Campfire Audio Atlas

Rating:
4.9/5,
  1. subguy812
    Campfire Audio Atlas
    Written by subguy812
    Published Sep 3, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Wonderful bass, solid build quality, incredibly engaging signature,addictive
    Cons - Weight, adjustment period to signature
    20180514_054845.jpg
    Campfire Audio Atlas


    Atlas
    Campfire Audio Atlas – Direct link to purchase

    IMG_20180503_180201.jpg

    A Little Technical Stuff:

    · 5Hz–20 kHz Frequency Response

    · 105 dB SPL/mW Sensitivity

    · 19 Ohms @ 1kHz Impedance

    · Less than 1% Total Harmonic Distortion

    · Single Full-Range 10mm Dynamic Driver

    · Plasma enhanced Chemical Vapor Depostion (C.V.D.) Amorphous Diamond Like Carbon (A.D.L.C.) Diaphragm.

    · Beryllium / Copper MMCX Connections

    · Stainless Steel Body

    Campfire Audio Atlas

    IMG_20180503_184026_1.jpg
    -MRSP: Universal fit $1299 USD


    I want to thank Ken Ball, the brain trust and owner of Campfire Audio and ALO audio for providing me with the Atlas for review.

    Ken is known in the industry for developing and producing top quality cables, amps, and state of the art IEM’s. The Andromeda IEM is considered by many to be the benchmark for one of the best all-around IEM’s in the industry. I love the Andromeda and miss not having it in my collection now. The company is based in Portland, Oregon and produced proudly in the USA.

    I need to put this out there right from the start. The Atlas is one of the most engaging and enjoyable IEM’s I have had the pleasure to hear. Its sound is addictive and immerses the listener with an exciting, and eventful experience. I have other reviews on the horizon and I find it difficult to listen to the other offerings as the Atlas just checks so many of my boxes. That is not to say it is the most technically proficient in my stable, because it isn’t. What the Atlas does is what it is designed to do, deliver the goods and baptize you in a gratifying emanation of sound. That said, these are not a first listen IEM. On first listen, I was shocked at the level of the bass. It was as if there was a bass wall I felt I needed to climb over to be able to hear any of the other frequencies, but fortunately, they improved quickly. I am beginning to become annoyed with the number of people, experienced reviewers included, that say the Atlas are overly bassy and spikey in the treble. Everyone is certainly welcome to their opinion but some of these folks should know better than make blanket statements about sound quality on short listens only. I mention this because as a reader you should be very skeptical of anyone that says they listened to a loaner or a friend’s Atlas and the sound was not good. The first thought or question is how much time was spent with the Atlas.

    IMG_20180503_180222.jpg

    I will touch on the sound quality later in the review but it is important to know that not everyone that is buying the Atlas, or any of the TOTL IEM’s available, is an audiophile. I think there is a certain amount of pressure on “audiophile” reviewers to gauge an IEM on its technical prowess but the enjoyment of the music is what hooked me on this hobby, to begin with. I attempt to bridge the gap in my review for folks that want to enjoy their music without being critical when they listen. In other words, it is okay to just enjoy music. It is human nature to want better and more, but it is also very important to understand there will always be better and more. If you find something that enthralls you stick with it awhile and enjoy.

    A Little Marketing Hype:

    Stainless Steel Body

    Our new stainless-steel earphone bodies are drop forged and then CNC machined before being hand polished to a mirror finish.

    MMCX designed to last

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

    Individually Crafted

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

    Gigantic and Fantastic Sound.

    A truly massive sound. We’ve expanded our ADLC driver to a mighty 10mm and enclosed it in Stainless Steel – Atlas is a full range powerhouse. The result is a terrific sounding earphone with a dynamic signature that will convert even the most jaded listener to an Atlas fan.

    New Stainless-Steel Body

    Our new stainless-steel earphone bodies are drop forged and then CNC machined before being hand polished to a mirror finish. The weight of our stainless-steel earphones in your hand feels good. The durability of stainless steel gives you peace of mind in daily use, knowing these are going to last.

    New A.D.L.C. Diaphragm Dynamic Driver

    Expanding on the commercial and critical success of Vega, we returned to an A.D.L.C. diaphragm design for Atlas and super sized it to a new 10mm driver; up from 8.5mm utilized in Vega.

    For a quick background, A.D.L.C. (Amorphous Diamond-Like Carbon) is the hybrid of diamond and graphite carbon. It is a non-crystalline diamond. It is a material that has low density and high rigidity, important factors when considering diaphragm materials. In designing a dynamic driver, the diaphragm material used should be as rigid as possible to provide a wider range of frequency responses and lower distortion. Additionally, the density of the diaphragm material should also be as low as possible in order to increase fidelity.

    The 10mm A.D.L.C. diaphragm driver at the heart of Atlas achieves these goals; superior fidelity, excellent frequency response, and low distortion.

    3D Modeled Awesomeness

    Tuning a high fidelity earphone is both an art and a science. To make something really special many critical factors need to intersect perfectly. This is why we choose to design and iterate with 3D modeled parts and take those parts into our final builds. It gives us an unprecedented level of control to capture the sound we’re trying to achieve. We think you’ll appreciate this refinement when you hear them yourself.

    New Pure Silver Cable

    We’ve created an all-new pure silver cable for Atlas that allows you to get the very best sound possible from your earphone, right out of the box. The pure silver conductors provide additional resolution and refinement to an already exceptional sound. This cable is also wound with a twist that reduces tangling and microphonics improving your daily experience with Atlas.

    WHAT’S IN THE BOX:

    · Campfire Audio Black Leather Earphone Case

    · Campfire Audio Pure Silver Litz Cable – Pure Silver Conductors with Beryllium Copper MMCX and 3.5mm Stereo Plug

    · Final Audio Tips (xs/s/m/l/xl) – Campfire Audio Marshmallow Tips (s/m/l) – Silicon Earphone Tips (s/m/l) –

    · Campfire Audio Lapel Pin

    · Cleaning Tool

    IMG_20180503_175325_1.jpg IMG_20180503_175311_1.jpg IMG_20180503_175846.jpg IMG_20180503_175805.jpg
    Unboxing and Accessories:

    I have always thought there was something very hip and retro in the packaging of the CA IEM’s. The Atlas carries on the same tradition. The box is simple, very simple. However, it is very cool.

    The accessories are more than adequate. A semi-hard, zippered carry case embossed with “Campfire Audio”, ample ear tips in a variety of different styles, materials, and sizes, including my favorite silicone tips, Final Audio. The standard cleaning tool and a lapel pin with the CA logo are also included.

    Ear tip wise, if I am using included tips my selection would be the Final Audio. I also find the JVC Spiral Dots to do an adequate job of delivering, but they are not included. Another worthy mention is that my preference of all tips is a custom sleeve that is produced by another CA company, Custom Art in Poland.

    If I am sticking with stock tips, I thoroughly enjoy the Final Audio as I felt they seal well and accentuate the tones and frequencies as they were meant to be heard.

    The cable is awesome. It was created for the Atlas and is a Pure Silver Litz Cable with Pure Silver Conductors with Beryllium Copper MMCX and 3.5mm Stereo Plug. I love the ergonomics of this cable and it is so comfortable to wear. In fact, this is my favorite cable that I have used from ALO or Campfire Audio. It is very pliable and it is designed to be worn straight down as opposed to around or behind the ear. Many IEM companies are starting to outsource their pack-in cables, which I love, but this one is certainly one of the better all around designed and sounding cables I have heard. There truly should be no upgrade itch to scratch with this offering.

    IMG_20180503_180103.jpg IMG_20180503_180116.jpg

    Build and Quality and Fit:

    IMG_20180506_080054.jpg

    The Atlas is truly unique in its design and appearance. It is a steampunk look that is highly polished stainless steel. The nozzle end opening strikes you as it belongs on the end of a steam pipe or as a circular vent grate on a wall in a boiler room setting. The shape of the Atlas is like a pistol I had in my youth that shot a ping pong ball, it is a squatty pistol-shaped housing, think Buck Rogers. Now that I have described something to you that sounds atrocious and you would never consider putting it in your ear, it really is attractive and it is just my lack of writing skills that make it sound ugly. It is highly polished stainless steel with the CA logo engraved on each side of the housing. I love the look but you will have to decide if it is attractive or not, as beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    The build, as mentioned is Stainless Steel, and such these things are built like a tank. The heft and sturdiness are impressive. The Atlas are the type of IEM you can feel confident in taking with you wherever you go and not worry that your $1300 investment will become scratched or crack as you may with an acrylic shell. Not only do they have an industrial appearance they have an industrial, durable feel about them.

    I have never been a huge fan of MMCX connectors, as a matter of fact I love 2-pin connectors, but the Atlas connectors are very snug and there is a certain solidity in how the connection feels. Perhaps that is where the Beryllium Copper MMCX comes into play. Only time will tell if the connector will continue to fit snug, but for now it is the best MMCX connector I have sampled. The down side for me is all of my after-market cables are 2-pin so I am not able to test other cables with the Atlas, but as I mentioned previously the sound and ergonomics of the stock cable are fantastic.

    As mentioned, a couple of times the is cable is fantastic. It is terminated with a 3.5mm right angled plug. The cable is supple and complies with the user and is not frustrating due to being unruly. I experienced absolutely zero microphonics and I do use the Atlas for my dog walks. The cable is lightweight but not frail, it is perfectly and comfortably weighted. I think it sounds great, is aesthetically beautiful and has perfect ergonomics and remains tangle free.

    IMG_20180506_073549.jpg

    I wear the Atlas with the cable down but if you prefer you could wrap the cable around ear. The weight of the Atlas might be a challenge for some. The stock Final Audio tips hold them in place fairly well, but during a 3-mile dog walk I may have to adjust them a couple times as they can have a sensation that they are sliding out of your ears. It is not really an annoyance as I am accustomed to universal IEM’s but these are heavy and I have felt the sensation with the Atlas more than other IEM’s.

    The driver is a single 10mm A.D.L.C. dynamic driver. It truly is impressive how these single DD can be tuned to deliver the quality of sound that the Atlas does. I will further touch on the sound later, but the 10mm driver can deliver a tooth rattling experience.

    Overall, I have no complaints with the comfort of the IEM. I would not use it for serious exercise due to its weight and that whole coming out of the ear sensation, but for moderate exercise, walking and other low impact activities you should be fine. As I mentioned previously, I have some custom silicone sleeves that solve any issue with the fitment of the Atlas. Don’t think custom tips are a necessary purchase but not only have they increased the fit but they really showcase the sound capabilities of the Atlas. I have heard whispers that Campfire Audio is going to begin to produce custom sleeves, but I personally haven’t verified that info. You certainly can inquire on the Campfire website, if that sort of thing interests you.

    Suction and driver flex have been reported by some users. I have had suction “cutout” a couple of times that appeared to cut the sound of one the monitors but the sound reappeared fairly quickly. A shallow insertion and Marshmallow tips can alleviate the sensation, as well as custom tips, but it is not really an issue for me as the driver flex does not damage the IEM.

    Review Setup:

    20180811_220103.jpg

    This review was written utilizing multiple sources, Opus #2, LG V30, QP2R. I listened using the stock cable and its 3.5mm connection. I mostly utilized the Final Audio and JVC Spiral Dot ear tips for review purposes, but I also used my custom tips. My sample music consisted of 320kb and FLAC as well as streaming Tidal Masters, Spotify, and Deezer.

    Moving on to the sound section….

