42 Audiofly AF100W dBegging your indulgence, I’d like to talk about red wine again. No matter how bad red wine may be, the second glass usually tastes a bit better than the first. People say this is because the wine gets some air between that first and second glass making the second a bit more mellow and rounded, but I have an alternate theory. I reckon the wine is just as crook but your palate knows what to expect. You’re getting used to it. Another dozen or so and it will be entirely acceptable.

It’s the same with audio. Listen to the speakers in your computer (or those in your television for that matter) for long enough and your standards will have lowered sufficiently for the sound to become acceptable. This is why first impressions are so important when auditioning audio equipment. Not to mention red wine.

42 Audiofly AF100W cAlmost a year ago I listened to Audiofly’s AF100 Bluetooth earbuds and said that for around two hundred bucks I’d take full size headphones any day. They were strongly skewed towards bass which reduced the presence and definition of the high range. They thumped, but they also sounded flat and could get a bit muddy. Thing is they were so comfy that after a few hours they had begun to grow on me. So I was interested in listening to their replacements, the AF100 Mark Twos, ten bucks cheaper at $179.99 and, according to the media release, bringing upgraded specifications.

The release talked about magnetic clipping to the charger and moisture resistance, meaning they’ll get through a big sweat in the gym, but there was no mention of better sound. And to me these new ones sound better. The top end is elevated with improved definition, the bass end, while certainly still there, no longer attempts to beat everything else into submission. So were changes made to the sound processing and reproduction or were my ears and my brain simply compensating for what I had heard back then?

It turns out that while the drivers and major components are the same the underlying electronics have been overhauled, mainly to house the magnetic clip for the charger. This brought a smaller Bluetooth 4.1 chip than the original 4.2. Audiofly says it sounds better, the trade is less battery life; Audiofly claims eight hours.

The sound is more refined, more balanced and more satisfying. Take Tina Arena’s old classic ‘I’m in Chains’. It opens creamily with a firm bass line accompanied by Tina climbing way up there, and this combo continues throughout. It’s handled nicely. The lone piccolo amid the continuing bass in Karl Jenkins’ ‘Armed Man’ soars nicely. The highs can get a little harsh, but for buds these perform impressively.

42 Audiofly AF100W bI mentioned the comfort of the original AF100s. I’m not fond of buds but these had moulded cables that slid in behind the ears to hold them nicely in place, simple and very effective, and still comfy after a couple of hours even with reading glasses on. That design ain’t broke so Audiofly didn’t try to fix it, what it has done is improved the cables themselves. After they’ve formed around the ears they go from plastic sheathing to Cordura, a nicely tactile fibre that not only looks classier but is tougher and resists tangling. If you’re a person who winds the cable tightly and stuffs it in your bag or pocket this is the one for you.

I still prefer full size headphones, but if you need the convenience of buds these are well made and good value.

First published on smh.com.au November 2018.

 

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