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Campfire Audio Andromeda

Rating:
4.89655/5,
  • Five balanced armature drivers and tubeless resonator in a machined aluminum enclosure.

    Designed and hand built in Portland, Oregon USA.

    Specifications

    Frequency Range: 10Hz-28kHz
    Sensitivity: 115 DB SPL/MW
    Impedance: 12.8 Ohm @1kHz
    Cable: Silver Litz cable, MMCX connection

    Accessories

    1x Pair Andromeda earphones
    1x Silver Litz cable with exclusive MMCX connectors and memory wire
    1x Leather carrying case
    3x Pair Comply Foam tips (S, M, L)
    3x Pair memory foam tips (S, M, L)
    3x Pair silicone wide bore tips (S, M, L)
    1x Owner’s manual
Pakalini and JNOISE JA like this.

Recent Reviews

  1. Medikill
    Clean Green Great Sounding Machines
    Written by Medikill
    Published Sep 20, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Clarity
    Soundstage
    Airiness
    Mids and treble
    Fit
    Cons - Lack of Bass
    Nothing else
    Premable:
    Bought these with my own money, this review is not sponsored or indorsed in anyway

    Comparetors:
    Sony IER Z1R
    Empire Ears Legend X

    Source:
    HIby R5
    Ipad Pro
    Macbook pro
    Iphone X w/dongle

    Test Tracks:

    Bass response: Drake MIA, Ed Sheeran South of Boarder
    Mid response: Ed Sheeran South of the boarder, Toto Africa, Sam smith How do you sleep
    Treble response: sam smith How do you sleep, Dj snake You know you like it

    Packaging
    Decent, nothing spectacular but the inclusions are nice.
    Good selection of tips (this is important for the Andro's sound)
    It would've been good if in the V2, a mesh pouch was included as the paint on the andro chips easily
    Sony's easily beat here, but at 1.5x the price

    Build
    Really like the build.
    Lean Green Great sounding machines
    I have always been fond of the CA house design on their BA IEMs
    I would say the IER is a side grade in terms fo build (as they scrach even easier)

    Fit
    Good, as long as you find the right *Silicone* tips you will be fine
    Not as good as the legend X, but substantially better than the Z1R

    Tip selection
    Campfire in house marshmellow tips and Final Audio E tips are included
    Don't use the foam. They dampen the sound and the airy sound sig vanishes

    Sound
    • Bass: Given it is a BA, it's not bad. Interestingly, the lower the impedence of the output device, the better the sub bass response. However, it isn't the star of the show for the Andros. Far from it. The Z1R comes in next - with the best sub bass. But the Legend X beats both out.
    • Mids: Incredible. I really liked the mids on the Andros. Substantially better than the LX and Z1R. There is a good fullness to the texture and vocals sound great.
    • Treble: Very clear and detailed. I found at times (very rarely) it could sound harsh (but i think, in retrospect, this was down the genre choice). Not silibant. On par with the LX and both beat the Z1R.
    • Stage: Very very very very good. Once you get the right tips on these sound very airy and detailed. As if each instrument has a corner of your head. Well done. Beats out both the Z1R and LX inthis aspect.
    • Instrument seperation: Very close between the Z1R and Andros here. The seperation on both is excellent, and the best i've heard so far. Both easily beat out the LX.
    • Reproduction accuracy: Good. But, the Z1R easily wins here.
    Summary
    This is my first set of IEM's which didn't have a focus on bass and sub bass. And to be honest, i really enjoyed them. Sure, the visceral, palpatation inducing bass was missing, but i cannot complain about that as i don't think that's the intended purpose of these. THe sound signature is a fun take on a reference FR. I think these are suited to someone who enjoys music which is mid and treble centric, as to date, i am yet to listen to a pair of IEMs which beat them in terms of their mids. Another highlight is the clarity and sounstage. It has a palpable airiness to it, which neither the LX or Z1R has (Z1R does kind of have it, but it's silibant).

    Overall, a great set of IEM's. I'm not going to fault it on it's lack of bass response, as i don't think that would be fair, given that's not the market targetted with these. 5/5.

    Thanks for reading :)
  2. B9Scrambler
    Campfire Audio Andromeda: As Expected
    Written by B9Scrambler
    Published Sep 8, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Reference tuning – Improved durability (anodized coating) – Comfortable cable
    Cons - Angular shell isn't for all ears
    Greetings!

    Today we're checking out the Andromeda from Campfire Audio. Does this thing really need an introduction? For the sake of writing a complete review, sure, but I'll keep it brief.

    The Andromeda first appeared on the market in 2016 and took the portable audio community by storm thanks to a balanced tune that does pretty much everything right. Over the years it has continued to receive near universal praise from customers and reviewers alike. 2019 sees the Andromeda receiving an update in various areas, such as a more refined shell, a new cable, and an updated accessory kit. What made the Andromeda such a hit in the first place, that being the sound signature, has remained untouched.

    We already know the Andromeda is awesome, but feel free to read on for yet another opinion of this modern classic.

    Disclaimer:

    Thanks to Caleb with Campfire Audio for arranging a sample of the Andromeda for the purposes of review. The thoughts within this review are my own subjective opinions based on time spent listening to the Andromeda throughout the last two months. They do not represent Campfire Audio or any other entity. At the time of writing the Andromeda retailed for 1099 USD. You can check it out here: https://campfireaudio.com/shop/andromeda/

    Personal Preference:

    I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. My preferences for earphone tuning are quite relaxed and as such their is no one signature I look for. The HiFiMAN RE800, Brainwavz B400, and Massdrop x MeeAudio Planamic are examples of earphones with wildly varied signatures that are enjoyable for different reasons. I generally listen at very low volumes, so keep this in mind when perusing my thoughts on how an earphone sounds.

    Sources:

    Mobile: Shanling M0, ZiShan DSD, HiFi E.T. MA8 w/ iFi iEMatch

    @home: TEAC HA-501 with a ZiShan DSD, HiFi E.T. MA8, or Asus FX53V acting source duty


    Specifications:
    • Drivers: 5 balanced armatures (Dual High Frequency Balanced Armature Drivers + T.A.E.C, Single Mid Frequency Balanced Armature Driver, Dual Low Frequency Balanced Armature Drivers)
    • Impedance: 12.8 ohms
    • Sensitivity: 112.8dB
    • Frequency Response: 10Hz to 28kHz
    P1020787.JPG P1020788.JPG P1020789.JPG

    Packaging and Accessories:

    When it comes to packaging, Campfire Audio has changed things up this time around. The spirit of their past designs are still in place as they follow the same astronomical theme, but the format has changed. Similar to the Solaris, the Andromeda comes in a fairly large, shallow square box. This box is covered by an exterior sheath, sealed shut by a matte silver Campfire Audio seal on the back. The front contains a large sticker with a mottled pattern set beneath a high quality image of the Andromeda's earpieces and the usual company branding and model information. One more sticker is present around the side containing company info, another image of the Andromeda, among other details that may or may not be important to the average consumer.

    Breaking the seal, the sheath unfold like the pedals of a flower revealing the main box inside. Lifting out the box, you will notice the inner sheath is printed with the CA logo dead centre, silver rays exploding outwards. It's quite dramatic. The main box itself contains the same beautiful mountainous scene found on CA's prior packaging along with more Campfire Audio branding. Lifting the lid you're greeted by the slogan “Nicely Done” printed on one of the flaps, as well as their new leather carrying case and a smaller cardboard box containing many of the included accessories. Beneath all this is your warranty card and a manual. In all you get:
    • Andromeda earphones
    • Smoky Jacket Silver Plated Copper Litz Cable
    • Final Audio tips (xs/s/m/l/xl)
    • Campfire Audio Marshmallow tips (s/m/l)
    • Medium bore single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
    • Campfire Audio lapel pin
    • Cleaning tool
    • Mesh accessory case (x3)
    Overall this is an outstanding unboxing experience, as is always the case with Campfire Audio. But...I still prefer their old packaging. It was smaller and more compact thereby using less material and producing less waste, a big plus for those that toss packaging once they get to the goods within. That said, this packaging still produces a lot less waste than what you get with various other luxury brands (RHA, Dunu, etc.), and everything is recyclable, so take this as more of an observation than a complaint. The new box does look fantastic on display though, a positive for those of us that appreciate brands who put time and effort into crafting unique and attractive unboxing experiences.

    Packaging aside, the accessory kit is second to none. Final Audio tips are some of the best in the business and with five sizes included you're sure to find something that works for your ears. Campfire Audio's Marshmallow tips are a very high quality foam option. The basic single flange silicone tips are nothing special and are the sort of tip you'd find included with more budget oriented offerings. That's not to take away from their performance though. They stay attached to the nozzle just fine and consistently seal well. The cleaning tool will be invaluable to those with waxy ears and the inclusion of three mesh bags to keep everything neatly organized is genius. Nicely done.

    P1020790.JPG P1020792.JPG DSC_0914.JPG

    Build, comfort, and Isolation:

    The machined aluminum housings of the Andromeda are adorned with their iconic green anodized finish that looks as stunning in person as it does in images. Seems to me that Campfire has improved the quality of their machining and their anodized finish. Compared to the original Polaris and images I've seen of earlier Andromeda's, the shells are much smoother with all machining grooves flattened out. Small bumps and knocks that chipped the finish on the original Polaris have done nothing to the Andromeda. New ~6mm long stainless steel nozzles are present and have a prominent lip that does a great job of holding tips in place. It also contains three small openings for the various sound tubes inside the Andromeda that keep the various frequencies from interfering with each other, at least until they've reached your ears. Textured silver screws top things off and attractively accent the green finish. The Andromeda use's Campfire Audio's familiar and extra durable beryllium/copper MMCX connectors. I say extra durable because that's what the marketing blurb spouts, but also my now almost two year old and well-loved Polaris has seen tens and tens of disconnects and the MMCX connectors are just as firm now as they were out of the box. Fit and finish is as to be expected, that is to say it is fantastic. Seams are barely visible and everything lines up perfectly without any gaps or off kilter angles.

    The Andromeda comes with Campfire Audio's new Silver Plated Copper Litz cable. It is quite reminiscent in design and thickness to the copper cable that came with the original Polaris, but with a new smoke coloured sheath. The 90 degree angled jack is smartly designed with an extension to permit compatibility with a wide variety of device cases, though strain relief is a little stiff. Less of a worry than it would be in other cases. My experiences with Campfire's cables have shown them to be plenty durable. Within the small, reliefless aluminum y-split, the cable divides sending two strands on each side to the ear pieces. Slotting into the top of the split is a small plastic chin cinch. It moves much more smoothly here than on older Campfire cables and as a result is much more useful. Also much more useful is the move to preformed ear guides. While the memory wire used on past Campfire Audio cables worked, I found the “memory” aspect of that title limited at best which led to the wire straightening out over time. Ditching that entirely and running with preformed guides has resulted in a much more pleasant experience since I'm not constantly rebending the wire to ensure it stays behind my ear. This is a great new cable and I was pleased to see it included with some other new models, like the Polaris v2 and IO.

    When it comes to comfort you'd be forgiven for assuming Campfire Audio's iconic angular shell design is a pain in the ear. Maybe for some, but not for me. Ergonomics are just right with the low profile Andromeda conforming quite naturally to my outer ear. That plus the use of lightweight aluminum, a small size the belies the chunky appearance, and the stubby nozzle keeps the Andromeda sitting in a way that does not feel out of place. I can wear the Andromeda almost indefinitely without experiencing any discomfort.

    When it comes to isolation, the Andromeda is outstanding. The fully sealed housings relegate the sharp tapping of keyboards to a subtle snap and the tire rumble of cars passing by to a dull murmur, though as with the IO vocals seem to cut through the silence surprisingly effectively. It really is an odd experience, though handy if you're listening in an area where you risk being summoned by someone nearby. Of course, should you wish to eliminate this just toss on some foam tips and overall isolation improves even further.

    P1012866.JPG P1020796.JPG P1020798.JPG

    Sound:

    Tips: The generic medium bore single flange silicone tips seemed to elevate treble and improve sound stage slightly making the Andromeda sound brighter and give the perception of improved technical ability. Foams seemed to dull the entirety of the Andromeda's presentation making it sound somewhat stuffy. Didn't like them at all. The small bore Final Audio Type E tips brought the most out of the Andromeda's low end and the tips to use if you want more sub-bass. They also slightly boosted treble giving the earphone a less balanced sound overall. Lastly, my preferred tips came via a third party; JVC. While many users love the Andromeda with JVC's Spiral Dot tips, I don't have any of those. I run the Andromeda with the similar but vastly more affordable wide bore tips that come with many JVC products, such as the brown set I got with my old HA-FR65. With these tips in place, the Andromeda sounds near perfectly balanced with very mild treble and bass elevation. Magnificent.

