nove, Dunu DK-3001 and Plussound Prism. But in return, the minute, plastic Audiofly’s provide ergonomic perfection with just a hint of visual flare via those intriguing transparent housings.

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    In terms of design, the AF1120’s employ the typical Audiofly style housing that is very unique and distinct amongst more typical in-ear monitors. And though they are unorthodox, I found Audiofly’s angular pod-shaped design to achieve fantastic comfort that was, for my ears, superior to Westone’s UM Pro earphones and on par with the most comfortable in-ears out there like those from Phonak, Klipsch and Oriveti. The housings are simply perfectly shaped, they really hug the inside of the ear and their thin, curved rears avoid forming hotspots. This flawless comfort is aided but their minute dimensions; I considered the 5-driver Westone UM 50 Pro to be impressive, but the AF1120 contains an extra driver in a shell that is around half the width. They have a super low-profile fit that not only sits flush in my ear, but slightly recessed. As such, they are perfect to sleep with, even on the side, and wind noise is minimised.

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    With an over-ear design, fit stability is also fantastic. They have a very deep fit by virtue of their long, thin nozzles and they really lock into the ear like the 64Audio U3 and Westone Um Pro earphones. Furthermore, their super small, lightweight housings barely budge during activity, making them perfect for running and stage use. They are also full-sealed producing fabulous noise isolation that is on par with the Plussound Prism and just bested by the metal Campfire earphones, you won’t find much more isolation beyond Customs. With their comfort and stability, the earphones were perfect in the gym and on the plane though I found their isolation was actually excessive for commute where I like to keep some connection with my environment for safety reasons.

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    However, the AF1120 isn’t all flawless as their cable is one of the worst I’ve handled around this price. While it is removable, utilising a standard MMCX connector, both the earphones themselves and cable are keyed, preventing the cables from swivelling and also preventing the use of third party cables. In addition, I found the connectors to be quite loose, lacking the authoritative snap of other modern MMCX earphones, and the earpieces unintentionally detached several times during my testing. While I didn’t notice any intermittency when listening I had to be a bit more careful when uncoiling the earphones from storage. I’m still not sure why Audiofly didn’t just go with a 2-pin connector.

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    The cable itself is also pretty mediocre and certainly not as compelling as the fantastic units offered by competitors like Plussound and Campfire. The cable is quite long at 1.6m, which is great at home, but a bit awkward during portable use (though a cable winder solves this issue easily). The cable itself has a relatively supple fabric sheath below the y-split and a braided construction to the earpieces, my main issue is with the cable above the y-split as it is incredibly thin, springy and has noticeable memory. This makes it exceptionally tangle prone and difficult to untangle too. The cable is also relatively microphonic despite running over the ear due to its stiffness and tight braid. Audiofly should really consider including a thicker gauge wire above the y-split both for ergonomics and longevity; I understand that the cable is intended to be lightweight, but it is simply too compromised for convenient use and the earphones are easily stable enough to support a slightly heavier unit.

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    On the flipside, the actual build quality of the cable is quite good with great strain relief on the 90-degree plug and beefy y-split; which is arguably a bit too beefy. They employ well-formed plastic ear guides, my preferred implementation, rather than memory wire which I found to be both comfortable and secure. The earphones also have a basic chin slider that holds its place relatively well though when slid to the y-split, it does put some stress on the cabling.


    Sound –

    The AF1120 implements a whopping 6 balanced armature drivers per earpiece with a 3-way crossover, twice the amount of the similarly priced 64Audio U3 and three times that included by the Plussound Prism. To my knowledge, the AF1120 possesses the greatest sheer number of drivers at this price and while that doesn’t always translate to direct performance gains (the AF1120 doesn’t actually have the best end to end extension), the Audiofly has more headroom for professional use and equalisation. Furthermore, their superb linearity and nice balance also make the AF1120 very nicely tuned for home listening too. Of note, I did put the AF1120’s through ~100hours of burn-in through my Oppo HA-2 but did not note any noticeable changes beyond general acclimatisation to their tonality.

