Campfire Audio Ara

General Information

New Ara

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Uniquely Awesome

Incorporating a ‘Crossover-less’ driver design with our new Solid-Body acoustic design into a Titanium shell makes for an excellent earphone. Ara has a speed and accuracy to its musical delivery that is exceptional.

Its sound has just the right touch of warmth and richness to recall the best in classic HiFi. It reminds you why listening to earphones can be so much fun.

Unencumbered Performance
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Less is very much more

Ara is a seven balanced armature design; two high (+T.A.E.C.), one mid, four low. It does not use typical passive electronic components to crossover the drivers. Instead, we shape the driver’s performance by articulating the acoustic properties of our Solid-Body internal chamber design. An approach we first created with during our development of our custom-fit earphones.

At first glance, four bass drivers would suggest a signature with prominent bass. However, the solid sonic grounding of the well-controlled bass drivers provides ample space for the mid and high drivers to shine brightly. Ara is an earphone well suited for the audiophile and reference listener.

“That’s Titanium”
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Keeping it real in a premium shell

Machined from Grade 2 Titanium billet, Ara’s shell is immediately appealing. Leaving the machined titanium raw lets the natural beauty of the material shine.

Over the life of the earphone, owners will enjoy a changing finish that will only get more interesting with time. Rest assured, your earphone drivers are safe in this finely crafted body.

The Case for Cork

Environmentally Friendly Sustainable Material

Our exciting new premium cork protective zipper case is an environmentally friendly update. Sustainably harvested Cork surrounds a substantial and protective rubber barrier that ensures that your earphones will remain safe while in transit. The interior is a thick faux wool lining that preserves the anodized finish of your earphones. Each case is made in Portugal by a small team of skilled craftspeople that share our commitment to quality.

The Cork used for the cases is the outer bark of the Cork Oak Tree (Cork Suberus L), and its extraction is harmless to the tree. The harvest occurs every nine years during the expectable lifetime of the tree (around 150 years). Harvesting the Cork of the tree is fundamental for the sustainability of the cork oak forests. A naturally durable material that feels good to hold in your hand.

Learn more at Campfire Audio

Latest reviews

asifur

100+ Head-Fier
Campfire Audio Ara : The Exceptional All-rounder
Pros: + Stunning Looks & Build Quality
+ Very Comfortable
+ Great Accessories
+ Great Staging capabilities
+ Outstanding Details Retrieval & Clarity
+ Great Imaging
+ Despite neutral tuning very enjoyable
Cons: - BA Timbre found on rare occasions but that is just me nitpicking
Campfire Audio Ara : The Exceptional All-rounder
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Disclaimer:

This review unit was sent by @CampfireAudio for the purpose of an honest review.
Everything mentioned in this review are purely my own based on my experiences with the IEM.

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Introduction:

In 2020 - Campfire Audio set out for not only a customary annual refresh, but to go beyond their already great IEM Andromeda.
The Ara was created by Campfire Audio as a neutral reference grade upgrade to their already great All BA IEM.
The Ara is the best All BA IEM created by Campfire Audio in terms of technical capabilities and it surely delivers accordingly also.
The Ara is priced at $1299.

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Tech Features:

The Ara is an all BA universal monitor. It comes with 7 custom BA drivers on each side.
Incorporating a ‘Crossover-less’ driver with Solid-Body acoustic design into a Titanium shell makes for an excellent earphone.
Ara has a speed and accuracy to its musical delivery that is exceptional.
The 7 BAs work as follows: two high (+T.A.E.C.), one mid, four low.
At first glance, 4 bass BA drivers would suggest a prominent bass signature.
However, the well-controlled bass drivers provides ample space for the mid and high drivers to shine brightly.
Ara is an earphone well suited for the regular audiophile and people who prefer reference grade IEMs.

