Campfire Audio Andromeda - Reviews
Pros: Versatile & splendid signature
-Colorful while keeping neutral
-Great set of accessories
Cons: Vulnerable to white noise
-Not meant for those who prefer dark sound
DSC_0186_3.jpg

Campfire Audio Andromeda Review: Welcome to the Campfire

This one is already too famous for any introductions, right? Andromeda is not only a steady seller from CA (Campfire Audio) but also a jackpot that worked as the major opportunity to make the brand popular among the audiophile community worldwide. Although that may sound a little too exaggerated, in fact, that really was the case.

Campfire started off its brand with a 1BA model, Orion and next with a 4BA model, Jupiter. The second wave of products was an improvement from those existing models. Orion followed with a 2BA model called Nova, while Jupiter was followed with the well-known 5BA model, Andromeda. There is more to talk about, but enough with the introduction and let us now move on to the review.



DSC_0470.jpg

Packaging

Campfire Audio finally went through some revamp with their packaging and I am happy about it. There are lots that do not pay much attention (or not at all), which is very reasonable. But I believe better packaging and boxing do matter when talking about premium IEMs. The size of the new packaging still goes for a reasonably small box but roughly twice the bigger than the old ones. Once you remove the CA sticker on the rear of the box, the outer packaging would unfold and reveal the inner box which includes all the belongings. I very much enjoy this new packaging as they are beautifully designed inside out and gives a feeling as if you are unboxing a present.

Other than the earpieces, it includes 1 set of 3.5mm stock cable, 1 leather case, 3 pairs of earpiece pouch, 5 pairs of Final Audio eartips, 3 pairs of CA eartips, 3 pairs of CA foam tips, 1 CA Lapel pin, and a cleaning tool. CA used to provide only 1 pair of earpiece pouch before, but it seems like they have realized the demand for it and started to throw in an extra 2 pairs - which I appreciate a lot. The lather case is also newly designed to have the same color as the earpiece. The size also got slightly larger for better convenience when storing with custom cables.



DSC_0446.jpg

Earpieces

As shown, this "mechanical-looking" appearance has been Campfire Audio's signature design from the get-go. The earpiece is made of machined aluminum and sports an edgy look, though the edges are slightly rounded as well as the inner side forming a fairly ergonomic shape. Not the best in terms of comfort or compatibility, but the fit is not bothering at least. Though users with smaller outer ears will have problems fitting these to their ears as the earpieces are still a bit chunky and edgy. Andromeda uses 5BA drivers per side - dual lows, single mid, and dual highs. The dual highs are incorporated with T.A.E.C. (Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber), which is a specifically designed inner structure that sits in front of the drivers and takes a major role in creating their signature sound.

The nozzles are made of stainless steel and separated into 3 bores. Other than that, the earpieces are detachable and use custom-made MMCX sockets that are compatible with typical ones yet inforced in durability. Impedance is 12.8ohms which is quite on the lower side, making Andromeda a lot more sensitive on catching white noises depending on the cable and player. This means that if you are using another IEM with your player and detected some white noise, that white noise will most likely sound a lot louder on Andromeda. I would suggest pairing with a custom cable or a different player if such a case happens.



DSC_0437.jpg

Cable

The cable went through some changes too. First the shielding. The previous silver-plated Litz cable had a transparent silver look which looked good, but vulnerable to discoloration and stains. The new version has a smoky grey jacket that solves such problems as well as being even softer. Metal memory wires are gone too and replaced with a simple ear hook design.



DSC_0464.jpg

Sound impressions - Lows

For most cases, once a sound signature gets brighter, the more the bass loses quantity, moisture, and reverbs. This eventually causes the bass to sound "snappy". So how's the bass on Andromeda? While Andromeda is usually praised for its upper frequencies, it doesn't fall behind in bass performance at all. Lows are large and thick, creating a well-bodied slam and bass presence. The tone of the bass is on the darker/warmer side, providing better contrast and separation from the bright upper frequencies. Not to forget mentioning that this greatly helps the sound to keep its balance in terms of brightness and temperature.

Quantity of ultra lows is just about average but surprisingly well presented with clarity. The bass dives quite deep, providing a pleasant yet gentle amount of rumble. Midbass is plentiful and has just the right amount - not too much, not too little. The textures are smooth but not mushy and keep its precision. Let's now talk about the strike and decay. It hits solid and fast while keeping in all the juice from the bass, so the bass does not get dry or tough. So the strikes are fast, though the decays are slightly more relaxed in speed, along with an adequate amount of reverbs. The reverbs keep their limits on how much and far they spread, keeping the atmosphere clean and neat. Andromeda fully fills up the lower end with dark, deep, and rich enough details.





DSC_0213_2.jpg

Sound impressions - Mids


Mids are presented up close, scale large, and naturally connect with the lower mids. The lower mids continue the low frequency's thick, large nature. However, as the vocals carry out a bold and full-bodied sound, Andromeda shines with its analytical ability and highlights the texture details and the vocal layers. While the mids are presented close to the ears, it does not feel to be "budged out" but keeps the surface flat and evenly spread throughout the middle range.

Upper mids are especially impressive as the tone and position do not stumble as it crosses the sibilance area. Andromeda keeps a mild shine without a spike and steadily builds-up the brightness as it approaches the treble. This is worthwhile to say that Campfire Audio nailed that very tricky and ambiguous sweet spot where the vocals sound refreshing but not fatiguing. Overall, the BA drivers used for Andromeda are very well fused to each other to create a coherent, consistent, and harmonic vocals that flow beautifully.



DSC_0453.jpg

Sound impressions - Highs, etc.

Highs take a step back from the other frequencies as well as very slightly reduced in quantity. With a delicate and sparkly attitude, highs do a superb job catching the fine textures and multiple bits of thin and small details that could be easily left behind. Though that does not necessarily mean the highs are fatiguing. Andromeda presents the treble detail without getting the rigidity too stiff or sharp but instead lightly smoothens out the edges while maintaining an acute, crispy expression.

The highs are also appropriately reduced in brightness and distance, preventing them from rushing out or breaking the harmony. Thanks to that, there is a good chance that the Andromeda will still be pleasurable even if you are sensitive to brightness. I would say that the trebles here are tuned to be shiny and transparent while keeping the sound as fatigue-free as possible. Staging is outstanding. The sound nicely spreads out towards the x,y, and z-axis, forming a sphere shape headroom with distinctive layering.





DSC_0191.jpg

Eartip / Cable suggestions

The stock FAD / CA eartips are also good too, though my personal best selection for the eartips is Spinfit CP360. They bring out an atmosphere that is a lot airier without getting the sound too sheer or light-weighted. Most importantly, it nicely cleans out the reverbs and makes the sound presentation a lot clearer and bolder, so I would suggest giving these eartips a try.

Andromeda is keen to work nicely with a variety of cables, so choose an aftermarket cable would depend mostly on personal taste. Gold-plated copper, for example, would tend to give stronger reverbs and larger/thicker staging. Pure silver or SPC would give more crunch to the sound and reduces the reverbs, making the sound denser, airier, and cleaner. Copper keeps a very natural tone and usually a bit warmer and relaxed than the silver ones. I have been matching a variety of cables for the Andromeda, and my two best picks are Rhapsodio Nylon Silver and Satin Audio Athena. Both provide great bass with well organized/clean upper ranges.



DSC_0469_2.jpg

Verdicts


There is no doubt that Campfire Audio has done a remarkable job creating the Andromeda. Commends that end fast are simply hypes, while the ones that last long are like letters of guarantee. I have been and still am impressed with this one. Many years have passed since Andromeda was first released yet it is still in the game and winning big time against the new competitors. Not only the performance is more than enough being up to par, Andromeda sports a sound that is very likable for many people, making it a choice that is hard to go wrong. Its well-balanced sound topped with rich, color splashes of details would make this classic flagship model worth a recommend even in the long run. If you want to know the true house signature that Campfire Audio suggests, this IS the choice you should make.


______________________

Visit www.aboutaudio.org and follow on Instagram / Facebook for exclusive content!
______________________



Thanks to CA for providing Andromeda for an honest feedback/review.
I am not affiliated with CA and none of my words were modded or asked to be changed.
  • Like
Reactions: nephilim32
Pros: Engaging & Musical
Open & Transparent
Excellent Soundstage
Cons: Sound is, to my ears, very tip-dependent, i.e.: silicon tips sound stunning, Final Audio tips sound good and foam tips kill the bass/low-end
Disclaimer: I have a preference for an open, lush/smooth/warm sound with some definition, texture and soundstage — none to excess. I am not into an analytical or clinical sound. Keep this in mind when reading this review.

· · ·

For as long as I can remember, Campfire Audio (CA) has been synonymous with their Andromeda IEM and vice-versa. This remains true to this day even though the Andromeda lost its flagship status in Campfire Audio’s line.

Now, I never tried the original Andromedas. Every review I read about them had me look the other way although they often concluded with an award. Cons listed usually were some comfort/fit issues due to the shell’s design, a lack of bass and highs which could sound harsh to some. In all honesty, I also wasn’t ready to spend such an amount of money for a pair of IEMs — original or special edition, these are expensive — although I quickly ended-up spending their price in other portable Hi-Fi devices… something worth reflecting on.

With that being said, when I saw the announcement for the Andromeda Special Edition: Gold (Andromeda Gold from here onwards) I took the plunge and bought my first pair of high-end IEMs and I was in for a lesson I won’t forget anytime soon.

Andromeda Special Edition: Gold expands on the best elements of the Andromeda’s sonic signature with dramatic flourish. The bass is punchy and deep. The highs sparkle and the mids are present and unfiltered. This earphone is musical with ease all while delivering superior top-to-bottom coherence.
— Campfire Audio’s official description of the Andromeda Special Edition: Gold​

Believe it or not, these are the lines which sold me on the Andromeda Gold. From a technical standpoint, the fact that the design was cross-over-less also appealed to me. The previous — and most expensive — pair of IEMs I owned were the Empire Ear’s Bravado featuring a hybrid design with one balanced armature, one dynamic driver and a 4-way crossover which sounded so much in your face that it was downright annoying. So how do the Andromeda Gold sound?


SOUND

The Andromeda Gold sound engaging and musical, without being in your face. Small details and audio cues can be heard here and there without any annoyance that details can sometimes bring. Their soundstage is excellent and just right. The lows are there in the sense that one can feel them though not at the expense of the mids or highs which truly shine with no coloration impacting one or the other. I also (re)discovered that instruments and music have texture. In summary they are open, transparent and have the warmth which I believe music should have — unless you are into analytical/clinical sound.


COMFORT, TIPS AND SEAL

In terms of overall comfort, they’re good. The shell’s design wasn’t an issue for me but I can see it being one for some. These are tiny IEMs though, I didn’t expect them to be so small. Three sets of tips come with the Andromeda Gold:
  • Final Audio tips (xs/s/m/l/xl)
  • Silicon earphone tips (s/m/l)
  • Campfire Audio Earphone (foam) tips (s/m/l)
I use the medium silicone tips as they provide me with the best sound signature (particularly in terms of low-end), seal as well as comfort. The medium Final Audio tips provided a similar sound signature with a bit less rumble on the low-end and a little less comfort. However, note that these tips make the IEMs stick out of your ears a bit more due to their design. Last but not least, the medium Campfire Audio earphone (foam) tips almost made the low-end disappear to my ears so, if you only tolerate foam tips and are expecting low-ends such as the ones described above, beware.


CONCLUSION

In summary, the Andromeda Gold put a smile on my face. They are so well-rounded that I struggle to find some flaws, as you surely noticed. Since I bought them, they have been my daily pair of IEMs which I bring pretty much everywhere and use with any source. Until another pair knocks them down, they will be my point of reference for high-end IEMs.

Campfire Audio Andromeda Gold.jpeg

· · ·​


SOURCE

Source: Sony NW-ZX300 / Uncapped – Firmware: 2.02 – Audio effects: none enable and direct mode disabled – Official site


CABLE

Campfire Audio Smoky Litz Cable, 3.5mm, Single-ended (stock cable)


SONGS
  • Fleetwood Mac, Rumours, Never Going Back Again
    Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
  • Joni Mitchell, Blue, California
    Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
  • Nina Simone, Pastel Blues, Sinnerman (Live In New York/1965)
    Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
  • Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here, Wish You Were Here
    Quality: DSD / SACD
  • Plüm, You’re the one, You’re the one
    Quality: 16 bit 44.1 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
  • Simon & Garfunkel, Sounds Of Silence, Anji
    Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
  • Stevie Wonder, Talking Book, Superstition (Album Version)
    Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
  • Various Artists, Atlantic Jazz: Soul, Comin’ Home Baby (LP Version)
    Quality: 16 bit 44.1 kHz – Stereo, FLAC

BURN-IN

None

Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: iBo0m and Rusty48
NewEve
NewEve
Thank you, much appreciated :) — Yes, I tried them with the best tips I ever had which are the blue, balanced tips, which came with the Dunu Titan 6. They also came with red, vocal, tips. I found the sound to be in-between the silicone and Final Audio tips.
S
Spie1904
I was also into silicone standard tips untill I discovered JVC spiral dots
  • Like
Reactions: NewEve
NewEve
NewEve
I'll look into them, thanks!
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. given the lackluster bass, i think it's fair to give these a 4.5.

