Campfire Audio Orion - Reviews
Pros: Great neutral-to-mid-forward sound, excellent build quality. Shows what can be accomplished with a single BA driver.
Cons: Bass and treble could both be better, and the IEM may be uncomfortable for those with smaller ears. With newer offerings from both Campfire Audio and other companies, the price/performance is not as great in 2018 as it was when first released.
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Introduction

As a IEM manufacturer, I don't think Campfire Audio needs any introduction. From relatively affordable offerings in the Comet to flagship IEMs in the Andromeda, Vega, and now the Atlas/Equinox, Campfire Audio has fantastic products at all different price points. This particular Orion is a limited edition model released exclusively in Korea back in 2016. When I was looking for my first nice IEM last year, it was recommended as an excellent option within my budget, and while I ended up throwing away any notion of a budget as I went for the Andromeda instead... I recently found these used locally for much cheaper than the 499,000KRW (~$450) price tag and decided to give them a chance.

Build

The Orion shares the same angular shell as the other non-Comet Campfire Audio BA IEMs, which I am personally a fan of aesthetically. Fit can be a bit hit-or-miss, as the sharp edges can be uncomfortable for those with smaller ears. As this limited edition version was produced before the Orion CK, it is more prone to paint chipping around the edges. (The previous owner had carefully taped over the edges to protect the shells, and because of this, these are in better condition than most others I've seen.) This Orion also came with the older Tinsel cable, as well as assorted silicone/Comply tips. In my opinion, the Litz cable is better built than the Tinsel, with a sleeker profile around the 3.5mm plug. Overall, however, I don't have any complaints with the build, and the included canvas case is excellent. (I may even prefer it over the leather one for everyday use, as it seems less prone to scratching.)

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Sound

In my earlier Andromeda review, I described the Orion as nice, but not exceptional. For the most part, I stand by my earlier impressions.

Bass extension is okay, but for the most part, I felt that it was just... there. It's clean and fast, but somewhat anemic. While all unfair comparisons, compared to the other IEMs I was listening to and auditioning in stores at the time (e.g. CA Andromeda/Polaris, Hyla CE-5, Empire Ears Bravado), the Orion simply lacks impact on the lower end.

The mids are where the Orion shines most. Vocals, both male and female, are excellent and sound natural, and instruments are detailed as well. The soundstage was noticeably smaller than the Andromeda's, but it did not feel particular small or large - pretty average for an IEM.

The Orion came across as slightly bright, but more due to an upper midrange emphasis than excessive highs. Treble extension is not particularly great, and overall, it is pretty polite and never sibilant.

As an aside, the Orion is both source and tip-dependent. When connected to my iPhone 6s Plus, there is a slight hissing in the background, which is usually unnoticeable when listening to music but can occasionally be distracting. There are no such issues when connected to the iFi Nano iDSD Black Label, though I believe a simpler solution like the iEMatch would suffice as well. With regards to tip rolling, after trying some CA silicone tips and some others (Final E-type, SymbioW), I felt that the wide-bore Azla Sedna tips were best, as they provided the best overall fit without negatively affecting the sound.

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Final Thoughts

With the release of the <$200 Comet, enthusiasm for the more expensive, yet also single-BA, Orion seems to have cooled significantly. Indeed, I think the Orion's long time in the spotlight is coming to an end, and at the full $350 retail price (or the $450 in Korea!), it faces stiff competition from other IEMs, including Campfire Audio's own Polaris or Jupiter when found as B-stock or on Massdrop. However, at the current used prices ranging from ~$175-225, the Orion is a compelling IEM, especially for buyers looking for brilliantly executed vocals. It does not achieve the same resolution of the Andromeda or the excitement of the Vega, and bassheads in particular need not apply, but the Orion shows that quantity is not everything by performing admirably for a single balanced armature IEM.

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Specifications:


Driver: 1x Balanced Armature Driver

Impedance: 13.9 ohms

Frequency response: 10 - 19,000 Hz

Sensitivity: 114 dB

Connector: MMCX

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated to Campfire Audio in any way and do not benefit monetarily or in any other form for writing this review. The Campfire Audio Orion was lent to me by reviewer "Gloryrain" for the sole purpose of reviewing it. I will keep my review of the product as honest and as impartial as possible.

Review by: "Charlie" and from The Little Audiophile

Campfire Audio Orion Retail Price (at time of writing): US$349 (S$478) on their website

TLA Score
Physical Attributes
Comfort: 5/10
Durability: 10/10
Ease of Wearing: 8/10
Noise Isolation: 7/10
Microphonics: 9/10
Value for Money: 5/10

Sonic Attributes
Bass: 8/10
Mids: 7/10
Trebles: 7/10
Sound Stage: 6/10
Separation & Imaging: 6/10
Source Matchability: 8/10

Campfire Audio, a subsidiary of ALO, is a company based in Oregon, USA. They specialise in making high-end audio equipment, with the Andromeda being arguably the most well-known model in the line-up. Today, we'll look at Andromeda's little brother, the Orion and see how it performs.

THE BOX
The Orion comes in a pudgy blue-coloured laminated paper box with twinkly little stars dotting the box, along with what reminds me of Vincent van Gogh's painting of "The Starry Night". On the top, you'll see a big "ORION CK" with some other wording and on the front, you'll see a picture of the Orion with other wording.



Inside, you will find a plethora of ear tips, a cleaning tool, a semi-hard carrying case and lastly the Orion itself. For the price, I am happy with what is included in the box.


Note: I am missing the semi-hard case and one pair of medium Spinfits.

BUILD AND DESIGN
Housing
Campfire is renowned for it's exceptional attention to details and overall build quality. They do not cheap out on materials and build quality and the Orion here is no exception. The housing is an all aluminium shell with a Cerakote finishing to give it a greater resistance to impact, corrosion and things of such. In other words, it improves the durability of the product.



The nozzle on the Orion is also made of metal, which retains that "design fluidity" with the rest of the housing. It is extremely thick and well-built that I just cannot think of what could possibly break them in your day to day use unless you are deliberately trying to.



The connector system employed is the MMCX type which is not recessed into the housing and should be able to host most 3rd party cables.



I have no complaints about the build quality really. The choice of materials is good and the MMCX This IEM would last you years if you take care of them. I only wished that the Orion came in a few other colours. But that's just nit-picking.

Cable
The cable that comes with the Orion is an ALO SPC Litz cable which terminates in a 3.5 mm audio jack. I will be very honest, at first, it looks like those cheap cables you can find online, with its generic transparent MMCX and 3.5 mm plugs. But it really isn't.



Campfire claims that their MMCX pins and are made of the Beryllium Copper. Now, I am no expert in this field, but Campfire states that it is supposed to extend and improve the lifespan of their MMCX connector system. I personally cannot confirm how true this it, but what is true is that the MMCX's locking mechanism is relatively tight and the cable does not freely spin in the female connector at all.





COMFORT
Comfort. I understand that this is a very subjective topic and in the case of the Campfire's line-up of IEMs which uses this polygonal housing design, the question of comfort is a hit or miss really.

Unfortunately, it is a miss for me. Here's why.

To start, I get a good seal and fit with the Orion. The fit is airy and is quite shallow and everything seems fine at first. 30 mins into wearing these, I felt some discomfort, pain even, at 2 points of my ear. Namely, the Tragus and the Concha.

