Campfire Audio Andromeda

Rating:
4.88889/5,
  1. twister6
    The galaxy of Andromeda – a constellation of coherency and harmony!
    Written by twister6
    Published Jun 3, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - out of this galaxy smooth revealing sound tuning, solid industrial design, premium quality removable cable, luxurious leather case.
    Cons - the comfort of the fit is eartip dependent, the shell design could have softer corners, expect some hissing.

    I would like to Thank Campfire Audio for providing Andromeda review sample in exchange for my honest opinion.
     
    Manufacturer product website: https://www.campfireaudio.com/andromeda/
     
    * click on images to expand

     
    Just the other night I had a very clear and detailed dream about sitting next to the campfire in the wide open green pasture while sipping on a smooth rum cocktail from a solid aluminum jug, bejeweled in silver and copper, under the skies with five fairly balanced stars of a flagship constellation calling me with its divine sound of mysterious galaxy.  What a bizarre dream!  What a strange combination of random objects and events!  But was it really random or do they all connect together like stars of a bright constellation?  Yes, they do!  Welcome to the galaxy of Andromeda – a constellation of coherency and harmony!
     
    Whenever I review a product from a manufacturer I haven’t covered in the past, I like to start with a little intro about the company.  Here, I found a few associated companies with one name in common – Ken Ball, who is 100% behind all the audio engineering, the sound tuning, and the design.  Since I don’t get a chance to attend Head-fi meets, CanJam events, and other audio shows where Ken is very well known, my communication with him was limited to PM exchanges where I quickly realized how much passion and pride he has for his products and how much energy he puts into his work, regardless if it’s headphones, amplifiers, cables, or just a professional audio gear modding which he has been doing for well over a decade.  But two things really stood out.  One is how much he enjoys listening to music and finds it very important to the quality of his life.  The other is how Ken takes his accumulated knowledge of a traditional headphones design and uses it in conjunction with his outside-of-the-box thinking to approach everything from a totally different angle.
     
    Some might question why am I starting the review with all these praises?  In the last few years I tested and reviewed multiple dozens of headphones and many other pieces of audio gear with quite a few which I consider to be my favorites, but nothing have stopped me in my tracks like the first time I listened to Campfire Audio (CFA) Andromeda – Ken’s latest flagship creation.  Prior to this review, I didn’t know too much about ALO (another Ken's company) or CFA or how many veteran sound engineers or hearing aid professionals slaved behind the design and the sound tuning of this product.  So imagine my surprise when I learned it was a vision and a hard work of one person, along with a big contribution of Caleb Rosenau (the vice president of CFA), from a company that got into IEM design less than 3 years ago while hand building them in their lab (Portland, OR).  Shocking, indeed!  But I shouldn’t be surprised after realizing the driving force behind it.  Now, let’s proceed to the review.
     
    Unboxing.
     
    Arrived in a compact sturdy carton packaging, there was something about this box that felt rather crafty.  I’m not talking about rough edges or sloppy construction, but something different that stands out from a traditional glossy packaging with flashy images and spec bullets - just a modest picture of Andromeda with a green swirly background and a printed name with a basic description, and a hand drawn theme of stars in the sky.  I assume all CFA models will come in a similar box with the only difference being the picture and the color background which reflects the theme of that particular model.  It also worth mentioning that entire CFA lineup (Andromeda, Jupiter, Lyra, Nova, and Orion) is named around constellations, stars, and planets – something you would naturally enjoy by the campfire at night looking at the starry skies!
     
    With the box cover lifted up, you’ll find a custom dark leather zippered case hosting earphones and a cable.  I initially assumed that all accessories will be inside of the case as well, but instead the bottom of the packaging box comes out with the rest of the accessories hidden underneath.  One peculiar thing was the writing under the cover flap with “Nicely Done” message which could have different interpretations.  Nicely done – toward consumer for making a purchase, or nicely done – toward manufacturer for delivering the goods.  Either way, it shows that CFA cares to make unboxing experience more personal.
     
    cfa_andromeda-01_zpsnjnqrllh.jpg   cfa_andromeda-02_zpsn645eptt.jpg
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    Accessories.
     
    Even so the leather case is the highlight of the accessories, more goodies were included.  You get 3 sets of eartips with genuine Comply TX400 tips (S/M/L), generic foam tips (S/M/L), and a set of soft cap shallow silicone tips (S/M/L).  Definitely plenty of tips, but I would have loved to see at least one more set of silicone tips with a longer core stem to enhance fit comfort, though it’s purely subjective.  Also included were a cleaning tool with a magnetic tip (pretty cool to attach it to your desktop components or somewhere where it’s easy to find it), and a custom pin with Campfire Audio emblem/initials (didn't expect this one, but cool nevertheless).
     
    When it comes to the leather case, it’s definitely unique, premium quality, and lined with a soft fleece material on the inside.  The case has a hard shell to protect your investment during transportation, and once you unzip it – opens up like a coin wallet with protected sides so nothing falls out.  Some might find it an overkill, but considering the anodized finish of aluminum shells you don’t want to scratch them while these bang and slide inside of the case.  Thus, a fleece lining is not just for the looks but also to protect the alloy shell finish.
     
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    The cable.
     
    For those familiar with ALO Audio, another Ken’s company which is a parent of Campfire Audio, you probably aware that in addition to amplifiers he also makes custom cables.  Though a few of his earlier CFA releases featured tinsel wire cables, Andromeda comes with all new 3.5mm Litz SPC (silver plated copper) cable.
     
    I usually look into replacement cable for sonic improvement rather than the looks, but in this case both goals were met.  Starting with a translucent 90-deg gold plated jack, you can actually take a glimpse inside to see how wires are soldered, and the rubbery housing has a nice grip with a decent strain relief.  The 4 twisted wire conductors have silver finish with a medical grade pvc jacket, and the cable still feels soft and pliable.  Four separate wires also means that the ground of each earpiece side is isolated until the connector, which is just asking for a balanced cable jack.  Hopefully it will be available soon as a separate accessory from ALO.
     
    The y-splitter is slim and aluminum, like a silver bullet, and it has a clear plastic chin slider which retracts from the splitter.  The wires going to each earpiece after the splitter are twisted, and closer to mmcx connector housing you will find a memory wire section.  Here you a have a traditional stiff piece of a memory wire wrapped around in a soft clear tube which you can shape for over-the-ear fit.  The mmcx connector itself uses a high quality beryllium copper material, and the housing of the connector has red/blue dots corresponding to Right/Left sides.
     
    The same matching mmcx beryllium copper alloy connector is used in the shell of Andromeda, and you get a snappy and a secure joint.  Mmcx connectors have a bad rep due to intermittent contact issues or accumulated specks of dust or just premature wear off.  Here, an extra attention was paid to choose components with a premium quality material.  The only thing I’m not too crazy about is combination of memory wire hook spinning around the connector as you trying to put these monitors in your ears.  Could be a matter of personal preference, but I like to put earpieces in first and then put the cable over my ears without distraction of moving ear hook.  I would suggest an alternative cable version without memory wire piece, especially for those who wear glasses.  Also, those who are into DIY, be careful if you decide to remove wire by yourself because you can damage the connector housing since the memory wire is jammed tight inside.
     
    cfa_andromeda-14_zpsombj5s83.jpg   cfa_andromeda-15_zps6qv9w2lt.jpg
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    In most of my IEM/CIEM reviews I typically suggest to replace the stock ofc cable with premium aftermarket alternatives.  I do hear a difference in sound when switching between cheap stock ofc cable and spc or pure silver or old plated silver wires.  But in case of Andromeda we are not dealing with a cheap generic cable, but rather a premium Litz silver plated copper which ALO sells alone for $149 (https://www.campfireaudio.com/product/litz-cable/).
     
    But regardless of that I still went ahead with a swap, going through collection of my replacement cables, and made a full circle back to a stock Litz SPC.  Something like Linum BaX, which is also a Litz cable, affected the extension of lows where sub-bass got attenuated and I felt the sound lost a bit of sparkle.  Going with pure silver TWag v3 yielded a bit of sub-bass roll off as well and made the upper frequencies a bit too hot.  The only cable I found surprisingly close in performance was Fidue A83 replacement balanced cable, here.  It maintained a similar tonality of mids and treble, but sub-bass was still a bit rolled off in comparison.  Due to stiff memory wire in that Fidue cable, I actually did a little DIY mod by removing the shrink wrap cover and pulling the wire out.  While waiting for ALO Litz SPC balanced cable to become available and if you don’t mind modding (to remove memory wire), this could be a possible alternative.
     
    cfa_andromeda-31_zpsl7xqngsg.jpg   cfa_andromeda-32_zpsbvlqnykm.jpg
     
    Design.
     
    With an exception of Lyra which uses a ceramic shell, all other CFA models have shell machined from a solid block of aluminum with a hand anodized finish in a distinct color.  In case of Andromeda, the color was selected to be green since the name refers not only to constellation and the galaxy within it but also to an evergreen shrub.  But aside from a color variation, Andromeda, Jupiter, Nova, and Orion CFA models have the same exterior design with an identical shell held together by 3 torx screws and a short aluminum nozzle.  It definitely has a really cool looking industrial design.
     
    While it looks very original with its angled facet corners and sides, due to a short nozzle the fit might not be everyone's cup of tea using stock eartips.  We all have a different ear anatomy so this is subjective, but it's still very important to go through various eartips not only for seal/isolation purpose but also to find the one which going to provide enough spacing to prevent the shell from rubbing against your concha area.  Eartips vary not only in material but also in length of the inner stem where even a few mm can make a difference depending on the depth of your inner ear canal.
     
    cfa_andromeda-29_zpsog7ow871.jpg
     
    I just don't want the people to be discouraged if they are having a fit issue with Andromeda or any other CFA model because a wrong eartip selection will not only leave you with a poor seal and reduced isolation, which affects the low end performance, but can also cause a few sore spots if the shell rubs against your ear.  A few things I might suggest to CFA, in addition to another set of longer silicone eartips also maybe look into smoothing out the corners and using torx screws with a rounded head.
     
    As far as the internal design, it’s unique to every model and depends on a driver config.  With Andromeda being a flagship featuring 5 Balanced Armature drivers, they are partitioned in groups of dual lows, single mid, and dual highs with each individual group going to one of the 3 bores machined into a nozzle tip.  But Ken/CFA decided to take it one step further besides a simple passive crossover which is still utilized in here.  Andromeda features a Patented design of an optimized acoustic resonator assembly which is machined into the aluminum enclosure.  It actually replaces the traditional tube and dampener system commonly used in other IEMs.  As confirmed, this acoustic resonator device is only applicable to the dual high frequency drivers, and happens to be a part of the CFA Patent.
     
    As far as the actual spec goes, stated by manufacturer, the frequency response is extended from 10Hz to 28kHz, and we are also looking at higher sensitivity of 115 dB with a low impedance of 12.8 ohm.  I will talk more about the pair up in my sound analysis section of the review, but basically this means that you should expect a moderate level of hissing depending on your source selection.  You can choose to mitigate the hissing problem with an impedance adapter, and I actually confirmed it with 75 ohm adapter to quite it down, but in addition to cutting the noise the low end impact got reduced noticeably as well.  I’m sure fans of SE846 can relate to this (the same story of higher sensitivity and low impedance).
     
    Overall, as far as the design concerned, there are no showstoppers but definitely a room for improvement, especially when it comes to a personal preference with the fit.  Other than that, I see a very solid build, a very unique industrial look, and a patented sound shaping technique inside of the shell.  All this is not just words on a paper, it actually reflects in a rather impressive sound quality which I’m going to talk about in the next section of the review.
     
    cfa_andromeda-13_zpsrxz9kiov.jpg   cfa_andromeda-19_zpsf2mtp5o8.jpg
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    The fit.
     
    cfa_andromeda-30_zpsgs9jmumy.jpg
     
    Sound analysis.
     
    Everybody has their own personal sound preference, and after a while I almost gave up on being able to find one pair of in-ear monitors that going to come close to balancing out a warm natural sound and a more revealing reference sound.  I always separate headphones into these two groups and analyze which one comes closer to my target preference signature.  Here, Andromeda was able to close the gap with a nearly perfect yin-yang balance of revealing detailed sound wrapped in a blanket of smoothness and coherency.
     
    After a few weeks of continuous listening and going between PAW Gold and Opus#1 as my two primary sources, I found Andromeda to have a balanced revealing signature, with a slight hint of being mid-forward, and a very smooth natural tonal characteristic.  The signature is actually a good example of W-shaped balanced sound where lows, mids, and highs stand out and equally grab your attention.  You can easily shift your focus and effortlessly zoom in to distinct parts of the spectrum.  But as I mentioned already, the most important characteristics of Andromeda sound quality is being able to successfully bridge the gap between warm smooth and revealing detailed tonalities, resulting in a perfection of a smooth organic transparent sound with an impressive clarity and retrieval of details.
     
    Starting with a bass, you hear a bottomless low end extension with a visceral sub-bass rumble that has a warm textured quality.  Here, the tuning doesn't shy away from a slightly enhanced quantity, but surprisingly it doesn't overpower the mid-bass or turns Andromeda into L-shaped basshead monitor.  I hear a deep analog sub-bass layered underneath of a fast tight punchy mid-bass.  Bass is well controlled with an excellent separation from the mids.  In some cases, I found other multi-BA headphones with lows tuned like analog dynamic driver, while here it's a combination of what sounds like a warm lush dynamic driver sub-bass with a fast balanced armature driver mid-bass - coherent and in unison.
     