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Specifications:

Specifications are as below:

  • 10Hz–28 kHz Frequency Response
  • 94 dB SPL @ 1kHz: 7.094 mVrms
  • 8.5 Ohms @ 1kHz Impedance
  • Dual High Frequency Balanced Armature Drivers + T.A.E.C.
  • Single Mid Frequency Balanced Armature Driver
  • Quad Low Frequency Balanced Armature Drivers
  • Beryllium / Copper MMCX Connections
  • Machined Titanium Shell
  • Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber™ (T.A.E.C.)
  • PVD Black Stainless Steel Spout
  • Black Screws
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Design & Build Quality:


Looks are always subjective, but I think these are IEMS have stunning looks, that’s both striking and ergonomic. The Titanium based shell looks awesome & very premium. The shape of the IEM is nice & very light-weight that and provides a comfortable fit for for long listening sessions.
In terms of build quality & comfort - the Ara is amongst the BEST that I've come across so far.
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Packaging & Accessories:

The Ara continues the new and larger packaging styling Campfire Audio has been using since Polaris 2.
The theme is back to a classic faded tan look with the customary collage of colors and the Ara itself on the front label.

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Accessories:
Flip the box lid and inside you have the accessories inside a similarly colored cardboard tube and an all-new cork material carry-case inside of which you will find the Ara and the SPC Litz cable. As always with Campfire, the accessory line-up is just beautiful as well as plentiful.

The full lineup of accessories closely matches the IO and is as follows:

  • Final e-tips (xs/s/m/l/xl)
  • Foam Marshmallow tips S/M/L
  • Silicone single-bore tips S/M/L
  • 3 x cushioned pockets (for the monitors and foam tips)
  • Cleaning brush/pick
  • New cork carry case
  • SPC Litz cable
  • Campfire Audio pin badge
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The Stock Cable:

The cable is the Campfire Audio Litz Cable – Silver Plated Copper Conductors with Beryllium Copper MMCX and 3.5mm plug which is good soundwise and also looks wise. Really nothing to complain about here - all good.
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Amp-ing Requirements:

Due to it's vert low impedance levels, this IEM requires does not any sort of amp-ing at all. Howver, it shines quite a bit when paired with a good & powerful source.

NOW LET'S TALK ABOUT THE SOUND....
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Items used for this review:

DAC/AMP:
@iFi audio Micro iDSD Signature,
DAP/Source : Cayin N6 Mk2 with E02 motherboard, Laptop & iPad
Streaming Source: QOBUZ

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Upgrade Cable:
Following upgrade cables used :
- CEMA Electro Acousti RX series (enhanced version): 24AWG*4 6N OCC copper cable

Moving forward... All sound impressions are using this upgrade cable as I found it to be much better than the stock cable.

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Ear Tips:
I've tried tip-rolling with a variety of tips including Final Audio E Series (both Transparent Red & Black ones), @SpinFit Eartip CP100+ & CP100 and JVC Spiral.
I've found JVC spiral to suit me preferences best and have used that mostly.

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Tracks Used:
The tracks I have used can be found from the below playlist that I have used and generally use for most reviews...

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Let's now talk about the quality of Sound....

The BASS:


The Bass on the Ara comes with ample clarity and micro-nuances from the sub-bass region. It is well defined and natural sounding. There's ample layering and texture all across and despite the fact that the Ara is neutral and not very Thump & slam heavy in the bass, it sounds great and enjoyable in most types of tracks.

The MIDS:

Midrange is where the Ara shines even stronger. The midrange is full of muscle and texture and layering. Piano, violin, guitar and other instruments sound great with good amount of transients and natural decay. The Ara shines in terms of details retrieval and clarity. The vocals are very immersive and both male and female vocals come with ample amount of layering and texture. Every instrument can be identified individually and the sound is very coherent also - which is a rare case in a multi-driver architecture.

The Treble:

Treble is no exception either and full of micro-nuances and details. there's ample clarity and layering and while there are peaks - they just make the treble more enjoyable. Cymbals sound very natural with the right amount of decay & air.

