1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

Campfire Audio Atlas

Rating:
4.625/5,
  1. Medikill
    A Great pair of IEMs which lacks usability
    Written by Medikill
    Published Dec 5, 2018 at 8:36 AM
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Build quality
    Sound signature - especially the sub bass
    Cons - Driver Flex
    Fit issues
    Easy to scratch
    Preface:
    Unlike 5 or 6 of the other reviews about this product and extensively in the Campfire Audio range in general, this review was not sponsored in anyway nor was this a review product or an item given for review. I purchased this with my own money.

    This is a very honest review. I understand that some will disagree with my statements but so be it.

    I honestly believe, psychologically, if you are given a product free you will inherently more likely to provide a more positive review. It is human nature, i may not know headphones very well, but i do ample medical knowledge to make this claim with confidence.

    With that said, i urge you to take the; whether directly or indirectly biased reviews with a grain of salt. Moreover, since i own these now and am $1700 + lesser i have no reason to fabricate the truth.

    As with my other review i will keep this succinct and to the point, instead of the plethora of synonyms.

    Packaging:
    Great, as one would expect at this price point, simple yet full of accessories. Wide selection of ear tips (silicone, final audio and in house foam) & the usual CA inclusions. The box is nice, no corners where cut in the packaging which is always a good sign.

    The carrying case provided is very nice, i have grown a liking to the interior faux wool feel of CA cases.
    Cable is also very nice, Silver litz cable which is well made.

    Build:
    One word. Exceptional.
    The stainless steel housing is very aesthetically pleasing, albeit easy to scratch.
    The build quality conveys the price of these IEM's, you're definitely getting a hefty package for the price.

    Fit:
    This is where the problems begin.
    It is incredibly difficult to get a good seal, and the driver flex is ridiculous.
    There needs to be a way to balance the pneumatic imbalance as otherwise you will not hear any sound emitting from the IEM, this is exacerbated by using silicone tips as it increases the friction between the internal auditory meatus and the exterior of the silicone tip which in theory does create a very good seal, however without removal of the negative pressure generated the only place the pressure goes is into the headphones and the driver = driver flex. The fix is a one way valve like some competitors have implemented (64 Audio ADEL / APEX ). Or using Foam tips (i will get into later why this is not ideal).
    Next the headphones are very heavy. It's a double-edged sword, in one hand you have a very nicely finished metal IEM but then there is it's inherent weight which makes it very difficult to keep inside your external auditory meatus.

    It is evident more thought was given to the design rather than it's ergonomics. A good fix is to wear them over ear but this also doesn't work most of the time. Symbio Wide bore are by far the best tips to use for these IEM's - the hybrid design allows for a good seal and reduced driver flex.

    Don't expect to perform any locomotion wearing these as the IEMs will fall out unless you keep reinserting, which if you do. Driver flex.

    Sound:
    Bass: Incredible. Visceral. Sub-bass is expansive a step above the Vegas and the 64 A U8's. Mid bass is responsive and fast. In general the bass is tight and punchy. Only in inherently bass heavy music will be bass overtake the other signals otherwise it is still very well controlled which makes for a very pleasant listening experience.

    Mids: Can be represented as regressed at times. However it is closer to reference compared to other V shaped IEMs. Not as good as the Vegas or SE846.

    Treble: Female vocals sound very pleasing, males as with a lot of IEMs is lacking. There is sibilancy at times (however i do have very sensitive ears and accordingly to audiology results i can hear well at 20,000 - 21,000 Hz, so compared to a majority of the populous who have reviewed these, this is unlikely to be a problem for them due to age related cochlear degeneration = reduced high frequency hair cells in the cochlear). Otherwise the highs are very nice. No complaints.

    Overall sound: V shaped. With a nice bass emphasis.

    Comparisons:
    CA Vega: The Vegas have a more refined sound, closer to neutral, although still V shaped. The atlas is superior in the Bass. But i would say the Vega is superior in every other aspect, although i didn't have problems with sibilancy with the Vega's so subjectively i would say the Atlas has a wider sound stage. The fit of the Vega's is much easier and there is far less driver flex (if any). However, for the basshead the Atlas is the better choice. If refinement but still energetic is your thing, the vegas.

    I should note i was using a FiiO Q5 & Chord mojo to listen and using Tidal Hi-Fi for tracks. I listened to mainly pop, R & B and Hip hop.

    I think they match nicely with the Q5 and the Mojo, i like that the Q5 has the option to add even more bass.

    Closing statement:
    I would advise those looking at purchasing these to go in store and listen to them first. Ensure you are able to get a good fit to avoid being in the same position i am (i don't live near anywhere which has the CA range to try out).

    These are great sounding IEM's don't get me wrong, however, not very practical, as unless you plan to sit still and listen to music they will not be useful and i would urge you to look else where.
  2. ngoshawk
    Atlas: a weight lifted for your sound
    Written by ngoshawk
    Published Nov 30, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Excellent fit and finish.
    Fantastic bass.
    Litz cable.
    Quality, quality, quality.
    Sound, which typifies a Flagship
    Cons - Driver flex.
    Fingerprint collector.
    Nothing else.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    QP2R & Atlas-Joe Satriani & What Happens Next defines the raucous nature of the Atlas. This…thing…ROCKS! Holy buckets.



    Diamonds from Los Lonely Boys loses that sibilance up top, which many have. Crank it up and enjoy.



    The opening bass smash of Charlie Brown from Coldplay is thunderous and concise. No slop there. Follow that with Junior Brown’s Lookin’ For Love, and your evening is set. Done, over. You have experienced all the emotion you need for one evening in those four songs. But you resist the urge to do a mic drop, well…because you might damage the goods first of all; but more importantly (no really it is more important) you want that savage rawness of standing there enveloped by sound you know is not only good, but incredibly satisfying. Satisfying, because in those four songs you have spanned decades and genre equivalent to a trip down a starlit California desert two-lane highway in an Aston Martin convertible. You, the open road, the stars, shooting and regular, and your music. Emotion does not convey the sound, which coddles your ears and cranial matter. You experience it like you are doing something illicit, but oh…so…good. And BAD at the same time. I mean Baaaaaaddd…



    [​IMG]


    The Atlas has about 100hrs on them Much less so far than @Kervs has on his review pair, but the feeling is the same. He told me to wait, be patient and wait some more. So, after my initial listen, I did. I played the Atlas continuously for 4 days, a total of about 80hrs.


    [​IMG]


    Pairing with an old favorite, my Shanling M5, Bob Marley’s Is It Love epitomizes what I am feeling at the moment. I begin to understand further the passion wrought under the roof of Campfire Audio, and the sheer fanaticism fashioned by its followers (and yes, I am one). To think the Atlas is still a single Dynamic Driver one, which is not much larger if at all than competitors and you have to wonder what the other companies might be doing wrong. This is the stuff of legends, from the old west. Think Clint Eastwood and his legendary movies, and you get the point.

    [​IMG]

    I want to thank Ken & Caleb for the Atlas. All they ask is an honest open review, and as usual I would not have it any other way. This is shaping up as a foundation shaker, much the way the Vega did not that long ago.

    Specs:

    Driver: 10mm Single full range dynamic driver
    Diaphragm: Plasma enhanced Chemical Vapor Depostion (C.V.D.) Amorphous Diamond Like Carbon (A.D.L.C.) Diaphragm.
    Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL/mW
    Frequency Response: 5Hz–20 kHz
    Impedance: 19Ω @ 1kHz
    Material: Stainless steel body
    Connectors: Beryllium / Copper MMCX
    Cable Material: Pure Silver Litz
    Cable Length: 1.2M (4 feet)
    Plug: 3.5mm Gold plated

    Included items:

    1 Campfire Audio black leather case
    1 Campfire Audio pure Silver Litz cable with Beryllium Copper MMCX and 3.5mm stereo plug
    1 Pair Campfire Audio Atlas IEM
    1 Pair IEM pouch
    1 Set of Final Audio tips (xs/s/m/l/xl)
    1 Set Campfire Audio Marshmallow tips (s/m/l)
    1 Set silicon tips (s/m/l)
    1 Campfire Audio lapel pin
    1 Cleaning tool
    1 Warranty card

    [​IMG]

    Gear used/compared:

    Unique Melody Mentor V3
    Unique Melody Maestro V2
    Campfire Audio Jupiter
    64Audio U8

    Thebit Opus #2
    Macbook Pro/iFi xDSD/xCAN
    Shanling M5
    Shanling M3s
    Questyle QP2R

    Songs used:

    Too bloody many to list all, but you want songs, so there you go:

    Coldplay-All I Can think About Is You
    Coldplay-A Message
    Coldplay-White Shadows
    Dona Onete-Sonos de Adolescente
    Los Lonely Boys- Heaven (en Espanol)
    twenty one pilots-Trees
    twenty one pilots-Car Radio
    twenty one pilots-Heathens
    Damian Marley-Everybody Wants To Be Somebody
    Damian Marley-So A Child May Follow
    Damian Marley-The Struggle Discontinues
    Ziggy Marley-Lighthouse
    Ziggy Marely-See Dem Fake Leaders
    Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
    Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado

    The new twenty one pilots album, Trench


    [​IMG]


    Unboxing:

    Warren Zevon-Excitable Boy ran through my head as I unboxed. But, unlike the song, no one was killed, and I did not have a cage for the bones left behind. Maybe it was my bones quaking in anticipation, but I matched the song beat-for-beat and rather enjoyed the comparison of song and CA Atlas.

    One has come to expect unique tidy, neat packaging from Campfire Audio, and the Atlas does not disappoint. Presented in a small box, with stars alight and a camping scene (duh, Campfire…) you come to appreciate the simplicity of box. No extra room. No added room. No wasted space. This could be a cost saving technique as well as a resource saving technique; and I do approve.

    Unwrapping the plastic, you open the box from the front, much the way Indian Jones opened the treasure chest in Temple Of Doom. Yet again, you are not disappointed as a simple rectangular black pleather box presents itself, adding to the intrigue. You take the black case out, unzipping slowly, so you can savor the moment. Then, just like the glow from the treasure chest, the light glistens off the polished chrome of the Atlas. And you are glad.

    [​IMG]


    With one IEM nestled inside of a soft cloth pouch, then the other nestled inside another cloth pouch, the glisten is blinding even from inside the pouch. Oh wait, that’s the light I was shining upon them for full glory. Nonetheless, the chrome is not missed upon removal from each pouch. And you are again, glad. Adorned with the silver Litz cable, you do get the feeling of finding treasure. Very, very valuable treasure. One would not be wrong in that assessment, either.

    Under the black carrying case, inside the tan box, under a secret shelf, lies the other tips, the CA lapel pin, a cleaning brush, and a small manual. Nothing fancy, but all functional and needed. Yet again, CA included the right amount of material in the package and added with the included Final Audio-E tips.

    Caveat: The included Final Audio-E tips are the first silicon tips I have actually liked enough to replace my beloved Comply (or Unique Melody foam) foam tips. To me, that says with what care Ken & Co chose the included gear. They…are…good…

    [​IMG]

    There are some products, where you simply want to get the box open and get to the listening. I don’t fault those companies one bit. But there are times when you really do want to savor the opening moment, relishing that first look into your purchase and the accompanying sidekicks. The Campfire Audio Atlas would most definitely fall into the latter category. And you are glad.

    [​IMG]



    Fit-N-Finish:

    When one reviews, sometimes a rut is fallen into. A rut of following the same format, the same way, using the same songs, and the same gear, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah…I know I am guilty of listing the same songs, and mostly the same gear. But I do like to throw in random songs, which I use during the test. This would most definitely be one of those times.

    There is not much you can say about the Atlas at first beside that it is shiny. Very, VERY shiny. While some might find that look garish, I find that shininess fit with the Atlas character.

    Using the standard Comply tips, I find the best fit, and the deepest of bass. But, after a longer session, my ears do begin to hurt a bit. Something, which does not happen often. So, switching between the Final E and the Comply’s I get a good variety and can listen for longer periods. That false sense of fit (that fear of the expensive IEM falling out, and me crying…) of the Final E is a bit disconcerting, but I most likely will not be dancing with these on…so…

    [​IMG]

    Made from three pieces (including the nozzle) of polished alloy, there is a “hatch,” which covers the back like a trunk. That way there is easy access to the innards for dissection, errr mounting. Final fit is very good, as one would expect. I can recall from my Nova review that the halves were matched quite well, except for one spot. That did not bother me, and neither does the fit of the Atlas. With an even seam, like you would find on an expensive Jaguar (or Toyota), you need not worry about mismatched seams. Impressive, but expected from Campfire’s capable technicians.