Thanks for reading :)
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Colors
R
ronny boi
Are you going to be trying the r6?
Medikill
Medikill
@ronny boi I see the r6 as a downgrade from the r5, so no :).
R
ronny boi
Did you use balanced or se?
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)
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
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/
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.


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.)



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.



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



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.
Qrays34
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.
damart81
damart81
Great Review!
Kervsky
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 :)
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.


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.



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.







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.



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.





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).



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.

  • Like
Reactions: Aink and Deftone
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.



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



Test Equipment:

Lotoo Paw Gold Titanium

Opus #1

Astell Kern AK120

Astell Kern AK70



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.



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.



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.





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.



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.



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.



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.



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.
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.

  • Like
Reactions: PlantsmanTX
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

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.




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.




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.



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.








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.



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.
knopi
knopi
Beauty photos
  • Like
Reactions: MrOTL
MrOTL
MrOTL
Thank you :)
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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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)


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.
Pros: The sound! Oh, blissful, angelic sound! Did I mention the sound?
Cons: Fit may not be the best for some listeners. However, there are options by way of tip rolling and custom-tip options as well.
Review: Campfire Audio Andromeda and Snugs Only


IMG_6373.JPG

P1120266.JPG

Before I start the review, I would like to give thanks to Mr. Ball and Mr. Jobin, for providing the complementary Andromeda and Snugs Only, respectively.


Introduction

Wow - it has been quite the whirlwind from the point that I’m writing this, from the first time I was introduced to the company. I didn’t know too much about ALO and Campfire Audio since a couple of years ago when I listened to their products at T.H.E. Show, Newport Beach, so I inquired with Mr. Ball to learn a little bit more about their philosophy regarding their company and products.

What is your audio background?

None :) !!! I am ex USDA Plant Pathologist and my degree is biology based. But have been doing professional audio manufacturing for over a decade now. I am very good with my hands and thinking or looking at problems from different or unusual angles.

What gave you the inspiration to create ALO and Campfire Audio?

ALO started when I began making cables in my basement a long time ago. I really wanted to make cables that looked as good as they sounded. I them moved on to active electronics. However my dream from the beginning was to make the whole headphone and or IEM. I was modding a lot of headphones for customers back then and while it was fun and good the amount you can improve a headphone is only so much. In addition modding a headphone is really an act of deconstruction and then rebuilding. The amount you can take this must always start from the stock headphone so you can only improve it so much. What I really wanted to do was to make the whole headphone or IEM from scratch in my own vision. The problem with this is it is incredibly costly and the companies that are willing to work with you are very few. Who would make custom parts for you when you’re only ordering a few 1000? Most parts makers will want more like MQO of 10,000 pieces to start. So my dream of Campfire Audio had to wait, and wait until I saved up enough cabbage to buy tooling and stuff

What is your goal for your customers with regards to their experience with your IEMs?

More than anything I want Campfire Audio to be unique, look unique and sound unique/different and true to our own thing. This is a tall order since most all IEM companies all use the same BAs and most of the configurations are the same using the same techniques. We use all machined aluminum, or ceramic, use different parts when we can, make our own custom parts when we can. I don't know and don’t care what other people are doing with their builds, we are making our own thing. I spend most of my time in the lab doing experiments with these BA drivers, often very odd implementation. My affinity for looking at problems and possibilities from totally different angles than most people I think gives me an edge over other audio engineers. I think creativity is a powerful tool that can produce things that are special and or unique. I am very good with my hands and tend to try many things that most people I think probably would discount. These things I think very much helped in making our IEMs "different". By the same process I also make a lot of failures and waste in experimentation, but in trying I find that among all the duds and dead ends there can be a real gem. In addition I never stop learning my craft as well as building upon the things I learn in experimentation. So in the end I don't want people to have to listen to boring IEMs and neither do I.

What was the reason(s) to you use your proprietary design when creating the Andromeda?

Just trying to achieve the above (last answer) :wink:

What are your goals for the future with regards to Campfire Audio?

We have very big dreams for Campfire Audio and have a lot on the docket. We only hope and pray that our customer will resonate with what we are trying to do and support us. Every dime I made goes back into Campfire Audio. I have spent all of my ALO savings as well as my personal savings to get Campfire “lit” and off the ground. So with the support of customers we can together take it to the next level.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Just adding on to the last question, we have a lot of grand ideas and concepts that are on paper that I think would be next level I just need to keep chugging away in order to fund future projects and developments that we are very excited about. The costs to do some of the things we want to do are probably out of reach but it’s nice to dream big. I might add that Campfire / ALO is only 5 people so we are limited in what we can bite off. I do have a lot of outside help but still we are only scratching the surface of what could be.

An extra one...where are your IEMs made/created?

Beautiful Portland Oregon!! Aluminum shells are machined also in Oregon, anodized in Oregon and we hand assemble and test everything here in Portland. I do have some parts custom made in Taiwan for me but we designed and engineered everything – with the exception of the BAs of course. I have a very talented mechanical engineer who is one of my good friends that works for me. He is a wizard at engineering, 3D modeling and industrial design.


Earphone
Campfire Audio Andromeda: $1,099

Earphones mentioned and compared
Campfire Audio Vega: $1,299
Jerry Harvey Audio Layla: Starting at $2,725
Shure SE846: ~$1,000
Ultimate Ears Pro Reference Remastered: Starting at $999

Audio equipment used in the review

Sources
iPhone 6 (Space Gray, 128GB): $849.99 or $399.99 with a 2-Year Contract
Microsoft Surface Book: Starting at $1,499
Questyle Audio QP1R Golden: $899 USD
Questyle Audio QP2R Golden: $1,299 USD

Cables
Campfire Audio Litz Cable 3.5mm: stock with Andromeda or $149
Campfire Audio Litz Cable 2.5mm Balanced: $149

Eartips
Penon Audio Grey-Red Eartips: $3.99
SpinFit Eartips: varies depending on pair amount

Custom eartips
Snugs Only: ~$259

Software Applications Used
Spotify Premium – Extreme Setting
TIDAL HiFi – Lossless

An avid wrestler, coach, teacher, father and mentor, I like to immerse music lovers in headphones, earphones and sources that do nothing but make the listeners smile.

Ringing in my ears? Oh, tinnitus? I get that about 2 times a year, for about 10 seconds each time. Other than that, I’m currently good to go with regards to my hearing. Even if my hearing is perfect or not so perfect, what I hear may or may not match what you hear, for a multitude of reasons (genetic, physical, psychological, age, etcetera).

My music preferences are anything that has a great beat to it, not too vulgar in nature and anything that can induce head-bobbing, toe-tapping and maybe even dancing if the mood is right. I normally listen to (alphabetically): Alternative, Classical, Hip-Hop, Indie, Popular/Top Hits, Rock, and R&B/Soul. I will even from time to time listen to Blues, Jazz, Modern Electronic, Retro/Classics, and World.

Measurements - I measure headphone output dB with my decibel measure app that anyone can download, replicate and have an instant reference with what I use to test. Frequency spectrum measurements are seldom posted, as the manufacturer’s measurements are usually the best guidelines to go by. Why? They use them to tune their equipment, and the measurements are from their own specific parameters. I agree with Ken Ball from ALO’s overall statement/post when it comes to frequency response measurements (verbatim):

“…I thought it might be good to post some frequency response measurements first before we see a lot of variations posted by people. Without going into a long drawn out thesis / debate on measurements I just want to say that I have not seen any reviewers measurements that are accurate and it can be difficult to interpret a freq measurement. I don't use HRTF compensation curve on my measurements because I am familiar with the raw freq curve so when I see a curve I know what it sounds like and am comfortable with what I am seeing. So to state my measurement so I can be happy that this is the official freq I am posting it here now. I do not really want to get into any debates on what the freq means or read into it too much as a freq measurement is only a very small part of the over all picture of the product. I would MUCH rather listen to the IEM than read a freq.

In addition, I dont want to sound like I dont welcome people to also have fun and measure, but just want to say that taking a accurate measurement is tricky, also tricky to read into the measurement. I spent over $15,000 on on measurement system and it took me almost a year with professional help to calibrate and set it up 100%. So in doing so it is expensive and can be difficult to set up and calibrate. I know my set up is accurate because I send my IEMs to independent labs to double check everything.”


I also had the chance to talk with Dan Wiggins from perodic audio at various audio events and has been very enlightening to talk audio with him. Here are Mr. Wiggins’ thoughts on measurements (verbatim):

“Hi all,

Wanted to toss my $0.02 into the mix...

For those that know who I am, then you know I have a bit of a reputation in the industry (good). For those that don't, I can guarantee you've heard my work if you've ever listened to live or recorded music. From recording microphones to studio monitors to PA systems to consumer systems, I've designed audio systems and transducers for pretty much all the big players - and done so many, many times (not to mention lots of headphones and IEMs along the way).

In my experience, measurement correlation between systems is hard to first establish and even more difficult to maintain. Datasets within a measurement system/location/team can be fairly consistent over time as long as the equipment is rigorously maintained, processes are slavishly followed, and the team cares greatly about consistency. Otherwise - all bets are off.

In production of audio systems, we use "golden samples" - we use a very small number of selected reference units that are deemed as "ideal". A day's production usually starts with the online production test systems measuring the golden sample, then tolerances are set accordingly to that measurement. All production must pass within the tolerance window, and the few (typically one or two a week) that essentially have no deviation from the golden sample are culled out and reserved as future, replacement "golden samples" (the tolerance can be discussed later, but suffice to say it is probably an order of magnitude larger than most HeadFi'ers would expect).

In other words, we use physical representations to calibrate against, rather than abstract numbers and concepts. It all comes down to how measurements can change from not just system to system or operator to operator but day to day. Temperature and humidity can affect measurements in significant manners. Environmental noise can - and definitely will! - corrupt measurements. Different mountings of DUTs (Device Under Test) by operators will affect measurements.

In essence, after installing literally hundreds (perhaps over a thousand) acoustic test systems, at dozens of factories in dozens of countries, I can confidently say that expecting consistency between two or more systems is a fool's errand. Won't happen.

Measurements are a great way to confirm you are getting what you expect, and to document where you are. And they are relevant within the same local world (equipment, team, environment). They can be used to guide design of product by a team, a team that is familiar and experienced with what measurement X really means in terms of what they are designing.

So with that, measurement correlation between different teams is never really expected, nor should it be. In fact, I start to get nervous if things line up too well! Great consistency tells me either the wrong settings are being used (we're not looking at a fine enough level of detail - we're oversmoothing/over-interpolating), or some fudging is going on to make things look closer than they really are.

All that said - don't expect measurements from one person to closely track that of another. Look at how products vary inside each measurement set, and assume the variances are at least relative - that is much more instructive. If one system is hot or cold in the treble, it will be consistently hot or cold, and you'll see that as you compare larger datasets between different systems. That is what we should pay attention to, rather than a few cherry-picked comparisons.”

Measurements are possibly valid to obtain a glimpse or gist of what we are hearing, but measurements are not the end all be all. Various manufacturers have told me privately that even though it may measure flat, it may not sound flat. Also, measurement devices do not equal our brain and cannot measure with absolute 100 percent certainty with regards to what we hear and feel. I listen with my ears, and write based on my interpretations of the music that is being presented to me.

A wise man once told me: "Music is the only thing that doesn't have war, pestilence, garbage, crap - music is so general, it's such a beautiful canopy of peace."

Listening to the Andromeda for the first time

I helped to exhibit at an AXPONA in Chicago, and I was able to listen to the Andromeda for the first time. It was such an invigorating experience, as listening to the Andromeda was such euphoria, especially when compared to other IEMs I have listened to around that time frame (including other CA IEMs as well).

Campfire Audio's banner at AXPONA
IMG_5032.JPG

Downtown Chicago - near Headquarters Beercade...
IMG_5038.JPG

IMG_5039.JPG

...here's one of my favorite games at Headquarters Beercade
IMG_5040.JPG

Passed the old-school Street Fighter game with Ryu
IMG_5041.JPG


Initial impressions

When I first received the Andromeda, I immediately posted my thoughts on the main Andromeda thread: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/cam...dromeda-and-nova.805107/page-51#post-12572191 -- Needless to say, I was one happy music lover.


Color choosing process

If you purchase directly from Campfire Audio, you are going to get emerald green colored shells, but if you purchase from a distributor from certain areas of the world, you can get yourself different colored shells such as white, and even gold or silver chrome if you are able to find them. The green is a color that I am happy Campfire Audio went with. More about that a little later.


Packaging and accessories

IMG_5923.JPG

IMG_5924.JPG

IMG_5926.JPG

IMG_5927.JPG

IMG_5928.JPG

IMG_5929.JPG

IMG_5930.JPG

IMG_5931.JPG

IMG_5933.JPG

IMG_5934.JPG

IMG_5935.JPG


Instruction manual

IMG_5936.JPG

IMG_5937.JPG

IMG_5938.JPG

IMG_5939.JPG


Patented design

IMG_5940.JPG

IMG_5941.JPG

IMG_5942.JPG


When you take a look at the initial packaging, you’ll see a minimalistic design, which aids in producing a smaller carbon footprint as a result. I love the idea behind it, actually. You’ll receive a small box, slightly larger than the dark leather case that is inside of it. Open up the initial cardboard case, and you’ll see “Nicely Done.” along the upper flap. Nice touch! Inside of the case, you’ll see:
  • Campfire Audio Andromeda
  • Campfire Audio Litz Cable 3.5mm
  • Silicone Tips (S, M, L)
  • Foam Tips (S, M, L)
  • Foam Tips with wax guard (S, M, L)
  • Campfire Audio lapel pin
  • Cleaning tool
  • User Guide
I really like the lapel pin, especially - something as small and different from the norm of what is included with IEMs shows that Campfire wants to be unique, and that is emphatically welcomed.


