Audiofly is a brand that those interested in music or audio equipment will recognize for their in-ear monitors. The Australian firm supplies performance-grade monitors for live musicians as well as a range of in-ear headphones for consumers. The AF240 represents their first over-ear, full-size headphone, their first entry into a market filled with competitors. Audiofly has earned themselves a good name for their in-ear headphones, with offerings that are affordable all the way up to the high-end realms of audiophile grade hardware. With the AF240, Audiofly have tried to offer great sound in a closed-back headphone design while also offering a few differences to the everyday over-ear set of headphones. Have they succeeded with their first product in the over-ear market - at $249.99 - or should they stick to in-ear headphones? Read on as I hope to answer that very question.
Features and Specs
- 40mm single-membrane neodymium driver
- 20 to 20,000 Hz Frequency Response
- 16 Ohm impedance
- 103 dB sensitivity at 1 kHz
- 1.5-meter detachable cable built with Audioflex and CORDURA materials
- Inline microphone with play/pause, answer/end call button
- Noise-isolating memory foam ear pads cutting out 20 dB of ambient noise
- Wax canvas carrying case
- Self-adjusting headband and ear cups
Design and Comfort
These days, a pair of headphones has to look nice to even begin to be taken seriously, and I'd say Audiofly have played a safe game with the look of the AF240s. For one thing, these are big, without being ridiculous, there's a lot of padding in that chunky leather headband and those ear cups are definitely noticeable. Available in only black, there are some interesting design choices here, like the bronze-stamping of the Audiofly logo on the faux-leather finished ear cups (which are piano black polycarbonate, by the way). The headband that peaks out between the padding and ear cups is nice and has a slightly different finish to most other metal headbands and the raw stitching on the top of the headband is a nice touch as well. There are a pair that might get you a few looks out and about but they're far from being obnoxious. I appreciate the understated approach here, and while these are definitely modern in their design, they don't try too hard and you could really get away with these no matter what you're wearing. My only real complaints with the overall package is that the cable - which is nice and thick and seems strong - has started to fray at both ends a little bit, I'm not sure if this is normal or not - but mercifully its a standard 3.5mm cable, so you can use whatever the hell cable you want should this one break or you not like the color of it. This is a good thing. So too, is the fact that the ear cups are easily-removed and can be replaced with a pair from Audiofly with little to no fuss.
Comfort is an interesting area when talking about the AF240. That's because these are a self-adjusting pair of headphones, with the aim to make it as easy as possible to wear. The headband self-adjusts to fit on your head, meaning there's no ratchet system of clicks and clacks to find the right position on your head, instead you just need to pull the ear cups to wear you want them and let the band settle on to your head. The ear cups follow suit and can be swivelled a full 90-degrees and they also self-adjust to seal around your ear. This little party trick is an interesting one, but one that doesn't work all of the time. Sadly, this results in a pretty strong clamping force and it can take a few moments to get the seal just right when you put them on. That said, this means that the AF240 do not fall off of your head when - like me - you end up bobbing around at your desk like an idiot as Future Islands flood your head.
Are the AF240 comfortable? I would say so, yes. Only in the same sense as most other closed-back headphones. These feel really snug on your head, without being painful or creating any pressure (the extra padding sees to that) and your ears will sweat after a period longer than an hour or so. As for the noise-isolating ear pads? Jury's still out on that one, I've had these since late December and spent a good two - to three hours a day average listening to them at my desk. I have a loud, loud mechanical keyboard in front of me and at moderate listening volume I can still here it quite clearly, so I'd have to question their claim of 20 dB, but they will shut out the rest of the world and they'll be fine on the daily commute, too.
I have to give the Aussies at Audiofly a massive thumbs-up for the included carrying pouch that the AF240s come with. This has to be the only carrying pouch I'd consider using for a pair of headphones. The waxy exterior shrugs at moisture, the thick rope tie at the top is strong and sturdy and the inside, oh, the inside. The inside of this has to be the softest carrying pouch for headphones I've come across. There's also a separate pouch for the included cable to rest as well. Perhaps I'm making too big a deal of this, but for reference the carrying pouch that comes with the famous Beyerdynamic range of DT990s is a joke, even Master & Dynamic's MH40s (which cost more than these) doesn't come close to this. The point here is what include one if it's not going to be any good? Audiofly gets a big thumbs-up for a carrying pouch that should actually offer some protection and looks nice as well.
Okay, okay so the AF240 have a great carrying case, a fancy self-adjusting headband and they look nice, but are they really any good? It's been interesting coming up with a way of describing how these sound after listening to them for the past few weeks. Those thinking that this is another modern headphone with oh too much bass will be happy to hear that isn't the case, and those looking for a pair that sound great no matter what you like listening to should keep reading.
The best way of describing these is to imagine a five-band equalizer and every value taken up a whole notch. Everything here is turned up to 11, with no one part overdone or turned up too high. Bass, for example is nice and punchy, but it doesn't boom out and flood the rest of a track and the highs have a lovely resonance to them but nothing is ever shrill. Vocals are quite forward and there's always lots and lots of detail to love about these, no matter what you're listening to. Listening to Future Island's Seasons (Waiting on You) the vocals are smooth and grainy all at the same time, just as they should be, delivering the warm, strained voice of Samuel Herring. Bass is tight and hard-hitting on tracks like Rihanna's Bitch Better Have My Money and on synth pop jams like CHVRCHES' Bow Down the high synths have a nice ring to them without being shrill, and Lauren's vocals are soft and resonant. These are a great pair of headphones to listen to practically anything with, but they're not perfect.
While I do think there's a good bass response with these, it's perhaps more of a precise tubbiness than a boomy, resounding thud. Punchy and precise, the bass here is nice, but those looking for massive thuds won't find that here. As for everything else, I was pretty impressed with the range these exhibited, but when there's a lot going on it does appear as if the drivers are struggling a little and it can be hard to pick out particular notes and layers within a track.
For a $249.99 set of headphones, have Audiofly hit the right mark here? Almost. At this price point, I should be more impressed with their overall sound signature, but as it is these are fairly middling in terms of their overall reproduction. That said, the bass is not artificial or too boomy, the mid-range is alive and well and there's nothing to complain about the high notes. Perhaps I'm not blown way because the signature here is so balanced, which is nice as these are an excellent pair to plug in and get great results no matter what. They're comfortable, good-looking and have some nice extras included, but for this amount of money these should have a little more presentation and detail.
A solid pair of headphones that don't quite live up to their price tag, the AF240 are worth considering, but perhaps not at their current price tag. We have to remember this is the company's first set of over-ear headphones, and while these are good, I'm more excited about what Audiofly can do with a second-generation of these.