The SOUNDSTAGE:

The Ara has a massive Soundstage with a good width & height emphasis and also depth. The Ara offers a more neutral & well defined stage.
It is as great for acoustic based track as it is for Rock or Pop genres. The Ara is a superb performer when it comes to staging and provides whatever the tracks require.

Imaging & Timbre:

There is a beautiful solidity and balance to how the Ara’s delivers instrumental notes yet the staging in the mids is open enough to ensure neither vocal nor instrument is competing for the same space. You get a what I would call a classic hi-fidelity stereo presentation from the Ara with perfect positioning sense of each item.
The Ara’s timbre is certainly BA but the coherent tuning from top to bottom combined with a small emphasis on the mid-bass and vocal presence ensures it is not a dry BA timbre. There is a natural lilt in those articulate instrumental notes with some very nicely detailed texture to flesh it out also.
If your bag is jazz, the classics, or acoustical pieces the Ara is perfect for string, woodwind, and percussion reproduction.
Specially cymbal strokes are fast, detailed but never splashy or hot in tone.


Comparisons :
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CA Ara vs DUNU SA6 :

The DUNU SA6 comes with much lower price tag ($549) - but I'm including here as that is also an ALL BA IEM. It is a great IEM and very balanced performance in all departments. However, not to forget that the Ara comes with Finesse and can beat it quite handily.

Bass:
The DUNU SA6 has a punchier bass with more thump while the Ara comes with a lot more details and micro nuances and textured Bass performance.
Despite the amount of Bass being more in DUNU SA6, I prefer the Ara for its detailed bass experience.


Mids & Treble:
The DUNU SA6 is quite a performer within it's own price range and is amongst the champs there. However, when compared to Ara, the SA6 mids seem thinner and lacking texture in comparison to Ara. The Ara is far more detailed and muscular. The Ara wins in this category by a mile or more.

Soundstage & Timbre:
The Ara comes with a massive soundstage and in terms of imaging and timbre it is also great. The SA6 falls short in all categories.

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CA Ara vs DUNU ZEN :
The DUNU ZEN though higher priced than the SA6 but is still much lower priced ($699) than the Ara.

It is also a single DD based IEM. I'm including it here as the ZEN also has ample amount of details and expansive soundstage.
This has been a very interesting comparison though not really based on similarities or price range but more on traits.

Bass:
This is the DUNU ZENs strongest traits with ample amount micro nuances and details. it also has the thump that is enjoyable and comes with good layering and texture. Despite the Ara coming with quite similar amount of details and layering - This is where the DUNU ZEN wins with it's DD based Bass.


Mids & Treble:
The DUNU ZEN has a slight peak in its upper mids which may become bothersome for some people. Mids & treble is where the Ara excels and exceeds the DUNU ZEN in terms of layering and texture. The Ara is also more resolving and doesn't have any bothersome peaks. the mids & treble are very enjoyable on the Ara and this is where Ara wins handily.


Soundstage & Timbre:
I never thought that any ALL BA IEM would be able to match the massive expansive soundstage of the DUNU ZEN. The Ara does just that.

The Ara also comes with an equally expansive soundstage and positioning details are slightly better on the Ara. While there is that rare case of BA timbre in the Ara - it is not enough leverage for the DUNU ZEN to win here. I would call it a tie here with slight preference towards Ara.

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Conclusion :

Having said all that - The Campfire Audio Ara is surely the top performing all BA IEM that I have come across till date.

It is very musical despite being a neutral and reference grade IEM. The amount of details an finesse in its performance make it worth every penny of the price tage that it comes with. I have thoroughly enjoyed reviewing it and would highly recommend it to others.

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asifur
asifur
@AKabir No hisses with the ones I've used
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Riyan
Wow, Nice & Detailed review
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rabiulmiraz
Great review. 👍🏼
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ngoshawk

Headphoneus Supremus
Campfire Audio Ara: Is this really the middle child?
Pros: A bit smoother tonality than the Andro
A bit less bass than the Solaris
Coherent signature
Cons: Missing that extra bit of vibrancy of the Andro
Fit is still old school
Middle child syndrome?
Tough market?
Campfire Audio Ara ($1299): Is this really the middle child?

