Being the slight audiophile that I am I was excited to get my hands on the new Audiofly AF56W wireless in-ear headphones. To give you some context, Audiofly are an audio specialist with a focus on high end headphones. Not that they don’t do the cheaper stuff, they do, as the AF56s come in at $99 on their website. But with their range beginning from $50 budget buds right up to just under $120 for a decent set of in ear monitor headphones, Audiofly seem to know what they’re doing when it comes to portable audio.
The Audiofly AF50w headphones come sealed in a box with a transparent window so you can see the item before opening up. There is some detail dotted around each side giving some bullet points on how the headphones will perform. They’re packaged nicely, and open with a seal at the base of the box. Once inside, the headphones are found resting in a foam holder, and the accessories like the case and USB charging cable are found underneath.
The headphones are mostly made from a plastic type material, including both in-line remotes. The earbuds that the headphones come pre-fitted with are rather small, but there are a number of different sizes you can choose from inside the box. I chose the largest as I like a seal to keep out external noise, but also because I have large ears.
The chord which connects both earbuds has a rope like texture, like a very thin braided cable giving the cable a bit of protection and hopefully will reduce fraying. There are two inline remotes present along the cord: one for your volume up and down, and the other one for the housing of the battery. It’s how they can boast a five hour playback time alongside a 200 hour standby time. They lasted me the week, using the headphones on my commutes. They charge via microUSB which is provided.
Inside the actual earbud area are two 13mm drivers that are responsible for pushing out that great sound, hence the flat area. They seem open, as the drivers are covered by what looks like a grill, which equates to better sound. Open backed headphones will always give you a clearer sound. although you will probably annoy people around you depending on your desired volume levels.
I know that I raved about Audiofly’s lineup earlier on in the review, but since having listened to the sound quality of the Audiofly AF56Ws, I’m not so sure. Okay, that sounds as if I’m just about to rip them apart. I’m not, and actually don’t have much to complain about. Mids and trebles were very present, with some decent clarity in the music I was listening to. The biggest let down was bass. I don’t think the headphones were incapable of producing some thuds, but the seal that the earbud made in my ear was loose, and I used the biggest sized buds.
The soundstage is wide, and there is a definite difference in the many instruments present in music tracks. Even the more quite sounds like high-hats and cymbals make some kind of appearance. Vocals are very neutral, although they seem to be more prominent over music, thanks to the various frequencies the headphones are able to produce.
Audiofly AF56W – Sound
The earphones were given about 40 hrs.
The Audiofly AF56W are not just an improvement over the AF45 in design and comfort, but also, and mainly, in Sound. They offer a much bigger and very lively sound with better overall balance.
Not unlike the AF45 model, the bass is very dominating. But this time, the AF56 offer a better achieved low end giving more room to the rest of the frequencies to play their part. The bass is really huge and surrounding, very engaging indeed. In terms of quantity alone, these are even with the 45’s, a large amount of bass everywhere, but in comparison, these are more focused into the sub-bass regions rather than mid-bass. Compared to the ATH-CKM500, the Audiofly AF56W still have more mid-bass kick, while the Audio Technica manage to reach deeper. As for quality there’s no complaining here; it’s tighter, faster and much more controlled. Full bodied with excellent texture and well layered.
Climbing to the midrange, they may not be the main attraction and the sole reason to get the Audiofly AF56W , but within the AF line, the midrange is clear and well detailed. Not necessarily recessed, but more distant compared to the highs, let alone the lows. As for vocals, they have a more neutral position, drier and colder in nature, and just a tad veiled on heavier tracks. Male voices carry more weight from the upper-bass, while female voices are brighter and a bit edgy at times due to added enhanced treble.
As for the highs, they are more balanced together with the lows, especially when compared to the AF45 which offered a much smoother and forgiving upper-end. Treble is more emphasized, crispy and well extended, full of energy and a bit harsher with brighter music. EDM, Techno,Trance and similars really shine with these. Overall clarity is good and it is not hard to pick up small details, but can’t match the CNT driver based phones such as the CKN-70 and FXD-80, but at least are smoother and easier to listen than those.
Soundstage is quite impressive, really huge and spacious with an immersive 3D feeling; definitely one of the main strengths of the AF56.
As an Extra, I also tried them with some Meelec bi-flange tips. Fit was much shallower and isolation lower. As for the sound, the results were as expected, a smoother and less aggressive sound. Midrange is slightly thicker and warmer, with a more hint of space and air.
Build & Design
Housing design aside, everything else is exactly the same as the AF45, which means great build quality and nice looks. The straight plug is very sturdy and well relieved. The Y-cable is one of the best and nicest, a braided Kevlar reinforced cable, covered by Cordura fabric on the outside. I really like this cable, it’s soft, smooth, and very easy to store. Microphonics are noticeable, but the cable doesn’t move around too much.
As for the housing design, this time Audiofly chose a “half-in-ear” design to carry the larger 13mm driver. They may not be easy to wear upside with the cable around the back of the ear, but I don’t think they’re meant to be worn like that.
Like the previous model, the Right side is marked with Braille writing on the strain relief, while the Left side has an ‘L’ printed on the nozzle. On the M version the microphone is placed on the left side, and the control button on the Y-split.
So the Audiofly AF56W wireless headphones aren’t bad. There is a distinct lack of bass in the set I tried, but I think that was due to the lack of seal the headphones produced when inside my ears. Other than that, the sound is actually pretty crisp and clean sounding. Being Bluetooth means they can be used with mobile phones as well as other Bluetooth devices, and they feel like they’ve been built pretty well.