Looking at the Orion, I have determined the two points to be:


this significant angle here that rubs against the Concha, and


this nut that rubs against the Tragus of the ear.

Apart from these two pressure points, the rest of the housing fits me well.

Despite its metal housing and the tropical weather here in sunny Singapore, there was no significant heat buildup in my hours of testing. The same thing can be said about the nozzle area where the ear tips contact the skin.



As the fit is relatively shallow, noise attenuation is just average. It does not come close to something like the NuForce HEM1, but is very slightly better than that of the Audio Technica LS50iS, albeit less airy.

I have average-sized ears and comfort is an issue for me. I would highly suggest spending a minimum of 30 mins with this IEM to determine if the fit would work for you.

SOUND QUALITY
Note: Sound Quality was tested on my AK Jr

With only a single doing the lifting, it is far behind the Andromeda in terms of driver count. But Campfire knows better - driver count isn't the final word in sound quality. It's how you implement that one driver. Coming in at US$349 on the Campfire Audio website, this IEM is by no means cheap if you compare it against most single BA driver IEMs.

So, are these worth your money? Long story short, for the solid build quality, it might be worth the money if you are rough on your IEMs. Sound-wise, they aren't bad. It's just that you can get an equally competent IEM for less. Read on to find out why I think so!

Soundstage, Separation and Imaging
As the seal is on the Orion is quite airy, I do find the soundstage to be wide as it is deep. On the track "Keep Coming Back" by Richard Marx, the soundstage starts very near and extends out sufficiently far. Soundstage isn't the widest I've heard in the price range, but it is above average. The same can be said for many other tracks I've tested. Kudos to Campfire!

Instrumental and vocal separation is impressive. Instruments and vocals in no way feel compressed or "mushed" together. John Mayer's "Clarity" (how coincidental indeed) from the album Heavier Things is able to show the Orion's ability to separate the drums from the vocals from the acoustic guitars from the trumpets and so on. In short, I'm pleased! The presentation is like this:

Sound Signature
Campfire Audio claims that the Orion has a (and I quote): "Reference sound signature and flat sonic delivery; Orion delivers your favourite tracks as they were recorded."

Do I agree? Not exactly. I felt that the Orion has a slight U-shaped sound signature with more bass emphasis as compared to treble emphasis. Treble rolls-off a little early and doesn't extend very far. As such, the Orion does not deliver enough treble details and isn't the most resolving IEM, especially in its price range. Just my opinion.

The Orion is, however, not fatiguing to listen to, with it's rolled off treble. I can listen to this IEM for hours on end as sibilance is not a problem with the Orion and there are no unnatural peaks in any of the frequencies. Decay and speed are quick in the mids and bass regions, which makes this IEM relatively agile, even in fast-paced, high-tempo tracks.

The Orion is one of those IEMs which is able to balance technicality and musicality beautifully. There is a little bit of colouration in the vocals, which does spice up the music a bit. Just a little bit.

Through my time with this IEM, I found that this thing shines in rock genres.



Bass
The bass on the Orion is slightly accentuated and has a good sub-bass extension, which in turn adds some weight and fullness to the overall sound signature. However, the sub-bass does lack some rumble and impact, which some listeners would interpret as fun or musical. Depending on your taste, you might or might not like it.

Mids
The mids are, what I feel, the best part of the Orion. Vocals take a frontal presentation which manages to be intimate, yes, but unintrusive. There is weight to both male and female vocals and it sounds oddly natural and there is no graininess in the vocal texture. I put on my sibilance test track "New Face" by Psy. Nope. Error 404, no sibilance found. Sibilance is a stranger to this IEM.

Guitars... this is getting me excited. Acoustic guitars are crunchy and very well textured. Bass guitars as in the song "Clarity" have a good weight and resonance to them.

Trebles
The treble region is relatively smooth with no significant peaks or dips and even on tracks with a high treble presence, no sibilance is exhibited by the Orion. Treble extension on the Orion isn't exactly impressive. However, it does deliver a notable amount of clarity with whatever treble that is present and sounds quite natural to my ears. All these add up to a rather forgiving treble signature which should not highlight poor quality recordings.

PAIRING
Alternative Ear tips
Acoustune AET07


With the AET07 tips, there is a slight improvement in the treble region and recovers a bit of treble detail. Vocals sound a little unnatural with this tips. Bass is relatively untouched.

Final Audio Type E


I like to call the Final Audio Type E the "magic tips" as they are able to synergise with most IEMs. Not this one though. There is an improvement in the bass impact, but everything else goes to s***. Vocals sound muted and veiled. Slight sibilance is also introduced into the treble. In short, the tonal balance of the Orion is thrown off with these tips.

At the end of the day, I would still recommend using the stock tips or wide bore tips

SELECT COMPARISON
Note: All prices stated were at the time of writing.

Campfire Audio Orion Vs Shure SE535 LTD [S$729]
I think this is a good comparison as both the Orion and the SE535 LTD are the individual company's attempt to manufacture a neutral sounding IEM.

Compared to the Orion, the Shure SE535 is flatter sounding with slightly less bass quantity and more veiled vocals. The way I described how the SE535 LTD sounded was that it was like "(The vocalist is) singing behind a piece of cloth". The treble extension on the SE535 LTD seemed to extend out further but is a smoother and less detailed treble overall. Nonetheless, this is the more neutral of the two and would be, arguably, a better stage monitor if that is what you are looking for.

I did find that the Orion has a wider soundstage and a much better instrumental separation. In fact, the difference was so noticeable that the Orion made the SE535 LTD sound congested or compressed in a way.

CONCLUSION
Overall, the Campfire Audio Orion is a good sounding IEM. It has a pleasant, forgiving sound signature which retains treble clarity. The intimate vocals and a polite yet unrecessed bass add volume to the music. The good balance of technicality against musicality makes for a very pleasant listen. The build quality is also phenomenal and would survive the daily rigours of life.

However, I felt that comfort wise, this IEM is just not up to par, depending on who you are asking. The sharp angles do contact certain pressure points in the outer ear and honestly, just causes pain. The forgiving sound signature enables the listener to listen for hours on end, but the comfort issue for me just didn't allow this.

Another thing is the price. US$349, for a single BA IEM is not a small sum of money. Though Campfire Audio has implemented this Single BA driver very well, I feel that you would be able to get multi-driver IEMs, which performs similarly (in terms of performance and not sound signature) for a lower price.

I should end off by saying that, yes, the Orion does sound pretty good, but it isn't the cheapest nor is it the most value for money IEM out there. Well, that's just my humble opinions of the Campfire Audio Orion and I hope you've enjoyed the read. Stay safe and happy listening! Charlie, out.

Do check out our WordPress site at https://thelittleaudiophile.wordpress.com/ for more reviews!
voxie
voxie
Thanks for a very good and honest review. Enjoyed the read.
thelittleaudiophile
thelittleaudiophile
You're so very welcome! Thanks for the kind words :)
Pros: well built, solid neutral sound signature, comfortable
Cons: cable microphonic, lacking in bass, underwhelming for metal
Disclaimer:
I received this Campfire Orion as part of the Australian/New Zealand tour that ALO Audio/Ken Bell arranged. This is my honest opinion of the Campfire Orion, and I am in no way affiliated with or work for ALO Audio. Thanks to @d marc0 for organising this and letting me join in a little late.
 