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Ara

Intro (same as the Solaris & Andromeda):


As luck would have it, the tasty trio of new CA wares came my way, the Ara 2020, Andromeda 2020 and this; the Solaris 2020. Upon first listen of all three, I noted how they seemed similar to me. Then after closer inspection, I began to understand the intricacies of each and how they were different. The Andro is the detail king, rightly taking back its crown as an extremely detailed critter. My goodness, it really does. The Solaris? Not having heard the first or second gen, I cannot say how it is different other than reading the reviews of HeadPie, thecontraptionist and twister6. They are much more versed than I, but the Solaris to me proved why it is the flagship of the range. It is like Ken & Co took the criticisms in stride and produced and F-you, this is what we can do. All three-sound phenomenal, and I again appreciate what Campfire Audio has done to the market. They produced three winners of distinctly different signatures, enough so that you will find one, which fits your tastes. And this one? The Aras just sounds right no matter the source music. It really does, and I can see why it is the favorite of some.

I am a very lucky reviewer to have all three on hand and will do my best to discern the sound of each. As these are loaner units to me, I have no financial obligation whatsoever in this and simply appreciate and covet my time with the trio together.


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Specs:

Specifications


10Hz–28 kHz Frequency Response
94 dB SPL @ 1kHz: 7.094 mVrms
8.5 Ohms @ 1kHz Impedance


Features

Dual High Frequency Balanced Armature Drivers + T.A.E.C.
Single Mid Frequency Balanced Armature Driver
Quad Low Frequency Balanced Armature Drivers
Beryllium / Copper MMCX Connections
Machined Titanium Shell
Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber™ (T.A.E.C.)
PVD Black Stainless-Steel Spout
Black Screws


Gear Used/Compared:

Empire Ears Legend X ($2299)
Campfire Solaris 2020 ($1499)
Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020 ($1099)

Cayin N6 mk2
Shanling M6 Pro
MBP/EarMen TR-AMP



Songlist:

Joey Alexander-Warna album and others
Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado
twenty one pilots album, Trench
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Big Head Todd & The Monsters-Beautiful World
Mark Knopfler-Down The Road Wherever
Elton John-yep, still good, still cool
Tidal MQA


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Unboxing:

This will be short. The units came to me in their new cork case, with drawstring “laundry-like” airy bag inside and some tips. That’s it. But from the website you note that you get the traditional Campfire Audio plethora of goodies, that are functional and needed. I have always preferred Comply foam tips on the CA models I have had and reviewed, and this is no different.

The cork case is a new thing, and I do appreciate how CA continues to think about their environmental impact. More and more this is becoming the trend, and Campfire is right up there at the forefront.


Technicals:

With seven BA’s per side, CA is taking a decidedly different twist with the Ara. Running dual BA’s up top, one for the mid and quad BA’s for the lows, there is ample evidence from the sound, that even though there is only one BA for the mids, that to me this might be the highlight of the show. Using the TAEC design for the upper realms, the highs are full but not harsh. The mids sound not lush but full and vibrant richness with passion to me as a result of the seven combined BA’s. The speed of sound emanating from the Ara are quite good as well.


Build/Fit:

The typical CA shape of blockiness continues, but on a smaller scale. After owning the original Nova, and still having the once TOTL Jupiter, I welcome that slimmed down shape since it does not hinder my ear as much. Still slightly large, but not out of the ordinary enough to bother me especially after some of the lunkers I have had of late. Yes MMR, I’m looking your way.

Made from three pieces, the faceplate with the familial CA logo graces the thinner than Solaris front. Held in place by the three-black tri-slot screws, the fit between the two halves is spot on. The black longer nozzle fits well, too and compliments the black screws to make a very nice two-tone look. The slightly angled nozzle fits well into my average-sized ear without fuss and due to the smaller shell, I can wear the Ara without bother for longer periods of time.