Build and aesthetics

IMG_5943.JPG

IMG_5944.JPG

IMG_5945.JPG

Paired with the QP1R

IMG_5948.JPG

With the UEPRR

IMG_5950.JPG

IMG_5951.JPG

Different angles

IMG_5952.JPG

IMG_5953.JPG

IMG_5955.JPG

IMG_5957.JPG

IMG_5958.JPG

Beautiful Y-connect

IMG_5980.JPG

IMG_5981.JPG

SpinFit eartips compared to the stock eartips (the Penon Audio eartips are slightly longer than the SpinFit eartips
IMG_5982.JPG

IMG_5984.JPG

IMG_6325.JPG

IMG_6327.JPG

IMG_6328.JPG

IMG_6329.JPG

IMG_6331.JPG

IMG_6332.JPG

IMG_6333edited.jpg

IMG_6335.JPG

IMG_6338.JPG

IMG_6339.JPG

IMG_6340.JPG

IMG_6342.JPG

From left, moving clockwise: Legend Omega, UEPRR, SE846, Andromeda

IMG_6344.JPG

IMG_6345.JPG

IMG_6347.JPG

Serious UEPRR shine

IMG_6348.JPG

SE846 and SCS with Andromeda

IMG_6349.JPG

Legend Omega with Andromeda - three different focal points

IMG_6350.JPG
IMG_6351.JPG
IMG_6352.JPG

Silicone eartips with acrylic housing

IMG_6353.JPG

IMG_6354.JPG

IMG_6364.JPG

IMG_6365.JPG

IMG_6367.JPG

IMG_6368.JPG

IMG_6369.JPG

IMG_6370.JPG

IMG_6371.JPG

IMG_6372.JPG

The first thing that you see with the housing is how unique it is and how much effort was put into making them. The Andromeda is locally produced in small batches, the aluminum housing is said to improve the sonic performance of the earphone by “reducing vibrations that introduce distortion.” The Andromeda takes hours to build its shell, and is quality in your hand and a sight to behold. The green is an anodized finish. Before the finish, the aluminum shells are blasted with a Zirconium material to create a smooth finish. The blast also prepares the surface of the shells to hold the color from the anodization. As a result, the green color will stay a looker for the duration of the earphone's life. The housing is so iconic that the design has been copied -- the manufacturer(s) that have done so won’t be noted as an upstanding company, in my opinion. Campfire Audio put the work in to create a housing shape, and to have another “company” copy the design and sell it as their own is simply not cool, no matter if the “company” simply wants to make a buck off of Campfire Audio’s success. I stand behind these words.

The Andromeda’s MMCX connectors utilize custom Beryllium Copper, which eradicates the traditional shortcomings of most MMCX connections. Since the connectors extend the life of the earphone, upgrading the cable will be worry-free because the mating pins of the earphone won't wear out. You can also spin the earphone all of the way around without signal cutout, as well.

The cable that Andromeda uses is my current favorite stock cable that I have used or own. It is Campfire Audio/ALO’s own Litz cable, made out of Silver Plated Copper. Soft, supple, and with the right amount of shine, with zero oxidation, as I have had this cable for over a year now. The 2.5mm Balanced cable is just as awesome, aiding in even more of a blissful sound signature paired with the Questyle Audio QP2R. The memory wire is thin, but sturdy, and helps position the earphone housing in my ear better. The Y-connect is nice and minimalist, as the silver Y-connect is right below a very thin clear plastic slider, helping to create a tighter fit, if needed. The cable itself is braided in such a way if the cable is twisted, the cable does not lose its braid or shape. The L-shaped plug is clear, giving you a “clear” look inside of the termination. The “CA” on top of the L-shaped plug, coupled with the slimness of the horizontal area of the plug, leads to touches that are much appreciated. There are no microphonics that I can detect, and the tight braiding leads to a more uniform look. This is one of the best looking and performing cables that I own.

The leather case is very nice and reminds me of a bespoke piece of clothing, as it's part of a dress suit, or a nicely dressed DAP that's outfitted with a leather case, as well. Supple on the outside, very soft on with inside with its lining, and is a joy to use as my Andromeda case.


Weight

Andromeda, with Ramen and other yummy food and soft drinks
IMG_6896.JPG

IMG_6897.JPG

IMG_6898.JPG

IMG_6899.JPG

IMG_6900.JPG

IMG_6901.JPG

IMG_6902.JPG

IMG_6904.JPG

There is more weight of these earphones compared to acrylic or some titanium earphones, but the weight shouldn’t be an issue, especially when using a cable that uses robust memory wires so fitting the Andromeda in your ears will be easier. With that said...


Fit and comfort, with Snugs Only and universal eartips

My fit with silicone eartips
IMG_5962.JPG

IMG_5975.JPG

IMG_5979.JPG

This is the one elephant in the room, in my opinion. For some people, fit will not be a concern at all. The uniquely shaped housing leads to possible issues with the fit, as there are rather sharp angles to the housing. This has been addressed in newer versions of the Andromeda, where an extra angle was crafted, so earphone fit could be a bit better. The overall fit of the Andromeda was one area that I have been working on for over a year. Most earphones; if fit isn’t that great, I’ll move on to another earphone. However, the sound of the Andromeda is so amazing to my ears, I wanted the best fit that I could possibly muster. This has not been limited to only trying out different universal eartips. No -- I have enlisted the help of Snugs. I first talked to Mr. Jobin about the company, and wound up a very happy person, knowing that they really care about the customer. I got 3D scanned with their 3D scanner, and my “virtual impressions” were sent immediately to the Snugs lab’s server. I was the first in the world to give my Andromeda to Snugs so they could create a template for creating custom Andromeda Snugs Tips.

My first foray into the custom Andromeda eartips began with Snug’s “Only” custom eartips. The design is very nice, with green and orange/red custom eartips colors, both with lots of glitter, because, you know, I like bling! The ear canals were curved, but somehow seemed a bit too shallow, since it was only the ear canal portion of the eartips that were created. The tips slipped on without much issue, but I was always worried that I would lose a custom eartip. One side fit my ear okay - and the other side didn’t fit as good - I had to work both tips for a while to find the right position for the best fit. The main issue was that there wasn’t a concha area of silicone created, so that meant I only had the actual ear canal to try to obtain a fit - much more difficult than simply having a “concha guide” to obtain as perfect a fit as possible. Not only that, the sound was unfortunately not similar to the Andromeda with universal silicone eartips.

CanJam London was where I first met the Snugs team, and was 3D scanned

Passing Big Ben on the way to...
P1060062.jpg

...Park Plaza Westminster Bridge - site of CanJam London
P1060050.jpg

P1060297.jpg

P1060298.jpg

P1060299.jpg


The first version of Snugs Only for the Andromeda
P1120255.JPG

P1120256.JPG

P1120257.JPG

P1120258.JPG

P1120259.JPG

P1120260.JPG

P1120261.JPG

P1120262.JPG

P1120263.JPG

P1120264.JPG

P1120266.JPG

P1120268.JPG

P1120269.JPG

P1120270.JPG

P1120271.JPG

P1120272.JPG

P1120273.JPG

P1120274edited.jpg

P1120275.JPG

P1120276.JPG

P1120277.JPG

P1120278.JPG

P1120279.JPG

P1120280.JPG

P1120281.JPG

Part 2 of the custom eartip adventure started at this year’s CanJam London - I wanted to talk to Mr. Jobin about the Andromeda Snugs Only in person, even though we have conversed back and forth during the year via email. Mr. Jobin pulls out a small container, showing his new Andromeda custom eartip design! I could see that this design is shorter in overall length than my original Snugs Only, but is wider in width to fill out the ear canal more sufficiently with its custom-created silicone. Many thanks to Mr. Jobin for creating the second version for me. When I received it, I noticed the addition of a very thin eartip guide, to help me remove the eartips if I needed. I never need to use the eartip guides.

The second version of Snugs Only for the Andromeda
P1120282.JPG

P1120283.JPG

P1120284.JPG

P1120285.JPG

P1120286.JPG

P1120287.JPG

P1120288.JPG

P1120289.JPG

P1120290.JPG

P1120291.JPG

P1120292.JPG

The design is slightly thicker than the original Snugs Only, and the blue denoting the left side with red denoting the right side made it not only easier to denote each eartip side, but made denoting the earphones easier as a result. Both colors and design as a whole looks very quality-made.

When fitting the second version Snugs Only into my ears, I made sure the dots were facing up, and using the dots as a guide and rotating the custom eartips slightly helped me obtain a better overall fit than the first Snugs Only.

The sound did change compared to my favorite universal eartips. I would say the original Snugs Only warmed the sound a bit, with a bit less treble and overall stage presence, and the 2nd version Snugs Only warmed the sound a bit more, with about the same stage presence as the original, mostly due to the increased seal and isolation that I experienced. Concerning compared perceived frequency response differences, the change in sound of the Andromeda’s universal silicone eartips compared to the 1st and 2nd version Snugs Only is more drastic than the sound difference between the SE846’s universal silicone eartips compared to the SCS.

It was mentioned to me that creating a concha area would make the tips too bulbous, and I understand that. I almost want there to be full shell Andromeda pair of custom sleeve, regardless of there being a chance of the sleeves being a bit bulbous. If you are getting custom tips, why not just go the full route of making it as custom as possible? The custom sleeves are the route to true fit, seal and isolation of sound in my experience.

The Snugs Only custom eartips are worth a try if you do not have any universal eartips that work out for you, and you adore the sound of your Andromeda. I personally like the sound of my universal silicone eartips more than the Snugs, but that can be due to reasons such as the source that I am using, and also my sound preferences. I am used to the sound of the Andromeda with universal eartips, and most anything else may not the best sound for my ears - but that doesn't mean the Snugs Only wouldn't be absolutely awesome for you. I did wind up finding universal eartips that gave me a good fit with an excellent seal with isolation.

The eartips that I use that I have found to fit me the best, are the Penon Audio Gray/Red eartips. Usually I use medium eartips with my other earphones, but specifically for the Andromeda, I found out that the Large size of the Penon eartips work out the best for me.


Easy C/IEM side detection

You can tell each side of the earphone a few ways:

There will be a “L” and “R” on the inside housings themselves to denote left and right earphone.

The stock Litz cable will have a blue dot at the connector to denote the left side, and a red dot at the connector to denote the right side.

My favorite way to detect each side -- this works for most earphones - not all, but most: look at the earphone facing you. If the connector is pointing/facing the left, then the earphone is the left side. If the connector is pointing/facing the right, then the earphone is the right side.


Disclaimer and hearing factors

The Andromeda’s sound impressions are mainly for anyone wanting a point of reference regarding how they more or less pair with the iPhone 6, QP1R, QP2R and Surface Book. Other sources may vary slightly or greatly as the Andromeda sounds different enough with these three sources to warrant mentioning. The Andromeda will have a warmer and pronounced effect in the overall bass region when pairing with the iPhone 6. The Andromeda will have a supremely detailed with slight treble and bass with extended detail when paired with the QP1R. The Andromeda will further the detail with increased soundstage and abyss-like background when it is paired with the QP2R, especially utilizing the Balanced Litz cable and connection. The Andromeda will have a more balanced and natural sounding approach to its presentation when paired with the Surface Book. For reference, the Andromeda is a very sensitive and is very easy to drive, as a smartphone such as the iPhone does not take full volume for the Andromeda to emit levels that can damage hearing quickly. 9 out of 16 volume is when the Andromeda starts to sound very loud to my ears.

We all hear differently, and our experiences with regards to how our interpretation of what we hear vary greatly. Some factors that come to mind (and not limited), are:

Your inner ear and skull’s overall composition: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart...kull-affect-how-you-hear-music-654940/?no-ist.

Hearing loss as we age, also known as presbycusis: https://www.ohio.edu/news/months/nov1998/111.html,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presbycusis.

Heredity, noise trauma, dietary habits, smoking, hypertension, atherosclerosis, are other factors that affect people’s overall hearing ability.


Analyze this and that

The test tracks that I use in my reviews are located in these albums (album alphabetical order)

1989 (Deluxe Edition) by Taylor Swift (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
21 by Adele (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Bad (2001 Special Edition) by Michael Jackson (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Bangerz by Miley Cyrus (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
Beyoncé by Beyoncé (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Heart Blanche by Ceelo Green (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park (FLAC 48.0kHz/24bit)
Make Yourself by Incubus (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
No. 5 Collaborations Project (EP) by Ed Sheeran (MP3 320kbps/44.1kHz/16bit)
One by One by Foo Fighters (FLAC 88.2kHz/24bit)
Random Access Memories by Daft Punk (FLAC 88.2kHz/24bit)
Schubert Berliner Philharmoniker by Nikolaus Harnoncourt (FLAC 48.0kHz/24bit)
The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)
Thriller by Michael Jackson (DSD 2822.4kHz/1bit)
X (Wembley Edition) by Ed Sheeran (FLAC 44.1kHz/16bit)

Several standalone tracks (track alphabetical order)

Dock of the Bay by The Persuations A Cappella Dreams (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)
M.O.R. by Blur – Blur 21, Blur (2012 Remaster – Special Edition) (MP3 320kbps 44.1kHz/16bit)
Schubert String Quartet No. 14 in D minor D. 810, Death and the Maiden: III. Scherzo. Allegro molto by Oslo String Quartet – The Schubert Connection (DSD 2822.4kHz/1bit)
Serenade (Spanish Dance), Op. 54, No. 2 by Jano Starker and David Popper – Wilson Audio Ultimate Reference (APE 44.1kHz/16bit)
The Peppery Man by Natalie Merchant – Leave Your Sleep (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)
These Bones by The Fairfield Four – I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray (WAV 44.1kHz/16bit)

If I am listening to a product that is not able to be listened with the highest resolution tracks that I have mentioned, I will listen to the TIDAL versions (FLAC).


