Australian audio firm Audiofly made its impact on the market by producing earphones aimed at musicians, and its popularity in recent years has also led it to launch more affordable earphones for regular consumers. One of its latest models, the AF100, is its cheapest in-ear monitors (IEM) to date, retailing here for $138.
And it certainly packs a lot of punch and character for its size and price, which is befitting of its nature as studio-quality earphones meant for gigging or performing musicians.
The AF100 has great sound and efficiency that exceed its relatively low price tag, and will endear itself not only to serious musicians but also to music lovers looking for faithful sound reproduction with unique character.
The added benefit of the AF100's gigging background is its durable TPE cable, which is made of a stiff plastic that's hardier than normal rubber cables.
Does it make untangling the earphones a pain? Yes, especially when the cable gets caught in the over-ear hooks of the earpieces. It is also a minor annoyance to have to sort through in a hurry. But I feel these are acceptable physical limitations to deal with.
The plastic casings of the earpieces are also tough and reliable, although they feel a bit cheap.
DRIVER TYPE: Single dynamic microdriver
FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 20Hz - 20kHz
VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5
These are earphones to consider for those looking for near-audiophile sound at reasonable consumer prices.
The AF100 has a warm, pleasant character that's a breath of fresh air from flatter-sounding studio IEMs.
It isn't as flat or neutral as studio monitors are supposed to be, as it definitely adds its own colour and character to the songs you are listening to.
I like how the bass and treble are very modest and balanced, with a mellow lower register that complements the sweet higher notes.
The mid-range tones are where the earphones shine. Vocals are detailed with good separation and resonance, as befitting a pair of studio IEMs.
On St Vincent's Teenage Talk, lead singer Anne Erin Clark's nostalgic crooning sits nicely with the soft guitar and synth tones in a wonderfully soft and balanced mix.
The single dynamic micro driver is incredibly efficient at driving audio on smartphones or iPods. I found that I didn't need to blast my music at high volumes to get powerful playback going.
The generous amount of earbuds that comes with the AF100 also helps by giving you a choice of earbuds for that perfect seal. There are six pairs in total: three pairs in small, medium and large sizes, in either silicon tri-flange or dome tips.
Getting the right one on the earphones will block out a lot of outside noise, providing stellar sound isolation that helps to enhance the listening experience.
•Verdict: The AF100 is a good, affordable pick-up for music lovers looking for studio-quality earphones at a reasonable price.