I first saw the IO and instantly fell in love with the color scheme. After reading many reviews it seemed people were fairly conflicted on whether or not the mids were broken or just tuned strangely. After some time I decided to give them and the Polaris II a shot. I’ll say right off the bat the mids aren’t nearly as bad as some make it out to be. I made sure to listen to my UE TF10 which was know for being recessed in the mids but people didn’t make a big deal out of it back when they launched or became popular. The Campfire Audio IO is the current entry level iem CA offers. It runs a two BA setup for lows and highs. It comes in a beautiful red-maroon color with gold screw accents.
Comfort and fit- The new design has a slightly longer nozzle than the older CA iems and I have no comfort issues like I do with the Andros or nova of old. The IO is also a light iem so it can stay in the ear longer.
Onto the review of the sound! My personal preference are a dynamic hybrid iem where I get good hitting bass and have a brighter treble with decent mids. I listen to a lot of genres but I hover in the classic rock, blues and edm music with some rap here and there.
iPhone X with headphone adapter, FiiO m11, smsl sh8/su8 combo.
Lows- The sub bass is really light but it’s there. The mid bass has a decent impact which feels more like a tease when you listen to music that you know has some sub bass and mid bass hits. You get the mid bass hit but no sub bass hit which is a bummer. EQ helps a little but I try not to eq if I can avoid it.
Mids- Mids are a hit or miss. With stock tips and the stock cable, I had male vocals that sounded fine but female vocals sounding slightly recessed. A switch from the stock tips to some out of my collection helped keeping thing in line with instruments. Using a null audio lune cable which has always emphasized the mids in other iems helped keep the female vocals in check.
Highs- Really clean highs and I didn’t feel any sibilance while listening to these. Detail retrieval was also fantastic! You can tell a bad recording with the IO which I find to be rare in the $300 and under range.
Imaging- Nothing out of the ordinary and all was well for the IO
Soundstage- Nice and wide. Not crazy wide but wide for the price range.
Cable rolling- The stock cable is perfectly fine and the mmcx connectors stay snug in the iems sockets. Cable rolling did help the mids and low end a little but I don’t think the IO requires it. Would be more of a want vs need.
Tip rolling- If you want more bass the final e tips they include work fairly well but I ended up swapping between the Dekoni bulletz in the 4.9 bore diameter or the spinfit cp145 which is a 4.5 diameter. Both had a better sense of space being wider bore size but didn’t do anything for the bass department.
Amping- Off the stock 3.5 cable the sensitivity wasn’t noticeable. Once I went balanced you got a very noticeable hiss but it disappeared with music playing. I felt more power did give better detail retrieval but that’s about it. The connectors are so tight that a/b testing took a little too long to really test for more differences.
I can appreciate the tuning of the IO. Minus a slight recessed mids and lean bass I can see someone looking for a neutral to bright sound really liking these. The packaging and unboxing experience was neat and I enjoy the thought that went into that. CA also includes a nice selection of tips, a storage bag(looks like a coin purse) I would never use and a cool little CA logo pin as well. Unfortunately the sound signature isn’t for me but with the looks of the IO and the fact it’s a US made product I think the entry price of $300 is extremely fair. Thanks for reading!