Are Your Earphones Correctly Inserted?

The frequency response across the full audio spectrum should be smooth, and the bass response should be fully present - that is, if you have a "full, tight seal". If you have any doubts regarding hearing both earphones equally (assuming you don't have a hearing tested significant FR imbalance), you can self-administer the "Audio Seal" test - it's to help determine if your earphones (Universals/CIEMs) are correctly inserted. The webpage comes with downloadable and streamable audio files in .mp3 or .wav format. The test is great to find out if you have a correct insertion and proper fit, and can reveal other issues other than an incomplete and/or poor seal. From the webpage: "The test consists of two brief audio tracks. Both include two sine waves, one at 50 Hz and the other at 500 Hz, played at the same volume. On one track, the two tones are played together. On the other track, the tones alternate in 2-second intervals."

Here's the link from Sensaphonics: www.sensaphonics.com/test


Sound impressions

The Andromeda is simply one of my favorite sounding in-ear monitors, regardless of internal or external technologies implemented. The Andromeda is supremely resolute, immensely detailed, and just an ongoing joy to listen to music - paired with my favorite sources. I would like to call the Andromeda “Holographically vibrant”. This earphone, when using silicone tips, will have an emphasis in the upper midrange, with a bit of bass presence.

The 3D soundstage is so blissful, that you can almost smell the concert you are listening to, making it as close to 4D as possible. Width, and the quality of that width is astounding.

Bass is plentiful but is never in basshead territory. The midrange is vibrant, especially in the upper areas. Full of air and has a sound of aural angels, of sorts, the Andromeda emits from its green housing of angelicness. The treble is full of vigor, always ready to pounce with love, at a moment’s notice.

Imaging, sublime. Detail, it's got loads of that. The swag factor of knowing you have an amazing sounding earphone with knock-out looks as well? Priceless.

Here's my friend @Netforce (Alan’s) thoughts on the Andromeda: “Nice clean clear sound, with slight warmth, good soundstage, better than most IEMs. The Andromeda sounds natural - very tight, impactful bass, extended mids, nice full treble -nice and extended. I didn't hear any specific peaks personally.”

I have taken the Andromeda to meets and events all around the world this past year, and everyone has adored the earphone except for two. That may not seem like very good numbers, but check this out: most headphones and earphones that people listen to, I will be happy if 50% of them like the ones they listen to. For only two to not love the earphone is amazing - that equates to more than a 98% rate of people really liking the sound of the Andromeda. From audiophiles to stock phone earphone-touting listeners, they all seem to reach a similar consensus: the Andromeda sounds darn good - with lots of people saying “wow” once they listen to the earphone.


Earphone Comparisons

The selected comparisons to the Andromeda, below, are with earphones that are and are not around the price range of the Andromeda. If you’d like a comparison of an earphone that is not mentioned in the review or is not located in my profile, feel free to message me and send me anything you’d like that can then be added to the review. Without further ado…

Campfire Audio Vega

The Vega - at this year's inaugural LA Audio Show
P1120358.JPG
The Vega - at home for extensive listening
Vega.jpeg

I was able to listen my Head-Fier friend's Vega for over a month at the comfort of my home, and was able to hear the goodness of the Vega and also compare it to the Andromeda.

The Vega has a better fit to my ears than the Andromeda, because of the slimmer profile that has a small circular shape to its housing. I can see where some people may need to use a different pair of eartips than the Andromeda, since both housings are vastly different in size and shape. I used the medium stock silicone eartips with the Vega, and I do not have any fit issues.

The main differences in sound signature are that the bass of the Vega is more emphasized compared to the Andromeda, and the upper midrange and treble of the Andromeda is more emphasized than that of the Vega. The Andromeda is a more vibrant-sounding earphone than the Vega, as the treble extends further to my ears. The Vega has a more dynamic and bassy signature, especially in the sub and mid-level bass areas. Midbass quality is similar between the two earphones, but the quantity is observed more with the Vega. The midrange of the Vega is smoother and warmer than that of the Andromeda, but the Andromeda's midrange is more breathy and transparent. The treble is where the Andromeda shines, as it is more extended, crisp, and articulate, than that of the Vega. The bass area is where the Vegas shines, as it is more full, rich, and punchy than that of the Andromeda. Space, and the interpretation of that space, favors the Andromeda, as it has one of the most enthralling, all-encompassing soundstages that I've listened to in a portable product. This includes in-ears and headphones.

The Andromeda would be my favored of the two, mainly because the sound of the Andromeda has not be duplicated in an earphone, and there is not an in-ear that I've listened to that sounds very near the sound of the Andromeda. The Vega has a sound that is very good and emits a sound that a lot of people will enjoy, and the Andromeda has a sound signature that is truly unique, yet captivating at the same time.

Jerry Harvey Audio Layla
IMG_8414.JPG

The Layla will have a universal fit that may be too big for listeners to handle, because of all of the internal components the Layla is comprised of. Fit may be more difficult compared to the Andromeda as a result. However, the Layla feels very good if you go for the custom version, since it's a just about perfect representation of your individual ear anatomy.

The bass of the Andromeda is similar to around 2 o’clock of the Layla’s bass knob with regards to quantity. The Andromeda’s bass has more quickness, with less decay than the Layla’s. The Layla’s midrange is more natural in sound, but the Andromeda’s is more vibrant, with urgency and zest. The Andromeda’s treble extends further to my ears, but the Layla’s is more reference in sound. Soundstage favors both of these fine earphones, as both extends as far, or farther, than some to most traditional headphones in the market. Detail is more pinpoint with the Andromeda, but more natural and reference with the Layla.

Both are truly world-class in-ears.

Shure SE846
ShureSE846withSCS.jpg

The fit of the SE846 can rival that of the Andromeda, as both may need different types of tips to check out before finding one set that feels the best to your ears. However, the SE846 can be fitted with Sensaphonics Custom Sleeves (SCS), that turns the SE846 into a silicone custom in-ear. In my experience, the SCS is very comfortable, and is great for working out as well. The Andromeda with the Penon Audio eartips offers a good seal, with very good isolation.

The bass of the SE846 is tough to be reckoned with for a 4 BA driver earphone, as it has as much quality with a bit of quantity as any earphone in the market. Smooth, controlled and just the right about of visceralness. The Andromeda’s bass isn’t as ambidextrous, but it is quite vivacious and consistent, which should be enough for lovers of bass. The midrange is more warm and viscous than the Andromeda, and the Andromeda’s midrange is a bit more vibrant, especially in the upper midrange, compared to the SE846’s. Higher registers favor the Andromeda, which extends further than the SE846’s treble, and can also help in perceiving more of a dynamic sound from the Andromeda as well. Detail favors the Andromeda. Smoothness and ported-nature of the lower midrange and bass favors the SE846.

Ultimate Ears Pro Reference Remastered
IMG_6362.JPG

The custom version of the UEPRR is very good. You can use traditional impressions, or go with UE’s 3D scans, to help create as perfect as a fit, as possible. The custom fit of the UEPRR will more than likely feel better in the ear than the universal shells of the Andromeda, especially with the abrupt angles of its housing, as well.

The UEPRR has more of a balanced sound than the Andromeda. Meaning, all areas of the UEPRR don’t stand out compared to the Andromeda - as I feel the upper midrange of the Andromeda stands out, with more pep, than the UEPRR. Bass is a bit less pronounced than the Andromeda, and quality favors both, with the Andromeda having a bit more perkiness. Midrange is more reference and balanced in nature than the Andromeda, but is not nearly as vibrant as the Andromeda’s midrange, especially in the upper midrange. The treble of the Andromeda extends further to my ears compared to the UEPRR, and has more sparkle, sheen, and shine. The Andromeda, as a result, may seem a bit bright listening back-to-back with a more laid-back, reference sound, such as that of the UEPRR.


Cultivate a fresh sound™

What does this mean? Too often we focus on only the music we are accustomed to. I am usually this way as well. Here’s an opportunity to listen to something you either may not normally listen to, or haven’t heard of. As I publish reviews in the future, I will have new and older tracks from various genres that I’ve listened to in this section, and will be largely based on what songs really moved me in particular to the reviewed product I’ve listened to on it. Even though the tracks will be linked to YouTube videos or audio-only versions, the tracks will either be listened solely from the iPhone 6 and TIDAL HiFi - Lossless, or from my Microsoft Surface Book and TIDAL HiFi - Lossless. Instead of describing each track in immense detail, you can simply listen for yourself and bask in the beautiful music you may have just found for the first time right now! What’s also great is that you can come back here just to listen to the tracks mentioned! If you have any personal issues with any tracks posted, please PM me and I'll replace it with another track. It's all about positivity in our musical journey. With those kind words of encouragement, here we go…

Evolution of K-Pop by sleightlymusical

Mama ft. William Singe by Jonas Blue

Cry To Me (Official Music Video) by Skip Marley

If I'm Lucky (Official Lyric Video) by Jason Derulo


Is the Andromeda right for you?

I would say so. At least give the Andromeda a listen. Out of all of the people who listened to mine -- to have only two not enjoy the sound is absolutely remarkable - that’s over a 98% success rate, in my experience. What’s great is that if the Andromeda doesn’t sound the best to your ears, you can also check out Campfire Audio's other IEMs that sound amazing, like the Dorado and Vega - those may be better to your liking.


Summary

The design of the Andromeda has been copied, however, the sound of the Andromeda may never be copied, which is a testament to how special and thoroughly invigorating the sound of the Andromeda is to me, as well as others who have listened to the vibrant bliss that is of the green borealis.

Worth the price of admission for true, aural glory.


Specifications
  • Five Balanced Armature Drivers
  • Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber™ (TAEC)
  • Machined aluminum enclosure made in Oregon
  • Anodized finish with Zirconium blast surface treatment
  • Premium Litz Wire cable; Silver-plated-Copper conductors
  • Designed and hand built in Portland, Oregon USA.
  • Typically ships in about 7 business days
Pros: great storing case, cable, foams and SpinFit eartips
perfect workmanship, unique looks
good isolation
universal sound signature that don’t demands particular synergy, but is sensitive to audio-source’s quality
natural, vivid, hi-res and balanced sound with great bass and midrange plus extended highs
Cons: no 2.5mm cable included
average single-flange eartips
demand a clean signal sound source
angular shells can cause some ergonomy-related problems
Below is the English version of Maciej Sas's review that is available at http://zakupek.pl/test/sluchawki/recenzja-campfire-audio-andromeda/

Campfire Audio Andromeda is an IEM equipped with 5 Balanced Armature driver. Does it really offer great soundstage, deep and even bass, extended highs? Is it worth its 1100 USD price tag?

We’ve already tested some Campfire Audio’s IEMs, which is a sister company of ALO Audio. Andromeda is one step up from Jupiter and it’s the highest model among IEMs using a Balanced Armature driver. Andromeda looks very similar to Jupiter – their housing is also made using machining technique with 3D-printed chambers, which are supposed to haul trebles and expand the soundstage.

Gallery

10a.jpg 1a.jpg 2a.jpg 3a.jpg 4a.jpg 5a.jpg 6a.jpg 7a.jpg 8a.jpg 9a.jpg 11a.jpg 12a.jpg 13a.jpg 14a.jpg 15a.jpg 18a.jpg 20a.jpg 21a.jpg 22a.jpg 23a.jpg 24a.jpg 25a.jpg 26a.jpg 27a.jpg 28a.jpg 29a.jpg 30a.jpg 31a.jpg 32a.jpg 33a.jpg 34a.jpg 35a.jpg 36a.jpg


Accessories

Accessory set is similar to those added to older version of Campfire Audio’s Jupiter, but in case of Andromeda, the tips variety is a bit different. The packaging is as always impressive with unusual graphics, yet a simple design.

Case is typical for the American company. It is hard and made of leather. Its interior is lined with a imitation of... sheepskin coat. Andromeda’s case is darker than the one added to Jupiter.

There are no Comply foams in the included set, but their substitutes also do the job. SpinFit tips are very intriguing as their tangs are partially movable. Typical single-flange tips are very ordinary, just like tips that can be found in many cheap IEMs. It’s also a pity that the balanced cable is lacking.

Construction

Campfire Audio boasts about their production methods. The earphones are hand-made in the US and the whole procedure is complicated and long-lasting. Andromeda uses the same shell shape as lower models – it is CNCed aluminum covered with zirconium and anodised. Housing color is green, which significantly differs Andromedas from its younger brothers. Inside, there are 3D-printed chambers called TAEC, which stands for Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber.