    The AF1120’s are not overly tip sensitive due to their longer nozzles though they did sound more balanced to my ear with the stock Comply tips rather than silicone tips. Spinfits also pair quite well, granting a slightly fuller low-end and a little extra sparkle up top though I didn’t agree with the change to the AF1120’s midrange. All comments below will be with the Comply foam ear tips.


    Drivability –

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    The AF1120 is sensitive and easy to drive and despite having such a large driver count combined with a low 10ohm impedance, I didn’t find the AF1120 to be hugely source sensitive. They are less sensitive than the Dunu DK-3001, 64Audio U3 and Campfire Jupiter, all of which are insanely sensitive, though the AF1120 reaches deafening volume even from my iPod Nano 7G. The AF1120 is also surprisingly resistant to hiss, the Dunu’s and Campfire’s both pick up considerable noise on my Oppo HA-2 but hiss was barely audible from the AF1120. The Audiofly’s have a brighter sound and find great synergy with more musical sources though they are natural enough to sound very pleasing from more clinical sources too. The AF1120 was perfectly matched to my Chord Mojo which added slightly more body to the low-end and some much-needed bass slam. And although the AF1120 isn’t a particularly strident earphone, the Mojo slightly smoothed off their high-end, making them a bit more balanced. The AF1120’s also found great synergy with my older Wolfson based Fiio X3, they did lose a bit of definition and resolution compared to my newer sources though the X3 provided a nice clean response with more bass body and a delightfully organic tone. They sounded fine from my HA-2 though the Oppo’s brighter sound did tend to tire during longer listening sessions and I missed the body of the Mojo and X3. As aforementioned, the AF1120’s do also deal quite reasonably well with higher output impedance sources, they sounded good from my HTC 10 with pleasing resolution and clarity though they were perceptibly drier and slightly more unconcise than from the Mojo and HA-2, unsurprising given their resolution advantage. And coming back to the Fiio i1, the AF1120 found a nice match with its musical tones where my iPods all tended to sound a bit over-forward. The AF1120 finds best synergy with slightly more musical sources and isn’t as hiss prone as competitors, it is easy to drive but scales nicely with high-end sources.



    Tonality –

    The AF1120 is a very balanced, almost neutral earphone that still sounds more tonally pleasing than the Plussound Prism and RE-600 to my ear. It is a slightly brighter earphone not due to any treble emphasis but due to their slight midrange colouration. Depending on the source, they can either sound slightly mid-forward or almost perfectly balanced though I would say that with the majority of sources, their bass response sits very slightly behind the midrange which has equal weighting to treble. By comparison, the relatively balanced 64Audio U3 is perceptibly u-shaped with a fuller bass response and notably more treble emphasis; the AF1120 is probably the best option around this price for those prone to fatigue and sibilance without losing any detail, clarity and air. The AF1120 has no obvious peaks or troughs and carries a more natural tone than the majority of earphones that pursue a neutral or reference style sound, it excels with strings, piano and vocals, especially female.



    Soundstage, Imaging and Separation –

    The AF1120 isn’t as immediately spacious sounding as the U3 and Jupiter, though it has the ability to reproduce convincing space in recordings that call for it. Their soundstage is slightly depth focussed though width is very good with the widest notes occasionally reaching just beyond the periphery of the head. The U3 possesses appreciably more width as does the vented DK-3001 but depth is more immersive on the AF1120 than either. The AF1120 actually has some nice height to their soundstage as well which enhances imaging and immersion over the more two-dimensional sounding U3 and DK-3001. Listening to Radiohead’s newly remastered version of “OK Computer OKNOTOK” and the AF1120 produced pleasing width and impressive forward projection that adds an extra layer to songs such as “Karma Police (Remastered)”. Imaging, in particular, is outstanding, positioning and centre image are sharper on the AF1120 than the U3, Prism and DK-3001. So while the AF1120 doesn’t have the widest soundstage, their fantastic depth and imaging provide more immersion than competitors.