In addition, this review will not focus on technical aspects of the equipment. Rather I will focus on their representation of music to me. My enjoyment or boredom, bliss or disappointment with the equipment. Think of it as an emotional review.
 
Introduction:
 
OK, so I told myself last year – “just get back to Head-Fi, find a suitable setup, and leave…” I’m still here, after realising that the community had matured so much since last decade, yep 2009! The ability to now take part in tours and auditions opened up a whole new world of experiences. Now I was able to test out some great equipment, without the commitment, it’s like Friends with Benefits.
 
Thus far I have been given the opportunity to review the Aune X1S and Jays q-Jays. This time round, I was given the opportunity to take some more IEMs for a spin – introducing the Campfire Orion in-earphones
 
Official product page: http://www.aloaudio.com/campfire-audio-orion
 
 
Hardware:
 
WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
The Orion are delivered in a sweet and simple cardboard box, with the goodies inside. The earphones were nestled away in a beautiful fur(?) coated carry case, with the tips and other accessories hidden under a neat little false bottom.
 
ORION1.jpg ORION2.jpg
 
 
 
The contents of the box included:
  1. Campfire Orion IEM ear pieces
  2. MMCX terminated, silver-plated IEM Cable (1.35m) with gold-plated 3.5mm L-plug
  3. Tips:
    1. 3 pairs of Comply TX 400 tips (S, M, L)
    2. 3 pairs of foam tips (S, M, L)
    3. 3 pairs of silicon tips (S, M, L)
  4. Cleaning tool
  5. Carry case
  6. Campfire Audio logo pin
  7. User guide
 
RRP: $349 USD (~$500 AUD)
 
ORION3.jpg
 
 
 
BUILD & DESIGN
When I first saw the ALO Announcement I had flashbacks of Jony Ive (from Apple) talking about chamfered edges and build quality of the iPhone 5. In ALO’s words, “Orion’s design integrates single balanced armature drivers into a machined aluminium enclosure”. These are solid IEMs. You can feel the weight, I personally love seeing the screws and the rugged edges of the earpieces. The nozzles as well are solidly built, I always used to worry about my old Westone’s and Shure’s with thin nozzles, in fear I’d break them.
 
ORION4.jpg ORION5.jpg
 
 
 
TECH SPECS
Driver: Single Balanced Armature Driver
Impedance: 14 Ohm
Sensitivity:  113 dB SPL/mW
Frequency Response: 10Hz - 16KHz
 
For a better read on the technical details, checkout Brooko’s review: http://www.head-fi.org/products/campfire-audio-orion/reviews/15678
 
About Me:
 
As with any tour or review, these are my opinions and observations with the Campfire Orion and my hardware. For the purpose of this audition, I used the following equipment –
Source: iPod Classic/iPhone 6S using a mixture of Apple Lossless and MP3 files
Amplifier/DAC: HeadAmp Pico Portable Amp/DAC
Headphones: 1964Ears V3 (for comparison)
 
My taste in music is quite peculiar and focuses heavily on heavy metal – in all forms (from death to Viking, from prog to heavy, from pagan to Mongolian!). A majority of my listening was with bands such as Iron Maiden, Fallujah, and Caligula’s Horse & Ne Obliviscaris. However, I still enjoy a variety of genres, so also included Jazz, Blues, Rock, and Classical.
 
ORION6.jpg ORION7.jpg
 
 
 
 
The Listening Experience:
 
So my first listen was with the Comply Tips, the comfort and fit are as perfect as custom in-ears. Despite the machined edges, I worried they would either feel heavy, or the earpieces would be uncomfortable, but I was taken by surprise. The nozzle was larger than I was used to, so took me a couple of tries to get the tips on, but once they were on, I was listening to my music in no time.
 
Music listened to for this review:
Florence and the Machine [acoustic/MTV unplugged] (female vocal)
Diana Krall (female vocal – jazz)
Lorde (female vocals – alternative)
Steely Dan (jazz/rock)
Anathema (female vocals – alternative, post-rock, progressive)
Fallujah (atmospheric technical death metal)
Ne Obliviscaris (progressive black metal)
Gojira (technical death metal)
Caligula’s Horse (progressive)
 
My initial impressions were:
Bass: tight and controlled, lacking impact
Highs: slightly untamed – female vocals were slightly piercing/painful at times
Comments: felt slightly uncontrolled on some quicker/complex metal songs, really great with female vox
 
As I continued my time with the Orion’s, I decided that I’d mark these as being flat/neutral in terms of sound signature. The IEMs do not overly favour any aspect of sound, they were overly bassy nor were they unyielding in the highs.
 
I started off in a different direction this time, instead of heading straight to all my niche metal genres, I decided to play some Florence & The Machine (acoustic set) and Diana Krall. The Orion’s shined with the female vocals. They were luscious to say the least, and both vocalists demonstrate different vocal ranges, which sounded beautiful on the Orion’s. I thought I’d give Lorde a go, merely just to chill and take advantage of the Orion’s strengths with female vocals. Again, I was impressed, even though I’ve listed bass-impact as a con for these IEMs, this worked well for Lorde’s Royals, as some of my other experiences have left me with the bass overpowering the vocals.
 
I moved toward some Steely Dan to get a better feel for the soundstage and instrument separation, and again the Orion’s came through. The flat/neutral signature favoured the female vocalists, and also the jazz/rock combination. So far so good, I spent more time listening to my more subtle genres, and only experienced a minor issue with some female vocals feeling a bit too harsh/piercing (listening to Anathema).
 
So far they were pleasant. Until I got to my more complex music…..
 
Unfortunately this is where I struggled with the Orion’s. I couldn’t spend a lot of time listening to Fallujah or Ne Obliviscaris as the Orion’s struggled with the speed/attack/complexity of the music. There were times in the slower sections of the music I could appreciate the instrument separation and soundstage, but the moment the tracks got to their heavier/complex sections, the Orion’s just struggled. Things just felt congested when I know they shouldn’t be. Aside from that, the lack of bass emphasis left powerful songs such as And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope leaving me underwhelmed (keep in mind this song has double bass kicks that hit 240bpm).
 
ORION9.jpg
 
 
Value & Conclusion:
 
Overall, the only fault I found was the underwhelming experience with my favourite music and genres. That’s not to say the IEMs are bad – this is where the personal preference aspect kicks in – they are great for what they are, and as mentioned were favourable for most of the other listening I did.
 
These IEMs would definitely suit those out there who prefer a more neutral sound signature, controlled low-end, and who aren’t big on heavy metal!
 
