Campfire Audio Andromeda Review – One of the Best IEMs (Period)
Campfire Audio’s Andromeda IEM has been in the market for quite some time and it has been reviewed and praised by many audio enthusiasts / audiophiles / music lovers a like. Campfire Audio describes this as a “flagship earphone that exudes a unique confidence in its handling of fine musical detail, expanding the limits your listening horizon”. At the time of this writing, Campfire Audio has other IEMs that are more expensive than the Andromeda; and are also considered flagship IEMs. True that the Andromeda is no longer the most expensive IEM the company has to offer, but it’s still a flagship IEM and it has its own unique tuning and sound characteristics that is not found on other earphones. What makes the Campfire Andromeda one of the most talked about IEM? What makes it one of the best IEM currently available in the market? If you’re looking for a (very) good IEM to step up your audio listening experience, please continue reading my Campfire Audio Andromeda review below.
Update: You might want to read my Campfire Audio Solaris review. It’s CA’s new flagship earphone.
Campfire Audio Andromeda – Review
Let’s start with the features and technical details of the Campfire Andromeda first. Right off the bat, the Andromeda features five balanced armature drivers. To be specific, the Andromeda has two high frequency balanced armature drivers with Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber (T.A.E.C.), one mid frequency BA driver, and two low frequency BA drivers.
For those who haven’t auditioned or listened to the Andromeda yet, some may underestimate it because it has only 5 BA drivers unlike other (flagship) IEMs. Well, after using the Andromeda for several weeks, I can personally say that more Balanced Armature drivers doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better compared to IEMs with fewer BA drivers.
Despite only having a total of 5 BA drivers, the Campfire Andromeda sounds huge, wide and detailed. You wouldn’t believe that it only has 5 balanced armature drivers inside, not unless you have seen its specs beforehand. Perhaps that’s why Campfire decided to call it the “Andromeda”, akin to the galaxy Andromeda.
If I am not mistaken, all of Campfire Audio’s earphones comes in small boxes, same size with the Andromeda; except different color and box art. Campfire uses French Paper Company’s paper for their box. It’s a USA made paper and the design is printed locally in Portland, Oregon USA. You definitely won’t be seeing any “Made in China” label on this product.
Inside the box you get a Campfire Audio branded dark leather earphone case. Each of Campfire Audio’s earphones have its own unique color / texture leather case. So for the Andromeda, you get this dark brown (chocolate-like color) leather case. The stock or included cable is the Litz cable and you also get several types of ear tips. The included ear tips are as follows: Final Audio tips (XS / S / M / L / XL); Campfire Audio earphone tips (S / M / L); and silicon earphone tips (S / M / L). You also get a Campfire Audio lapel pin and a cleaning tool.
The 5 BA drivers are enclosed in a machined aluminum shell with a stainless steel spout. It has Beryllium and Copper MMCX connections and Campfire Audio included their Litz cable; a Silver Plated Copper conductors with Beryllium Copper MMCX and 3.5mm stereo plug. I like the “Classic Green” color of the Andromeda, it does really look premium in personal. The shells are Zirconium blasted aluminum and are finished / anodized with Campfire’s signature green color.
All of the company’s earphones are produced in small batches. They don’t have a large facility and resources to produce hundreds or thousands in a single run. But each earphone or IEM are carefully and meticulously hand assembled. Campfire Audio’s team pays close attention from the design to the production of their IEMs, ensuring high quality and top-notch standards are met for a long lasting product. Just check out the details on the close up shots. Each driver is tested (left and right) to ensure that each driver conforms to CA’s established tuning and performance criteria.
If you noticed, the Campfire Andromeda has a unique design and shape. It looks edgy and sharp, but it’s not sharp enough to scuff or scratch your skin. However, depending on the shape of your ear you may or may not find it comfortable to wear. So if you are unsure or you have an odd shape or smaller concha of auricle and you feel that your antihelix might be a hindrance; you might want to try fitting it first (if possible).
Don’t let the shape of the Andromeda fool you. This shape is CA’s signature look for the Andromeda, Jupiter, Orion, and Polaris. If you think the design is bad, then why is a certain earphone company copying the design? I wonder! Hmm….
Personally, I didn’t encounter any discomfort when wearing the Andromeda while in an upright standing or sitting position. Except if I lean against something, like on a pillow, and the Andromeda is pressed against my ear; I could feel the edges of its enclosure. Also if you look at the spout, it’s not that long and it’s a little bit angled. This makes it easy to fit into the ear canal and provides more room for tip rolling.
