Always on the hunt for the perfect pair of headphones, I spent a lot of time at CES digging around with audio companies that made iPhone compatible options. I noticed Audiofly received a CES 2013 Design and Engineering honor and made it a point to stop by the booth. That visit may have been my best choice of the whole show.
Before going any further, I will put my disclaimer in the introduction. These are probably the best earbuds I have ever had the pleasure of using, or reviewing. To prevent everyone from thinking I am getting paid by Audiofly for this review, these are my honest and open opinions, as always. I receive no compensation from the company for my posts, merely the media sample. If you are further concerned, I suggest you read our official review disclaimer.
Moving along, these are extremely impressive earbuds. I am shocked at their balance, tone, clarity and high profile design. Take a step inside for a gushing review of the AF78’s by Audiofly. Most importantly, I present to you one of the best giveaways on iDB. To help one of you experience the incredible sound, I worked with the company to provide a giveaway model of the AF78’s. Headphone connoisseurs rejoice…
Actually a 2012 release, the AF78’s are the flagship earbuds of the entire Audiofly consumer market line. Before getting the earbuds in my hand, even the packaging impressed. A well built, canvas covered, magnet closure box holds the buds in a custom cut foam encasement. Each bud is carefully placed in a small chamber, along with a customized carrying tin with a felt lined interior. Below the top tray, custom cut compartments hold the five alternate earbud tips, airplane adapter, 3.5mm splitter, and a cleaning brush. A complete package, that I would expect at the price point.
The earbuds are well crafted, extremely lightweight, and very comfortable. (1) Machined and anodized alloy housings utilize laser cut vented grills to optimize airflow and acoustics. (2) Custom voiced 9mm dynamic driver works in harmony with (3) a balanced armature driver to provide detailed highs, crisp mids, and rich lows, which I can confirm from several months of testing. (4) The cable strain relief prevents the cord from snapping or bending at the connection point. (5) An acoustically engineered sound port directs audio directly into the ear canal. (6) The buds come with high grade silicon tips, six sizes included, and Comply Foam compression tips, two sizes included, which help create a seal in the ear with a customized fit.
Granting a larger range of audio waves, the frequency response is 18-22KHz, giving greater separation. Impedence of 16Ohms is very low, specifically for low powered devices, still granting excellent volume levels. The Audioflex braided cable uses kevlar conductors for strength and a CORDURA nylon exterior knitting for durability. Tipped with a 3.5mm gold plated studio quality jack, an in-line microphone and single button control are included.
All of these characteristics combine for great comfort and excellent sound. I am particularly pleased with the Comply Foam tips, included with the purchase. A patented technology, these tips are designed with viscoelastic polyurethane foam that uses a heat-sensitive technology, readily conforming to the ear canal for precision noise-isolation. The tapered shape continues the sound port (from above, #5) direction straight into the ear. To ensure the proper listening experience, Audiofly teamed with Comply, assumedly because their buds are researched and excellent quality. I loved them so much, I ordered three more additional sizes in red.
A headphone can be well built, but the sound is obviously essential to the experience. Sure, it can look great, feel amazing, and include a nice in-line mic, but at the bottom line, the listening experience is paramount to looks. As I mentioned above, these are the best headphones I own, or have listened to in my current memory.
After the first few seconds with the AF78’s, I was hooked. Now, I am walking around the house with headphones in my ears. They have really taught me a new appreciation for my music. I listened to a variety of genres for this review and the breakdown is below.
Classic Rock – Overall, I found this genre to be the most responsive. Settling in with albums by Chicago, Eagles, and Pink Floyd, the crisp, clear, and detailed sound of the guitar was a new experience. Truly, the quality is unmatched by many other high-end headphones from other reviews. It is as if I could hear the individual vibrations from the guitar and even pick up the movement of fingers across the strings. The quality is nothing less than superb. To further describe the experience would only dilute my opinion.
Pop – Next in line is modern pop music, where the buds were quick to keep up with the catchy beats within the song’s hook. Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Maroon 5 sounded extremely well with the steady bass lines getting as much attention as the mid to high range vocals. Again, “clarity” and “detail” are excellent adjectives for the listening experience.
