Bigger brothers, bigger sound. 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.
The upsized sibling of Audiofly’s in-ears, the AF240s, excelled on first listen. A quick comparison with some cheap Sennheiser HD202 cans revealed that the AF240s output a relatively quiet signal. But as you crank the volume to a comparable level, the frequency response of the AF240s really shines. The high-end of the spectrum retains a tremendous amount of clarity, and even aggressiveness when appropriate for the genre. Sibilant sound sources like vocals and cymbals are reproduced with a smoothness that sacrifices little of the presence required to enjoy a great recording and performance. All this without ever devolving into harshness.
Midrange is articulated very well, the body of music translating powerfully while avoiding the mushy, inarticulate roar that so often characterises consumer-grade cans. This last problem is something that was very evident with the cheap Sennheisers I was comparing the AF240s to. It’s this midrange response that really indicates why it can be worth paying the extra couple hundred on a pair of good cans. It feels like there is some gentle attenuation of some of the midrange frequencies responsible for so-called ‘muddiness’ or ‘boxiness’. However, if this is indeed the case, it’s not at the expense of being able to bring warmth to playback. Some of the mid-heavy ‘70s recordings I tested came out beautifully from these cans.
THE LOW-END THEORY
The bass frequencies are presented clearly and powerfully. Low-end instruments put out consistently strong notes while retaining the clarity needed to anchor a good recording. The AF240s seem to lack the heavy sub boosts that many headphones have these days. There’s a perception that bigger bass always means better, but over long listens, the AF240s felt incredibly balanced. The lack of sheer volume in the low-end led to a balanced listening experience where kick drums and bass guitars punch with definition and clarity and never felt unsatisfying.
Not only is the frequency spectrum pleasantly reproduced, but the soundstage is also excellent. Stereo separation is wonderful. The centre exists with clarity from the imagined centre of my head, and I felt like the engineer’s subtle moves with the pan pot were reproduced faithfully here. And this applies across all bands of EQ. Things like low bassline synths with stereo spread could be felt warping slowly across the ears.
In addition to excellent sound quality, the AF240 features the same strong woven fabric cable as the AF120s. There’s a built in mic, a control button for playback, and a nice carry bag to stop them getting dinged up. The headphones are also really comfortable, feeling great over the ears for long sessions. Much like it’s little in-ear brother, style and coolness just reeks off of these things. Designed beautifully, they’ll look classy resting on your dome.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you’re looking for headphones that sound as great as they look, then look no further. For the price, the combination of fit, function and frequency response make the AF240s serious contenders for audiophile buyers.
TOP 5 FEATURES
• Comfortable fit
• Excellent frequency response
• Stylish design
• Built-in microphone
• Travel bag
• Audio quality
• Great value
• Lack of pronounced sub
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