Thanks again to ALO, Ken and Mark for the opportunity to take these for a spin!
Deviltooth
Deviltooth
Solid review.  It's good to learn how an earphone responds to the reviewer's favourite genres.
Pros: Excellent and balanced sound detail, comfortable, great isolation, build quality
Cons: A little too sensitive to music played (MP3 sound versus FLAC)
I've been using the Harman Kardon BT's for about 3 years now, and they have, and are, a great set of headphones, with a nearly balanced signature, and only a slight emphasis on highs and bass. I wasn't planning to buy another set of headphones, and especially earphones, considering that I have found that I have drifted to over ear headphones, rather than in ears. I also had a stenosis in my right ear, which is a bone growth, that required surgery. I had if for the past 3 years or so and it was initially causing infections, however doctors did not diagnose the stenosis until about 9 months ago, the point at which infections were happening monthly, As such, I believed the infections were from in-ears, a large reason for why I went to headphones. In ears certainly worsened infections, however. My ear still does bug me with a dull ache at times, but so far the Orion earphones have not caused discomfort, so luckily I can keep using them without worry. The reason I bought the Orions was largely due to the fact that my dad has been looking at some better headphones, and an amp or DAP. I am largely against the price of Astell and Kern products, but he has had interest in the Junior. As for headphones, he so far prefers in-ears, to avoid the sweating that he has noticed with trying my Harman Kardon's. I showed him some reviews of well known in-ears, some that I have bought and returned. He is looking for balanced sound, so I told him to look at Etymotic and a few others. By chance, through a Headphone Bar email, I spotted Campfire's Orion, with $100 off or so, thus essentially offering a price that matches the Canadian and American dollar at around $350. Looking at reviews, they seemed to be what my father would enjoy. The only issue however, they loop around the ears, and for whatever reason he can't go with that. Myself, I just couldn't let it be, and I wanted to try another set of in-ears, and a balanced set as well, so I went for them. So far, I am very pleased.
 
Packaging:
 
Very minimalist indeed. I'm not big into the environment and global warming stuff, but I prefer what I buy to not have a box within a box, within a box, wrapped with a plastic covering, or hard plastic case. As long as every arrive intact, I'm fine with it. The Orion's come in a simple box, sealed with the label overlapping the seam. Inside you are presented with the canvas case, inside the Orion's cushioned by a wool padding of sorts. Very simple, unlike other earphones that I have bought that feature some intricate plastic tray that the earphones sit in and the wire wrapped about here and there. With the quality of the earphones and cable (a single wire strand from each phone is as thick as I have seen whole cables on other earphones, such as the Klipsch S4), I doubt just tossing them in the case will ever be an issue. Also in the package is the eartips, cleaning tool and instructions. There is no extra pointless stuff, and I can easily put the packages of tips and the tool in the case with the earphones, at least while I figure out which tip or tips I prefer.
 
Design:
 
Like the case, the Orion's are simplistic looking, slightly on the industrial/angular side of designs. It is very elegant though, not made to stand out, but stand out through it's utilitarian look. There is no Bozo the Clown theme here, like what is seen with the popular, consumer lines of headphones, like Monster, or Beats. Actually, I would have to say that the Orion earphones have a design like my Harman Hardon's: Squared off and angular, black, simple. The Orion's are just the smaller in-ear version. Everything on the Orion's is well designed and manufactured with high standards, and I don't expect anything to fall off or start rattling during my listening sessions.
 
Sound:
 
I have so far used the Orion's for about 4 hours, and about 12 hours of burn-in on top of those 4 hours. I am still unsure of the burn-in process, especially when not dealing with large drivers, but I am hoping that there is an ounce more bass to come in. I mean an ounce, as I am not one for heavy bass for the most part. Where the sound is now, I am getting a very balanced sound, accurate bass, great mids and a treble that is bright but no piercing. In some cases, I hear times when I would like a touch more highs, but it is very seldom that I don't find there to be enough sparkle. I have just started using the standard tips, rather than the foam tips (I tried both the comply and the standard foam tips), and I feel that I am enjoying the sound more. There is not a great deal of difference, but the foam does seem to have a slightly muffling of sound. The result is that the highs come of a tad more and the bass sounds the same amount, but with more punch. So far, this is the only set of earphones I have tried where I truly prefer the basic tips. Also, when dealing with loop around wires, foam tips are a bit more awkward to use. Balanced, no matter what, is how I will continue to describe the sound. Oddly, the Orion's have made me realize just how close to balanced the Harman Kardon's are, as I was initially expected a great deal of difference coming from them.
 
Depth and sound stage is quite decent. I don't think much better can be found for in-ears, unless going much higher end, and even then I am not sure how much more could be improved. I don't think in-ears can ever match on-ear headphones, even closed back, for in-ears are...well they stuck in your ears and the sound is just pushed down the ear canal. Going for binaural music, like CC Coletti's Bring It On Home album, does clearly bring about a major improvement of sound stage, and the spacial representation of the music not being in your ears.
 
My only gripe with the Campfire's Orion is the sensitivity. While they are easy to drive, and I have really only been using an iPod touch to play the music, the phones are rather sensitive to what you play through them. I have also tried with the iPod going through LOD with my Fiio E12, but I don't hear much difference. Either way, if you listen to MP3 below 320kbps, or something with improper ripping or remastering, you hear distortion, and, often accompanied with, unpleasant treble. I have listened to multiple types of music, FLAC and MP3, and it is sort of hit or miss whether it will sound good. For example, the first song I listened to on the earphones was Adele's Hello. The voice was rather harsh, and the bass just distorted the moment it sound. It killed the earphones for me right off the bat, but then I turned on Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On. The bass was tight and the voice was accurate. It is even better now with some burn in, or maybe I'm just getting used to the bass. I've listend to some Stevie Nicks, and it is clear as a bell. Rock, R&B and jazz definitely seems to be where the Orion's shine so far, although they do quite well with most music, pumping the bass quite well if the song needs it. Overall, it seems the only distortion that you will find is when the files themselves have the distortion in them. All of these songs I have listened to on the Harman Hardon's and never experienced distortion, but clearly the sensitivity is the cause, as many songs will just play flawlessly, and others are nearly impossible to listen to. It looks like I will have to revamp my music collection and go for only lossless. Of course, there are those songs that have distortion on anything, like some of the music from Led Zeppelin; I have not been able to find any version of Whole Lotta Love that doesn't have a distortion sound in various section. Another song is Little Red Corvette by Prince. In the beginning of the song, there is also a second or two of distortion in Prince's voice. My consensus is that the distortion it is either it is the particular file quality, or the song itself is distorted (can't find a version of the song in lossy or lossless that sounds cleaner).
 
