The Audiofly AF180 In-Ear Monitor Reviewed

Forward
I often get asked about my methods for determining which of my IEMs get an InnerFidelity write-up. The predominant assumption is that they are assigned by Tyll, but I usually learn that he likes a particular IEM the same way everyone else does—from a monthly update post.

My requirements for an InnerFidelity review are for the product to 1) be better than others of its type, 2) be in a category of interest to InnerFidelity readers, and 3) have measurements that don't show any hideous problems. It also helps if it will have staying power as a recommendation—because my IF reviews are few and far between, it can be frustrating to review the latest and greatest only to see it replaced with a newer model a few months later.

So, while there might be a small bias towards newer releases with a potentially long lifespan, the main thing an IEM has to do to get an IF review is simply impress me with its design and performance.

This quad-driver monitor from Australia-based Audiofly did just that.

Introduction
I first encountered Audiofly at a show more than 3 years ago, when the brand had just launched. I liked the designs, the brand image, and the strong focus on in-ear earphones, but the audio quality of those first-gen products didn't blow me away.

At the same show two years later, I came across Audiofly again. The company had a new range of in-ear monitors with ergonomic designs, interchangeable cables, and a variety of performance options with prices ranging from $150 to $550. The range-topping, quad-balanced armature AF180 model has taken quite a while to come to the USA, but it's finally here, and it is good.

Design
The new Audiofly lineup features a shared ergonomic housing design slightly different in shape from the popular Shure and Westone monitors. These sorts of designs are popular with audiophiles and music pros for a reason—they are among the most comfortable on the market. The variation in shape means that some users may get a better fit with Audiofly and some with Westone or Shure. For me, the AF180 and the Westone W40 are equally comfortable, more so than the larger Shure SE846.

The housings of the AF180 are well-made and feature nice design details including reflective logos, oversized L/R markings, and tactile L/R indicators on the cable connectors. Noise isolation is very good, as expected from this type of product. It won't beat a custom-fit in-ear monitor but is more than good enough for travel duty.

The detachable cables utilize micro coaxial (MMCX) connectors, which are quickly becoming the standard among higher-end in-ear monitors. The plastic molding around the connectors on Audiofly's earpieces has a slight crown-like shape. This is meant to prevent the cables from rotating freely in the socket, which can result in a less secure fit. However, it also means that the AF180 is only compatible with some aftermarket MMCX cables.

To make matters worse, the AF180 doesn't come with a headset cable, though there were plans to make a cable with inline mic and remote available for an additional cost later on. This is fine for the entry-level models, but the $550 AF180 really should come with it in the box.

The stereo cable that is included is very nice—it has a short memory wire section and an L-shaped plug at the other end. Cable quality is excellent, especially below the y-split where it is thick and has a cloth sheath. The thin, twisted, slightly rubberized upper part of the cable is more tangle-prone.

AudioFly_AF180_Photo_Accessories

The earphones ship with 6 pairs of silicone eartips (3 single- and 3 triple-flanged), 3 pairs of foam eartips, quarter-inch adapter, in-flight adapter, cleaning tool, and carrying case. The quality of the accessories is excellent and there's nothing left out, except maybe for a pocketable carrying case—the included case looks great and has a very unique construction but is rather bulky.

Small nitpicks aside, the AF180 is lightweight, comfortable, and feature-rich—a solid foundation for an excellent in-ear monitor.

It's not let down by the sound, either.

COMPANY INFO
Audiofly Pty Ltd
9/23 Gibberd Road
Balcatta WA
Australia
info@audiofly.com
1 300 729 359
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
tony's picture

as my own ears show from my Audiologist generated test results just two weeks ago.

I'm said to have "Mild" hearing loss!

so, maybe it's a good match for me?

Still, I have to Equalize so it's no big deal for me,

Over 8k, I have nothing ( just like these devices ) so whatever is up there goes un-noticed, no matter how good it is for the Golden Ears of folks like His Excellency Sir Bob Katz and his peers that get paid for creating greatness in sonics.

They have my kind of isolation as do the Etymotics which is a god-send in our "Hell-of-a-noisy world" but how can I blend them in with the Phonak BTE?

Probably gonna have to stay with the Etys,

Nice try from the lads "Down Under",

Sorry Tyll, I know you have a soft-spot for those Aussies.

Thanks for all this work Mr.Joker, you da man.

Tony in Michigan

ps. I'm takin this sort of thing personally

Rillion's picture

There's not much musical content above 6 kHz anyways, and what is there tends to have a "piercing" quality. I think a lot of music creators have hearing loss up there also. It is pretty easy to experiment with low-pass and high-pass filters with software like Audacity to see where the differences become noticeable (of course headphones with poor response can bias such tests).

tony's picture

Thank you for writing,

I guess that I have to agree, I'll probably never discover from personal experience.

I can easily tell the Analog recordings from my vast collection dating back to the 1920s. My Sennheisers & Schiit Asgard 2 will clearly play "record rumble" which is quite low in frequency ( I think ).

Anyway, I accept my hearing curves, it's what I've got to work with so…

My Audiologist says that 20 to 20k hearing is rare.

I'll focus on 8k and look suspiciously at folks claiming to hear stuff up above 20k.

Certainly not gonna waste money and time trying to believe in any of that non-sense.