Adding to the overall look is the Litz silver-plated copper cable with beryllium-copper MMCX connectors. I will not go into whether this is pure beryllium or not, the point is moot since it is an alloy anyway. I trust CA and so should you. With a brownish color that compliments the blue-toned cork case, the overall appeal of the Ara is one of subdued quality and elegance. No shoutiness here, thank you very much.

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Sound:

I mentioned the mids above and will continue here. To me they present the character of the Ara most, and as such promote a richness that exudes throughout the whole of the sound character. On Alex Fox’s live version of To The Gypsies, the strings, which accompany the beginning sound sublime and full of rich character. Clean and concise with excellent speed as well, those mids are well worth the listen. Then later as the bass guitar kicks in, while not on Solaris level, nonetheless, the Ara promotes excellent speed again and depth to the bass present. Succinct and full of energy, with taut control would be a good way to describe the sound so far. I do wish for more bass, but this isn’t meant for that. This is a character defining IEM, and in that the Ara 2020 can hold its head high. Superb detail retrieval emotes a richness of personality to the note and sound heard.

Moving up scale, the treble is again vibrant and full of verve. Not harsh or sibilant in the least, the notes up top through staccato guitar strums are excellent in clarity and response. This is a fine, honest representation of the sound coming forth. CA has done its job with this one. I would add that due to the clarity of the treble presence, the soundstage sounds open as well. Nice and wide, but not Grand Canyon wide, the height is good as well. Depth matches both, but I do believe the width is wider than the others, presenting a nice panoramic sound, but not too out of proportion. This also allows for the layering to come across nicely as well.

Instruments can be picked out in more detail than the Solaris, but that is to be expected due to the tuning. Mind you the Solaris is not bad, just that the Ara is better. This is a good balance between the Solaris and Andromeda as a result. Combining with very good instrumentation as well, I never felt a lack of definition as to where each instrument laid. Proper delineation was had in all spectra. The terms succinct and character come into my mind again when thinking of the overall signature here. Not delicate or finicky or lacking depth, but a richness and vibrancy that backs up what I hear.

Not that I have neglected the bass and I usually mention it first, but the Ara is a case where the other aspects deserve the front-page news, they are so good. If there was one “issue” with the Ara to me, it would be the lack of true depth in the bass sound. But that would be a disservice to how good it really is. Not the depth of the Solaris, but present in a succinct manner, that is tailored to compliment to others in support. I most always wish for more, but here what is present satiates my desires for more because what is there is so good. On Coldplay’s Clocks, the bass is succinct and (here’s that word again) vibrant. Yes, it provides me with that sense and the complimentary sound adds to an already enjoyable sound. Chris Martin’s vocals come across clean and crisp as well in a very fine manner.

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Comparison:

Campfire Audio Ara ($1299) v Empire Ears Legend X ($2299):

Not really a fair comparison here, but I will briefly add that the detail response from the Ara makes a valid point for “why spend more?” Well, if you do you get that added bass and warmth of sound, which the Ara hints at, but does not have. There is the richness of sound and that vibrant tonality present, but not the bass. So, this would be one where the complimentary nature of both might just justify the purchase of both. I’ll leave that up to you and your significant other to discuss...one for each of you!!


Campfire Audio Ara ($1299) v Campfire Solaris 2020 ($1499):

From my Solaris 2020 review:
Another fine reviewer calls the Ara his favorite of the trio, and I completely understand why. Listening to that IEM of traditional CA-block shape, I concurred for the detailed response of sound emoting from within is indeed extraordinary. While it does not have the punch of the Solaris down low, it more than makes up for that with detailed precision and clarity. Of the three, this to me would be the most “neutral” of the trio, and most “middle of the road.” That is not necessarily a bad thing, as my wife is a middle child, and for that comes a level of tolerance and maturity beyond the oldest and baby of those trio. I am thankful, indeed.