    Mids are another star of the tuning where lower mids have a natural organic body, not too lean but with a little bit of thickness and absolute zero muddiness.  That was another pleasant surprise because in a number of other IEMs I tested in the past, bass enhancement with a little thicker lower mids can take away from sound clarity by introducing some muddiness.  Here, it was carefully tuned without affecting sound clarity.  And speaking of clarity, the details of upper mids are very impressive.  It wasn’t exactly on a crunchy micro-detail level, but very close minus the crunchy part - very smooth and organic retrieval of details without a hint of harshness.  I especially enjoyed the vocal performance, both male and female, which had such a natural and realistic tonality.
     
    Treble is bright and clear, with an excellent definition, zero sibilance or graininess, not too crunchy or super airy, but it still extends nicely and has just a perfect amount of airiness to lighten up the upper frequencies.  If you are a fan, for example, of extended crash cymbals, you are not going to hear the full extension of the decay.  I guess something gotta give, and I'm perfectly fine with it, though Andromeda treble performance is still ahead of many other smooth signature IEMs I've tested.  Again, as I stated before, I'm very impressed with clarity and transparency of these IEMs considering now smooth they sound.
     
    The soundstage expansion is definitely on a whole other level with a real holographic 3D imaging where the width/depth/height parameters are way above the average performance.  It results in a relatively accurate placement of instruments and vocals in space, but at the same time in a few of the tracks with extreme panning of sounds it felt even a bit overwhelming.  Andromeda is great not just for listening to music but also for watching movies or playing video games with surround effects.  It picks up every little nuance of the random noise, places it perfectly in space, and gives it a new dimension.  Even so separation of instruments and vocals was really good, the layering was just Ok.  But I still found the sound to be very dynamic and transparent.
     
    cfa_andromeda-28_zpsslciu15n.jpg
     
    Comparison.
     
    Andromeda vs 64 Audio U12 - U12 soundstage width is a little narrower, while depth/height is the same.  U12 has a bit less sub-bass quantity with B1 filter which actually gets closer to with S1 filter, mid-bass punch is very similar though Andromeda has a little more speed.  Lower mids are very similar, while Andromeda upper mids are brighter and more detailed where U12 is warmer, and not as forward as Andromeda.  Andromeda treble is a little brighter, with a slightly better definition and more airiness.  One of the biggest differences here is Andromeda being more transparent, faster, and with a little better retrieval of details while U12 is smoother, more organic, more laid back, and warmer in comparison.
     
    Andromeda vs Noble K10UA - soundstage is similar in depth/height, but Andromeda is noticeably wider.  Andromeda has more sub-bass, while K10 has a faster mid-bass, both have a well controlled low end.  K10 lower mids are leaner, while Andromeda upper mids are smoother and more organic in comparison to K10 which can get a bit harsher and brighter.  K10 treble is brighter and has more crunch, and with a bit more airiness.  Andromeda sounds more natural smoother, while K10 is more revealing.
     
    Andromeda vs UM Maestro - Maestro width is a lot narrower, while depth/height are very close.  Maestro sub-bass is more rolled off, while mid-bass punch is as fast but less aggressive.  Lower mids are a little leaner, but not by a lot, upper mids in Maestro are brighter and little harsher in comparison.  Treble in Maestro has better extension and also brighter and with more crunch and airiness, which could even feel a bit grainy in comparison.  Both have a detailed clear sound, but Andromeda is a lot smoother (not warmer, but smoother) and has a more natural tonality without any graininess or harshness.
     
    Andromeda vs Noble Savant - Savant soundstage width is a little narrower, while depth/height is the same.  Savant sub-bass feels more attenuated and mid-bass punch is a lot less aggressive.  Lower mids in Savant are just a touch leaner while upper mids are very similar, being detailed a little more forward, but also a little brighter in comparison. Treble has a similar definition and airiness, but Savant has a little more crunch.  Overall Andromeda has definitive upper hand in bass, and sounds smoother and a little more organic in comparison.
     
    Andromeda vs Westone ES60 - ES width is very close, but not 100% as wide, the height is the same but with a little less depth.  Sub-bass and mid-bass in ES are more neutral in quantity and don't extend as deep or punch as fast or have the same impact.  ES lower mids are a bit leaner, but not by a lot, upper mids are very similar, maybe with Andromeda being a touch smoother and a bit more organic.  Treble is also very similar, clear and well defined without too much airiness.  Both have great transparency, but ES is more reference quality with a slight advantage in retrieval of details.  Andromeda is more balanced and a little smoother, with a more lifted low end.
     
    Andromeda vs Westone W60 - soundstage is similar in comparison but W60 is a bit narrower, while depth/height is the same. W60 bass is slower and looser with a bit of spillage into lower mids, and thicker lower mids and smoother/warmer upper mids, also less sparkle in treble.  Andromeda is smooth, but faster, tighter, and with a more articulate bass and better control/separation from mids, leaner lower mids, more revealing detailed upper mids, and more sparkle/airiness in treble.
     
    Andromeda vs Inear SD-4 - SD4 soundstage is narrower, while depth/height is the same.  Due to a more mid-forward sig, it feels like SD4 sub-/mid-bass are lower in quantity, but it could be just the case of sound signature difference.  With that in consideration, SD4 sub-bass is a little rolled off and mid-bass is not as fast.  Lower mids are very similar, while upper mids are brighter, a little more revealing, though a bit harsher in comparison.  SD4 treble is brighter, crispier, with a better extension and more airiness, but at the same time a little harsher, in some tracks even pushing closer to sibilance threshold.  In general, Andromeda is more balanced, smoother, with a deeper low end impact, while SD4 is brighter and more analytical and with a more enhanced top end.
     
    Pair up.
     
    As I was going through a pair-up with different sources, the main focus of this test was to compare hissing level, overall soundstage expansion, general sound quality, and the quality of low end impact.  I didn’t focus on more detailed aspects of the sound analysis, and instead chose what I found to vary the most between different sources.
     
    LPG (Lotoo PAW Gold) – low hissing; the sound is very spacious, detailed, transparent, fast/punchy, with a natural tonality. I hear a strong mid-bass and textured sub-bass.
    Micro iDSD (dac/amp) – no hissing due to a highly configurable gain setting (Micro rocks in this regard!); the sound is very spacious and detailed, has natural organic tonality, and excellent low end extension.  Reminded me a lot of LPG performance, maybe even better.
     
    Samsung Note 4 – some hissing; good soundstage, detailed, smooth, fast sound with surprisingly great natural tonality though a bit warmer in comparison to other sources, and the bass is not as articulate.  Still, a good pair up on the go with a smartphone.
     
    L&P L5Pro - some hissing; good soundstage, detailed punchy smooth sound, a bit bright and with rolled off sub-bass.  Actually, I wasn't too crazy about this pair up, kind of caught me by surprise.
     
    theBit Opus#1 - low hissing; very spacious, detailed, highly resolving organic sound quality, beautifully textured bass with a nice mid-bass punch.  Definitely among my favorite pair ups in this group.
     
    iBasso DX80 - some hissing; good soundstage expansion, sound is warm, smooth, detailed, but not super resolving, more on a warmer analog side.  I’m on a fence with this pair up, it was a bit too smooth for my taste.
     
    A&K AK120ii - no hissing; very nice soundstage expansion, detailed, fast/punchy sound, slightly rolled off sub-bass, a bit more mid-forward signature.  Zero-hiss sound in comparison to all of my other DAP sources, and I expect the same with other AK models.
     
    FiiO X7 w/AM2 - faint hissing; not bad soundstage, very detailed balanced sound, smooth tonality, nice punchy mid-bass and good sub-bass extension.
     
    Cayin N5 – hissing is high; good soundstage expansion, very balanced detailed sound, excellent low end performance, actually I found both sub-bass and mid-bass quantity/quality to be on a level of LPG, very punchy detailed sound.  With an exception of hissing, this pair up was actually good.
     
    FiiO X5ii - faint hissing; good soundstage, excellent low end performance (sub-bass and mid-bass quality is really good), excellent punchy sound.  Definitely a pleasant surprise, X5ii pulled through with a really good pair up.
     
    ThinkPad T430s laptop – pretty bad hissing; sound was too thin and bright with poor low end performance.  I didn’t expect a miracle and only tested it because my laptop was paired up with Micro iDSD already.  Straight from HO of my laptop, which has a generic sound chip, I found the pair up to be rather underwhelming.
    Also, for the test purpose, I tried driving E12A and Q1 portable amps from LO and HO of LPG, and found E12A to be dead silent while Q1 yielded some hissing.
     
    Conclusion.
     
    I learned my lesson not to label any IEM/CIEM as the endgame headphones, because every time I think I found one - another review pair gets into my hands/ears and I have to eat my own words.  One thing for sure, CFA Andromeda was the biggest surprise for me so far in 2016, and it will be a tough act to follow.  With its warm, smooth, revealing tonality and a perfectly balanced sound signature, including the holographic soundstage expansion, Andromeda didn't just get a checkmark next to all of my personal sound preferences, it quickly got to the top of my favorite in-ear monitors list.  As a mentioned before, nothing is 100% perfect and there is some room for improvement, but it's related to a combination of the fit and my personal ear anatomy.  Once I found a pair of eartips that slightly extended the nozzle insertion, it resolved all the previous issues I had with a comfort of the fit.  Now, I'm really curious what Ken is going to come up with next.  If it took him less than 3 years to build flagship Andromeda and other CFA models, how can you top that?  Hopefully will find out in a near future.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. istirsin
      Have you heard the Dunu DN-2000J? I'm really curious as to how those compare to the Andromeda!
      istirsin, Aug 3, 2016
    3. moshen
      Great review. Sounds exactly how I hear it when compared to both the U12 and K10u.
      moshen, Aug 24, 2016
    4. gc335
      Thanks for the great review!  What cable did use to pair the Opus and the Andromedas? Balanced or SE?  Thanks!
      gc335, Dec 22, 2016
  2. Brooko
    Campfire Audio Andromeda - Tonality, Balance and Clarity
    Written by Brooko
    Published Oct 18, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Build quality, cable quality, sound quality (superb), balance, clarity, imaging ability, fit, accessories, and KB/Campfire service.
    Cons - Edges on the internal facing (comfort) – can be mitigated by tip choice
    andromeda29.jpg
    For larger views of any of the photos (1200 x 800) - please click on the individual images

    INTRODUCTION

    Firstly I'd like to acknowledge Head-fier d marc0 (Mark) and also Ken Ball from ALO/Campfire for making this review possible. The opportunity to hear and review an IEM which may not have been available otherwise to me is very much appreciated.

    So far I've heard Campfire's Lyra, Orion, Jupiter (I chose not to review the Jupiter as I had issues with it's sonic signature and my own particular physiology / bias / sensitivity – which would have made any review overly skewed), and Nova. The one which intrigued me the most in the Campfire line-up thought was the Andromeda (their flagship). I'd heard prototypes of the Andromeda, and hoped to hear and review a final version at some stage. That time has now come, and I'm very grateful for the opportunity.

    Unfortunately for this review – I've only been able to use these for a little over a week – so please take this into account. These are shorter term impressions.

    ABOUT CAMPFIRE AUDIO
    Campfire Audio is a partner company or off-shoot to ALO Audio, and is run by ALO's CEO and founder Ken Ball, and a small team of like-minded enthusiasts and engineers. Ken of course is the CEO and founder of ALO Audio (2006) and ALO is very well known for creating high quality audio components – including cables, amplifiers and all manner of other audio equipment. Ken founded Campfire Audio in 2015 – with a vision of creating extremely high quality earphones with excellence in design, materials and of course sound quality.

    DISCLAIMER
    The Campfire Audio Andromeda was provided to me for review as part of a tour. I get to use it for about 7-10 days then it goes to the next tour recipient. I am not affiliated to Campfire or ALO Audio in any way, and this is my subjective opinion of the Andromeda.

    The Campfire Audio Andromeda can be sourced directly from Campfire Audio for USD 1099

    PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'.
    I'm a 49 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile – I just love my music. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up. I vary my listening from portables (including the FiiO X5ii, X3ii, X7, LP5, L3, and iPhone 5S) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > USB > iFi iDSD). I also use a portable set-up at work – usually either X3ii/X7/L3 > HP, or PC > E17K > HP. My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Sennheiser HD800S, Beyerdynamic T1, Sennheiser HD600 & HD630VB, and AKG K553. Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs, and lately it has mainly been with the Jays q-Jays, Alclair Curve2 and Adel U6. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).

    I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences. I am not treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880. I have a specific sensitivity to the 2-3 kHz frequency area (most humans do) but my sensitivity is particularly strong, and I tend to like a relatively flat mid-range with slight elevation in the upper-mids around this area.

    I have extensively tested myself (ABX) and I find aac256 or higher to be completely transparent. I do use exclusively red-book 16/44.1 if space is not an issue. All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line). I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables, and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’. I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 49, my hearing is less than perfect (it only extends to around 14 kHz nowadays). My usual listening level is around 65-75 dB.
    Over the last week I’ve used the Andromeda paired with most of the sources I have at my disposal – from my iPhone to the L3 and X7. But for the review I’ve used mainly my X3ii + E17K, and also the X7 and L3. In the time I’ve been using the Andromeda, I haven’t noticed any sonic change. And although I used the Andromeda coupled with several different amplifiers, they are easily driven, and will pair nicely with most sources straight from the headphone out (some may want to use an amp though for sensitivity/impedance corrections).

    This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.

