Aussie awesomeness: Audiofly AF180 in-ear monitors reviewed

Sick of your regular in-earphones and want something higher quality? Australian earphone maker might even have something to tempt your ears, with a pair of in-ear monitors that deliver volume in droves.

Features

A new model by Australian sound company Audiofly, the AF180 in-ear monitors are actually a pair of in-ear monitors with not just one driver, but four, with a crossover connection sending the audio signal to one of the four drivers.

Cables connect to the base of the AF180 IEMs by way of Soundpatch technology, meaning they can be detached at the earphone level, making for easy replacement that won’t affect the overall value or construction of the important part, the earphone itself.

This cable, however, supports a lightweight constructed with a braided and twisted build, connecting to a thicker cable reinforced with Cordura, a nylon cotton blend that gives strength to the rest of the cord. A small transparent cable tightener is also included on the cable, helping you to lessen the amount of cable is loose as you’re walking around.,

Several tips are included in the box for the Audiofly AF180s — more than normal — with three sizes of silicon tips, tri-flange silicon tips, and Comply foam tips, with small (S), medium (M), and large (L) sizes of each.

A 3.5mm to 6.25mm headset jack converter is also included, as is an aeroplane converter (twin jack), and a cleaning tool.

A carrying case is also included in the box.

Performance

Go to most electronic stores and you’ll find something we’ve secretly been hoping for for years: the death of the traditional earbud.

Once a staple in consumer audio electronics, the earbud — that is, a small speaker developed to sit outside the ear-canal and bombard the ear with sound — is going away, replaced by inexpensive versions of the canalphone, which many are now referring to as in-earphones.

These new earphones aren’t quite as high-end as their IEM cousins, taking some of that design and technology and throwing it into something small, fashionable, and not overly expensive, which the in-ear monitor generally can’t match on all of these fronts.

Where the IEM surpasses its in-earphone family member, however, is quality, and if you’ve already tried out the in-earphone but now want something stronger and better, it might be time to give the in-ear monitor a go.

There are quite a few of these out in the market, with established players such as Shure, Etymotic, and Ultimate Ears already taking up popular spaces in the IEM world, but now we’re seeing an Aussie brand provide an alternative, as Audiofly releases its AF180s to people everywhere.

For those who haven’t heard of the brand, it’s a brand hailing from Western Australia, launching in 2011 by musicians who wanted to make better quality earphones made for people who love music as much as the team did.

We checked out a pair of earphones last year from the brand and outside of a cable issue, you could hear the love affair for music in the design, which produced balanced sound across the board, and is still one of our favourite go-to pairs of earphones to date.

This year, though, the AF78s are old hat and yesterday’s news, as Audiofly moves beyond the one driver build of the AF78 and moves to incorporate four drivers in its AF180s, a pair of in-ear monitors for people who want amazeballs quality in a compact size.

As the AF180s aren’t your typical in-earphones but rather in-ear monitors, they tend to go in a specific way, that is the bottom of the earphone presses against the bottom of your ear opening, resting on the ridge above your fleshy lobe.

The actual tip for the earphone goes inside your canal, and thanks to the variety of tips on offer, there’s no shortage of ways to customise this level of comfort, but otherwise, the detachable cable winds up the inside of your ear and over to behind the ear, forcing the cable out the back.

Thanks to this one way of wearing the earphones, Audiofly’s AF180 are very comfortable, with the tips resting comfortably inside the canal and the rest of the earpiece sitting well in the fleshy extrusions from your head. They’re also pretty hard to notice, and won’t draw any attention to you, so if you’re not a fan of all the extra looks a pair of Beats delivers, these are a good choice.

Moving on from the look, there’s the sound, so let’s plug them in and see how well they go.

Seeing as musicians created the AF180, we figured we’d start with one of the more popular styles of music for musicians in this country, giving rock a good go, and beginning with Muse, The Rolling Stones, and Closure In Moscow.

Starting with heavier music, Muse’s “Supremacy” began life with the AF180 for us, with the pounding bass drum setting things off with a bang, and some very balanced lows and mids, until lead singer Matthew Bellamy’s highs creeped into the song, distinct over the rest of the track.

That’s a good place to start, and it continued in the Stones classic “Gimme Shelter” where there was obvious separation between the light percussion, the chorus behind everything, a light bass guitar, and the constant guitar work by Keith Richards at the front, with Jagger’s voice coming in at the top of the verse.

Australian rock also features on our headphone test, and Closure In Moscow’s “A Night at the Spleen” seems to be a good combination of instruments and engineering for a modern take on rock, letting us hear the vocals over the top of multiple layers of guitars, percussion, drums, and a base line.

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