Running all BA’s, seven of them, one would expect a lesser bass performance than the Solaris. While the amount is less, the presentation is nonetheless impressive. If you want the bass monster, go Vega 2020. If you want that solid middle ground, with excellent detail retrieval and sumptuous male vocals, then you are hard pressed to find a better CA than the Ara 2020. See more in my review. If I had to choose here, I’d go with the Solaris 2020 due to the warmth of sound and that added bass, for it is so good.


Campfire Audio Ara ($1299) v Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020 ($1099):

There is no denying that the Andromeda is the former king of detail. The precision of which the clarity of sound comes through is a hearing to be well, heard. I can remember from the original that I was “quite impressed” with the level of detail retrieval and clarity wrought from that boxy shaped IEM. It pretty much set the tone for me until much more expensive unit came across my computer.

It still holds a very high place with regard to clarity and to think it is the most affordable of the three makes you wonder why you would spend more. The Ara might be the case for justifying that extra money spent. You get an extra two drivers, which are oriented for the lower frequencies, so they have no benefit or addition to that clarity of the Andromeda. So, what makes the Ara better than the Andromeda? A bit better in the bass retrieval department and a wonderfully rich tonality and soundstage. Slightly different, but not necessarily better.

The Andromeda is easier to drive as well. And to me it presents a more vibrant signature than the Ara, along with a slightly lifted vocal presentation. So, it comes down to the smooth richness and vibrancy of the Ara versus the uplifting vibrant tonality of the Andromeda 2020. Both are fabulous and I really could not pick a winner.

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Finale:

The Ara is a tough one to quantify. The “lowest” priced of the trio, does that make it the least of the three? Or the “worst” of the three? To me the Ara 2020 has the hardest job of the three. It must prove its place in this vaunted lineup is worth the price of admission. Fighting for a spot at the big kids table is tough work, especially for the youngster in the lineup. But the Ara has the tricks up its sleeve to prove it belongs. That vibrant tonality, that is textured a bit better than the Andromeda gives it a bit better smoothness of sound. I would not call it laidback, and certainly not “mature,” but a certain smoothness comes out when compared to the other two. As such, it fully deserves its place within the trio, and when price is factored in, you could easily justify this as either the entry point into the CA lineup, or a very fine addition to what you already have. I close with Coldplay’s Everything’s Not Lost, which is fitting as the wonderful bassline hits and the vocals emote that smooth nature about it.

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rev92

100+ Head-Fier
Campfire Audio Ara
Pros: The build quality is a masterpiece
Stunning looks
Very comfortable
Great accessories
You could probably kill somebody with em
Outstanding clarity
Neutral and fun
Technical and romantic
It is actually better than the Andromeda
Value
Cons: Soundstage is very good, but not extraordinary
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Campfire Ara is a universal IEM using 7 balanced armature drivers per side, being heavily influenced by the legendary Andromeda. It is priced at $1299.


Sound quality for the price
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Rating: 9.5 out of 10.

Build quality
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Rating: 10 out of 10.

Value
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Rating: 9.5 out of 10.




Packaging

Nicely done.

Starting from the unboxing experience, you know that you’re handling a Campfire Audio product from the first moment. I said it many times, and I’ll say it again – I truly adore the design of CFA’s products when it comes to the boxes. Colorful, fun, and ecological.

Inside you’ll find the Ara itself, a smoky litz cable, a case, and a lot of eartips, including foams and Final Audio Type E silicone tips. Also, there’s a CFA pin, cleaning tool, soft pouch ,and some paperwork inside, but I bet it’s not what you came here for.

I’d like to address some things about the case here – it’s made of sustainable cork dyed blue. It’s hand made in Portugal and it’s my favorite IEM case ever. Feels great in the hand, it’s well-made, ecological, protective, and just simply gorgeous. As usual, it’s lining is made of thick faux wool which will protect your Ara from being scratched, even though I still highly recommend using the soft pouch additionally for just the earpieces.

The case included is functional, protective, ecological and it looks great.

Build quality

It might be boring already, but the build quality is as usual with CFA…simply perfect.

Well, if you’ve been following me for a while now then you know, that I simply love the build quality of Campfire Audio products.

In terms of Ara…well, it’s even more striking. Full titanium shells, looking refined and raw at the same time, built to outlast an apocalypse or to use as a weapon in terms of one happening.

These are heavy, but not too heavy. Boxy, but not too boxy. The craftsmanship and design are simply put – spectacular, can’t really find any other IEM on the market to compete with these in that regard. Ara is the best made and greatest designed IEM I’ve ever seen in my life, and I’ve seen a lot of them.

They look stunning in every environment.

Comfort

Chunky, heavy, and very, very comfortable.

What could be even more impressive than that? Well, the fact that these are edgy, heavy and superbly comfortable at the same time.
A 6-hour-long listening session? No problem champ, the shape, and finish provide such a great fit I barely feel them in my ears.

Same as the new Andromeda, ARA has an elongated nozzle that goes deeper into your ear canal and thanks to that provide a better, more reliable fit. As for the outer shells, even though they are quite boxy I don’t really feel them thanks to the great finish and well-thought shape.


Tech

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Campfire Audio ARA by the Campfire…how convenient.

Everyone knows that the Andromeda is the Bestseller in Campfire Audio’s history. Then, there’s been quite a few iterations of these babies, including the Andromeda MW10 and Andromeda Gold.

I’m mentioning that because the ARA is heavily influenced by both the OG Andro and those special editions. Having the 5 driver Andromeda and a hybrid Solaris, CFA went for a “in-between” kind of IEM.

I believe it was a terrific idea. They had their fantastic Andromeda on hand, and they simply tried to improve it by changing the tuning and implementing two additional BA drivers for low frequencies. What could have gone wrong? Well…nothing.

Sound

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As raw as it gets. But there’s more into it.

The Ara is one of the most unique IEMs on the modern market – analytical but yet musical, raw but beautiful, crispy but thick. It really sounds like a well-tuned pair of in-ear monitors.

Starting from the bass response, I was instantly in a bit of a shock. Well, take the Andromeda, add two additional BA and you’re gonna have the ARA with that monstrous bass response? Well…no.
Surprisingly, it’s bass is lower in quantity than the Andromeda but the overall performance is just jaw-dropping.
These two additional BA’s aren’t there to boost the bass, but rather to ensure the highest possible level of detail, textures and to get as neutral as it gets.
The more drivers you’re going to use for the low frequencies, the less distortion you can achieve at the end, and that what happened here.
So, the amount of the bass is nowhere close to the new Dorado 2020 or even the OG Andromeda, but in terms of pure technical performance, it eats both of them for breakfast. It’s strikingly fast, neutral, layered, texturized…well, you get the point.
Sure, thanks to a very neutral and uncolored presentation you’re simply gonna miss a little bit of bass in some tracks or music genres. I highly prefer to listen to The Weeknd or Post Malone on the Dorado 2020, because it gives the music that huge impact and ridiculous fun factor. Nonetheless, a well-mastered Random Access Merories by Daft Punk showed Ara’s supremacy in terms of detail and speed. The bass isn’t small though, don’t get me wrong on that…it just is….how it’s supposed to be, whether you like it or not.

If there’s one single sound factor that’s bound to Campfire Audio, then that’s the midrange. I’m yet to hear a CFA product with the thin, unpleasant, and poor midrange, especially in the vocal area. Well, I’m gonna have to wait a little longer, since the Ara has a strikingly involving, romantic, and rich midrange presentation.
Even though the whole frequency response is dead neutral and uncolored, CFA just had to add it’s magic to the midrange, resulting in a very natural sounding vocals – and I’m glad they did it.
Male vocalists like Mariusz Duda from Lunatic Soul or Neal Morse from Transatlantic sound just exact, true to life, as natural as it gets (and I’ve heard Mariusz live for a couple of times). Thank’s to that slightest warmth and lushness in the midrange, their vocals are deep, physical and charming, which would have not been possible if CFA went for a full-blown neutral tuning for the midrange.
If you’ll get the chance to audition the Ara, then please – just play Nils Lofgren – Keith Don’t Go from the “Acoustic Live” album…if you’ll return the ARA after hearing that, you’re a crazy man.