    THE REVIEW

    PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
    andromeda01.jpg andromeda02.jpg andromeda03.jpg

    Distinctive Andromeda outer box

    Inside the flap - the CA Andromeda leather case

    Hidden lower compartment


    The Andromeda's arrived to me in their distinctive 122 x 83 x55 mm hinged lid retail printed cardboard box. The background is a silver on dark blue “night sky” illustration, with a distinctive green sticker on the top and front face. The sticker has the characteristic CA swirl, the model (Andromeda), picture of the monitors and some information on Campfire Audio,a nd the primary features of the Andromeda (“high fidelity in ear monitors / five drivers + machined alumnium housing).

    Opening the lid reveals the Campfire Audio carry case – which this time is real leather, is very sturdy, but more “jacket or bag pocketable” than trousers. It measures approx. 75 x 115 x 45 mm. The case is zipped on 3 sides, and when opened reveals a soft wool interior which will definitely protect and preserve your IEMs. With the outside being genuine leather, it is quite strong, and also pretty rigid.

    andromeda04.jpg andromeda05.jpg andromeda06.jpg

    Lower compartment opened

    All accessories

    The manual


    Under the case will be a hidden compartment which reveals the accessories. These include:

    1. S/M/L silicone tips
    2. S/M/L generic foam tips (Crystal foam type)
    3. S/M/L genuine Comply T400 tips
    4. A cleaning brush / wax remover
    5. A Campfire Audio logo clothing button / pin
    6. Campfire’s foldout user manual (incl care instructions and warranty info)

    andromeda07.jpg andromeda08.jpg andromeda09.jpg

    Tips, cleaning tool and pin/badge

    3 sided zipped leather case

    Protective wool inner environment


    You really won’t need any more than what is included, as the cinch on the cable negates the need for a shirt clip. And while I note the omission of an airline adapter or 3.5-6.3 mm adapter, really speaking – how many of us actually use these (plus they are easy to pick up for a very small outlay).

    TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
    I’ve listed below the main specifications for the Campfire Andromeda.

    Current Retail
    $1099 (Campfire Website)
    Type
    Five Balanced Armature drivers
    Driver Configuration
    Dual low, single mid, dual high frequency
    Other Acoustic Feature
    Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber
    Freq Range
    10 Hz – 28 kHz
    Impedance
    12.8 ohm (@ 1kHz)
    Sensitivity
    115 dB SPL /mW @ 1 kHz
    Jack
    3.5mm gold plated, 90 deg
    Cable
    1.2m, removable (MMCX) – silver plated copper (ALO Litz Cable)
    Weight
    26g including cable and tips
    IEM Shell
    CNC aluminium, then zirconium blasted and anodised
    Body shape / fit
    Ergonomic, cable over ear



    FREQUENCY GRAPH
    The graphs below are generated using the Vibro Veritas coupler and ARTA software. Ken had graciously provided me with measurement data for the same set of CA Novas in a previous review, and I used this to recalibrate my Veritas so that it mimics an IEC 711 measurement standard (Ken uses two separate BK ear simulators in a configuration I can only dream about and envy him for). I do not claim that this data is 100% accurate, but it is very consistent, and is as close as I can get to the 711 standard on my budget. Ken's own reference measurements on far better equipment will be a lot more accurate than mine – but because I use my own kit in later comparisons, I will use my own.

    freqresp.png
    MY GRAPH

    KBAndomedaGraph.jpg
    KENS GRAPH

    What I’m hearing (subjective).

    1. Linear bass response with a very natural sounding slight rise, excellent bass extension, and more importantly no bleed into mid-range
    2. Very clean and coherent mid-range with a relatively small dip in the fundamental range (around the 1 kHz), and then subsequent rise in the presence area (from 1-2 kHz with a very small peak in the 2 kHz range) – which gives female vocals a lift in the presence or overtone area, yet sounds very natural.
    3. Well extended and detailed lower treble which does not exhibit excessive sibilance (for me) and remains extremely detailed with great extension and more than sufficient air for clarity.
    4. Overall I’d say that the Andromeda is one of the most well well balanced monitors I've tried. Vocals are in perfect harmony with bass and treble, and Campfire have achieved an exceptional mix of natural tonality and clarity.

    The channel matching on this pair of Andromedas is exceptional (and some of the differences shown in my measurements are likely to be minor differences in seating each ear piece). They are practically identical. When Ken says his team hand-pick and match the drivers, it isn’t just “marketing speak”.

    BUILD & DESIGN
    External

    andromeda11.jpg andromeda12.jpg andromeda13.jpg

    External face - beautifully machined

    Rear side view - perfect upward angle on the nozzles

    Front face and nozzle bores


    I really enjoy a simple, clean design. The Andromedas share a very similar design to similar earphones in the Campfire range – especially the likes of the Orion and Nova. Campfire uses a fully machined aluminium enclosure. Each shell is taken from a solid block of aircraft grade aluminium and then each small batch is CNC machined and finished – with the process talking around 9 hours. After that they are zirconium blasted to achieve a very smooth finish, which also helps to more effectively hold the colour during anodisation.

    andromeda14.jpg andromeda15.jpg andromeda16.jpg

    From the top and looking at the sockets

    Internal face - edges have been rounded slightly

    Beryllium MMCX connectors


    Physically each shell measures approximately 21mm in length, 16 mm in height and has a depth of approx. 19mm (including the nozzle). The nozzle itself is angled slightly forward and slightly up, extends approx. 6-7mm from the main body, and has an external diameter of 6mm. The nozzle has three distinctive bores. The main body shape is very ergonomic, and the Andromeda is designed to be used with the cable over ear. The IEM shell is 3 pieces in total – nozzle, shell and back plate – with the plate secured by 3 small torx screws. There are L/R marking on the inside of both ear pieces and the Campfire logo is also discretely engraved on the outer face. The finish is what I would call a forest or emerald green, the entire shell is precision cut – and these look quite simply very beautiful and very fresh (they appeal to my subjective tastes anyway).

    andromeda10.jpg andromeda19.jpg andromeda17.jpg

    The gorgeous and very flexible litz cable

    Formable cable ear loops

    Very supply and largely noise free litz cable


    At the top of the shell is a beryllium coated MMCX connector, and when used with the supplied silver plated copper ALO Litz cable, the connection is made with a reassuring click. The cables do rotate in their sockets, but the connection itself seems to be very robust. Unfortunately this is one of those things that only time can be the judge of – but the craftsmanship and material used seem to indicate longevity (to me anyway).

    andromeda.jpg andromeda18.jpg andromeda20.jpg

    3.5mm gold plated right angled jack

    Y split and cinch

    Formable loops are very good


    As I mentioned, the cable is ALO’s new “Litz”. It utilises individually enameled strands of high purity sliver-plated copper wire, which are then combined into 4 separate conductors, which are in turn encased in a durable medical grade PVC outer jacket. The cable is extremely flexible and light-weight, has stunningly low microphonics (practically non-existent), and virtually no annoying memory issues. The male MMCX connector is again beryllium coated, fits very snugly, and has either a blue or red dot on the connector to indicate L/R. There is a 80mm length of memory wire for over-ear wear, and I’ve found this very malleable, but also holds its shape very well. The cable is approximately 1.2m long, and consists of two twisted pairs above the Y split which continue as a twisted quad right through to the jack. The Y split is small and light and houses an in-built cinch which works really well (easy to move yet holds its position well when cinched). The jack is 3.5mm, right angled, and has clear rubber housing. Strain relief is excellent. The jack will also fit my iPhone 5S with case in place, although YMMV as the diameter of the rubber base is around 6mm. I like this cable so much, I am genuinely tempted to purchase it separately for some of my other MMCX based IEMs.

    Internal
    Internally the Andromeda uses a new and unique approach to its tuning, and which Ken regards as being the secret behind the lower and upper treble extension. For a starter the Andromeda uses a combination of 5 BAs to achieve its overall signature, and these are arranged with a dual BA for the lows, single BA for the mids and dual BA for the highs. Rather than using a traditional acoustic tube and damper solution for the high frequency drives, Campfire have implemented a Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber (or TAEC system). The 3-D printed chamber allows internal acoustic tuning without the compression associated with dampers – which Ken says results in high frequencies which are very open sounding and extended. My own hearing tops out at around 14 kHz nowadays so I'm probably a poor judge of the upper frequencies, but I can confirm that the Andromedas do sound quite open open and have great upper end clarity.

    FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION
    Fit
    Fit for me is fantastic – the shells are very ergonomic in shape, and this includes the angle of the nozzles and also the placement of the cable exits. The shells (when fitted) do not extend outside my outer ear (they are more flat or in-line with it), and I have no issues lying down with the Andromeda. The memory wire is also really well implemented here so that snugging the wires properly is easy. The fit is relatively shallow, so for me I need to resort to my larger tips. If it was possible to extend the nozzle length by a couple of mm, it would really help the overall fit I think.

    Comfort
    andromeda35.jpg
    This leads me to comfort and just as with the Nova I'm in two minds about this. I was mildly critical of the internally angled design utilised in Campfire's Orion, Jupiter, and Nova. My ears are soft, smooth, and have a lot of curved surfaces. I’d bet yours do to. The interior of the Andromeda shell has a series of angular edges. I first noted this with the Jupiter, and it continued with the Orion and now the Nova. The Lyra lacked these edges and was extremely comfortable for me. I'm not sure with the Andromeda whether it's me getting used to the fit, or maybe its the Zirconium blasting procedure, but the Andromeda is definitely more comfortable for me this time, and although it doesn't quite “disappear" during wearing like some of my other monitors – it seems to be an improvement over earlier models to the point it has become more of a non-issue.

    Isolation
    andromeda27.jpg
    As far as isolation goes, it will be tip dependent. For me, using large Shure Olives tips, the isolation is excellent – at least as good as using my q-Jays (deep insertion and wonderful isolaters), and I would use the Andromeda without question on long haul air travel.

    Tip Choices
    Those who’ve read my reviews will know that I have one ear canal slightly different to the other one (my right is very slightly smaller) - so I tend to find that usually single silicon flanges don't fit overly well. This is often even more of an issue with shallow fitting IEMs. I tried my usual selection of silicones and found varying degrees of success. Tip matching will always be personal preference – but here are some of the tips which fit pretty well.
    andromeda24.jpg andromeda25.jpg andromeda26.jpg

    Included Comply Tx400 and Crystal foam

    SpinFits and Ostry tuning tips

    Spiral Dots and Trinity Kombi tips



    1. Sony Isolation / Trinity Kombi tips – great isolation and seal and probably my second choice behind the Shures
    2. Crystal foams / Comply foams – great isolation and seal.
    3. Spin-fits – extra length allowed me to use a looser fit while maintaining seal, but isolation was not as good as other options.
    4. Ostry tuning tips – good seal and isolation.
    5. Spiral Dots -very good seal, and did help to provide a little more upper end emphasis.
    6. Large Shure Olives. You need to stretch the core to get them on, but they are perfect for me for shallow fitting IEMs. Perfect isolation, longevity with continual use, comfort and allowance of a looser fit in ear all adds up to a perfect tip choice. YMMV.

    SOUND QUALITY
    The following is what I hear from the Campfire Audio Andromeda. YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline). Most of the testing at this point (unless otherwise stated) was done with my FiiO X3ii and E17K and large Shure Olive tips. For the record – on most tracks, the volume level on the E17K was around 11-13/60 on low gain which was giving me an average SPL of around 70 dB (mostly 65-75 dB) and peaks at around 75-80dB (A weighted measurements from my SPL meter).
    andromeda28.jpg
    Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.

    First Impressions
    Unlike many of my reviews (where I try to avoid preconceptions by not reading anyone else's work), I'd already seen many other opinions on the Andromeda before I tried them, and I have to admit I was reasonably sceptical with some of the superlatives being written about them. I know how products tend to be hyped beyond reality, and to be honest, I was expecting a slightly different signature to what I first heard. For me, from the very first listen it wasn't a wow!, but rather an appreciation of how well tuned they were. The balance is really good. That appreciation has slowly grown over the last week and for me personally, that usually signifies that long-term (for my tastes) these would become exceptional monitors. Usually if I get a wow from the start, this fades eventually and I am left with a sound sig which I quickly tire of. The Andromeda is one of those IEMs which (for me anyway) I could happily ditch most of the other IEMs I have, and become more of an audio monogamist. It just does practically everything right. The more I listen, the more my appreciation grows.