    The cable is the staple Litz 4-wire of pure silver. Giving a crystal-like sound, the Litz compliments the Atlas perfectly. What may be overly bassy, and almost untamed with a pure copper/hybrid is crystalline clear through the Litz. This is one special cable, especially since it is OEM. A bit thinner than I would like, and prone to a bit of tangle, it isn’t perfect in the ergonomics department, but one does not listen to ergonomics (there is zero microphonics). Soft and supple, the cable really is a sight to behold and use. This is an exceptional cable.

    Beryllium-Copper connectors compliment both the MMCX end and Atlas connection. No problems, easy to connect without much force, and they stay. With a 3.5mm stereo plug, you have an extremely good single-ended cable. Part of my test will be with a Norne Vorpal balanced cable, which came with the Jupiter when I purchased it for comparative purposes.

    My only qualm is that the chrome is prone to fingerprints. One need not worry too much as you will not be looking at them but listening.

    So, one is left with a rather unique looking shell, not unlike the shape of an older canon polished to absolute brilliance as if it is waiting for inspection. Then it can get down and dirty and to work. The parallel is not lost on me.

    [​IMG]

    Sound extraordinaire:

    Morph from twenty one pilots new album, Trench sounds simply sumptuous with the Comply in tow on the QP2R. This song alone defines the character and quality of the Atlas. Good Gawd, this is good. Deep reaching bass, not tainted by the somewhat-typical “shrouding” done in by foamies. Rich mids, which are so good that it could make one cry. Detail of treble wrought like almost none I have heard. I am amazed yet again that a single DD can deliver such quality. This is a righteous set up, not to be messed with. Plus, the new twenty one pilots album absolutely rocks. This…is…good…stuff.

    I will admit, I’m not sure if a normal review format is the right way to do the Atlas. It does not really fit into the normal format of bass/mid/treble/separation/etc…Just seems like a disservice to such a different critter. The simple truth is that this is a 10mm Plasma-enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition (C.V.D.) Amorphous Diamond Like Carbon (A.D.L.C.) Diaphragm of a single dynamic driver. That is one heckuva mouthful but says a lot about how CA goes about their business. The heritage of Campfire (at least at the TOTL level) started with the Jupiter (comparo below), followed by the Andromeda, Vega, Cascade, then the Atlas. Now continuing the stellar descriptors, the Solaris graces our presence, with what is heard on the grapevine as the last iteration of a single dynamic driver. This is as far as CA can go, so the word is. By that tongue, if the Solaris is “better,” then I may not even need to go there. The Atlas is that good in its own right.

    I have been lucky enough to participate in some pretty fancy tours, with gear of which many call their epic, TOTL, end-game items. From the 64Audio Forte to the Unique Melody Mason V3 (Mentor V3), to the others; some really good kit has graced my ears. I do not mean to state that from this I glean and hover over all of you by crowing about what I have hears. No, indeed no.

    The above listed critters propose to lay the foundation upon which I have learned and plied my “trade.” Where I have honed my “skill” (really lack-of compared…) in order to draw those dreaded comparisons. Those dastardly barons of highfalutin penthouse gougers, who tell us we MUST try this, or purchase that. They sit there looking down from their crown thinking that they are bilking us. But, what they do not know is that they are PROVIDING us with the necessary means to fully envelope our listenings. To engulf us in musical repose of such grandeur that we ought not go any higher, lest we get altitude sickness.

    [​IMG]

    It is precisely this level at which Campfire audio strives to attain. That highest of the high. But, dear reader without the pretense, attitude or mockery of some. There is a humbleness wrought from hard west coast work ethic. An ethic that belies the typical west coast perception of playing. Oh, there is play, but after the hard work is wrought through the fabrication of metal, wire, solder and other. This fabrication is why we gleamingly look like the candy store scene in A Christmas Story. It is precisely why. We want the best we can attain, but also harbor not to spend the equivalent of a mortgage payment (OK, most of the time). And here is where the true gem of what Campfire Audio shines. Little did we know that there was this want of niche for TOTL, but truly affordable items. One can certainly spend significantly more (and I do not fault you one bit), but once you hear the mystic of what Campfire Audio proposes to you, dare I say that you are hooked. And, to be honest, it is OK if you are not, we do not fault you for that, lest the world be a boring place. But it is because of artisans like CA, that we exist to cherish and try any of the above-mentioned items. For they truly do prose forward a product of such quality that you could sit down on that park bench and be completely satisfied with what you have achieved.

    [​IMG]

    I do not say this lightly (and if you are still with me), but the Atlas may be all you need. You will certainly purchase others, but as I work through my queue; I come back to the Atlas for comparison (not fair to the lesser monied items, but oh well). I come back to make me truly gauge how the others sound. And I do think that is fair, for lately many have produced a quite worthy sound. And in many ways that sound is a result of trying to replicate what Campfire Audio has achieved. That is one mighty compliment of which Ken & Co should be proud. For not only are they at the top of their game (shoulder to shoulder with those more expensive TOTL’s), but they are a beacon of which others shoot for, guided by the vision set forth from the beginning. A pretty good deal in my mind.


    [​IMG]

    So, without further to do (too late you churlishly add…apologies), I will do my best to “quantify” what it is about the Atlas that makes it so good, and so right in the world of over-priced, over-hyped TOTL’s. I do not mean to insult the others, truly I do not for I enjoy in my covey a couple of those in which I speak, but to state what has been triumphed from the Atlas. A TOTL at which Campfire could have stopped and been done. I would been happy as well. Thankfully they did not.


    Quantifications:

    Using different tips, the Atlas takes on a different character (as many do…). I can state that with the Final E tips, I enjoy that more open energetic sound, and the added sparkle up top is almost ethereal in level. The bass takes on a taught snappy level of which there are few peers. The 64Audio Forte comes to mind as well as the UM Mason V3. Both of those are tuned differently but reach such levels. From memory, the Forte is brilliant in its response to attacking music, which highlights the upper reaches. But it does not have that sparkle of which I speak. It is brilliant for how crystalline the sound is, but with an attitude. An attitude of “this is good…really good and I know it.” And that is what makes the Forte one of my all-time favorites. It has attitude and isn’t afraid to show it.

    The Atlas on the other hand has a grace and dignity of sound, that when that sparkle shows, it is as if the queen proposed a snowy walk on a Christmas eve. Your breath is taken away, but in that soft, silent snow-falling way. You respect that sound the same as the Forte, but on a level of appreciation not held by the Forte. Again, it is that grace of production, which is superb. Mids, which show in Tyler’s vocals on Nico And The Niners make you really appreciate what that single driver has done. Not perfect, no but with a clarity that clearly defines how far a DD can go. Crystalline of structure, Josh’s drumming is clear and crisp through the Questyle QP2R. With the right amount of treble at all levels, you realize that the Atlas is not only very good, but of such quality that you start to forget your others, which have 28 balanced armatures, and 6 dynamic drivers. If this can be achieved with one…

    On Bandito from the album Trench (a fabulous album), the bass line is taut, deep and fast. There is a certain crispness wrought from the combination, which is just about right. Not too much, and with sufficient reach you experience the bass, not feel it. Anticipating that solo a bit over halfway through the song; you start to reach for the volume…getting ready to turn it up. There is a bit of rumble in that anticipatory part, with the right amount of bass guitar reverb. Then it hits, and you turn the volume knob to just the right loudness and enjoy. The synthesizer sings clear and true, with Tyler’s voice coming through at the right level, slightly off left, then back to the right. It just works in song and the Atlas presents itself as true as one would find from another at a more expensive level.


    [​IMG]

    For the last thousand words I have gushed unabashedly about the Atlas. Most without redo or structure. I have not done that on a review for a good bit of time. And as I stated at the beginning of the prose, this critter does not warrant a “regular review.” I am not ashamed of what I wrote, nor do I think it is overly-gushing. It is the honest ramblings of someone who let the music flow and words while hunting-and-pecking around a keyboard. And after all, isn’t honesty what one wants when they are about to make such a purchase?

    The Atlas is superb, really quite stunning in its presentation.


    OK, now for the more mundane aspects, but needed to make that informed decision:

    Using Pet Cheetah as a guide, I evaluate the bass. Here there is rumble, with decently quick decay, but a bit behind the others. Where the Forte was just darn quick (not fast), and the Mason V3 smooth, the Atlas is a bit loose. There is (to me) a bit of bleed into the lower mids, which can be a bit of a bother. While that rumble is appreciated here, it carries on a bit longer than I would like. Don’t take this wrong, the bass is superb, but falls behind the other TOTL’s.

    Where on Ziggy’s Dragonfly that rumble of bass, is appreciated, it takes the same approach as above but again fits into the song. I’m not saying the bass is sloppy, not at all; just a tad slow in developing. On Lighthouse it is perfect. So, one could say it is song-dependent.

    [​IMG]

    Vocal-wise there is nary a complaint. Ziggy’s voice is about as good a voice as they come. Rich of sound, far of reach, with what I will call impact, the Atlas provides a perfect place for the duplication of that melodious voice. Such a perfect song and represented true here.

    This is also a good song with which to gauge sound stage and instrumentation. The Atlas provides a wide sound stage, a good wide stage. With good height and depth, there is a cubbishness to the chamber, which is very much appreciated. Each layer is distinct and true. Instruments can be clearly heard and separated as a result of that layering. At this level, there is no hiding if there was a deficiency. Thankfully there is not one.

    Crisp treble without sibilance comes through on You by Ziggy. There are some early notes, which could make someone who is treble sensitive (like me) dislike the sound heard. The Atlas takes that with aplomb. There isn’t any, and while not the highest of reach song, there is good definition to the treble. Distinct would be an apt descriptor of the treble.

    David Bowie’s voice on Lazarus can become a bit piercing under the wrong IEM, to the point where you cannot enjoy the song. The Atlas provides just the right amount of presence for his voice, which is such a succinct voice, with an almost regimented feel on this song. That is the part, which could become grating. Not so here, which is good.


    [​IMG]


    Comparo:

    Campfire Audio Atlas ($1299) vs 64 Audio U8 ($1099):

    This would probably be the closest “rival” comparison, since they are in the same price bracket. Meant to be the bass-holder of the lineup, the U8 takes a fair bit to get used to in terms of sound. Almost muddy or in a well sounding, you soon realize the fine qualities the 64Audio provides. A bass that not only reaches down low but is so well controlled you wonder why all bass does not sound this way; you are wrought with a solid sound at an affordable price, which can compete well above its price. No, really! This coming after I have heard the Forte and U18T. In fact, they are the reason for the purchase. I liked what I heard, and I wanted to add a 64Audio to the collection. Having a bit less punch to the bass, the U8 is an excellent sounding IEM, with a wide sound stage. A bit more forward mids than the Atlas, they are excellent nonetheless. A bit less treble push, the U8 is definitely tuned to rock out, and it does that very well. On Roger Daltry’s Certified Rose, you can feel the sensuous nature of Roger’s gravely voice. A bit more subdued than the Atlas, but no less spectacular, the U8 arrives at the same end as the Atlas, but just takes a different path. I like both very much, and as Roger says, The Love You Save today may very well be your own.


    Campfire Audio Atlas ($1299) vs Campfire Audio Jupiter ($799):

    This would be what I consider the first-generation Campfire Audio flagship vs the third gen flagship. After the Jupiter came the Andromeda and the Vega. And after the Atlas now comes the Solaris. When the Atlas was released, it was so released to much accord and acclaim. And after listening to it, while taking the opinion of others I value, the Atlas can hold itself against much higher competition. The Jupiter is what set that tone, or baseline so those, which followed could do what they do best; perform at the very highest level. And in this regard, the Atlas comes through with flying colors. The Jupiter has a very different tuning than the Atlas, with luscious mids that to me are somewhat recessed. It takes me a bit of acclimation any time I pop them back in. After about 10-15 minutes, I’m back on par and I really appreciate what CA did for those mids. They are just smooth. Bass representation is accurate but not on par with the Atlas, but that is OK. The bass is good, but not what it was meant to provide.


    Campfire Audio Atlas ($1299) vs Unique Melody Mentor V3 ($2099):

    I use the Mentor as my “palette cleanser.” The V3 is the critter I use between review units to give me a bit of perspective. Give me back a little of what I search for and what I perceive as my peak. I enjoy doing this, because it reminds me of what exactly I like in my sound: sublime detail retrieval (as stated in my review slightly better than the Mason V3 to me), superb bass presentation and layering the size of rock strata in Wyoming. At this stage in my review career, the Mentor is my top, my peak, my TOTL if you will. And that makes me glad. It is that good. The Atlas is also good, very, very good. While it does not have the layering or retrieval of detail on par with the Mentor; it does provide more energy. This IEM is meant to be used, not enjoyed so to speak. And in that vein the Atlas betters the Mentor. Easier to use, and throw in your bag for wherever, the Atlas wins in the versatility aspect. Sound-wise, I lean towards the Mentor. It simply has too much going for it. That is not a slight against the Atlas, far from it. But when you look at something that cost roughly twice the price, you get into those subtler difference, which make the difference.