Campfire Audio uses a “custom enhanced MMCX” connector, it’s a Beryllium Copper and feels sturdier compared to the generic or typical MMCX connector. However, it’s still an MMCX and I would recommend to take extra care, especially when removing or connecting a cable. ALO Audio / Campfire Audio’s cables are mostly compatible; however I would definitely double or triple check the cable if it’s compatible, especially if it is from a third party. There might be a (slight) variance on the size of the cable’s connectors; or the length and diameter of the pin inside.
The Sound! The Sound! This is it!
The Campfire Andromeda has a frequency response of 10Hz to 28 kHz. It has a 112.8 dB SPL/mW sensitivity and a 12.8 Ohms Impedance @ 1kHz. When I first listed to the Campfire Andromeda, the very first thing I noticed is its huge and wide sound stage. I can clearly tell that there is enough depth and width; and despite the huge sound stage, the focus and clarity, especially the detail and minor nuance are not lost at all. The level of detail and clarity on this IEM is simply impressive; it’s also very transparent while maintaining that rich and lush sound.
Its coverage extends well from the lows, to the mid frequency and to the highs; they do sound well-balanced without overlapping or over powering another frequency. The high section is well extended without being sibilant or harsh at all. TSSS and TZZZ sounds are not sharp or ear piercing and it doesn’t get analytical or dry at all. Perhaps this is the “magic” behind the two high frequency BA drivers that is used with Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber technology. You get that sparkling highs with airy-ness without being sibilant.
The mid frequency is also impeccable; it sounds spacious, intimate and with enough body, great detail and clarity as well. It doesn’t sound laid back at all; instead for me the vocals, whether it’s a male or female artist, sounds intimate and life-like. As for the lows or bass frequency, it does extends deep and offers enough thickness and punch despite being a purely BA-driven IEM. The bass is clean, clear and well-controlled, without being muddy or overpowering the lower mids and mid-section. But if I compare it to a dynamic driven IEM, there’s a noticeable difference. This would now fall on the preference of a user; some would like pure BA setup, some like DD (dynamic driver) only and some prefer a hybrid (BA+DD) configuration.
I can’t say that the Andromeda is (totally) linear and neutral, since there is a bit of coloration in the tuning. But it is not lackluster and dry at all; it’s definitely fun and musical and it’s versatile enough to use for any or most type of genre. I also noticed that the Campfire Andromeda can be a bit source dependent. Sometimes a DAP or DAC/AMP would make the Andromeda sound warmer, and sometimes it sounds a tad brighter. That only shows that the Andromeda is a transparent IEM and reveals the sound characteristic of the source as well.
I personally use the Campfire Andromeda as one of my primary reference when testing and listening to DAPs and other sources these past few weeks. It’s also very easy to drive, no need for a (powerful) dedicated amp at all. Even a smartphone would do; better a smartphone with a good Hi-Fi DAC like the LG V20 or V30.
Overall, I think the Campfire Audio Andromeda is one of the best IEMs I have listened to. I have tried an 8-BA driver and even 12-BA driver below and they all didn’t come close to the sound quality and tuning of the Andromeda. The current price of the Andromeda is $1099 from Campfire Audio’s site. If you think that’s (very) expensive for an earphone, then you haven’t been into this hobby long enough. There are a lot of more expensive IEMs than the Andromeda, some may sound better and some don’t (seriously).
However, if you are passionate about this hobby and know the value of these top of the line IEMs; then I can say that for me the Andromeda ticks all the boxes on my check list. It has great build quality and design; better than those plastic or silicone casing that may break over time. The included cable is not the best that Campfire Audio has to offer, but it’s definitely far better than any generic cables you typically see attached on earphones. The included accessories is not sub-par as well; that leather case looks and feels premium and you get a decent amount of tips to suit your preference. I couldn’t find any fault or a thing to dislike about the whole package.
Finally, the sound quality is absolutely fantastic, it’s fun and very engaging. But if ever you get the chance to audition one, I do suggest you try it first. This is a really good IEM, no doubt about it; but I also believe each one of us has his / her own preference. For me, this is definitely a must have IEM especially if you do not limit yourself to one IEM / earphone. It’s a must have collection!