Disclaimer: Audiofly provided their AF180 Mk2 to me for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed in this piece are mine and mine alone.
Background: Audiofly is a well-established Australian personal audio company, with a focus on in-ear monitors. The AF180 Mk2 are the second iteration of the popular IEM AF180. They retail for $499 and utilize a quad BA array.
Unboxing: The unboxing experience was very smooth. The earpieces were packaged and displayed in foam in the top half of the box, with a hard carrying case packaged in the bottom half. Within that case were all of the accessories, which included eartips, an airplane adapter, and a cleaning tool.
Build Quality: Build quality is very good, and reminds me of Shure’s offerings, if a little nicer. The earpieces are made of a sturdy-feeling plastic and the MMCX connections (yay!) feel very secure. The cable is fabric-style and feels very comfortable, in addition to being the perfect length for my use. There’s no moldable plastic at the ear, rather a piece that’s been pre-fitted (as on the FiiO FH5) which I prefer, as it saves me from fiddling with the cable every time I place the pieces in my ears.
Comfort & Isolation: These are hands-down the most comfortable in-ear monitors I have ever used. The size of the monitors allows them to sit deep in my ears, and after around an hour of wear, I hardly feel them anymore. As a result of this deep and comfortable fit, isolation is very good, especially with foam tips, and I actually needed to reduce it a little with silicone tips when I used these outside.
Overall Tonality: Balanced, with a little bit of warmth and slightly rolled-off treble. These are now my go-to critical listening IEMs, but they strike such a good balance that they’re still fun to listen to. Respond well to EQ.
Bass: I’ve heard these described as having a little more bass than Etymotic’s ER4s. I can’t verify that, but I can say that, while definitely lighter on bass than most consumer-tuned IEMs, they provide just enough accurate punch to be engaging. You’re not getting a lot of rumble and your ears aren’t shaking. You’re getting just about the amount of bass in the original mix.
Mids: Just incredible. The first thing that struck me while using these is how well they would perform as stage monitors. Mids are forward, making vocals prominent and articulate, and they definitely draw my ear more than anything else in the mix, which I just love. These mids are magical and I keep coming back for more.
Treble: A little recessed, but not by a lot. These are good for folks who are treble sensitive, because the treble is still present, but it isn’t going to blow out your eardrums. It takes a backseat to mids and bass, but you’re not necessarily missing any of it. Just a more conservative presentation of the high-end.
Soundstage: Surprisingly large. I could easily place sounds in front of me, rather than just in my head. This is, of course, subjective, but I found the soundstage to be very nice.
Imaging & Separation: So well done. Each instrument in a mix occupies its own space, and they can be singled out very easily. AF has done a marvelous job with this tuning.
Conclusion: These are great mastering and stage monitors, but also fantastic for everyday listening, if you want your music to be accurate but also enjoyable to listen to.
by Lance Rothchild