    Bass –

    Though bass doesn’t hold huge emphasis within the sound, low notes never get drowned out or overshadowed by higher frequencies. So I wouldn’t consider the AF1120 to be perfectly balanced, but bass doesn’t sound anaemic and quality is exquisite. After some adjustment to the more neutral bass levels, the AF1120 provides a deep and articulate sounding response with a slight lower-bass focus. To put their quantity into perspective, they are slightly leaner than the 64Audio U3 and Campfire Jupiter overall though they still have a little extra bass over the Hifiman RE-600. Though I found the AF1120 to be well-balanced stock, for those who prefer more quantity, they respond very well to eQ, a benefit of those additional drivers. Interestingly, sub-bass extension is just average for a high-end armature earphone though they do produce a pleasing sense of fullness that handily bests the Plussound Prism and even the Westone UM 50 Pro despite having significantly less bass quantity. That being said, the AF1120 still doesn’t move air like the hybrid DK-3001 and certain armature earphones like the 64 U3, CA Nova and Jupiter do possess more solidity and rumble to these notes. Apart from a slight deep-bass emphasis that grants a little extra thump to notes, the AF1120 is otherwise impressively linear in their bass tuning, even the Campfire Jupiter is slightly more uneven in its tuning though some may find certain emphasis to bring more enjoyment. And in listening, that linearity is really exceptional, allowing the AF1120 to produce class-leading bass definition and articulation. Listening to The Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s “Dark Necessities” and low notes were very controlled, tight and fast with absolutely zero flab or bloat. Texturing was exceptional and their bass response was slightly more revealing than the U3, DK-3001 and Prism, even the more expensive Jupiter was just slightly more textured. So if you don’t mind the sub-bass roll off and more neutral quantity, the AF1120 delivers a hyper-detailed bass response whose quality takes full advantage of that linear tuning.


    Midrange –

    Mids may be the Audiofly’s speciality; the AF1120’s portray a delightful amount of nuance and their tuning might be my favourite around this price range. The midrange is slightly forward with a touch of upper midrange lift. They are similarly tuned to the Plussound Prism with more of a neutral, natural tone and a little less clarity than the U3 and DK-3001, but the AF1120 has an extra layer of detail and resolution on top that crafts a more pleasing rendition of the same presentation. Lower mids have great resolution and definition along with a very well weighted tone. For instance, the DK-3001 and U3 both possess more clarity but the AF1120 has more body and sounds more realistic as a result. That’s not to say they are a warm earphone, they are just as transparent as the Prism but sound more consistent, textured and dynamic. The AF1120 also doesn’t provide my absolute favourite lower midrange presentation around this price, that will be dictated by preference, though they easily compete with similarly priced models in terms of overall quality. Listening to Robbie William’s “Somethin’ Stupid” and the AF1120 provided a dynamic, smooth reproduction with great vocal definition. The DK-3001’s provided a similarly pleasing presentation that was well balanced between clarity, resolution and realism. The 64Audio U3’s had a similar presentation to the Dunu’s with especially impressive resolution and strong clarity to William’s vocals. I was happy with all of their presentations in both tuning and quality.

    Upper mids are the AF1120’s forte, contrasting to these other earphones that tend to falter a bit more as you head higher up. The Audiofly’s are lifelike and perfectly bodied, making the glossier DK-3001 and U3 sound a bit thin and raspy. Listening to Arianne’s “Komm, Susser Todd” and the AF1120 provided delightful layering and texture to vocals. They had pleasing immediacy and clarity without sounding boosted of enhanced, they also lacked that slightly nasal character of the Prisms. The Dunu’s also provided a nice rendition with just a touch less body and a little extra gloss, a reasonable trade-off. The U3 took this presentation a step further with an even clearer sound but one that was lacking body which compromised texturing. When listening to the thicker, more intimate tones of Tamia’s “Officially Missing You”, the AF1120 provided a similarly impressive portrayal with super smooth vocals, nice crispness to directional cues and great fullness to the acoustic guitar. The U3 provided a more agreeable reproduction here with fantastic clarity and an extra layer of silkiness to vocals that the AF1120 smoothed off. Guitar strums had more nuance on the U3 and directional cues were sharper even if the AF1120 imaged slightly better. This time, the Dunu actually sounded slightly more unnatural than the U3, main vocals were crystal clear and nuanced though backing vocals were quite raspy and a little over-forward as opposed to the other two earphones. The AF1120’s also had a similar detail retrieval to the Dunu, a hair more than the U3 and noticeably more than the Prism. Once again, I found the AF1120 to produce a very refined presentation of that detail though they are ever so slightly on the aggressive side, adding some extra bite to their sound. So while I immensely enjoy the midrange presentations of the U3 and DK-3001, the trend is clear, and the natural, linear tones of the AF1120 easily make it the most consistent performer if not the absolute best one in every scenario.