    Relativities

    1. Sub-bass – very well extended and there is a decent amount of rumble there (which shows the impressive extension), but bass is not the overall star of the show. Bass is beautifully balanced with the mid-range (bass might be slightly elevated in comparison), and sub-bass is essentially flat compared to mid-bass
    2. Mid-bass – very slightly elevated compared to mid-range, but generally reasonably flat (frequency wise). No noticeable bleed into the mid-range, and definitely enough impact to sound natural. A beautifully balanced mix of warmth and speed which is rare in a BA set-up. Very good sense of texture too.
    3. Lower mid-range – very slightly recessed compared to mid-bass, but sounds completely natural with this tuning. The last thing you would call the Andromeda is U or V shaped. There is wonderful texture with deeper male vocals (Pearl Jam is wonderful – Eddie's vocals stunning), and the clarity on the mid-range overall is exceptional.
    4. Upper mid-range – elevated compared to lower mid-range, but it is a slow rise from lower mid-range to the first small peak at about 2 kHz. The result is an incredibly clean and clear vocal range, with enough presence to lend a sense of euphony to female vocals – but without over-doing it and making the entire signature too lean or dry. The upper mid-range on the Andromeda is (for me) one of the best qualities of this IEM and strikes a wonderful balance between sweetness and air and remaining natural (uncoloured).
    5. Lower treble – there is a definite peak at around 7 kHz, so if you're sensitive to this area, it might pay to be cautious with the Andromeda. I'm not – so this tuning is very good for me. Ken's more accurate graphs show a similar peak at 9 kHz. There is some roll-off immediately after this peak, so you have a lot of clarity and definition without any real harshness or brittleness. One of my tests for lower treble is to listen to the natural decay of cymbal hits and see if it is overly truncated. highlighted or sounds natural. For me the treble decay with the Andromeda just sounds unbelievably natural – it extends and tapers off exactly the way a cymbal does in real life. Magical! There is some sibilance in tracks like “Let It Rain” (Amanda Marshall), but the sibilance is in the recording and the Andromeda is merely revealing what is in the recording, neither enhancing or masking it. The treble tuning for me is one of the best parts of the Andromeda – and especially when you combine it with the mid-range

    Resolution / Detail / Clarity

    1. Excellent with micro detail, and able to resolve finer details well without spotlighting or over-emphasising.
    2. Cymbal hits and decay on cymbals have excellent presence, and decay is very naturally portrayed
    3. An extremely clean and clear monitor with good resolution portrayed very naturally.

    Sound-stage, Imaging

    1. Extremely good directional queues, and just outside the periphery of my head space with binaural tracks – so above average width and depth
    2. Spherically presented stage – without uneven emphasis on width or depth. One of the better portrayals of sound-stage I've heard with an IEM
    3. Compelling sense of immersion both with applause section of “Dante's Prayer”, and also “Let it Rain”. A genuine sense of space was apparent with both.
    4. I had read about the Andromeda's stage being “massive”, and “cavernous”. I want to make it clear that in my testing neither statement is true. The Andromeda portrays a stage to me that is better than most IEM's I've heard (64Audio's Adel series is an obvious exception). The sense of space is impressive in that it is expansive for an IEM, but I would suggest any claims of rivalling full sized headphones in this regards may be a little overstated (at least for the open headphones I have).

    Strengths

    1. Balance, balance, balance – this is how a reference monitor should sound. KB nailed it.
    2. Clarity without being overly bright
    3. Excellent with both male and female vocals
    4. Fantastic with dynamic music – and able to show very good contrast between bass and upper mid-range (eg Cello and Violin)
    5. Fantastic with acoustic music and gives strings good sense of realism and tone when plucked, and nice edge to electric guitar when strummed.
    6. Very good with female vocals, lending enough euphony and sweetness to be a real joy to listen to – but without over doing it. Sarah Jarosz (my latest “obsession”) sounded incredible. A sonic signature I could listen to for hours.
    7. Genre master for lovers of a balanced signature – I enjoyed it with all genres tested – from classical, jazz and blues to electronic, grunge and pop.

    Weaknesses

    1. I have to confess that sonically I can't find a weakness so far. The Andromeda is one of the best tuned monitors I've ever heard

    Summary
    It was while I was listening to the Andromeda this afternoon and putting the finishing touches to the review that I twigged what it reminded me of sonically. It has the same type of balance as the HD800S – just without the very expansive sound stage, and without the extreme clarity the HD800S somehow provides. But the sense of overall balance and tonality is very similar. And that small statement there should be an indicator of how I feel about the signature of the Andromeda.

    AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS
    As I alluded to earlier, the Andromeda is easily driven out of a smartphone or DAP, and on my iPhone 5S I’m sitting around 20% for my normal listening level (65-75 dB).

    I also volume matched and compared X3ii vs X3ii + E17K, and there was no discernible audible difference in dynamic presentation – so I think it is pretty safe to say that extra amping won’t be necessary. Based on the specs alone (12.8 ohm and 115dB SPL), straight out of the headphone-out of most sources should be more than enough. My favourite source was probably L&P's L3 – there is a somehow effortless presentation with it which I find absolutely captivating. And this may have something to do with overall sensitivity and hiss.

    Because of the high sensitivity of the Andromeda I thought it best to also test for hiss or noise. With my tinnitus, I can't hear any hiss (it is essentially masked by my tinnitus) so I employed the super sensitive hearing of my 13 year old daughter. Emma was able to hear hiss on practically every device I tested – depending on volume. It was louder on the X3ii and even on the E17K (which surprised me), but much quieter (still present) on the X5ii, X7 (AM3) and L3. On all of these DAPs when music was playing (at Emma's normal very quiet listening level – which is about 55-60 dB), the hissing disappeared (masked by the music). She agreed with me that she thought the L3 (and for her also the X7) was her pick for pairings.

    andromeda30.jpg andromeda31.jpg andromeda37.jpg

    X3ii + E17K, X5ii, X7 and L3

    Balanced tests with L3 and HFM SuperMini (ALO Tinsel cable)

    Trinity's Bluetooth adaptor and an iPhone 5S


    And one thing while we're talking about pairings - I very much enjoyed the Andromedas paired wire-lessly with my iPhone 5S using Trinity's new Bluetooth adaptor. Simple to use, sounded fantastic, very portable. It really was a breath of fresh air.

    RESPONSE TO EQ?
    Sorry – I didn't go there. There is simply no need. The Andromeda does not need tinkering with, and anything I did with EQ would be spoiling the default signature.

    COMPARISONS
    Andromeda is a top tier monitor, and fortunately for this exercise I had what I consider to be other top tier BA based (or hybrid) monitors available which are in similar price range. So for this exercise I chose to compare the 5 driver Campfire Andromeda ($1099) with the Fidue Sirius 5 driver hybrid ($899), 64Audio U6 6 driver BA ($899), and the 64Audio U10 10 driver BA ($1399).

    As always, the IEMs were compared after volume matching (SPL meter and test tones), but the comparisons are completely subjective. For these tests I again used the X3ii and E17K – simply because it is easier to volume match with this combo (and because for me, any possible hiss issue inaudible/inconsequential anyway).

    For anyone who may look at past reviews of the IEMs I'm comparing here, and notice the graphs are different – this is simply because of the use of the new IEC 711 compensation.

    Andromeda $1099 vs Fidue Sirius $899
    andromeda32.jpg andromedavssirius.png

    Andromeda and Sirius

    Frequency comparison


    Both IEMs are 5 driver – with the Andromeda being all BA and the Sirius a 5 driver hybrid. Both have extremely good build quality – metal parts, quality cables, and good accessories. For me personally, the Andromeda wins slightly on fit and comfort. The Sirius has sharp edges on top, and I have big ears so the shells sit inside my outer airs. I can get both Andromeda and Sirius fitting with reasonable comfort, but both require adjustment to get right

    Sonically they are very different with the Andromeda being very balanced across the frequency spectrum, and the Sirius having more of a V shape. You'll note on the graph that Sirius has two lines, but I think the truth lies somewhere in between – this is because the Sirius has an internal bass port, so bass response could differ depending one ear anatomy and fit. The Sirius is also very upper mid-centric, and has quite recessed lower mid-range, so whilst female vocals in particular sound quite ethereal, male vocals can tend to be a little unnaturally thin and distant. Andromeda has better lower treble extension and this hows particularly in cymbal decay. My preference would be Andromeda for the more natural sonic signature and better overall tonality – but both are very good earphones.

    Andromeda $1099 vs 64Audio U6 $899
    andromeda33.jpg andromedavsU6.png

    Andromeda and 64Audio Adel U6

    Frequency comparison


    This time it is an all BA match-up. The 5 driver Andromeda vs the 6 driver U6 with Adel modules. For this comparison I've used the U6 with the B1 Adel module, and shown graphs with and without an impedance adaptor. You will note the overall similarity of the graphs. But lets start first with build etc. The Andromeda slips ahead with build and also quality of the cable. Both are similar on the accessory front – the U6's custom case is brilliant, especially for protection and storage of accessories (including modules). With the U6 you also get the Adel system (read my review) which has had a profoundly positive effect on my listening experience + it is also tunable. Comfort goes to the U6 – with its rounded internal edges.

    Sonically the two are extremely similar. Both have brilliant balance throughout the spectrum, both have very similar overall bass response and the biggest difference isn't actually in the frequency response or tonality – but in the sound stage. With the Adel modules, the projection of space is simply larger (at the cost of some isolation). I'm afraid this is one where (for me) the U6 pulls ahead. And it is simply the Adel modules vs the TAEC system. If I didn't already have the U6, and someone offered me the Andromeda instead (as my only IEM) I certainly wouldn't be disappointed. Both are simply exceptional IEMs.

    Andromeda $1099 vs 64Audio U10.
    andromeda34.jpg andromedavsU10.png andromedavsU10m20.png

    Andromeda and 64Audio U10

    Frequency comparison (U10 with Adel modules)

    Frequency comparison (U10 with Apex M20 module)


    Finally the Andromeda is up against the much more expensive U10 (10 driver BA), and as with the U6, the Andromeda wins on overall build quality, whilst the U10 nudges ahead on fit and comfort.

    Again the U10 has the Adel modules, and again it has advantage in staging and tuning options – but the one thing the U10 can't quite get with the Adel modules (although it is closer with the M20 and the inclusion of an impedance adaptor), is the overall balance that the Andromeda has. And it's the cohesion in the mid-range coupled with the extension and tonality in the treble. The Andromeda is just better tuned to my ears – and I know this is personal preference – but it simply sounds better. The U10 might win with slightly better instrument separation – but overall I'd take the the Andromeda and spend the difference on music :)

    CAMPFIRE AUDIO ANDROMEDA – SUMMARY

    I went into this review somewhat sceptical about the high praises – perhaps knowing it was a well tuned IEM, but expecting that there may have been some hype as well. I leave a week later, grateful for the experience with the Andromeda, and now fully appreciating what a wonderful IEM this is.

    The Andromeda is an incredibly well built 5 x BA IEM, with a very good ergonomic fit, and also one of the best quality cables I've come across. The cable retails on ALO’s site for $149 if sold separately – so you're getting some very good value there too.

    The comfort with the Andromeda is better than with previous Campfire IEMs – perhaps due to the zirconium blasting/smoothing process, and maybe because I now use tips which also help my own anatomy better. Anyway – the comfort isn't perfect (nnd I know you can improve this further Ken), but it is much better for me now, and I thank you for the changes made.

    Sonically the Andromeda is simply incredibly balanced and strikes a wonderful mix of naturalness and linearity, clarity and smoothness, detail and musicality. The bass is nicely extended, and beautifully balanced with the mid-range. The mid-range has enough lower-mid recession to maintain distance and sense of space but without losing the richness and fullness of vocal fundamentals, and the upper mid-range is brilliantly cohesive without being over done. The extension on the treble is the crowning jewel of the Andromeda though. And how Ken has managed to deliver the detail while maintaining realism is simply an example of masterful tuning.

    At a current RRP of USD 1099, the Andromeda is not cheap, but the overall package is worth it simply because it is true flagship quality.

    Again I should make mention of the dedication and service of the Campfire Audio team. In my dealing to date, I have been very impressed by their willingness to take critique on board, and above all to constructively engage with their market audience, and ultimately improve the final product.

    So would I buy these, and would I recommend them to others? I absolutely recommend them – but I ultimately won't be getting a pair. I already have most of what the Andromeda delivers in my U6, and the one thing it has made me appreciate more is the sonic ability of both IEMs. The Andromeda (for my tastes) is almost perfect.

    Once again I’d like to thank Ken and Mark for making this opportunity available. I owe you gentlemen a debt of gratitude – and especially Ken for his generous help with my measurement set-up.


    andromeda36.jpg
      faithguy19, KEV G, JaeYoon and 15 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. canali
      brooko...kudos on another good review...have you ever compared it to the UERR?
      and are the details etc much more present than the 'great bang for buck' FLC 8S
      canali, Oct 25, 2016
    3. Brooko
      @Jalo - I appreciate the feedback. If Ken has the Vega touring and I get the chance I'll probably review it.  Haven't heard the U12 - but sounds like you'd appreciate the U6 more. When I was first "honing my skills" with reviewing - I used this a lot : http://www.independentrecording.net/irn/resources/freqchart/main_display.htm
      For me : Sub bass = 0-60 Hz, mid-bass  = 60-250 Hz, lower mids = 250 Hz - 1kHz, upper mids = 1 kHz to ~5 kHz, lower treble = 5kHz to 10 kHz, upper treble = 10 kHz +
      Brooko, Oct 26, 2016
      stratocaster likes this.
    4. Brooko
      @canali - sorry, haven't heard the UERR.  Maybe ask Alex (Twister6)?  The extension on Androeda, and overall balance and presentation of detail is (to me) much better on the Andromeda.
      Brooko, Oct 26, 2016
  3. flinkenick
    Campfire's 2016 hit of the year: the Andromeda
    Written by flinkenick
    Published Dec 5, 2016
    5.0/5,
    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


    [​IMG]


    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.

    [​IMG]


    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.


    [​IMG]


    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.

    [​IMG]


    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.

    [​IMG]


    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.



      JNOISE JA, knopi, Docterror and 14 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. productred
      productred, Dec 5, 2016
    3. productred
      @ngoshawk get both, no sweat. I did and now feels complete.
      productred, Dec 5, 2016
    4. flinkenick
      Thanks guys, much appreciated!
      flinkenick, Dec 6, 2016
  4. k4rstar
    CA Andromeda: Crown jewel of the Campfire fleet
    Written by k4rstar
    Published Aug 24, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Engaging and addictive sound; sonic resolution; excellent build; included accessories
    Cons - High sensitivity requires careful volume control; highly reactive impedance curve

    Campfire Audio Andromeda:​

    Crown jewel of the Campfire fleet​

     

    Introduction

     
    First, a disclaimer: I purchased the Andromeda ($1099USD) with my own money after doing my own research and thus this is my independent (and highly subjective) opinion. A special thank you to @HiFlight, @Loquah & @shotgunshane for sharing their experiences with me and answering my questions, as well as to ALO Audio for excellent customer service.
     