    As I gushed over the sound of the Atlas in my intro, I know you are thinking there must be some faults with the sound of the Atlas or else this guy is just a serious fanboy. Actually, it will depend on the type of sound signature you are searching for. The Atlas is super addictive and engaging. When I write any review, I listen to whatever equipment I am reviewing, as I write. During the writing of the Atlas review, I revisited for about the 1000th time, the Beatles White Album in all of it’s lossless glory. Paul’s bass rumbles with a sub bass delight that gives me goose bumps. Meanwhile, the other bass frequencies are so resolving and have so much texture it is a special listening session. To be able to clearly distinguish all of the frequencies and their layers clearly, and not just in the sub bass realms, across the spectrum is a music lover’s dream.

    With time and DD burn-in, the sound becomes decidedly more balanced and more defined and precise. Everything sounds grandiose and full with the Atlas. I would not refer to it as a coloration but more of a refinement to the initial listening’s. The sound is never harsh and delivers an organic feel that can extend far in the treble and rumble the filling out of your back molars. With many bass tilted IEM’s the bass can bleed or mask some of the other frequencies, with the Atlas this is not the case.

    The power requirements are fairly normal for a DD driver. That said, they are not as easy to drive as many BA driver IEM’s but comparable to any DD that are average to drive. The more power you give them the more they respond. My LG v30 can drive them to ear damaging levels so beware, but you will find yourself inching up the volume controls because they sound so damn good.

    Presentation

    IMG_20180506_072523.jpg

    The presentation of the Atlas is a mixed bag of goodness. The soundstage is not the biggest I have heard. It has average width, unless the music itself has incredible separation, such as the Beatles, I mentioned earlier. The stage, when listening to the Beatles is very wide and has an incredible depth. The song Revolution 9 can make a sober man feel as if he has visited the caterpillar and partaken in a few swats off of the hookah while sitting on the mushroom as it deliver a holographic presence. When the music is produced with an incredible stage presentation, the Atlas unveiles it as such. When the music has an average stage it presents it as well. I have heard larger rectangles of stage and on an average, I would place the Atlas in the middle of the pack. There is plenty of air between instruments and notes to distinguish each note and nothing is muddy or congested.

    The placement of instruments however is spot on and with your eyes closed you can patently visualize where the sound is coming from on the stage. The tone and timbre of the instruments is good and accurate. The Atals is not an IEM you need to listen to critically to enjoy, in fact, just freaking enjoy, don’t be critical. I must say that there is a real complexity to the presentation and overall delivery and everything is very coherent and enveloping.

    I feel it is important to mention that the sound is not colored in the basic sense, that it changes what has been produced. What the Atlas does is reach into the song and extracts the frequencies and creates an audible fiesta. When listening to a group such as REO Speedwagon, which generally is produced balanced, the bass resolution is easily discernible. I listen to that group because the tone of Gary Richrath’s guitar is incredible, so underrated. When listening to Hi-Infidelity by REO, the bass line is clear and evident, and of course the mid-range is front and center. Many times, when listening to REO the music is lacking in the bass and sub bass regions.

    Bass

    Oh MY! The sub bass is simply some of the best I have heard. The sub bass can dig deep to sub-woofer home system levels. The incredible thing is there is never any distortion. The more volume I give, the more the bass rattles, but maintains it clarity and definition. Time heals all wounds with anything that may be ailing the bass in the Atlas, give it time. The sub bass, can be bone rattling, but is quite layered and textured. The sub bass is not snappy and punchy, it is more like that of a sub-woofer on a home system with a deep resonant tone.

    The higher range frequencies of the bass are punchier than the sub bass so the mix and blending of all of the bass levels is quite impressive and makes for an outstanding bass experience. I think the transitions between the layers of bass stands out in higher quality recordings. There is no bleeding into the mid-range so the sound, while full, remains clear and never obscured.

    The Great Wall of Bass that is ever present upon first listen is slowly torn down so please do yourself a favor and give these a little time for your head to take in the goodness that is the Atlas bass.

    I could continue to extol the virtues of the Atlas bass, but in a snap shot, it digs down deep, has incredible rumble in the sub bass layers and presents levels of well-articulated organic bass as we move north in the bass range. If you are an EDM fan this would be the IEM for you, without a doubt. As mentioned previously, the sound is not colored but if there is bass in a song the Atlas is able to reach down into the music and bring the bass to enjoyable and well defined audible levels.

    While the description may sound as a bass head dream, the ability to stretch and extend throughout the register is what sets this IEM apart. It may not be a balanced IEM, but it creates balance when given the opportunity. The bass could easily bleed into the midrange or overpower the entire signature but thankfully the tuning by Ken and his team is masterful and it doesn’t happen. Check out YYz by Rush if you want to hear a sublime track, made for the Atlas. The more you listen the more balanced it becomes.

    IMG_20180901_131700.jpg

    Mids

    As you listen to the Atlas you realize that the mids have an impact on the balanced signature that the Atlas delivers. I think that the mids deliver an experience that perfectly aligns with the signature on the whole. The mids are not the focal point, it is really the bass that is the focal point. The mids don’t attack hard, they have more of a laid-back style which makes the stage appear a couple of rows back from the stage. The mids are smooth and non-abrasive. There is a wee bit of heft to the mids, just enough to round out the fullness of the sound. These are not analytical IEM’s, nor do they have the resolution of other TOTL IEM’s I own/owned. However, they weren’t designed to be the king of resolution or detail. Do not think that the details are lacking though because the details are ever present. While the resolution and detail are not the intended focus, the sound that the Atlas delivers has a lot of complexity.

    The signature is not muddy or does not throw another frequency over the details, the details are ever present and gloriously delivered, and are a perfect blend with the rest of the signature. The tone of the mids is fairly accurate and on the smooth side while the timbre is above average and fairly natural. The bass may guide the signature to appear larger than life, and the treble may extend well and slightly sparkle, and I find it difficult to say the mid-range is a weak link because the mids do what they are tuned to do to complete and round out the entire package. That said, the mids are not the focal point.

    Both male and female vocals excel because of the tuning of the mids. Vocals are perfectly placed and not too recessed or in your face, just rich and delivered to you in a natural, splendid package. The placement of the vocals follows in line with the perfect placement of the instruments, no gripe here.

    Guitars, in rock tunes, are crunchy and full, with tons of expression. Give a listen to Van Halen Fair Warning and hear Eddie’s guitar tonality as it was meant to be heard. Engaging and addictive, that is the Atlas.

    IMG_20180901_131730.jpg

    Treble

    The treble actually portrays how multifaceted the Atlas is. The positives of the treble far outweigh the negatives.

    The treble has a sparkle, a twinkle in the top end. It is not a sharp, harsh or unnatural. Cymbals have the proper “chhhh” sound with a natural decay. The twinkle in the top end displays the ability of the Atlas to extend and show the complexities of whatever genre you may be enjoying.

    Had the treble not been tuned with this sparkle, I would guarantee the sound would have been too bloated. While the bass will receive the trophy to the vast majority of consumers, I feel the treble should receive the trophy for the best in show with the Atlas. Clearly, the bass is superb, but the treble is what controls the signature flow of the Atlas. The transitions between the treble frequencies are obvious and there is plenty of space(air) between notes. Again, the air is created by the treble extension. The treble has me forgetting that this unit is a single dynamic driver IEM. The treble sparkles with the equivalency of many balanced armature models.

    Speed and muted aggression with a dash of Campfire Audio Andromeda thrown in has been the description of the Atlas. The threads are drawing comparisons to the other Campfire Audio models, the Vega for bass and the Andromeda, overall. Many feel the bass is close to as strong as the Vega and some feel it is much more refined than the Vega. Some think the Atlas treble is a notch below the Andromeda and others only acknowledge similarities in the treble. I owned the Andromeda, but I have never heard the Vega, so the only thing I can compare is the Andromeda. Ask my preference, and I will say hands down the Atlas, because its overall signature checks every box I have. The Andromeda has a little harshness in its treble, especially when the seal is not perfect. The stage of the Andromeda is larger than the Atlas and its bass is very good, but not to the level of the Atlas. The tale of two different IEM’s, more different than similar to my ears. The Andromeda is one of the best all-arounders I have heard, but my foot taps more with the Atlas.

    Pairings

    The Atlas can be driven with moderate power, but when given more power they really show their true colors. This is a DD IEM and as a rule they appreciate and respond to power. The Atlas is no exception and will they scale exceptionally well with higher end gear.

    All of my sources drove them perfectly fine from a power standpoint, the majority of my sources have a more neutral to slightly warmish profile.

    The Opus#2 paired incredibly well, however, when I wanted to push the Atlas it was the QP2R that would deliver the sound quality that I most preferred. One of my favorite pairings was the Shanling M3s because it appeared to accentuate the sound where it needed.

    The Opus#2 delivered a clean organic sound. The stage was wide and accurate and the tone provided an excellent pairing. The treble extended well and of course reproduced the music without providing any additional peaks to the music.

    The QP2R broadened the stage a slight bit more than the Opus#2. The sound was only a hair richer and fuller than that of the Opus#2, which surprised me a little, knowing that the QP2R is so full sounding. The differences between the two DAP’s were slim and your preference will come into play here.

    The Shanling M3s delivered an excellent pairing. While to my ears, the M3s has a bit thinner sound and a little more extension in the treble than the two previous DAP’s mentioned, I really enjoyed the pairing. I will say if you find yourself sensitive to the bump in the Atlas treble, the Shanling might exacerbate that treble and make it sharp. Since I don’t find anything harsh with the Atlas treble, the Shanling was a fine pairing. The M3s might be the perfect pairing for someone that felt the Atlas was a touch too full for their liking, because the M3s slightly thins that fullness. If you are looking for a bit more treble it might just be your perfect pairing.

    Volume levels were fine with any of the pairings as they all could drive the Atlas perfectly well.

    20180514_053614_Burst01.jpg

    Comparisons

    I have two other models of IEM’s in my possession that are supposed to be bass kings. This is the first one of the blessed trinity I have reviewed and since I have yet to do the formal reviews of the other IEM’s I do not want to offer spoilers. I do not have anything else that even remotely compares to the Atlas, so doing any real comparisons provides me a challenge. Suffice it to say that to me the Atlas is super special.

    In Closing

    I need to keep this real, because that is what you have grown to expect from my reviews. If you are looking for a TOTL option or an upgrade that will not be bested by a newer model in the next six months, the Atlas is truly the IEM for you.

    If you are a music lover and wish to be engaged and receive one of the most pleasurable listening experiences possible from your music, the Atlas is the one for you.

    I am fortunate to have the opportunity to hear a lot of IEM’s and for those of you that follow my reviews know that I enjoy my gear for audiophile excellence but I also try to connect with folks that are trying to get into this hobby.

    Terms like “end game” are thrown around and in my vocabulary “end game” doesn’t exist because I keep falling down the rabbit hole. However, after the outlay of cash for the Atlas you can begin to save for a long time for your next investment, because the enjoyment level is a 10+ with the Atlas.

    The Atlas does not provide the most resolution or best in class detail retrieval, but it doesn’t have to. It is one of the kings at what it does. While writing, I was listening to a master of David Bowie Low and I will say that as many times as I have heard this recording the Atlas had me bobbing my head and hearing sounds I don’t recall hearing, after 41 years since its release. God, I am old.

    The build quality is first class, the design is chic and hip, with the steampunk look. It can be worn around the ear, but it is designed to be worn down and I find the fit and weight to be fine, but I do see how someone may think they are heavy in the ear. The weight may pull the Atlas out of your ear with wearing time, but as recommended, a custom ear tip solved any woes.

    The stock cable is my favorite that I have used from Alo, and there is no need for more investment as the sound quality is spot on.

    Unfortunately, designers and developers generally don’t seem to get the complete package right. You either need to buy something to enhance sound or ergonmoics as you chase the “best there is”. Suffice it to say, with the Atlas, you buy it, plug it in, and play it. DONE!

    I apologize if this appears as an ad or a fanboy rant, but if you notice I didn’t review or gush about my experience with the Andromeda. Now that I have reviewed the Atlas, I may review the Andromeda for a Campfire comparison but, we will see.
      snk8699 and Luisonic like this.
  2. Jackpot77
    Campfire Audio Atlas - mountains of BASS!
    Written by Jackpot77
    Published Aug 28, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Glorious subwoofer bass, detailed mids, balanced treble, precise stage, bass is powerful with rest of the signature balanced
    Cons - Heavy housing can make fit difficult
    This review was originally posted on my blog, and is now being reposted here for the good folks on Head-Fi.

    [​IMG]


    Price: $1299

    Website: Campfire Audio

    [​IMG]

    Introduction and acknowledgement
    For most audiophiles following the current in-ear monitor scene, the brand Campfire Audio should require no introduction. The Portland outfit sprang out of owner Ken Ball’s ALO Audio brand a few years ago, and have slowly but surely carved themselves out a sizeable chunk of the mid to high end IEM market with some stellar models like the Andromeda, Jupiter and Vega, along with some more budget friendly gear like the Orion and the new Comet. Campfire seem oblivious to the driver wars going on around them, concentrating on producing beautifully tuned models with unusual industrial designs, usually at pretty decent prices.

    The Atlas is the latest IEM in their dynamic driver range, and replaces the previous DD flagship the Vega, using the same amorphous diamond-like carbon (ADLC) driver technology, but with a slightly larger 10mm diameter. The ADLC diaphragm is ultra-stiff, allowing for extremely fine control and dynamic shifts. It is also very low yielding and difficult to manufacture (i.e. a lot gets left on the factory floor from each production run), hence the rather chunky $1299 price tag. As I have had the privilege of reviewing quite a few of the Campfire range to date, when I heard there was a successor to the Vega in the pipeline I dropped Ken Ball a note asking if I could get a chance to hear it, and he very kindly sent me out a review unit. The unit does not need to be returned.

    As with all my reviews, the views expressed below are 100% my own, and I have received no incentives (financial or otherwise) for any positive or negative comments. It’s also only fair to warn you that the bassier Campfire “house sound” that has been evolving with the last few models fits pretty much perfectly into my ideal tuning bracket, so please bear that in mind when reading the review.

    [​IMG]

    Unboxing and aesthetics
    [Please note – the Atlas comes in the same Campfire packaging as the rest of the CA IEM range, so parts of this section have been lifted directly from previous reviews and amended as neccessary- feel free to move on to the sound section if you have already read this!]

    The Atlas follows the usual Campfire Audio presentation style, coming in a small box just marginally bigger than the hard leather carry case it contains. This time, the box is a mustard colour, with green constellations patterned on the outside and a nice picture of the IEMs on the front on a blue and sliver sticker. There is also a brief description of the technology inside and the Campfire branding, but no major graphs or specifications. The box opens up to show a nice shiny black leather carry case inside, with the usual Campfire Audio embossed logo and zippered closure. Removing the carry case, there is a false floor on the box, underneath which the various loadout of eartips (foam, silicon and Final E-tips in various sizes) and a Campfire Audio pin are nestled, along with a cleaning tool, warranty card and small booklet with more technical information on your purchase and instructions on how to use them for those people unfamiliar with operating high tech ear-gear. Opening the carry case completes the gear list, containing the IEMs and a twisted silver litz cable, some Velcro cable ties and two small velour bags to keep the heads of the IEMs from clunking into each other when they are stored, all nestled in the dark pseudo-wool interior of the case.

    The accessory package is simple but comprehensive, with the beautifully designed and now iconic carry case and the well thought out cable and tip selection giving a premium feel to proceedings, proving that you don’t need to inundate the buyer with technical data or hundreds of add-ons in order to give a high-end unboxing experience. The small footprint of the outer packaging also has more practical use, as it makes it far easier to store than the usual foam filled presentation boxes you tend to get with other IEMs in this sort of price bracket. Overall, nothing spectacular, but certainly stylish enough for this sort of price bracket.

    [​IMG]

    Build and ergonomics
    The two most recent IEM releases from Campfire Audio mark another change in the design aesthetic, moving away from the smooth LiquidMetal housings that came with the Vega, Lyra and Dorado to something similarly sized but this time made out of drop-forged polished stainless steel. When the IEMs first hit the ground, there were a fair few memes doing the rounds about the choice of shape – the Atlas resembles the barrel of a tubby raygun from 80s era sci-fi (think Buck Rogers meets Star Trek), with an octagonal shape for the main body of the IEM that tapers down to a rounded cone at the front, finished off with a solid metal grille at the end that wouldn’t look out of place as a miniature drain grating.

    The description doesn’t sound great, but the Atlas look a lot better than they describe, the engraved CA logo on the corner joints and mirrored surface giving more of an air of ear jewellery than a serious audiophile purchase. This is complemented by the pure silver cable, which is braided in a twisted design this time (another departure from the usual ALO SPC litz design that accompanied previous models). As the Atlas shells are uniform and designed for wearing down (although they can be worn over-ear if desired), the cable doesn’t come with any memory wire or preformed ear guides, dropping nicely over the ear if you do wear it up and behaving if you wear in the more traditional manner.

    With regards to ergonomics, the Atlas is a fairly heavy IEM in the ear, so requires a solid sealing set of tips to keep in place if you do wear it down. I have extremely large ear canals (occasionally mistaken for soup bowls or cave entrances) so I’m probably not a “normal” example, but I found that it was difficult to maintain a seal for more than 20 minutes or so with the provided silicon or Final Audio tips for more than about 20 minutes or so without readjusting, which may prove to be an irritation for some. The marshmallow foams do alleviate this problem by “locking” the Atlas more tightly into your ears, so would be my favoured tip out of the stock options for long term wear (please see the “Tip Choices” section towards the bottom of this review for more details).

    The cable itself is a thing of beauty, with a luminescent sheen and superb ergonomics, with not a shred of cable memory. Much like the litz cable was an advancement of the original ALO tinsel cables, I think this new twisted design is another step up in both looks and ergonomics, so I very much hope this becomes the new standard going forwards. As with all Campfire cabling, the connectors are beryllium-copper hybrid for enhanced durability, and the jack is covered in a chunky overmoulded right-angled connector (3.5mm as standard).

    Overall, the build is impressive both in looks and feel, but the fit may not be universally liked – I suspect Campfire are already pretty comfortable with that, given the polarising fit of their first ever shell design on the Andromeda. I personally have no issues with it, and find the IEM design both striking and comfortable to wear with the right tips, but as always, YMMV.

    (new twisted cable is on top of the below picture)

    [​IMG]

    Initial impressions on sound
    I normally start this section with a quick description of the defining points of the sound signature of whatever I’m listening to. Rather than start with the usual bass/mids/treble, I’m going to start with size. Atlas is a big sounding IEM. Not so much big in the HD800 / “dear lord, will this soundstage ever end?” way, more in the “why is the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk sitting in the middle of my head playing an enormous guitar, and where has his beanstalk gone?” type of way. It feels like using the ubiquitous iDevice/Android “pinch to zoom” function and just blowing the proportion of everything in front of your face up to a bigger scale, while somehow keeping everything visible in the sonic landscape at the same time. This is an in-ear monitor that has aspirations of being a floor-standing speaker. It wants you to physically feel the music around you, dropping you into the middle of a sea of audio and letting the sound fully immerse you.

    I’ll expand more on that below, but for now, just rest assured in the knowledge that this small steel earspeaker is no shrinking violet. Atlas was known for taking the weight of the world on his mythical shoulders, and it seems quite fitting Ken Ball & Co have given this soubriquet to an IEM which produces a weight and size of sound almost as mythical.

    As far as more mundane aspects like tuning go, the Atlas is a tricky beast to categorise. There is some serious bass presence to contend with, keeping (and in some cases improving) the low end impact and prowess from the other ADLC driver in the current CA range, the Vega. When there is bass present on a song, the Atlas throws it out in serious quantity, balancing the mid and sub bass frequencies nicely to give a quantity that is quite frankly huge without overcooking it with the classic mid bass hump. It also extends lower than a certain international statesman’s toupee glue, holding strong into true sub bass rumble and shudder. This gives the Atlas an enviable sense of physical impact and “slam”, the single DD moving some serious amounts of air in and out of the ear canal at pretty short notice. It produces a sound you think you can feel in the top of your chest, not just your ears, bringing that “live” vibe you experience when some huge stage-side amp stack kicks into life and you feel the bass and drums rattling your ribcage (disclaimers apply – this is a tiny 10mm speaker, so it doesn’t actually cause any chest palpitations).

    Conversely, when a track is mastered without much low end, the Atlas doesn’t artificially boost the elements that are there, receding into the background and allowing the tracks room to breathe without adding any unwanted omnibass to the mix. It’s a nice mix of stealth and savagery, accentuating rather than overpowering whatever is supposed to be there, rather than adding its own interpretation of what is supposed to be present.

    While bass will be the first talking point for many people, the Atlas is actually a pretty well balanced signature. Like all the Campfire models I’ve heard so far, it aims for musical rather than neutral, so this isn’t a sound that is ruler flat. In fact, I find it difficult to categorise the shape of the sound, as it changes with the mastering of each track. With tracks holding a lot of bass, it can tend to a gentle L or tilted U shape, but with tracks with plenty of mids and treble in the mix as well it’s probably more of a W-shape, with all three elements of the sound feeling neatly balanced, but holding some strategic peaks and valleys in the frequency response.

    [​IMG]

    Mids are beautifully smooth and weighty, carrying plenty of texture and detail. They aren’t overshadowed by the bass, keeping a clean distinction and transition between the two ranges irrespective of the amount of low end being pumped out. Note size is large, building a picture of big guitars and life sized vocals in the minds eye. Stage positioning is a touch forward, but not “leaning over the stage” close, putting the listener around the first or second row when listening to guitar, piano and vocal lines.

    Guitars are very well catered for on the Atlas, carrying plenty of edge and bite around the edges, wrapped around a dense and meaty core to the sound. Listening to heavy rock is a foot stomping experience, something like “Legion Of Monsters” by Disturbed landing riff after riff on the inner ear with the sort of power and precision Iron Mike Tyson used to use in his prime, with a comparable sense of menace and raw aggression. These babies chug with the best of them.

    Switching up to something a little more mellow, artists like Chris Stapleton and Elvis sound gloriously three dimensional and emotive. There is plenty of fine detail and nuance in the Atlas vocal delivery, allowing the listener to form a mental picture of the singer and how their lips are moving on more well recorded tracks. There is a richness to the tone through the midrange that adds a dose of realism to both male and female vocals, without sacrificing detail for body.

    Brass instruments also fare particularly well, the reeds of a saxophones or some good honky tonk horns coming alive in the ear. This isn’t a resolution monster of an IEM compared to some other TOTL models I’ve had like the Zeus-XR, but there is a palpable sense of detail and clarity that marks the Atlas out as a top-tier competitor. It never feels muddy or clouded, given the bass presence – despite throwing a large mental image, the staging and separation isn’t huge, however, with the different instrumentation being clearly defined but not enormous distances apart.