    Treble –

    The AF1120 is surrounded by greatness with regards to high-frequency performance; the supreme separation of the Prism, the awesome resolution of the U3 and the explosive detailing of the DK-3001. And with their slightly laid-back response, the AF1120 isn’t as immediately clear and resolving as these earphones either. Though that’s not giving the AF1120 enough credit because its high-end is definitely just as impressive. Although treble isn’t forward or aggressive, presence is well balanced with the midrange. They are relatively linear, lower treble has a small bump that grants some crispness to their sound though otherwise, middle and upper treble are well extended and mostly neutral. Treble isn’t peaky at all, they have a very smooth yet detailed high-frequency response that flatters strings but has enough aggression for guitar and cymbals. They still don’t quite resolve upper treble detail like the U3 nor do they have the detail presentation of the DK-3001, but the AF1120 is a nice middle ground between natural and engaging. They also almost completely lack sibilance and they are definitely one of the best high-end in-ears suited towards longer listening sessions without compromising detailing. Listening to “A Lovely Night” from the soundtrack of Lala Land and the AF1120 provided nice air and space to the rapid high-hats but missed that last bit of extension offered by the U3. They also produced a fantastic presentation of piano and strings were super smooth and refined without a hint of grain. Strings were pushed slightly behind in the mix and some details were perhaps slightly over smoothed to my ear, though I very much prefer this to an over-forward presentation. Similarly, when listening to “Hermit’s Habit”, the AF1120 provided great high-frequency resolution and micro-detailing, easily distinguishing between the drumstick hitting the cymbals and the subsequent cymbal shimmer. Trumpets were also nicely detailed without coming across as honky, something the Dunu would occasionally suffer from. The U3’s provided a really nice presentation with the most treble energy of the bunch. Once again, they provided exceptional air and notably increased clarity to each note over the AF1120. They were similarly paced and nuanced but trumpets sounded slightly thin.



    Verdict –

    Objectively evaluating such expensive earphones is more complicated than it may seem. Because in isolation, any $800 earphone will sound great, and it’s only in comparison to similarly priced models and those neighbouring it in price that we can start to appreciate the extent to which an earphone performs well. But the AF1120 was rather the opposite, which is often a good thing, and it wasn’t until I compared it to more sculpted earphones that I began to really appreciate it’s more neutral, mid-forward tones

    [​IMG]

    The AF1120 isn’t perfectly neutral and lacks the delicate frequency balanced of the Campfire earphones, but it is an exceptional mix of components that work perfectly well with each other. I love the consistency of their sound combined with their technical prowess and their comfort and fit are easily class leading. The AF1120 isn’t the most vibrant, resolving earphone, but it’s hardly a jack of all trades. Rather, the AF1120 is a versatile, mature and simply impressive earphone that isn’t objectively compromised. Of course, for my tastes, I would prefer a little more treble energy and they do have a typical BA sub-bass roll-off. But if you have a nice musical source and are looking for a very neutral, natural and detailed earphone with all-day comfort, the AF1120 is an exceptional option.

    Verdict – 10/10, The AF1120 is a stunning in-ear with excellent comfort, fit and sound. Their neutral tones won’t suit everyone’s tastes, but few will dislike their stunning detailing, texturing and realism. Audiofly’s flagship in-ear provides a nuanced and versatile package that earns its premium pricing.

    Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed my review, please have a look at my website for more just like it:
    https://everydaylisteningblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/27/audiofly-af1120-review-neutral/
  3. SeeSax
    4.5/5,
    "AudioFly AF1120 Review: 6BA Shootout!"
    Pros - Detailed & articulate sound, world-class comfort, price vs. competition
    Cons - Proprietary cable
    Intro & Me: I admittedly have amassed way too many IEMs. I have owned a lot of gear across the spectrum and I have yet to be as excited as I am now to do this "shootout" review of the Audiofly AF1120. Within the last few months, I have been on a buying spree of balanced armature-based IEMs and somehow as luck would have it, I ended up with three such IEMs that would be really fun to compare: the Audiofly AF1120, the Noble Django and the Earsonics S-EM6. While these three IEMs have a similar driver configuration, their sound and tuning could not be further away from each other. For that reason, the results might be somewhat predictable, but I figured this was as good a time as any to give a proper review of this unheard of IEM that is the AF1120. Spoiler-alern: I love it. Like I said in my past reviews, I don't know how to make a frequency graph, I don't have golden ears and I'm probably not the most qualified to write a review of higher-end IEMs. What I do have, though, is the enthusiasm and an unabashed opinion that I'm not afraid to share and it is hopefully worth the price of entry for you to read. Enjoy.  

     
    Test Equipment: This one is pretty simple this time, I'm going to do all of my testing through my desktop computer hooked up to my Grace M9XX. Normally when I review an IEM, I would test it with my M9XX, my Chord Mojo, my LG V20 and anything else I have. In this case, well, forgive me for being blunt but that is too much damn work with three pairs of IEMs! 

     
    The Contenders & Photos 

     
    Audiofly AF1120: A lesser-known Australian outfit who apparently makes the CIEMs for the Australian X-factor show. The AF1120 are their flagship IEMs with six balanced armature drivers in a 2x low, 2x mid and 2x high three-way design. I bought mine on Amazon through the seller by the name of "HiDEF Lifestyle" and I have to give a real shoutout to them, because they offered great prices and world-class customer service. These are the least expensive of the bunch with a suggested retail of $699 USD. More information can be found here: https://www.audiofly.com/shop/af1120/ 
     

    Noble Audio Django: These are the update to the well-received Noble 6. Another six driver, balanced armature design and that's about all Noble is willing to tell you! I have no idea what the crossover design is or what driver is doing what, but that's typical Noble for you. These retail at $999 and more information can be found here: https://nobleaudio.com/en/shop/universal/ 

     
    Earsonics S-EM6: Apparently as of a week ago, these are obsolete! The "V2" version is out now with a supposed more "neutral" sound signature, so it is worth noting that I am using the "V1" version. Similar to the AF1120, these use six balanced armature drivers in a 2x low, 2x mid and 2x high three-way design. Prices are kind of all over the board, but the suggested retail price from Earsonics is 999 Euros. Don't pay that – look around for better deals from other sellers.  

     
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    PackagingBetween these three IEMs, packaging and contents vary significantly. I won't go into exactly what IEM comes with what tip and all that, but it is worth mentioning that my favorite is the Noble Django. You get a lovely Pelican hard case, plenty of tips, a pretty supple and good-sounding stock cable and some rubber straps for stacking a mobile rig together. In the Earsonics box, you get a carrying case that pales in comparison to the Noble, a few double flange tips (none of which fit me) and a pretty decent stock cable. In the Audiofly box, you get an incredibly large, luxurious fabric carrying case and some tips with an interesting cable. The cable is fabric up to the Y-split and then after that, it's very thin. I love the cable, but, the non-shielded part that does not have fabric tangles extremely easily. I'm using aftermarket cables on the Nobles and the Earsonics, so I'm not going to go into a cable comparison. TL;DR, Noble comes in first, Audiofly comes in second and Earsonics comes in a close third for what you get in the box.  

     
    Tips: I'll keep this brief. The AF1120 use a pretty small nozzle, much like a Westone IEM, so my tip of choice is the Spinfit CP800. Westone Star tips work just fine as well. For the Django, I'm using JVC Spiral Dots, but Sony hybrids also work well. For the Earsonics, I'm also using the Spinfit CP800 tips because the nozzle is tapered and gets narrow, so a normal Sony hybrid or JVC Spiral Dot will fall right off. I am like zero for 10 on getting stock tips that come in the box to fit me!  

     
    Sound: For the sound portion of the review (the important part), I will focus on the AF1120 and then after, will offer comparisons with the Django and the S-EM6. The latter two have been reviewed in more detail, so I really want to give the AF1120 some face time here. So, let's get started!  

