This week we are taking a look at a line of in-ear headphones from Audiofly. Audiofly is a young Australian company that first entered the market in 2011 and has been gathering very positive feedback for their audio equipment. We begin with one of their premium offerings: the AF78 Earphone.
- Driver type: 9mm dynamic driver and balanced armature
- Magnet type: Neodymium
- Frequency range: 18-22 kHz
- Sensitivity: 108dB at 1 kHz
- Impedance: 16 Ohms
- Cable length: 1.2m / 47″
- Plug type: 3.5mm gold plated
What’s in the box
- Audiofly AF78 In Ear Headphones
- Five extra pairs of ear tips for various comfort, fit and noise levels
- Signal splitter, allowing for an extra pair of headphones to be plugged in to share the audio
- Airline adapter
- Storage tin
- Cleaning brush
- Instructions and Warranty information
There are two reasons why manufacturers use fancy packaging. The first is their pride extending beyond a great product and a belief that a delightful user experience should start with the very moment anyone puts their hands on their creation. The second is to distract the consumer with flair from the dreadful piece of garbage contained within, cough… Beats….cough. You can understand why Audiofly’s presentation made me very nervous. It was time to find out if the packaging was just a preview of the care and passion that went into the audio experience or just something to trick me into thinking I was holding a premium pair of headphones.
The box itself is covered in fabric and immediately grabs your attention. The same fabric comprises the small tab you pull to open the magnetic flap to get to the good stuff. Once open, the headphones are beautifully presented. Pay attention now, the wording is important. They aren’t stuffed, crammed, or hidden behind distractions; instead they are boastfully displayed. Removing another layer of packaging triggered a Keanu-Reeves-level “Whoa,” as it exposed all the extras Audiofly included.
Once unwrapped, you can’t help but notice the headphones themselves. You may think that appearances on something this diminutive is unimportant. You would be wrong. Audiofly gets it, and they have constructed something very attractive. Simple with a refined understatement, they are a little larger than some other models but that is only due to the important bits inside; more on that later. The 3.5mm jack is pronounced with a classic look, while the cable is wrapped in patterned nylon. The base eartips are foam; inserting them properly means rolling them between your fingers into a thin cylinder, pulling back on your ear and inserting them snuggly. The 78s fit comfortably and as the foam expands in the canal, sound isolation kicks in.
Getting past the pure aesthetics, the functional details and the attention paid to them become important. Having both an armature driver and a dynamic driver is not a common trait and are the reason for the sound quality these headphones produce. The braided cable with a twisted core wrapped in Cordura nylon provides not only durability but also eliminates “cable noise.”
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Of course nothing written above matters as much as the sound quality these produce. From the packaging, the on-paper specs, the extras, the design, and the attention to detail, I really wanted to like these headphones for the most important reason: the audio. First, I cycled through my current collection of headphones, including some Etymotics , low cost Panasonics, and mid-range Sennheisers. I then squeezed the 78s into my ears, winced, bit my lip and hoped for the best. My head quickly filled with an amalgam of one of my random playlists. Again, phrasing is important. I wasn’t hearing the music around me; it wasn’t merely in my ears; it permeated inside my skull. The sound quality was absolutely superlative. Every aspect was perfect. The bass had a pleasing depth to it, the vocals crisp and every instrument could be heard. Faded background melodies were now prominent and augmented each track. There was not one element or level that needed adjustment. Although not the loudest headphones I have ever used, the AF78s’ great noise isolation and incredible audio output renders that issue mostly moot. I cycled through song after song to see if they “felt” different. Delightfully, they did. “Ghosts” and “Downward Spiral” sent the same chills down my back as the first time I heard them. These are not just good headphones, they are now my favorite.
There is a version of the AF78s that is available with an optional built in microphone. That microphone is not included in the model tested for this review. I did, however, make a few calls using a plug in mic just to see how my contacts sounded through the headphones. The distinction here was not as pronounced as it was with music but every call sounded clear and succinct.
At $189 MSRP ($199 with Microphone) the AF78s are not cheap by definition but pack a lot of value. Not to mention that you can find them for even less on sites like Amazon. Quality is ubiquitous, from the unique packaging to the attractive design and superior sound quality. Additionally, Audiofly stands firmly behind their products, offering an unheard of 5 year warranty and completely free ear-tip replacements in exchange for you simply registering the product with them; impressive.
*We were sent a set of Audiofly AF78 Headphones for the purposes of this review.