    This is my second review of a Campfire product, and as such I went into this entire experience biased and with a pre-conceived notion of quality from the Campfire brand. Despite this obvious favoritism I'll try to keep things simple, practical, and relate what I'm hearing to music I hope others can recognize to put my impressions in context. My goal is to give you an idea of what you can expect from the Andromeda and whether or not is appropriate for your tastes.
     
    A little bit about me and my music tastes: I purchased the Campfire Audio Orion ($349USD) only a few short months ago after much deliberation (there wasn't much information available on them at the time). They quickly became my favorite earphones and it wouldn't be too long before I started searching for a worthy upgrade. Needless to say, I eventually came to realize only another offering from Campfire would be worthwhile to me. Throughout this review I plan on drawing many comparisons back to the Orion, as that is the type of review I would have liked to have read before taking the Andromeda plunge myself.
     
    While I'm going to spoil the remainder of the review now by saying I think my search for an upgrade to the Orion is over, I believe the Orion is still an excellent value proposition and I will reiterate on why later in the review. My music tastes vary widely, but I would describe myself first and foremost as a mid-head and female vocal lover. Thus any headphones that are known to showcase the mid-range in music and offer it up front and center pique my interest. Without further ado, on to the review!
     
     

    Accessories 

     
    I'm not going to spend too much time commenting on the accessories package since there are already so many other great reviews that go over it, but I think it's worthwhile to note the impressive accessory selection included with the Andromeda's, as there is certainly something here for everyone and it gives you the feeling of owning a product you will want to last forever. A plethora of tips including three sets of silicone, Comply foam and Campfires own generic foam tips. You also get a stylish pin sporting the sleek Campfire Audio logo and a cleaning tool. These accessories are not unique to the Andromeda and are all included with the lower end models in the Campfire line-up as well, which I appreciate.
     
    You also get a dark leather zippered carrying case which I really like, it sets itself aside from the canvas one included with the Orion and Nova models. While it isn't exactly pocket friendly nor does it open all the way around like most clam shell cases, its soft wool interior will certainly keep your earphones safe during transportation.
     
    The included cable is actually sold separately by ALO Audio for $149USD, so it certainly isn't included as an afterthought and is an excellent pairing for such a premium product. The cable is supple, uses MMCX connections and the ear guides are easily malleable which I'm sure a lot of people will appreciate. One concern of note are that the MMCX connections rotate in the socket, which can make getting a fit cumbersome at first. The right angle termination could also be slimmer and may not work with every smartphone case on the market. All-in-all, the litz cable is a much appreciated accessory and a large improvement from the tinsel ones originally shipping with the Orion and Jupiter, so it's clear that Campfire took customer feedback there.
     
     

    Build / Comfort / Isolation

     
    The build on the Andromeda is something to marvel at the first time you remove them from their case, and every time after that too. Others have said that photographs do not do the emerald green shells justice, and it wasn't until receiving my pair did I understand what they meant. The color is a lot more subdued in real life but still subtly beautiful. While the bore is a little wider than what most will be used to, I find this actually makes it much easier to fit different tips on, and the angle of the bore is pretty much perfect for my ears to get a solid seal.
     
    Speaking of seal, I have absolutely no issues with comfort or ergonomics regarding the aluminum shells of the Andromeda. Despite housing four more drivers than the Orion, the weight of the earpieces are still negligible, and I had no discomfort for listening for up to three or even four hours straight. I find that as with the Orion the fit is largely ear tip dependent, as with foam tips the shells have a habit of hanging out of your ears, which may work for some but irritate others (such as myself). However with silicone tips the shells nestle comfortably in the ear for me, but I could easily see this as an issue for those with smaller concha. It seems that Campfire has taken feedback throughout the lifespan of the Andromeda by producing new batches of the monitor with slightly trimmed outer edges, however I have not personally noticed a difference between them and the fit of the Orion which did not have these adjustments. 
     
    Isolation is definitely above average with the included Comply foam tips, and does not suffer as much as one would think with silicone tips either. Given my extensive experience using the identical fitting Orion in many noisy environments as well as public transportation, I would rate the isolation of the Andromeda satisfactory for usage just about anywhere.
     
     

    Sonic Impressions

    Please note that evidence shows the Andromeda is highly reactive to the output impedance of various sources and may not match the descriptions given below to a tee depending on what you run it out of. For reference, all sonic impressions were given in pairing with a HTC10 smartphone. (Yes, it drives them quite well.)​

     
    Coming from the entry level Orion, I had a plethora of doubts about pursuing a monitor over three times the cost. Since I was already so happy with the performance of the Orion, did I really need to upgrade? Would the mid range I loved so much on the Orion be compromised in favor of additional bass quantity or a brighter overall signature? All of my fears were quashed the second I hit play on the Andromeda's for the first time and a big stupid grin took over my face. Ken Ball and his team have proven with the Andromeda that five seems to be the magic number, as this combination and crossover of drivers produces an effortlessly musical and sweet take on a reference tuning; one that I could only dream of experiencing when starting out in this hobby a handful of years ago. 
     
    It is no secret that the mid range is the strong suite of the Orion, and once again it proves to be Campfires ace in the hole. The mids on the Andromeda are exceptionally clear and in focus, almost revealing to a degree. Female vocals soar and swoon, with no added difficulty as multiple voices join the chorus. Resolution from the Orion is carried over intact and joined together with a beautifully rendered treble allowing a greater sense of air and three dimensional space for even the most powerful and moving vocal performances. Acoustic guitars and other stringed instruments come alive on the stage and yet in signature Campfire fashion don't take the focus off the vocal presentation, just the way this reviewer likes it.
     
     
    folder.jpg
     
    "​
    So I listen to the radio...​
    "​
     
    The MTV Unplugged (1999) recording featuring The Corrs is my favorite Unplugged set of all time and contains many of the bands' favorites. While already an absolute joy on the Orion the set comes alive on the Andromeda, showcasing all of its ability to reproduce a sense of space in a recording. While the stage doesn't unrealistically (for an IEM) expand out of the head, it does seem to fill every single nook and cranny of it with the groups signature flute, drum and violin arrangements. On hits such as Radio and Forgiven Not Forgotten the Andromeda shows it's prowess at rendering Andrea and Sharons' lead and backup vocals with a certain addictive sweetness, without warming them over to the point of unrealistic coloration. A big win in my book.
     
    Moving on to the low end response, I was taken aback when first experiencing the Andromeda, as reviews and other subjective impressions as well as objective measurements had led me to expect a much warmer tuning. While I can't exactly confirm or deny this as of now, the consensus is that due to impedance swing the quantity of bass may vary greatly from one source to another, attributing to the all of the different perceptions of just how much bass quantity is present in this monitor. Out of my source, both the bass quantity and quality are perfect for my subjective tastes. The bass is elevated a hair above neutral and rises the deeper into bass levels you go. The upper bass has a tight snap, mid bass a fat punch and sub bass a deep resounding thump. Another factor possibly making it difficult to pinpoint bass quantity is the chameleon character the low end response of the Andromeda has that allows it to adapt to any track as required. Just when I think one track was (appropriately) bass light the next rattles me with an intense drum line. Bass notes are slightly thick but never muddy or slow in even the most fast paced double drum abusing rock and punk of my library, giving it a very realistic feeling especially in well recorded live sets.
     
     
    22c0b0cbd3e5f83e31352f79b6f7c18241f9fdb8.jpg
     ​
    "I think she's a genius..."
     
    The Murmurs were a alt pop duo project between Leisha Hailey (of Uh Huh Her fame) and Heather Grody. Although their 1998 LP Blender never quite caught critical reception in the US it remains one of my absolute favorite pop rock albums for the pairings creative use of silly, twee vocals and melodic catchy offerings such as La Di Da and Sucker Upper. Once upon a time one of my favorite albums to play through the Orion, the Andromeda turns up the engagement and punch to 11 with it's added bass extension and treble excitement. Bass lines are extremely satisfying but still take a relative backseat to Leisha & Heathers carefree power-pop melodies. Don't listen to this album if you hate having songs stuck in your head.
     
    While I still believe the mid range is the star of the show on the Andromeda the true accomplishment here is a delicious, ever-present treble which adds the last octave of excitement and air to many recordings that were missing on the Orion. The kicker is that it manages to do all this with absolutely no harshness or sibilance, so I can still turn up my favorite substandard punk and girlcore recordings without fear of splashy treble or shouty vocals. This complete lack of listening fatigue coupled with an addictive sound is a recipe for disaster when it comes to any sort of productivity, as I've already found myself self-bargaining to listen to "just one more track". One nitpick with the treble presentation is a matter of speed, cymbal crashes just don't have the full sense of decay they should. It is not quite as short as say the Sennheiser HD650, but a relatively small price to pay for the other benefits associated with this part of the response.
     
     
     ​
    "This one's called Annie..."
     ​
    I'm a massive Elastica fan, and I can tell you straight away they had a lot of difficulty when it came to finalizing mixes for their records. In the hunt for a perfect takes on their debut self-titled they would deliver different mixes or recordings of a single track up to eight times, before sometimes giving up and just returning to the original demo. So when given a day to record and mix Radio One Sessions (2001) it quickly became apparent that some of their best work shone through on raw, adrenaline-fueled first-takes and out-takes. The tracks and B-sides on Radio One Sessions are not free from their share of recording artifacts or overzealous guitar work, but that is exactly the type of energy that makes the LP and why throughout all my demoing it has been my favorite listen on the Andromeda so far. Whereas most equipment labeled as forgiving usually involves some sort of treble attenuation or roll-off to protect the listeners virgin ears from the horrors of modern studio work the Andromedas management of the high frequencies swallow up every track and spit it back out at the listener in a way that lets you have your cake and eat it too. Lead guitars in opening track Annie are kept on a short leash but still allowed to bite, bass guitar work in hit single Waking Up is perfectly placed on the stage and front woman Justine's effortlessly sexy vocals in Vaseline are always in crystal clear focus. I could probably talk about how the Andromeda doesn't break a sweat with this record all day but it would quickly devolve into gloating and rabid fanboyism, so I'll put a plug in it for now.
     
     

    Summary

    While I concluded early on that the Orion was close to perfection for my personal tastes, I think I can safely say now that the Andromeda is perfection for my tastes and a definite keeper. I recall jokingly telling others that an Orion with a bit more excitement and weight on both ends of the spectrum would be mint, never expecting to find such a tuning. Little did I know I'd have to pay three times as much to experience it. With limited experience, it is difficult for me to assign a value proposition to the Andromeda within it's price bracket, what I can say is that it's a tuning I think a lot of people will enjoy given that they are careful and perhaps even patient with source matching.
     
    And finally, a positive note for those of you who were intrigued by this review or others but can't quite afford the hefty price tag of the Andromeda yet, I still believe the Orion is an excellent choice for it's relatively entry-level asking price and isn't as far off in performance as one would expect (full review of the Orion here). If the Orion is an ambitious skipper, the Andromeda is the crown jewel of the Campfire Audio fleet.
      Passenger11, ustinj, pr0b3r and 10 others like this.
  5. Hisoundfi
    Campfire's flagship sounds incredible!
    Written by Hisoundfi
    Published May 16, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Incredibly spacious sound for an IEM, Great combination of musicality and detail, All metal housing, Solid build quality, Great cable and case
    Cons - Metal housing edges have edges that can impact fit, They are highly sensitive and source dependent, Price
    DSC_0008.jpg
    At the time this review was written, the Campfire Andromeda was recently listed for preorder/sale at Campfire Audio’s website. Here is a link for purchase:

    https://www.campfireaudio.com/product/andromeda/

    Introduction
    The 2016 Axpona Audio Exhibit was a great turnout. Notable earphone displays were Empire Ears, Etymotic, Onkyo, Shure, JH Audio, Campfire Audio and many more.

    It’s pretty epic to be in a giant room with a large array of the world’s finest earphones. They’re lined up on display tables, being driven by some of the world’s finest sources. In one room, we had summit-fi earphones the likes of the Noble K10U, Siren Series from JH Audio, Shure KSE-1500 and SE846, Vibro Aria, Etymotic’s new ER4 lineup as well as many more.

    If you are reading this, I would assume you most likely have some type of interest in headphones. If you have an opportunity to go to an audio show in your area, be like Nike and JUST DO IT!
    [​IMG]
    It’s an awesome experience that helps YOU find what type of sound signature and earphones you’d like. Not only that, you get to meet the people behind the products.

    What I like to do at these types of events is come up with my own personal best of show for each type of gear that is presented. Being a fan of in-ear monitors, I spent most of the weekend listening and evaluating them in particular. After three days of listening to all the earphones there (some of them several times), I have to say that the best of show this year for me was the Campfire Andromeda. Allow me to explain why.