Hip/Hop and R&B – I must say, TLC has come back from 1994 in a big way for me. The smooth rhythm and vocals bode well when produced by the AF78’s. Along with Wiz Khalifa, Macklemore, and Ludacris, the bass line is strong and solid. Again, I would argue “balanced” defines this genre. After a while, I started to question if other previously used headphones were too intentionally bass heavy. It seemed, the balance on the bass hits, in contrast to the vocals and other instrumentation, simply sounded better with this unit. Often, other headphones lean on the lower end of the spectrum and forget about diversifying the listening experience. Thankfully, the AF78’s are not “other” headphones.
Dubstep – This category is the weakest of the bunch. With extremely heavy bass and little or no mids to highs, the AF78’s did lack slightly in this category. If you prefer an extremely bass heavy experience, these are not your preferred headphones. With balance and detail being the shining experience, Audiofly is not particularly concerned with a bass only genre. Now, will they do the trick? Certainly, but jaw shattering low-end music is not the goal of this model.
Classic – Specifically, Attaboy, a single by Stuart Duncan, Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer, and Yo-Yo Ma, sounded excellent. A 100% string performance is amazing through the AF78’s. The whine of the violin and the pull on the cello is clearly definitive. Copland’s Appalachian Spring is equally impressive with a full symphonic production.
Making no attempt to leash my preference for these headphones, I’m certain to receive several accusations in the comment section below about alleged payment for my lustful review of the AF78’s. Let me take another moment to ensure you, this is not an ad. The finesse, clarity, and definition in the sound produced by these earbuds is astonishing and, after listening to them for about two months, I have not changed my mind.
There is something intimate and raw, yet refined, about the sound quality and clarity. I rarely walk around the house listening to headphones because of my home theater sound system. However, since receiving the AF78’s I have spent more time listening through my headphones than the sound system. Additionally, I have taken to playing my iOS games with these headphones. Particularly, BADLAND, which is currently free in celebration of the App Store 5th anniversary. The detailed soundtrack and SFX in Badland are crisp through the buds.
Really, these headphones border on the edge of ear monitors and regular headphones, blurring the line between studio grade and consumer models. As such, I would have loved a longer cable option. It should be easy to accommodate, just give the option of an extra long cable as a checkout item on the website. I feel like many users would value the extra length. An amplifier 3.5mm converter jack would be awesome too.
If you are in the market for a high-end, premium pair of headphones, this should be your first stop. Any earbud that makes me want to listen to music will always receive high praise in my book. I am not the first person who is going to sit around and listen to music, but the AF78’s make me think twice about walking around the house without these buds in place. And, they are just so comfortable, it is hard to resist.
The only thing I was shocked to determine is the lack of MFI certification. The in-line microphone is a one button only system. Consequently, there is no option to control the volume during playback. Any premium product should include this option for Apple users. To leave the feature out is borderline negligent at this point in the Apple product line.
The AF78’s version with in-line microphone retails for $209.95, but are currently on sale through Amazon for the amazingly low price of $142. The AF78’s without a microphone can be nabbed at $127. At those prices, it is an immediate purchase for me. Considering the competition at that price range, the AF78’s are an absolute must-have.
What do you have to do to win?
We are excited to team up with AudioFly to give away a pair of earbuds! Yes, international readers rejoice, as this opportunity is for everyone. Follow the next steps to enter for your chance to win. It is a big giveaway so you will have a work a little harder:
- Friend iDownloadBlog on Facebook
- Click the Facebook LIKE button at the top or bottom of this post
- Follow @iDownloadBlog AND follow @audiofly_ on Twitter
- Click here to tweet this message
- Comment below: Don’t forget to put your Twitter handle in the comment! What is your favorite feature of the AF78’s and where would you use them the most?
Thanks again to Audiofly for sending over the review unit and we look forward to selecting a winner by week’s end. You will be contacted via Twitter DM if you have won!
Thanks again to everyone that entered our contest and extra thanks to Audiofly for participating. Congratulations to @RossSimpson, who will be getting a pair of AF78’s! Check back often for more giveaways, as there are always some in the pipeline.
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