    The Andromeda is an all-armature earphone but in no way is the low end lacking. Opening with a classic track, Massive Attack's “Teardrop”, the Andromeda's low range armature attacks it with a growly texture and quick slam for each note. Decay is snappy but realistic, with notes hanging around as long as they need to. As is almost always the case with balanced armatures, I find extension into sub-bass regions somewhat wanting, but I still come away satisfied with the way things are handled here. On faster, more congested tracks like Havok's “Scumbag in Disguise”, rapid double bass hits remain well-defined amidst the rest of the instrumentation, regardless of how much is going on. The low end of the Andromeda won't wow with it's quantity or depth, instead impressing with it's texture and control. As someone that listens to a lot of (read: primarily) electronic music, I more or less require a strong low end to carry my music. There aren't many armature only earphones that tick the right boxes. The Andromeda is one of them.

    Treble out of the Andromeda is so close to being perfect for my tastes. Extension is excellent and there are zero nasty peaks to cause discomfort. I personally would like a little more upper treble emphasis to add a hint more sparkle and energy to cymbals and chimes, but then the presentation would lose some of it's long term listenability and tire the ears faster. Regardless, the Andromeda's upper ranges are very smooth and detailed delivering beautiful, tightly controlled notes. Tracks that are usually uncomfortable or worse, like The Crystal Method's “Grace feat. LeAnn Rimes”, come out perfectly manageable if not pleasant with the Andromeda. In the case of “Grace”, the screeching effects that kick in at 1:30 and do their very best to ruin the LeAnn's solid vocal performance almost sound good with the Andromeda. Heck, it even shows that they have some depth, displaying a mountainous profile as the shrieks shift forward and back in the soundscape. No other earphone I can think of, save for maybe the Solaris or Brainwavz's humble B400, make that track sound this nuanced.

    If you're a lover of good vocals the Andromeda is going to win you over in a heart beat. The mid-range on this earphone is phenomenal. Vocals have a thick and weighty feel to them, but with an ease of presentation and clarity that belies expectations. Paul Williams' performance throughout Daft Punk's “Touch” is a perfect match and easily draws you in thanks to the wealth of emotion on display, especially in the opening and closing moments when things slow down and focus on Paul. Whether you're listening to Danny Brown in his collaboration with Evil Nine on “The Black Brad Pitt”, Celine Dion on the chill inducing “Ashes”, or Corey Taylor tearing it up in “Pulse of the Maggots”, the Andromeda does everything justice. It also helps that it's timbre is spot on, avoiding the metallic or plasticy edge armatures from lesser products take on. Guitars sounds like they should and are rife with texture and grit. Pianos can sound light and airy or dark and brooding. It's this versatility and accuracy that has helped the Andromeda win consistent accolades over the years.

    When it comes to the sound stage, I find the Andromeda large but not as cavernous as I was expecting based on what I've read over the years. As with the Brainwavz B400 against it's peers, the Andromeda's presentation is slightly above average in terms of size with sounds expending just past the head and moving about in a nicely rounded space. Where the jaw dropping occurs is in the imaging, layering and separation. Imaging is spot on with impossibly smooth, nuanced channel transitions. Tracks sound deep and layered with instruments playing in well defined areas, forward or back on the stage. They never blend and muddy each other, instead remaining separate and clear. This makes live recordings like King Crimson's “Cat Food” and “Indiscipline” a joy, giving you the impression of sitting among the crowd. Just close your eyes, lean back, and listen.

    I am nothing but impressed with the Andromeda. Impressive is the tuning balance, how well it handled any genre I tossed at it, but most importantly, how effortlessly it did it all. Lesser products often sound like their driver(s) is/are being tuned within an edge of their capabilities giving everything a slightly strained edge to it. Then you have products like the Andromeda, the Solaris, HIFIMAN's RE2000, and others, which remove that undesirable quality and allow the music to flow freely and unimpeded. This effortlessness is a quality that really sets top of the line gear apart from more affordable stuff, at least in my limited experience. That and vastly improved technical qualities, like imaging accuracy and how effects are layered.

    DSC_0953.JPG IMG_1414.JPG IMG_1416.JPG

    Select Comparisons:

    Campfire Audio Atlas (1,299.00 USD): As the flagship dynamic-only earphone in Campfire's lineup, the Atlas offers up a very different experience than the Andromeda. Whereas the Andromeda is very balanced through the entire frequency range, the Atlas provides a warmer, v-shaped, bass-centric experience. The Atlas's low end is more boisterous and powerful, hitting harder and digging deeper than the Andromeda and it's armature only setup. In the Andromeda's camp are texture and speed which best the Atlas. In terms of the mid-range, I was pleased to see they were more similar than not. The Andromeda's mids are obviously more forward and crisp giving listeners more information and better clarity, yet despite this, the Atlas's mids share a similar tonality and timbre accuracy. It's just less forward and in your face about it. The Andromeda's treble has better extension, is slightly more controlled, and in general just sounds more technically competent. The Atlas is a bit brighter and more sparkly though thanks to more upper treble emphasis. I'd also say the Atlas's presentation is a hint more natural sounding though, with higher pitched instruments sounding just the teeniest bit off through the Andromeda. Given how minor this is, it is not something I would have noticed without a/b'ing the two. In terms of sound stage, the Atlas gives off a more grand impression of space. While impressive in it's own right, the Atlas can't compete with the Andromeda when it comes to imaging accuracy, layering, or separation, where it is second to none.

    While I am firmly in the Andromeda camp thanks to it's technical qualities and overall balance (shell comfort too), I can see why you would prefer the Atlas. The liquid bass that only a dynamic driver can provide is a strong selling point.

    HIFIMAN RE2000 Silver (1,500.00 USD): The RE2000 Silver is the best earphone in Hifiman's lineup in my opinion, besting the notably more expensive and flashy gold-plated, brass shelled standard RE2000. Why? It provides a more even, balanced signature, one that is quite comparable to the Andromeda. The Andromeda provides a bit more upper treble emphasis giving it slightly more sparkle and air in the upper ranges. I also find the Andromeda's armatures slightly better controlled with more defined notes. The RE2000 Silver's mid-range is less forward and a touch thicker, providing a less detailed and slightly darker but no less engaging presentation. In the Andromeda's favour, the upper mids on the RE2000 can show some stridency on female vocals that remain quite smooth on the Andromeda (ex. Massive Attack's “Dissolved Girl”. Bass on the RE2000 Silver is more extended and slightly more emphasized, though I find it's presentation slower and softer. The Andromeda's mid-bass gives notes a nice solid kick where it comes across as more of a thump through the Hifiman. In terms of sound stage and technical ability, this is where the Andromeda's multi-driver set up shines. The RE2000 sounds a hint wider and deeper to my ears, but falls behind in layering depth and instrument separation. Not to say it's bad by any means. Both of these will vastly outperform what the majority of the population is used it. Imaging falls into the same camp with the Andromeda showing even cleaner and more accurate channel to channel transitions.

    While both of these products are shining examples of what the almighty dollar can buy, only one would get my hard earned Toonies; Andromeda. Not only do I think it sounds better thanks to it's more balanced, less fatiguing signature, but it's build quality is more price appropriate. It's also almost 400 bucks cheaper.

    Campfire Audio Solaris (1,499.00 USD): As the flagship hybrid in Campfire's lineup and one of the best products I've listened to to date, I was curious to see how these two stacked up. Once again, the Andromeda comes across as the more even and balanced of the two. These two earphones have a similar mid-range with the Solaris coming across slightly cooler, leaner, and less forward. The cooler, leaner presentation, for me, gives the Solaris the edge on detail and clarity through the mids and up into treble regions. The Solaris is also slightly brighter up top thanks to some additional upper treble emphasis, but it's no less smooth. Bass is where the two differ most, and we can thank the Solaris' retuned Atlas driver for that. The extra depth afforded by a dynamic driver is readily apparent with sub-bass notes providing a deep rumble and level of physical feedback that simply isn't possible through the Andromeda. Andromeda still has the edge in terms of speed and texture, though not by a wide margin. Sound stage on the Solaris pulls from the Atlas in that it is wide open and spacious, even more so than the Andromeda. However, I'd still put imaging accuracy and precision, as well as layering and separation capabilities in the Andromeda's camp... barely. They're equals for the most part.

    I was expecting to be all gung ho on the Andromeda with this comparison given just how much I've enjoyed my time with it, but this ended up being a wash. Sometimes I really miss the Solaris' extra treble and bass extension, but then when I'm listening to it I miss the Andromeda's thicker, more engaging mid-range. Once thing I think everyone can appreciate about both of these products is just how effortless their presentations are.

    Final Thoughts:

    It shouldn't come as a surprise, but the Andromeda is everything I expected it to be. The angular design pairs perfectly with the striking shade of green Campfire selected. As experienced on other models, it fits my ears perfectly too. The edgy shell might bother some, but it is perfectly in tune with the shape of my outer ear resulting in something I can wear for long periods of time, discomfort and fatigue free.

    The new packaging is more tedious to dig into and produces more waste than Campfire's previous attempt, but you can't argue against it doing a better job of representing the premium product the Andromeda is. Inside the accessory kit doesn't let you down either. Along with a number of goodies you get 11 pairs of high quality tips of varying styles and sizes, all but guaranteeing you find something to fit your ear. Everything can be easily stored within the three mesh pouches provided, or at the very least tucked into the outstanding, newly designed leather carrying case.

    Of course none of this would matter much if the Andromeda didn't back it up with one of the most accomplished and well-rounded signatures I've ever heard. I love everything about the way the Andromeda sounds, from the punchy and politely elevated bass, to the weighty and detailed mid-range, to the sprightly treble and sizable, well-balanced sound stage that pulls you into your music.

    If you're not the kind of person to chase the perfect budget earphone, preferring instead to buy once and get it right the first time, the Andromeda is exactly what you need. It is every bit the top of the line, reference level product it's reputation has grown to suggest.

    Thanks for reading!

    - B9Scrambler

    [If you liked this review head over to https://thecontraptionist.blog for more just like it.]

    ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

    Some Test Tunes:

    Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (Album)
    Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
    King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
    King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
    Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
    Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
    Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
    Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
    Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
    Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
    The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
    Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
    Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet) (Album)
    Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
    The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
    Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
    Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
    Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
    Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)
    Aesop Rock – Fishtales (Track)
      iBo0m, ezekiel77, slowpickr and 5 others like this.
  3. BananaOoyoo
    Red, White, and Blue (A Quick Andromeda Review)
    Written by BananaOoyoo
    Published Jul 4, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Outstanding clarity and detail, natural sounding, and with an excellent soundstage. No obvious weaknesses in the lows, mids, or highs.
    Cons - Source sensitive, and the fit might not be ideal for all users.
    IMG_4183.JPG

    Introduction


    Last June, I was looking for my first proper IEM and started asking around for a ~$400 IEM recommendation. At that time, the recommendation was to look at the Campfire Audio lineup, specifically the Orion, which was just under my budget, or a used Nova/Jupiter. Up until that point, I had very little experience with IEMs, as I had always had difficulty with getting a proper fit in my left ear. Fortunately, living in Seoul, with its abundance of headphone stores, I was able to find a local dealer that carried the Campfire Audio lineup, and to my surprise, I was able to get a good fit with their oddly-shaped products.

    But wait, these are a picture of Andromedas? Well, I did try the Orions, and while they were nice, they didn’t come across as exceptional. The Nova’s treble left a lot to be desired, and coincidentally, the display Jupiter wasn’t available for listening at the time. That left the Andromedas, with an outrageous 1,690,000KRW (~$1500) price tag. I never expected that I’d purchase a TOTL IEM, but one listen to the Andromeda convinced me otherwise. When they went on sale for $799 on Black Friday, I was pretty quick to jump on the deal – after all, at that price, they were cheaper than getting even a Lyra II locally.

    Build

    Up until the newly released Comet IEM, all Campfire Audio IEMs shared the same angular shell. While in my opinion aesthetically pleasing, they do pose potential fit issues depending on the wearer’s ear shape and size. Personally, I found the Andromedas to be fairly tip-dependent for a good fit, but once secure, they are comfortable through extended listening sessions. The Litz cable is my first experience with a “custom” IEM cable, and I will simply say that it is light, feels sturdy, and is resistant to tangling. The leather case is compact and perfect for the IEMs, and the included Campfire Audio silicone/foam tips and Spinfit tips provides a good variety to try.

    While these were purchased as B-stock, the only flaw I was actually able to find was a scratch on the leather case. No complaints there.

    Sound

    Put simply, I would describe the sound as clear, and natural with an impressive soundstage.

    The bass extends well with good impact, but is not does not overpower the other frequencies in the slightest. (I originally thought that these were a bit bass heavy, having come from the HD595, but have since recalibrated a bit!) It doesn’t have the slam of the Vegas or other bass boosted IEMs, but I rarely find myself looking for a low end boost. The mids are detailed and feel realistic, with excellent positioning of instruments and vocal performance. Personally, I found the highs of the Andromeda particularly intriguing. Continuing with my initial bass-heavy perception of the Andromeda, I thought that these were a fairly warm headphone. I never felt that the treble was emphasized or recessed, providing outstanding clarity without being sibilant or painful to listen to. However, some I have spoken to have suggested that the Andromeda is a highs-centric IEM, so opinions may vary. Overall, I find the Andromeda to be an IEM without any glaring flaws, though individuals’ sonic preferences may lead them to favor different products.

    On the topic of sound, there are a couple quick comments I would like to make about the Andromeda.
    • First, as has been often discussed, its low output impedance means that the Andromeda is quite picky about the source. When connected to my iPhone 6s Plus, there is a very audible and distracting hissing in the background, though it largely fades when listening to music. This hasn’t been an issue when connected to an external source, such as the iFi Nano iDSD Black Label pictured, though it is important to note that the Andromeda gets loud **quickly**, with the volume being sufficiently loud even with the knob at 8 o’clock.
    • A second is that tip rolling has personally been hugely influential on both the sound and comfort. I found the Campfire Audio marshmallow tips fairly good in terms of foam tips, and I love the red/blue eartips with the white shell, but personally, hybrid or silicone tip have generally been preferable. My current go-to eartip for the Andromeda is the MandarinEs SymbioW tip, though I also like the recently released Azla Sedna eartips as well as the provided Spinfits.
    • Finally, I have to say that I’m impressed by how good the IEMs sound without any crossovers or tools used in other well-regarded products. I believe there was an outcry in Korea and Japan because of how simple the interior of the Orion was, and as recently discovered by a member in a Naver café who wanted to fix his MMCX connector, the Andromeda interior is similarly minimalistic. Fairly off-topic, but something I found interesting.

    Final Thoughts

    While I was enamored with the Andromeda from the first time I tried them in store, I have since had the opportunity to try a wide range of IEMs at all price points. While I have been impressed by other models from various manufacturers, one fact that sticks out is the (high, but) comparatively low price of the Andromeda. And thus, for me, the Andromeda sets the bar for what a true TOTL IEM should accomplish.

    IMG_3240.JPG
  4. Hi-Fi'er
    Expensive - But Worth It! It Will End Your Search
    Written by Hi-Fi'er
    Published Jun 29, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Detailed, excellent vocals and midrange, bass, comfortable, extremely well made, light weight, sparkly highs, excellent leather included case, no plastic shell to break.
    Cons - Over the ear wire is annoying but removable, expensive, treble is on edge peaky, nozzles are exposed to debris. See review for solutions.
    Snap3.jpg
    Andromeda-Green-1-898x1000.jpg
    Preface

    In searching and trying many different IEM's for over a decade, I was given the impression that the best deals are the ones that are inexpensive, best bang for your buck. Scaling the ladder, and over the years I have accumulated and heard many IEM's and headphones. I even own many that impressed me over time. I ended up with a pile of IEM's that are ok but nothing that knocked my socks off. Well, after reading about Campfire Audio and the many positive reviews, I felt maybe it was time to end this journey, and I'm pleased I did.

    Specifications:

    10Hz–28 kHz Frequency Response
    115 dB SPL/mW Sensitivity
    12.8 Ohms @ 1kHz Impedance
    Dual High Frequency Balanced Armature Drivers + T.A.E.C.
    Single Mid Frequency Balanced Armature Driver
    Dual Low Frequency Balanced Armature Drivers
    Beryllium / Copper MMCX Connections
    Machined Aluminum Shell
    Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber™ (T.A.E.C.)


    Package Details:


    Andromeda Earphone
    CA SPC Litz cable
    Leather case
    Comply TX-400 Tips
    Foam earphone Tips
    Silicone Earphone Tips
    Earphone clearing tool (with magnetic holder)
    Small CA branded broach

    Tips-170x170@2x.jpg Dark-Case-2-1-1400x1400.jpg 800x600-Case-and-Cable_800x.jpg

    Campfire Audio Dark Leather Earphone Case is a nice leather and protects the Andromeda's very well. I did the "Case mod" which other have suggested (is easy) which means to cut and re-glue the case so it can open fully and makes it easier to store the IEM's with the cables.

    The Campfire Audio Litz Cable – Silver Plated Copper Conductors with Beryllium Copper MMCX and 3.5mm Stereo Plug is also a great choice as it's well made and has held up very well.

    Final Audio Tips (xs/s/m/l/xl) – Campfire Audio Earphone Tips(s/m/l) – Silicon Earphone Tips (s/m/l) – Campfire Audio Lapel Pin – Cleaning Tool. Interestingly, they include Final Audio's tips which tells you a lot about Final Audio, like what you ask? I have their products and their quality is also excellent and their tips are my preference.

    Small Batch Production - Careful selection of each element of our earphones is just the start of the meticulous assembly of your earphone. Our close attention at every stage from design to production ensures your earphones will be a worthwhile and lasting product.

    Custom Enhanced MMCX - Our custom Beryllium Copper MMCX eliminates the traditional shortcomings of the connection and harnesses all of its benefits. Beryllium Copper provides a robust mating mechanism; one that is typically made from soft brass. This selection of a harder material extends the life of component and the earphone.

    Individually Inspected - Close attention to detail is critical to delivering you the superior musical experience from our earphones. We test and pair each individual earphone, Left and Right, to establish its conformity to our firmly established tuning and performance criteria. The result is a pair of earphones made for each other that you can feel good about.

    So that is their perspective, so what is a real customers perspective? Let's see!

    So I'll start off by summing the Andromeda's up in one word; Amazing! These are hard to beat for clarity and transparency and accuracy with a 3D effect, depending on the recording. The layering and depth is wonderful, they are clear and precise and timbre and tone is right on the money. If the music is recorded a particular way, good or bad, these will show it exactly the way it was recorded when an accurate DAC/DAP is used. Don't plug these into a iPhone or a Panasonic MP3 player that costs $30.00 you will do them a great injustice.
    Andromeda-2-1690x1024-Earphones-1024x620_800x.jpg
    You've heard the saying that the best results are as good as the weakest link, and in audio that is more than true. The last chain in audio is the output of the speaker, and if that is not revealing eough, all else before that no matter how much it costs will be absolutely useless. Yes you can't change how a song is recorded if it's bad, but all other factors are important with decent to excellent recordings. Stay at or above 16/44 bit rates to preserve the layering and purity of the audio recording, I happen to prefer FLAC. On cheap setups most will tell you if you go that high or more is bitrates there is no difference, of course, because they can't hear it with low quality recordings and or gear that is not revealing enough.

    Like any IEM, plug these into a bad source, not even the most expensive IEM or headphone will show their true ability. I had these paired with a Cowon P1 initially and they were impressive. These will pull out everything the source puts out so you will want to use these with a very high end revealing source or you are just throwing money away. This lead me to upgrade to the P2. More on that later, on to the sound.

    Sound


    Highs - The highs are a tad on the brighter/edge but not enough to be sibilant (it's due to bad recordings). Some will take this as clarity but I am sibilant sensitive. These with soft comply tips reduce that a lot and make them just right. Some people are more sensitive to it than others may say they are just very clear while another would say they are on the edge like me. I find when using different tips and are of a longer type (deeper insertion) the sibilance is completely gone. So it's not the IEM causing this, it's other factors.

    Mids - The mids are clear and forward but never too much to override other frequencies. The mids are never muddy or overshadowed by any frequency above or below. The effect is that it sounds like the artist is really signing right in front of you. Amazing, and weird as that sounds it's true in very decent to good to more higher end or even live recordings. They depth and layering is what will amaze you. Nothing in the mids sound muddy or distant and never 2D but instead 3D. It's as if the artist is (depends on recording again) performing right around you or in front of you or just a few feet away. None of that front row or 3rd row sound here meaning it sounds distant. It's all there right in front of you which makes the realism creepily amazingly real. You won't hear this level of realism with 90% of what is out on the market. You need to get into the $800+ price range or more to start to get that realism and depth and layering.

    Bass - The bass is clean and present, if the music has it recorded it in it will show itself. Bass is not added or reduced. These are just perfectly accurate and you can't blame them as they are reproducing exactly how the song was recorded. If you are bass crazy you can always add more from the source and these will take it easily. I don't mean just bass songs, I am talking Techmaster P.E.B. songs! I have other IEM's that with the same bass recording at high volumes and or with attenuated bass frequencies would distort or be muffled. These handle anything you throw at them added or not and accurately.

    Update - A month later, the Cowon P2 was purchased with the Campfire balanced Litz cable. I was suspicious that the Andromeda's are able to do more with the right cable and DAP. I could just sense it. This is what prompted me to get the Cowon P2 that has a AK4997EQ DAC with Verita. This is a high end DAC and used it way more expensive desktop DAC's that for example Schiit Audio implements in their YGGDRASIL $2,400.00 multibit DAC. This prompted me to get the P2 and upgrade the Andromeda's cable to balanced MMCX.

    Snap1.jpg

    With the P2 in balanced mode you can hear the difference between the P1 and the P2 and there is a significant improvement. Not huge, but enough to notice it. The layering, depth, immersion, and dimension of the instruments and artists presence went up a factor. Often it sounds (with a good recording of course) like the artist and instruments are all in front of you or a foot away or around you. The separation is wide and realistic. The P1 displayed this but on the P2 it's more noticable. Again this is a great example where the source makes the difference if the IEM is capable to reveal it and the Andromeda's do! Anything more would seem too in your face and unrealistic. Cowon's having a dead silent floor and a high SNR makes it's a great combination. The P1 which is now very affordable on Amazon since the P2 came out is a good match also as it's a Burr Brown DAC, very smooth and natural.

    I have noted con's but they are completely addressable.

    "Over the ear wire is annoying" - It's removable if done properly.
    "Expensive" - Save up! don't waste time on other IEM's, ge these and be done.
    "Treble is on edge peaky" - Others have advised go with the copper cable. You can also use comply tips with a filter guard to tame this.
    "Nozzles are exposed to debris" - You can use comply foam tips with filter guard to protect the openings.

    Graphs

    Here are some comparisons to other IEM's. (Click to enlarge)

    andro_775043.jpg




    Andromeda FR.png


    Andromeda's Frequency Response



    Snap1.jpg

    Compared to Vega, Lyra, Dorado, Andromeda. Note the Dorada are no longer made and the new Atlas and Comet have taken its place. Also note how Lyra and Vega almost have the same curve as the Andromeda abouve 500Hz, but also know that graphs are not a way we process sound either as it's a mechanical measurement and there are other factors involved.

    Summary


    There is nothing the Andromeda's really do wrong. They look a little awkward but fit nicely and are comfortable and light. I went up the ladder of cheap 2-way and 3-way and even 5-way IEM's and finally bit the bullet and got these and have no remorse. They have ended my search once and for all.

    https://campfireaudio.com/
  5. Kervsky
    Campfire Audio Andromeda - The Winner
    Written by Kervsky
    Published May 17, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Warmth that doesnt overwhelm, great overall clarity and detail, sparkly and airy highs, great soundstage and layer separation. Great build quality, fit is comfortable (though some may disagree, experiment with tips), accessory package and cable is good. It's Green.
    Cons - Maybe a bit more bass kick wouldn't hurt, no option to choose what termination (2.5mm, 3.5mm, 4.4mm) comes with it, at flagship levels, I believe that it should be a valid option.
    [​IMG]

    Introduction: Campfire Audio is a well known audio company that produces great IEMs (and now a headphone too) and has gained even more fame with their recent 3 big ear turners, the Cascade, Comet and Atlas. Of course we're not talking about those now (I could probably review the Comet at least at a later time, if my budget allows it) as you can see with the first picture and the obvious title, we're talking about the mean green machine known as the Andromeda.

    I've had the Andromeda for a long time but have skipped reviewing them because a lot of people have done so before. And yet as each new Campfire Audio product comes to light, I feel the urge to tell the world that the Andromeda is still here, it's still relevant and still pretty in green. Please note that I won't be as exhaustive as I normally am since a lot of the nitty gritty details have been tackled awhile back.

    Specifications:
    10Hz–28 kHz Frequency Response
    115 dB SPL/mW Sensitivity
    12.8 Ohms @ 1kHz Impedance
    Dual High Frequency Balanced Armature Drivers + T.A.E.C.
    Single Mid Frequency Balanced Armature Driver
    Dual Low Frequency Balanced Armature Drivers
    Beryllium / Copper MMCX Connections
    Machined Aluminum Shell
    Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber™ (T.A.E.C.)

    [​IMG]

    Unboxing: One of the things I love with Campfire Audio is their minimalist boxes, everything fits in a compact space that's pretty and functional (and recyclable) though the material isn't the sturdiest, the cardboard holds up well through handling and age.

    [​IMG]

    Package Details:
    Andromeda In-Ear Monitor
    CA SPC Litz cable
    Genuine Leather case
    3 Pairs of Comply foam earphone tips
    3 Pairs of silicone earphone tips
    3 Pairs of Spinfit earphone tips
    Earphone clearing tool
    Small CA branded pin
    Owners Manual

    [​IMG]

    Build/Fit/Design: The Andromeda follows the shell design of the Orion, Polaris and Jupiter where the shell is CNC'd into the sturdy industrial/angular shape you see in the picture. The thing with the shell, some people cannot fit it comfortably due to differences in ear shape and size though it fits me like a glove and for that it gets my thumbs up on fit and comfort, with the right tip, the Andromeda can sit in my ears for hours on end. On a parallel note, it annoys me to a certain degree that the look and color was copied by a certain IEM company and is nearly constantly mistaken for the K.O. even if the Andromeda uses a Beryllium MMCX connector and the other one is a 0.75mm 2 pin connector. Still, for me, it's a good and memorable design and yeah, the color is just perfect (Yes, I love green) as it both looks and feels good in hand and in my ear.

    [​IMG]

    Cable: The included cable is the much lauded Campfire Audio clear SPC Litz cable, with a 3.5mm L-plug with the Campfire Audio logo on the top, a metallic Y-splitter with a plastic chin adjuster and terminating in a Beryllium MMCX jack. The cable itself is thin, light and very flexible, this was the first time I've ever experienced such flexibility and simple beauty in a cable.

    [​IMG]

    Sound Stuff: When my wallet was ready for a good IEM, I sampled a lot with varying prices, brands and designs and in the end my ears decided on the Andromeda. Out of the box it was exactly what I wanted paired with my WM1a, easy to drive, a bit of warmth, nice bass, good mids and pretty highs! After a long, long time of listening to these babies, the following is what I've been hearing using the stock cable and the WM1a on v2.0 firmware. Note that due to the low sensitivity, the Andromeda can demonstrate a low hiss, though this has not been the case for me with my DAPs or phones.

    Lows: The Andromeda presents a good amount of sub-bass, extension and great bass separation. Low rumbles sound natural and smooth with moderate impact and fast decay, this leads to an overall clear bass resolution. Mid Bass has a good amount of body and delivers a balanced slam that's neither aggressive or weak, coupled with a warmth that makes for a great musical experience.

    Mids: The mids on the Andromeda is one of it's strengths as vocals and instruments are neutrally placed and presented in a very clear and detailed manner where layering of instruments and vocals are easily identified in a wide open space. Even with all that clarity, there is a lot of body and smoothness in it's rendition giving sweet life to both male and female vocals in whatever genre you play.

    Highs: are one of the other strengths that the Andromeda packs, there is a great amount of extension and airiness that doesn't lead into harshness or sibilance as there is great control in this area. The body of the treble is full on with each note being crisp, detailed, smooth and well separated. The highs effectively convey the emotional energy needed for each track without being fatiguing.

    Soundstage: is probably the best known feature (here) of the Andromeda with a generously wide soundstage that gives you a realistic and natural feeling of width and depth on each track that is both spatially accurate and positionally correct.

    [​IMG]

    Conclusion: So easy to love, the Andromeda captured my ears and heart then and it still does today. It is in my book, a compelling choice for audiophiles that want a piece of the high end without gutting your wallet (too badly) bonded with a sound signature that will please nearly anyone that doesn't require enormous amounts of bass in every song with its warmth, detail, clarity, technical proficiency and large soundstage. The Andromeda is my winner.

    Pros: Warmth that doesnt overwhelm, great overall clarity and detail, sparkly and airy highs, great soundstage and layer separation. Great build quality, fit is comfortable (though some may disagree, experiment with tips), accessory package and cable is good. It's Green.

    Cons: Maybe a bit more bass kick wouldn't hurt, no option to choose what termination (2.5mm, 3.5mm, 4.4mm) comes with it, at flagship levels, I believe that it should be a valid option.

    Nitpicks: None comes to mind.

    [​IMG]

    Sound testing was done using a Sony WM1a (Primarily), a Hiby R6 (for comparison) and a phone (for checking driveability) volume matched to 90.X db of safe hearing and calibrated using a 1kh tone on a dedicated DB Meter, all sources patched through a switcher. Original post is found on my blog, audiobuko @ blogspot.
      Aslshark and Qrays34 like this.
    1. Qrays34
      I see you’re using it with a WM1A, have you tried the 4.4 Pentacon Balanced out in the 1A with the Andromeda?
      There’s a noticable change in sound quality through the Balanced out in Sony new DAPs, so I’m really curious if the Andromeda performs better with Balanced.
      Qrays34, Jun 28, 2018
      Kervsky likes this.
    2. damart81
      Great Review!
      damart81, Sep 5, 2018
      Kervsky likes this.
    3. Kervsky
      @Qrays34 I'm sorry for not answering sooner (I didnt notice the question till now) but on balanced and on the WM1a, yes, there is a big improvement with the Andromeda. The way things are, Sony made it so the balanced output on the WM1a lot better sonically than single, and the Andromeda takes that improvement and makes it sound better.

      @damart81 Thank you kind sir :)
      Kervsky, Sep 8, 2018
      Qrays34 likes this.
  6. prismstorm
    Campfire Audio Andromeda - Impeccably Done
    Written by prismstorm
    Published Mar 18, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Extremely high fidelity, balanced tuning, agile and nimble bass, expansive soundstage
    Cons - may be light on bass for some people, highly source dependent, can be too bright for some.
    [​IMG]

    Ever since I got the Campfire Audio (CA) Vega in late 2016, I really didn’t use anything else. It ticked so many of my boxes, that I was reluctant to return to other earphones. That was until the acquisition of the exciting new Cerakote (CK) Pacific Blue edition of the renowned CA 5BA flagship – the Andromeda. We have reviewed the regular Andromeda previously, so this time around we will change things up and talk about this special iteration with new setups, pairings, and against the context of the current market dynamics.

    Disclaimer: The Andromeda CK Pacific Blue and ALO Gold 16 Cable were sent to us courtesy of Campfire Audio. Click here for the product page from the official site.

    [​IMG]

    Opening up the compact and funky blue packaging, we find the usual accessories, comprising of a very stylish tan-colored hard leather case lined with soft wool inside for maximum protection, along with an assortment of Comply, foam and silicon tips, an instruction card, cleaning tool and CA-branded pin. Although we at Accessible Audio have unboxed a great many CA IEMs now, unraveling the Andromeda CK still brings a smile to my face, as everything has the mark of a great deal of thought having gone into it. The box itself looks so discreet and low-profile, just enough to pack all the goodies you need, and has no bloat or wasted space. Everything feels humble, unpretentious, yet very boutique-like.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    CA’s trademark attention to detail comes to full glory when the industrially designed, impeccably machined Andromeda CK Pacific Blue got pulled out, its perfectly chamfered edges melding harmoniously with the previously unseen Pacific Blue coating. The ergonomics have been tweaked after early feedback on the debut version, and this latest one fits snugly with no discomfort. This ocean blue finish has a matte texture that feels lovely to touch and is much more robust than the default green anodizing. This dual-low / single-mid / dual-high balanced armature setup is armed with the high quality silver-plated-copper Litz cable that now comes standard with all CA IEMs.

    [​IMG]

    Since we last reviewed the Andromeda with the stock cable, this time around we spice things up by mating it with CA’s mother company ALO (Audio Line Out)’s finest IEM cable – the Gold 16. The cable is itself an art piece and is painstakingly crafted to perfection. The cable resists oil and moisture with an FEP (Teflon) jacket and is low in microphonics. It is incredible how compact the cable is given its high number of conductors. Each conductor is composed of 24 strands of individually pure gold plated OFC copper woven very finely and retains both suppleness and articulation for maximum handability in the field. If you ever feel cheeky, applying counter-pressure at any two points of the cable shows its meticulous and dense weave in a magnificent spread. It gets uncomfortably addictive and is sure to melt many audio nerd’s hearts. Gold 16 also retains a relatively tangle-free profile and this further contributes to its immense usability. Sound-wise, CA states that the combination of gold and copper emphasizes mids and lows, enhances the overall depth and soundstage, and pairs well with balanced armature based IEMs.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And what an accurate description that is. While the standard Litz cable is no slouch, the Gold 16 is a substantial upgrade, both in terms of mechanical construction and the boost it grants the Andromeda in the low end, the richness of the mids, and the staggeringly wide soundstage that stretches expansively across the x-axis. Imaging and positioning of sound elements are scarily accurate, vivid and multi-layered. Running out of the Astell & Kern SP1000 Copper, the Andromeda with Gold 16 oozes details and is exceedingly transparent at all times. The expertly separated tiers of sounds makes the music really pop out, as is evident from Bonobo’s Jets and Towers (feat. Szjerdene).

    [​IMG]

    Migrating from the incredibly bassy Vega, how did I find the bass performance? The short version is that it is an apparently brighter and leaner offering. Coming from more than a year of Vega listening, the Andromeda is a breath of fresh air. What was immediately clear is that the bass no longer rattles your brain, but feels clean, highly textured, and takes on a bouncy and agile character due to the short decay. It no longer lingers and spreads permeating warmth, but each drum hit is still succinctly heard on Sithu Aye’s The Andromedan Pt II: Mystic Village, and have a real sense of articulation, solid impact, and dimensionality to them. Overtime, I have come to appreciate this crisp, linear low-end that unearths tremendous amounts of intricacies. Sure, double bass beginnings of jazz tracks are less atmospheric and realistic than that of Vega’s rendering because the bass is much more neutral and uncolored, but in return it means the Andromeda is much less overwhelming and fatiguing in prolonged listening than its flagship sibling. Make no mistakes about it, on Sasha’s Smile (The Youngsters) the sub-bass is still very deep and sonorous, with a clarity you won’t ever hear in clubs, enough to send your toes tapping to the rhythmic, steady rumble.

    [​IMG]

    Years after its debut, the star of the show for the Andromeda is undoubtedly still the buttery smooth, rich mids and truly soaring highs. CA’s acoustic resonator chamber technology results in refined midrange and an extremely open, airy high-end that infinitely extends and still appears to have more to give. The resultant sound signature is very high resolution, high-fidelity and musical, as heard on WoongSan’s Savannah Woman, Andrea Bocelli’s Champagne and Sissel Kyrkjebo’s If. Vocals are powerful with majestic extension, piercingly transparent, and at times incredibly moving. Timbre of the entire ensemble could be easily made out in Sylvain Gagnon’s Gracias a la Vida, from cello plucks to the cruising smoothness of saxophones. The most complex passages are handled with frightening responsiveness in Kyle Landry’s Fantasy Etude, with melodic piano notes flying off nimbly and accompaniments having just the perfect amount of staying length.

    [​IMG]

    From our experience, the Andromeda is quite source-dependent and plays much better with dedicated players with higher end DACs and amps than running straight from your typical smartphone. Given its less colored signature and all-BA composition, it has a tendency to get a bit harsh, peaky, and distorted when paired with perfunctory sources that have less than ideal impedance values. Its enhanced highlight on upper mids and treble can be brutally revealing if not neutralized with a healthy dosage of warmth either from the cable or the source. Fix up your audio chain and it quickly takes on a very smooth, detailed and high-fidelity reference sound with little to no sibilance and a naturally wide soundstage.

    [​IMG]

    Comparing it with its brothers and sisters in the CA stable, I would say it lacks the affectionate and intimate warmth and meaty embrace of Vega, or the raw viscerality of Lyra II and Dorado, but is more high-fidelity as it has a less full bodied coloration yet still possesses rich tonality and uncompromising clarity. The Andromeda is surprisingly smooth, lacking all the metallic and machinated coldness that is so prevalent in pure BA IEMs, giving a whole meaning of how bass music can sound like.

    [​IMG]

    Bearing a personal propensity to prefer bass-heavy monitors, I never expected to like the Andromeda as much as I do. Nevertheless, I persisted and was rewarded with a taste of how life could be when a completely different tuning approach is imparted into the songs I am very familiar with. In fact, the Andromeda turned out to be the perfect IEM to round out my existing lineup – the special something that completes a truly versatile portfolio of amazing monitors. With textured and articulate bass, superb soundstage, world-class vocals and a treble extension that knows no bounds, the Andromeda occupies a unique throne in the CA lineup. Alongside the thick, aggressive and muscular Vega, the smooth and linear Andromeda forms an unbeatable one-two punch with its flagship partner and spearheads a full-fledged empire of IEMs, perfectly complementary to each other and both essential to own in my opinion. Nicely done indeed, Campfire Audio; or dare I say, impeccably done.

    [​IMG]
      Aink and Deftone like this.
  7. justrest
    Campfire Andromeda
    Written by justrest
    Published Mar 16, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Amazing sound quality, built like a tank, great package, crystal clear trebles, airy sound, design,
    Cons - Sensitive, easy to scratch, sharp edges may not fit for everyone,
    Before starting this review, I would like to share technical aspects and package details.

    [​IMG]

    Specifications:

    10Hz–28 kHz Frequency Response

    115 dB SPL/mW Sensitivity

    12.8 Ohms @ 1kHz Impedance

    Dual High Frequency Balanced Armature Drivers + T.A.E.C.

    Single Mid Frequency Balanced Armature Driver

    Dual Low Frequency Balanced Armature Drivers

    Beryllium / Copper MMCX Connections

    Machined Aluminum Shell

    Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber™ (T.A.E.C.)



    Package Details:

    Andromeda Earphone

    CA SPC Litz cable

    Leather case

    Comply TX-400 Tips

    Foam earphone Tips

    Silicone Earphone Tips

    Earphone clearing tool (with magnetic holder)

    Small CA branded broach

    [​IMG]

    Test Equipment:

    Lotoo Paw Gold Titanium

    Opus #1

    Astell Kern AK120

    Astell Kern AK70

    [​IMG]

    Design & Isolation;

    Campfire Andromeda has a box that I can define as ‘small’ but it includes enough accessories and tips. The carrying bag is made of genuine leather and quite high quality. Inner surface of the bag is covered with soft cotton material that ignores unwanted scratches. Andromeda’s body is one if its kind and made of zirconium blasted aluminum. I have heard that the first version of Andromeda faced some complaints so sharp edges did not disturbed me while using this revised second version. The body is not big and not too small but smaller than I expected. Its size is similar with S-EM9 and a bit smaller than CE-05. Its original green body color is much more better than the photos and the changing color tones up to light seems really nice. The stock spc cable which included in the box is very ergonomic and high quality. I can easily say that I really like the body ergonomics unlike some listeners.

    Andromeda’s isolation is precisely successful and it provides enough isolation by the silicone tips. I prefer using Spinfit tips instead of stock tips. The isolation is better with Comply foam tips but I actually do not like Comply foam tips, so I prefer silicon ones.

    [​IMG]

    Sensitivity:

    Andromeda has really low impedance level, so it is possible to hear hiss with some of DAPs. I have heard hiss with almost all of the DAPs I have used. I heard too low hiss with AK70 and AK120 but actually high with LPG, still it is an acceptable hiss level. SE846 and Zeus-R both I used to have before, have the same sensitivity level as Andromeda.

    [​IMG]

    Sound Type:

    Andromeda is one of the best IEM that I had ever have, in terms of upper frequencies. Trebles are extremely detailed and bright, mids are relatively back and bass are strong enough. The trebles performance is impressed me a lot. CE-05 has also a similar performance but I can say that Andromeda is one up on. Overall sound detail is incredibly high and it does not have a boring reference sound character despite this sound detail. Mids are bit back but vocals are not that back in the overall sound character. Bass is not that dominant but it is able go deeper and has enough quantity. Bass depth and volume may change upon the used tips. Andromeda’s holographical 3D presentation could be one the best ones I have ever heard. Soundstage is wide and deep enough.

    [​IMG]



    I really like Andromeda and I understand why no one wants to sell it and everyone wants to go on using. Andromeda is on the same level with some high-priced IEMs and I really appreciate its performance.

    [​IMG]

    Trebles:

    Trebles, trebles, trebles… Really fascinating. Upper frequencies are significant and spreading over a large area. Upper frequencies’ significance relaxes the ears and also increases the detail level. It is really easy to make the distinction of the smallest tints, movements and every instrument even if it is in the back. Treble extension and overall stage resolution are very impressive. Some listeners can find the trebles bright, however they are not uncontrolled and there is no sibilance definitely. Actually, it is pretty surprising while trebles are that bright and front but still there is no sibilance and harshness. I also appreciate that trebles are that bright but there is not any metallization, Ken Ball has created a really successful tuning. It did not lose control in any high rhythmic tracks. I tested rhythmical metal tracks and I again impressed by its performance, trebles are really controlled and detailed. The presentation of high frequency strings like violin, oud and acoustic guitar are also extremely natural and detailed. Clear and spacious presentation of upper frequencies provides a crystal clarity audition, details and tints are distinctive and explicit. However, this kind of presentation has an advantage that it exposes the minor faults in the records.

    Actually, until last year, the trebles weren’t more important than bass and mids but in recent period trebles significance is increasing for me. Treble performance of earphones affects overall presentation, so I exactly prefer dominant and distinct treble IEMs and in this sense. Andromeda is a really great choice for me. I do not have MMCX cable so I could not find the chance to test it with other cables but I heard that it fits good with Alo Ref 8 cable. Copper cable could be a better choice for listeners who find the trebles too bright. I think that Andromeda’s best harmony is with AK120 and LPG. Actually, LPG has very rigid and aggressive upper frequency presentation so I think the harmony could be not so good, however the LPG that I use in PMEQ setting caught a good harmony. This helps Andromeda to reveal the all potential and trebles do not have an aggressive and rigid presentation.

    [​IMG]

    Mids:

    Andromeda’s enchanted presentation is still same for mids as well. Mids are located a bit back in the overall presentation and actually it provides a better stage width. It creates good space between instruments and stage is spacious. Mids’ level of detail is pretty above average as trebles, it is really enjoyable to listen to stringed instruments and possible to hear the smallest detail of strings with the trebles. Instruments are bit bright and thin notes in terms of overall presentation effect. For instance, while I was listening to Jazz, double bass was playing a bit thinner note but I still feel amazed.

    Andromeda makes you crave to listen to the instrumental tracks due its organic and clear presentation. None of the frequencies shade or extinguish each other. Instruments are not closely located even can be counted as away in the overall but it still has a successful unveiled presentation. Vocal performance is really clean and fluent instead of dark tones due to vocals’ one move ahead position in the overall soundstage. You may hear the slightest tongue movement of the singer even. There is no mid hump an sound is not so warm, it is more sharp and neat. There is no down slope however trebles’ front location causes little bit weaker upper mids. That does not point out to a there is no body in overall presentation but we cannot say that it has an bold mid presentation too.

    [​IMG]

    Bass:

    Low-frequencies are not that much as quantity. If you prefer strong, deep and full bass, I think Andromeda might not be the best choice. Bass is clean and spacious. Nevertheless, the quantity and the strength are satisfying. If the track that you are listening to includes no bass, you do not hear it, however if it includes bass, you hear it sufficiently in terms of quantity and depth. If there is light bass in the track, you really hear weak bass, there is no exaggeration. In this sense, it does not present enhanced bass, you get exactly what it is. Andromeda has a high quality natural resolution and detailed bass presentation instead of bloated bass.

    There is no initial spread or uncontrolled presentation. The recover time is quite fast and short and here is the advantage of armature driver. It feels like the bass in the tracks arise from different places and it does not dominate to other frequencies, almost even it is like separate than mids and trebles. It is possible to make the distinction of layers and it hits deep. The bass presentation is firm, not spreading and not in the upfront.

    Andromeda offers an enjoyable audition with its satisfying depth and strike power while listening to many genres like EDM.

    [​IMG]

    Soundstage:

    Andromeda has amazing holographical 3D presentation and quite width soundstage. Overall presentation is spacious and stress-free. Imaging of instruments are really successful. The space between the instruments and the positioning in the stage are quite good. The lack of mid-hump plays the biggest role in this success. Background is quite clean and there is no any mixing, however I think that there can be a bit darker background. Soundstage is really successful in terms of depth but it is not that successful on width Andormeda’s.

    Verdict:

    Briefly, Andromeda is a magnificent earphone. Its performance is almost same and sometimes even better than the double priced earphones. I did not like that much any of the earphones that I have ever listened, actually it took much time for me to meet Andromeda while it has released a long time ago. It is my mistake to delay it somehow.

    Andromeda is an end game earphone with its hyper detailed treble performance, enchanted mids and 3d holographic stage presentation, for many users. It is possible to upgrade the existing performance with some cable types. It deserves a good point with quality of material and workmanship. Andromeda is an absolutely killer earphone in this price range.
      Aslshark and natemact like this.
  8. cleg
    Limited version of unlimited sound
    Written by cleg
    Published Feb 12, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - sound, design, price, stock cable, accessories set
    Cons - some rare fit issues
    1-Main.jpg
    I always was a great fan of any "limited editions" and other "exclusive" stuff. So, when my friends from Portativ.ua (Ukrainian distributor of Campfire Audio) told me that they got in stock Pacific Blue version of Andromedas I've decided to sold mine regular ones and upgrade. I'm not sure, are they yet available anywhere (besides actually Portativ.ua), but I'll share my impressions anyway. As I didn't write my feelings on regular Andromedas too, I'll try to make this review two-in-one, because the difference is tiny (but anyway noticeable).

    First of all, I'd like to thank Campfire Audio for providing me with the regular version of Andromeda for exchange to my honest and unbiased review. I've used them for almost a year but then traded for this limited edition.
    2-Box.jpg
    Box and accessories set are the same as for regular version. The only difference is the color of the box and its sticker. Inside you'll have a brown raw leather case from CA, three pairs of single flange silicone tips, three pairs of foam tips, regular set of SpinFit (how I can type TM symbol?), cleaning tool and signature pin with company's logo. Also, you'll have cable for the IEMs, I'm mentioning it separately, as the cord is indeed excellent. Of course, I'd like to see a balanced wire in this box too, as it was with the first version of Jupiter. But new Campfire (or should I call them Alo) Audio cables are more expensive, and only one is in the box. Anyway, accessories set is excellent even for this price range.
    3-Accessories.jpg
    As for design, probably everyone, who is interested in personal audio gear have already seen Andromedas. Their green color became the signature feature of this model. Anyway, Campfire released few limited editions of a different color. I've tried to gather as much information as possible, but I could miss something or make a mistake.
    - "Polar white" Andromedas for Japan
    - Polished copper and silver versions of Andromedas for Chinese market
    - Polished chrome version for close friends and company's co-workers
    - "Pacific blue" version for other markets
    4-Overview.jpg
    Anyway, limited version uses the same design as regular ones, but with different color and a bit different hand-polished CNC steel sprouts. I didn't make precise measures, but I've seen mentions that this sprouts version are 1-2 mm longer. Indeed, with limited Andromedas, I've got a bit better fit, compared with my original Andromeda of the first version. Probably, this change isn't sprout-related at all or was introduced in recent revisions of "regular" Andromeda too, here I can't tell for sure, but the fact is new version is a little bit easier for me to fit.
    5-Close.jpg
    So, with all above being said, now I can call Andromeda definitely comfortable IEMs without fit issues (but YMMV anyway). They provide convenient fit and average sound isolation that is enough for noisy street or public transport, but subway or in the plane you'll need to increase a volume.

    Some warm words deserve the cable. Campfire uses probably the best MMCX connectors in the portable world (at least of those I've tried), they have a perfect gripping force and serves long, despite the hard usage. Cable itself is also lovely; it's soft, it's easy to untangle, it looks nice and has zero microphonic effect. It's made of high-quality silver plated copper. Anyway, if you're a fan of cable rolling, Alo Audio offers tons of different options, including gold ones.
    6-Bore.jpg
    Probably everyone here knows the representation of Andromeda (more then 20 reviews, is it a Head-Fi record?): neutral, resolving and super-natural sound with a perfect balance of audiophiliac detalisation with a pinch of musicality.

    Bass is fast, with perfect attacks and a bit shortened decays, typical for well implemented balanced armature designs. It's adequately balanced concerning quantity, but it leans a little bit to the faster side, so in rare cases, I'd like to see a bit more weight (not more bass itself), but that tracks are limited. Andromeda's lows have great texturing and offer clean instruments separation. The depth and overall control are also excellent.
    7-Sides.jpg
    Mids are neutral, they don't have any coloration, but on the other side, they don't have that hollow, sharp and bodyless representation, typical for inexpensive armatures. Mid frequencies in this IEMs correctly reproduce any single tiny nuance of the track, but Andromedas are critical to the quality of a recording. They don't try to mask mastering flaws or add any missing emotions, so they require that from the so records should be indeed excellent. The imaginary stage is close to maximum in width and a bit smaller than that in depth, anyway, it's one of the biggest in IEMs world. Earphones do a great job in layers separation and instruments positioning.

    Trebles are also "typical" for well-done balanced armatures, they have the superb attack and a bit shortened decays, but most important is that they have the right layering. For me, that layering is #1 criteria of TOTL models. Of course, we can even not mention treble resolution and sense of realism. So, if you're not too treble sensitive, high frequencies here will impress you.
    8-Faceplate.jpg
    As for a limited version of Andromeda, there is just one minor difference: they have a bit more body on the lower half of spectrum (starting from lows and up to the middle of mid frequencies). I can't tell for sure, is it right for all limited edition Andromedas, maybe it's just a difference in two particular exemplars, but I've done some blind A/B testing and the difference was audible. Anyway, this difference was pretty subtle, so I don't think that you'll need to exchange basic version if you already own one.
    9-Style.jpg
    Andromeda is a sensitive IEM, and you should consider this during source selection. You'll need not only perfect control all over the whole frequency range but also a low level of background noise. Subjectively, I prefer A&K models and Cayin N5-2 with this earphones.

    So, from one hand, I can't tell $1000+ IEMs "affordable," but from the other hand, Andromeda is at the early beginning of "TOTL" IEMs range, so let's say so: Andromeda is the most affordable way of achieving of the hi-end sound in the IEMs world.

      PlantsmanTX likes this.
  9. MrOTL
    The Green Opal.
    Written by MrOTL
    Published Dec 31, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Fabulously awesome design,
    Enjoyable listening to music,
    Staged for an audience of one,
    Cheerful and airy treble,
    Finely detailed bass
    Cons - Cumbersome fitting,
    Too sensitive to sound source environment,
    Deficiency of bass depth
    [​IMG]

    Speakers is a medium to convert the electrical signal into the physical waveform that people can hear. The way speakers are designed and made have a big effect on their sound-signature. Earphones also has almost same design-concept with speakers and can be thought of as the microcosm of technological integration in acoustic field. To be productive, they must be sturdy, easy to handle, and have good appearance. Especially, it is not easy to raise the perfection of the product which satisfies both sound and design at the same time. 'CampfireAudio Andromeda' in-ear headphone can be one of the best solutions in the current Head-fi market.



