Page 2 - Physical Look - Hardware
The Audiofly AF56 series earphones are available in two variants -- one with the microphone, and one without. Since I would be hard pressed to find anyone nowadays listening to music on a dedicated digital audio player exclusively, we took in the AF56m, where the 'm' signifies the inclusion of an integrated microphone to go with your smartphone. The microphone is located on cable that leads to the right side. The AF56m is available in three different color schemes. This includes Vintage White, Blue Tweed, and Edison Black. Our particular unit is Blue Tweed. The striped yellow cable will sure stand out against most clothing, so if you are looking for something a little more fashion-neutral, going with Edison Black is probably a better choice overall.
These earbuds are quite lightweight, thanks to the way the cable is made. The Audiofly AF56m is designed to wrap around and behind your ears, which reminds me of one of the first products I have ever reviewed here at APH Networks, the Shure E2c more than a decade ago. I would like to commend Audiofly for making such lightweight earphones for improved comfort, but they definitely lean on the chunky side in terms of size. Thankfully, they are not long, so it still fits well for most people, including me. In the end, I went with the medium sized silicone ear sleeves after trying out the small eartips for best fit out of the three. As with all IEMs, users with different sized ears will be happy to know that the company has included three different sized sleeves for best seal. On a side note, on the product page at press time, it says it comes with three sets of silicon sleeves. It is important that silicon, the chemical element commonly found in semiconductors, is not the same thing as silicone, the synthetic compound used to make the ear tips, haha.
The Audiofly AF56m earphones connect to your audio output device via a straight 3.5mm gold plated connector. I personally prefer angled connectors over straight connectors like the AF56m, because they are inherently easier to disconnect from a source being easier to grip. I do like the fact the cable is 120cm long, which should be more than sufficient for most users. As far as quality is concerned, the company claims the Audioflex braided cable is made with CORDURA fabric outer sheath. CORDURA is a brand name of synthetic fabric made out of nylon, and may be blended with other fibers, used in many products such as luggage and backpacks. If you have ever seen a CONDURA hangtag, you may remember it being advertised as durable, versatile, and reliable. Meanwhile, the AF56m's 3.5mm jack is made out of plastic and metal for a nice quality feel. The Y-split junction at the center of the cord also feels solid, even though it is made out of plastic, but it features a metal button in the middle for a bit more substance. All in all, the build quality of the AF56m is quite commendable for something that carries an MSRP of $110 at press time.
A closer look at Audiofly's AF56m earbuds. The plastic casing and mesh exterior surface is not particularly special in my opinion, but it does carry a bit of visual interest. Audiofly's logo is embossed onto the outer mesh, with "L" and "R" clearly labeled on the inside. The small text adjacent to the left and right labels include the model number and "Designed in Australia" -- if you can read it, of course. It is important to note the relatively large enclosure is not made without reason. The AF56m features relatively large 13mm drivers, which typically and theoretically translate to more powerful bass and wider soundstaging. It has a rated frequency response of 18Hz to 20kHz, with sensitivity at 118dB @ 1kHz, and impedance of 16 ohms. Like many modern earphones, the drivers aim directly into your ear for a more direct and transparent sound reproduction characteristic. At the same time, it makes the earphones much easier to clean in the long run too. The sleeves assist the aim into the user's ear canals, and since these earphones are designed for a closed configuration, the Audiofly AF56m are made for passive noise canceling.
The microphonics characteristics of the Audiofly AF56m are pretty decent. During usage, like all IEMs, rustling noise is inevitable -- but it is not as significant issue that interferes with its usage and purpose on the earphones. The Y-split junction filters out a lot of mechanical vibrations half way down the cable, and the upper segment is significantly better than the V-MODA Vibe II I reviewed back in 2009.
Audiofly includes a round storage tin for use with the AF56m earphones. Its metal exterior offers durability and protection, and the plush interior provides protection to the contents. The storage tin itself is nothing special. The lid has the company's logo embossed on it, and is held to the bottom half by a couple of small friction bumps. Needless to say, I would not expect it to hold itself closed if placed loose in your backpack or handbag, so this is definitely an area of improvement.
With all this in mind, how will it perform? As always, we have the entire Page 3 dedicated to presenting our auditioning results.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis