AFUL: A Brand to Watch
In this review, we delve into the AFUL Performer 8 in-ear monitors, the latest addition to AFUL's lineup after the successful Performer 5. With a 1DD & 7BA setup, we explore how these IEMs compare to competitors like the Moondrop Blessing 3. Our review setup includes the Questyle M15 DAC & AMP, Stock cable, SpinFit W1 eartips, and Apple devices as sources.
Design and Build Quality
Sleek Design and Sturdy BuildThe Performer 8 shells are crafted from high-quality imported resin material, providing both durability and a lightweight feel. The black inner part is beautifully complemented by the orange, copper, and gold glitter faceplate, featuring the striking gold AFUL branding. The cable, made with high-quality TPE outer material, is soft, flexible, and devoid of any microphones. Overall, the build quality of both the IEM shell and cable is impressive.
Comfort and Fit
Optimal Comfort for Extended Listening
The medium-sized and compact profile of the Performer 8 shells, coupled with their curved design, ensures a comfortable fit without any discomfort. The longer IEM bore size facilitates deeper insertion, providing excellent noise isolation. Thanks to its lightweight construction and ergonomic curves, these IEMs can be comfortably worn for long listening sessions without causing fatigue. Overall, the Performer 8 offers an ideal size and design for extended periods of enjoyment.
Immersive and Engaging SoundThe AFUL Performer 8 delivers a clean, crisp, rich, and grand sound experience with excellent separation and soundstage. The deep and powerful bass, along with realistic and emotionally charged vocals, creates an engaging sonic landscape. The clear, detailed, and layered treble adds another dimension to the overall performance. The Performer 8's tuning is non-offensive, appealing to a wide range of listeners.
Clean, Powerful, and Fatigue-FreeThe bass response of the Performer 8 is clean, deep, and impactful without causing any listening fatigue. Tracks with heavy bass, such as "Late Night" by Shamoon Ismail, reveal the instrument separation and cleanliness in the bass region. The overall bass performance is satisfying, smooth, and enjoyable.
Realistic and Textured VocalsBoth male and female vocals sound incredibly realistic and textured on the Performer 8. There is no sibilance or harshness present, allowing vocals to shine with full-bodied weight. The vocal positioning is slightly set back compared to the bass and treble, enhancing the overall balance.
Detailed, Layered, and MusicalThe Performer 8's treble performance is highly detailed, clean, layered, fast, and energetic. Listening to "Mediterranean Sundance" by Al Di Meola showcases the treble's well-rounded edges and lack of harshness. The treble creates a mesmerizing experience, enveloping you in its musicality and making you feel like you're in the middle of the stage.
Soundstage & imaging
Wide and Intimate SoundstageThe Performer 8 offers a wide soundstage with good height and depth, while maintaining an intimate feel. The imaging is accurate and precise, providing excellent channel separation and making the listening experience even more captivating.
Value and Competition
AFUL Performer 8 vs. Moondrop Blessing 3
In direct competition with the Moondrop Blessing 3, the Performer 8 has some notable advantages. Its smaller bore design enhances comfort, while the bass is more impactful. The midrange exhibits better texture, and the treble performance is more musical. In terms of soundstage, the Performer 8 offers a wider presentation. Ultimately, it boils down to personal preferences. If you seek extra deep and powerful bass, the Performer 8 is recommended. However, if you prefer a more controlled and detailed sound for long listening sessions, the Blessing 3 is a safe choice. Both IEMs offer exceptional value for around Rs. 30,000.
Pros and Cons
|Almost perfect tuning for most audiophiles
|Balanced cable or smart cable should be provided
|Non-offensive sound signature
|Cleaning tool and extra metal mesh for earwax protection should be included in the retail package
|Deep and powerful bass
|Carry case could provide better protection by allowing separate storage for IEMs and cables
|Smooth and musical treble
|Very good build quality and fitting
|Coherent and detailed sound
|Easy to drive and not source picky
AFUL Performer 8: A Remarkable Value Proposition
The AFUL Performer 8 IEMs are finely tuned and well-built, offering exceptional value at $369.99. They exceed expectations for their price range, making them a strong contender for anyone seeking an endgame IEM within a budget of 30,000 INR.