    [​IMG]

    Accessories
    1x Pair Andromeda earphones
    1x Silver Litz cable with exclusive MMCX connectors and memory wire
    1x Leather carrying case
    3x Pair Comply Foam tips (S, M, L)
    3x Pair memory foam tips (S, M, L)
    3x Pair silicone wide bore tips (S, M, L)
    1x Owner’s manual


    When you first get the "Andromeda", you will be surprised at the extremely small size of the package box and its overly rich composition. The container case inside of the package is made of thick dark brown leather, so that it does not get crushed even by the external impact. Its copper-colored zipper and lambs-wool lining looks classy and gorgeous. There are label pins, cleaning tools, 3 kinds ear-tip sets in the package. Also, a warranty and product manual with unique art design.


    [​IMG]


    The emerald-colored Zirconium blasted aluminum shells and the silver bolts fixing it emit the beauty of gem stone, while simultaneously feeling the cold mechanical atmosphere. Overall, the shell's color is delicately anodized and the detail of the nozzle or connector is made to a high standard. However, it is expected that there can be a cumbersome fit due to the short nozzle compared to the size of the units. I recommend using a Spin-fit ear-tips contained in the package, or one-step larger ear-tips than usual.


    [​IMG]

    The bundle cable is made of silver-plated copper Litz wires and a polished aluminum Y-splitter. Using flexible sheathing and twisting the wires tightly, there is no worries about microphonic. The MMCX connectors are made of beryllium plated, so that durable enough to be firmly fixed and welly compatible with even other brand products. It is really good to see, but due to the polished material on the Y-splitter, there is a matter that it is easily scratchy. The ends of ear-guides are not warped well, which made uncomfortable to wear.







    [​IMG]

    Specifications
    Frequency Range: 10Hz-28kHz
    Sensitivity: 115 DB SPL/MW
    Impedance: 12.8 Ohm @1kHz
    Cable: Silver Litz cable, MMCX connection


    'Andromeda' knows how to make people enjoy music. The most notable advantage shows in the expression of the sound-stage. The stage is drawn in a wide circle around the listener, and the reverberations of each session spread out towards the audience. Of those, the mainly mastered session sounds a slightly little bit ahead. As if, 'Andromeda' gives the impression that it is playing music only for one person. Thanks to this, even if the harmonics of the certain range are recorded too much, the details of each session are not easily burred, which helps to enjoy more diverse genres of music. However, it may give difficulties if need to professionally monitor the location of sound-stage.


    The harmonies of mid-range and treble are dry, densely reverberant and have a bright tone. The sibilance is exposed to some extent, but it rolls off quickly before reaches the level of fatigue, so the harmonies of cymbals, string instruments, and female vocals are heard airy and comfortably. This sibilance may be emphasized strongly on the sound source which its high dynamic range is recorded unstably. Among the ear-tips in the package, Spin-fit ear-tips welly keep the tone and detail of the sound-signature stably.


    [​IMG]

    If the sibilance is still annoying, using the marshmallow memory-form ear-tips enclosed. With this memory-foam ear-tips, can reduce the irritating part of the treble. But because they tend to blur the details of the bass by boosting at mid-low bass, you should make decision on choosing the ear-tips depending on the sound-source environment.


    The amount and reverberation of bass is richer than mid and high range. There is an emphasis on 100Hz, and the roll-off attenuation of the deep bass is strong, so can feel the drums and the bass strings’ texture well. However, with the fast response feature, the weight of bass seems to present deficiency of bass depth.


    Due to ‘Andromeda’s low impedance and high sensitivity, very sensitive to output noise. It is better to match the low output devices such as portable music players than the stationary systems. I’d like to recommend that you listen with a well recorded sound-source because it catches the noise flow of the sound-source easily. And because the response characteristics of the mid-range are largely changed according to the cable matching, it is better to use it with cable products with neutral sound-signature.






    Claimer

    Hello, I am a South-Korean reviewer named 'Bigheadfiler'. My first language is Korean and I am still learning how to write in English. Please understand if see any missing sentences or words. All of the contents are written and taken by me. Thank you.

    The CampfireAudio Andromeda was offered by ‘Campfire Audio’. The content of the review has been written without any restriction because the authors' freedom is respected.
    1. knopi
      Beauty photos
      knopi, Jan 7, 2018
      MrOTL likes this.
    2. MrOTL
      Thank you :)
      MrOTL, Jan 8, 2018
  10. Jackpot77
    Another stellar constellation from CA's stargazers
    Written by Jackpot77
    Published Nov 30, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Great value, classy metal build and accessory package, superbly balanced tuning, clarity, large and airy soundstage, neutral yet musical
    Cons - Sharp edges on the shell casing can cause discomfort for some, not for bassheads, signature can vary with output impedance of source
    Introduction
    Anyone with more than a passing interest in high-end in ear audio gear costing more than $100 will most likely have heard of Campfire Audio’s jolly green giant and co-flagship of their current range. After reviewing some of their newer models (and being suitably impressed with all of them), I was finally able to get my hands on a pair in a trade deal with another Head-Fi member. I have owned these for the last few months, and after spending far too much time listening to them and not enough time writing about them, I decided to remedy that with this review. The views and (quite possibly misguided) opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and I received no financial incentive for writing them.

    About me: I'm a fairly recent convert to audiophilia but a long time music fan, also aspiring to be a reasonably inept drummer in my spare time. I listen to at least 2 hours of music a day – generally prefer IEMs for out and about, and a large pair of headphones when I have the house to myself and a glass in my hand. I have a most of my library to FLAC and 320kbps MP3, and do my other listening other listening through Tidal HiFi. I am a fan of rock, acoustic (apart from folk) and sarcasm. Oh yeah, and a small amount of electronica. Not a basshead, but I do love a sound with some body to it. My ideal tuning for most IEMs and headphones tends towards a musical and slightly dark presentation, although I am not treble sensitive in general. Please take all views expressed in my posts with a pinch of salt – all my reviews are a work in progress based on my own perceptions and personal preferences, and your own ears may tell you a different story.

    Note - This review was originally posted on a UK audio blog and is now being reposted here for the good people of Head-Fi.

    [​IMG]

    Unboxing and aesthetics
    As with all Campfire Audio products, the packaging is a simple but classy affair, with the Andromeda coming in a small cardboard box slightly larger than the semi-hard carrying case the IEMs are stored in. In keeping with their naming convention, the packaging has an intricate background of stars on the box and surrounding the main branding, giving a nice insight into the attention to detail evident throughout.

    Opening the box uncovers the standard Campfire Audio fur lined carry case, sitting snugly in the box and resting on a small removable floor section, underneath which the selection of tips, standard CIEM style cleaning tool and the ubiquitous Campfire Audio lapel pin can be found. The tip selection is good, with three pairs of Campfire’s own foam tips, three sets of silicon tips with a reasonably wide bore and a pack of three SpinFit tips in different sizes. One of ALO Audio’s SPC litz upgrade cables and an earwax cleaning tool completes the package, and while this isn’t the most comprehensive or ostentatious load-out at this particular price bracket, all the pieces included are well thought out, adding a nice layer of class to proceedings.

    [​IMG]

    Comfort
    The Andromeda has an unusual geometrical design, utilising as many unexpected angles as an M.C. Escher drawing to give what is actually a fairly generic style CIEM shape the Max Headroom treatment and turn it into a work of industrial art. I have read comments from HF users who both love and hate the angular design, and I have to say I am on the fence about it. With the correct tips, I don’t find the shells uncomfortable or sharp to wear for extended periods, and they fill the bowl of the ear very well, but there is something about the sharp metal edges that just gives a little reminder every now and again that you have something stuck in the holes around the side of your head. For those who are put off by the lack of curves on the inner or outer face, please try before you dismiss these, as the fit should be more than comfortable enough for all but the smallest ear canals.

    Disregarding the polarising angles, the Andromeda design is very good in terms of stability and isolation, fixing itself securely in the outer ear and remaining pretty immovable when used with the stock SPC Litz memory wire. It isn’t an IEM that requires frequent readjustment, or fiddling to find the perfect insertion depth, as the internal geometry of the nozzle design angles it more or less perfectly into my inner ear. Granted, I have ear canals you could probably park a Mini Cooper in without too many attempts, but this is still a nicely thought out design in that respect.

    [​IMG]

    Audio quality
    This is usually the section where I give a brief overview of the relative sonic strengths and weaknesses of the item in question, before moving on to explore these in more detail. It’s made a little more difficult in the case of the Andromeda, as (without wishing to over-hype it) it doesn’t really have any glaring weaknesses. The sound produced by the 5xBA setup from the Portland manufacturer is beautifully balanced, tonally accurate and superbly clear. This isn’t a reference monitor per se, but if what you are looking for is something with a natural sound, then the Andromeda has that in spades. All three frequency ranges balance each other out well, with a slight emphasis on mid range clarity and a sense of airiness and sparkle in the high end. The note weight isn’t huge, but there isn’t any noticeable lack of body that usually accompanies IEMs tuned for clarity or detail retrieval, the Andro managing to present an nicely weighted but still highly resolving sound, spaced out across a larger than average soundstage. Mids and treble are neither forward or recessed, sitting in the middle of the soundscape. Simply put, this is a tuning to listen to music with – not to listen to the individual notes or passages (although the technical capabilities are certainly there to let you do that), but just to sit down and let yourself get swept away in the sound.

    [​IMG]

    Bass
    Delving a little deeper, the first test track up is “Mean To Me” by Mr Big. This song is recorded “live in the studio”, and kicks off at a furious pace another track, highlighting the resolution and texture of the Andromeda in the lower ranges. On smoother monitors, Billy Sheehan’s bass can almost be too fast to distinguish individual notes, but the all-BA Andro has no issue here. The bass is also distorted around the edges in the actual recording to sound like it was driven through a Marshall stack, and the Andro excels here, making each note rasp and growl without blending together as they fire through your ears at high speed. The lighter weight to the bass tuning here helps, treading a nice balance between texture and body to deliver a crisp but still impactful sound.

    Looking for more texture, “Bad Rain” by Slash and Myles Kennedy is up next, as this is one of my all time favourites testers for low end texture, underpinned by a deep bass line that crawls around the bottom end of the frequency range and growls like a hungry wolf outside a butcher’s shop window. The Andromeda handles the track with aplomb, the bass lines reaching down deep without losing their power, the rasp of the bass guitar strings vibrating against the fretboard clearly audible as the track kicks into life. This track also has a punchy kick drum accompaniment, and the Campfire drivers don’t disappoint here, not quite kicking out as much boom as something like the Vega, but still providing a nice layer of BA-style physicality.

    Listening to something a little smoother, the Andromeda’s more neutral leanings become a little more apparent. “Drift Away” by Dobie Grey is an old school soul classic, driven by a chocolate smooth and voluminous bass line that sounds like liquid velvet. The Andromeda handles this well, but definitely adds more more emphasis on the detail of the bassline at the expense of a little smoothness and body, coming across as almost dry or slightly chalky in its presentation. It is still high quality bass, but just presented with less liquidity. “Hello, It’s Me” by Sister Hazel sounds similar, the huge and viscous bassline that dominates the opening of the track sounding more dry and solid rather than liquid and oozing as it builds into the main body of the song.

    Switching emphasis to sub-bass highlights one of the areas that the Andromeda is weaker in, with the drivers extending down into sub territory, but losing a little volume and quantity the further they go. Listening to something like “Heaven” by Emile Sande is usually a head-shaking experience on more bass-tilted in-ears, with the sub bass foundation throbbing away throughout the song and balancing out Sande’s crystalline vocals and sharp snare and cymbal percussion in the higher registers. The Andro does manage to put out a little tickle in the sub registers, but it is merely a whisper compared to something like the 64 Audio U8 or Vega in this regard. If your music catalogue contains a lot of sub-driven music, the Andromeda probably wouldn’t be my number one suggestion, just lacking enough body to really provide the foundation for these type of tracks that they require.

    Overall, bass quality is high, with the focus firmly on quality over quantity, and a slightly north of neutral presentation that emphasises speed and definition over body or slam. Unless you are looking for an out and out bass monster, this tuning is enjoyable enough for all but the most demanding sub-bass driven tracks, so it is yet another case of “nicely done” for Ken Ball and his tuning team here.

    [​IMG]

    Mids
    Moving into the mid-range, the real character of the Andromeda starts to reveal itself, with a smooth but detailed tonality and crystal clear resolution. This is a tuning that shines a spotlight on the subtle detail in a track, but manages to do so in such a way that it still remains in balance with the “bigger picture”, allowing the listener to hear right through the recording with ease.

    Starting with a little Foy Vance and his latest album “The Wild Swan”, the Belfast troubadour’s voice is superbly rendered, capturing the gravel and soul in his unique style and placing it bang in the middle of the stage. The vocals are neither forward or recessed, allowing the singer to express himself without dominating the landscape. The gravelly crack in the back of the singer’s throat in tracks like “Casanova” paint extra layers of texture on to the sound, blending well with the more gospel style chorus lines

    Staying with Vance, “Bangor Town” highlights the clarity of the Andromeda’s mid-range, the sounds of fingernails scraping against heavy-gauge guitar strings and the subtle vibrato in the acoustic guitar notes all sounding crystal clear in the ear. Unlike the bass, this level of detail and texture doesn’t come at the expense of the body of each note, with the Andromeda painting a thicker and more robust musical picture here. Notes feel more full bodied and rounded, carrying a little more gravity than the bass. This isn’t to say that the midrange feels overly thick or congested, but there is a definite sense of physicality to the sound that adds a nicely organic dimension to temper the more analytical leanings and capabilities of the drivers. This is one of those rare tunings that can hit you over the head with the body of a note, and let you appreciate the fine grain of the baseball bat as it bounces off your noggin at the same time.