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    The first day I plopped down into chair at the Campfire booth and met Caleb. They had the whole lineup available to listen to. Caleb explained the models to me, including their “New Flagship Prototype” named Andromeda. These were the initial impressions I noted in my phone while checking them out:

    “CAMPFIRE ANDROMEDA”
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    *Solid build with lightweight aluminum all metal housings. Even the nozzles are metal.
    *Cable has no spring or memory. It’s a Litz braided rope with MMCX connectors that swivel at the housing. Very sharp looking and works well.
    *MMCX connection seems very solid and was confirmed with brand rep to be a stronger than standard connection.
    *Five balanced armatures, unique tubeless set up replaced by metal “Resonator box.”
    *Sound is... WOW! *clear and spacious *detailed and responsive *crisp without being harsh, INCREDIBLE! LISTEN TO AGAIN!!!

    After about ten minutes of listening to them, I put the Andromeda down, looked at Caleb and said “Dude, these are incredible!” Caleb smiled, agreed with me, then introduced me to his colleague, Ken. I explained that I would love to be one of the first to review them on Head-Fi. I gave them my Head-Fi credentials and continued to listen to the rest of the lineup. Everything Campfire had to demo sounded great, but there was an added dimension the Andromeda had which I particularly liked.

    That weekend I listened to many of the best in-ears the world of audio has to offer. Just about anything I tried sounded excellent, but there was something about the Andromeda that kept me coming back for more. Before the weekend was over, I think I listened to them four or five separate times. Every time I was finished listening, it left the same overwhelmingly positive impression.

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    Over the course of that weekend, the Andromeda sound had catapulted its way towards the top of my list of all time favorites. Impressions were shared with friends at Axpona, and many who listened to them agreed. To my ears they sounded as good or better than any other IEM at the show.

    A few days after the event Ken contacted me to see if I was still interested in covering the Andromeda. Without hesitation I agreed. I’ve had them for the last few weeks and listened to the them almost exclusively. It’s an honor to share the good news on the Andromeda flagship from Campfire with the Head-Fi community.

    What is Campfire Audio?
    Campfire Audio is a branch from ALO Audio. The letters ALO are abbreviated letters for “Audio Line Out” which is the company that Ken started years back. His roots were in earphone modifications and cables. To this day he still has a large assortment of high quality cables listed for sale on his website.

    Somewhere along the way, Ken lost the domain name of “Audiolineout.com” and renamed it ALO Audio. The name has stuck and to this day ALO Audio has a steady stream of online traffic and sales.I had a chance to check out their hand built portable amplifiers, the RX and Continental Dual Mono. Long story short, they both rock, particularly with in-ear monitors. The cables Ken had on display looked premium as well.

    Ken’s success in selling cables and doing earphone modifications paved a way for him to start his most recent endeavor. Ken told me it has been a dream of his to have his own line of premium in-ear monitors. The Campfire Audio lineup is a product of that vision.

    Review
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    Andromeda comes in a small and modest green and blue box with white lettering. There is nothing exquisite or flashy about the packaging.

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    Flipping the box open, I’m greeted with a premium brown leather rectangular clamshell zipper case.

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    Unzipping the clamshell case revealed the Andromeda earphones and cable. If you thought the leather case was already premium, the inside of it is lined with what appears to be a wool material. This provides the Andromeda with padding and prevents the earphones from wiggling around when transporting them. Underneath the case and earphones a cardboard tab can be removed, revealing a few bags that hold the accessories.

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

    Accessories
    800x600-Case-and-Cable.jpg Andromeda-Case-800x600-800x600.jpg Earphone-Tips-1690-800x600.jpg

    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

    Housings
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    The Andromeda is a made from a single block of high grade machined aluminum. They are an all metal design that is relatively lightweight. The Andromeda currently comes in a metallic emerald green tint. While some would think it would make them an eyesore, or something that will clash with much of their wardrobe, I find them to be a very sophisticated.

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    From housing to jack, the Andromeda has a very high end look with an almost jewelry like appearance. The machine screws and clear MMCX connectors add an extra sense of quality and craftsmanship.

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    The Andromeda fit is reminiscent of many over the ear monitors. I consider it to be a bit more on the bulky side of things. The size doesn’t bother me as much as some of the design aspect. I will go over this in the fit and ergonomics section of the review.

    Cable, Y-Split, Cable Jack, Strain Reliefs
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    The cable is awesome. It’s a four strand braided Litz wire with swiveling MMCX connectors and memory wire. The flexible cable has virtually no spring very little memory. The Y-split is a metal jacketing that splits the four strand braid into two twisted lines that lead to each channel. A clear rubber chin/neck slider is attached to the cable and works well. The Cable Jack is a gold plated 3.5 mm jack, and ninety degree solid frosted clear rubber jacketing. The Andromeda has two inches of memory wire that lead to two MMCX connectors.They are covered in the same frosted clear hard rubber coating found at the jack. Every aspect of this cable is premium and Find it an upgrade in terms of quality and performance over most of what I own.

    Functionality
    The MMCX cable that comes with the Andromeda doesn’t have a mic/remote. Replacement MMCX cables can be purchased and used with the Andromeda housings. I tested and confirmed that this is possible.

    Ergonomics, Fit and Microphonics, Isolation
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    If there is one thing about that Andromeda that might be a dealbreaker is the shape of the housing, and how it may impair some people from being able to wear them comfortably. The machined housings are constructed of many planed surfaces that leave the Andromeda with some edges and corners that might irritate some user’s ears, depending on what tips they are using. Regardless of how the Andromeda fits the user's ear, I don’t think anyone will be able to comfortably lay their head on a pillow while wearing these.

    The key to getting a cozy fit with the Andromeda is tip selection. When tip rolling with the Andromeda variances in insertion depth would cause edges of the housing to rub against parts of my ear and eventually cause irritation. Finding a tip that seals well without narrowing the bore diameter of the nozzle, and at the same time forcing the Andromeda to stick out farther from the ear seemed to work best. I was lucky, the tips that seemed to work best in my case were the attached stock foams tips. For silicone tips, I used a pair of stock Sony MH-1 or RHA tips. Your mileage may vary.

    Isolation is decent but not elite. I would say it is along the lines of the average in-ear monitor. When worn over the ear and using the included chin/neck slider, microphonics were eliminated.

    Sound Review
    I did my demo with my usual gear. I used an LG-V10 for portable and smartphone use, and either my Shanling H3 or iBasso DX80 DAP for high fidelity portable use. For desktops I used my Toshiba Satellite Laptop in combination with a ifi micro iDSD playing at 32/192kHz. I tested them with several other sources as well. I used Google Music in its highest download quality (320 KBPS) and I also streamed FLAC via Tidal streaming service. I also used purchased and downloaded tracks in MP3, FLAC, WAV and DSD. I make sure that any gear I test has sufficient playtime before writing a review.

    I used my usual same songs for testing gear:
    “Limit to your love” by James Blake (bass speed, punch, response)
    “Doin’ it Right” by Daft Punk (sub bass)
    “Get lucky” by Daft Punk (bass to midrange transition resolution, male vocals)
    “Madness” by Muse (soundstage, separation)
    “Some nights” by Fun (soundstage and male vocals)
    “The soundmaker” by Rodrigo y Gabriela (texture and imaging)
    “Bassically” by Tei Shi (bass to midrange resolution, female vocals)
    “Skinny Love” performed by Birdie (female vocals, acoustic playback)
    “One” by Ed Sheeran (male vocals, acoustic playback)
    “Outlands” from the Tron Legacy Soundtrack (symphonic presentation, imaging)
    “Sultans of swing” by Dire Straits (detail, separation, balance)
    “And Justic for All” by Metallica (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)
    “Ten thousand fists” by Disturbed (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)

    Note: Other tracks were used, but the listed songs were primarily used to assess and break down the gear’s response.

    Source Selection
    Andromeda is an extremely sensitive in-ear monitor, coming in at just under thirteen Ohms. With a more powerful DAP like the iBasso DX80, I got a slight background hiss from Andromeda. They work great with a high fidelity smartphone like the LG V10 or iPhone 6. Streaming services through your phone will sound great, but your music will sound even better with high bitrate music files played through your favorite DAP in low gain. If you plan on using the Andromeda with a more powerful source, an impedance adapter will most likely help with any noise floor issues.

    The best source I had for the Andromeda was the iFi micro iDSD in its most sensitive power setting. It was an incredibly clear and balanced sound that was very revealing, packing lots of texture and detail while still retaining a controlled and slightly emphasized bass presence.

    Sound Signature
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    The Andromeda has been described as Bassy, but to my ears it depends on what source you’re using. With a Warm or bass boosted source the Andromeda sounds musical with an emphasized lower frequency range and smooth treble response. Using a colder and brighter source with Andromeda makes them sound very technical and extended (primarily in treble regions) while still keeping a little bit of low end oomph. Either way you listen to them, the general consensus is that your preferred source will be determined what you like more. For me it’s split between each, and what music I want to use.

    The tuning is pretty genius. It’s a five driver design. All five of them deliver sound into what was described to me as a metal box that operates as “resonator.” What this means is that rather than have armatures attached to tubes that fire right into your ear, they have a microsecond to meet in this box and resonate into each other before it reaches your ear. The result is a VERY spacious and holographic sound that is unique and refreshing. With this technology, upper frequencies have the extension and detail without the harshness I often time get with armature drivers. To be honest, the presentation is flat out awesomesauce.

    Rather than fire a particular frequency range into your ear like most armature earphones, the crossover and armatures all do their job first, pumping out each frequency as assigned, but before it reaches your ear the music has time to mesh in the exclusive resonator box, similarly to speakers in a room. We don’t mash our ears up against the grill with a funnel to listen to our favorite speakers, we stand back in the room and give the speakers some space so it can use the room around us to its advantage. Campfire’s five armatures are similar. It fires all of its frequencies into this genius little box, allowing the music to become more cohesive, spacious and less harsh.

    Bass
    The bass of the Andromeda is slightly emphasized and uber dynamic. You would never think the Andromeda bass came from balanced armatures because of the power and performance of its low end frequencies. It sounds more like a titanium diaphragm dynamic driver to my ears. The bass is extended, responsive, and somewhat bold. The Andromeda will definitely bring the rumble when it’s called upon. At the same time you won’t get any type of lingering bass or bass that doesn’t belong in the track. The low end response of the Andromeda sets up to work well with just about all genres of music.

    To my ears the Andromeda has a bass that is relatively balanced, and maybe even leaning towards sub bass tones. Andromeda’s low end is fast, textured, responsive and has nice sense of tone and depth. In the high end market, many top tier earphones don’t carry the same sub bass presence these do.

    Andromeda’s bass rocks the snot out of the bass lines of most modern genres of music like hip hop and EDM. The Sub bass lines are extended and the tone is that of a 15 inch subwoofer. With a good sealing tip, there’s a depth that makes it very enjoyable.

    Midrange
    This is where the magic happens with Andromeda. Starting with the Lower midrange, things get really spacious sounding. Bass guitars can distinctly be picked out from the mix. Low end guitar chucks have some power behind them. Low frequency strings would occasionally give me goose bumps. Unlike any other in-ear monitor I’ve ever listened to, Andromeda has the ability to render a sense of space that makes live and acoustic recordings sound incredibly good. The big and dynamic sounding instruments can be discerned rather than paste together like many in-ear monitors.

    Upper midrange of Andromeda is natural and smooth without any sense of things being rolled off. There isn’t a whole lot to say about this range other than it is very formidable and works.

    When evaluating in-ears I try to be picky and see if there is anything about its sound that some people will say leaves them with a negative impression. If there is anything I can say that about the Andromeda, it’s that when playing the most complex musical passages you can throw at it, Andromeda’s sound gets a little overwhelmed, smearing the sound or making their upper midrange sound a bit stuffy to my ears. This rarely happened and even so, it’s a small caveat in comparison to everything the Andromeda does well.

    Treble
    This is an area that makes Andromeda a star. If you’ve dabbled in armature earphones in the last few years, you’ve probably heard an armature that overall sounds excellent, but seems to have a sense of harshness. When certain pronunciation of the letters S or T are played, or when a cymbal crashes it will be rendered in a harsh and almost screeching type of sound. Andromeda has none of this. You will hear all cymbal crashes and the letters S and T. It will not be portrayed in a way that I would consider the Andromeda to be sibilant.

    Treble is extended and polite. It’s true to the recording and yields all the details and clarity needed to say it is elite.

    Soundstage and Imaging
    I’ve touched on it in the sound impressions, but this criteria is why I consider the Andromeda to be one of the top earphones I’ve ever heard. When talking to people about the Andromeda sound, I’ve mentioned several times that the soundstage reminds me of a high end audio system. To me, Andromeda’s sound is like listening to a well driven pair of top of the line tower speakers in a large room.

    In terms of imaging, the sound of Andromeda is very three-dimensional. Sounds come at you from all angles with plenty of texture and detail. At the time of writing this review, the Andromeda hands down THE BEST in-ear I’ve heard in terms of soundstage and imaging.

    Conclusion
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    Normally I would do a couple comparisons to similarly priced and designed earphones before “jumping to a conclusion” but I want to generalize and tell you why the Andromeda sets itself apart from its competition. When demoing the Andromeda at Axpona, many asked for comparisons to other elite earphones in its range. Fortunately, I had the luxury to actually do these comparisons as people asked. Bouncing back and forth between earphones that sometimes cost a lot more than Andromeda did, I couldn’t help it like the sound of the Campfire flagship more. Of course source and preference plays a part in this and I can see some people liking other top of the line earphones more. Using Andromeda with my LG V10 and micro iDSD, it is tuned perfectly for my preference.

    Andromeda is not what I would consider a perfect product. The machined aluminum corners can cause irritation where they regularly make contact with the user’s ear. They are highly sensitive and need an impedance adapter with most dedicated DAPs. On top of all of this, they are over a thousand dollars, which isn’t cheap. However, the Andromeda has so much upside that I can overlook all of these factors and say that they are definitely worthy of their asking price. Usually I can’t mention price to performance when things get as expensive as the Andromeda. In this case I will make an exception. The Andromeda is built like a tank and sounds as good as any in-ear monitor I’ve ever heard, including more expensive models.

    Andromeda has an added dimension to its sound that makes many other earphones seem flat and lifeless. Campfire audio has produced an earphone that gives listeners something that is unique and refreshing in terms of in-ear monitors. They combine a slightly musical signature with a level of separation, extension, detail and soundstage that makes them a personal favorite. Upon the conclusion of this review, I’m going to contact Ken and Caleb and tell them that I’m buying this pair. I have plenty of earphones to listen to, but I like these enough to not let them leave. The Andromeda sound quality makes me look at other earphones that I’ve given five star reviews and makes me consider lowering it if these are the new standard. Instead, I’ll end this review by saying these have six star sound.

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    Thanks for reading and happy listening!
      tzjin, Brooko, peter123 and 8 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Gurashieruro
      How do these compare to the Campfire Audio Jupiter IEMs?
      Gurashieruro, May 20, 2016
    3. Deviltooth
      Very attractive IEMs.  Fantastic colour choice and great cable.  I think at the $1000 mark I'd still opt for customs but I admit from the review these look and sound enticing.
      Deviltooth, May 21, 2016
    4. NightFlight
      Heard these at a meet. I was floored. Out of my AK100ii I swapped to my JH13 and realized they just no longer cut it. Just like that. I've had a love relationship with JH13's for a year so now, but "Honey - its over. Its not you, its me. Yea... there's someone else..."
      NightFlight, Jan 23, 2017
  6. moedawg140
    Review: Campfire Audio Andromeda and Snugs Only
    Written by moedawg140
    Published Sep 3, 2017
    5.0/5,
    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


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    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
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    Downtown Chicago - near Headquarters Beercade...
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    ...here's one of my favorite games at Headquarters Beercade
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    Passed the old-school Street Fighter game with Ryu
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    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

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    Instruction manual

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    Patented design

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    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

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    Paired with the QP1R

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    With the UEPRR

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    Different angles

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    Beautiful Y-connect

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    SpinFit eartips compared to the stock eartips (the Penon Audio eartips are slightly longer than the SpinFit eartips
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    From left, moving clockwise: Legend Omega, UEPRR, SE846, Andromeda

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    Serious UEPRR shine

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    SE846 and SCS with Andromeda

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    Legend Omega with Andromeda - three different focal points

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    Silicone eartips with acrylic housing

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    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
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    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
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    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

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    ...Park Plaza Westminster Bridge - site of CanJam London
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    The first version of Snugs Only for the Andromeda
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    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
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    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

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    The Vega - at home for extensive listening
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
  7. Currawong
    The Campfire Audio Andromedas are spacious and detailed-sounding IEMs.
    Written by Currawong
    Published Sep 20, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Detailed, cohesive and spacious sound. High-quality litz cable included. Well made. Nice case included.
    Cons - Some people may not like the memory wire and Shure-style connector. The unusual shape may not be comfortable for everyone.
    Ken Ball from ALO Audio is a big fan of the outdoors. If you see an image of nature on the ALO Audio, and now Campfire Audio web site, it will have been one he took himself. So for his new venture into in-ear monitors it was only appropriate that they be named after features of the night sky. 
     
    While I did have a listen to his first three models of IEM at a previous Tokyo headphone festival, I wasn't so enamoured by the brightness of the Jupiters, which seemed too strong for my tastes. It wasn't until this year, when I heard the Andromedas for the first time, that I was really moved by the sound. I was moved not so much because of any particular feature of the sound, but because their seeming lack of anything in the sound that reminded me I was listening with IEMs. The cohesion of the overall presentation had the IEMs immediately disappearing, leaving just the music. 
     
    Ken didn't hold back on the design in any way, shape or form with the Andromedas, exemplified by the fact that the pair I have for review are actually factory rejects. It would take a careful eye to see why, but he doesn't deny his intent to be perfectionist and send customers only a perfect product. As well, since I receive my pair, the design has been changed ever so slightly to add a couple of facets to area opposite the nozzle facing your ear, which may be better for people for whom the design is a bit of a tighter fit.  I didn't have any discomfort from the metal, but I have very average ears.
     
    Unusually, for a manufacturer, he started off building cables by hand, then working with others to make amps and DACs, and now headphones, rather in reverse of many other companies that started with headphones first. That has, however, given him an advantage with his range of IEMs, as he has the experience to design a good cable. As much as one may dislike the idea of the importance of a good cable, I can attest to the difference they can make. On my pair of JH13s, if I use the stock cable, the sound is harsh and unlistenable. A change to a well-made Litz-wire cable from a third party transforms the sound. Time and time again I've had good headphones that I felt were simply held back by the stock cable. Where the manufacturer has included a good cable, this hasn't been an issue. 
     
    ALO_Audio_Andromeda-D75_5094.jpg
     
    Irrespective of opinion on the matter, the cable itself is the same thickness and flexibility of a regular IEM cable, excepting the metal splitter and neatly-fitting transparent plastic choker. The MMCX plugs are a custom beryllium copper plug that has a tighter grip than a stock MMCX connector, the ring having a larger bend. Removal requires quite a firm pull, which the instruction manual advises be done straight and not at an angle. The downside is that this type of connector turns endlessly, which can be annoying if you're like me and line up your IEMs for insertion by the direction of the cable. I'm also sure some people will prefer a non-memory-wire version of the cable. 
     

    Accessories

     
    The Andromedas come with a good selection of ear tips: Silicon, foam and Comply TX-400; and a cleaning tool. The Complys are difficult to install, having a narrowish tube, the good side of that being that they stay on very tightly. With a bit of foam in the tube, they are good for keeping earwax out of the canals.
     
    The included leather clamshell zip case has faux sheepskin lining, giving it a classy, old-school appearance suggesting a product intended to be used for a long time. 
     
    ALO_Campfire_Audio_Andromeda_case-5474.jpg   ALO_Campfire_Audio_Andromeda_case-5473.jpg
     
     
    To the IEMs themselves, they consist of 5 balanced armature drivers -- 2 for the bass, 1 for the mids, and 2 for the highs. These are housed in a CNC aluminium enclosure with a uniquely shaped design. For my ears, that edgy shape could be felt a bit on insertion, but it didn't end up bothering me at all. I'm more sensitive to the discomfort of having anything in my ear canals to really notice. However Ken has acknowledged concerns and will be smoothing the design slightly in future production runs.
     
    Ear canal discomfort may be an issue for some, as the three-port aluminium nozzle is big, and requires similar tips that DITA Audio's The Answer, RHA, and FitEar's universal series do. Since that permits tips with a variety of sizes, some tuning is readily possible as it is with the DITAs. Select tips with a narrower nozzle and the highs are tamed a bit, the bass being brought out more. If I select Spinfits for comfort then this is exactly what happens, making the Andromedas warmer with stronger bass, but not as pleasant overall as with the stock tips.
     
    After an initial listen, I ran the Andromedas in for a couple of days using pink noise, with periods of listening in between. Most of the time I ran them out of an ALO Audio Rx or Pico Power connected to my Schiit Yggdrasil. Sometimes I used a Chord Mojo. DAP pairings I shall address separately. For most of the comparison I used the stock silicon tips. 
     
    ALO_Audio_Andromeda-D75_5084.jpg
     
    If you have experience with many full-sized headphones, I can simplify things and say that the Andromedas are much like a pair of MrSpeakers Ethers in overall tone when used out of a good DAP or amp. From the very present, but sweet highs down to the moderately strong mid-bass, with a few exceptions both have a similar character. This made acoustic recordings a joy, enough to make one forget that you are listening with IEMs. Using my iPhone or Soundaware's M1, both of which have a <0 Ohm output impedance, the bass drops back a bit, which I find pleasant when the music is already very bass-strong.  While mostly mid-bass prominent, it does extend well down to the deep bass if you have a good seal. 
     
    Generally speaking, foam tips will reduce the treble and narrower-bore tips will increase the bass. At one extreme, if I used the Andromedas out of the Mojo or similar, which brought out the most bass, and had the included Comply foam tips on, they sounded at their darkest, similar to what I had experienced often with the Laylas. This was sometimes too dark for me. Spinfits and DITA medium-bore tips seemed to cause the mid-range to take a back seat to a degree, so at the recommendation of other members I tried JVC's Sprital Dot tips.
     
    Spiral Dot tips use a spiral of indents in the bore to reduce turbulence. Since some JVC IEMs have a similar bore shape as the Andromedas, they fitted perfectly. Also, given the wide bore of the tips, the treble could come out well. This increased the overall coherency of the sound, leaving me to balance up the amount of bass via the choice of amp or DAP.  The only downside is that the very wide bore can make the highest treble a bit bright, which was fine with most acoustic music, but other music, if treble-strong, can be a bit unpleasant.
     
    ALO_Audio_Andromeda-D75_5080.jpg
     
    Random tracks from putting my three-stars and better playlist on random. It should be noted that I listen at a moderate volume level.
     
    Let the Sunshine In sung by Julie Driscoll, being an old pop number with less than perfect recording quality and lacking in bass was rather thin-sounding as a consequence. I wish someone would re-master this.
     
    Let there be Light - Justice. This band plays best with headphones and IEMs that really give a good bass kick. The Andromedas are possibly a touch too light-sounding, but when I switched over to the DITAs to compare how a dynamic sounded with bass, with the "reference" tips they had even less bass. That leaves me feeling the Andromedas will be good for someone who likes their bass kick, but without there being too much, even with this kind of music.
     
    Englishman in New York - Sting. One of the best features of the Andromedas is their ability to render a sense of space in the recording, despite being IEMs and this recording was a good example of that. The level of detail, down to the decay of notes echoing across the recording space emphasised this.
     
    Dazzling Blue (Album) - Alexis Cole. This Chesky binaural album has become my reference for headphone listening. If anything the bass lines can be a bit strong. It's here that I feel more like I'm listening with IEMs, as the bass crowds a bit into the rest of the sound space, if it is rendered very well. 
     
    Spanish Grease (Dorfmeister Con Madrid De Los Austrias Muga Reserva Mix) - Willie Bobo - Verve Remixed.
    This is music that, along with the other tracks and similar albums I lump into the category of “club music” which is brighter with a stronger beat. Due to the mastering being somewhat bass-light, with these tracks I preferred more bass-strong/treble-light IEMs for preference, even when I rotated tips on that moved the sound signature of the Andromedas in this direction. 
     
    What was apparent throughout listening was the sense of space that live recordings are presented with.  What is more, the clean-sounding treble wasn't bothersome, even when modern, brightly-recorded (but not compressed) recordings were being listened to. The presentation is very much a "This is how the recording is, for better or for worse" one. 
     
    That presentation works fantastically with acoustic recordings, from vocals through to jazz and classical, but are also capable all-rounders, quite able to deliver music with strong bass.
     

    Devices

     
    My usual portable go-to is the Chord Mojo. The Andromedas have a tiny amount of hiss audible when plugged in without music playing. Being a close to 0 Ohm output device, the bass is quite prominent, yet quite clean-sounding, the sense of spaciousness still very pleasant. 
     
    ALO Rx (2015 version) -- Even less hiss than the Mojo. Brings out the treble and spaciousness a tiny bit more.
     
    Headamp Pico Power -- low gain setting. No hiss at all and a minute amount on medium gain. Plenty on high gain, but no worse than the Mojo. Very smooth and neutral "nothing but the facts" but less spacious-sounding than the Rx or Mojo direct. 
     
    Sound Potion Monolith -- My favourite pick, combining the smoothness of the Pico Power with the spaciousness of the Rx and only has a tiny bit of hiss on low gain.
     
    ALO_Audio_Andromeda-D75_5095.jpg
     

    Comparisons

     
    Shozy Zero 
     
    While it may seem an odd comparison, these considerably more bass-strong IEMs were useful for providing a contrast to the presentation of the Andromedas. Where bass thump and a well-smoothed treble was more important than ultimate detail, such as with “club” music, the Shozys were strongest, whereas the Andromedas win with acoustic music where space, soundstage and separation are most important. 
     
    Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors
     
    Compared to the Andromedas, they are tuned to a more neutral frequency response and are less sensitive. The Andromedas picked up hiss from ALO Audio's new Continental V5 (CV5) whereas the UERMs didn't. The Andromedas also have more mid-bass emphasis, the treble varying depending on the tips used. 
     
    JH Audio Layla Universals (original version)
     
    I was expecting the Andromedas to sound brighter, as I've always found the Laylas to be a bit dull-sounding, but surprisingly, with the bass turned down, they are more similar than not. The Laylas have the advantage that they can be CIEMs, and the multiple drivers give them more headroom for louder listening, something not so important to me. The main issue for me with the universal Laylas was getting a good fit and adjusting them to sound the best, something I didn't have as many issues with when using the Andromedas. I reckon the Laylas would work best as a CIEM.
     
    DITA Audio The Answer (Truth Edition)
     
    (Going to add this shortly.)
     

    Conclusion

     
    Very often discussion of new, high-end products centres around how they can be improved. The Andromedas are one of those products that is great right out of the box sonically, especially if you your tastes are more towards well-mastered acoustic music, with a spacious and detailed sound. With more modern, brighter-mastered music they are a not quite so suited, at least without some tip rolling. Most pleasing is how much care Ken has put into designing and making them.  The only cautions are that the design and cable ergonomics wont be suitable for everyone.
     