     
    Sound signature: To me, the AF1120 is a very neutral, reference-like IEM that does not exagerrate any frequencies. I can tell that Audiofly went for "accurate" rather than "fun" on this IEM and for that I cannot complain. I do not hear any signs of a v-shape signature and overall, the sound signature reminds me of my MEE Audio Pinnacle P1 (which is a good thing). In stark contrast to this are the other two, the S-EM6 and the Django. The S-EM6 has an incredible, lush and warm mid-range with rolled off treble and slightly rolled off sub-bass. The sound signature is opposite of a v-shape. Then we have the Django, which wears its sub-bass, mid-bass and treble energy loud and proud. This is the typical and fun v-shape. As you can see, these three IEMs could not be more different.  

     
    Bass: The bass on the AF1120 is of extremely high quality, but very much on the polite side of the spectrum. It's hard for me to say whether it is dead neutral or slightly elevated since I am not using frequency graphs, but this is not an IEM that bassheads will enjoy. Sub-bass is present, but is not the strong suit of this IEM. Mid-bass punch is there when the music calls for it and I find it overall very pleasing despite not being earth shattering. Bass is fast, engaging and very accurate. In comparison to the AF1120, the S-EM6 has a warmer and stronger bass presence both on the sub-bass and mid-bass levels (mid-bass more obvious). As I mentioned, the S-EM6 is a warmer IEM and the bass is more pleasant to me. I am probably classified as a borderline basshead, so this does not surprise me. For those who are looking for accuracy and neutrality, the AF1120 is the better choice. For those that like a warm bass, the S-EM6 is the better choice. Then there is the Django which has slamming sub-bass and mid-bass punch. Bass is definitely emphasized on the Django and it is the most bass-heavy of the three IEMs. I love the bass. It is clear, fast, punchy and overall extremely fun with most types of music. For me, the Django wins hands-down if you are a basshead. The deep levels that this bass can reach is impressive for a balanced armature IEM. It is addicting.  

     
    Mids: The midrange is extremely detailed and engaging on the AF1120. Things like an electric guitar really sing through this and I feel like this is the strong suit of the AF1120. Vocals are crystal clear, while both male and female sound wonderful. I want to emphasize that similar to the AF1120's bass response, the mid-range is on the accurate side and does not push any certain frequency forward. This leads me to the comparison to the S-EM6, with a very warm and forward mid-range. Where vocals are crystal clear on the AF1120, they are warm and lush on the S-EM6. This leads to the AF1120 sounding thin in comparison to the S-EM6, despite being the more accurate IEM (in my opinion at least). With the S-EM6, treble and bass take a back seat to the mids, while on the AF1120 everything is wrapped nicely together. On the Django, the mids are also crystal clear, but the most recessed of the three. As is typical with a v-shaped "fun" earphone, vocals can be slightly overshadowed by the treble and bass at times. These are all different IEMs and I think would be best chosen based on sound preference and musical genres. In my opinion, however, the AF1120 would be the best all-rounder "jack of all trades" IEM if you want to listen to everything.  

     
    Treble: The treble on the AF1120 sounds slightly smooth to me in comparison to other IEMs (Django in particular). You will not find any sibilance here, but instead you will find a non-fatiguing very detailed treble presence. High hats crash with reassuring power and texture, but will not leave you in pain afterward. Pop and electronic music really come to life with the highs on these IEMs and you can enjoy it for hours on end. In comparison to the S-EM6, the treble presence is more engaging and I find it better in this regard. The treble is just too rolled off on the S-EM6 to be a go-to IEM for all genres, but it has its place and that's part of the S-EM6's charm. The treble is beautifully textured and lush on the S-EM6, but I just want more of it. And that brings me to the Django. Treble energy is the most pronounced on the Django of the three for me, but still does not exhibit any sibilance or unpleasant shrill. I love the treble on the Django and it offers detail and clarity in spades, making the IEM feel fun, snappy and detailed. Electronic music really shows off the energy here and while I love the sound, this would not be my first choice for long listening sessions with a lot of treble-rich music. Once again, the neutrality and polite nature of the AF1120 shines here, making it my preferred IEM for a well-rounded treble experience.  

