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Campfire Audio Atlas

Rating:
4.64286/5,
  1. 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 (no longer an issue, it has gone away) - 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.

    Edit May 10, 2019 - The Atlas's driver flex has gone away. No idea how many hours of use it took, but it is gone. I'm free to use any tips I want without even a hint 'o crinkle.


    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.
  2. 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.
  3. AnakChan
    Atlas: High end speakers in your ears
    Written by AnakChan
    Published Jun 16, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Top quality sound with a full range presented in an impressively large virtual soundstage - all from a single driver per channel. Rivals high end $3000-$4000 IEMs
    Cons - Ergonomics - earphone can pop out easily
    Introduction

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

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

    P6130014.jpg

    Construction

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

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

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

    P6130015.jpg

    Sonics

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

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

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

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

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

    P6130017.jpg

    Conclusion

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

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

    Campfire Audio not only has a winner in its hands but also demonstrated of how much quality sound a single dynamic driver can produce without the need for fancy multi driver designs.
    1. Antonio-DD
      I agree on any single word of your review. I tried a pair of Atlas making several comparison of the Atlas with other flagship iems. They have a very peculiar sound, with a very enjoyable signature with most of the classical music, at least for my taste!! Concerning the ergonomics after some tests I concluded that for me to wear them upside down with the cable hook around the ear is the best fit, very stable and comfortable (no issue related to their weight).
      Antonio-DD, Aug 5, 2018
      szore likes this.
  4. Medikill
    A Great pair of IEMs which lacks usability
    Written by Medikill
    Published Dec 5, 2018
    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.
      WhatToChoose likes this.
    1. Rockwell75
      You lost me at internal auditory meatus. All the driver flex issues disappear if you use either the silicon tips or the foamies.
      Rockwell75, Feb 12, 2019