The form of the IEMs is special. The shells are highly angular, V-shaped, several times cut at the edges, with grooves in the upper part, screwed with clearly visible Tri-Point screws. The inner part shows additional bulges where large channel indicators are embossed. Anromedas use MMCX sockets and are worn Over the Ear.

Cables are ALO Audio’s speciality. Andromedas use Litz Cable, which is braided (Litz geometry) and silver-plated. Splitter is made of metal and with the additional slider added. The 3.5mm jack plug’s housing is quite bulky. MMCX sockets are made of copper and beryllium, which shall expand their life-span.

Build quality is awesome and color scheme unique. Andromeda is without doubt an unordinary product and the Portland-based company cares about details and uses high-quality materials.

Ergonomics

Angular shells might cause some ergonomic issues. Earphones in focus might require some adaptation, certain method of inserting and shuffling the ear tips. For me, tear-shaped IEMs produced by Noble or Shure are more comfortable, but Campfire Audio is not bad either.

At first, shells pressed and irritated my ears during prolonged listening sessions. It turned out that I need to change their angle, move them a bit more clockwise. Owners of bigger ears, however, should not experience any problems.

Cable arranges perfectly and the ear hooks are flexible and one can easily give them a desired shape. Microphonics is not a big issue. The 3.5 mm plug is rather big, but it should work fine with all the additional cases for DAPs or smartphones.

In my opinion, the included foams are better than Comply. They are made of more durable, thicker and less porous material. The foams don’t expand too quick, so one can insert earphones without rush. Isolation is good and the sound doesn’t change as much as with Complies.

SpinFit tips are also interesting. Their movable flange easily fills the ear canal, so inserting the IEMs goes quickly. In case of SpinFit, isolation is, however worse than in case of either single-flange or foam tips.

Specs

  • 5 Balanced Armature drivers
  • Frequency range: 10Hz – 28 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 115 dB SPL/mW
  • Impedance: 12.8 Ohms @ 1kHz
Sound

Gear used:

IEMs
: Campfire Audio Jupiter, Noble Audio Savant i Noble 4, Etymotic ER-4PT, RHA CL750, Brainwavz B200, FiiO F5

AMPs and DAC+AMPs: Burson Conductor Virtuoso (Sabre), RHA DACAMP L1, AIM SC808, ODAC i O2, Leckerton UHA-760, Zorloo ZuperDAC

DAPs: iBasso DX200, FiiO X5 III, iBasso DX90, Cayin N3

Interconnects: Forza AudioWorks Copper Series, Klotz

Music: many genres, various realisations including 24-bit and binaural tracks

In the past, I didn’t like Jupiter much, while I enjoyed Andromedas instantly – they got all that the lower model lacks. The overall characteristics of Andromeda is balanced, but not very analytical. They should be placed somewhere between being musical and analytical as they provide plenty of details, don’t reduce the midrange, but remain mild and easy to listen. The sound signature is quite flat and hi-res, without lab harshness and cold. In addition to that, there’s quite big and three-dimensional soundstage.

Lows are great! Bass is full and deep, can be precise or hard or massive and soft. It’s dense and plastic, has thick character, but it also doesn’t lack speed or dynamics. Mid-bass is a bit accented, which adds a bit of warmth and makes the sound neutral. Sub-bass rumble is also sensational and, what’s important, there are no gaps in the upper bass. Low quantity is optimal – the music is well-ballasted. Bass passes lots of details in a non-blatant way. Instrument’s texture is highly diversified, which highlights different bass-guitar playing techniques. Andromedas work well with different genres, including some really heavy music.

Midrange is realised via just one BA driver, yet this range is on par with the rest. Mid tones are natural, near and clear. It’s not cold, sharp or analytically raw. One can hear some hardness, but without roughness or hiss. Midrange presentation is not as close and intimate as in Etymotics or Shures, but it’s neither as distant as in Westone’s or Earsonics’ IEMs. The same applies to details – guitar, brass or keyboard instruments are very natural and detailed, but at the same time they sound musical and engaging. Andromedas shine in jazz, but also perform well in electronic music. They can sound either digital or ‘dirty’, archaic.

I was expecting high tones to be much more exaggerated, while trebles are served in a well-controlled way and their quantity is proportional to the bass. Andromedas are not bright or cold and high tones are not prioritised. Their quantity is optimal and people enjoying strong trebles might take Andromeda’s sound as softened. At first, I also lacked a bit stronger highs, but I quickly appreciated the non-harsh, universal and hi-res tuning.

Soundstage is of high-standard. The space-size is OK for in-ears, but not exceptional. What is unparalleled is holographics – instruments are big and plastic, positioned in a three-dimensional environment. Depth and width are also great and the perpendicular is also above average. Andromedas seem to sound from outside one’s head, surrounding the user with all the tones. Separation is perfect, but sound is not very airy, the distance between the instruments aren’t very vast.

Andromedas vs audio-sources

The IEMs are not very sensitive regarding source’s signature, but it’s better to avoid dark-sounding gear. Andromedas do respond to source’s quality, especially to the clearness of the signal. The earphones in focus are low-impedance and high-sensitivity, so the hissing is highly audible (which, however, disqualified just a few pairings).

Highest hiss-levels could be observed in case of Cayin N3 or FiiO X5 III. DX200 hissed a bit less, but still at noticeable levels. DX90 sounds clearer than the current iBasso’s flagship device.

In terms of sound quality, DX200 worked best, with great soundstage and dynamics and loaded down bass. FiiO X5 III also performed well. It sounded balanced and soft, pretty detailed, yet DX90 offered even better sound.

Leckerton UHA760 served the clearest signal (especially with the minus gain), either as a mobile amp or DAC+AMP. It reduced the hiss and alone paired well with the Andromedas. UHA760 also cooperated well with DX200 and X5 III. UHA760+X5 combo worked better than the UHA760+DX90 duo.

Andromeda vs Jupiter vs other IEMs

Andromedas further develop the sound of Jupiter, especially at the edges. They offer more direct and brighter signature, which results in improved soundstage, separation and resolution. Andromedas are one level up than Jupiter and a logical step forward. Both IEMs share the same core: natural sounding with great midrange and holographics. Andromedas tuning is even more balanced, more universal and more complete, while Jupiters don’t demand as pure signal Andromedas and the hissing is not as strong too.

Noble Audio Savant use ‘just’ 2 drivers, but it performs quite well in comparison with Andromedas. Savants are a bit brighter, with flatter bass. Midrange is a bit reduced and trebles are of lower resolution and not as well-controlled. Noble Audio’s IEMs, on the other hand, offer wider and more airy sound due to lack of bass. Another Noble’s product called ‘4’ show similar near midrange, but resolution, soundstage and treble control are all not on par. Highs can be harsh at time and the bass is much flatter.

Etymotic ER-4S, when compared to Andromedas, are just a pair of flat studio monitors. They are brighter, with worse holographics and imaging. Etymotics, on the other hand, sound more direct and unforgiving. Tuning of Andromeda is more musical and more universal with richer midrange and fuller bass.

RHA CL750 are brighter and thinner in bass and mids. RHA’s are colder, sharper and sound artificially. Andromedas offer more lush mids, deep bass and soft, non-fatiguing highs. Those two pairs are like night and day.

Summary

Campfire Audio Andromeda is a marvellous pair of IEMs! I felt anxious for them as in the past Jupiters disappointed me a bit. On the contrary, Andromedas engrossed me with their gorgeous bass, unique midrange, hi-res trebles and great holographics. Their sound is complete and universal, with plenty of details which don’t limit the musicality.

There are some flaws, though. Angular shape can irritate some users and the sound can at times be too hard and too thick in bass or midrange. Andromedas should be rated somewhere between being technical and musical. It’s not the best choice for those seeking for very analytical and bright tuning. It’s also a pity that the 2.5mm balanced cable is not included.

Pros:
+ great storing case, cable, foams and SpinFit eartips
+ perfect workmanship, unique looks
+ good isolation
+ universal sound signature that don’t demands particular synergy, but is sensitive to audio-source’s quality
+ natural, vivid, hi-res and balanced sound with great bass and midrange plus extended highs


Cons:
- no 2.5mm cable included
- average single-flange eartips
- demand a clean signal sound source
- angular shells can cause some ergonomy-related problems
  • Like
Reactions: Aslshark
Pros: Excellent Sound, Comprehensive Package, Great Build
Cons: Large Housing, Bass Response Too Polite For Some, Vega's Timbre

Campfire Audio Andromeda And Vega
An Impressive Binary Sunset
| PREVIOUS REVIEW | REVIEW INDEX | NEXT REVIEW |
A LONG ABSENCE
Apart from getting 20 yards away from a bear, accidentally descending down a snow-packed couloir (via a controlled* 50-foot slide) at Denali NP, and driving on a seriously questionable road somewhere above the Arctic Circle, I’ve been fine. Mostly. Yes, I’ve been in Alaska for a month, putting myself in precarious situations and generally relying on "hold my beer" logic to survive; I almost qualified for several Darwin Awards as a result. Naturally, I was absent, for the most part, from the audio world. But I've returned, and in fairly good time. The number of reviews I’ve built up is certainly not insignificant, and it seems that a lot has happened since I was last in the Lower 48. Those who have been keeping up with the Sony MDR-Z1R thread will know. But that’s old news, and this certainly isn’t the Donna Reed show – so let’s get going.

*To the extent that sliding through waist-deep snow is "controllable".

INTRODUCTION, PROPER
My interest in Campfire Audio actually began a while ago at the first Canjam Singapore after a fellow audio enthusiast insisted that I audition his Jupiter. It sounded good, but lacked that je ne sais quoi that would have otherwise made me leap. Needless to say, I was interested in Campfire Audio’s various developments, and I wrote to them regarding covering their lineup. Well, a year later, I’m privileged to have finally gotten the chance to cover Campfire Audio’s flagship models. The good folks at CA are busy, and rightfully so, because they are certainly producing excellent earphones. But wait! One of the flagships is a dynamic too. EX1000 fans may now take a moment to briefly reminisce about the days of old.

For those of who are still (somehow) in the dark about Campfire Audio, here’s a quick primer. Based out of Oregon, Campfire Audio was actually a project conceived by the good folks at ALO Audio. Ken Ball and team have clearly set their goal on producing high quality UIEMs capable of competing with the best, all while introducing new driver materials and featuring a rather unique design philosophy. It’s an approach that stands in stark contrast with the increasingly astounding (and pricey) contenders of the ongoing driver count race. Nicely done, I must say. Interestingly, Campfire Audio’s product offerings are split into two lineups. One is comprised primarily of BA driver earphones, while the other features more varied dynamic/ hybrid offerings. I think it is fairly safe to conclude that the latter mixes sound signatures up a bit, but I’ll discuss that more when I compare the Vega and Andromeda.

A little while back, I mentioned the importance of flow in my reviews. This long trip certainly has given me more than a couple of ideas for future pieces and the fresh makeover of Head-Fi is good reason to do some spring cleaning. Prepare yourself as I attempt to break up an otherwise rigid review format and go on hopefully entertaining tangents. And watch as none of this comes to fruition (50% chance, give or take, especially if it’s a Monday). I’ll also be introducing my measurement rig in this review. I’ve been working on it for a while and I do have decent confidence in its capabilities as of now. It’s a rather big section, and for those who are not interested please do feel free to skip it. It is an interesting recap of the process and hopefully articulate enough to be helpful.


DISCLAIMER
The Campfire Audio Andromeda and Vega were provided directly by the CA team for the purposes of this review. I am neither a paid affiliate nor an employee of Campfire Audio. As always, I do reserve the rights to the media in this review, so if you would like to use the photography/ videos please do drop me a line (at the very least please provide an appropriate attribution). I dislike watermarks on photos and would rather not use them. It’s been a blast putting these two earphones through their paces. It’s also been a great time for me to push forth on my measurements of IEMs (my expedition in headphones having temporarily reached a “satisfactory” point, as I await further findings). Once again, a big thanks to Campfire Audio for this opportunity and I hope you enjoy reading this review as much as I did writing it.

Editorial Note 1: Have posted a thread as well as a "review"- still don't fully understand the new showcase system yet and text formatting system, so I'm sticking to the tried and true thread post.
Editorial Note 2: Some of these photos had to be posted lower-res than I had initially wanted due to the fact that I can't seem to locate the "resize" function in the new editor. Thus, manually resized in Photoshop. If there's a workaround, please let me know immediately.


Packaging And Accessories

Quality! These are excellent products to unbox. The packaging is both functional and sensible, leaving little in terms of material waste. Arriving in a star-studded (literally) cardboard box and sealed in with plastic wrap, the Campfire Audio IEMs are nestled inside a leather carrying case. The interior lining is definitely a nice thought, and the case shuts compactly enough to the point where the earpieces will not be sliding and scratching each other. As added protection, the Vega features two earpiece pouches. Strangely, this is not present on the Andromeda (and it should be). Apart from that, the general package is fairly comprehensive and complete. A full list of items is provided in the description below the photo.


Package is fairly complete, featuring 1) Carrying Case 2) 2 x Earpiece Pouches (Vega Only) 3) IEM Cleaning Tool 4) Campfire Audio Logo Pin 5) 3 Pairs Comply 6) 3 Pairs Spinfit 7) 3 Pairs Silicone Stock 8) Earphones 9) Literature 10) Warranty Card


Build Quality And Design
The build quality on the Campfire products is quite commendable. It is certainly a highlight that must be mentioned. The Andromeda is made in the USA, and features a machined aluminum body with an anodized finish (Zirconium blast treatment). Some have asked if the earphone is really as green as it looks in the photos - the answer is yes. However, the carefully milled facets of the housing lend a very nice colored gradient to the earphone that changes with various lighting conditions. I suppose I know this because I spent too much time on the photography in this review. Other key design features include the 5-balanced armature drivers (2 low, 1 mid, 2 high) and a proprietary "tuned acoustic expansion chamber".

