It’s getting harder and harder to use wired headphones as we push forth into the wireless future that technology companies seem intent on convincing us is inevitable. Even long time holdouts Samsung have pulled the headphone jack from their latest flagship phones, meaning the vast majority of phone owners are going to be looking for Bluetooth solutions if they don’t want to juggle dongles. Like many headphone manufacturers, Perth company Audiofly have jumped into this burgeoning market with some remarkably nice Bluetooth headphones that will make you wonder how you’d ever gone so long with the set from your phone’s box.
AF100W Mk2 are Audiofly’s highest-end set of wireless headphones, and they definitely look the part. They have an over-ear hook design that’s reminiscent of some premium Shure sets which ensures a snug fit that won’t come loose – at the expense of needing a little practise when it comes to actually fitting them. Unlike most common headphones, there’s some technique to be learned with these in-ear monitors (which is helpfully described in the manual). It took me a little while to get the motion just right, but once I did, I loved how well these headphones seal to keep outside sound out and keep your music in. If you know you don’t vibe with in-ear monitors these probably won’t change your mind, but Audiofly do include seven different combinations of tip sizes, shapes, and materials to give you plenty of fit options.Click here to enter & win a set of Audiofly AF1o0W Mk2 heapdhones!
Keep out the world, keep in your music
Thanks to this over-ear, in-ear style, they’re the kind of headphones you really need to commit to a session with. Unlike regular buds they can’t really be taken out at a moment’s notice if someone taps on your shoulder at work – that person will have to wait while you twist them out and find the pause button. It’s a trade-off that must be made when choosing headphones – often the better they are at keeping you isolated from the world around you, the harder it becomes to rejoin the world when you need to.
But gosh, it sounds nice when you’re isolated in your own world with these AF100W Mk2s. My main points of comparison are first generation AirPods, and the big noise cancelling Sony WH1000XM2s. Sound wise, they blow the AirPods away. The seal inside the ear means you’re hearing bass far more clearly, but it’s not so overpowering that it drowns out everything else as can sometimes happen with the XM2s. They’re the kind of headphones where you can sit and listen to a track you’re intimately familiar with and suddenly hear a backing vocal track or instrumental you never realised was there. I tested them with music ranging from Carly Rae Jepson to K.Flay, Childish Gambino to Cradle of Filth, and they shone with every crunchy guitar riff and chunky synth I could throw at them.
Ups and downs of wireless
One of the downsides to wireless audio is it’s comparably less reliable connection compared to a good old wire – and this is one place where the AF100W MK2s fall down. If you’re close to the device and indoors there generally aren’t any problems, but the wireless range is unimpressive compared to say, AirPods. At distances where AirPods wouldn’t skip a beat, I started to get skips and complete disconnections on the AF100Ws. I ran into problems while walking around the city too – interference from other wireless devices, traffic lights, and any number of other sources can pose a problem for any Bluetooth connection, but I found the AF100Ws far more prone to annoying skips in places where other Bluetooth sets had fewer problems.
Being so small, they’re super portable. They come with a little water resistant zipped case that can comfortably house the headphones and their charging connector. The case is about the size of a small wallet (think something closer to Bellroy than Costanza) and so it’s easily pocketable and nicely protective. The whole thing feels quite durable thanks to the fabric lined cable with rubber over the potential stress points – I can’t foresee these cables fraying like so many iPhone charging cords. The cable has a great little mechanism to adjust the slack to keep the dangling cable behind your neck to a minimum, and being IPX-5 water resistant they shouldn’t be bothered in the slightest by workout sweat or light rain.
Cursed proprietary charging
The water resistance does present one problem however, since Audiofly decided to charge these with a proprietary magnetic connector. This means if you lose it, it’ll be more difficult to replace than a standard cable. The magnetic connector works fine and is small enough to stash with the headphones in their case. It has a very light hold that should work well enough for charging at a desk, but probably not while being jostled in a bag. The connector charges a battery that is quoted to last for about 8 hours, and my testing found this number to be pretty accurate. It took a few days of regular listening before I started hitting low battery warnings.
These headphones are pretty easy to recommend, with only a few caveats. They combine high quality wireless audio with a great fit that stays put even through strenuous activity. This great fit will almost totally block out the aural world around you, which can be good or bad depending on your situation. The price is right considering the quality build and sound, making these a great option if you want to go wireless without losing great, well balanced audio.
Just don’t lose that charging cradle.