    [​IMG]

    The treble is the biggest deviation from the previous template laid out by its Vegan predecessor. It feels less peaky than the Vega, with a more linear extension. It also feels crisp without feeling spiky, carrying a little splash of the treble presentation of its other flagship sibling the Andromeda without directly mimicking the BA model. It is an important differentiator, as it helps cut through the heavier traffic beneath it and “air out” the chunkier sound, adding a delicacy and dash of sparkle to the otherwise heavyweight signature.

    This is all achieved without any notable harshness – you are more likely to come across Ghandi going full Tyler Durden on Mother Theresa in an underground fight club than you are to find any offensive peaks in the sound here. “My Kind Of Love” by Emile Sande is mastered hotter in the vocal ranges than a Death Valley summer, but the Atlas keeps an admirable control on the harsher elements without neutering the heart of the track. Hi-hats sound metallic and crisp, shimmering naturally as they decay. Synths sound clear and fresh, something like “Go” by The Chemical Brothers sounding both propulsive in the low end and delicate in the floating keyboard accents that pepper the chorus.

    A common theme of the early impressions noted so far is that the Atlas is something of an AndroVega, mashing together the best bits of both previous flagships. To those who are looking for that exact merger, I’d contend that the Atlas shares elements of the Andromeda approach and ethos when it comes to presenting the high frequencies, but it isn’t a direct copy and paste, so it is definitely a different take on things. It doesn’t have the effortless sense of sparkle and space that the Andro manage to pull off, but does add a more welcome sense of air and crispness without the slightly more aggressive nature of the Vega. Given the rest of the tuning, I don’t think it’s a bad thing, and the Atlas definitely improves on the Vega tuning in this regard, in both overall treble presentation and fine detail, but keeps the signature coherent and true to the thick and large signature I think they are shooting for.

    [​IMG]

    Bass
    Digging into the first of the frequency ranges in more detail, we come to the bass. This is a subject area you could probably write a thesis on, as it is both the most immediately impressive element of the tuning and also one of the best executed. Big, bold and brassier than a sackful of kitchen fittings, the Atlas bass hits you the moment you put on a track with any serious low end presence.

    On first listen, it can get a bit overwhelming, filling the soundscape with a massive sense of weight and presence. It takes the brain a little time to get used to the sheer volume of air being moved, and allow it not to dominate proceedings. Once you “snap in”, it becomes apparent that no matter how big the bassline, it still manages not to obscure the midrange detail. I’m neither a believer or disbeliever of burn in, but I did believe that these are an IEM you need time to mentally adjust to before you can fully appreciate the finer nuances of their sound. They feel similar to the Cascade in that regard, taking a little time to get to know you before showing you where all the detail is hiding.

    In terms of extension, the Atlas drop even deeper than Kanye West’s epic reservoir of self belief, kicking out some impressive levels of sub bass. This is bass that vibrates in the neck and shoulders, not just the ears. Starting with “Say Something” by Timberlake and Stapleton, the bottomless “whoomp” that punctuates the track periodically stays low and full, giving a physical texture to the air in the bottom of the stage that almost recreates a club PA system, delivering palpable vibration on tap, and fading out just as quickly when not required.

    It’s the control and texture the sub bass takes on that really pushes the Atlas into the top tier, marrying top notch detail with a big slab of decibels to give a performance that feels equal parts brutality and finesse. Switching to “Heaven” by Emile Sande, the thrum in the ears is palpable and loud but still in keeping with the vibe of the track, allowing Sande’s crystal clear vocal delivery to cut through all the vibration with ease.

    Balance between mid and sub bass is nicely done, with a reasonably linear extension up through the frequencies. With tracks mastered with plenty of mid bass, the Atlas is still capable of inducing an ice cream headache with the best of them, but it generally stays pretty well behaved. “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk comes through with plenty of punch in the bass and a well rounded feel to the slinky bassline. It drops low, and keeps a clear differentiation between the bass notes, which can tend towards blurriness on more “consumer” style basshead monitors.

    “Bad Rain” by Slash sounds like it was mastered with the Atlas in mind. The opening kick drum sounds physically imposing, and slams with authority into your ears, flexing the eardrum in and out in time with the beat like an inbuilt cranial drumhead. The signature bass riff that kicks in at the 23 second mark practically growls, feeling big and thick but conveying a huge amount of texture at the same time. The size of the notes is apparent here, with the bass just sounding “bigger” in the head than other monitors I have heard.

    In terms of liquidity, the Atlas bass is fairly smooth, but not 100% viscous. It has an organic texture, with plenty of agility and control thanks to the diamond-coated driver, but just lingering in the ears long enough not to sound too clinical or sterile. The bass fills the stage with size, but remains muscular and solid rather than oozing into the far corners. “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” from the Elvis album with the Royal Philharmonic has a solid mid bass presence to the track, and the Atlas reproduces the drum head impacts and the memorable bassline with a sense of subdued physicality that draws you into the track.

    Now to the sobering thought – yes, this is bass of the absolute highest quality, but if you dislike frequencies below 150Hz in your musical universe, these IEMs won’t be for you. There is no getting around the fact that these drivers produce ear-shaking low end. They do it without drowning the sound (which is impressive enough in its own right), and once you have adjusted, it will probably leave your other earphones sounding anaemic and weak, but if you are a dyed-in-the-wool HD800 or Ety enthusiast, your preferences will probably be met elsewhere. For everyone else who likes a bit of meat on their musical bones, the Atlas has got you covered.

    [​IMG]

    Mids
    When an IEM is tuned with a gargantuan low end, it is usually the midrange that is the first thing to suffer, drowning in a swamp of marshy midbass. Not so with the Atlas. Despite the tendency towards a more L-shaped tuning on more bass heavy tracks, the vocals and midrange instruments have no problem cutting through the foundation below and carving themselves some room to breathe. Voices sound just a little more forward than neutral, and have plenty of clarity, sitting above the beefy sound beneath without any hint of masking or veil.

    Listening to “Whiskey And You” by Chris Stapleton is a buttery smooth experience, Stapleton’s seasoned gruffness taking on a velvety but substantial persona, carrying genuine heft both physically and emotionally. This track has a notoriously jagged and shrill chorus (I suspect it was mastered in a cement mixer full of broken glass by a deaf person), but the Atlas handles it smoothly, the extra weight from the bass and lower mids filling in some of the rawness in the singers voice without losing the texture. My other tester for vocal harshness and sibilance is “Starlight” by Slash and Myles Kennedy, with its soaring vocal. The Atlas handles Kennedy’s falsetto with aplomb, capturing the breathy intonations of the early verses and staying crisp but still easy on the ear as the singer winds up into the higher octaves. The Atlas won’t smooth out the raw detail in a track, but it does have a way of presenting it that errs towards smooth and musical rather than raw and spiky.

    Guitars are thick and chunky, the all round weight of the lower mids and upper bass filling the core of the notes with a sonic lead, anchoring the sound and giving it serious substance. The speed and responsiveness of the driver saves it from being sludgy or syrupy in presentation, handling the furious riffing of SOAD just a easily as the more sedate chugging of someone like Slash or Halestorm. This is a headphone that will excel with almost all types of rock and metal music, adding that head banging loudness to the mix that you only get in a live concert without losing any of the speed or precision. There is a crispness to the edges of riffs that adds crunch to the sound, backed up by the bone crushing weight behind it to give the best of both worlds.

    As an example, “Chop Suey” by System Of A Down fairly batters along into the eardrum, the opening bouzouki-style guitar jangling giving way to pounding drums and elephantine riffs, peppered with the occasional acoustic guitar floating around in the periphery. Despite the thickness of the sound, vocals again cut through clearly, standing separate from the wall of noise without feeling detached from it (noticing a common theme here?).

    Switching down a gear, “All Around The World” by TajMo’ is a good tester for mid range congestion, the excellent recording and multi layered sound stacking horns, acoustic and electric guitar and two of the most recognisable voices in modern blues over an upbeat Lionel Richie-esque backing. The Atlas keeps all the individual parts comfortably separate, but gives them all enough solidity to sound “real” in the ear. These aren’t the most accurate IEM in terms of timbre, with a slightly stylised approach to its presentation, but that omnipresent weight across the spectrum evokes the feeling of listening to a real instrument. It’s an interesting effect, and has become quite addictive over the two or so months I’ve had the Atlas.

    Listening for some other midrange instruments, piano sounds particularly deep and resonant, adding a sense of emotion to more subdued recordings. String instruments are similarly well looked after, sounding rich and textured on tracks like “Palladio” by Escala. The slightly forward nature of the tuning brings the instrumentation a little closer to the listener, lending a more intimate sheen to the sound. This is backed up with some top-notch detail retrieval. The 10mm driver in the Atlas manages to capture the faint scuff of fingers on frets and the creak of seats in the studio as well as the main tones and textures in the sound. The resolution through the mids is actually pretty impressive, and while being slightly overshadowed by the warmth and bassiness of the overall sound when you initially hear it, should not be underestimated.

    I think this is an area that has definitely been tweaked over their previous DD flagship, levelling out the sound a little and bringing things together with a splash more balance. Again, these aren’t neutral or uncoloured mids by any stretch of the imagination, but the tone and weight sit perfectly on top of the thunderous bass foundation underneath to build a very compelling presentation.

    [​IMG]

    Treble
    This is the area that has improved most for me over the Vega, with the spike in the highs which gave the Vega its crunch moving down a few kHz into the midrange and leaving a more linear and extended feel to the treble in the upper reaches. There is a clearer sense of space and presence in the upper end, the sound relaxing outwards and upwards in comparison to its younger sibling.

    It isn’t the most sparkly or glittering treble you will find in this rarefied pricing bracket, but there is a pleasing lightness and crunch to the edge of notes that pulls them clear of the main body underneath. It evokes memories of the Andromeda in the way it seems to take the roof off the sound, giving the presentation plenty of vertical headroom. The easiest way of describing it is like being in the front row of a rock gig, but instead of being in a small venue (Vega), you feel more like you are standing in a amphitheatre or a festival field.

    This additional sense of air helps the Atlas sound more balanced overall, leavening the weightier elements underneath with a splash of lightness. Something like “St Elmo’s Fire” by John Parr benefits from this deftness of touch, with the hihat feeling crisp, and the upper edges of the synth and piano hanging in the topmost reaches of the soundstage rather than feeling pinned to the sounds beneath.

    Another area of difference is the lack of perceived harshness compared to the Vega. I personally never found the Vega harsh, but some people reported a little sibilance in their own problem ranges. The Atlas is an altogether more even affair, giving crispness without glare right across the board. Throwing “Starlight” by Slash at the ADLC drivers, they chew up the angular dissonance of the harmonic-laden intro bars and pour it back into the ear like honey. This isn’t done by smoothing off the edges – each note still has bite and angularity, but it has enough body and roundness to avoid feel scratchy or irritating.

    Cymbals are crisp but not overly emphatic in the soundscape, hitting with a satisfying tsssk but deadening quite quickly rather than splashing around. “Go” by The Chemical Brothers is propelled along nicely by the hi-hat rhythm, blending well with the swelling synth in the chorus and opening the otherwise bass-driven track up a little.

    Overall, the treble is well judged and balanced the heavier aspects of the tuning out well. It isn’t the sparkliest or hottest treble you will ever hear, but it is a marked improvement over the previous DD models for my tastes, adding a little more breathing room and shimmer to the sound and making perfect sense for the overall tone Ken & Co seem to be aiming for.

    [​IMG]
    Tip dependency

    Like the other new model in the lineup (the Comet), the Atlas can be quite a tip dependent IEM. It is bigger and heavier in the ear than the slimline Comet, and requires a better seal to get a stable fit in my larger than average ears. Like the Comet, it is also designed to be worn down, and while it can be worn up, I found the best fit from an ergonomic and insertion depth perspective was definitely found when wearing in the more “conventional” manner. The provided silver cable helps a lot here, as it doesn’t have any preformed or memory wire section, and the super-soft twisted braiding leads to almost no cable noise as it moves around.

    The included tips all have their slight differences in terms of affecting the sound of the Atlas. The CA Marshmallow tips have the best seal, and keep the Atlas firmly in place. These are the bassiest tips I have heard on the Atlas, so depending on your preferences they may be your go to or not – unlike Comply, they don’t overly deaden the highs, but the extra isolation can make the bass feel a little more pronounced.

    The Campfire silicon didn’t give a great seal or comfort for me, so my preferred choice out of all the enclosed tip choices is actually the Final Audio E-series tips. They fit and seal a little better than the stock silicon, and hold the Atlas a little more firmly in place, requiring less adjustment. Due to the heaviness of the housing and the way it sits in my cavernous ears, a little occasional readjustment when not using the foamies was usually required if moving around – I do have huge ear canals, however, so this may not be the case for all users.

    The actual sound of the E-series tips balances the sound of the Atlas a little, giving the mids a little more prominence and taking a little off the bass. It doesn’t drastically alter the base tuning, so the effect is subtle, but if you are having issues with the bass levels being put out by the 10mm ADLC driver then these tips may be a good bet.

    For me personally, I have found that the best tip in terms of both balance and ergonomics is actually a custom tip I had made a while from the Polish CIEM manufacturer Custom Art. They are made out of silicone and moulded to the shape of my ear canal, so help “lock” the Atlas firmly in place for extended listening sessions without requiring any further readjustments, and also provide a great sound without affecting the airiness or sparkle of the treble in any way.

    I believe that Ken and crew are shortly looking at launching their own custom tip solution, so this may become an option straight out of the box for Atlas users in future, but if you have access to a custom fit solution then I suggest the Atlas are a perfect candidate. It is difficult to overstate how much easier and more comfortable they make this particular IEM – ironically, they don’t actually work so well with the more “usual” CIEM type over-ear design, as it tends to hold the shell a little out from my ears, but the small design of both the Comet and Atlas from the new CA range seems almost purpose built for these tips, so hopefully the Campfire in-house solution will work even better. Long story short – if you are intending to buy the Atlas, custom tips are seriously worth investing in to maximise the potential of this fantastic sounding IEM.

    [​IMG]

    Separation, soundstage and layering
    The Atlas soundstage is somewhat of a curate’s egg, not possessing tremendous width or height in real terms, but managing to fill up the available dimensions with a sound that just feels bigger than other IEMs I have with a similar X and Y dispersion. Depth is a different matter, with the CA flagship throwing a deep stage from front to back. This allows for excellent layering on multi tracked recordings, the Atlas deftly setting out its stage in 3D space to allow the listener to move between the instruments and feel the gaps between the performers.

    Separation is predictably good, despite the thickness of the sound. The acoustic guitar lick that kicks in around the 20 second mark of “Everybody Knows She’s Mine” by Blackberry Smoke stands out clearly against the backdrop of chugging country rock guitar going on underneath, allowing the listener to track both with ease. Despite the size and thickness of the sound, there is still plenty of room between each note, even the most frenetic of rock or electronic music never managing to make the Atlas sound congested or blurry to my ears. It definitely errs more towards the “wall of sound” type sensation on tracks with more stuff going on, but it’s the sort of wall where you can pick out the detailing on each brick as it hurtles towards you.

    [​IMG]

    Power requirements and source matching
    This isn’t a difficult IEM to drive. It’s a little thirstier than things like the Andromeda, but it is still easy enough to get deafness inducing volume out of a humble mobile phone or entry level DAP, so amping isn’t an absolute requirement. That being said, the ADLC dynamic driver does like a bit of power, and will soak up output from portable amps and desktop based solutions with absolutely no issues. To get the best out of the Atlas in terms of dynamics, you will probably want to run them with a source capable of some decent output power, or pair with an amp that can deliver a good voltage swing.
    Likewise with sources, the Atlas sounds good out of most things, but feed it through something like the desktop CMA400i amp/DAC from Questyle or the ZX300 from Sony and it will take advantage of the extra resolution and control. As with power, it doesn’t absolutely NEED a top line source to sound great, but it will reward you with greater detail and dynamism of you feed it the right diet.

    From my personal observations, my favourite sources are actually the humble Shanling M0 (either in high gain if I want a crunchier edge to the sound or fed through the ALO CV5 if I want something a tad warmer and more organic) and the CMA400i. The Andromeda pairs beautifully with the amp tech used by Questyle, and it’s tubbier DD brother makes similarly good use of the output, throwing a sound that is thickly musical but still clear as a bell when it comes to detail. It achieves detail without sharpening or digitising the sound, feeding into the strengths of the Atlas to bring more nuance and passages of light and shade into the presentation without losing the raw power or smoothness.

    [​IMG]
    Comparisons

    Rhapsodio Zombie
    The Zombie is a 9-driver hybrid IEM from the Hong Kong manufacturer Rhapsodio, and retails at around $1699 at time of writing. It is positioned as one of their flagship models, and by far the bassiest in the Rhapsodio range, so should offer a good comparison.

    Starting with bass, “Heaven” by Emile Sande puts out a sub-bass rumble that is equal or bigger than the impressive Atlas low end. What it edges in quantity, it loses out in overall texture and tone, however, with the bass coming across as far crisper on the Atlas. There is far less bass bleed, and more clarity, the bass hitting with a little more punch in the Campfire model. The bass on the Zombie is more heavy feeling but slower and more diffuse in presentation, giving a wetter and more enveloping sensation. As mentioned, I did experience some bass bleed with the Zombie into the lower mids, having a tendency to slightly overpower tracks with minimal bass in mix.

    Moving up to the midrange, the Atlas presents vocals with a more forward stage position and and a splash more air. The Zombie sounds warmer in tone (mainly due to the bass) but loses a bit of perceived clarity as a result, feeling slightly veiled on male and female vocals in direct comparison to the Atlas.

    Feeding both IEMs some more rock music, “Legion Of Monsters” by Disturbed is up next. David Draiman’s vocals feel slightly harsher and grittier on the Zombie, ringing a little smoother on the Atlas. Despite that, the Atlas still wins for me in detail retrieval, bringing more macro and micro detail into the sound, and giving a more emotional feel as a result.

    Heavy guitars have a meaty feel to them, blending together into one crunchy wall of sound on the Zombie. In comparison, the Atlas has more dynamic thrust in the track, with a heavy but more crisply defined guitar riff driving the track, with the edges of the notes more clearly defined.

    In the highs, the Zombie has less presence than the Atlas, giving a more L-shaped tuning. Despite the high BA count, there is less feel of air and sharpness on the Zombie. In terms of staging, the instrumentation actually feels smaller on the Rhapsodio, although soundstage is fairly similar in dimension.

    Packaging is good on Zombie, but not quite at the level of the Atlas. Cable is a sturdy copper aftermarket cable from Rhapsodio’s own range, of high quality fit and finish. It isn’t as flexible or ergonomic as the thinner and slightly nicer looking CA silver cable, but it certainly isn’t a standard Plastics One effort either. Accessories feel slightly higher grade on the Campfire, despite the fact the Zombie is actually the more expensive monitor by a few hundred dollars.

    Build quality and finish is high on the Zombie, but the large shell shape and shallow nozzle doesn’t work well with my ears, meaning I only get a good seal with foamies. Atlas also has mild fit issues for me unless used with custom tips due to large size of my ear cavity, so it’s roughly similar here – the shape of your ear canal will most likely determine which IEM you get on better with.

    Overall winner – Atlas by an easy margin. It gives a more refined and detailed sound than the Zombie, with a bigger sonic image and a more balanced feel to the huge bass on display. The Zombie feels like an “almost” IEM – if Sammy at Rhapsodio has managed to get the 8 BAs use to cut through the bassy fog and let a little more air and detail into the sound, it may have been a contender, but as is, the Atlas is an easy recommendation for me personally.

    [​IMG]

    Campfire Audio Vega
    The Vega was the former DD top dog in the Campfire lineup, sporting a liquid metal body and a smaller 8.5mm ADLC driver. The Atlas has since taken it place (and its pricetag), knocking the Vega down a couple of hundred dollars in the process to around $1000 at time of writing.

    Starting with ergonomics, the Vega is smaller, lighter and has a more conventional over-ear fit. The Atlas is more isolating with a good seal, however, with a bigger all-metal body which blocks more of the ear canal. Personally, I prefer the build of the Atlas in terms of materials and shape, but the lightness of the Vega in terms of long term wearing comfort. The cable is far more manageable on the Atlas with the change in braiding, too.
    Power-wise, the Vega is harder to driver (8-9 notches on high gain single ended on ZX300), which was surprising. Once driven to the same volume, the main difference that becomes apparent in the two sound signatures is in the midrange. The vocals and midrange instrumentation feels slightly less emphasised on the Vega, sitting further back on the stage. It’s a matter of a few imaginary feet in the in-ear soundstage rather than a huge distance, but it is noticeable.

    Detail and texture in the low end is roughly equal, with both exhibiting top tier bass in quantity, quality, detail and texture. Slam is the same for both models, with the Atlas just shading it for my, most probably by virtue of the slightly larger driver being used. Sub bass feels a little more clearly defined on the Atlas, and has a cleaner definition between bass and mids overall.

    Micro details are a shade easier to pick out on the Atlas, due to the slightly more forward emphasis in the mids and the more linear and extended treble. Both resolve well when driven with a quality source, but again, the Atlas feels marginally crisper.

    In terms of midrange tone, there is a slightly crunchier feel to the Atlas, despite the more prominent high mid/low treble spike on the Vega. Listening to “GRITS” by Brantley Gilbert sounds slightly warmer on the Vega as a result, but has a finer texture with the peripheral acoustic guitar notes on the Atlas, with the Vega sounding a little more laid back and romantic in comparison. The edges of the vocals just feel a tad more easy to identify with the newer model. Playing something like “Drinking From The Bottle” by Calvin Harris and Tinie Tempah, the opening synth and vocal lines are more precise and sound clearer on the Atlas. The track feels less warm and more balanced, with a bigger sound. The swirling synth on this track and “Go” by The Chemical Brothers is cleaner and airier on the Atlas, with more sparkle. Overall, the Atlas treble is less abrasive, and feels more linear as it extends upwards. It has a higher ceiling, and sounds more natural than the more pointed treble in the previous model.

    Stage-wise, the sonic image and instrument size is bigger on the Atlas – it is an improvement rather than a complete redesign of the presentation, but it is noticeable. The actual size of the stage is similar on both IEMs, but despite the bigger note size, the Atlas doesn’t feel congested or closed in, so is comfortably better than the Vega here.

    Overall, the Atlas is an evolution of the sound, rather than a complete quantum shift or drastic improvement. It “fixes” a few things that people have mentioned in the previous model (the c. 6kHz spike for one), and added a little more balance and size to the sound without losing the unique energy and dynamism. They are almost two different flavours of the same basic sound profile, so I can imagine that some people will prefer the Vega, either for the fit or for the more pronounced treble peak and more “fizzing” sound. If you get the chance, audition both to see which fits you best in terms of preference – for me, I prefer the Atlas as I feel it takes what I loved about the Vega’s unique signature and takes it up another small notch, refining the “audiophile basshead” tuning of these two models to something approaching perfection.

    [​IMG]

    Final thoughts
    The Atlas has been a bit of a watershed IEM for me, helping me complete my journey in this hobby from basshead-in-denial with my Aurisonics ASG-2.5, through the “classic” audiophile appreciation of things like the EE Zeus and CA Andromeda and back to a more mature presentation with plenty of low end. The sound is rich, thick and deliciously musical, and sounds like very little else currently on the market. It is unashamedly coloured, but not so much that it distorts the underlying feel of the music or adds anything that isn’t already there. It is a distillation of the evolving Campfire Audio “house sound”, proving that bass isn’t the enemy of detail or a true audiophile experience, throwing a huge sound into your brain that you can’t help but be swept along by. For most people reading this, listening to music is a hobby and a pleasure, and the Atlas concentrates on the latter phrase, making listening to even the most laid back of tunes a genuine joy.

    To add a dash of perspective, this isn’t a perfect IEM (either in tuning or design), so it won’t be the endgame for everyone or as universally acclaimed as the Andromeda. The fit can be a little problematic for extended listening sessions, it requires careful tip matching to get the best sound and it will just flat out have too much bass for some. While it shares the same DNA as the Cascade over-ears in this regards, it lacks the wider range of tuning abilities that the Cascade sports, so this is less easy to alleviate if you do want to lay off the low end a little. All the above being said, this IEM is pretty much perfect for me, and has become my daily go-to IEM for listening to my music out of all the IEMs in my collection. There is just something about the soul and physicality that it imparts to my favourite tracks that can’t quite be matched by the other gear I currently have (apart from the Cascade), making it uniquely enjoyable as a result. If you are considering a foray into TOTL sound and like a bit of meat on your musical bones, the Atlas is definitely something you should be considering.
      Wyville, B9Scrambler and Caruryn like this.
  3. AnakChan
    Atlas: High end speakers in your ears
    Written by AnakChan
    Published Jun 16, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Top quality sound with a full range presented in an impressively large virtual soundstage - all from a single driver per channel. Rivals high end $3000-$4000 IEMs
    Cons - Ergonomics - earphone can pop out easily
    Introduction

    Campfire Audio introduced their new dynamic driver flagship , Atlas, in April '18 and was immensely popular at the Tokyo Fujiya Spring Headphone Festival. Ken was kind enough to leave a review pair for @currawong which has now made it to my hands for a quick review.

    The Atlas pushes the former dynamic driver flagship Vega down a spot, and as with the Vega, the Atlas does not fail to impress. Where the Vega was a the first 8.5mm on-crystalline Diamond dynamic driver, the Atlas is a 10mm diamond dome (ADLC) dynamic driver. The full metal jacket design has also changed that each unit are synonymous from a channel perspective and is up to the cable wiring (and markings) that decide the left and right channel drivers. One does not need to 'match' the cable channel to each earpiece.

    P6130014.jpg

    Construction

    Without a doubt there is some heft to the Atlas. Each piece is solidly constructed and feels so. Holding in my hand feels like a holding a jewel. In terms of comfort, if I'm sitting whilst listening, the Atlas holds well in my ear. However due to the weight, any jaw or body movement, the earpiece could fall off easily.

    There is an option to wear it upside down and have the cables hook around the ear, however at least for me, it still could fall out my ear canal (but at least the cable will keep it around my ear still).

    The chrome surface is prone to fingerprints. As I've been careful with these demo units, I've not seen nor put any scratches onto the casings (and am not about to test/try!).

    P6130015.jpg

    Sonics

    This is where the I love and also hate the Atlas. I can't find anything wrong with its sonics. (The Love bit) I'm extremely impressed with the sound it produces that (the hate bit) it rivals my $3000+ IEMs!! It's mind boggling to me how "a simple single dynamic driver" can bring such joy to ones ears with no discernible weaknesses.

    There is a nice deep impactful bass that holds tight especially in a balanced configuration. Shifting from the bass to the midrange, the midrange is more neutral but still with a clear solid presence. There’s no noticeable bleed of the mid bass to the trebles and is a smooth transition. Similarly moving from the midrange to the trebles, there’s plenty of sparkle and air. Percussions are distinct, impactful and articulate without sounding offensive or brittle.

    This is by no means a neutral tuning. It definitely has a strong bass tendency however does not sound rolled off.

    The amount of detail the single tiny dynamic driver can produce is mind-blowing. Little nuances are presented boldly without sounding exaggerated.

    The most immediately noticeable feature of Atlas signature to my ears is how big of a sound it makes. The soundstage is spacious yet the music it produces fills the virtual room so fully. Some of my other high end IEMs don't even produce such a big staging with big sound.

    P6130017.jpg

    Conclusion

    Sonically I can't find any faults with the Campfire Atlas. It's signature is to my tastes. Maybe I could with with just a tad more midrange for some tracks but in others, I don't miss it it. These sound it produces is definitely satisfying to my ear palate.

    Any practical criticisms I have of the Atlas is more the ergonomics and how easily it pops out of ones ear. However Campfire Audio could easily produce an ear-hook to address that issue.

    Campfire Audio not only has a winner in its hands but also demonstrated of how much quality sound a single dynamic driver can produce without the need for fancy multi driver designs.
    1. Antonio-DD
      I agree on any single word of your review. I tried a pair of Atlas making several comparison of the Atlas with other flagship iems. They have a very peculiar sound, with a very enjoyable signature with most of the classical music, at least for my taste!! Concerning the ergonomics after some tests I concluded that for me to wear them upside down with the cable hook around the ear is the best fit, very stable and comfortable (no issue related to their weight).
      Antonio-DD, Aug 5, 2018
  4. ExpatinJapan
    Truly a Titan
    Written by ExpatinJapan
    Published Jun 6, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Massive sound, balanced, immersion, great cable
    Cons - Fit takes a bit of trial and error
    Campfire Audio Atlas Review
    - Expatinjapan


    [​IMG]
    Campfire Audio Atlas baawwlz deep

    https://campfireaudio.com/shop/atlas/

    'Gigantic and Fantastic Sound.
    A truly massive sound. We’ve expanded our ADLC driver to a mighty 10mm and enclosed it in Stainless Steel – Atlas is a full range powerhouse.
    The result is a terrific sounding earphone with a dynamic signature that will convert even the most jaded listener to an Atlas fan.
    Designed and Assembled in Portland, Oregon USA.'



    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Unboxing, descriptions and specs

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Campfire Audio Black Leather Earphone Case

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    'Atlas
    Gigantic and Fantastic Sound.
    Stainless Steel Body.
    Full Range 10mm A.D.L.C. Diaphragm Dynamic Driver.
    Designed and Assembled in Portland, Oregon USA.'

    [​IMG]

    Specifications
    5Hz–20 kHz Frequency Response
    105 dB SPL/mW Sensitivity
    19 Ohms @ 1kHz Impedance
    Less than 1% Total Harmonic Distortion

    Features
    Single Full Range 10mm Dynamic Driver
    Plasma enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition (C.V.D.) Amorphous Diamond Like Carbon (A.D.L.C.) Diaphragm.
    Beryllium / Copper MMCX Connections
    Stainless Steel Body

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    'Our new stainless steel earphone bodies are drop forged and then CNC machined before being hand polished to a mirror finish.
    The weight of our stainless steel earphones in your hand feels good. The durability of stainless steel gives you peace of mind in daily use, knowing these are going to last.'

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    'New A.D.L.C. Diaphragm Dynamic Driver
    Expanding on the commercial and critical success of Vega, we returned to an A.D.L.C. diaphragm design for Atlas and super sized it to a new 10mm driver; up from 8.5mm utilized in Vega.
    For a quick background, A.D.L.C. (Amorphous Diamond-Like Carbon) is the hybrid of diamond and graphite carbon. It is a non-crystalline diamond. It is a material that has low density and high rigidity, important factors when considering diaphragm materials.

    In designing a dynamic driver, the diaphragm material used should be as rigid as possible to provide a wider range of frequency responses and lower distortion. Additionally, the density of the diaphragm material should also be as low as possible in order to increase fidelity.
    The 10mm A.D.L.C. diaphragm driver at the heart of Atlas achieves these goals; superior fidelity, excellent frequency response, and low distortion.'

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    'New Pure Silver Cable
    We’ve created an all new pure silver cable for Atlas that allows you to get the very best sound possible from your earphone, right out of the box. The pure silver conductors provide additional resolution and refinement to an already exceptional sound.
    This cable is also wound with a twist that reduces tangling and micro phonics improving your daily experience with Atlas.'

    [​IMG]

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

    [​IMG]

    '3D Modeled Awesomeness
    Tuning a high fidelity earphone is both an art and a science. To make something really special many critical factors need to intersect perfectly. This is why we choose to design and iterate with 3D modeled parts and take those parts into our final builds. It gives us an unprecedented level of control to capture the sound we’re trying to achieve. We think you’ll appreciate this refinement when you hear them yourself.'

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Included accessories:
    Campfire Audio Black Leather Earphone Case.
    Campfire Audio Pure Silver Litz Cable – Pure Silver Conductors with Berylium Copper MMCX and 3.5mm Stereo Plug.
    – Final Audio Tips (xs/s/m/l/xl)
    – Campfire Audio Marshmallow Tips (s/m/l)
    – Silicon Earphone Tips (s/m/l)
    – Campfire Audio Lapel Pin
    – Cleaning Tool.
    Authentic Warranty Number Sticker – Matches Interior Warranty Card.

    [​IMG]

    Atlas and Comet side by side size comparison.

    [​IMG]
    Opus#2 and Campfire Audio Atlas and Comet

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Opus#3 via Bluetooth to iFi xDXD and Campfire Audio Atlas.

    Sound

    As usual for aficionados of the burn in brigade I got over well over 100 hours on these humble beasts prior to review, for the other side of the heated debate....well you don`t believe in it anyway. So everyone is happy before we proceed. Head pie loves you all. (No, we don`t).

    Atlas that figure that holds the world on his shoulders...Wrong!...he actually holds the celestial spheres of the starry heavens upon on his manly shoulders. A fitting name for an IEM set to take the place of the flagship to rule them all within the Campfire Audio family. It being fitting as in the past Campfire audio earphones being named after constellations. The Atlas, Comet and Cascade marking a new naming system and also a new direction in build and sound.

    I am a Campfire Audio fan. Admittedly and unabashedly so. Of their earphones and also the way they conduct themselves and do business. I have heard every CA earphone except for the original Lyra.
    I have also reviewed most of them, whilst technically from great to excellent I can only count a few that matched my personal sonic tastes. Each to his own ears.

    [​IMG]

    Which brings us to the Atlas, and the Comet, and the Vega, and the Andromeda....

    Multiple PM's asking me this and that about all four. As usual I was hesitant to answer, not just because I have a general first come, first served queue system with the odd leap frog, but early impressions can be sometimes in error for various reasons.

    With such variables as three different cables, stock tips versus after market tips, performance as an individual IEM, plus comparisons with other TOTL Campfire Audio IEMs. Also an Atlas vs Comet was in order...'bbuuuuttt the price point difference!, the different cable etc etc'. Yes, yes I know, I know and sympathize but the shell, the shell! Sure one is a DD and the other a single BA with a gaping valley of $1000 between them, but curiosity, for science and for Rohan I wanted to check it out.