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Ara pairs excellently with everything, but technical capabilities are key.

The Treble is yet again – technical, forward, crispy, and very detailed, but at the same time, it’s smooth and inspiring.
I mentioned the song “Keith Don’t Go” in the midrange section, claiming a rather big statement. Well, that’s because Ara’s performance with the acoustic guitar’s strings and Nils vocal is the best I’ve ever heard in an IEM. The amount of air, the crispiness of the strings, the body, and the liveliness is just out of this world. I’ve heard this song on countless audio setups, probably around a thousand, and as stated before – The Ara with Cayin N6ii/E01 is the best of all of them in this specific song.
Fleetwood Mac is also a true joy with the Ara, having that rhythmic and accurate bass, lovely and romantic vocal of Stevie Nicks, and the crispy treble being responsible for the hi-hats and strings.

The soundstage is not as obviously spectacular as the rest of the sound of the Ara.
It is not as wide as the OG Andromeda, and it images in a different manner. There the Andro focuses on giving you a sick amount of space around your head and between the actual instruments, the Ara is more…restrained, but not in a bad way.
It is simply a more intimate presentation in terms of staging, with the sound sources located closer to the listener and to each other.
There are songs, in which this kind of staging is beneficial – Prog rock, Trip Hop and Modern stuff sound more involving and natural, but while listening to some soundtracks or classical music I wished it was a bit wider and more airy.

VS Vision Ears Elysium

Vision Ears Elysium and Campfire Audio Ara are more similar than I originally expected them to be. Actually, I think that these play in the same league, with the Elysium being a bit more ethereal and fresh sounding, while the Ara is more down to earth and physical.
The Elysium has a clear upper hand in terms of the soundstage, but the Ara wins by miles in terms of the bass response.

VS Campfire Audio Dorado 2020

These two are very, very different. Dorado 2020 is all about that fun factor, providing a monstrous bass and a very focused, almost in your face sound. The Ara on the other hand is more neutral and sustained, providing better insight into the music with more natural timbre and faster bass response. Nonetheless, in modern music, Ara tends to sound too thin compared to the Dorado. If you’re wondering which one to get – the answer is both. But if you really can get just one, it’s gonna come down to your personal preferences in music.

VS Meze Rai Penta

Comparing these two is also quite easy. Penta is more laid-back and analog sounding out of two, but in terms of raw technical performance it’s no match for the Ara, with the latter providing better micro and macro dynamics, crispiness in the top end and an overall more resolving and accurate tone. If you’re a fan of a delicate and lush sound signature, then the Rai Penta is an IEM to die for, but for everybody else, the Ara wins by some margin.

Summary

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Campfire Audio did the impossible – they actually upgraded the beloved Andromeda.

Campfire Audio Ara is a complete package indeed. In terms of the design and craftsmanship, it’s an unmatched masterpiece, with a spectacular sound quality to pair with that. Fast, resolving, neutral and very, very clean sounding yet providing a high dose of fun and a beautiful timbre. What’s not to love?
Highly recommended.




Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
  • Headphones – Campfire Audio Dorado 2020, Vega 2020, Andromeda, Lime Ears Aether R, Vision Ears EVE20, Elysium, Meze Rai Penta, Audeze LCD3
  • Sources– Cayin N3Pro, Cayin N5ii, Fiio M15, Cayin N6ii, Cayin N8, JDSLabs Atom stack, SMSL SU-9
Last edited:
josesol07
josesol07
great review, thanks!!
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Reactions: rev92
rev92
rev92
Thank you 😍

Comments

Hey guys been contemplating of getting the campfire audio ara. But the impedance ratings bothers me. Ara is 8.5 ohms. I have a Fiio M15. Fiio M15's impedance is 1.4 ohms (3.5mm) and 3 ohms (4.4mm)

Do you think i need an ifi iematch?
 
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