 
Overall, Orion by Campfire is a great set of earphones. I don't have huge ears, but so far have not had comfort issues, besides the occasional ache in my ear due to surgery. The sound from the earphone's is very true, and natural. Bass is usually exactly what I want, although there is the odd time where I would like more. The same goes for the treble; the sparkle is often perfect, but the odd time I here a note or voice and I realize it didn't quite make my spine tingle. Then again, if more bass and treble was present, I would possibly find it too much for most of what I was listening to. Oddly, I am finding myself to be enjoying the basic eartips more, over the foam tips. The sound is ever so slightly cleaner, and it is easier to insert this style of earphones without dealing with squishing the foam tip. No earphone or headphone is perfect, at least perhaps until a zero is added to the price, but the Orion's are very close, with very little that I would like to see changed in the design and sound. I am looking forward to seeing what else Campfire comes out with, larger headphones perhaps. I will continue to play around with sources and amps as well, see if I can hear an improvement with the E12. Perhaps the E12 can deliver that extra oomph or sparkle that I would like.
BartSimpson1976
BartSimpson1976
I assume the Campfire IEMs are purposely built so sensitive in order ALO can sell some more units of their Rx with them?
thepiper92
thepiper92
That is possible. I have little use for a standard amp, as I feel double amping just kills the sound. When my iPod 4 died, I went to the 5. It then required an adapter for LOD. I couldnt find one initially and used a 3.5 connection to my E12. It wasn't a great sound exactly. Im not sure now the RX would do any better, unless amping from a top tier source. Maybe I'm wrong here. Furthermore, even with the amp, you still have to be careful about the source. I was listening to Jacksoul, and it was terrible sounding. Switched to an ALAC version of the album, and it is great. Then there are some lossless albums I play that still sound terrible, for the mastering is not good.
BartSimpson1976
BartSimpson1976
ALO Rx wouldn't be for the power or the sound, but for delivering dead silent blackground as the main concern for me would be IEMs of such sensitivity being a real hiss magnet!
An amp should -as the name suggests- amplify and not alter the sound.
I also do not believe that it makes a difference whether your files are 256 MP3s or FLAC files. Probabably the Andromedas are just unforgiving on bad masterings.
Pros: Balance, nice design and looks pretty, build quality, beautiful mids, not fatigueing, accessories
Cons: A little Bass light, microphonic cables, slight congestion on fast, busy tracks
Hi everyone, Before I start the review, I would like to thank Campfire Audio for making this awesome IEM, and also to d marc0 for inviting me in the tour.
 

INTRODUCTION

I'm an Indonesian working as a Web Developer in Melbourne, Australia. 
Other than programming/coding, listening to music is another one of my hobby, when I start my headphone hobby, music listening has been a very rewarding experience for me, although a bit pricey on my wallet >_<. 
 
Starting from about a year ago I've been really hooked by metal music, and nowadays my everyday music listening always incorporate metal tracks although I also listen to other genres.
I don't actually listen to all kinds of music, lets say for example Classical, therefore it is important to understand that this review of the orion is based on my observation on the kinds of musics I like, and those are mainly:
- Metal
- Pop
- EDM
- Jazz
- Indonesian Song (it's basically the Indonesian version of pop, guitar used is mostly acoustic guitar, sounds natural and relaxing however, mastering of the song is usually poor, this is good to test how good a headphone/Iem handle poorly recorded material)
 
I used the Orion for all my music listening everyday for 10 days using the chord mojo in almost everything I do (I tried it out using iphone 4 too!), and for this period I feel very satisfied with it's performance especially because of the mids, the bass could be more in quantity but this IEM has a reference tuning, for Reference tuning I think it has enough bass.
 

Packaging and Accessories

The box is made from some kind of carton with an out of space theme kinda thing for the coloring, goes a long very well with the IEM name, there is also a paper sticker printed with the logo, name of the IEM and a very brief description of what the IEM is. the sticker also acts as a seal to the paper box.

Inside the paper box we have:
- A hard Sided carrying case with a bluish cloth material finish with a soft fulffy kinda material on the inside to protect the iem.
- The iem itself, with the cable attached on it (most likely 1.2m in length, silvery color).
- some kind of cable management strap thingy(2 of them in black color).
- multiple types of tips with size option (small, medium, large)
- documentations
- cleaning tool
 

Fit, Comfort and ease of use

I've always have issues with fits as my ear canal has a significant differences in size. This makes it hard to find a good tips that will sound nice, consistent and comfortable on my ears however, with the inclusion of the comply foam tips in the box, the fit is becoming less of a problem as the foam tips helps a lot with the fit(a very thoughtful inclusion).
 
The iem itself has and edgy design however this does not bother me, My Ear feel perfectly find after hours of use.

The unit itself has some weight to it, I can actually feel the weight on my hand when I hold onto it although once you put in the iem and play some music I doubt you will be bothered by the weight, considering the weight most likely comes from the iem housing made using a CNC aluminum housing, I feel perfectly happy with the weight, also aluminum just looks so much better than plastic in terms of look, I had a few of my friends say that the IEM looks nice on the ears and doesn't feel cheap, many other more expensive IEM use plastic, I think the use of aluminum is a step in the right direction providing more protection and classier looks.
 
The cable though is not very satisfactory for me, it has a nice looks on it and not bulky, but it is microphonic and tangled easily, Imagine the hassle that you have to do this everytime you take it out from the case.
 
The Isolation is superb, I used it a couple of times in the train and it blocks most of the noise just fine.
 

BUILD QUALITY

The build Quality on The Orion is excellent, it has a classier looks then some of the 1000 dollar IEM out there, a lot of people who is not into audio usually does not believe you when you tell them that the IEM you have is 500 bucks since most of them looks a bit cheap and does not feel the premium, with the Orion though if you tell them that this is 500 dollars Iem I think they will believe you since it looks premium.
 
The housing looks nice with the matte black finish and I feel comfortable with the protection it provides.
The cable has and angled ends which provides longevity to the cable, I also like the fact that it has a detachable cable, I didn't try to detach it, but this will be  a very good safety insurance for some people, as it can be replaced easily if something happens to it, and it will detach when a lot of pressure is applied to the cable.
 
The positioning of the Y split is perfect for me, not too high not too low. Other than that for people who likes to invest on some high quality cables and wants to change the microphonic cables this will be a very welcoming addition.
 
This is an over ear type IEM, therefore provides better ergonomics than cable down style.


SOUND QUALITY

The Signature

In my opinion the sound signature of The Orion is of referenced tuning, so don't expect this to be bassy with thundering bass.
 

Other important Aspects

for me the amount of bass is adequate (Not a basshead), the treble is kept in check and has a safe tuning to it, it still has some spark into it but I wouldn't say that this is a bright IEM.
 
Mids is very well done, it is not overly lush nor distant, all in all I feel that the amount of bass, mids and treble is on balance with each other giving no coloration to the music and present the music as it is.
 
Soundstage is small as expected from an IEm but it is not bad.
 
Instrument spearation is good but, there is a slight congestion issue on very fast and busy track.
 

The Bass

The bass sound's tight and the quantity is enough for me for most genres, I just feel like it lacks punch sometimes, this is very important for some genre, and feel like I'm missing the punch a bit, other than that the quantity of the bass could be more for some genres such as edm, rock, Metal and rap, it makes them feel a little bit lifeless and anemic sometimes for those tracks, it certainly is enough for other genres like pop, jazz, acoustic, etc.
 
the bass extension is good in my opinion but it is not excellent, If you are an analytical listener, you will notice staright away that some of the drum hits does not extend all the way down low, it is also a bit thin due to the quick decay rate, I'm not a very analytical listener so I'm fine but, sometimes I can't help but notice I want more bass and more punch.
 
The bass is certainly not on the thick side, it has a fast decay rate however, the bass is very well integrated with the mids, the bass never bleeds into the mids, never sound bloomy and does not interfere with the mids at all, very well controlled but slightly anemic. 
 

The Mids 

The mids is a winner for this IEM, it is awesome, the vocalist just sounds so natural on this and take the spotlight for me, on every track, the first time I hear the singer start singing it grabs my attention straight away, the mids sound smooth but also still has that upper midrange bite from the guitar in it, the electric guitar sounds crisp but not fatigueing, I love how the electric guitar sounds on this it is very addicting.
 
I prefer the sound of female vocalist on this IEM rather than the male, make no mistake both sounds graet on this, however when you listen to a vocalist like Dido, Adele, Amy Lee, etc. they just sound awesome on this, I feel that the singer's emotion is being represented very well by the mids in this iem.
 