    That said, the Atlas through the iFi xCAN and my trusty Shanling M5 sounds simply sumptuous and delectable. A sound not to be missed or dismissed.

    [​IMG]

    So, what now?

    Through all of this pontification, I thought often of the journey this little chrome critter had through the audio world. How its “ancestors” laid the course for what was to come. For what the sound of one small company (not anymore, mind you…) could provide us with their vision of simplicity, cost efficiency and sound engineering (both versions). I also started my journey into the upper end with one of the Campfire Audio products, the Nova. I thoroughly liked it. And liked it a lot. But as often with this “hobby” we find something else, something further upstream. That led to various iterations of various products, many I auditioned, and consequently sold as I did with the Nova. Some I have kept (and will for a long, long time). But something stuck with me.

    From the mechanical shape of the first generation of CA products to the sleeker models such as the Dorado and Vega to the current more svelte, chromed look of the Comet and Atlas; the journey was still progressing. We have been privileged to witness the birth, teenage years and maturation of a brand, which many hold as the dearest of the dear. The one, which you know will be there. That journey has now been eclipsed at the Atlas level by the Solaris, and as stated elsewhere here, this may well be the pinnacle of what one company can provide with a single dynamic driver. If that may be the case, I eagerly anticipate what might come next, but also know that indeed the journey was the story. And that is one damn good story to tell.

    [​IMG]

    Roger Daltry’s word in Always Heading Home ring so very true in this regard, and I find it fitting that a hero from my youth ties the end of this package known as a “review” together. Nearly closing the curtain on a line, which can go no further. The ball glove you retire knowing it has given you so many good memories, and still will as you hand it off to the next generation. Always heading home, indeed.

    I profusely thank Ken & Caleb for the trust given. Their product can go toe to toe with any on the blue marble. I do not say this lightly. It is a special product, and the tie between the beginning and the Solaris. Worthy of flagship standing would be an understatement.

    [​IMG]
      snk8699, Grimbles and B9Scrambler like this.
  3. Moonstar
    TOTL Sound Inside a Solid and Unique Shell
    Written by Moonstar
    Published Nov 21, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Solid Build Quality and Unique Design,
    TOTL level sound tuning,
    Great Bass Performance,
    Vocal Performance,
    Detailed and Forgiving Treble Presentation
    Cons - Housing is a bit heavy,
    Shiny Metal Surface is Prone to Scratches,
    Finding the Right Tips Takes Time
    TOTL Sound Inside a Solid and Unique Shell


    About Campfire Audio and Atlas IEM:

    Campfire Audio is a US based company located in Portland – Oregon, which is specialized in the production of In-Ear Monitors.

    Campfire Audio launched there first In-Ear Monitors in summer of 2015 with three models, which are the Jupiter, Orion and Lyra.

    After the success of these models, Campfire Audio introduced the Nova and Andromeda in spring of 2016 that are milestones for the company in the audiophile market. The Lyra II, Dorado, and Vega (fall of 2016) are the there first IEM’s with a liquid alloy metal housing and the Polaris (August 2018) was the latest model right before the new Comet and Atlas came out in April 2018.

    The Campfire Audio Atlas is a single dynamic driver IEM same as the Vega but features a bigger speaker unit with a 10mm diameter dynamic driver (the Vega utilized an 8.5mm unit) with the same A.D.L.C. (Amorphous Diamond-Like Carbon) diaphragm technology.



    [​IMG]



    Disclaimer:

    The Atlas In-Ear Monitor was provided to me by Campfire Audio as a review sample. I am not affiliated with Campfire Audio or any third person beyond this review and all these words reflect my true, unaltered opinions about the product.

    Original Post: https://moonstarreviews.net/campfire-audio-atlas-review/



    Warranty:

    Campfire Audio Atlas includes a 1 year limited liability product warranty covering defects due to manufacturing and assembly.



    The Price:

    The Comet is sold for $1.299,00 USD and is available on Campfire Audio’s Official Store under the following link;

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



    [​IMG]


    Package and Accessories:

    The Campfire Audio Atlas In-Ear Monitor comes in a pretty, small, orange cardboard box with turquoise patterns same as the Comet IEM and carries a sticker in blue that shows a picture of the Atlas and some information about the product.

    This box is including the following items;

    [​IMG]



    • 1 pair x Campfire Audio Atlas Monitor
    • 1 pcs x Campfire Audio Pure Silver Litz Cable with MMCX connectors
    • 1 set x Campfire Audio Marshmallow tips (small, medium, large)
    • 1 set x Silicon Ear Tips (small, medium, large)
    • 1 set x Final Audio Silicone Ear Tips (extra small, small, medium, large, extra large)
    • 1 pair x Protective fabric pouch
    • 1 pcs x Clearing Tool
    • 1 pcs x Campfire Audio Pin
    • 1 pcs x Campfire Audio Black Leather Earphone Case
    • 1 pcs x Warrant Card & instruction manual


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The Campfire Audio Atlas has a rich package with lots of accessories. The package is including the very comfortable silicone ear tips of the company Final Audio, which I know from my Final Audio E4000&E5000 review.

    They are also a set of foam ear tips (Campfire Audio calls it Marshmallow) and silicone ear tips with a large bore.

    The Campfire Audio Atlas monitors came in fabric pouches (each monitor has its own pouch) that protects from any scratching.

    The Black leather case with zipper has a Campfire Audio logo on the top that looks very stylish and a faux shear ling lining.

    [​IMG]

    There is also a cleaning tool and a pin with Campfire Audio Logo, which is a nice addition.





    Design and Build Quality:

    The Campfire Audio Atlas is made of three (3) CNC machined stainless steel parts, same as the Comet, which have had also a very different design language then the former models.


    [​IMG]


    On the front of the housing is the sound nozzle with a machined grill spout, which has the same unique appearance that the Comet has.


    [​IMG]


    On both sides of the monitor shell are the Campfire Audio logos and at the bottom of the Monitor shell is the Beryllium Copper MMCX connector that looks pretty robust with the mating mechanism.


    [​IMG]


    The all stainless steel housing has a polished glossy appearance that looks very shine and fells rock solid in my hands, which seems a bit prone to screeches.


    [​IMG]


    On the back of the monitor housing is a very small pressure compensation vent.


    [​IMG]





    Campfire Audio Pure Silver Litz Cable:

    The Atlas comes with the Campfire Audio Pure Silver Litz Cable, which is a 4 core braided silver wire cable with a medical grade transparent PVC coating.


    [​IMG]


    This cable has beryllium copper MMCX (Micro Miniature Coaxial) male connectors and sports a gold plated, right angled 3.5mm 3 Pole (TRS single ended) headphone jack with a semi transparent plastic housing.


    [​IMG]

    On those connectors are left (blue dot) and right (red dot) markings that are easy to recognize.


    [​IMG]


    The cable sports a metal Y splitter in silver color and a transparent plastic chin slider.


    [​IMG]




    Fit, Comfort and Isolation:

    The stainless steel housing of the Campfire Audio Atlas has not the biggest shape in my In-Ear Monitor collection, but is noticeable bigger compared to the smaller brother, the Comet.

    The Atlas is pretty comfortable to wear without any pressure or hurting of my ear channels, even after some long listening periods.

    I have read some driver flex issues and have noticed a small pressure and flex when I have use the stock FA and Regular Silicone tips, while there is no flex when I am using the marshmallow foams and some Spifit tips that came with the Comet and have bought separately.

    The noise isolation of the Atlas is above average and slightly better than those of the Comet. The isolation is pretty ok to use it in environments like bus, metro or train.


    [​IMG]



    Features:

    The Atlas sports a special designed “Single Full Range” dynamic driver same as the Vega IEM but with a bigger diameter of 10mm (instead of 8.5mm for the Vega) that has an Amorphous Diamond-Like Carbon (in short A.D.L.C) Diaphragm, which is a combination of diamond and graphite carbon.

    The custom Beryllium Copper MMCX eliminates the traditional shortcomings of the connection and harnesses all of its benefits. Beryllium Copper provides a robust mating mechanism and should extend the lifespan of the component and the earphone.

    Plasma enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition (C.V.D.)

    [​IMG]



    Technical Specifications:



    • Driver Units : 1 x Full Range Dynamic Driver
    • Driver Diameter : 10mm
    • Special Features : A.D.L.C Diaphragm
    • SPL : 105 dB/mW Sensitivity
    • THD : less than 1%
    • Impedance : 19 Ohms
    • Frequency Response : 5Hz - 20kHz
    • Earphone connector : Beryllium Copper MMMC (Micro Miniature Coaxial Connector)
    [​IMG]



    The Drivability:

    The Campfire Audio Atlas is an easy to drive In-Ear Monitor with an impedance of 19 Ohms, which makes it to an ideal IEM for the use with portable sources like phones, tablets, etc. It can be driven to very loud volumes without the need of an external amplifier. But there is a small improvement when you listen to the Atlas with a small external amplifier or DAC/AMP like the Chord Mojo or the xDuoo XD10.


    [​IMG]


    Sources:

    a) In Ear Monitor : Campfire Audio Atlas, 64 Audio Adel U8, Hifiman RE2000

    b) DAP/DAC : Cayin N5II, Chord Mojo, Fiio M7, Audirect Beam, xDuuo XD10



    [​IMG]


    c) Albums & Tracks used for this review:

    • Morbid Angel – Drum Check (Spotify)
    • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
    • Metallica – Sad But True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
    • Opeth – Damnation (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Flac 16bit/44kHz)
    • Slayer - Angel Of Deaths (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Rush - Leave That Thing Alone (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Sonya Yoncheva – The Verdi Album (Spotify)
    • Sertab Erener – Aşk (Spotify)
    • Minor Empire – Bulbulum Altin Kafeste (Spotify)
    • London Grammar – Interlud (Live) (Flac 24bit/44kHz)
    • Laura Pergolizzi – Lost on You – Live at Harvard and Stone (Tidal H-iFi)
    • Dire Straits – Money for Nothing (DSD 64)
    • Steve Srauss – Mr. Bones (Flac 16bit/44kHz)
    • Charly Antolini’s – Duwadjuwandadu (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Casey Abrams – Robot Lover (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • GoGo Penguin – Fanfares (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • The Glitch Mob – Mind of A Beast (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
    • Lorde – Team (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
    • Tom Player – Resonace Theory “Album” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Deeperise feat. Jabbar – Move On (Spotify)


    [​IMG]




    Sound Analysis and Comparisons:

    The Campfire Audio Atlas is written after a burn-in process of approx. 80-90 hours. I have used the medium sized marshmallow ear tips and stock pure silver Litz cable which came in the box together with the Campfire Audio Atlas.



    The Sound:

    The Campfire Audio Atlas is an In-Ear Monitor with a V shaped sound signature that is producing some strong, deep and subwoofer like bass, pronounced and slightly bright upper midrange and a forgiving, non-fatiguing treble presentation.

    When it comes to tonality, I can describe the Campfire Audio Atlas in the sub-bass & mid-bass range as warm, in the middle range as slightly warm, and in the upper midrange and treble as somewhat warm and bright. This very precise and nicely calibrated warmth and brightness levels have saved the Atlas from hollowness and gave it a very musical and detailed presentation.



    The Bass:

    The Campfire Audio Atlas has a subwoofer like, very deep, near perfect bass structure that has a wide area. If the existing bass in the recording is increasing, Atlas does also increase the intensity, quantity and depth of the bass presentation.

    The bass comes from a wide and gigantic range, which allows an overall controlled representation even in very complex passages and high volumes.

    Campfire Audio Atlas can be considered as the peak of its price segment in terms of bass- detail, quality and depth performance.



    The Sub-bas:

    The sub-bass of the Atlas occupies a very wide area, are very deep and extend perfectly for an In-Ear Monitor. One of the most notable features of the sub-bass presentation is the well-adjusted amount of rumble and control in this area.

    The sub-bass area has the highest emphasis in the bass region. This massive bass from the sub-bass area is slightly reduced and controlled in the mid-bass region and is pretty improved in the upper bass zone. Everything sounds controlled and the bass layers are easily separated from each other, which makes the presentation in this region sophisticated and on a very high level.

    Briefly, the sub-bass of the Atlas deserves a full score and are solid in terms of extension, depth and quantity.


    [​IMG]


    The Mid-bass:

    The Campfire Audio Atlas has a strong mid-bass presentation, which is tight and doesn’t sound loose and is not mixing in to the midrange. The mid-bass emphasis is decreased to increase the control, speed and detail in this area, which makes the bass character suitable and successful with almost any music genre.

    The absence of negative conditions such as a mid-bass hump or muddiness makes the Atlas to a very special In-Ear Monitor. The mid-bass is not overshadowing the instruments due to the spacious soundstage and this tuning is allowing a quite dynamic and energetic presentation, which is a big advantage for the Atlas over other IEM’s with strong mid-bass character.

    The CA Atlas shows also a great performance with instruments such as bass guitar, drums, contrabass and other percussion instruments and it's nice to hear that the Atlas is not adding any extra bass to the original recording.



    The Midrange:

    The midrange of the Atlas is slightly recessed due to the V shaped sound signature and shows a transparent and quite detailed tonality. The overall tonality is a bit warmer than neutral and is quite realistic because of the well-tuned lower and upper midrange.

    The nicely tuned depth of the lower midrange and the good pronounced upper midrange allows the Atlas to perform very realistic with both male and female vocals.


    [​IMG]



    Vocals:

    a) Male Vocals:

    The most criticized area of an IEM's is in most situations the male vocal performance. In most cases, I've found that female voices are generally more successful than male vocals.

    But this situation has changed with the Campfire Audio Atlas, because it is equally successful in the performance of the male and female voice.

    One other plus point of the Atlas is that there is no mixing or hollowness with male vocals, which was the reason for the pleasant moments while I have listen to vocals such as Dave Gahan, Freddie Mercury, B.B. King or Eric Clapton.

    The Campfire Audio Atlas is showing a pretty true and realistic tonality and timbre.


    [​IMG]



    b) Female Vocals:

    The Atlas has a pronounced upper midrange and pretty good extension in this area, which gives female vocals a transparent, airy and detailed presentation. This is also one of the reason why both female and male vocals are equal successful with the Atlas

    The Campfire Audio Atlas has a mildly warm, transparent and full sounding female vocal presentation, which makes it pretty musical and I didn’t hear any issues such as sibilance or harshness. The voice of females is neither thin nor too thick, which makes the Atlas in many music genres such as rock to trance music successful.

    The Campfire Audio Atlas performs very well with mezzo soprano and soprano female vocals such as Sonya Yoncheva IL Trovatore Giuseppe Verdi, where the ups and downs in her voice where very gentle and controlled.



    Instruments:

    The performance of the Atlas in terms of instrument separation and placement is one of the strengths of this IEM. The separation of the vocals form instruments and instruments form other instruments is phenomenal. The air between instruments is pretty natural and they are neither too close nor too distant from each other. When it comes to the tonality, the Atlas has a fairly warm and musical instrument presentation. Especially Eric Clapton’s guitar performance in its “Unplugged” album was very enjoying listening to.

    Instruments such as pianos are sounding a bit thicker and softer in the bass region and slightly warmer and brighter in the midrange and treble range. I have found the technical ability and musicality also quite successful with almost any instrument I have listened with it.



    Upper Midrange:

    The Campfire Audio Atlas has a pronounced, pretty detailed and slight bright upper midrange that has also good extension. The peak of the upper midrange is between 1 – 3 kHz which is responsible for the airy and detailed presentation. The upper midrange sounds controlled and is more pronounced than the treble range, without to be harsh that makes it ideal for long listening periods.

    Atlas shows a good performance in terms of control, detail and clarity in the upper midrange when instruments play at high distortion.

    For example, when I listen to instruments such as cymbals, drums or to guitars the upper midrange transition is good and shows also a nice clearness, which rarely to find in a bass focused IEM like the Atlas. Guitar solos played on high distortions like in Megadeth’s “Sweating Bullets”, Slayer's “Angel of Deaths” and Rush's “Leave That Thing Alone” sounding clear, detailed and pretty clean.

    Instruments such as violins are mildly shiny and their extension is solid. Pianos have no loss of upper midrange presence and extension, while flutes sounding stirring and vibrant.


    [​IMG]


    The Treble:

    The treble range of the Campfire Audio Atlas is a little bit less pronounced compared to the bass and upper midrange regions and the character of it is slightly thick, musical and airy. The peak in this range is around 8k and there is a fast but controlled roll-off in the upper treble area. The most detailed area in the treble range is the lower treble area, while the detail level is starting to decrease slightly in the upper treble area.



    Lower Treble:

    As I mentioned before, you can hear that the treble lower treble is more pronounced than the upper treble range, which lowers the treble detail in the upper region slightly compared to the very nicely detailed lower regions.

    The lower treble range is pronounced and has good extension with instruments such as hi-hats in jazz records, while crash cymbals have a slightly shortage in extension. Instruments like flutes are emphasized and energized in the lower treble range, while the emphasis and extension is decreasing in higher notes and is showing a softer timber. The same situation can be observed / detected with other instruments such as violins or pianos.

    The well pronounced, airy and detailed lower treble presentation brings an advantage to those who like this tuning in genres like EDM or Trance music. The fact that the treble range didn't fall too far behind the lows made me happy while listen to trance music.



    Upper Treble:

    The upper treble range of the Atlas comes a bit from the background and shows a lightly but nice shimmer. One of the remarkable pros of the Atlas IEM is the mildly pronounced and relaxing presentation in the upper treble range, which is resulting of a slightly roll-off in this area. This tuning is especially with fast genres like metal music and songs that need additional treble emphasis, such as symphonic music noticeable.

    The upper treble range is behind in performance in terms of airiness, extension and detailed and it seems that Campfire Audio has had the target to make the upper treble musical and fatigue free.


    [​IMG]


    The Soundstage:

    The soundstage of the Campfire Audio Atlas is pretty large, spacious and airy. The soundstage depth is also as good as the width and the existing depth is quite sufficient for many music genres. The deepness of the stage is an important factor for the silence of the background.




    Comparisons:

    [​IMG]



    Campfire Audio Atlas versus 64 Audio U8:

    The 64 Audio U8 is an In-Ear Monitor with 8 Balanced armature drivers (4 BA’s for the lows, 2 BA’s for the mids and 2 BA’s for the highs). The Campfire Audio Atlas on the other hand, is a single dynamic driver IEM, which features one full range 10mm A.D.L.C. Diaphragm Dynamic Driver.

    Both the 64 Audio U8 and the Campfire Audio Atlas are very capable IEM’s especially in the bass department.

    [​IMG]


    Bass:

    The 64 Audio U8 is producing a gigantic bass for an IEM with Balanced Armature Driver. The Campfire Audio Atlas on the other hand has some subwoofer like bass presentation and is a big rival in this field.

    The sub-bass depth of both IEM’s s nearly identical, but the Atlas has the upper hand because of its dynamic driver, which can produce a wider range of sub-bass frequencies. The U8 has less sub-bass extension compared to the Atlas.

    Both In-Ear Monitors sharing a strong and controlled mid-bass presentation. The main difference is the character, because the mid-bass of the U8 are hitting harder, while the mid-bass of the Atlas is greater. The Campfire Audio Atlas is more successful in terms of bass quantity and emphasis.

    The 64 Audio U8 has the upper hand in terms of bass speed, which is a result of the use of Balanced Armature drivers. The Campfire Audio Atlas on the other hand has the upper hand in terms of overall bass detail.



    Midrange:

    The 64 Audio U8 and The Campfire Audio Atlas sharing a V shaped sound signature where the midrange is slightly recessed. The Midrange of the U8 is warmer and thicker in terms of tonality, while the Atlas sounds a bit more neutral, transparent and with more volume in this frequency region.

    Both IEM’s are very successful while presenting male vocals due to the deep and fairly strong lower midrange presentation. The 64 Audio U8 is a little bit better while presenting bass baritone singers, while the Campfire Audio Atlas is a hint more successful with baritone singers.

    The female vocal presentation of the 64 Audio U8 is a bit veiled compared to those of the Campfire Audio Atlas, which shows more transparency that is needed for female voices.

    Instruments sounding in general thick and warm with the 64 Audio U8, while the Campfire Audio Atlas shows slightly less warmth and thickness compared to the presentation of the U8The Atlas IEM is superior to the U8 in many aspects, such as the extensions of violins, brightness level of pianos or the tonality guitars.



    [​IMG]



    Upper Midrange and Treble:

    The 64 Audio U8 shows a recessed upper midrange in direct comparison to the mildly recessed presentation of the Campfire Audio Atlas. The U8 has also a darker tonality compared to those of the Atlas, which shares additional sparkle and brightness.

    The Campfire Audio Atlas is superior to the 64 Audio U8 is in terms of treble extension, force, detail and quantity, which makes it more suitable for genres such as metal or symphonically music.



    Soundstage:

    Both In-Ear Monitors have a suitable stage width for a realistic instrument placement.

    The 64 Audio U8 doesn’t sounds as spacious and airy like the Campfire Audio Atlas due to its quite warm tonality. The Campfire Audio Atlas has the wider stage, while both IEM’s performing quite similar in terms of soundstage depth.


    [​IMG]




    Campfire Audio Atlas versus Hifiman RE2000 Silver

    The Campfire Audio Atlas has a sharp V shaped sound signature, while the Hifiman RE2000 Silver shows a mildly V shaped tuning and the overall tonality of the Atlas is warmer and full bodied compared to the more neutral presentation the RE2000 Silver.


    [​IMG]


    Bass:

    The CA Atlas shows more sub-bass depth, extensions and quantity than those of the RE2000 Silver. The sub-bass of the RE2000 Silver goes petty a pretty deep register but has less emphasis.

    Both IEM’s sharing a strong mid-bass presentation, but mid-bass of the Campfire Audio Atlas hits greater and is superior in terms of quantity and fore, while the Hifiman RE2000 Silver has a more balanced presentation.

    The bass of the Hifiman RE2000 is tighter, more controlled and faster than those of the Campfire Audio Atlas, which makes it more successful in this area.



    Midrange:

    Both of this IEM’s sharing slightly warm and musical midrange presentation, while the midrange of the Hifiman RE2000 is more upfront compared to those of the Campfire Audio Atlas.

    The lower midrange of the RE2000 Silver is more upfront and compared to those of the Atlas. The male vocal performance of the RE2000 is superior to the Atlas in terms of detail, while the Campfire Audio Atlas is more successful with female vocals due to its more pronounced upper midrange presentation.

    Both IEM’s sharing a quite natural and musical instrument tonality, while the Hifiman RE2000 Silver performs slightly better in terms of overall instrument detail retrieval because of its great midrange area. The Campfire Audio Atlas is showing a more pronounced and sharp upper midrange presentation, which makes it slightly more successful in terms of upper midrange detail rendering.


    [​IMG]


    Treble:


    The treble range of both IEM’s is not very emphasized and upfront and sharing a lightly bright and soft tonality. The Campfire Audio Atlas and Hifiman RE2000 Silver showing similarities in the lower treble region, while the upper treble range of the RE2000 Silver is more pronounced and detailed than those of the Atlas In-Ear Monitor.



    Soundstage:

    Both IEM’s showing an ideal soundstage for a precise and natural instrument placement. The soundstage of the Hifiman RE2000 Silver is wider and airy compared to those of the Campfire Audio Atlas that is otherwise more successful in terms of soundstage depth.



    Conclusion:

    The Campfire Audio Atlas is one of the most impressive IEM’s I have listened to date. It does so much things right that I have had hard times to find something to criticize about it. The Atlas will satisfy many audiophiles, while listening to a wide variety of genres, because of its strong low end, lush midrange and vocal presentation that performs well with both male and female vocals. The slightly recessed but otherwise detailed upper treble range makes the Atlas to a forgiving and ideal IEM for those who want to listen music for long hours.



    Pros and Cons:

    • + Solid Build Quality and Unique Design
    • + TOTL level sound tuning
    • + Great Bass Performance
    • + Vocal Performance
    • + Detailed and Forgiving Treble Presentation
    • - Housing is a bit heavy
    • - Shiny Metal Surface is Prone to Scratches
    • - Finding the Right Tips Takes Time
      karanehir35 and B9Scrambler like this.
    1. karanehir35
      Great review ... Well done!
      I listened to. It's a headset that plays exactly that.
      karanehir35, Nov 25, 2018
  4. B9Scrambler
    Campfire Audio Atlas: To Endure is To Experience
    Written by B9Scrambler
    Published Nov 18, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Built and material quality - Powerful, bass-forward sound signature
    Cons - Driver flex - Weight
    Greetings,

    Today we're checking out Campfire Audio's flagship single-dynamic earphone; Atlas.

    Based out of Portland, Oregon and headed by Ken Ball, Campfire Audio has solidified themselves as a luxury earphone maker who forges their own path, creating headphones and earphones the way they want. They have introduced unique technologies alongside some iconic designs (Andromeda anyone?) in the past, like T.A.E.C. (Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber), a 3D printed chamber that helps extend the treble response of their custom balanced armatures. Their unique A.D.L.C. (Amorphous Diamond-like Carbon) non-crystalline diamond-carbon coating is designed to reduce distortion, improve clarity, micro detail, and overall dynamics of their full-range dynamic drivers. This latter tech can be found in the new 10mm dynamic set within the Atlas’ stainless steel, hand polished housings.

    I have spent nearly two months with the Atlas, experiencing everything this product has to offer. In a time where multi-driver hybrids are the norm, going back to the Atlas' coherent, well-tuned single dynamic is a refreshing change of pace, proving more isn't always better.

    Let's take a closer look.

    IMG_4776.JPG

    Disclaimer:

    Thanks to Caleb with Campfire Audio for arranging a sample of the Atlas for the purposes of this review. The thoughts within are based on my own subjective experiences with the Atlas. They do not represent Campfire Audio or any other entity. No financial incentive was provided to write this review. At the time of writing the Atlas retailed for 1,299 USD. You can learn more about the Atlas and purchase it here on their product page: https://campfireaudio.com/shop/atlas/

    Source:

    For at home listening the Atlas was plugged into my TEAC HA-501 desktop amp with my Asus FX53V sourcing music. For portable use, the HiFi E.T MA8 handled source duty. Its powerful, near neutral sound complimented the warm and bassy Atlas beautifully, though it did introduce some background hiss. An iFi iEMatch solved that issue. My Shanling M1 also spent some time in the driver's seat, again complimenting the Atlas well. The Shanling M0 and HiFiMAN MegaMini also sounded fine, but their warmer stock signature congested the Atlas' sound somewhat. The Atlas was also powered perfectly by the Radsone ES100 over Bluetooth (LDAC) connected to my LG G6. The Atlas is very, very easy to drive and you won't need an amp to enjoy them.

    Personal Preferences:

    I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures in my headphones I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even and natural mid-range response, with reduced mid-bass. The HiFiMan RE800, Brainwavz B400, and thinksound On2 offer examples of signatures I enjoy.

    Specifications:
    • Frequency Response: 5Hz-20kHz
    • Sensitivity: 105dB SPL/mW
    • Impedance: 19 ohms @1kHz
    • Distortion: <1%
    • Driver: 10mm dynamic
    IMG_4926.JPG IMG_4928.JPG IMG_4929.JPG

    Packaging and Accessories:

    I've said in the past that packaging is important to me as a consumer because it’s my first impression of a product, and in life first impressions are often everything. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean I expect something extravagant and hyper in depth. A minimal unboxing can be just as engaging as a multi-tiered experience, and in some cases is even more rewarding. Minimal is something Campfire Audio does brilliantly.

    Similar to the Comet, the Atlas arrives in a compact orange box. On top is a calming blue sticker adorned with an image of the Atlas and the usual CA branding, along with some highlighted features. The sticker wraps around to the front flap you pull to open the lid and contains another image of the Atlas along with legal info and Campfire Audio's address in Portland. On the rear you find a minimalist hand-drawn image on a mountain scene under a night sky. Stars speckle the rest of the packaging with a small tepee tucked away on the left side, along with the CA logo above. It is such a simple box, but it is interesting to examine and explore.

    Lifting the flap reveals a black leather clamshell carrying case. Inside you find the Atlas’ ear pieces nestled within their own individual felt bags to protect them from bashing against each other during transit and scratching that wonderful, hand-polished, mirror finish. At the base of the package under a hidden floor that you might have overlooked were it not for the notch to pull it up with, you find an accessory kit that is both extensive and useful. Novel! In all you get:
    • Atlas earphones
    • Twisted pure silver cable terminated in Beryllium Copper MMCX connectors
    • Ear piece bags (x2)
    • Final Audio Type E silicone tips (xs/s/m/l/xl)
    • CA silicone tips (s/m/l)
    • CA Marshmellow foam tips (s/m/l)
    • CA lapel pin
    • Cleaning tool
    From the small size of the box, I doubt you would expect such a comprehensive selection of accessories to be included. CA does their customers well, and the environment too due to the limited amount of materials involved, all of which should be recyclable should you wish to dispose of it. Why you would want to do that, I don't know, you weirdo. This package should be on display somewhere. The inclusion of Final Audio Type E tips was a pleasant surprise when CA first announced the partnership earlier in the year. I came across them first on Final’s E2000, one of the better sub 100-USD earphones I've heard. Picture Sony Hybrids made from a much more durable silicone and that’s basically the Type E tip. It’s a stellar product that is plenty worthy of inclusion with a premium offering like the Atlas.

    IMG_4950.JPG IMG_4953.JPG IMG_4943.JPG

    Build, Comfort, and Isolation:

    Campfire Audio has built a reputation of offering high performance products with distinctive designs, made from durable materials. The Atlas is no different. Visually similar to the Comet released around the same time, the Atlas features drop-forged, CNC machined, hand-polished stainless steel shells. Their retro look is unlike anything else currently on the market, hearkening back to products from the 40s and 50. For some, those products are hair dryers, others, laser pistols. I happen to fit into the latter camp, finding them quite fitting in the hands of the Master Chief.

    IMG_5219.JPG

    The three piece shells are immaculate in their construction. While seams are present, gaps are minimal at worst and can barely be felt unless picking at them with the tip of your fingernail. Unlike most earphones, the slatted grills protecting the drivers from debris are not separate pieces. No, that is part of the forging process. The CA logos on the sides serve multiple purposes, from announcing the brand to providing grip when inserting or removing the Atlas from your ears. When comparing build with the Comet I was surprised to see that the edges of the logo were sharper (not in a bad way) and better defined, and that everything fit together just that much tighter. I guess I shouldn't be surprised given the price difference, but the Comet was already so well built that seeing clearly visible improvements was unexpected.

    Campfire Audio's direct relation to ALO Audio means they have access to some pretty bad@$$ cables. The all-new Silver Litz cable included with the Atlas is certainly a head turner. The four twisted strands are uniform and neat, branching off into groups of two when passing through the y-split. This design is inherently more durable than others. There is no soldering within the y-split where the lower half of the cable ends then reconnects to new sections heading to each ear piece. Here it is just four long strands, twisted together to make one glorious cable. While the y-split doesn't feature any strain relief, the clear rubber portion at the top does pull out to reveal a well-integrated, somewhat hidden chin cinch. The 90 degree angled plug is made from a translucent, white rubber letting you catch a glimpse of the cable passing through and how it connects to the TRS jack. It is quite compact with a 4-5mm extension to help ensure compatibility with device cases, be that for a cell phone, DAP, or whatever you happen to have the Atlas plugged in to. At the other end of the cable you’ll find two compact MMCX plugs with red (right) and blue (left) dots to denote the channel. Campfire Audio equips their earphones with Beryllium Copper MMCX connectors which are said to be more durable than your typical copper plugs. I haven't extensively tested this myself, but then I also haven’t been conservative with removing the cables on my Polaris and Comet samples. The cables on both of those still connect with the same solidity present when they were brand new.

    Comfort is where I found the Atlas making a small stumble. The steel shells are fairly bulky to accommodate the 10mm drivers, and quite heavy. Whereas this would have been fine with a low profile design like that used on the Polaris or Andromeda, the Atlas takes on a more universal barrel-shaped housing. On the plus side, you can wear them equally easy cable up or down, something I saw users wanting from a future CA product when perusing various interweb forums. The downside is that they are still reasonably long, which combined with the weight means gravity takes hold putting extra pressure on the ear canal. Wearing the Atlas cable up alleviates this for the most part, but cable down the weight is noticeable. I can wear them for an hour and a bit no problem, but after that they need to come out to give my ears a break, something you should be doing anyway. Overall I find the Atlas fairly comfy and ergonomic, and I appreciate the flexibility to wear them the way I want, but they won’t disappear like other earphones using a lower profile design and/or lighter materials.

    For a dynamic based earphone, I found the Atlas to isolate quite well. Better than most actually. There is only one itty bitty vent right at the back of the housing which doesn't leave a lot of opportunity for outside noise to weasel its way inside. Even with silicone tips in place, no music playing, I could sit at my workspace in the office and have a reasonably serene experience. Sure, I could still hear chatter, phones ringing, and typing from those around me, but it was all dulled significantly. Tossing on foam tips only made it better. Well done Atlas.

    IMG_4941.JPG IMG_4949.JPG

    Sound:

    Tips: Choosing the right tip for your earphone can absolutely make or break how it sounds. Get a poor seal and say goodbye to your bass. Treble and mids usually get pretty harsh in that instance too. On the other hand, get the right seal and the magic is unlocked. The Atlas is one of the most tip sensitive earphones I've used, and one of the most important to get it absolutely right on.

    You see, the Atlas suffers from driver flex. Not the usual “crinkle crinkle” you get from other earphones, but the kind that builds pressure to the point the driver comes to a near stop. With my usual medium tips, I could rarely find a seal that would also let music come through. This forced me to drop a tip size down to small. Once done, no more flex. I really don't understand why this works since the seal feels just as solid as it does with medium tips, but hey, who am I to argue with what works? Foam tips avoid the flex issue entirely so if that’s your preferred tip style, you''ll be set.

    With the right size silicone tip found, I was free to experiment. Wide bore tips, like CA’s stock option, offered the most 'balanced' experience lowering mid- and upper-bass to let the mid-range and treble stand up more. Medium bore tips like RHA's dual density option brought out the sub-bass but also enhanced upper treble a touch making the Atlas even more v-shaped. Small bore tips like the Final’s Type E pumped up the mid-bass and narrowed the sound stage slightly, giving the Atlas a more bass-focused sound. For my tastes; the wider the bore the better.

    The Atlas is characterized by a very powerful, refined, v-shaped signature with a warm tonality and bass you can wrap yourself in. What does that mean? It means they've got a lot of bass but it's good so you don't mind being smothered by it.

    The depth for one is ridiculous. On Kavinski's “Solli” just seems to extend and extend, providing some intense visceral feedback. It's not as physical as Massdrop x Mee Audio's Planamic, but those are a bit of a one-trick pony and extremely unique when it comes to their low end presentation. The Atlas' driver presents itself like the traditional dynamic driver that it is, and certainly isn't a bad thing. Texture is great, it's really quite quick for something that offers up so much bass, and it's well controlled, though sometimes it inches its way into the lower mids. Not a full on bloodbath, just a light trickle. Now, if you're an EDM fan like I am, you're going to want the Atlas in your corner because holy heck it can slam and carry a track like few others can. On Getter's “Headsplitter”, from the first low note that hits at 28 seconds I knew I was going to be in for a treat. As 42 seconds passed by, I was awash in a turbulent sea of bass that made me chuckle out loud with a stupid grin on my face. I get that this isn't the sort of traditional “audiophile” experience a lot of people want to be reading about when someone is covering a 1,300 USD earphone, but screw it. Sometimes people just want to be entertained. That's where the Atlas comes in. This thing is hella fun.

    The mid-range is lightly recessed, carrying over the same natural warmth as heard in the low end. Male vocals have a certain dryness to them I've heard elesewhere in Campfire's lineup, while female vocals are intimate and sweet. This is evident in the contrasting vocal styles of Big Boi and Sarah Barthel on Big Grams' “Fell In The Sun”. Midrange timbre sounds excellent and quite accurate as evident running through King Crimson's live rendition of “Indiscipline”. As contrived as it sounds, closing my eyes and leaning back in my chair I can almost fool myself into believing I'm chilling in the front row watching these guys go wild with their instruments during the guided improv sections, then lean into the mic to spout some goofy lyrics. It just sounds right and does a good job of keeping me in the music and away from thinking about what I'm listening to. Unless of course it's a bassy track. Then I know exactly when I'm listening to.

    The Atlas' treble is elevated and doesn't shy away from applying some shimmer to cymbals, chimes, and whatnot, yet it doesn't do it in a way that is overly aggressive or offensive. Big Grams' “Drum Machine ft. Skrillex” is an easy one to test this on since it is rife with high pitched sounds that can be plenty uncomfortable on peaky earphones. The Atlas handles it with ease, letting you enjoy the rythmic, thumpy beats. Treble is handled very well on the Atlas, countering the massive low end while at the same time complimenting the mid-range by giving it lots of detail where other earphones would come across muddy or overly smoothed over. Extension is impressive too with peaks that roll off just before becoming sibilant or overly aggressive. This is an earphone that can be listened to for long periods without causing early onset fatigue.

    The Atlas' soundstage falls into that “deceptively large” category I like to shuffle a number of in-ears into. At first it seems pretty intimate with vocals that tickle the ear, but then you hear effects that sound like they're way off in the distance. The Atlas as a result displays some impressive depth and width with very accurate imaging. Tracks are layered and instruments well separated. Given these qualities, the Atlas is pretty awesome for gaming and movies. I really enjoyed them with more competitive games like CoD and PUB, yet they still worked well to immerse me in the cockpit of my Impreza in DIRT Rally.

    Overall I am nothing if not impressed with how good the Atlas sounds. Something with a low end this powerful and authoritative really shouldn't be this articulate and clear. It's smooth, refined, and makes for a very satisfying listen. TOTL all the way.

    IMG_4956.JPG IMG_4963.JPG

    Select Comparisons (volumes matched with Dayton Audio iMM-6):

    Campfire Audio Polaris: Last year when I reviewed the Polaris I said that it “takes your average 'consumer friendly' tune and imbues it with the level of technical proficiency you want from a top tier earphone.” The same could be said about the Atlas, though it takes a different approach.

    Compared to the Atlas, the Polaris is colder, leaner, and lighter with a snappier but less refined, slightly rougher presentation. Bass is neither as elevated nor hits as hard. Texture goes to the Polaris though it lacks the same sense of physical feedback when the bass starts slamming. Mids on the Atlas are thicker, warmer, and more organic, though male vocals display the same sort of dryness to them. Placement is recessed on both though I don't find it obscured on either as a result. Clarity is similar too. Treble on the Polaris is more dull and dry, lacking the shimmer and sparkle of the Atlas. Atlas is similarly crisp and detailed with greater upper treble emphasis, though the BAs in the Polaris feel like they're in a touch more control with sharper notes. Polaris' presentation always felt spacious but flat to my ears. Atlas has a similarly wide sound stage but comes across much deeper giving it's presentation a more rounded and open feel.

    In terms of build, both are gorgeous. I love the Polaris' industrial, angular shells and the contrasting combination of blue painted aluminum with the Cerakote coating on the exterior face plate. This is a stark contrast to the Atlas' reflective, cohesive, polished steel look. The Polaris' shell is iconic and immediately brings to mind Campfire Audio. I'm not sure if the Atlas' design language, shared with the Comet, has reached that level of infamy yet, but it surely will if they keep it going on future releases. Cables are equally excellent on both with the Atlas' lack of memory wire and clear sheath with silver wiring taking the style trophy. Fit for me, hands down, goes to the Polaris which feels like it was designed for my ears. With EarNiNE's tips in place, it slots in perfectly with zero fiddling required. No driver flex either. Atlas has an advantage in a more universal design that is more compact and works both cable up and cable down.

    HiFiMAN RE2000 Silver: The RE2000 is an amazing sounding earphone. To my ears, the cheaper, silver variant even more so. At “only” 1,500 USD it makes for a more apt comparison with the Atlas.

    Getting this out of the way early, neither version of the RE2000 competes with the Atlas in terms of build. Their traditional looking rubber sheathed cables, somewhat generic hardware (jack, y-split, etc.), along with the plastic accented housings lack the premium look and feel of Campfire's offering. Fit is better for me though since they adopt a light weight, lower profile over ear design. Some noted issues with the rear edge of the housing causing discomfort though, so as always fit is personal and what sits great in my ear may be unbearable in yours.

    In terms of sound, the RE2000 Silver is still slightly skewed with mildly boosted upper and lower frequencies, but it is considerably more balanced than the Atlas. Starting with the bass, the RE2000 digs just as deep but lacks the authority of the Atlas providing a leaner, more dainty experience. The HiFiMAN's mids are more forward and again, have a leaner weight to their notes. It is more accurate and articulate, pulling more detail than the Atlas. Almost makes the Atlas come across a bit stuffy. Almost. Treble on the Atlas is elevated more and with a higher peak giving it a more shimmery presentation. The RE2000 shows more control with a tighter presentation and more air between notes. Both are exceptional in terms of imaging and layering with the RE2000 showing slightly better separation in a wider, deeper stage. Atlas for TOTL entertainment, RE2000 for TOTL accuracy. I wouldn't strictly say one is better than the other, just that they each excel in their respective specialities.

    Final Thoughts:

    The Atlas is an experience. It's a powerhouse both visually and in the way it sounds. Yeah, it’s not perfect and suffers from driver flex that with the wrong tips can be intrusive, and the weight does tire your ears out after a while, but neither of these are anywhere close to being so much of a handicap as to hold the Atlas back from greatness.

    And that's the thing. This IS a great earphone. The uniquely bass forward sound signature engages you with your music. The new design language takes Campfire Audio in an exciting direction and is a treat to the eye, or at the very least unique and interesting to look at. The Atlas is different, exciting, and absolutely worth looking into if you want a TOTL earphone that breaks from the norm.

    Thanks for reading!

    - B9Scrambler

    IMG_4828.JPG

    ***** ***** ***** ***** *****​

    Some Test Tunes:

    Aesop Rock - Skelethon (Album)
    Hail Mary Mallon - Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
    King Crimson - Lark's Tongues in Aspic (Album)
    King Crimson - Starless and Bible Black (Track)
    Supertramp - Crime of the Century (Album)
    Infected Mushroom - Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
    Gorillaz - Plastic Beach (Album)
    Massive Attack - Mezzanine (Album)
    Fleetwood Mac - Rumors (Album)
    Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels (Album)
    The Prodigy - The Day is My Enemy (Album)
    Tobacco - F****d Up Friends (Album)
    Felt - Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet) (Album)
    Michael Jackson - Thriller (Album)
    The Crystal Method - Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
    Jidenna - Long Live the Chief (Track)
    Skrillex - Ragga Bomb (Track)
    Big Grams - Run for Your Life (Track)
    Funkadelic - Maggot Brain (Track)
      ngoshawk, Moonstar and Dsnuts like this.
  5. Cinder
    Absolute Luxury With A Price to Match
    Written by Cinder
    Published Nov 6, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Luxurious case and accessories, many eartips, outstanding construction, appealing visuals, great cable, MMCX, great midrange expression, massive bass performance, good treble articulation
    Cons - Midrange can flatten out on dry mastering styles
    [​IMG]
    Campfire Audio Atlas Review: Absolute Luxury With A Price to Match

    Campfire Audio is not a new name to the Hi-Fi scene. Based in Oregon, they set out to build world-class personal-audio products and, to that end, they’ve had consistent success. The Andromeda, an earphone that Campfire released in Spring of 2016, is wildly popular, even today. This is a feat that not many other brands could even begin to dream of. After all, the Andromeda demands its large following in spite of its $1100 price tag. Today, however, I’ll be reviewing the Atlas. It’s one of Campfire’s newest IEMs. Imbued with new proprietary technology and a little Oregonian magic, the Atlas may just set a new standard of quality at its price point.

    You can find the Atlas for sale here, for $1299, on Campfire Audio’s official web store.

    About My Preferences: Heads up, I’m a person! As such, these words are my opinion, and they are tinged by my personal preferences. While I try to mitigate this as much as possible during my review process, I’d be lying if I said my biases are completely erased. So for you, my readers, keep this in mind:

    • My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, mid-bass.
    • I have a mild treble sensitivity.
    Source: The Atlas was powered like so:

    HTC U11 -> USB-C adapter -> earphones

    or

    Hidizs AP100 3.5mm out -> FiiO A5 3.5mm out -> earphones

    or

    HiFiMAN SuperMini -> earphones

    or

    PC optical out -> HiFiMe SPDIF 9018 Sabre DAC 3.5mm out -> earphones

    All music was served as MP3 @320Kbps or as FLAC.

    Tech Specs
    • Driver: 10mm A.D.L.C dynamic driver
    • Cable Standard: MMCX
    • Frequency Respons: e5Hz–20 kHz
    • Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL/mW
    • Impedance: 19 Ohms @ 1kHz
    • Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 1%
    Sound Signature
    Sonic Overview:
    The Atlas is a warm IEM with a strong low-end presence. Extension in both the upper and lower register is top notch and is undoubtedly maximized. There is a peak near the 2KHz mark that surmounts an otherwise mildly recessed midrange. Outside of the midrange, the treble gently slopes upwards, giving the Atlas a sparkly upper-register. In the lower-treble one can find a 6KHz peak.

    Sonic Breakdown:
    Treble: Songs used: In One Ear, Midnight City, Outlands, Satisfy, Little One, Show Me How To Live (Live at the Quart Festival)

    Leave it to Campfire Audio to develop an IEM with a low-focused sound signature with an incredibly competent treble. I would expect a lesser company to have to compromise on the presentation and quality of the upper register but Campfire Audio makes no such concessions with the Atlas. Attack and decay are quick and even, not waxing or waning too quickly or too slowly. As such, expect detailed texturing and accurate timbral representations from the Atlas.

    Strings sound sweet and precise through the Atlas — Outlands was an absolute pleasure to listen to through it. Each component of the symphony was distinct and textured in its own right. The treble’s airiness only aided to the outstanding sense of depth and direction that the track has. Transients and background details are captured with extreme prejudice. Little One was a piece of cake for the Atlas to resolve, and the unique details of a live recording of Show Me How To Live were all caught and displayed.

    Midrange: Songs used: Flagpole Sitta, Jacked Up, I Am The Highway, Dreams, Too Close, Little Black Submarines

    The Atlas’s midrange maintains the core set of characteristics that many would pin as the Campfire Audio house sound: substantial evenness and a high degree of vocal intelligibility. On a more technical level, one can say that Atlas’ midrange is fairly level. It doesn’t have a large hump or spike in the upper-midrange and doesn’t have a bloated lower-midrange. While its clear that the Atlas isn’t targeting a 100% life-like sound, it does a great job maintaining natural tonality in spite of its thicker sound profile. Given the midrange’s profound transparency, it is quite malleable, shifting in subtle ways according to the mastering of whichever track is playing. The drier mastering of Flagpole Sitta translates into a drier presentation in the Atlas’ midrange, which contrasts strongly with its large bass staging. By comparison, the wetter and mellower mastering of Jacked Up allows the Atlas’s midrange to sink into a lower-energy state and deliver a softer tone — a feat that tenser IEMs simply can’t pull off.

    Due to its warm tilt, the Atlas has a preference towards male vocals. While it isn’t as pronounced as it would be in a poorer tempered midrange, it is something to note. Furthermore, on tracks with consumer-grade mastering, vocals can have overly sharp edges. While it is a subtle effect, at this price point nitpicking is fair game.

    Bass: Songs used: Moth, Gold Dust, In For The Kill (Skream Remix), War Pigs (Celldweller Remix)

    It is clear that it was intended for one of the Atlas’ main selling points to be its bass. It is one of the parts of its sound signature that stood out to me the most upon first listen at CanJam SoCal 2018, and it is still one of the more stand-out features six-months later. The Atlas sets out to deliver a larger-than-life bass experience, generating a strong mid-bass paired with a responsible and tightly controlled sub-bass. It's an impressive feat and demonstrates just how well Campfire Audio is able to leverage their 10mm dynamic drivers. Bass extension is great, as is to be expected from a dynamic driver. But what you get from the Atlas is much more than mere sub-bass presence. From the Atlas, you get intent and control down to the deepest reaches of its sound profile. No part of its lower-register has been left to chance. Each and every part of the spectrum was carefully tuned and attenuated, ultimately crafting some of the best bass that a TOTL IEM can provide.

    But what should be made the clearest is how well the Atlas maintains a natural and controlled midrange in the face of such a large bass presence. Never one, even throughout the chaotic drops of War Pigs or Gold Dust, did I catch the Atlas slipping up. I never found bass bleed either, a facet of the Atlas that is excellently portrayed by In For The Kill.

    Packaging / Unboxing

    [​IMG]
    The Atlas’ packaging is minimalistic. I greatly approve since its small size makes the Atlas’ packaging easy to store/display.

    Build
    Construction Quality

    [​IMG]
    The Atlas’ shells are made out of stainless steel, polished to be almost mirror-like. There is a real heft to them too. But as with all things Campfire, the Atlas’ weight strikes a well-refined balance: not too heavy to be uncomfortable, but heavy enough to convey a serious sense of quality.


    [​IMG]
    The bottom of the Atlas’ shells reveals its MMCX connectors. They are sturdy and firm and don’t give a lot of rotation with the stock cable. It’s clear that Campfire did not skimp out on quality MMCX components.


    [​IMG]
    The Atlas’s nozzles are very interesting. They don’t follow a bore design, as the Atlas has a single driver, and aren’t perforated using circles or a simple grid like most other IEM nozzles are. Furthermore, the nozzle’s debris filter is far more sophisticated in geometry than I’ve seen. It isn’t just sitting flush with, or inside of, the outer perimeter of the nozzle. It is actually extruded onto the top of it, leaving a small lip behind. This likely doesn’t have a function but is a nice touch that, together with all the other small details Campfire puts into their products, leaves behind an overall greatly positive impression.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Campfire packaged the Atlas with a four-core silver cable. It is, obviously, detachable. The cable is on the thinner side but doesn’t feel frail or in need of babying. It is using a simple twist geometry and has ample stress relief. The Atlas’ cable is terminated with a simple 3.5mm jack, though if you want different terminations it should be easy to find one to suit your fancy that is compatible with the Atlas’ MMCX connectors. The fit-and-finish of the Atlas’s cable is top notch, and easily one of the best in its class (that is, the class of cables that actually come with the product you are buying, not third-party cables).

    Comfort
    The Atlas is somewhat large for a piston-style IEM. That, combined with its weight, makes it only viable to wear with the cable over the ear for extended periods of time, at least for me and my ears. Once you find the right ear tip combo, it should be fairly easy to get a comfortable seal. After all, the Atlas comes with tons of options!

    Accessories
    Inside the box you’ll find:


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    • 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
    • 2x IEM bags
    • 1x Semi-hard leather carrying case
    The Atlas is not a cheap IEM, and its accessory package certainly reflects that. You get an outstanding selection of eartips; from the quality Final Audio eartip set to Campfire’s own foam eartips, no expense is spared.


    [​IMG]
    Let's talk about the carrying case that Campfire includes with that Atlas. Though it is semi-hard, and not completely rigid like a plastic, it is incredibly sturdy. Its external faces are all leather, and its internal faces are a super soft and cushiony lining material that is more something you might expect to find lining a fur-coat than a mere IEM case. Still, Campfire spared no expense.

    Summary
    The Atlas truly is a top-of-the-line earphone; both in price and in quality. Its immaculate build quality, top-notch carrying case, and greatly varied eartips give it a truly comprehensive physical package. On an audio level, the Atlas crafts for itself a unique sonic identity, not falling in line with industry trends or selling itself out to the temptations of using rudimentary consumer sound signatures. It maintains the highest degree of excellence, and it is clear to see that great care went into each aspect of the Atlas’ being. I can heartily recommend the Atlas to any listener who is serious about audio and wants an engaging and fun IEM that maintains a level of uncompromising physical quality.

    As always, happy listening!
      B9Scrambler likes this.
  6. audio123
    Campfire Audio Atlas - Bass Bliss
    Written by audio123
    Published Oct 31, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Bass, Details, Sparkle
    Cons - Slightly Heavy Housing
    Introduction

    Campfire Audio is a company based in Portland, Oregon and they specialize in making in-ear monitors (IEMs), headphones and cables. Their current lineup consists of IEMs like Polaris, Andromeda and Vega. Recently, they have released 2 new IEMs – Atlas and Comet. I would like to thank Campfire Audio for the review unit of the Atlas. At the moment, you can purchase the Atlas from Campfire .

    [​IMG]

    Specifications

    • Driver Configuration: Single Full Range 10mm Dynamic Driver
    • Frequency Response: 5Hz–20 kHz
    • Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL/mW
    • Impedance: 19 Ohms @ 1kHz
    Unboxing & Accessories

    The Atlas comes in a rectangular orange colored package with turquoise pattern. On the front, it shows the brand name, image of iem, model name and short description of the iem. After opening the package, there is a semi-hard black zipper case with faux shearling lining which contains the Atlas. Each side of the Atlas is protected with a small grey pouch. At the bottom of the package, there are Campfire Audio Marshmallow tips (S, M & L), silicone tips (S, M & L), Final E tips (XS, S, M, L & XL), cleaning tool, Campfire Audio pin, warranty card and instruction manual.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    IEM Build & Design


    The Atlas has a stainless steel body with smooth surface. On each side of the Atlas, there is the Campfire Audio logo. The nozzle is straight and it has an unique metal mesh design. The build quality on the Atlas is superb. It utilizes MMCX connectors.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Cable Build & Design

    The cable is made of pure silver and it has 4 cores. It uses MMCX connectors with translucent housing. On the beryllium copper MMCX connectors, there are L & R markings to differentiate between left and right respectively. In addition, there are blue and red dots on the left and right respectively. The y-splitter is silver in color. Lastly, the jack is 3.5mm gold plated right angled with strain relief. There is the Campfire Audio logo on the jack.

    [​IMG]

    Sound Analysis

    Lows

    The Atlas has great sub-bass quantity and it is extended well with nice depth. The sub-bass reproduction has body and it is able to provide fantastic impact. The rumble is expressed in a natural manner. There is a good engagement level. The bass decay is moderate and the expression is not the quickest. The punch is sufficient with a tight control. The bass texture is rendered smoothly which provides an enjoyable listen. The mid-bass has moderate amount of body and the slam is presented with a weighted feeling without any signs of density. The bass has both authority and quantity.

    Mids

    The midrange is slightly warm and it has excellent details retrieval. The vocals are expressed in a more laid-back manner. The lower mids has good amount of quantity and male vocals benefit without any signs of hollowness. Emotions are conveyed effectively. The upper mids has a little bit more forwardness and it helps to push female vocals for the intimacy. The midrange is rendered cleanly and boasts fine transparency level.

    Highs

    The treble on the Atlas is extended in a moderate manner with sufficient amount of body to ensure a fatigue-free listening. It is able to present the smoothness and provide the sparkle to inject excitement into the overall sound. The crisp is well defined. There is no sibilance or harshness. The amount of air rendered is moderate which gives space at the top end. The treble presentation has good engagement level and commands a tight control.

    Soundstage


    The soundstage has moderate naturalness and the width has great magnitude. The depth is slightly closed in with sufficient space rendered. Positioning of vocals and instruments is fairly accurate.

    Comparisons

    Campfire Atlas vs Campfire Andromeda

    The Atlas has more sub-bass quantity than the Andromeda and it has the ability to create an impactful slam. The extension is slightly greater with more depth and the sub-bass reproduction on the Atlas has higher engagement level. The bass texture on both is rendered smoothly and the bass decay on the Andromeda has more pace with agility. The mid-bass on the Atlas has more body and the slam is delivered with a weighted feeling. Each bass note on the Atlas is articulated with a stronger hit and delivers extra punch. The midrange of the Andromeda is more intimate than the Atlas. The lower mids on the Atlas has more body than the Andromeda and it sounds thicker. Male vocals are better expressed. The upper mids on the Andromeda has more forwardness and it boosts female vocals for a higher intimacy level. The treble on Andromeda has slighty better extension and it expressed in a smoother manner. There is no sibilance and harshness. The Atlas is slightly more aggressive which provides a teasing bite. The amount of air rendered on the Andromeda is greater. Lastly, in terms of soundstage, the expansion on the Atlas sounds more natural. The width magnitude for the Andromeda is slightly greater while the depth on the Atlas is less closed in.

    Campfire Atlas vs Beyerdynamic Xelento

    The Xelento has more sub-bass quantity than the Atlas and it extends less. There is a fuller sub-bass reproduction on the Xelento. The bass texture on the Xelento is rendered with extra smoothness. Bass decay on the Atlas has greater speed than the Xelento and the agility provides a higher engagement level. The mid-bass quantity on the Xelento is slightly more and the slam is fuller. Each bass note on the Atlas is articulated with extra definition and it hits with authority. The midrange of the Atlas has higher transparency level than the Xelento with less body. The lower mids on the Xelento has more body and there is additional lushness. It is able to tackle male vocals effectively. The upper mids on the Xelento has more forwardness and female vocals are presented with a good control but not as lively as the Atlas. Moving on, in the treble department, the Atlas is able to render a greater amount of air. There is no sibilance and harshness. The extension on the Atlas is greater. The Atlas has better crisp and boasts additional sparkle to inject excitement. Lastly, in terms of soundstage, both expands in a natural manner. The width magnitude is greater on the Atlas while the depth of the Atlas is more closed in.

    Campfire Atlas vs Sennheiser IE800S

    The Atlas has slightly more sub-bass than the IE800S and it boasts greater extension. The sub-bass reproduction on the Atlas is more impactful and it is able to deliver an extra kick. The bass texture on the Atlas is rendered smoother. Bass decay on the IE800S is more pacey with the additional agility. The mid-bass on the Atlas has more body with the slam having a weighted feeling. Each bass note on the Atlas is articulated with a stronger hit and it is able to bring out the impact. The midrange on the Atlas is more lively than the IE800S. The lower mids on the Atlas has more body than the IE800S and results in a full-bodied expression of male vocals. The upper mids on the Atlas is more forward which contributes to the intimacy level of female vocals. Next, the treble on the IE800S is slightly more extended and takes on a smoother presentation. The amount of air on the IE800S is greater. The Atlas has better crisp and the extra sparkle for the engagement. Lastly, in terms of soundstage, there is a natural expansion for both. The width magnitude for the IE800S is greater and it is able to provide a spacious feeling. The depth on the Atlas is more closed in.

    [​IMG]

    Conclusion

    The Atlas is a lively iem that is capable of producing punchy bass reproduction, exciting midrange and crisp treble. It boasts an excellent level of details retrieval and the bass produces great impact. The treble has nice crisp with the sparkle for an extra bite. In addition, it has solid build quality and comes with a quality silver cable. The Campfire Atlas provides a captivating listen with its powerful sound.

    [​IMG]

    For more reviews, visit audio123.
  7. Kervsky
    Reaching for the Stars
    Written by Kervsky
    Published Oct 11, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Responsive, deep and strong speaker like bass; spacious, nicely detailed and emotive mids; balanced treble, crisp with extended reach; a goodly wide soundstage, with great layering and separation; fun and engaging signature, easy to love, tough design, great stock cable, useful and generous accessories.
    Cons - fitting can be a fidgety fight filled with failure and fortune.
    [​IMG]

    Introduction: Campfire Audio doesn't need much of an introduction as it's already a well known and respected audio company, but did you know that Campfire Audio started with Ken Ball and ALO Audio, creating amps, hand building fine cables, growing and improving their craft then eventually creating Campfire Audio and getting much acclaim and success from their varied line of IEMs through the years from 2015. However, in 2018, big changes were set in motion, first with the release of that really spiffy Cascade headphone, and then the amazing stainless Comet (review is HERE) and it's literally big brother in body and sound, the Atlas. All three were a shift in Campfire's general product line, in the materials used in making them and the results are apparent in the happy faces of their owners. However, something else was brewing while we thought it was safe to open our wallets, Campfire Audio had a wildcard revealed when they made the Andromeda S, a spin on their classic IEM with stainless steel as the new material and a change in one of the balanced armatures, promising more bling and bang for your ears to love. But before I forget that I'm not reviewing that, I'd like to reinforce the notion that, yes, today I'll be reviewing Campfire's top of the heap IEM, Atlas.

    For now, just a short trivia of sorts, Campfire Audio has been giving names to their IEMs from celestial objects/bodies, and while some are pretty obvious in their naming, like the Comet, Andromeda, Polaris, Vega etc, the Atlas doesn't really mentally summon an image of a celestial body. Instead, one would think of an ancient titan that holds the universe on it's shoulders, an idea that easily dwarfs out other imagery. But to be scientifically correct, Atlas (it's modern designation) is a member of the Pleiades open star cluster (M45) and is also known as the Taurus constellation, with a designation of 27 Tauri Aa1. Geek mode off.

    I'd like to thank Ken Ball and the crew of Campfire Audio for the chance to review the Atlas in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. You can buy the Campfire Audio Atlas at the Campfire Audio website or locally if you have an official retailer for Campfire Audio products.

    [​IMG]

    Specification:
    Driver: 10mm Single full range dynamic driver
    Diaphragm: Plasma enhanced Chemical Vapor Depostion (C.V.D.) Amorphous Diamond Like Carbon (A.D.L.C.) Diaphragm.
    Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL/mW
    Frequency Response: 5Hz–20 kHz
    Impedance: 19Ω @ 1kHz
    Material: Stainless steel body
    Connectors: Beryllium / Copper MMCX
    Cable Material: Pure Silver Litz
    Cable Length: 1.2M (4 feet)
    Plug: 3.5mm Gold plated

    For something some considered big and made with exoticly hard materials, the Atlas is easy to drive with and push to loud volumes with even the most decent of sources my Sony XZ Premiums 3.5mm jack. The Atlas, like most good ear gear, scales to the source you provide and will sound better as you feed it better gear/music.

    [​IMG]

    Unboxing: As always, Campfire Audio packaging is as compact as could be made with a rectangular USA Made “French Paper Company” Paper box, very little space is wasted and yet the design is simple, interesting and for me, effective. The blue motif Atlas infographic sheet is in front and wraps a good portion to the right side. The base paper has stars speckled all around and at the bottom, the montage of a mountain with a starscape above it with the Campfire Audio brand in the middle of that scene.

    [​IMG]

    Contents:
    1 Campfire Audio black leather case
    1 Campfire Audio pure Silver Litz cable with Beryllium Copper MMCX and 3.5mm stereo plug
    1 Pair Campfire Audio Atlas IEM
    1 Pair IEM pouch
    1 Set of Final Audio tips (xs/s/m/l/xl)
    1 Set Campfire Audio Marshmallow tips (s/m/l)
    1 Set silicon tips (s/m/l)
    1 Campfire Audio lapel pin
    1 Cleaning tool
    1 Warranty card

    [​IMG]

    Cable: The Atlas comes with a pure Silver cable made inhouse by Campfire Audio, a clear departure from their usual cable, this bewitching Silver Litz cable is made with the Audiophile comes with the usual Beryllium MMCX connectors and a standard 3.5mm gold plated plug. "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." (From the Campfire Audio Atlas page.) And I have to say, the Atlas does sound better with it, along with the cable that does have a smaller amount of microphonics and from trying to use it on the move, proves to be quite tangle resistant. The cable is also pretty soft and flexible, yet gives a good feeling of durability backed by Campfire Audios experience in making cables.

    [​IMG]

    The basic design materials are the same as the other Campfire Audio cables, a 90 degree transparent 3.5mm gold plated plug with the CA logo, the flat metal bead cable splitter, the plastic chin adjuster and the Beryllium MMCX connectors with colored dots for Left Right identification. The Silver Atlas cable is twisted vs braided, drawing more of a similarity with the pure copper cable that came with the Comet than the SPC Litz that came with the Andromeda, this does help avoid tangling and looks just as good as previous constructions.

    [​IMG]

    Build/Design/Fit: Very much like the Comet before this, the Atlas is shaped quite similarly as the Comet and is made from drop forged stainless steel, made from 3 major pieces (Nozzle, main shell and back shell) the seams are not totally invisible but they do work with the symmetry of the Atlas' shape and design, having been CNC machined and polished does create a more fluid looking design. It's a quite bigger and heavier than the Comet, building the Atlas around the 10mm ADLC driver would naturally require a wider design quite the opposite of the single vented balanced armature construction of the Comet. There is a small pinhole sized vent at the back of the Atlas to reduce back pressure and help with the bass much like speaker bass reflex systems, something the Atlas does quite well (see sound analysis below)

    [​IMG]

    Some have said the weight is a bit uncomfortable especially with long use, though I personally find it quite alright and once the Atlas is inserted well, it stays in me ear like it wasnt there and can last for the better part of the day and night. (As a background, I confess to actually eating my Spinach and other veggies when I was a kid). Whether it's looped on the ear or left hanging, both modes are fine with me with the Atlas, but over the ear is a bit familiar and does help reduce the perceived weight of the Atlas, especially when one eventually uses 3rd party or upgrade cables that weigh more than the lighter silver stock cable.

    [​IMG]

    Fit, seal and comfort is quite tip dependent on all designs that utilize a tube like design (since most parts do not even touch the ear for support and assistance with sealing, unlike IEMs with universal fit shaped shells) and with the Atlas, I found that the easiest fit, seal and comfort is the Marshmallow tips that come stock on it, next would be the Final Audio tips and even the stock silicone tips are good enough for use though I find myself using the smallest tips in all types. For 3rd party tips, the best fit seal and comfort I found was with JVC Spiral dots, followed by Acoustune AET06 and lastly with Symbio W tips. As noted in most feedback from Atlas users, incorrect insertion can cause driver flex to cut out the audio due to pressure building against the driver diaphragm, there are times this does happen but can be adjusted to prevent from happening (Inserting the Atlas while lifting your upper ear and opening your mouth usually helps in this). Other than the Marshmallow (or Comply) tips being squished before insertion and letting it expand and seal, short tips helps minimize the pressure build up (Spiral dots, small tips).

    [​IMG]

    The Atlas nozzle tip is like the Comet, strong, prominent, grilled and secure. None of the tips I used were easy to take off (and some, to put on) so that should alleviate any fears of tips left in people's ears. And like the Comet, the beautifully hand buffed body can be quite an OC person's nightmare (oh no, a smudge!!!) but that smooth mirror finish stainless steel frame also lends to an easy clean and quite a sturdy build.

    [​IMG]

    The Atlas 10mm driver is one of the highlights of it's design, it's bigger than the Vega's 8.5mm and shares the same material design for the diaphragm, an Amorphous Diamond-Like Carbon (ADLC) that's a hybrid of non crystalline diamond and graphite carbon, a low density and high rigidity material. The more rigid the diaphragm, the more it can provide a bigger range of frequency responses at lower distortion and the lighter/less dense the material is, the easier it is to move and respond, increasing the fidelity of the sound it generates. The Atlas diaphragm achieves this and it shows in how it performs.

    [​IMG]

    Sound Analysis: Back when I first heard the Atlas, I was overwhelmed by the quality and strength of it's bass, a bass that does not overrun the mids or takes away from it, allowing the vocals and instruments presented to stand on its own with detail and presence while the treble brings air and crisp without the harshness or sibilance from reaching too high. It was quite amazing and behind the scenes I've always thought that it sounded like good table speakers were plugged into my ears. Given that imagery, For this review, I only started listening intently with the Atlas after over 400+ hours of music playback, I mixed and matched different tips but used the stock Final Audio tips for sound analysis and various DAPs and DACs but mostly with the WM1a.

    [​IMG]

    Bass: The Atlas' bass is arguably one of it's best aspects that will entrance your ears with its ludicrously large and competent speaker type feeling and sound. Sub- bass wise, listening to Jeremy Soule's Dragonborn, you can visualize large drums being slammed to the beat with the skin membranes vibrating to each strike and the reverberations going way down deep, slowly fading, the notes quite resonant and audible till the last note dies. Its speed is far from languid but neither would it be called fast as the lingering vibrations sound almost natural with a bit of flair for the instrument used. In general, the sub-bass is a little slow in decay and yet can easily resolve without distortion or overlapping near continuous grungy bass riffs and the reverb from it like the one on The Day The World Went Away where if the decay is too slow, it will overlap into a mess, and bad distortion control and resolution will make this song quite annoying to listen to. There is an organic level or crunch to the Lithiums bass guitar, which leaves one with an impression of realism, an unembellished bass sound that is clean and detailed.

    The bass on the Atlas is just as great, with a weighty punch following a good attack, the amount of air that the 10mm diaphragm pushes is quite amazing and yet doesn't feel overwhelming like on first listen. The refinement of sound shows in its ability to present detail, layers and texture. Creep by Stone Temple Pilots exposes just how the Atlas' bass is quite balanced and unboosted, the full elements of bass, control and overall quality is quite wonderful, like a free standing speaker in your ear, pulling out the bass in a track and presenting it in a pleasant and palpable way that your ears will say domo arigato gozaimasu (thank you very much) while weeping silently in pleasure. For the sake of not going overboard and writing every song with a even a hint of bass and describing how the Atlas makes it sound good ad nauseum, I'll end the bass section saying the Atlas is quite likely, THE top of the line when it comes to bass, if you love bass and you like the rest of the sound section, you can't go wrong here.

    [​IMG]

    Mids: Mids are life, or so I tell myself every time I have a chance to review gear with a beautiful mid frequency and the Atlas is no exception, the transition between the bass and mids is smooth and even with the humongous power of the bass, none of it bleeds or impedes the mids, yet its influence shows in the warmth exhibited in every note played. As some people have mentioned, that the Atlas is a the lovechild of the Andromeda and the Vega, I would handily say it may be just that. Though the bass is better than the Vega, the mids are not as detailed as the Andromeda, still they do both present the mids as beautiful and musical, providing a goodly amount of resolution and detail but falling quite short of being usable for surgical dissection of music.

    Balance is the equation with the Atlas as the lower and upper mids are relatively just a bit above neutral placement and benefit from equal portions of thickness and clarity, as again with Dragonborn, the Atlas is able to convey an organic and natural sound that are easily presented as both an individual sound and yet coherent with the whole, instruments, male vocals and female vocals sing and chant throughout the track, channeling emotion and energy throughout the song, I almost feel like marching off to my imminent doom against a dragon. Pandemic by Devin Townsend is a wall of complicated sound, a testament to the ability of the Atlas to resolve in time, separate and layer elements of a track, you can hear instruments, effect, female and male voices from the near cacophony of continuous sound, making the experience quite enjoyable and musical. Though the Atlas' bass is the obvious highlight, the mids are definitely not far behind with every song you throw at it sounding good, detailed, capable and quite importantly, musical.

    [​IMG]

    Treble: The Atlas being on top of the Campfire Audio lineup means only one thing, it can't go 2 out of 3 against the others in their stable and truth be told, its treble is not something that's lazily tweeting it's tunes. Balanced precariously between air, crisp and glare, the Atlas inherits the Andromeda's highs and dishes out a combination of crisp clarity and bodied control, the delicate harmonics on Deeply Disturbed sound natural, reaching a point where it COULD turn harsh, but instead gently trails off just a little bit faster than normal, like the cymbal crashes on A Question of Lust (Live) the initial hit registers in the expected position and fades out without much linger, a level of tuning that can give you the best of both worlds with extended highs and precise control. ALA.NI and her song Cherry Blossom is a sibilance nightmare for badly controlled and overly boosted treble gear, recorded with so much potential for sibilance, the Atlas reaches near the harsh tip of the "S" and rounds what would have been a sharp edge into a more listenable tone, you get most of the grit and sparkle without the subsequent bleeding of your eardrums at the minimal cost of not being the best of the best.

    In terms of air, space, layer and extension, Kill em All from good ole Metallica in their era of near wall to wall sound gives the high hats their due, sounding clear and present as cymbals crash all around, harmonics splash unhindered and the guitars, drums and vocals nearly scream into your soul with all the power thrash and metal can muster, and yet, they never sound harsh or crowded, managing a good deal of space and a comfortable sound that adds to the energy and musicality the Atlas can present.

    [​IMG]

    Soundstage: The Atlas soundstage would lean towards inheriting the Vega side as opposed to the Andromeda which roughly translates to the stage being wide from side to side but not as much as the Andromeda which is known for its wonderfully wide stage, however the front and back distance is able to go quite deeper, allowing for the placement of instruments, vocals and sounds to be articulate in layering and imaging, this is hinted with the amount of air and separation the Atlas is able to display and what better way to test this out is with songs that have a lot of different sound sources playing at the same time like Pandemic, each sound has it's own layer that is comfortably spaced, and thus does not ever sound congested and adds to the overall feeling of musicality as opposed to a maddening rush of near incoherent sound.

    [​IMG]

    Conclusion and Final Thoughts: The Campfire Audio Atlas, is probably the best there is in its class, anything better will likely sound radically different and most likely cost a lot more. Priced above both Vega and Andromeda in the lineup, it's an easy upgrade if you love both and want both at the same time, with some caveats. Far from being perfect, if you desire the kind of sound that only dynamic drivers can deliver and still want the best of what a balanced signature can offer in the shell of the Atlas, then this is your ticket to ride. But for the rest willing to go beyond single dynamics, those seeking different sound signatures and wanting more detail than what the Atlas can deliver, there are always others options.

    Standing on its own merits, the Atlas is quite a balanced and musically adept IEM. It's ability to draw out the best bass in every track and present it to the listener as demanded by the music is quite incredible, setting the stage for the mids which is admirably eloquent in detail and smooth in presentation. That, coupled with a treble adorned with a healthy sprinkling of sparkle, lots of crisp and air, blending into a wide stage and accompanied by an accomplished level of layering and separation, all to bring you closer to the TOTL sound (Top Of The Line) border of no dynamic driver land, where beyond lies the shells of IEMs filled with balanced armature drivers. See below for the TLDR pros and cons.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Sound testing was done using a Sony WM1a (Primarily), a Hiby R6, Zishan Z1(for comparison), Audirect Beam (for computer convenience) and a phone (for checking driveability) volume matched to 90.X db of max volume for safe hearing below 8 hours of use and calibrated using a 1kh tone on a dedicated DB Meter, all sources patched through a switcher. More information will be available on the About Me page (once I find the time to write it up.)
    1. ngoshawk
      Brilliant review, mate. You upped your game and you deserve the weekend-front page spot. Hope mine is 1/2 as good. Excellent job.
      ngoshawk, Oct 12, 2018
      Kervsky and B9Scrambler like this.
  8. 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.
      Passenger11, snk8699 and Luisonic like this.
  9. 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.
  10. 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
      szore likes this.