Tony in Michigan

zobel's picture

I have a few left. The Ink Spots are in the best shape (for shellac & shale ;-) The frequencies on those only range from about 100 to 5kHz., but I enjoyed them over that flip over ceramic cartridge through an old Scott tube amp, and a 12" speaker I rescued from an old TV console. I had fun with my wire recorder too. Did you know that on the first phonograph, the tin foil cylinder by Edison, you could record as well as play back? The first electrically recorded discs were done in 1925 by Victor. Prior to that everything was recorded and played back through a horn acoustically. I remember the old talking machine in my Grandmothers house. Had to wind it up, but no electricity at all in the house then anyway. Her job as a child was to keep oil in the lamps in that farm house. We've come a looooong way in sound reproduction in the last 100 years!

Don't give your hearing "loss" a second thought Tony. My Grandmother was going deaf in her last years, but I was able to rig up my Sennheiser HD 414s to the TV, and she could hear so much better than what her hearing aid could do, that she was amazed, and could get Lawrence Welk to sound good again, (as good as that was over the TV), and she was loving it. Your hearing change is pretty normal, and believe it or not, even with some high frequency loss, you still may be able to detect them somewhat, or at least miss them if they weren't present in the music you listen to. Yeah man, poor Beethoven! Lost his hearing, then his health drinking that leaded wine of that time. Given all that, he still stands as one of the best composers of all time! The important thing is still the music right? Heard any music that moved you lately?

tony's picture

Hello again,

I don't have any, just the digital copies, I'll be having more of them as they become available, life-span permitting.

There are 4 or 5 major 78 Collectors out there that have amassed rather complete collections, some are being digital converted and offered for sale. A NYTimes music critic just wrote a Book about this.

I've never examined the early history of recording equipment, I came into all this with 75 & 80 Tube stuff but quickly moved on to 33 Long Play stuff and miniature tubes: Post WW11.

Funny thing is that I remember seeing this old stuff in use, it didn't excite me or interest me at the time, it was just part of life's panoramic view, just another something out there in front of me, things like Adventure held my interest.

Hearing loss kinda blind-sided me.

I happened to discover Tyll & Steve G. at a Seminar ( bout 5 years ago ). I had no understanding of the 2010 Music music systems, I'd left the High-End business in the late 1980s.

I bought into the Schiit/Sennheiser stuff and kept noticing it to be falling-off in performance. Better stuff was being reviewed, I hoped for the performance of that better stuff.

Now I realize that the performance of my own Ears was falling-off and that "proper" Eqing returns my hearing. My Schiit/HD580 are Gloriously good again.

Not that I won't further invest in Tyll's recommendations but I'm not feeling the immediacy or urgency, probably not a good thing for the Manufactures. I was ready to own a MSB DAC, Super Amp & Phones.

Subjective Equipment Reviews by folks that aren't aware of their own hearing specs seem rather non-sense to me now but I'll not write to challenge any of these people, they seem to quote all their back gear but not their hearing abilities. Oh-well.

On to Music.

Today we have emerging talent aplenty!

We have new people like Anna Von Housewolf and vintage performers just being discovered like Arto Tuncboyachiyan and Allen Toussaint.

We lost Gene Harris a few years ago but new Greats get discovered & recorded now that recording is economically feasable.

Small local bands like Seldom Scene have discs available, superb music is out there and kinda easy to find ( compared to the vinyl days ) .

Finding music is one of my "Adventure" hobbies,
your local library may have a music buyer knowledgable about all this. I'll get 20 to 50 discs. per week ( on loan ). I load my iTunes with the good and burn a copy ( got-it, 4-eva ).

Music is my Dopamine Release, can't seem to enjoy life without it, I'm an Addict, I need my fix! : so, I ain't ever given up.

Nice hearing from ya-all,

Tony in Michigan

castleofargh's picture

the typical stuff I know I wouldn't like. I can be ok with electrically flat. and up until 4khz, I wouldn't call that neutral, but I happen to like that kind of "veiled" medium. but the dip after 4khz???????WTF? and then the spike at 10khz to make believe there is something to ear in the trebles, those are 2 stuff I really hate on an IEMs.
4drivers to get a FR that looks like some drugged Q-jay that missed a step at 4khz... and at least the Q-jays were small.

and to add to my disbelief, super low impedance and high sensitivity to make sure I would get some hiss from most of my DAPs. I get a full hit on my "do not buy" checklist.

I appreciate the review, but "stuff we like" seems really unwarranted to me this time. who liked that? you Tyll? it's not even in the range of signatures Joker likes, so I'm confused. I can understand that he would prefer it to a westone 4, but that's about it.

Maybe's picture

are definitely cringe worthy. I tend to believe this product gets some extra points for its ergonomics and the made in Australia thing.

I don't see these beating other (lower priced) offerings like the Shure SE-425 or the etymotic er-4pt.

DarthGore's picture

I am not sure why Tyll seems to blindly trust ljokerl's review and sound taste without having an listen himself. Isn't Tyll all for reference quality sound that tries to resemble that created by loudspeakers ?

Long time listener's picture

In IEMs, those with a response that falls off rapidly above 10kHz (much less 6kHz) have a dull, airless sound compared to those that have better extension. Their sound isn't "piercing" unless the level is too high in the upper treble.

A good reference curve (like the Harmon curve, only for IEMs) can be found by roughly averaging some of the best IEMs that have made the Wall of Fame here (and one that didn't. The Xiaomi Piston, the Philips TX1 and TX2, and the Beats all have a rising response in the bass, rather than the flat one shown here, and they do have a presence region dip, but not as strong as the one here. I think they sound much better than the ones that measure like this one does.

fredarun's picture

Is it your own research or this data is also available somewhere on the Internet? I am confused about a statement that these parameters might be misleading. I want to include some similar data to a report from ucxmhfssob http://www.writemyadmissionessay.com/admission-help-online.html and it would good to know about the sources credibility on this matter.