by Warren Chi
I am a sucker for finely-crafted second acts. Protagonists, having glimpsed their destiny, resolve to embrace the unknown, and embark on an epic journey of transformation and self-discovery. Along the way, our hero traverses vast distances to arrive in far away lands, undergoing trials and tribulations, and discovering new-found knowledge and secret powers – ultimately forging the weapons that will bring triumph and victory.
Founded and based in Australia, Audiofly has been quietly working on series of increasingly-better IEM designs since 2010. While they may not be the first name that enthusiasts think of for high-end personal audio, they are certainly known to Head-Fiers, having been inducted into the Head-Fi Holiday Gift Guide as far back as 2012 with their hybrid AF-78 and dynamic AF-56 IEMs – which are still in production to this day.
A few years ago, Audiofly journeyed across the Pacific to set up a second shop in Laguna Hills, California – where they continued to increase the breadth and depth of their product line. This includes their universal in-ear stage monitors…
• AF120: 9mm dynamic driver + balanced armature driver; crossover; 12 Ohms; 108dB sensitivity; $249.99
• AF140: Single dynamic driver + dual balanced armature drivers; crossover; 38 Ohms; 118dB sensitivity; $349.99
• AF160: Triple balanced armature drivers; crossover; 18 Ohms; 110dB sensitivity; $449.99
• AF180: Quad balanced armature drivers; crossover; 18 Ohms; 108dB sensitivity; $549.99
…as well as their new Tiesto-collaborated “Clublife” in-ear monitors.
• Paradise: Single 9mm dynamic driver; Available in black, green, aqua and pink; $29.99
• Maximal: Single 11mm dynamic driver; Available in red, silver and gold; $59.99
• Adagio: Single dynamic driver + single balanced armature driver; Available in black and red; $149.99
But what I’m really excited about are Audiofly’s new full-sized headphones, which feature a novel headband that auto adjusts in three directions to fit the wearer in an instant.
I first came upon these about a year ago when I visited with them in Southern California. We weren’t allowed to take any pics at the time as they were just mere shells of their future selves (literally, there were no internals). But even back then, the headband’s autofit feature looked very promising in terms of ease. And now, they’re real!
The AF250 (shown above) is the flagship of the line, their Slayer of the Lifeless. It’s set to retail for $349, which puts it in immediate competition with Blue Microphone’s Mo-Fi, another headphone with a unique headband system. The AF250’s headband and cups consist of a die-cast aluminum alloy that sounds much heavier here in words than it feels in real life.
Sporting a dual-membrane diaphragm in its 40mm neodymium drivers, the AF250’s signature is promoted as being “beautifully balanced, honest” and I think I could agree with that on many levels. It’s certainly more balanced than the AF240. I am definitely looking forward to evaluating these in greater detail.
The AF250’s lesser-capable, and more consumer-friendly sibling, is the AF240 – their Sword of a Thousand Truths. It will retail for only $249, which puts it squarely in competition with Audio-Technica’s ATH-MSR7 and Sony’s MDR-1R. Unlike the AF250, the AF240’s cups are polycarbonite (though the headband is still die-cast aluminum alloy), which goes a long way towards making them much lighter.
Sound-wise, it’s billed as being “for the passionate listener who craves rich, detailed sound” – which I interpret to mean on the bassy and peaky side, a v-shaped signature. Though I look forward to hearing it, I haven’t yet, so please discount my words appropriately. That said, like most Head-Fiers, I’ve become reasonably adept at deciphering market speak, so how wrong can I be?
Both models are fairly easy to drive, at 16 Ohms of impedance, and will hit 103 dB @ 1kHz… so it’s clear that these are meant to be portable, despite being full-sized circumaurals. I’m happy that both of these will be entering the market shortly, and look forward to giving them a spin.
The stage is set, and Audiofly’s third act awaits!