The male voice also sounds nice and natural but lose a little bit to that emotional female voice, the dynamic for when the singer wants to sound powerful and when they want to sound calm is very clear. It never gets shouty and I detect no sibillance even on my poor recorded indonesian tracks, instead it sounds smooth and silky.
 
Those of you who likes forward, lush mids won't find it here but the presentation is great overall, this might change your preference when you hear the mids on this IEM, to put it simply it is just right.
 

The Treble

Treble is not harsh and present in the music, it is very easy to notice the cymbals hitting in metal tracks, extension is good but not the best I have heard but it is very good and provide some spark when needed.
 
I feel no fatigue whatsoever after a long listening period(4 hours+), the treble sound smooth although it may not be sparkly enough for everyone, it is still detailed and does not feel left out by the mass and mids, it is always present.
 

Minor Notes:

Driven By Iphone 4:

This is a good IEM and obviously it is not a good idea to listen to this IEM from a phone, however lets say that I'm in the train station and wants to listen to some music and then find out that I left my Mojo at home, I have no choice but use my phone am I?
 
Good news is, this IEM still sounds OK from an Iphone4!
 
Main sound change against the mojo:
- bass becomes more bloomy and less controlled, lose some extention but has more in quantity, more bass quantity but lower quality, not a bad trade.
- mids sounds more artificial especially guitar, lost of dynamic, some detail is lost
- treble can sometimes sound a bit sharp and piercing, noticably more degradation here then the bass and mids, I don't recommend high volume from a phone
- very slight hiss, unnoticable when music is playing
- sounds even more congested
 

Comparisons with Jupiter:

I got my Jupiter a few days before I write this review, the jupiter is about 3x the price of the orion, obvously Jupiter will have better technicalities, but Orion is still good for the money.
 
Some key differences to the Orion:
- V shaped signature
- more bass Quantity and quality, bass has more extension, meatier and hits harder
- more treble Quantity but still smooth and not fatigueing, more detailed, sparkly, energetic and way more extended (this and the bass is the main upgrade IMO) 
- mids is more recessed but still sounds good, I like the orion mids better
- better instrument separation
- the slight congestion issue I mentioned before is almost gone
 

SUMMARY

This is a great IEM, sound quality is great and very well balnce across the spectrum. at 349 USD this is a bargain, if I have to pick though the mids is the best quality of this IEM and should be your point of consideration when you're deciding whether you want to buy this or not, if you like vocals and guitars and not a basshead, this is perfect for you!! Otherwise maybe look for the jupiter for a V shaped Signature?
 
I want to give a thumbs up to Campfire Audio for putting up this awesome IEM in such an affordable price.
 

Closure

Thank you for reading guys, feel free to give some inputs so that I can make a better review next time. 
I hope you guys get some insight and information about the Orion from this review ^_^
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seanwee
seanwee
They sure look awesome.
d marc0
d marc0
Thanks for joining the tour mate. Glad you enjoyed them.
emptymt
emptymt
Anytime Mate, I did Enjoy them a lot
Pros: Build quality, cable quality, easy listening and natural sounding, fits really nice, detachable cable, good isolation.
Cons: Need more bass and just a bit of treble sparkle
Disclaimer
 
I got this unit as part of Australia/New Zealand tour arranged by @d marc0, thank you very much for including me in this tour :)
 
Introduction
 
I am just another music fans in this world, I love listening to music, and that made me stumble into head-fi around 8 years ago when looking for the best way to listen to my music. I am not in anyway an audiophile, heck not even close, so please forgive any lack of details in my review. Most importantly this is my personal impression on the unit, most likely i heard things differently than you, my ears, my preferences, my brain :)
 
I listened to the CA Orion daily in my commuting from home to work and in the office for about 10 days. 
 
Build Quality and Design.
 
Build quality of Orion is top notch, when you hold them in your hand you know that they are very sturdy and can take some beatings, they are rock solid. At first I thought they were bit big and chunky, don't think it will fit on my ears, but I am wrong, they actually fit nicely with my ears. In addition to that I personally like the design as well, less curvy and more edgy.
 
Pair that with the silver plated copper cable (ALO call them the Tinsel cable) just complete the whole package for me.
 
Sound Quality
 
Ok the most important part for me, sound quality, so how do they sound? For me they sounded natural and easy to listen to, there is no enhancement in the whole spectrum of sound, nothing offensive, quite relaxing and laid back. I do find them quite a bit mid-centric, with just enough warmth to make them pleasant. Detail and instrument separation is also quite good. This is one of the earphones that don't need a lot of EQ to sound right, in fact I kind of happy listening to them as they were without any adjustment on any spectrum at all. One thing that I notice is they do really well with female vocal, listening to Ana Caram & Astrud Gilberto is just magic, very sweet sounding and mesmerizing.
 
Having said that, since I am a guy who prefer a bright sound signature, I do wish the Orion to have a bit more sparkle to the treble segment.
 
For me the biggest weakness of Orion is the amount of bass, don't get me wrong they got some bass, but it's light in quantity, so instead of "OOMPH" you get "oomph". I find that this take out the pleasure a bit when listening to music with some bass kick (obviously YMMV as you might prefer light bass).
 
Comparison
 
I think I find the perfect comparison for Orion, Phonak PFE 012. Ok maybe not perfect, but they both share a single BA design so I think it's quite fair to compare them side by side, strictly from sound quality, not including accessories, build and cable quality (in which the Orion totally destroy PFE 012).
 
Note: I only have the green filter for PFE 012, without EQ they sounded too bassy/muddy for me, so I applied some EQ to lift the Mids and Trebles.
 
Bass: While the Orion is light on bass, PFE is the complete opposite, with the green filter there is too much bass! With a bit of EQ they sounded really nice. So hands down to PFE for bass.
 
Mids: Mids is still dominated by Orion, they mids on PFE is pretty good but not as full sounding and rich as the Orion. 
 
Treble: It is bit brighter on the PFE, but this is pretty much due to EQ, without EQ they're just dull. I tried applying EQ to Orion but I find that the PFE is more respoding to EQ compare to Orion. 
 
Noise Isolation: Due to the shape of the PFE, they didnt really cover my ears as much as Orion, so for me the Orion does better passive noise isolation compare to the PFE.
 
Comfort: The PFE is lighter than the Orion, this is due to the build material and size, but they are equal in comfort for me.
 
Efficiency: I can drive the Orion comfortably loud using only 50% of my phone volume, however I have to use almost 90% to reach a loud enough sound with the PFE, the Orion is the winner here.
 
After listening and comparing them side by side, my personal conclusion is they are quite equal in sound quality, just different tuning and sound signature.
 
Summary 
 
If you listen to a lot of vocal music, I think you will enjoy the Orion. They deliver the complete package, high quality build, cable, accessories, natural sounding that will fit with majority of music genre. 
 