    Guitars are well handled by this sort of presentation, with plenty of crunch and speed to handle heavier rock tracks, along with the resolution to hear the individual scuffs of each string in quieter passages. “Blame It On My Youth” by Mr Big blasts through my ears without pausing for breath, the harmonic heavy and distorted guitar lines screaming with more bite than a sack full of dentures. The edges of each note are crisp and punchy, giving the necessary energy to Gilbert’s guitar work without sounding too dissonant or aggressive. “Shadow Life” by Slash is similarly breezy and well-executed, the main riff hitting with weight and definition, stopping on a sixpence as the quick-fire riffs interchange and sounding suitably sleazy and raucous when required. The presentation here isn’t overly thick, but there is enough body to the notes to avoid the guitar work sounding thin or reedy, holding its ground against the helium fuelled vocals and quick fire drums in splendid coherence.

    Trying a little more orchestral music, “Palladio” and “Kashmir” by the string quartet Escala are up next. Starting with Palladio, the texture of the strings is rich and detailed, the soundstage dimensions enabling the full sweep of instruments as the track gets into full flow. The subtle noise of chairs and stands being adjusted at the start of the track is clear if not over emphasised, highlighting the unfussy presentation of fine detail without loss of balance that the Andro excels at. The harpsichord in the middle of the track is delicate and shimmering, the notes feeling almost gossamer like as they tinkle over the meatier strings bowing beneath. This was the first track that almost sounded sharp using the Kombi tips and my Echobox Explorer - foam provides a smoother tonality for that particular DAP/IEM combo here.

    Moving on to their collaboration with Slash, “Kashmir” is a unique blend of chugging guitar and heavy string refrains, and carries a solid weight. The Andro manages the wall of mid range sound beautifully, the strings feeling textured and rich against the more jagged guitar licks that make up the main body of the track. Again, the sound feels clear and highly resolved, the quin-driver setup of the Andromeda making it easy to pull different strands and textures out of the sound without any effort.

    Piano is another instrument that sounds true to life with the Campfire, having a satisfying body to the individual notes and a very coherent presentation. It just sounds real. Listening to something like “Speeding Cars” by Walking On Cars, the haunting piano refrain that opens the track just hangs in the air behind the singer like you had a baby grand piano sitting right in the back of your skull. Electronic keyboards also sound good, “Go” by the Chemical Brothers kicking into the chorus at around the 2 minute mark with a swoosh of old-skool synth that carries you along with the track, lifting the listener up into the euphoric chorus.

    Finally, my two usual testers for midrange harshness and sibilance “Whiskey And You” by Chris Stapleton and “Starlight” by Slash) are up for assessment. Both tracks sound angular and raw when required, but neither stray across the boundary into harshness or dissonance that they are easily capable of on harsher IEMs. This isn’t due to any smoothing or lack of detail in the range, Stapleton’s gravelly roar sounding as powerful as ever, but not scratching at the eardrums in the process. Similarly with the deliberately harmonic-driver Starlight, the Andro copes both with the stratospheric warblings of Myles Kennedy and the distinctive guitar refrain without making the listener leave their comfortable audio place, and just lets them bask in the full sonic glory of the track.

    Overall, despite only having one driver allocated to this specific frequency band, the midrange is an exceptionally accomplished piece of tuning, presenting body and detail in equal measure. It has a natural clarity that is quite rare, and offers the sort of insight into tracks that makes you want to utter the classic audiophile mantra “I’m hearing things I have never heard before” on some of your favourite tracks.

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    Treble
    This is where the rubber really meets the road with the unique technology that Ken Ball and company have crammed into the angular green shells of the Andromeda. The catchy acronym they use is TAEC, which stands for Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber, effectively a tubeless resonator box in the nozzle of the IEM that is designed to blend the outputs of the high frequency drivers and bounce them around in a 3D-printed chamber before delivering them to the ears of the listener. Campfire claim that this helps provide the airy, extended treble that the Andro is known for, and I have to say that whatever it is doing, it seems to work as advertised.

    The treble on the Andro is a crisp, sparkling affair, full of air and space up top and bags of definition. It doesn't feel hot or over-emphasised, but just cuts through the body of the midrange sitting underneath and opens out the sound nicely as it rises into the rafters. Cymbals were the first thing I noticed that benefit from the treble presentation, sounding crisp and decaying with a natural sparkle and shimmer. “Right Now” by Van Halen if a great example, with Alex Van Halen's constant cymbal crashes floating over the the top of the piano driven power ballad like a metallic canopy and adding a real crispness to the sound.

    Sticking with Van Halen, “When It's Love” sounds fantastic, the layered synthesiser opening and driving hi-hat work sounding expansive and filling the upper end of the stage with an all encompassing wall of sound without making it feel closed off. Switching up to more electronic fare, “Go” by The Chemical Brothers kicks off with a similarly large synth driven sound, the stage again feeling tall and wide, and the sweeping keyboard run that precedes the chorus giving a genuine unison if starting well outside the ear as it fizzes across the stage from left to right. This is a tuning that is almost tailor made for this sort of synth heavy electronic music, giving a big and bold presentation without going too heavy on the sharpness, but still feeling crisp and sparkly.

    Despite the treble emphasis, the Andromeda is not a harsh monitor, and is pretty forgiving of most of my spicier recordings. “Whiskey And You” by Chris Stapleton passes through without unduly bothering my eardrums with its problematic chorus (although it did sail close), and Emile Sande and her hotter-than-a-chilli-eating-contest-in-hell mastering on “My Kind Of Love” only mildly irritate. This is treble for the purists and the proletariat alike, bringing out the best elements of the higher frequencies without alienating the more “consumer friendly” audience. Guitar solos shimmer and wail, harmonics hang in the background like fine mist, and everything north of the midrange gets served up with a king sized dollop of sparkle and brilliance. I could keep writing ad nauseam on the capabilities of the unusual technology baked in to the brilliant green IEM shells, but suffice to say that if you are a fan of clean, sparkling treble, you won’t find much on the market that can do it better than the Andromeda.

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    Separation and imaging
    The Andromeda has a very spacious stage for an in ear monitor, giving a sense of scale to the sound that pushes out of the ear in all directions. Absolute left/right width doesn’t feel super-stretched, as there is also ample depth to the sound to bring the imaging firmly into the very over-used “holographic” territory, packing substance as well as spread. Imaging is precise, helped by the clarity of the presentation and the only-slightly-thicker-than-neutral note weight, planting the various musicians around the soundstage with a very clear sense of where the notes are coming from, and where in the soundstage the instruments are planted. Overall, this is another area where the tuning of the Andro excels, painting a picture where all the elements can clearly be followed by the listener, allowing for complex passages to be digested as easily as some two-bar blues.

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    Notes on synergy and hiss
    The Andromeda is a very source-sensitive IEM, with an response curve that is highly susceptible to changes in output impedance. In real terms, this means that the higher the OI of your source, the leaner and drier the Andromeda will most likely sound, gaining bass and body as the OI drops. This allows for some element of tuning, but on the flipside definitely makes the Andro an IEM that can pick favourites. It also has a tendency to hiss more than an angry cat with a hangover, so added to the change in response, those sensitive to background noise will need to find something with a blacker than usual background to mitigate the ssssssss noise that will otherwise start emanating from the Campfire flagship.

    The Echobox Explorer is a good example of a source that accentuates the leaner and meaner traits of the Andro, putting out a lower than expected bass presence and sharpening the treble slightly over other DAPs I have used. This makes the Andromeda sound a little more analytical, taking some of the warmth and natural timbre out of the sound and replacing it with a little more subtle detailing and a leaner texture. For my personal preferences, this isn’t the best of pairing, and while it certainly doesn’t sound bad, it doesn’t really make the most of the Andromeda’s natural sound.

    In contrast, a good pairing is the Opus #3 from TheBit – with a very low OI, the #3 exhibits pretty much no hiss, with slightly more bass presence than the Explorer and marginally less sharpness in the treble. Despite the additional warmth, detail feels slightly higher than the Explorer, but sound is a little more bodied as well. Sound stage also feels notably larger. This is a very good pairing, only bested by the QP2R out of all my sources.

    Speaking of the QP2R, this was the source I felt really took the Andro to the limit of its capabilities (with my current sonic setup at least). The warm and dynamic sound of the Questyle meshes beautifully with the clear and natural sonics of the Andromeda to maximise the potential of both units. Detail and clarity is emphasised, while still retaining the body and musicality of the underlying notes. Hiss isn’t too much of an issue, and overall, the combination just seems to bring the best out of both partners, presenting a vibrant and engaging sound with bags of detail and a sensational feeling of balance. As far as personal audio “end game” matchups go, I would definitely suggest these two as a contender for that crown for fans of the basic Andromeda sound.

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    Comparisons
    IMR Acoustics R1 – The R1 is the first model being launched by IMR Acoustics, the new company set up by for Trinity Audio head designer Bob James. They are a hybrid dynamic and ceramic driver IEM, expected to retail at around the £600 mark once released. I have chosen this comparison due to the similar approach to tuning shown in both models, with an emphasis on tone and organic reproduction of sound.

    Starting with the bass, the Andromeda has significantly less presence vs the R1 using the purple filters, with the IMR model carrying a fair bit more weight in the sub and mid bass ranges. The notes are also thicker on the R1, with the Andro carrying as much or more overt detail at each interval as the sound rises through the mid and treble ranges, but in a slightly thinner presentation. The lack of bass weight gives the Andromeda a more neutral feel to the presentation, with the notes swooping round a stage with more fell of air due to the sizing. With regards to clarity, the Andro pulls ahead slightly due to the lightness of its notes, but in contrast the R1 presenting a more convincing sense of depth with its weightier presentation as music pans around the stage (a good track to highlight this is “We Found Love” by 2Cellos, which has a swooping cello run around the 1.50 mark in the left ear that feels a little more fleshed out on the R1).

    Opening the ports on the IMR model makes things a little more competitive in regards to air and space in the soundstage as the bass pressure levers off slightly, allowing the midrange a little more freedom to move. The Andro is still ahead in this regard, although the gap is comparatively smaller, with the Andro just feeling a shade more clear and refined.

    Build quality is again similar between the two, with the unique industrial design of the Andomeda just nudging ahead of the R1 – as this is a pre-production model, the final article may be a little closer overall. IN terms of comfort, both IEMs sit in the ear well and provide good levels of isolation, with the Andromeda providing slightly more due to its sealed aluminium shell compared to the ported and vented design on the R1.

    In terms of power requirements, the Andromeda is considerably easier to drive, requiring less power to reach a good listening volume. It is more sensitive to impedance of the source, giving slightly different levels of bass and treble depending on the DAP/source being used. The Andromeda also hisses significantly more than the practically jet black R1 on most of my music sources.

    Overall, the Andromeda provides a more balanced and refined sound than the R1, which you would expect at approximately twice the price. Both IEMs share a nicely musical take on sound reproduction, and while lower, the R1 certainly doesn’t feel a million miles away from the Andro in terms of overall quality, and is certainly pretty close in terms of sheer enjoyment factor.

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    64 Audio U8 (universal, M20 APEX module) – the U8 is a “middle child” model of 64 Audio’s current range, sporting 8 balanced armature drivers and their proprietary APEX pressure relieving technology. It is priced in the same bracket as the Andromeda, and shares a similarly musical tilt to the tuning.

    Starting with the bass, the U8 has a heavier emphasis on the low end, as you would expect with 4 (!) of its 8 balanced armatures dedicated to the lower frequency range. Technically, the two IEMs are similarly capable when it comes to bass texture and detail, with the U8 nudging ahead in terms of absolute quantity and depth of sound, holding strong as it drops into thrumming sub-bass, in comparison to the Andromeda’s good but not head-shaking sub bass extension. Layering in the deepest bass recesses is also slightly better and more nuanced on the U8, which is again to be expected with the number of drivers in play. Physical impact is also won by the U8, providing far more “oomph” and rumble than the Andromeda.

    Moving to the mid-range, the Andro delivers a slightly crisper and crunchier sound, at the expense of a little bit of the body that the U8 delivers. Listening to the crunching guitars of “Bad Rain” by Slash, the Andro gives just a hair more detailing on the individual notes making up the chord, with the U8 countering with a less detailed but chunkier sound, filling more of the space between the notes. Listening to orchestral instruments helps highlight the difference between the two quite well – the opening cello on “We Found Love” by 2Cellos has a vibrato on the phrase that starts about the 20 second mark, as the cellist wrings the expression out of the notes. On the Andromeda, it feels more crisply defined, almost leaving you with a picture of the cellist’s fingers vibrating against the neck of the instrument. The U8 still captures the emotion of the phrase, but the details feel less sharp and more full bodied. This body helps the U8 fill out the deeper sections of this track better than the more neutral Andromeda, trading off absolute definition for more physical presence. In terms of detail and clarity, both IEMs have very good resolving capabilities, but the Andromeda gives a slightly higher level of micro-detailing due in part to its less warm presentation and lack of bass emphasis.