The Vega is comprised of parts from Taiwan and made in China. That said, the earphone's build is still high quality. It features a liquid alloy metal housing with a PVD (physical vapor deposition) finish. It's a type of finish achieved by evaporating a solid/liquid into gaseous form and depositing it back onto the target surface as a thinly applied coating. The nozzle is plastic, and there is indeed a faint injection mold line on it (more sanding?). A tuning port can be found at the top of the housing. Throughout my time with the Vega, I did notice driver flex manifesting itself as a crinkling sound depending on how I inserted the earphones. It has been mentioned on the forums that there is no danger of damage from this flex though. The Vega's driver is an 8.5 mm dynamic driver made from ADLC (amorphous diamond-like carbon).

Stock cable is very nice and is a silver plated copper litz wire in medical grade PVC jacket. There's a sturdy 3.5 mm plug with good strain relief, and the y-split is also quality, if not prone to scratching. Cinch is made from clear transparent plastic. The real star of the show is the ear guide, which blends heat shrink with a guide wire - it's simply the best of both worlds. MMCX connector is made from beryllium copper.

Measurements
Those who have read /been following my reviews will remember that we discussed, at some length, my personal headphone measurement rig/ process in the Sony Z1R review. It is fairly obvious that the results of non-standard measurement rigs are far from absolute, and should generally be applied in relative comparisons for best effect. Given these various limitations, one may ask why we, as enthusiasts, should even be bothered to develop measurement systems at all, considering that we are generally unable to match industry-standard equipment, and can in fact potentially mislead ourselves with erroneous results. The answer is two-fold and quite practical in my mind. First, it is an undoubtedly enjoyable process. The ability to quantify the qualitative (i.e. subjective) is gratifying (and equal parts, frustrating). But in general, it provides us with a better understanding of the devices we are measuring, and this comprehension can make the pursuit of audio far more enjoyable. Second, when applied effectively, decent measurements can provide objective insight – and allow for many meaningful, tangential explorations. Did you ever wonder just how “distorted” distortion is? If yes, a rig can help in the understanding of that area of sound. The list continues. Furthermore, it allows us to avoid the serious issues that can arise from purely subjective descriptions and misunderstandings. In my mind, certain descriptors can be directly correlated with measurements, giving us very substantive evidence to assist in descriptions. This isn’t to say that numbers are everything, but when applied appropriately, they can account for much indeed. Henceforth, I leave this open to interpretation, and for use as the reader sees fit.

Editorial Note 3: I wrote the above section of the review a little while back as I was reflecting on the process. That is to say, over a month ago. Given the recent discussion about measurements, I've decided not to edit this section at all - this is, and has been, my perspective on measurements for a long time.

I use the UMIK-1 from MiniDSP, a measurement microphone with an onboard soundcard. It is quite convenient and comes with its own calibration file. There is, to my knowledge, a 3rd-party company called Cross-Spectrum offering further, more extensive calibration services, albeit at an increased cost. It’s certainly worth a look for those investing in a measurement microphone. Microphone aside, the coupler is probably the next most important aspect of a working system. As I describe my own system, do note that this isn’t meant to outline the construction of the definitive measurement system. Instead, it is an objective look at the capabilities of my system, its shortcomings, and what I feel confident in assuming/ sharing.


Meant for illustrative purposes only, this photo shows my rig with the guide on. Obviously missing is the foam surrounding, and clearly wrong is the fact that the rig is lying directly on the table.
There are three factors that I ran into quite frequently in assembling the rig – coupling distance, seal, and resonance. In describing the modifications/ build of my own measurement system, I will go over the issues I encountered with each of these elements and how they can be resolved. Let’s start with the microphone. It is very much possible to detach the head of the microphone from the body. Clasp it with a vice and give the body a hard tug. Have your soldering kit ready, because from personal experience, it is easy to snap the wire off the solder point. In fact, I had to re-solder two points on the microphone (one broke and needed repair, the second broke in the process of the repair). To detach the microphone from the head, push gently using a soft object (pencil eraser, etc.). The microphone capsule should come off easily. As per recommendation, I’ve applied a ring of glue around the microphone capsule. Do note that depending on the glue used, you could potentially make it impossible to remove the capsule from the head, so do take caution with those soldering joints. I’ve thought about it, and in fact it may not be a bad idea to put some hot glue down, sealing the microphone permanently to the microphone headphone compartment and more or less securing the solder joints. There were pieces of white foam that came out the head compartment as well, and looked rather skimpy. To replace that, I cut a foam tip and pushed it directly behind the microphone. It seems to be a needed upgrade. You’ll also notice a large tangle of wires that came out from the body as well. When putting everything back together, use a pencil to push the tangle back in, as opposed to pushing on the microphone head. You will break the wire (especially at the solder point) doing this.

The next step in the process is to build a coupler. I’ve got close to 10 iterations of “coupling” devices lying around. The one I’ve more or less settled on is shown in the pictures. I’ve used electrical tape to create a ring (just thick enough) such that the slightly larger ½ inch PVC tube can be sealed very completely with a bit of a push. The end of the chamber features a plastic flange that forms the PVC tube and enables better fits with certain types of IEM tips. This is where coupling distance really comes into play. As I will demonstrate in a graph below, it is very important that the coupling distance is correct, otherwise you’ll notice key FR landmarks (peaks, dips, etc.) in wrong places. I’d take a generally accepted uncompensated FR, and adjust your coupling distance such that the peaks align where they should. I’ve found that this will float in the ballpark of 1-1.5 cm depending on how you couple the IEM to the microphone. The further you couple your earphone away from the microphone, the more you see artifacts in the higher frequencies (repetitive peaks, and such). Resonance from the coupler discounted most forms of thin metal coupling for me. I’d stick with PVC and plastics for enthusiast measurement systems. Now, the Andromeda/ Vega present a very unique opportunity to adjust one’s rig. This is because Ken @Campfire Audio has provided uncompensated measurements that we can do comparisons against. Considering that his is a well calibrated, industry standard rig, I find this to be an interesting proposition. I do not believe my measurements to be better, so feel free to take note of the differences. And it is always fruitful to discuss your measurement techniques with other individuals - it provides insight/ means of improvement. One last mistake I made – don’t rush to take a bunch of measurements of tons of earphones, find one IEM to work with and go from there. Otherwise, you’ve but just a pile of fairly unhelpful numbers. IEM measurement is unforgiving, and can be more difficult than headphones in fact, so do take your time.


Coupling distance matters a lot! See how it has affected the FR, especially in the upper range.

Some things I noticed for the Andromeda – subbass attenuation feels like it should be 1-2 dB less. The region past from 1K-4K as measured is not perfectly flat, but has some dips and artifacts. I should note that higher frequencies, when measured on this rig, aren’t particularly accurate – best that the reader look and evaluate him/ herself. Third harmonic distortion exists on the Andromeda, but this is may be an attributable characteristic to the BA driver itself. Other measurements seem to support my measurements, at their current distortion levels. Overall, most things seem to check out fairly nicely. Vega came through generally unscathed and the difference between these two should be obvious.No smoothing has been applied in any of these measurements.


Green are the various trials performed, Purple is the average.


Ken Ball's measurements for the Andromeda. My rig has artifacts in the higher frequencies.


My distortion measurements for the Andromeda.


Green are the various trials performed, Purple is the average.


Ken Ball's measurements for the Vega. Differences in higher frequencies.
It seems that mine correlates to measurements from another site.



My distortion measurements for the Vega.

Sound

The Andromeda is a superbly balanced earphone, made even better by choice ear-tips. Bass performance is responsive and tight, but not lacking. Sub-bass is rendered as needed with detail cues demonstrating the reproduction capabilities of the earphone. Mid-bass is expectedly inoffensive. The midrange is linear and connects to the higher frequencies without a hitch. Upper frequencies are naturally well-extended and liquid without ever coming off as tiresome. Detail retrieval is excellent and soundstage and imaging are spot on. A touch of coolness tints the Andromeda’s tonality, and it’s certainly something that resonates with me. As a long time ER4 user, I’m truly impressed (I’ll explain a little later). This isn’t an earphone for specific genres or songs or setups. It’s a transducer that reveals and navigates almost all source material.


Like a Klingon ship racing through the galaxy. Federation be damned.
The Vega is certainly the Danny Zuko of the Campfire Audio line up. Featuring a prominent bass response that makes full use of the earphone’s dynamic driver, the Vega digs deep and hits hard. It’s a heck of a lot of fun to listen to. In certain ways, the Vega reminds me of the Sony Z1R in earphone form, the comparison being rather crude, of course. Given this, it is surprising that the Vega doesn’t suffer much bass spill, and midrange generally comes through intact. Higher frequencies are well-extended, but do fall behind the Andromeda. Overall technicalities of the Vega are slightly behind the Andromeda. Instrumental timbre was one of the Vega’s weaker points. That said, the Vega moves in ways the Andromeda doesn’t. I can’t emphasize it enough, but the Vega is simply tons of fun.

Together, these two headphones could complete a collection, providing a versatile toolkit that will satisfy even the most dedicated of enthusiasts. It is a rather refreshing look at IEMs, considering that recent developments have been marked by increasingly pricey offerings prompted by the informal driver count war. I’m not thrilled by all of these offerings – and some of my experiences with large multi-BA drivers have been quite negative. I’m not convinced that more is better, and I’ve tried some extremely expensive earphones where crossover points were audible and general coherency was atrocious. I’ve never quite given up on the merits of a properly executed single dynamic driver earphone, and the Vega has satisfied in this regard. In the course of this review, I’ve utilized the Onkyo DP-CMX1, theBit Opus#1, Teac HA-P90SD, and borrowed the Chord Mojo and Questyle QP1R from a fellow newly-converted audiophile. Sounded pretty good out of all of these sources. The earphones do have very low impedance though (Andro 12.8 ohms @ 1K, Vega 17.6 ohms @ 1K) so damping factor can be an issue. The sensitivity of the Andromeda means that noisy sources will be punished!

SELECTED LISTENING IMPRESSIONS
I’ve often been asked to be more narrative in my approach to reviews, and I do think that providing comparisons and walking through specific pieces of music will allow readers to get a better sense of what I’m addressing. I’ve picked moderately complex compositions that provide opportunity to showcase interesting aspects of each earphone, and will conclude on some general observations.


A typical mess as everything gets sprawled out during the listening/ auditioning/ testing process.

The Planets, op.32, Venus
Gustav Holst, conducted by Karajan and performed by BPO


The opening (00:00) features a horn call comprised of four ascending notes. It’s a smooth, haunting motive that is also texturally detailed. The timbre of the horn is appropriately rendered on both the Andromeda and ER-4S. However, the Vega portrays a mellower, smoother sound that reminds me less of a horn and more of a euphonium. Not exactly accurate. At 00:10, the second horn call is answered by a combination of oboe and flute chords. There’s a certain clarity conveyed by the Andromeda/ ER-4S – the reedy sound of the woodwinds being clearer and more incisive than on the Vega. At 00:37, the gentle rumble of the bass hints at a larger orchestration. The Vega and EX-800ST both deliver satisfying performances, while the Andromeda tends toward a more balanced portrayal. The ER-4S falls on its face. The violin solo at 02:05 is poignant and chilling. There’s a lack of bite from the Vega that reduces the realism of sound. The theme that begins at 03:15 is fantastically grand on the Vega though. Spot the celeste at the 07:36 mark. You'll notice that the Andromeda has more sparkle. I imagine that Karajan may have preferred the Vega. The smoother, more rounded sound, exemplifies the musical vision of the “emperor of Legato”. However, from a technical standpoint, I find the Andromeda to be better for classical music in general – it simply presents instrumental timbres better.

Time Out, Take Five
The Dave Brubeck Quartet


A jazz classic, Take Five features an instantly recognizable tune in the uncommon 5/4 time. The start of the piece (00:00) provides easily accessible comparison material. With Joe Morello on the drums alone, it’s clear that reproduction on the Vega and Andromeda differ greatly. The bass drum kick is emphasized, while the cymbal ride is smoother and less brassy compared to the Andromeda. Snare drums seem about the same. Beginning at 00:20, Paul Desmond enters with the alto saxophone, and here we have yet another point of analysis. The left/center/right recording method with single mic means that each of the instruments is panned hard to a side spatially. While modern methods may dictate this as being less than ideal, it does provide an opportunity to test the soundstage/ imaging of our transducers. Perceived width and depth on the Vega is still smaller (but not small) than on the Andromeda. At 02:30 where the drum solo begins in full, the Vega proves once again that while it may not be as technically proficient as its sibling, it can be great fun to listen to.


The Vega sports a sleek profile, one that seems to hide the fact that it can easily produce a massive sound.