    Thanks to Ken Ball for proving the Andromedas for review.
     

    Unboxing and Video Review

     
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Decommo
      This Andromeda might be my end game IEM. I just got Nova and it is very comfortable. I did not feel any discomfort from the shape of shell that other people reported. 
      Decommo, Sep 21, 2016
    3. LunaC
      "If you have experience with many full-sized headphones, I can simplify things and say that the Andromedas are much like a pair of MrSpeakers Ethers in overall tone when used out of a good DAP or amp"

      My EtherC haven't had much ear time since I got the andromeda. 
      LunaC, Sep 21, 2016
    4. fiascogarcia
      Are these more comfortable with larger or smaller conchas?
      fiascogarcia, Sep 24, 2016
  8. Jackpot77
    Another stellar constellation from CA's stargazers
    Written by Jackpot77
    Published Nov 30, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Great value, classy metal build and accessory package, superbly balanced tuning, clarity, large and airy soundstage, neutral yet musical
    Cons - Sharp edges on the shell casing can cause discomfort for some, not for bassheads, signature can vary with output impedance of source
    Introduction
    Anyone with more than a passing interest in high-end in ear audio gear costing more than $100 will most likely have heard of Campfire Audio’s jolly green giant and co-flagship of their current range. After reviewing some of their newer models (and being suitably impressed with all of them), I was finally able to get my hands on a pair in a trade deal with another Head-Fi member. I have owned these for the last few months, and after spending far too much time listening to them and not enough time writing about them, I decided to remedy that with this review. The views and (quite possibly misguided) opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and I received no financial incentive for writing them.

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

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

    [​IMG]

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

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

    [​IMG]

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

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

    [​IMG]

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

    [​IMG]

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

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

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

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

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

    [​IMG]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    [​IMG]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    It is always difficult to write a review this glowing without drifting into hyperbole, but the Andromeda simply doesn’t have that much to complain about. Unless you are a fan of a hyper-analytical or bass-heavy sound, the Andro will probably have something in its arsenal to make you smile, and sound damn good while it’s doing so. As with all "TOTL" models, once you reach this rarefied atmosphere it is as much about tuning and preference as raw physical capability, and this is definitely very much in the realm of diminishing returns compared to models in the $300-$500 bracket, but to steal the end quote from one of my previous Campfire Audio reviews – this is just far too “Nicely Done” to complain. A super all-rounder from Ken Ball & Co, and highly recommended if you are in the market for something in this sort of price bracket.
  9. alffla
    Campfire Audio Andromeda - Soaring into Space
    Written by alffla
    Published Aug 9, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - 1.Extreme clarity in the mid and high end. 2.Wide soundstage and clear separation 3.High sensitivity 4.Excellent build quality.
    Cons - 1.Bass may be too clean and lean for some 2. Sharp corners may not fit everyone comfortably.
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    Established in 2006, Audio Line Out (“ALO”) made its name by building high end audio cables for audio equipment. In 2015, ALO announced the creation of another branch that would be responsible for making IEMs called Campfire Audio (“CA”). Since then, CA has launched an impressive lineup of IEMs: the single BA Orion, the dual BA Nova, the single DD Beryllium driver Lyra and the four BA Jupiter.  Their latest 5 driver flagship offering, the Andromeda caught my eye and I decided to take a leap and purchased it.

    In my earlier days of this hobby, I found more enjoyment in the lower frequencies. The hard, the thumping, the wobble and ooze were all that I had sought after. The Prodigy, Crystal Method and Fatboy Slim were at the forefront of bands that fueled my adolescent angst. Finesse and grace was not on the priority list. With the passing of time, my taste has changed. It was my birthday in May, and having taken an extensive demo tour in Hong Kong with my partners in crime, I was finally ready to take the plunge into the deep end of the pool. I knew right away that my crown jewel would not be a bass heavy IEM. I wanted a piece with a great sound signature that would stand the test of time, something that hopefully as a person I would have to grow into.

    I already enjoyed the Jupiter: great soundstage with immense clarity and smooth bass texture. It was certainly one of the most unique sound signatures I had ever heard, but despite its soaring highs and tremendous soundstage, I personally felt that the Jupiter’s mids were lacking a bit of sweetness. So when I heard from Oliver that there was an early bird rate from CA for their new flagship that had added a mid driver – the Andromeda, I took a rather haphazard chance and dropped my $999 USD.

    Specs 

    Frequency Range – 10HZ–28 KHZ
    Sensitivity – 115 DB SPL/MW
    Impedance – 12.8 OHMS @ 1KHZ
    Detachable Cable with MMCX Connection Type

    I don’t have anything especially important to say about the specs apart from that the Andromeda is a highly sensitive IEM. Please turn down your volume when listening to the Andromeda or you will suffer from hearing loss.

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    Unboxing and Accessories

    Like the rest of the CA lineup, the Andromeda comes in a neat little textured cardboard box with colourful printed graphics of galactic entities. When you first open it up, you are greeted only by a rich dark brown coloured hard leather case which has a very premium feel and also appeals to the handmade, artisanal, yet grounded feel of all of Campfire Audio’s products. Unzipping this case reveals the strikingly green Andromeda coiled up neatly inside a soft, off-white wool lining.

    Underneath the case is another piece of card separating the main compartment and the accessories compartment, where you will find 3 sets of different tip choices, as well as an earhphone cleaning tool. The generous tip selection consists of S, M, and L sizes of Comply TX400 tips, normal foam tips, and silicon tips. There’s also a little Campfire Audio pin included so you can show off to the world what they’re missing out on.

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    Comfort and Build

    I was very worried that I had just blindly bought an IEM I had never tried on and that the fit would be unsatisfactory. However, I was quickly reassured when I remembered that the Jupiter fit me very well. I would like to point out that even though I was part of the early bird batch that confirmed my payment May 10th, I had to wait for a family friend to bring it to Shanghai earliest July 12th as I could not find a better and safer way to transport my highly valuable item across the Pacific Ocean. During my wait I tried my best to not read the immense amount of Andromeda reviews pouring out from the community, firstly to try to keep myself as unbiased as possible but secondly also to keep me from going insane during my long wait time. 

    And finally, they have arrived. Oh how beautiful they are. The lush green color stands out from the crowd as a strong, forward statement. Black, blue and red are too last decade, and do not communicate the true intent and spirit of the designer. Green evokes a more exotic flavor. It conjures imagery of emerald, jade and malachite. The almost iridescent surface reflects light gorgeously, forcing me to tinker with it more than I imagined before even beginning to tip roll. The CNC milled anodized aluminium housing showcases the bold attitude of CA through its brave cuts and angles of the shell. Industrial, sturdy and modern are words that spring to mind when looking at the impressive metal housings held together by precision cut screws.

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    In terms of comfort – there have been some reviews from the community that have mentioned that the angular form of the Andromeda were slightly uncomfortable, with the corners slightly jabbing into the antihelix area of the ear. Personally, it fits me snugly and comfortably, but Campfire Audio has decided to release a new version with two chamfered off corners to provide a more comfortable fit. Since my unit was a pre-order, it does not have the new chamfered corners design.

    The metallic canals of the Andromeda, which ends in 3 precisely milled out bores, leans towards shallow in terms of insertion – but your mileage may vary. Foam tips are slightly longer and grip the ear slightly better, while silicon tips provide a shallower insertion. The tips that I settled with are the M sized silicon tips which were the best for me in terms of comfort and sound. I tried the Complys and although there is a small boost in bass volume, the Comply M size was too big and the S too small for me. This review was done based on my experience with the M silicon tips.

    The Andromeda now comes with the new ALO Litz cable, a stunning silver plated copper cable with a four core braid and transparent MMCX connectors. The right and left connectors are easily distinguishable through a small blue and red dot on the left and right sides. Compared to the older ALO Tinsel Wire cable which was extremely prone to tangling up , the new Litz cable is much more ergonomic as it is slightly more robust, and the braiding helps to keep it tangle free. I’m usually not a big fan of memory wire, but the Litz cable memory wire has the perfect balance between stiffness and softness. The sturdy MMCX connectors are easily snapped on and off, allowing for easy cable switching. 

    All in all, the Andromeda looks as good as it feels secure. There is no doubt that this is a piece of incredible craftsmanship. Seamlessly melding together striking aesthetics with a unique and musical sound.

    Sound and Separation

    And finally, what you’ve all been waiting for – the sound. No doubt all of you want to know:What’s the bass like? The mids? How about the highs? But one of the first things one notices when listening to the Andromeda is its expansive soundstage.

    The Andromeda has an incredibly impressive soundstage, rivalling the absolute top of the industry. Width extends to just beyond my shoulders, height goes up to just beyond the tips of my hair and depth reaches down to just below the back of my jaw. This makes for a highly immersive listening experience, throwing the user into a world of three dimensional sound and music. 

    3-Andromedasoundbores.jpg

     
    Bass

    The bass of the Andromeda extends deep, with a bass presence just a touch above neutral, making it a conservatively warm IEM. The bass is unobtrusive, only finding its way into the music when called upon, and shying away when told to step back. Bass impact is very sharp, with an incredibly fast attack, making songs with a hard edged beat almost unbearable to listen to at moderate to high volumes. Bass texture is smooth, rich and thick with great control, almost too lean for my current taste, but nothing that cannot be adjusted with a few tweaks of the equalizer. The Andromeda responds very well to tweaking in the 60 hz and 170 hz range, easily adding warmth and bass volume for people who feel that the low end lacks oomph. Please note, adding more bass response will undoubtedly skew the entire sound signature and affect the sweetness of the mids. 

    Mids

    The Andromeda has exceptionally lush mids. Sweet, full and enveloping, female vocals sound natural and realistic. You are able to clearly make out the shape of the singers’ lips, as well as picking up all their intimate breaths and whisps. Trumpets, pianos and guitars sound great with just the right amount of timbre, echoing in your head and lingering with a beautiful resonance. Instrument separation and imaging is very well defined with astounding clarity. When listening to live orchestra, each instrument and sound source has lots of air and space between them, offering a very comfortable and grand listening experience. 

    The upper mids are really where the Andromeda begins to shine. Where many other IEMs may begin to sound screechy and chalky, the Andromeda has just begun getting into its stride. The Andromeda “sings” effortlessly when reproducing high female vocals, violins and other higher frequency instruments. The upper mids of the Andromeda “rings” and “sings” its way into a deliciously airy and sparkly high end, with no bumps or drops in between. 

    Highs

    The Andromeda’s highs are where these IEMs really shine and standout from the crowd, with exceptional clarity and extension. Campfire Audio has used a “tubeless resonator box” design where the two balanced armature drivers in charge of the high frequencies are contained and instead of having the traditional design with tubes and dampers, the resonator box allows the highs to resonate straight out of the bore without compromising even the slightest bit on clarity. Where other IEMs may sound narrow in their pursuit for the high frequencies, the Andromeda goes on up and up seemingly without end, with great texture and impact. It shows immense clarity and has a brightness which is not dry at all. Liquid and cohesive, sibilance is controlled to an absolute minimum, only showing a shadow at the most intense of moments. The Andromeda performs very well with female opera vocals, violin solo performances and other musical recordings focusing on the upper mid to high frequencies. There is no breaking, no sharpness. Just a smooth, constant flow of bright notes. 

    Concluding remarks

    Undoubtedly a bright IEM with a focus on the mids and highs, the Andromeda exercises control and restraint in its presentation of bass. I wouldn’t call this sound signature reference nor neutral. It is just a touch warmer than flat in the bass department and a few percentage points even further in its rich mids to highs. The sound is engaging, revealing and clear. 

    The standout feature of the Andromeda is its soundstage and imaging in the upper frequencies. Clear and concise with such an agreeable texture, the highs of the Andromeda can clearly place whatever sound source thrown at it to surgical precision. It is also this which makes the highs so easy to listen to, making you easily overlook any little shrieks and hisses that meander through the Andromeda soundscape.

    If you are looking for an earphone with unparalleled clarity in the highs with a gentle focus on the bass and mids, while also boasting cutting edge production technique, then look no further. I am sure that the Andromeda will bring your listening experience to new heights and perhaps beyond what was previously perceived as the limits of the sky. 

     

    This review was originally written for Accessible Audio 
    All photos taken by @alffla


      knopi, Audiowood, money4me247 and 2 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. earfonia
      Concise review with great pictures! Thanks!
      earfonia, Aug 14, 2016
    3. alffla
      Cheers guys. Glad you enjoyed the review.
      alffla, Aug 15, 2016
    4. Aink
      Nice review. Thanks! Make me like Andromeda more.
      Aink, Jun 1, 2018
  10. MrOTL
    The Green Opal.
    Written by MrOTL
    Published Dec 31, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Fabulously awesome design,
    Enjoyable listening to music,
    Staged for an audience of one,
    Cheerful and airy treble,
    Finely detailed bass
    Cons - Cumbersome fitting,
    Too sensitive to sound source environment,
    Deficiency of bass depth
    [​IMG]

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



    [​IMG]

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


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


    [​IMG]


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


    [​IMG]

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







    [​IMG]

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


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


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


    [​IMG]

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


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


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






    Claimer

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

    The CampfireAudio Andromeda was offered by ‘Campfire Audio’. The content of the review has been written without any restriction because the authors' freedom is respected.
    1. knopi
      Beauty photos
      knopi, Jan 7, 2018
      MrOTL likes this.
    2. MrOTL
      Thank you :)
      MrOTL, Jan 8, 2018