Review: Audiofly AF180 MK2 in-ear-monitors

Looking for an audio solution for your next gig? These could fit the bill nicely....

Audiofly AF180 MK2 in-ear-monitors are a solution for those looking for an ultra-comfortable, ultra-light, great sounding audio solution. IEMs are most commonly worn by music artists when on stage to hear a mix of your own voice and/or instruments against the rest of the band, discreetly feed music to their head, while the environmental noise is often high. Whether you’re playing at a local pub, or on-stage at a festival, IEM is a critical tool for the trade.

Personally, I’m not in a band, but I do often find myself in environments that have a similar profile, where blocking out the outside world, in order to focus on the music, is an important attribute of an audio product. After using the AF180 MK2 for a couple of weeks, I’ve come to really love them. Something I never appreciated until now, is how freeing it is to re-route the cabling down your back, rather than your front. It’s also perhaps a symptom of the ulta-light cable and generous length that really allows you to move freely while wearing them.

These are a wired product which would be typically be plugged into a body pack, receiving the signal wirelessly from a transmitter off the stage. Given this 3.5mm jack, it works with all your standard phones and laptop ports as well. Thankfully one of my smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy S10+, still features a 3.5mm jack which made for a great opportunity to be mobile and test the audio quality while listening to music on the go.

DESIGN

Curves in all the right places

There are no RGB lights trying to scream for attention here, instead, the AK180 MK2 is available only in black and have just a subtle touch of the Audiofly logo on each earbud. The black colour feels like an intentional design choice, given the focus should be on the music your creating (or enjoying) rather than on the product in your ear. Those in the industry will recognise the logo, but those who aren’t can simply enjoy the benefits of having an artist hear the music accurately reproduced inside your head.

The IEMs slip over the ear from behind, which at first takes a few tries to get used to, but the design of this means they fit like a glove and gives you confidence that no matter the amount of head movement, these are not going anywhere.

The cables are usually routed down the back of your shirt, but what’s not seen is the seamless transition from left and right individual cables to a unified single cable that runs to your body pack or phone. The design is really well thought out in terms of look and usability, something engineers at Audiofly should be commended for.

PERFORMANCE

How do it perform ?

How the product looks and feels is important, but how it performs is how you’ll justify the price tag. The Audiofly AF180 MK2 IEM offer 4 balanced armature drivers with 3-way crossover. These are engineered to deliver great bass, mid and high ranges, but its the bass response that was really impressive from such a small device that fits in the ear.

The frequency range is from 15Hz to 25kHz, and acoustic tuning is done by way of a physical 3-way frequency divider. The AF180 MK2 are rated for 16Ω of impedance with a sensitivity of 104dB at 1kHz.

What all that translates to is actually great sounding audio that feels like it comes from inside your body, rather than typical earbuds or headphones that play sound at you. Because of the location and sound cancelling, I found I could listen at a lower volume than normal, which avoided ringing ears after a few hours of use.

If I had to summarise the performance of these IEMs, I’d say they’re accurate, not overly agressive like a manipulated Beats headphone, or digitally manipulated like a gaming headset, just seriously great representation of the audio source (a wide variety of music genres in my testing).

FEATURES

Stand out features of this display.

Audiofly are a great Aussie company that created the AF180s, but now in their second iteration, the AF180Mk2 offers a very healthy range of features.

The AF180Mk2 comes bundled with a 1.2m removable MMCX cable, terminated in a 3.5m right angled plug. The cable is a high spec Audioflex braided cable made with a Cordura fabric outer sheath for great durability. Cordura develops military grade fabrics not uncommon in outdoor products, so you know these are built to last. Highly durable cables made for the stage and for life on the road.

The earphone comes bundled with a large assortment of accessories including a cleaning tool, cable clip, airplane adaptor, 3.5mm to 6.35mm adaptor, and most distinctively, multiple sets of eartips including tri-flange tips, comply foam tips, and domed silicone tips so these fit your individual ear canal perfectly.

The whole thing comes with a hard carry case to keep your investment safe when travelling. This is generous in size, easily accommodating the IEMs, extra foam ear tips and adapter plugs.

ISSUES

Not everything’s perfect

If there’s on thing I miss on these in-ear monitors, its the lack of a in-line control to adjust the volume. If you connect this to an audio pack for the stage, you’ll likely have the mix you’ll need, but there are times where this needs to be tweaked on the fly. If you connect these to your phone, perhaps between gigs, then you could avoid having to pull your phone out of your pocket to skip tracks or adjust the volume.

PRICE & AVAILABILITY

How much and when can you get one ?

The Audiofly AF180 MK2 in-ear monitors are available now in a single colour, black. If you’re after a grey, silver or even clear IEM, Audiofly does offer other products in their range. Included with your purchase are the following items.

  • Silicon, tri-flange and Comply ear-tips (S, M, L)
  • Zipper Case
  • Airline adapter
  • Wax cleaner
  • 3.5mm” to 6.3mm Adapter

The AF180 MK2 IEM cost A$649.99 direct from the Audiofly website. This definitely feels like a steep price compared to your regular earbuds, but these are something different, something special, so naturally cost a little more.

OVERALL

Final thoughts

It’s fantastic to see Australian design and engineering excelling at what they do. The Audiofly AF180 MK2 in-ear monitors offer a subtle design but are strong on features. The audio performance is definitely targeting accurate sound, particularly excelling in bass without blowing out your ears.

By including so many different ear tips with the product, it ensures you immediately have spares, extending the life of the product. It also lets you find personal favourites to block out the world, decreasing the decibels, importantly protecting your precious hearing for the long term.

In terms of comfort, these are absolute rockstars, after a couple of minutes, these become like a watch, you simply forget you’re wearing them. This is thanks to a great over the ear design, but also a long and very light cable. If you need further tweaks to the placement, you can leverage the included clip. That travel case is also a very welcome carry case to protect what is a serious investment.

Naturally, I’d love these to be cheaper so a great product was available to more people, including those just starting out in the music industry, but being Australian, many will be happy to pay a little more for quality.

8.8
Review: AF180 MK2 IEM
The Good
  • Design
  • Comfort
  • Audio quality
The Bad
  • No in-line controls
  • Design
    9.2
  • Features
    8.0
  • Performance
    9.5
  • Value
    8.5
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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.
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