    I would use a variety of daps in my testing:
    iBasso DX200 with Amp 1(and 4.4mm amp 4), Opus#2,
    Fiio X7ii with stock amp and 4.4mm AM3B.
    Opus#3, Echobox Explorer and Opus#1.
    Shozy Alien+, Opus#1S and Shanling M3s.
    ipod touch 6G with Flacplayer and Shanling M0.
    I also played around slightly with some Dac/Amps such as the Cozoy REI, iFi iDSD nano black , iFI xDSD and CEntrance DACportable.

    I also did a few impedance tests using the CEntrance Hifi-M8 with its impedance switch of 11,2 & 1 ohms.

    .....Overkill.

    Not everything is written up as some results were so similar as to render them null and just extra noise.
    In initial listening I stuck to using the stock tips, of which I preferred the Final Audio tips.

    I did a bit of tip rolling but mainly stayed with the JVC Spiral Tips as they fit me well and I have enough for comparisons. Ortofon came in a close second for aftermarket tips.

    Generally I stuck to FLAC files of 16/44.

    [​IMG]
    iBasso DX200 and Amp 1

    Test tickle the ear drums time!

    Next up I hooked up the Atlas, Andromeda and Vega to a headphone switcher box so I could swap between them with ease.
    Then worked out the volume with a SPL Meter of each so I could quickly adjust to the same volume as I was cycling through them. Phew.

    I used the iBasso DX200 with amp 1 as it is a fairly neutral/reference dap/amp set up.

    JVC Spiral tips on all three earphones for consistency.

    Stock cables were used in this first foray.
    Litz for Andromeda and Vega.
    Silver for Atlas.
    Shuffle mode for randomness!

    It didn't help that the first track was Discharge :wink:

    Cowboy Junkies - Powderfinger
    Andromeda - Mids, smooth vocals, good for female vocals, large sound stage.
    Atlas - Smooth, more even overall
    Vega - More laid back, L or V shaped.

    Joy Division - Transmission
    Andromeda - less bass than the other two, big sound, but not enough low end.
    Atlas - Nice solid, quick bass, vocals and music even, nice detailing.
    Vega - Nice low end, quite concentrated sound.

    Radiohead - Airbag
    Andromeda - Nice clarity, mids and treble, male vocals not as lush as females, expansive.
    Atlas - Nice even approach to bass, mids and treble. A bit of everything. intimate and large sound stage co existing.
    Vega - Seems less as 'big' as the Atlas. Smaller driver, perhaps. The Atlas seems more consistent.

    Richard Ashcroft - Crazy world.
    Andromeda - Very similar to Atlas but missing that nice low end of bass.
    Atlas - Just full, fun, pumping. everything in sync.
    Vega - Laid back in a sense, maybe needs foams to really shine. Constricted.

    PJ Harvey - Joe
    Andromeda - large sound stage detailed, but lacking the lows PJ needs to shine.
    Atlas - Deep and dirty. focused and expansive where needed.
    Vega - Fun, but low end is not as present as the Atlas. loses something. Can be quite linear at times with silicone tips.

    Death in Vegas - help yourself
    Andromeda - Excellent, soaring highs, expansive, detailed, airy, beautiful.
    Atlas - More subdued than the Andros, but concentrated.
    Vega - Peaceful, even, airy.

    Pixies - Wave of mutilation
    Andromeda - delicious, thumping mids and drums, large and spacious.
    Atlas - Fairly even. a bit of everything, wall of sound but with excellent layering.
    Vega - Needs a bit of volume to really get kicking.

    Hole - She walks on me
    Andromeda - The Andros quite shine surprisingly, but too much mids for this track
    Atlas - Quite even, could do with a bit more low end for this track. smoother than Vega.
    Vega - Hard rock, this is what the Vegas were for. fast, hard hitting, baseball bat in the face.

    The Verve - Bittersweet symphony
    Andromeda - A perfect track for the Andros, soaring and large sound stage. Excellent timbre and layering.
    Atlas - Enough of full sound to make the track enjoyable.
    Vega - Nice, not accurate, too much low end.

    The Fugees - The score
    Andromeda - Enjoyable, but a bit tame.
    Atlas - Nice. great, a perfect storm. head nodding.
    Vega - Nice low end, but missing those mids.

    DJ Champion - No Heaven
    Andromeda - Surprising to me this track shines with the Andromeda. large, detailed, fast.
    Atlas - Even, balanced, deep bass, needs a bit more space and detailing.
    Vega - Nice thump to the bass, missing detailing and sound stage.

    Creedence Clearwater Revival - Fortunate son
    Andromeda - Pleasant, decent, but lacks some body and energy.
    Atlas - Balanced, decent sound stage and instrument separation.
    Vega - Great for rock, a bit of lows and highs.

    Beethoven - Mass in D major, Op 123, "Missa Solemnis" : Benedictus.
    Andromeda - Large sound stage as usual, vocals too far forward, focus on highs
    Atlas - Perfect. Just simply beautiful. Full. Symphonic.
    Vega - A little too linear for the many notes and vocals.

    Norah Jones - Seven years
    Andromeda - Friendly enough and a joy, but lacks that bass and mids that the Atlas brings. Too airy.
    Atlas - Full, even, just enough of everything, accurate.
    Vega - Has that warmth NJ needs, but lacks dynamics, needs more highs and mids.

    Black Flag - My war
    Andromeda - Very good.
    Atlas - A bit too much low end for this track.
    Vega - A bit disjointed , not enough clarity.

    Belly - Red
    Andromeda Nice and dynamic, just lacks the body depth the Atlas has.
    Atlas - large sound, exquisite layering.
    Vega - Nice and deep, once again shines with rock.

    Coldplay - Don't panic
    Andromeda - nice and smooth, creamy and nice highs.
    Atlas - Just more dynamic, everything nicely in tune. Enough lows, mids and highs to please.
    Vega - Subdued, a bit dark. Not enough highs for CP.

    Slayer - reborn
    Andromeda - Very good, but needs a bit more low end to really enter into it.
    Atlas - Even sound overall. head bangin'
    Vega - Fast and furious, a bit light in the lows and mids.

    The Cardigans - Erase and rewind
    Andromeda - Nice and lush, erotic. Mids for miles. excellent separation and sound stage.
    Atlas - Everything the andromeda does and with more body, just a bigger sound.
    Vega - Lows focussed.

    The Chemical Brothers A taste of honey.
    Andromeda - Great low end , expansive and full. treble extension.
    Atlas - Full bodied, low end depth. holographic and expansive.
    Vega - Nice low end, boom boom

    Enough!? I think so. More jazz, EDM, country music, pop etc please.....Sorry.

    [​IMG]
    iBasso DX200 and Campfire Audio Atlas.


    There is a good amount of cues above to point us in a general direction of what the Atlas is.

    Did the Andromeda and Vega have a baby? I think so...in some sense.

    The Atlas certainly eclipses and replaces the Vega for sure, but the Andromeda still holds it own and reserves its particular sonic niche that is loved by many.

    So where are we? Where am I? why am I?

    At this stage I should use the recently formulated system for categorizing audio components in a testing condition formulated by Nor. UA. S. (North University for the study of Audio (State).
    DKBT or Dynamics, Kinetics, Balance, Transparency.

    The Atlas certainly scores high in each of the groups, whilst there are subsets within this new evaluation system that is steadily gain traction amongst European and South East asian reviewers it seems to have not yet caught on the English speaking world. I myself am still learning and look forward to more reviews that use the system.

    So the Atlas with stock cable.
    'Gigantic and fantastic sound' says the Campfire Audio website and I can't argue with that, it is a great summary.

    Pixies - 'Gigantic'

    So what do the notes for the Atlas say? Is it congruent overall and consistent?

    Smooth, more even overall,
    Nice solid, quick bass, vocals and music even, nice detailing,
    Nice even approach to bass, mids and treble.
    A bit of everything. intimate and large sound stage co existing,
    Just full, fun, pumping. everything in sync, Deep and dirty. focussed and expansive where needed, More subdued than the Andros, but concentrated,
    Fairly even. A bit of everything, wall of sound but with excellent layering,
    Quite even, could do with a bit more low end for this track. smoother than Vega
    Enough of full sound to make the track enjoyable
    Nice. great, a perfect storm. head nodding
    Even, balanced, deep bass, needs a bit more space and detailing
    Balanced, decent sound stage and instrument separation
    Perfect. Just simply beautiful. Full. Symphonic
    Full, even, just enough of everything, accurate
    A bit too much low end for this track
    large sound, exquisite layering
    Just more dynamic, everything nicely in tune. Enough lows, mids and highs to please.
    Even sound overall. head bangin'
    Everything the Andromeda does and with more body, just a bigger sound
    Full bodied, low end depth. holographic and expansive

    So what we have is a fairly balanced and well tuned single dynamic driver earphone, that produces a full sound, smooth, large sound stage, great layering and timbre, detailed, accurate, holographic.

    'Gigantic and fantastic' sound indeed. Whilst it does make me want to put the Vega on the shelf, the Andromeda still holds a place in the Campfire Audio line up.

    [​IMG]


    Where next?

    Well Ken was kind enough to send an extra silver cable so I could test all three against each other with the Litz and also the new Atlas silver cable.

    Hell, I might even throw in some Reference 8 and SXC-8 impressions If I get over excited.

    So lets see what we get when throw the Litz into the fray, Litz for everyone!

    Litz - Andromeda - Smooth, expansive, nice mids and treble. Silky vocals.
    Litz - Atlas - They lose some smoothness, and mids, and bass is ok, but some fullness is lost overall. Better with the silver imho.
    Litz - Vega - Vega is Vega, a L to V shape depending. With silicone tips the Vega could benefit from some cable rolling.



    [​IMG]
    ALO Audio silver Atlas cables 3.5mm and 4.4mm

    Onwards and upwards. Every cloud has a silver lining.

    Silver - Andromeda - Nice full, adds to that holographic sense the Andros have. A bit more low end. Better with the Litz. imho.
    Silver - Atlas - Similar in a sense, but just that lovely low end and overall balance between the bass, mids. treble and vocals is addictive.

    Silver - Vega - Smooth. a bit more on the softer linear side. Refined. A bit fuller. Dunno, maybe Litz for Vega.
    Silver - Atlas - deep and full. Gigantic.

    NOTE: Atlas is more designed so non memory wire, though you can do over the ear with memory wire, but it sits better over the ear with no memory wire.

    Ok, ok...I know you are probably wondering about this

    Reference 8 - Atlas. Quite pleasant. And enjoyable. A bit treble rich at times. A bit of a triangle sig at others. fast and busy. Silver wins.

    [​IMG]
    Random earlier testing.

    Ok onwards and sideways..

    4.4mm ALO Audio silver cable

    iBasso DX200 Amp 4 : Just MOAR gigantic. This my preferred choice for the Atlas at the moment.

    iBasso DX200 Amp 4S (first listen actually) : Smoother than Amp 4, a bit more fuller overall(?). Amp may need more burn in, Amp4 seems more controlled. Amp 4S has hard hitting bass. A bit slower than Amp 4.

    [​IMG]


    FiiO X7ii and Amp AM3B 4.4mm: : Nice and light, not as full and hard hitting as the DX200 with less layering and timbre. Perhaps reduced mids ever so slightly.

    [​IMG]
    FiiO X7ii and amp AM3B to Campfire Audio Atlas.



    ALO Audio SXC-8

    A heavy cable, not for everyone. one can get the memory wire to work with the Atlas with a bit of fiddling. Perhaps better for more stationary listening. I would like to see one for IEMs without the memory cable, I think it would sit better.


    [​IMG]

    iBasso DX200 Amp 4 : Increase of sound stage and separation. Bass controlled. Excellent and exquisite layering. Truly expansive. Pure Heaven, the real one.

