The AF120 by Audiofly ($250) is a pair of in-ear monitor headphones that features both dynamic and balanced armature drivers in each ear. AF120’s packaging and bundled accessories are excellent. Three different types of tips are provided (gels, triple-flange, and Comply foam), each in small, medium, and large sizes. A sturdy, stylish carrying case is included, as are a 1/4″ headphone jack adapter, airline jack adaptor, and cleaning brush. Clearly, Audiofly hopes that you will develop a deep relationship with these headphones and bring them everywhere you go. Our review unit did not come with iPhone controls, although these are apparently available for the more expensive detachable-cable models.
AF120 is light with a visually pleasing design. The lower portion of the cable is sleeved in Cordura fabric, which is slick and pleasantly resistant to tangles. Above the splitter, however, sleeving is absent — the cables are reduced to pairs of thin twisted cables. Though these cables allow for lightweight and low microphonics, we have concerns about their long-term durability. We liked the inclusion of integrated cable guides, but we found that they fail to remember their position, sometimes causing the cables to point straight up behind our ears.
Audiofly makes big promises for the AF120, claiming “lush, kicking bottom-end with immaculate mid and high frequency detail.” That was, unfortunately, not our experience. Though the AF120 did have a detailed presentation, we found that sometimes, vocals were somewhat recessed, with an overall “veiled” effect on the sound. The earphones certainly don’t sound bad, nor are they neutral or analytical — they’re just not terribly exciting.
This may be due, in part, to the difficulty we experienced in getting a good seal while inserting the AF120 into our ears. As Audiofly recounts in their user manual, IEMs were created to allow musicians to hear the music they were playing on stage without damaging their hearing — soft tips isolate the listener from ambient noise, allowing them to hear the music at reasonable volume. Despite Audiofly’s generous selection of ear tips, we had trouble finding a comfortable fit. Though the comfort of each style of tip is very personal, we found that the long post that houses the AF120’s driver forced us to choose between an uncomfortable (too deep) or unstable (too shallow) fit. To make matters worse, every adjustment changed the AF120’s sound. After hours of experimentation and adjustment, we were unable to find a great balance between comfort, seal, and sound.
In a market full of personal devices, some are more personal than others. We can’t speak for the shape of every individual’s ear canals, and we’re willing to bet that some users will find the AF120 comfortable. That said, their quirky fit and relaxed sound signature — the latter of which could be preferable for some listeners — only earn the Audiofly AF120 our limited recommendation, especially when considering the MSRP of $250.
Company and Price
Compatible: iPads, iPhones, iPods