Others
It should be no surprise that the tonal balance of the Andromeda favors midrange performance over that of the Vega. Listening to Diana Krall’s East Of The Sun (West Of The Moon), there’s a certain spaciousness that pervades Krall’s voice. Appropriate rendering of vocal texture and linearity aid in the easiness of sound. It’s a fuller (and slightly wetter) sound than the ER-4S, which is a good thing. The Vega’s mids are smoother, and are slightly less defined and present. It’s well-executed considering the earphone’s impressive bass, but for those who listen exclusively to vocals the Andromeda is the go-to.

CHOICE OF EARTIPS

I've begun work on eartip measurements, though I do not yet feel confident in utilizing them yet. Here's a quick look at my general measurements (but should not be relied upon!). I urge readers to use the subjective impressions below.


This is simply meant as preliminary look into how eartips affect sound.
However, measurements not entirely reliable at this point in time.
  • Spinfit (Baseline) – I’ve chosen this as the baseline for observations as they seem to be one of the most popular, and I do find myself returning to them a fair bit. Tends to yield a brighter character to the earphone with a nice zing. Extension is excellent. Spinfit can be unpredictable between user-to-user, if not by its whole premise alone.
  • Spiral Dot – Another excellent choice. Doesn’t have the same sonic edge as the Spinfit, but doesn’t lack in extension and certainly adds extra weight to sound. Many will find this to be a nice and pleasant ear tip, provided it fits. I recommend buying ½ a size smaller than your usual as the diameter on these eartips is fairly large due to its wide bore design.
  • Sony Stock Silicones – Not bad, but between the Spinfits and Spiral Dots, I really don’t see what these do better. Higher frequency extension is weaker than the Spinfits, and lower frequencies are less clear. Vocals are less immediate too. Deeper fit brought housing into contact with the ear, which was uncomfortable.
  • Sony Isolation Hybrid – Clear improvement over Sony Stock Silicones. Brings extra isolation, slightly improved bass response, all while maintaining comparable extension and clarity. It’s a nice flavor. Fairly comfortable to wear, if not a little difficult to fit onto the nozzle.
  • Sony Foams – Available in Japan only (I think). If you need foam tips and have access to Japanese products (import/export, etc.) I’d use these. Featuring a foam eartip with a silicone backing, these eartips tend to last longer than Comply tips, are far less prone to ripping, and generally less icky. Complies do seem to isolate and seal better though. Similar to the hybrid tips, but adds slightly more warmth and bass. Highs less extended?
  • Stock Silicones – Somewhat similar to the Spiral Dot in terms of bore and insertion depth. Sound isn’t remarkably different, but I find the fit to be slightly less agreeable. Those who prefer a softer ear tip will probably enjoy the stock silicones better. They do tend to bring the housing closer (and into contact with the ear) too.
  • Comply – I don’t really like the way Comply eartips fit and feel. They wear out fast, have a tendency to rip, and just annoy me. That said, Comply eartips do offer a decent amount of isolation, and for me increase the bass. It should be noted that Comply eartips affect sound based on the amount that they are compressed. More compression leads to better seal, which in turn can increase bass and treble. Less compression can result in the foam attenuating the highs, etc. I’d suggest going with the former in most cases.
Final Thoughts
To me, the Andromeda and Vega are excellent earphones. The Andromeda's balance is very pleasant to me, and the Vega offers a similarly well executed signature that features a tonal balance that is indeed rather hard to pull off. Couple that with the excellent build quality of these IEMs, and it's just hard to argue with these earphones. If you're in the market for a new pair of high-performance IEMs, you definitely need to do yourself a favor and at least give the Vega and the Andromeda a try.

Attachments

............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
EZE99
EZE99
At CanJam SoCal, I had 0 fit problems with the Andromeda.  In fact, they were some of the most comfortable headphones I have ever tried on.  Lightweight and fits in the ear perfectly creating a pretty good seal.  Maybe you have smaller ears than I do...  
Pros: Sound, Build, Accessories, Fit, Colour, Attraction of the opposite sex
Cons: Not the most stealthy IEMs
I was recently given the opportunity to review the Campfire Audio Andromeda thanks to the kindness of Ken/ALO/Campfire and D_Marco
It is great to be part of a community that allows such experiences, putting such trust in those also interested in this fine, rewarding but infinitely more and more expensive hobby.
 
Prior to getting my ears around the Andromeda I was also lucky enough to hear the Lyra, Orion and Jupiter from the Campfire line, so I will try to draw some comparisons, however bearing in mind these are from memory.
 
This review will be fairly brief as I do not have a lot to say about the Andromeda.
This is in no way a negative, in fact far from.  I absolutely love the Andromeda in all of its green glory.
 
I will start with the one and only negative I feel is of significance and we will go from there.  But be told, its all UPHILL from there.
If I could pick a negative from my listening with the Andromeda it would be that it lacks a little soul.  Now this is quite subjective I know, however I like my music with feeling.  My favourite IEM of all time is the Tralucent Ref1too.  Yes at times it had far too much bass and was at times too Dark, but with the right source and the right music it just connected with me.  It took me back, it made me feel as though I was living the music.
Now I find the Andromeda (and all of the Campfire line except the Lyra) to technically exceed the Ref1too in most regards.  However if I were given the choice I would take the Transducers with soul every time, even if I do cringe at some genre’s/tracks.
 
NOW.  That seems like a pretty big deal breaker, except, I would buy these in a heart beat.  On-wards and upwards I say!!!
 
Firstly, they are accessorised beautifully.  They come in a far more subtle cardboard box than its lesser siblings.
 It comes with a fantastic leather portable carry pouch that is lined with lambs wool.
It comes with an array of Comply and Silicone Tips that are bound to fit most ears out there and it comes with a fantastic cable.  Not only does this cable look quality, I had zero issues with microphonics when walking to and from work.
 
The build quality is also superb!  The very solid feeling aluminium units are anodized in a perfect shade of green.  Rarely did I wear them in public without getting attention.  Either that or I had something in my teeth.  Probably also green.  It’s always something green.
 
The sound, well in a nutshell is very very very good and well within what I expect from an IEM of this price range. The beauty of the Andromeda is that is sounded fantastic with everything I played through it.  From Progressive Rock, Death Metal, Folk, Jazz, Jazz Fusion, Pop, Acoustic Rock it all sounded perfect.
The highlight for me was the bass.  But at heart, no matter how much I try to lie to myself while listening to my Ether C headphones, I am a bass head.
Are the Andromeda a bass head IEM.  No…. No they are not.  However if you are a bass head with taste, then perhaps these are worth a look as while their bass is excellent and for me the highlight, the rest of the signature exceeds any basshead iem/headphone I have heard.
The Bass:
It punches.  It punches hard.  I was surprised that I was listening to a full BA iem.  The only time I had experienced bass like it from a BA is the TG334 and the 1964 v8/u8.
It has a great thump to it, however it maintains texture and control.  It has a slow decay for a BA driver, however it is more controlled than many dynamic drivers I have heard that manage similar impact and volume.  I thoroughly enjoyed the bass on the Andromeda for its ability to hit hard but sound great with all music.  I have found many headphones that manage to impress me with bass impact and volume, trip up on tracks that simply do not call for so much bass, or are more technical and require a more nimble approach.  No such problem with the Andromeda.
The Mids:
The mids are smooth, in line with the upper registers and present vocals beautifully.  I am not a fan of overly forward mids, particularly upper mids and I found no such traces of either in an offensive way with the Andromeda.  Often I find the mids (and more so the highs) with BA driver iems sound artificial to me.  I play guitar and I like guitars to sound like guitars.  Same for any instrument.  While the Andromeda does lack that euphoric quality I was referring to at the beginning of this review, it does sound very natural and realistic.  I was very pleased with the mid range presentation.
The Highs:
The highs are smooth, extended, detailed and realistic.  What more could you want. I never found them sibilant, even with some punk recordings that are just terrible.  But by the same token, I was never left wanting for more detail.  These are Highs done right!.
 
Comparison:
First lets rank these suckers:
Andromeda>Orion>Jupiter>Lyra.
This is a COMPLETELY SUBJECTIVE RANKING.
Andromeda vs Orion:
The Orion to me was a case of fantastic tuning, limited range.  I personally felt that the tuning of the Orion was bang on with the drivers they implemented.  It sounded natural, cohesive and pleasant.  It did sound a little thin, it did lack extension at both ends and it did lack bass impact.
To me, the Andromeda has everything I wanted added to the Orion.  It has the bass.  It has more body to the sound, giving it more realism and feeling, it has fantastic extension at both ends and just sounds more refined.
While you would expect all of this given the price difference, this is how they compare to me with the Andromeda wiping the floor with my previous favourite Campfire iem.
Andromeda vs Jupiter:
The Jupiter I found technically brilliant.  As I stated in my Jupiter review, it had nice bass, smooth mids and highs, good sound stage and amazing separation.  However it sounded off to me.  Instruments seemed to pop out individually so well, that it didn’t sound like music, it sounded like many instruments individually playing a tune.  Technically I cannot fault that, its amazing really, however from an enjoyment stand point it didn’t invite me into the music, it didn’t make me want to listen.
The Andromeda to me is like the Jupiter with improved and increased bass, a richer mid-range with more body and a very similar top end.  However the big difference being that the music sounds whole again.  Sure if I listen for a guitar I can isolate it and tell you where it is in the array of instruments, but I am being presented with music.
 
I will work on getting some images up and the formatting fixed in coming days.
  • Like
Reactions: twice tzuyu
cpzzy
cpzzy
Wonderful review! Thanks
Onny Izwan
Onny Izwan
Please someone, compare it to Sony's fabulous XBA-Z5
gprs007
gprs007
Nice review bud. Tried these in CanJam NYC and smitten by it
Pros: Build quality, cable quality, fits nicely, good isolation, perfect sound balance and quality
Cons: I can't afford it
Disclaimer
 
I got this unit as part of Australia/New Zealand tour arranged by @d marc0, thank you very much for including me in this tour :)
 
Introduction
 
I am just another music fans in this world, I love listening to music, and that made me stumble into head-fi around 9 years ago when looking for the best way to listen to my music. I am not in anyway an audiophile, heck not even close, so please forgive any lack of details in my review. Most importantly this is my personal impression on the unit, most likely i heard things differently than you, my ears, my preferences, my brain :)
 
I've listened to CA Andromeda for about 2 weeks. I use them exclusively from LG V10 amped by Fiio E18. The source will be either the built-in LG music player or Google play music.
 
Sound Quality
 
Ok I am not going to muck around with this one, CA Andromeda is perfect. I can fault them in any way, they simply sounds right to me, in every aspect. There is enough bass, perfect midbass/warmth, forward enough mid, and excellent treble response.
 
Is this the best IEM in the world? probably not, but it's the best I have heard so far. Does it beat my full size cans? hmm.....yes and no.
 
Comparison
 
I can only compare them to my ZMF Blackwood, so yeah (as usual) it's not a fair comparison but it's all I got.
 
All right, let's start with the obvious, for soundstage, ZMF Blackwood clearly beat CA Andromeda, that's the very first obvious thing I notice when comparing them. I don't have
any problem with Andromeda soundstage, but ZMF sounds more spacious compare to Andromeda.
 
Now let's talk resolution and details, again CA Andromeda is awesome, they are really really good, but when you compare them side by side with Blackwood, I will have to pick up
the Blackwood as the winner, however the difference is not that big here, I really have to focus on listening to notice the difference.
 
However there is one thing that I prefer Andromeda over the Blackwood, the balance. As I mentioned before, they are just perfect. Blackwood is awesome headphones, but I found Andromeda
to provide better bass compare to the Blackwood, and probably slightly better treble sparkle. Please bear in mind I compare both of them from the same source/amp, so it's very likely
Fiio E18 is not adequate to drive ZMF Blackwood.
 
Conclusion
 
No argument, the best IEM ever for me, I am in love. The only downside is I can't afford them....yet, but I will own them one day
 
Thanks for reading :)
  • Like
Reactions: Aslshark
Pros: Allround, engaging signature, price
Cons: Colored signature, if I have to nitpick
I would like to thank Ken from Campfire Audio for providing me with a review sample in exchange for my honest opinion.

Introduction

ALO Audio has been an established name in the industry for quite a while, popular for their cables and especially amps. So it’s hard to imagine they only consist of a small team of 5 people fabricating all the items. With enough work on their hands, I bet those 5 people were really happy to hear Ken decided to launch a new iem line, which consequentially became one of the biggest hits of 2016. Pack your sleeping bags to work guys, nobody’s going home for a while - we can discuss weekends later.

Anyone who has spoken to Ken knows he’s an incredibly busy man. But when you’re driven by passion and can see the result of what you’re building, the work only inspires to go harder. Ken is constantly backordered, trying to keep up with the success he brought upon himself and his team. And if that wasn’t enough, Campfire just released two new co-flagships: the Vega and Dorado. But despite the work pressure, Ken is calm and collected, and remains responsive and just a generally pleasant person to communicate with. A lot has already been written about the Andromeda, so I’m trailing a bit – but here’s a retrospective look at one of the most popular iems of 2016.