Basshead and people who like bright sound signature? this might not be the earphone you're looking for.
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d marc0
d marc0
Thanks for the comparison mate, very useful information.
daduy
daduy
My pleasure! :)
Pros: Build Quality, SQ, Simplistic design, Superior cable, Compact and great fit
Cons: Bass

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d marc0
d marc0
Thank you for the comparison with the Shure!
Pros: resolution, clarity, emotions, details, design, build quality
Cons: minor fit issues, reduced treble
0Main.jpg

In endless pursuit of more and more complex earphones schematics, we began to forget about the joy of minimalism that single-driver earphones can give. Luckily, there are nice companies that remind us about that, and Orion by Campfire Audio is one of those model.

Campfire is a pretty new name on earphones market, but they are really experienced, so their starting lineup is very strong and competitive. Single-driver BA Orion, single-driver dynamic Lyra and 4-driver top model Jupiter. Recently they've added two new models Nova and Andromeda, but they are pretty new and just started hitting the market, so I'll start from the most affordable model, Orion.

Campfire took a pair of nice BA drivers, put them into great aluminium housings, added cable and got a nice offer for $350.

1Box.jpg

I won't go deep into packaging, design and accessories, there are few really nice reviews, covering this in deep details. I can add only few my subjective notes.

Packaging and accessories set is nice, not gorgeous, but solid and practical. Cable is especially nice, it has slight microphonics, but it's not a big issue, as Orion tends to be work over ear.

2Accessories.jpg

Design is undoubtedly nice. Great shape, solid aluminium case, silver screws as a nice accent. Build quality is also great and solid.

Fit had a bit of issue for me, as inner edges touched ear and caused a bit of fatigue, but after 2 days of wearing, I've got used to it, and now I have zero issues. Orions slide into my ears perfectly, and I can wear them for a whole day. Sound isolation is about average and OK for most situations.

3WithCable.jpg

That's pretty all about exterior, and now I can easily continue to the sound.

I've used following equipment for evaluation.

- NuPrime DAC-10H and [Resonessence Labs Concero HP] as DAC and amplifier
- Apple MacBook Pro Retina 2013 as a source
- Fidelia as a player
- Fiio X7 and Luxury & Precission L5Pro as portable players
- Ambient Acoustics AM10, [Lear BD4.2], Campfire Audio Jupiter and Dunu DN-2000J as headphones for comparison

I gave Orion about 48 hours of burn-in before auditioning. Usually, burn-in isn't necessary for BA drivers, but I've decided to comply with all the formalities.

6WithJack.jpg

Generally, sound representation of Orion is pretty typical for single-driver armatures, but main secret is that they are really, really good single-driver armatures. Their frequency response is pretty linear from 50 Hz to 2 kHz. Bass roll-off under 50 Hz is less then 10 dB, and highs are recessed to remove often issues of BA drivers like harshness. Usage of single-armature design allowed this IEMs to avoid problems with drivers coherence and interference, sometimes met in multi-driver designs, and this allowed Orion to give incredible speed, clarity and resolution.

Bass of this model is very fast, it has great resolution and rendered with nice texture. It's good in quantity and able to go pretty deep. Main issue of this model's lows caused by fast decay, common for BAs, so, instead of familiar rumble, Orions gives detailed and fast bass. At first, it seemed that there is not enough bass, but after some time, I've realised that lows are here, they just have different unusual representation. When necessary, Orions can punch, but this punches will be dryer then usual. After getting used, I've started to find a pleasure in opportunity to hear minor nuances in low frequences.

Midrange is the strongest part in sound of this model. It's jaw-dropping and you can really fell in love at first sight with them. Campfire managed to achieve the exact balance, thus incredible micro-contrast of sound doesn't cause dull and emotionless representation. If you like vocal, Orions will blow you with level of emotions, they work like emotion magnifying glass, able to pinpoint any small detail, present in recording. Also this IEMs are great in showing real instrument details, for example, in good harp recoding you can locate not only instrument, but position of separate strings. An imaginary scene more than the average width and depth. Orion falls short to a record, but shows a very, very good results.

7OnFiioX7.jpg

Treble is slightly recessed, personally I prefer more highs, but Campfire engineers decided to make a non-fatiguing sound and move treble a bit backward. This allowed them to avoid typical harshness of single BA models, so Orion offers non-fatiguing sound. Also, this allows listener to concentrate on spectacular midrange without any distortion. Another advantage of this solution - greater than in similar models tolerance for not very high-quality records. In terms of resolution and clarity, treble is really nice.

10Booblik.jpg

I've made few brief and subjective comparisons with different IEMs that I have.

Dunu DN-2000J Dunu's hi-end hybrids shows tighter bass and brighter treble. Compared with DN-2000J, sound of Orion is more relaxed, but also it has more resolving and emotional midrange.

MEEAudio P1 New, unusual, interesting model by MEEAudio. Orion has deeper bass and midrange resolution, but P1 leads in treble representation and scene size.

Ortofon e-Q8 Unusual Siren Armature driver gives Japanese model tighter bass, but Orion the leads in the midrange, and their high frequencies are more tolerant to the listener.

Campfire Audio Jupiter Former top model of the company with 4 drivers. Of course, is 2 times more expensive, but offers improvements in the field of deep bass and treble, although Orions have a bit better mids resolution.

Etymotic ER-4S Well, how can I omit true single-driver legend? Orion is better at low frequencies, about par on mids, any Etys have longer treble extention, but can be a bit harsh sometimes.

Of course, it's not very reasonable idea to use this IEMs with smartphones and tablets, they designed for usage with good DAPs. Among inexpensive DAPs, I preferred Cayin N5 with them, and in hi-end segment best results were shown by Fiio X7 and Questyle QP-1R. Please note, that Orion has relatively low impedance and high sensitivity, so they can highlight background noise of device.

Style-wise, I'd call those a universal headphoens, you just need a bit of usage to their detailed and honest representation. I've enjoyed everything, from black metal to trance, but Orions are especially good with serious music: jazz, classics, blues, vocal, something that allows them to show strong side. The quality of the recordings are quite critical, I would rate them a 7 out of 10.

So, Campfire Audio really succeed in creating nice single driver model for those, who like detailed and emotional sound.

I want to thank to Campfire Audio for providing me a sample for review in exchange to my honest opinion.

Here is my unboxing and impressions video.

[VIDEO]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLn7kDlIbiI[/VIDEO]
Deviltooth
Deviltooth
I'm not completely clear, is this a single or dual driver balanced armature?  Are the housings heavy?
Brooko
Brooko
Single BA.  Total weight is 21g including cables and tips
Deviltooth
Deviltooth
Thanks, Brooko.  In the past I had a single BA UE600, an excellent earphone as it rendered female vocals with a touch of appealing sweetness.  I don't think I'd pay $350 for a single BA driver; unless the technology has radically (recently) changed it'd likely lack extension at one end or the other (usually the bass).
Pros: Build, design, nice balanced sound, imaging particularly with vocals
Cons: Poor fit for my small ears!
Many thanks to d marc0 and Campfire for arranging this tour unit.



Overview

 
Ever since I saw the gorgeous high res pics of the Orion (and Jupiter) on the Campfire website I've coveted one of these desirable beauties. In an increasingly busy market Campfire stands out from the crowd based on their design choices alone, so how does everything else (including sound) match up...?
 

