Australian company Audiofly, long-associated with quality in-ear monitors, has delivered its first attempt at a professional over-ear product with the AF240 headphones. After a promising demonstration at CES2015 in January, they were released this week. Gizmag was sent a pre-release pair for review and found them stylish, practical and sonically pleasing.
The AF240s are made up of a shiny black polycarbonate body with alloy self-adjusting arms. Audio is delivered through 40 mm single-membrane neodymium drivers with a frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, and an impedance of 16 Ohms. They ship with a sturdy fabric-sheathed Audioflex braided cable, complete with microphone and control button that complements smartphone usage.
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The cups are made from vinyl-clad memory foam, which is both comfortable and somewhat isolating. Having a fairy small-to-average size head, I cannot speak with a great deal of authority, but the three-way self-adjusting system should fit most head shapes and sizes easily.
The AF240 headphones ship with a beautiful waxed canvas bag, which would safely protect your expensive headphones should a pile of pillows fall on them from a great height. We love the look and feel of it, but are not convinced it serves any valuable protective function apart from scratch-proofing.
The look and feel
The AF240s are modest and stylish headphones, seamlessly incorporating matte metallic, shiny plastic, matted fabric and textured leather components. In fact, add a few brass cogs, a couple of hydraulic arms and a fake gauge and you'd have solid attempt at steampunk. Nice little touches include the copper-colored holes where the arms insert that match the Audiofly logo on the sides, and the way the texture on the sides matches the top leather strap.
They're not going to stick out and make people dislike you as quickly as a shiny pink pair of Beats by Dre, but they're large enough to say "I'm wearing headphones and I want you all to know it."
The AF240s offer a smooth and pleasant audio experience. Vocals are clear and immediate, with no harsh sibilance or spikes. The somewhat isolating design means you get a very present sound, and there were no huge holes in the spectrum. The mouth noises of a singer, the creak of a piano pedals, and the scratching of nylon guitar strings are all present when they need to be, and the cans deliver an immersive and comfortable experience.
That being said, these are not reference monitors by any means. They're definitely geared toward warm mids, and lack a fair bit of crispness at the top end. That's probably not something that would discourage the average consumer, especially as the bottom end is reasonably full, even if it lacks some of the sub frequency punch. Most importantly, unlike many modern headphones, the bass never feels muddy or overpowering.
The Audiofly experience
These headphones are comfortable and light, and accommodate the ear well. They can go the distance of an hour commute reasonably comfortably, though on a hot day, I found my ears to be quite sweaty by the end of a long walk. Given my perspiration proficiency, I can't say this is a flaw of the AF240s, but more an issue with over-ear headphones in general. Although the self-adjusting band works well to quickly fit the cans to your bonce, I found they slipped quite easily when bending over or looking up.
The detachable cable is a beautifully constructed, ruggedly durable and a thoughtfully designed bit of kit. It's a good 30 cm (12 in) longer than the average iPhone cable, meaning us tall folk can have our phone in our pocket and walk without a hunch. The microphone is clear, and the button is a handy addition for smartphone users.
The gold-plated connections are solid and stable, and the fact that they are replaceable should increase the life-span of your purchase. They are also thoughtfully designed to work with badly designed phone cases that don't easily accommodate a cable.
A minor gripe with the cable is the lack of volume control. For many music lovers who grew up during the Napster boom, a readily accessible volume changer is a necessity that is sadly overlooked with the AF240s. The passive isolation of the headphones also made phone calls difficult, even though the microphone was great. Unless you remove an ear to talk, you can easily become "that guy" on the train who talks way too loud in public.
In summary, these are a solid bit of kit, and at US$250, they're definitely worth a look. They're a good balance between style, sonic quality and comfort, and their solid build and classic design will ensure you get to enjoy them for years to come, making them a good choice for audio lovers and music fans who don't have a zillion dollars to spend.
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