Campfire Audio Andromeda
-Drivers:                      5 BA drivers; 2 low, 1 mid, 2 high
-Design:                      passive crossover with acoustic expansion chamber
-Frequency range:     10 Hz – 28 KHz
-Impedance:              12.8 Ohm
-Sensitivity:                115 dB
-MRSP:                      $1099



Accessories

As I’m used to customs, I don’t care too much about accessories. That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a quality package when I see one. A recent exemption was the Fidue Sirius that came with a very nice cable and balanced adapters. Campfire provides a nice selection, focusing on quality rather than unnecessary filling. The tip selection is generous, including the popular Spinfits, Complies and some basic black tips. A carrying case is always a very relevant and useful addition. I’m not a huge fan of the Peli cases that come with customs. I really don’t see the point of taking a big box with me that can fit 6 pairs of iems when I really just want to bring one or two. Campfire includes a classy dark brown leather-look case that is just the right size for carrying an iem with upgrade cable. It’s lined with soft wool, and looks very cozy. Now if I were an iem, that’s exactly where I’d want to kick back. Last but not least, Campfire includes a high quality 4-braid SPC Litz cable. The cable is built well, relatively tangle free and looks slick. I’m glad to see more manufacturers taking the effort to include a proper cable for added sonic benefits as well as ergonomics and looks; an investment that in my humble opinion is worth it’s cost.

Design

Andromeda’s BA drivers are packed in Campfire’s recognisable machine-crafted aluminium design. The design looks sturdy, built to last; a modern, industrial design that goes in a somewhat different direction than the industry standard, that usually aims for a classy, distinguished look to represent a luxury item befitting the price tag. The Andromeda looks like it could be packed alongside gear to go camping or mountain climbing. It looks like something the U.S. army would issue for their marines, especially due to the combination of the metal housing with its green color. You know, if they’d ever need to bring along high-end iems for modern warfare.

There were some complaints after the first release about the edges being uncomfortable for some listeners, as was the case when Fidue released their flagship, the Sirius. In the end, there will always be some people that don’t fall into the average range with their unique anatomy; one size can’t always fit all. But if I understood correctly, they incorporated feedback to modify the curvature of the shell to make it more comfortable. Personally, I haven’t encountered any fit issues with the Andromeda. They protrude a good bit out of my ears when I check in the mirror, but nothing out of the ordinary.


Sound impressions

Presentation
Due to Andromeda’s popularity, there are already an abundance of reviews and impressions available. As is often the case, there seems to be a lot of variation in the opinions on several aspects of Andromeda’s signature. Some find its bass too light or more than enough, or find its treble either too sparkly or even laidback. Naturally, a great part of this is due to differences in preferences and sensitivity. But I can’t help think that it’s also partially due to the fact that Andromeda’s signature doesn’t completely fit in a category. Its tonality and signature are fairly neutral, with a clear and open sound and nice treble prominence and sparkle. Yet the midrange is thick and slightly warm. This gives Andromeda the full-bodied vocal and instrument presentation of a midcentric tuning, with the general tonality and treble presentation of a neutral signature: ‘neutral+’, if you will. A unique combination, that makes the sound very coherent, versatile, but most of all highly engaging.


Andromeda’s slightly forward midrange is presented in a grand stage, especially in width, with an average height and depth. Andromeda has a full-bodied presentation, which fills up the stage for an overall full sound. Due to the excellent stage dimensions, separation is still very good, although the layering can be a bit tight as the stage isn’t overly deep in relation to the thicker note presentation (Campfire's Vega has an advantage here). However, the wide stage prevents it from tending towards congestion. In addition, the imaging is precise, without verging into analytical territory. The focus of Andromeda is a fun, musical and foremost engaging experience, rather than having a completely neutral or reference presentation. Which isn’t to say the Andromeda is technically lacking, it just isn’t the primary goal. Instead, Andromeda offers an excellent balance between an engaging and coherent musical experience, with a solid technical foundation.

Bass
Much has been said about Andromeda’s bass, with some finding it either light or more than sufficient. Ultimately, perception will always differ based on preference. I personally like my bass north from neutral; a solid bass impact and lively mid-bass that adds rhythm and a bit of warmth to the music. With universals, tip selection also plays an important role. I played around a bit with the provided Spinfits and silicone tips and then went with Spiral Dots, as they added some mid-bass for a slightly warmer sound. Later I came back to the Spinfits, as the stage becomes a bit cleaner due to the attenuated mid-bass warmth. Since Andromeda already creates thick notes, the extra mid-bass isn’t really necessary. With a solid seal, the Andromeda gives me a proper bass impact, with a nice bit of power when driven properly by a good source. It keeps a safe margin from basshead territory, but it doesn’t have a shy role in the presentation.


The sub-bass has good lower end extension. It might not be the most powerful; the sub-bass hits are tight and impactful, creating a dynamic sound. The mid-bass comes close to neutral, and certainly isn’t laidback. Bass lines have good size as well as definition, and contribute to the overall liveliness of the sound. The decay is nice and quick, which aids in creating an airy sound.

Midrange
Andromeda’s midrange is full, and inherently warm. If it had less treble presence, this would have been an excellent midcentric iem. But Andromeda combines a clear, open tonality with a beautiful midrange. Vocals have great size and density, and especially male vocals can put on a powerful display due to a full lower midrange. This gives notes an excellent subsection of the body, an extra thickness that makes them sound slightly colored but very engaging. While one could argue the coloration means the sound isn’t presented in its most purest form, the more important argument would be that it only makes it sound better – as testified by Andromeda’s immense popularity. Similarly, the upper midrange is slightly brighter than neutral, adding a nice bit of sparkle and excitement without sounding artificially bright. While the stroke of a violin might sound slightly thicker, there’s a nice shimmer to the sound, without sounding harsh. I’ve mentioned vocals, but electric guitars equally sound captivating and energetic, as well as synthetic melodies in pop or dance music. This is a midrange with many strengths, that easily lends itself towards different music.


Treble
Andromeda’s treble consists of a great mixture of presence and sparkle, while retaining a smooth presentation. The treble is deliciously thick; this gives it an engaging quality, a certain prominence in the signature without relying on being overly bright. The treble has enough sparkle and air, but keeps in line with the rest of the signature, being neither relatively forward or laidback. This is a treble that simply refuses to take backseat to a midrange that’s already hitting you full frontal - quite an accomplishment considering the rest of the full-bodied presentation. Andromeda gets a nice bit of sparkle from a 9 KHz treble peak that gives it a slightly brighter tone, but remains smooth due to a more relaxed lower treble region that prevents it from sounding analytical. Rather than aiming to being the most articulate or refined, this is a treble that simply sounds musical due to its thickness and sparkle.



Comparisons

Custom Art 8.2 (1100)
Custom Art’s revamped flagship is retuned to a smooth midcentric signature. Both iems share a similar rectangle-shaped stage, but the Andromeda’s is wider and slightly taller. Despite the Andromeda’s advantage in width, both perform equally in separation due to Andromeda’s thicker notes. The 8.2 has a more powerful sub-bass, as well as a warmer mid-bass presentation. In addition, the 8.2 has a slightly more natural bass decay.


Both share an inherently warm midrange, capable of conveying emotion in vocals. Vocals sound similar in density and overall size. The 8.2’s upper midrange is slightly thicker, while Andromeda’s is slightly brighter. This gives Andromeda a slightly clearer and more open sound, while the 8.2 is smoother with a relatively more uncolored upper midrange. Similarly, Andromeda’s treble is more prominent and thicker, while the 8.2’s is relatively laidback, warmer in tonality and generally more non-fatuiging for sensitive listeners. Overall, Andromeda sounds clearer with more prominent treble, while the 8.2 has a warmer and smoother mid-centric signature.

Lime Ears Aether  (€1150)
Lime Ears tuned the Aether with a focus on naturalness, and as a result the Aether offers a pleasing variation of neutral. Both share a very nice stage, although Andromeda’s is wider, while Aether’s is deeper. A variable bass switch is a nice bonus that allows you to adjust the bass from light to full-bodied, and has slightly more or less mid-bass than Andromeda depending on the setting. Andromeda’s bass is however better defined, with Aether having similar bass resolution but less impact in the low setting.


Andromeda’s midrange has more body, while the Aether’s is slightly more distant in comparison. While Andromeda’s midrange has thicker notes, Aether has more presence in the upper midrange. This also gives the Aether’s midrange more air, with a slightly more accurate tonality for string instruments and pianos. The Aether sounds very natural, which is further exemplified by its smooth treble. It isn’t completely laidback, but less prominent than Andromeda’s. Andromeda in turn offers more sparkle, as well as thicker treble notes.


EarSonics S-EM9 ($1490)
Andromeda has a slightly wider stage, but the S-EM9’s is deeper. Due to Andromeda’s thicker note presentation, the stage placement is relatively full. The S-EM9 stage feels slightly more intimate, but the combination of leaner notes with greater treble extension and an airier stage gives it a cleaner sound. Simply said, Andromeda comes at you strong with a full-bodied sound, while the S-EM9 has a more delicate but refined presentation. Andromeda’s full sound makes it engaging, while the S-EM9’s better definition and separation gives it a different type of musicality, sounding very detailed without resorting to a brighter signature.


Both share a similar sub-bass, while the S-EM9's has more mid-bass impact, and its mid-bass is more resolving. However, Andromeda’s tighter bass is overall slightly quicker. While the S-EM9 scores points for its bass, Andromeda gets a win for its midrange: it has more body, power and warmth compared to the S-EM9. Vocals have greater size and density, especially male vocals. Both share an engaging treble, but Andromeda contrasts a thicker treble with a bit more sparkle against the S-EM9’s greater extension, which gives it an airier sound with better treble definition and articulation.

Jomo Samba ($1725)
Samba’s recently released 8 BA flagship is designed with a reference tuning in mind. The sound is relatively uncolored, with a focus on accuracy. Both have a large stage, but Samba’s is deeper while Andromeda's is taller. Due to the combination of Samba’s clean stage with leaner notes, it has the advantage in separation, with overall more air between the instruments. Andromeda’s notes are thicker and warmer, a contrast with Samba’s dryer but more highly resolved notes; the Andromeda has a more ‘fun’ tuning, compared to the Samba’s more technical presentation.


The Samba has more sub-bass impact, with less mid- and upper bass emphasis. This aids in its cleaner stage, while giving Andromeda the fuller and warmer sound. This continues in the lower midrange, where the Andromeda has a nice fill giving good body to the sound. Samba’s lower midrange is more distant in comparison, creating leaner notes. Overall, Andromeda’s midrange is warmer and fuller, with greater vocal density. The Samba’s midrange has more clarity and definition, and its upper midrange is more uncolored compared to the slightly brighter Andromeda. Similar to the S-EM9, the Samba’s treble is more articulate, while Andromeda’s is thicker. However due to a 7 KHz peak, Samba has a greater tendency towards sibilance.


Conclusion

If you’re planning on selling a lot of units, it’s probably best to tune a signature that will appeal to a wide audience. When I first started browsing through the forums, I used to think that ‘neutral’ was associated with boring, as it neither specializes in mids or treble. The more iems I started to listen to, the more I’m starting to realize that achieving a neutral signature is coming closer to perfection. Done right, a neutral signature isn’t a compromise between the bass, midrange and treble – it’s a perfect harmony. While the Andromeda isn’t truly neutral, it is a poster boy of this philosophy – the ability to perform well in every aspect of the spectrum. Not as a compromise, but a stellar display of coherency.

When different people discuss the Andromeda, some might want a little bit more sparkle, or a little bit less. But more often than not, both of them will agree the Andromeda sounds good. If the signature had been brighter or less bright, you’d have lost one of the groups. The balance between excitement and non-fatuiging is just very well done. But this is all after the fact - Andromeda’s popularity has already proven that.

A great deal of Andromeda’s success naturally comes down to its tuning – in the end we all do it for the sound.  A winning formula of an engaging signature, combined with excellent technical capabilities. Andromeda’s signature is a full package, and its ability to do well in all departments makes it incredibly versatile. But the other part of the success lies in its pricing. While prices in audio unfortunately continue to rise, Campfire is sending a powerful message that top of the line performance is also attainable around the $1000 mark. Andromeda isn’t good for its price – it’s good regardless of its price.


productred
productred
productred
productred
@ngoshawk get both, no sweat. I did and now feels complete.
flinkenick
flinkenick
Thanks guys, much appreciated!
Pros: Smooth sound signature, extremely detailed & resolving, great cable, good comfort
Cons: Shells get scratched fairly easily, hissing across sources
Holy hell, these are great. Nicest stock cable I’ve used, very flexible and the silver looks fantastic. Build quality for the IEMs are very good, but the aluminum has a bit of nicks from use, no big deal. Comfort is actually extremely good, despite the abundance of hard edges. With the right tips, these just disappear in the ear. I’m using JVC Spiral Dots/Ortofon L tips which have been working great.

These can be summed up by having a very slight U-shaped sound signature, with very good coherence. Coming from FitEar ToGO 334!, these have much more treble presence, which helps to add that “sparkle” to music. Mids are similar in quality but less emphasized so it doesn’t have as much richness. Bass quantity is a bit less, but the quality can be considered better, as the Andromedas are a bit faster than the TG334s which makes the low end sound more defined. I’d say imaging and soundstage are at the same level between the two, but the Andromedas are more “out of head”. The increased treble is the biggest differentiator I find in favour of the Andromedas. They have a very “hi-fi” sound, even straight from my Samsung S7 Edge.

In terms of source requirements, these are very sensitive so they are quite easy to drive. Bit of hissing with both of my sources, but apparently an impedance adapter helps to clear that up. Sounds great out of S7 Edge and iPad, so DAC/Amp definitely not necessary.

Summary: Very great pair of IEMs. Slightly better than the TG334 I had, while being cheaper, which makes them my best yet. Definitely worth looking at.

Top