    Lastly, the treble is an area where the Andromeda has a clear advantage in terms of air and sparkle, feeling sharp and crisp in comparison to the darker sounding and more smooth U8. Detail levels are perceptibly higher in the high ranges on the Campfire model, with the warmer tuning of the U8 still retrieving plenty of audio information, just presenting it in a less crystalline fashion. Neither have harsh treble, but for lovers of the higher frequencies, the TAEC tech in the Andromeda is hard to beat here.

    In terms of soundstage, both IEMs are pretty similar, with the spacious Andromeda going toe to toe with the marginally larger feeling U8 in terms of overall size and depth. Both IEMs give a solid and 3 dimensional image. The Andromeda are a little easier to drive than the U8, but as a payoff they hiss considerably more than the U8 with its practically jet-black background. Separation is slightly better on the Andromeda, due to the comparatively thinner weight of each note, allowing a little more room to breathe between each instrument.

    Build quality is won by the Campfire model with its unique industrial design and all-metal build, but comfort goes to the 64 Audio middle child, its longer stems and more rounded shell shape making it easier to wear for extended listening, and the APEX tech minimising audio fatigue and any associated effects of pressure build up in the ears. Accessories are a draw, with the 64 Audio model having a better case, but the Campfire package including a better stock cable and more usable tip selection.

    One final point to note – both of these IEMs are sensitive to the output impedance of the source being used. It is common knowledge that the 64 Audio “U” line has mainly been tuned with stage gear in mind, which usually packs a far higher OI (5+ ohms) than current audiophile daps (which usually come in at under 1 ohm). This means that using the U8 on a higher OI source like the Shanling M2s yields a cleaner, more balanced sound as it flattens out some of the bass emphasis. The Andro is similarly easily affected, so please note that the comparison described above may not be exactly what you hear, depending on the setup you are using, as the tuning on both models can be quite significantly affected by your player. For reference, I prefer using the U8 with something like the M2S to balance out the sound and eke out a bit more clarity, and the Andro with something like the Opus #3, to make the sound as full bodied as possible.

    Overall, this comparison was a lot closer than I initially expected, the U8 providing a very stern challenge in terms of sheer musicality, and definitively holding the cards in the bass areas but losing out as you climb further up the spectrum. It comes down to what you are looking for in the tuning here – the U8 is a warm and bassy sound with good clarity but isn’t a detail monster, with the Andro presenting a more neutral sound but with a crisper and more detailed edge, and a more balanced tuning overall. The Andro just nudges this one for me in absolute terms, but in terms of preference, I could possibly swing the other way.

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    Empire Ears Athena-VIII (CIEM) – the Athena are another “middle child” model, sitting towards the upper end of the Empire Ears lineup, with only the Apollo and Zeus models higher up the pecking order in terms of both driver count and pricing. The Athena sport 8 balanced armature drivers in a 2-low, 3-mid, 3-high configuration using 5 crossovers. They are prices at around $1299 at time of writing, so slightly more expensive than the Andromeda.

    The Athena are another musical sounding IEM, having a more forward midrange and beefier bass emphasis at the expense of some top end “fizz” in direct comparison to the Andromeda.

    Starting with the bass, the Athena has more quantity than the Andromeda, being the bassiest of the non-Savage line currently in production by Empire. Quality is again similar, both IEMs producing good texture and detail in the lower end, with the Andromeda sounding a little less forward and bodied than the warmer and more “in your face” style of the Athena. To be fair, neither IEM could be considered a basshead tuning, so please take this in context, but the Athena definitely feels like it delivers more substance in the low end, possibly at the expense of a little of the tautness and control that the Andromeda shows in this regard. Sub bass is won by the Athena, with a little more overall impact in this region than the Andromeda.

    Moving to the mid-range, this is definitely a battle of different styles, with the Athena presenting a much more forward sound in the vocal ranges, pushing the singer right to the front of the stage and halfway over the front row. Mixed with the warmish tuning, this can take a little getting used to at first in comparison to the more neutral positioning and “cooler air” of the Andromeda staging, with the Andro initially seeming like the more detailed and clearer monitor. Once the brain kicks in to the Athena signature, there is plenty of clarity and detail to be found, but it feels less expansive and spread out than the Andromeda. Guitars have a crunchier and more crystalline tone on the Andromeda, feeling slightly more organic on the Athena. The resolution of both monitors here is excellent, with the Athena providing more body and emphasis in the midrange in comparison to the more neutral but still exceptional sounding Andromeda.

    Treble is presented very differently on both IEMs, with the Athena putting out a clear and clean treble, but lacking in air and sparkle in comparison to the more soaring and spacious Andromeda. The Andromeda also has the better perceived extension here, the space around the notes in the rafters giving the impression of a much higher “ceiling” for the sound. Neither monitor is prone to sibilance with most tracks, with the Athena being the slightly smoother and more forgiving of the two in this regard.

    Accessories and loadout is better on the Empire IEM, with their carrying case and various bags and cloths giving a slightly more luxurious feel than the standard Campfire presentation, with the exception of the SPC Litz cable provided with the Andro. Build quality is a draw, with the high quality acrylic CIEM manufacture looking flawless on the Empire gear, and standing up well to the iconic all-metal Andromeda design. Comfort and isolation wouldn’t be fair to compare, as the Athena is a CIEM and the Andromeda is a universal model.

    Separation and layering are a mixed bag, with the warmer and more forward Athena still doing an excellent job of peeling the sound back into layers around the listener, but sometimes lacking the more airy and widescreen style presentation of the Andromeda and the additional space between instruments on the soundstage that provides.

    The Athena is actually one of the only IEMs in my collection easier to drive than the Andromeda, and hisses marginally less on my less forgiving sources, which was surprising.

    Overall, these are two very different IEM tunings, neither of which comes out as a clear winner. If you like your sound crystal clear and spacious while hovering around the musical/neutral border, I would suggest the Andromeda. If you prefer a more forward midrange and slightly warmer and more musical slant to proceedings, the Athena will be the winner here. with both IEMs providing bags of resolution, detail and texture, neither would be a bad choice in this price bracket.

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    Empire Ears Zeus-XR (CIEM)this is the current 14 BA flagship of the Empire Audio range (in fact, dual flagship, as it has a tunable crossover which imitates either the Zeus-R or Zeus-XIV models through a hardware switch on the shell). The Zeus-XR is approximately twice as expensive as the Andromeda at time of writing.

    In terms of the bass, the Andro presents a slightly more organic and warmer overall sound, with a little more heft in the mid-bass and similar extension but a shade less body in the sub bass region. Both offer excellent texture and control, being two excellent examples of a well-tuned balanced armature bass – compared to a high end dynamic driver like the Vega they can lack a bit of impact and physicality, but neither can be described as anaemic or bass-light, both treading on territory that sits just a little north of neutral. For me, it depends what genre I am listening to as to which I think is “better”, with both tunings suiting slightly different styles of music. In terms of overall quality I think the Zeus just shades it, but that is as much preference as a definite night and day differential.

    Mids are an interesting comparison, with the Zeus’ famous mid-forward sound coming up against the silky smoothness of the Andromeda. This is an area that is too difficult to call, with the Andromeda carrying a little more weight, but the Zeus feeling slightly airier and more resolving. Both IEMs have excellent clarity, and can really evoke the emotion in a vocal line when needed. At this level, it is very difficult to pull the two apart, and these truly are two of the best midranges in the game at the moment (in my opinion, of course – the usual caveats about personal taste and the subjective nature of sound apply).

    Moving up to treble, this is again another example of different styles but similar excellence, with the Andromeda feeling cavernous and airy up top, and the XR showing a laser-like focus and clarity, but a little less “sparkle”, having a cleaner and less diffuse tone. Again, both are at the top of the tree in execution and quality, with the Zeus carrying a little more weight and feeling a little sharper on occasion, and the Andromeda giving a real “out of head” experience and sparkle to the higher treble reproduction.

    In terms of accessories, the Zeus has a slightly upgraded accessory pack in comparison to the Athena as it includes a Whiplash SPC upgrade cable, so is a clear winner over the Campfire model here. As mentioned in the Athena comparion, it is unfair to compare isolation or comfort between this CIEM version and the universal Andromeda.

    Overall, despite the difference in cost, these are two of the best operators in the higher end of personal audio at the moment, and for many, personal preference about the sound they are after will be as important as the technicalities of the IEMs at this sort of level. For my money, the Andromeda has a more immediately enjoyable sound, but the Zeus in both configurations just pulls clear in terms of clarity and overall resolution, showing a higher level of detailing while still retaining an emotional connection to the music, so would just get the nod if I had to pick only one.

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    Unique Melody Miracle V2 – the Miracle V2 is a 6-driver model from Chinese manufacturer Unique Melody, and retail for a similar price to the Campfire model. They aren’t the flagship model from the current UM lineup, but are very well regarded.

    Compared to the Andromeda, the Miracle are tuned slightly thinner in the mids, giving a sharper edge to guitars and stringed instruments, but they are tuned a fair bit heavier in the lower frequencies, giving a bigger sub and low mid bass presence. The overall sound doesn’t feel quite as “fleshed out” as the Andro, and also has a slightly narrower staging in comparison to the Campfire model. It almost feels like the Andromeda is slightly larger in all three dimensions in terms of the sonic image, with slightly larger sounding notes.

    Starting with the bass, “Palladio” by Escala is very well handled by the Miracle, the thick weight of bass adding nice undertones to track in comparison to the lighter and more delicate Andromeda. Violins feel slightly less emphasised but more tonally accurate on the Andro, the presentation giving more air to the track, where the Miracle V2 feels richer and more velvety. The Andromeda lacks a bit of viscerality compared to the almost DD bass of the Miracle, but again sounds the more balanced and organic.

    Moving through to the midrange, high string notes feel more delicate and ethereal on the Campfire, whereas the Miracle feels a little sharper and thinner ins direct comparison. Firing up “Starlight” bu Slash, the Andro is better able to handle the intro, giving a less harsh tone but still presenting a nice crispness to the hi-hat compared to the mute truncated Miracle. Myles Kennedy's voice sounds more organic, with a bit more warmth and weight and a more forward stage positioning. In terms of midrange detail, the Andro feels a little more resolving, but not by a massive margin. There is a mid range spike in the Miracle tuning tat can sometimes rear its head, adding a sense of artificial detail and harshness on occasion.

    Treble is won by the Andromeda, producing an airier and more sparkling sound up top, in comparison to the darker and more subdued Miracle. The UM just lacks the headroom and space of the Campfire model, so unless you are looking for a darker tuned IEM, this is one area the Miracle definitively falls behind.

    In terms of driveability, the Andromeda is less demanding, but has an equally dark background to the UM model. Overall, the Miracle sharpens the sound into more of a V, with a thick and dry bass but thinner mids, and presenting a deep but narrow stage in comparison. The Miracle does isolate better than the Andromeda, with almost custom levels of sound blocking, but is more tip dependent.

    Final thoughts on this pair up are that this is an interesting battle - the Miracle V2 pins its flag to the mast of a rich and dense sound, eschewing space and sparkle for a meatier and more aggressive sound - if the Andromeda is a sparkling champagne, the Miracle is more of a punchy red wine, satisfying if you are in the mood for that sort of sound but just lacking the final bit of refinement if you are looking for that true "high end" experience. The Andro for a convincing win for me here.

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    Specifications
    Specifications
    Price $1099
    Frequency Response 10Hz-28kHz
    Sensitivity 115 dB SPL/MW
    Impedance 12.8 Ohms @ 1kHz
    Included features 2xBA (lows), 1xBA (mids), 2xBA (highs, with TAEC tubeless resonator technology)
    Included cable 3.5mm TRS ALO Audio silver-plated copper litz (MMCX)
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    Conclusions
    If you haven’t already guessed by now, the Andromeda is definitely an IEM I am impressed with. It is a truly musical experience, wrapped in a unique all-metal shell and packing some seriously innovative tuning technology. It also disproves the myth that more=better where it comes to driver counts in IEM design, taking a positively paltry (in TOTL terms) 5 balanced armature drivers and producing a smoothly cohesive, finely balanced and just flat out impressive sound signature. There is just very little to dislike in all aspects of the tuning. Yes, it could have a little more bass presence (but CA have the Vega for that), it could have a bit more weight through the midrange, and it could possibly wear a little easier in the ear, but these would all probably take more away from the finely balanced sound than they would bring.

    It is always difficult to write a review this glowing without drifting into hyperbole, but the Andromeda simply doesn’t have that much to complain about. Unless you are a fan of a hyper-analytical or bass-heavy sound, the Andro will probably have something in its arsenal to make you smile, and sound damn good while it’s doing so. As with all "TOTL" models, once you reach this rarefied atmosphere it is as much about tuning and preference as raw physical capability, and this is definitely very much in the realm of diminishing returns compared to models in the $300-$500 bracket, but to steal the end quote from one of my previous Campfire Audio reviews – this is just far too “Nicely Done” to complain. A super all-rounder from Ken Ball & Co, and highly recommended if you are in the market for something in this sort of price bracket.

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