The Perth-based company's headphones have got the look, but do they deliver the goods? By Alex Wilson
Audiofly are a relatively new Australian headphone company. They pitch their products as a meeting of audiophile standards with a boutique hipster aesthetic. They make the kind of headphones that would look great on you while you tap on your Macbook, sipping a long black and stroking your beard at the cool café down the street. You’d be hearing a signal in your cans as fresh as your look. Seriously though, these are excellent design goals to have. Much like the venerable Rode, Audiofly are bringing a high standard to consumer electronics and using local talent to do so.
The AF120s are a set of in-ear monitors, while the AF240s are large over-ear headphones. We’ll look at the ins and outs of both separately and give you the low-down on each.
STYLE AND SUBSTANCE
The AF120s come with a solid, canvas-covered travel case. It’s quite stylish, and served me well on the overseas tour that I tested these monitors on. It feels a bit harder to cram the headphones into the case compartment than it should be, but that’s not a dealbreaker. In addition to looks, Audiofly have put a good amount of effort into the feel of the product. The cable is coated in a strong woven fabric to prevent tangling. The Y-splitter feels sturdy and can be worn comfortably down the chest or over the back, and the tightness of the fit adjusted with a regulation clear plastic cylinder. All par for the course, but done very well nonetheless.
The earpieces themselves are satisfyingly ergonomic. I’ve been told by audiologists that I have quite bendy and unsymmetrical ear-canals, and consequently have trouble with in-ear fits. I was pleased to find that these Audiofly units entered and remained in my ears with minimum effort. The foam tips the unit came with helped with this, too. Foam fits better than rubber, but tends to hurt the ear over long sessions. I was, however, disappointed to find that the foam on one of the tips started to break and peel away after two weeks. The tips appeared glued to the earpiece stem, making for a moderately annoying fix when replacing them. On the plus side, Audiofly are generous enough to provide an assortment of foam and rubber tips for the user to mix and match with.
SOUND ON SOUND
Of course, the most important aspect of these ears is the sound. If I could only choose one single adjective here, it would be “crisp”. For the price point, the ears reproduce the clarity and presence of familiar tracks with aplomb. The stereo placement contributes to the feeling of transparency and definition. Tom rolls, double- tracked guitars and backing vocals pop pleasingly in the side channels, and there’s powerful articulation in the centre of the soundstage. And these things feel loud, too. You won’t need to crank the volume much to feel immersed in sound.
Make no mistake: the units sound great on their own. But compared to my favoured personal in-ear in a similar price bracket, I had a few gripes. Low frequencies were reproduced cleanly and sufficiently in the AF120s, but still noticeably less present than with my own. Consequently, the presence region of the Audioflys lacked the pleasant silkiness of the comparison set. Midrange response felt comparable, but the AF120s still manifested a subtle spikiness that I couldn’t shake. This was especially apparent in genres like pop and metal that boost both the lows and highs. The pronounced clarity of the headphones felt like they unbalanced the mix a little.
YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY
These are high-level nitpicks — important, but also subjective. Your own ears are the judge. If you can try before you buy any kind of headphone, you should. Personally, the Audioflys would not be my first choice for music production or appreciation, but they are still strong contenders for these tasks in an objective sense. Furthermore, they excel as live monitors. The crispness of the sound will help your in-ear mix cut through, and the sturdy comfort of the product really comes into its own onstage. You’re getting a lot of the quality of a custom mold without the price and hassle.
THE BOTTOM LINE
These would be a great choice for musos looking for in-ears that would do the job onstage as well as during the downtime between shows. They look great, are built to last, and won’t break the bank.
TOP 5 FEATURES
• Comfortable fit
• Crisp sound
• Useful travel case
• Sturdy fabric cable
• Choice of headphone tips
• A versatile product suitable for multiple applications
• Stylish and well-constructed
• The frequency response of these headphones may not be to your taste
Ph: (08) 6555 1800