     
    SoundstageSeparation and ClarityI'm a relative newbie to testing soundstage, but the AF1120 exhibited a very wide soundstage with great instrument placement. I spun up some binaural recordings and the AF1120 did not disappoint. I found the soundstage to be expansive and pleasant. I could get a very real sense of the stage and while it wasn't to the level of my HE-560 Planar headphones, it was very impressive for an IEM. Separation of instruments and overall clarity were, however, tremendous on the AF1120 beating both the Noble Django and S-EM6 (though just slightly on the latter). Whether or not the AF1120 is actually producing more details than the other two is a tough call, but the neutral response of the AF1120 gives an overall sense of detail and clarity that place it above the other two IEMs. It has a definite wow-factor to the detail-rich sound; overall extremely impressive. For soundstage, I did not hear a big difference between the S-EM6 and the AF1120, both slightly edging out the Django in soundstage vastness.   

     
    Comfort: This one is easy: the AF1120 is way, way more comfortable to wear than either the Django or the S-EM6. The latter two are massive in comparison to the AF1120 and just feel so clunky after putting the AF1120 in your ears. It's lightweight, super ergonomic and unobtrusive. I am amazed that they managed to get the same amount of drivers in a shell that feels like miniscule compared to the other two. The S-EM6 are comfortable, but they are very large and I really have to pull on my ear lobe to get them to sit in there properly. The Django are very large and I have a difficult time getting them to fit well because of their protrusions. No issues whatsoever on the AF1120. I put them in my ears and forget they are there. Add to that a very soft and supple fabric cable and I could wear these all day long. The other two, no way.  

     
    Wrapping Up: This has been a really fun test for me. I wouldn't have guessed that three IEMs of a similar configuration could sound so vastly different, but this goes to show that it is all about the tuning. Number of drivers means very little in terms of sound signature and overall, it is really hard to choose a "winner" in this shootout. Instead, I think each IEM has its strong points and each does something better than the other. That said, for me the winner is the AF1120. It is not a perfect IEM for me, but it is darn close. If literally it had just a smidgen more bass presence, it would be my end-game IEM (if such a thing exists). For nearly all genres, it performed the best and the comfort is just world class – I cannot stress that enough. I find the sound of the Django more "fun" and I find listening to something like Eric Clapton through the S-EM6 to be a euphoric experience, the IEM that I would reach for every day and listen to for hours on end has to be the Audiofly AF1120. This is an incredibly well-done IEM and I have a feeling that with some EQ tweaks that I am normally not a fan of, this can literally be perfect for me. I am so impressed that a company with very little presence on Head-Fi can knock one out of the park like this. Like I said, I love all three IEMs for different reasons, but I'll grab the AF1120 as a first choice. It is also the cheapest of the three. Now if you only listen to electronic or pop, the Django may be the best choice. Similarly if you only listen to female vocalists, the S-EM6 might be the most pleasing of the three. But if you listen to everything, I think you would be very hard pressed to find a more versatile, perfectly-executed IEM than the AF1120. For me, they are about 4.75 stars, but can definitely be 5 stars for most people who do not require more bass. But at the $700 mark which is out of range for a lot of consumers to spend on an IEM, I have to be discerning, even if it is personal preference.   

     
    One last complaint, if you would like to call it that: while this uses a version of an MMCX connector, it is NOT compatible with generic MMCX cables. This is stupid. There are notches on both sides (the IEM and the cable) that make this a proprietary design. It serves to keep the connector from twisting much like a Sony MMCX plug, but on Sony's you can use a generic cable just fine and it simply will not have the locking feature. On this, however, you're stuck with Audiofly's cable. Recently they have started to offer a silver upgrade cable, so I suppose there is that option. 
     
    And now one other praise: Audiofly's support is fantastic. I had a few questions before ordering and their support email (Josh in particular) replied within an hour and it was well outside normal business hours. I cannot say enough great things about how friendly and helpful they were. Know that when you invest in one of their IEMs, your support experience will mirror the amazing audio fidelity of their products.