Not all of us can afford in ear monitors. So what’s an audiophile to do?
I’d suggest taking a look at Audiofly’s AF120 Earbuds. They’re lightweight, come with an assortment of tips to match all sorts of ear types, and won’t entirely break the bank. Though at $250, they’re still no drop in the bucket.
Availability: February 11, 2013
Summary: Lightweight earbuds that offer exceptional sound quality, fits for all types of ears, and a cord that never gets tangled.
What We Liked
- Clean, balanced sound with no muddling
- No distortion at hi volumes
- A wide enough spectrum to satisfy even those looking for some bass
What We Didn’t
- 15-20 hour break in period to achieve their true sonic capabilities
- Ear hooks can’t be molded or manipulated
Design and Build
Earbuds and headphones are like wine to me; there is an endless array of them and the quality can vary quite drastically. That in mind, you can’t judge a pair of headphones based on their design, or perhaps in this case label alone. In the case of earbuds I’m looking for utility, not looks. And that might best sum up the Audiofly AF120 earbuds (and also explain why the A180 from Audiofly made our best earbuds list).
A rubber loop, which unfortunately can’t be manipulated much, helps keep the AF120s in place. There is also a rope like cord that negates tangling and knots – great if you have a tendency, like I do, to stuff headphones into your bag.
Moreover, they seem to be built of sturdy, yet flexible materials. I started with the default foam ear tips – there is a whole variety to choose from – which rarely work with my ears, but in this case produced a nice fit and seal providing ample blockage from outside noise.
Unfortunately, there is no inline audio controls. But these headphones aren’t for those that chat on the phone and sometimes listen to music. Nope. They’re for those looking to take their music next level in experience.
Break these headphones in. You’ll thank me later. During the first 15-20 hours of listening the AF120s are pretty flat. But after many hours of playback they begin to open up like a fine wine; the lows kicks in and the spectrum of sound is much wider. In fact, not only was their more bass, but the audio was all together less muddled.
I tested my AF120s with a whole host of music, including rock, jazz, hip hop and everything in between. Don’t expect thunderous lows as these are not those types of headphones. What you do end up with, though, is a nice balance that displays the music as it was intended to be listened to. My source is Spotify at its highest setting. And while it’s not the best source of audio, it’s my go-to source so it only makes sense to test it with that. And despite that, there was an enhancement or step over another pair of lower end headphones.
It’s important to remember that headphones full under the “law of diminishing returns”. Meaning as they get more expensive, the sound quality doesn’t necessarily improve at the same magnitude. So the argument will always be that “I’m perfectly happy with my $40 Sony headphones”. And honestly, there is nothing wrong with that. But if you seek a more bespoke experience, and want to maximize your music, the AF120s will do just that.