    [​IMG]

    FiiO X7ii and AM3B 4.4mm. Now this is great. Lovely everything. Brings the X7ii to life. Retains the Atlas signature but with more smoothness and purity of sound.

    A definite step up in all areas from the stock cable, but ergonomically not for everyone.
    Buuuut thhe soouuunndd!



    [​IMG]
    SXC-8 and the Atlas - Its doable. Without its memory wire might sit easier.

    EDIT: Additional cable comparison links:

    ALO Audio SXC-8 vs Litz from the CA cascade review

    https://www.headpie.net/2018/05/alo-audio-sxc-8-vs-alo-audio-litz-cables.html

    ALO Audio Tinsel vs Litz vs Reference 8

    https://www.headpie.net/2017/03/alo-audio-tinsel-litz-and-reference-8.html


    An interlude:

    Pointless? mebbe...but lets have some fun.

    Campfire Audio Cascade (no filter) versus Campfire Audio Atlas with the ALO Audio SXC-8.


    [​IMG]

    Well, we know how delightful the Atlas sounds when paired with the SXC-8 over ear with memory wired SXC-8 (I may try to remove it).

    First impression is that the Cascade is slightly laid back compared to the in your face Atlas.
    The Cascade slapped me in the sweet cheeks on first listen, now the Atlas is doing the same same, but different.

    Color me a bit shocked and surprised, not the result I was expecting to be honest.

    Now I could do a bit more fiddling with the filters to see if I can replicate the Atlas more fullness and gigantic sound scape...but to be honest i have done enough cable rolling and am a bit tired. inspiration may return later in the game...but for now thats enough.

    [​IMG]
    iFi xDSD fueled by the Shanling M0 was a pleasure to use and also performed well with the Atlas.

    Surprisingly even the diminutive Shanling m0 is quite the beast itself and using the Atlas with it as a traveling kit was quite satisfying.

    In closing we come full circle back to the statement from Campfire Audios website:
    'Gigantic and Fantastic Sound.
    A truly massive sound. We’ve expanded our ADLC driver to a mighty 10mm and enclosed it in Stainless Steel – Atlas is a full range powerhouse.`


    The above all is true, gigantic sound, certainly a powerhouse and contains a full range with a massive sound. It is a solid performer and deserves its rank at the top of the Campfire Audio pyramid.

    Price

    US $1,299.00
    Available from Campfire Audio
    https://campfireaudio.com/shop/atlas/
    And recognized dealers (and their distribution networks)
    https://campfireaudio.com/dealers/

    [​IMG]

    Traveling kit

    [​IMG]

    Not much is needed to satisfy on a travel light day.
    A Shozy hard cover case, Atlas, Andromeda, some adapters and tips
    and the simple but powerful Shanling m0.

    The budget minded might consider the Campfire Audio Comet and the Shanling M0

    [​IMG]
    1, 2, 3...all you need for everyday audio listening

    Tips and fit

    [​IMG]
    I tried the stock tips (mainly skipped the foamies as I prefer silicone)

    I was not sure what size to use.
    Maybe a smaller than usual I was suspecting for the deep insertion.
    Smaller sized JVC spiral tips did the trick (a size or two smaller than my usual).

    Stage one
    Ortofon was nice
    Echobox x1 tips seemed ok
    Some cone shaped foam (not into foam)
    Some smallish double flange tips
    So small, cone-ish or thin and not short and wide
    Sized down one size.
    Symbio Mandarins are out
    The flanges from I dont know where will give another try.
    Ortofon I will try again also. But might loose some body.

    Stage two
    I wasnt having much luck with my usual size of JVC Spiral tips and went a size or so smaller.
    That was good.
    No driver flex or suffocation of the music to zero. Also inserted easily for both Comet and Atlas.
    Ortofon was also good, slight cone shape. A bit thin in the lows but other wise great and comfortable.
    I dug out some Echobox Finder tips - the cone shaped ones. They seemed ok for fit and sound.
    Some small double flanges also worked well. Good seal. Great music accuracy.
    I tried some foams that were cone shaped and they were good.
    I’m not a foam tip user though. Just for science.
    Short and fat EB and Foams didnt work.
    I also tried the Symbio Mandarine tips but didnt have success. I find they are great with the Dorado and ok with the Vega.
    Also I have to give the supplied silicone tips a try now I have a general size decided on.
    Spiral tips are my general go to tips.

    Used final audio tips today
    They seemed to muffle either end a bit for me. A good fit though.

    Pretty much decided on three tips
    Final Audio, stock
    Jvc spiral tips (smaller than my usual size)
    Ortofon tips

    Each with pluses and minuses.


    [​IMG]

    Overall

    The Campfire Atlas like the fore runners in the Campfire Audio line up has surpassed its predecessors.
    Once again the Campfire Audio team has taken what they learned from an earlier set of products and refined to produce an earphone that goes that step further.

    Blurbs are usually mostly hyperbole and propaganda but the Atlas one rings true:
    'Gigantic and Fantastic Sound.
    A truly massive sound. We’ve expanded our ADLC driver to a mighty 10mm and enclosed it in Stainless Steel – Atlas is a full range powerhouse.
    The result is a terrific sounding earphone with a dynamic signature that will convert even the most jaded listener to an Atlas fan.'

    I can`t really expand on that, it contains the essence of what the Atlas is all about.

    A solid stainless steel shell, with a beefy driver nestled inside along with the CA technology.

    The Atlas. Hardened steel, massive sound, detailed and immersive with an expansive sound stage.

    Truly a Titan!

    'To see a World in a Grain of Sand
    And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
    Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
    And Eternity in an hour' - William Blake.

    [​IMG]
    Opus#2 and Campfire Audio Atlas.


    [​IMG]
    Thank you to Campfire Audio for sending Head pie the Campfire Atlas for review.
    1. ExpatinJapan
      ExpatinJapan, Jun 8, 2018
      rantng likes this.
  5. Benvoka
    Campfire Atlas review: The Supervega?
    Written by Benvoka
    Published May 15, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - strong and deep Bass, for those who like it

    a resolution that is more known from analytical (c)iem

    very refined and natural sounding highs

    fun listening experience
    Cons - a little bit the ergonomic factor
    [​IMG]

    This is my first review in English and on Head-Fi. So I feel quite excited. For German-speaking Headfiers: You can find my German reviews on avguide.ch.

    But enough talk about my insignificant persona as a reviewer, because there is good news everybody! During my stay at the CanJam in Munich, I got the pleasure to meet the Campfire crew as well as receiving a sample of the brand new Campfire Atlas.


    Accessories:

    Nothing new. It is still a Campfire Audio product when it comes to the packaging. New is a set of silicone tips from Final Audio. So there are no more Spinfit-tips. For my part, I don't miss them, because they tend to move way to much in my ears. This has also something to with the 'special' Campfire ergonomics you find in many of their products.

    Fit / Comfort:

    With the right knowledge, experience and the right tips, I think everybody will get a comfortable and perfect fit. The Atlas stands out of most ears quite bit and I wasn't always comfortable with the cable over the ears because of this. The Atlas can easily be worn in the common style (cables down), but here I felt a little irritating pull from the weight of the Atlas.
    Also, the logo sticks out. So some people might experience some discomfort at least for a while. But hey! Most of us are not drawn to Campfire because of those ergonomic aspects. Right?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Cable:

    I can't say something about the sound quality of the new “pure silver cable” that comes as the stock cable. In my experience, good silver cables give indeed additional detail and resolution. Unlike from some other great sounding cable from ALO I couldn't make out a lot of cable noise. That's all I can say about that and I leave a more detailed review of the cable to a more seasoned “snake oil voodoo doctor” (please don't hate me).


    Well, but how does the Atlas sound?

    Bass:

    I was not only kidding when I told Caleb and Ken at the CanJam (Munich/Germany) that you should never register the Atlas as a boxer to a boxing match. Yeh, he just punches hard and often below the belt. Unfair! The A.D.L.C driver has an enormous sub bass that decays slowly and beautifully, unlike any BA driver. So much that it might feel a little over the top for many that prefer a more classical, analytical approach. The bass goes even deeper than on the Vega which sports the same kind of driver material but a little bit smaller.


    Mids:

    They seem a little more laid back and recessed to me and I reckon a little U or W shape of the whole frequency spectrum. To me, the mids are quite natural sounding and I enjoy folk music on the Atlas as much as I did on the Vega. Here the mids and the highs shine and the Atlas reveals to the last one of us, that he isn't all about bass at all. Female vocals seem very lively and oh boy, strings just reverberate beautifully in an awe-inspiring interplay of the mids and the bass.


    Highs:

    The first time I put the Atlas in, I used the foam tips, because of my experiences with the Vega. After 1 minute I changed to the silicone tips as I realized that the Atlas is a beast that doesn't need to be tamed here like his little brother. To me, the highs are as much as a highlight as the bass. I even compare them to the Andromeda's. They are sparkly, well extended and sometimes even a little bit on the hot side. Strong but delicate. There is a beautiful sense of air to them. Well, this a dynamic driver. So to me, it is extremely astounding that I actually enjoy the hell out of the classical “sibilance frequency” around 6k. I asked Caleb how they did to manage to achieve this little marvel. He replied that it has a lot to do with the prolonged shape of the Atlas and the distance from the driver to the ears. So I will never ever complain again, that the Atlas sticks out of my ears.


    Soundstage and imaging:

    A pity I don't have my Vega anymore to compare. But from my memory, the Vega had a tad more depth and less with than the Atlas. To me, the Atlas has a wide and reasonably deep soundstage that never feels artificial or like a cheap effect.

    The imaging and separation are precise yet on a good level coherent. Different instruments seem to be on the same wide and deep stage and not in different little rooms. Something I prefer over an excessive and unnatural “I can throw darts at the artist”-sensation.

    Burn-in:

    Well, this is not a long-term review. I have received my sample some days back. Speaking from my experience with the Vega there will be at least some impact on the sound quality. My Atlas is running 24/7 except for some short breaks. My brain might trick me, but I feel the bass is getting tighter and a more controlled. A process that started to happen recently, which gives the mids and the highs more spotlight. I will try to keep you folks upgraded on my impressions as the burn-in process advances.


    Overall impression:

    Is the Atlas a Supervega? When it comes to the size of the driver: yes! Also, the Atlas has a deep, prominent but also controlled bass. But when it comes to the “in the middle feeling” of the Vega the Atlas follows a different path. The experience is very engaging and manages to immerse, but it feels more like in the second row and not on the stage with the artists.

    Also, I experienced the Atlas a little less visceral but not at all less powerful than the Vega. Campfire Audio managed to create something very special here once more. To me, the Atlas is very fun to listen to but packs also an astounding resolution. Even more than some of my monitors that are specially made for analytical listening. This amazes me everytime I put the Atlas into my ears.

    I want to express my gratitude for the opportunity to test the Atlas that early with my free sample. Congratulations to all at Campfire Audio! You created something special once more that makes the whole audiophile scene richer. Thank you for this as well.

    [​IMG]

    p.s. I detest giving stars for something that is that complex. I solely give 5 stars for the readers who want to be fooled by them.

    images

    1. P_20180515_110246.jpg
    2. P_20180515_110334.jpg
    3. P_20180515_110715 (2).jpg
    4. P_20180515_110715.jpg
    5. P_20180515_114627.jpg
    1. twocentsear
      How do the Atlas compare to the Andromedas in terms of soundstage and imaging?
      twocentsear, May 19, 2018
    2. pmrcrazzy
      Love the low end super smooth and buttery!
      pmrcrazzy, Jun 19, 2018