Fit

 
I've got small ears with narrowish canals and fairly shallow concha, so I was pretty disappointed to find I could not get a decent fit with the Orion, the only tips I could really use were the small silicone, unfortunately due to the shape of the Orion I could not get them deep enough into my ears for decent sound, switching over to the foam tips and jamming them in allowed me to hear, albeit briefly (and painfully), just what the Orion are capable of. As such I could not listen for an extended period but was able to get a flavour, I think, of what these are about
 

Sound

 
I compared the Orion to my Etymotic ER4(S) which, to me, are neutral,
analytical, and sometimes bright/harsh dependent on recording.
 
The Orion is slightly warmer and smoother than the ER4 and doesn't seem as flat which I feel makes it a better all rounder. As with the ER4, there is excellent detail retrieval with great clarity, it doesn't gloss over poor recordings (like the Lyra) but the highs are not as harsh which suits the mixture of music I generally listen to.
 
There is some midrange magic going on with the Orion, everything is nicely balanced and it has quite a lovely way with vocals particularly female, it portrays them floating out in space in front of you in a most palpable way, outstanding!
 
I like bass but I don't like it boomy or overblown and the Orion does not have that deep sub bass rumble or heavy thud so some bassheads may find it a little lacking. The bass is light, fast and nicely integrated and doesn't overpower the rest of the spectrum, I feel it goes a little deeper than the ER4 and is surprisingly satisfying.
 
The Orion sounded good from all the sources I tried including
 iPhone 5, various iPods, Mojo, HiFiMan HM-801 (various amps), it doesn't require much power but as it's fairly neutral I find it pairs better with smoother warmer sources.
 

Final thoughts

 
The Orion is beautifully designed in a modern/retro kind of way, Campfire have obviously put a lot of thought and effort in the way they are presented, and the packaging and accessories reinforce the positive presentation - it comes in a nice cardboard box with a cool carrying case and a very good expensive cable (which I believe is to be replaced with an even better one). 
 
Overall I think I prefer these to my Etymotic ER4(S). Even though the Ety's can sometimes sound quite spectacular with the right source and track, those moments are few and far between which makes the Orion a better all rounder.
 
I say 'think' above because due to fit I couldn't listen for extended periods, so couldn't really give a long term impression which I think is required.
 
Despite the fit I've given these four stars as I do think they sound excellent, marry that with the bulletproof build and design and Campfire are on to a winner, now if they could only change the design to accomodate (my) small ears...!!
d marc0
d marc0
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Orion.
Pros: Mid-range resolution, excellent build, high quality cable, included accessories
Cons: Bass presentation may leave some tracks feeling soulless; some shortcomings with cable

 ​

Campfire Audio Orion:​

An earphone suited to a starry night​

 

Introduction

 
First, a disclaimer: I purchased the Orion ($350USD) with my own money after doing my own research and thus this is my independent (and highly subjective) opinion. A special thank you to @d marc0 for sharing his experiences with me and answering my questions, as well as to ALO Audio for excellent customer service.
 
This will be my first review on Head-Fi, and as such any and all advice on how to improve this review or future others will be highly appreciated. I'll try to keep things simple, practical, and relate what I'm hearing to music I hope others can recognize to put my impressions in context.
 
A little bit about me and my music tastes: I only got into this hobby in late 2014, slowly working my way up from budget and entry-level cans in an attempt to find my "holy grail" like many aspiring victims of this rabbit hole tend to long for. I was going through a pair of full-sized cans every week or two and always finding something that I couldn't live with or found wanting after. It wasn't until January of this year I was blessed enough to stumble upon MrSpeakers and his very popular Fostex T50RP modification and pet project, the Mad Dogs ($279USD, discontinued). This headphone simultaneously addressed issues I had with comfort, build, and sound quality from the first time I listened to them until this day and hopefully for years to come. Needless to say, I dropped all interest in looking for other equipment and have been enjoying them since. 
 
While I am still on the search for an in-ear headphone that can take what I love about the Mad Dogs into a portable solution, I believe the Orion is the most worthy contender yet. My music tastes vary widely, but I would describe myself first and foremost as a mid-head and female vocal lover. Thus any headphones that are known to showcase the mid-range in music and offer it up front and center pique my interest. Without further ado, on to the review!
 
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Image credits to @Ivabign

Accessories 

 
While I will save you the details of the unboxing experience as I'm sure many other reviews already cover it, I think it's worthwhile to note the impressive accessory selection included with the Orion's, as there is certainly something here for everyone and it gives you the feeling of owning a product you will want to last forever. A plethora of tips including three sets of silicone, Comply foam and some slightly harder generic foam tips which reminded me of Shure olives are included in the package. You also get a stylish pin sporting the sleek Campfire Audio logo and a cleaning tool to keep your earphones spick and span.
 
Thanks to advice from @d marc0, I did not play around long with the silicone or generic foam tips and jumped straight to the Comply's, and thus all the sonic impressions noted later in the review are written using these tips.
 
UPDATE 05/13/2016 - It is now officially summer in Canada and the hot days really don't play well with the Comply tips. They get sweaty and loose in the ear which not only affects comfort but also sound. As such I have returned to using the silicone tips both at home and on the go. I have to say they are also really excellent; I certainly have a higher opinion of them now then I did when I first wrote this review. The larger bore makes for a slightly more spacious sound in general and really helps emphasize the mid-range resolution on the Orion. I also expected the isolation to suffer over the foam tips, but it really didn't. If anything the silicone tips help keep the actual unit closer to the ear drum unlike the soft foam which causes them to hang a little bit. I would recommend the silicone tips for at home listening with quieter volumes; just watch the volume level when out and about.
 
You also get a canvas zippered carrying case which I really like, and actually prefer to the leather-clad ones included with the higher end Lyra & Jupiter models. While it isn't exactly pocket friendly nor does it open all the way around like most clam shell cases, its soft wool interior will certainly keep your earphones safe during transportation.
 
The included cable is actually sold separately by ALO Audio for $149USD, so it certainly isn't included as an afterthought and is an excellent pairing for such a premium product. Despite having a great weave, Y-splitter and chin slider, I assume I appreciate this cables practicality less than most as I am not a fan of the memory wire or rather large termination that does not play well with my phone case. I suspect if you don't mind memory wire and have an average (non-recessed) 3.5mm output on your source you will appreciate this cable a lot more than I did. While shielded well against wind-noise and oxidization (according to ALO) the cable is slightly microphonic, and I have already made a habit of wearing it under clothing.
 
UPDATE 05/30/2016 - I've gotten my hands on the new ALO litz cable that I believe all new units of the Orion will ship with. I won't comment on sonic differences but the cable is a lot less stiff and the ear guides are easily malleable now compared to the tinsel cable. The termination is sadly still a little over-sized, but I'll live with it.
 
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Image credits to 
 

Build / Comfort / Isolation

 
While I won't attempt to embarrass myself by going in depth regarding the design of this earphone, all I will say is that the CNC'd aluminum build is the nicest I have seen on an earphone and I am reminded of just how pricey (but not fragile!) this IEM is every time I take them out of their case. The industry-standard MMCX connection feels quite solid and I quite like the aesthetic the stock tinsel cable provides against the space black of the Orion's earpieces. While the bore is a little wider than I am used to on most of my previously owned earphones, I find this actually makes it much easier to fit different tips on, and the angle of the bore is pretty much perfect for my ears to get a solid seal.
 
Speaking of seal, while I have read some concern other users have raised regarding the sharp-angle design on the ear-facing body, I have not personally experienced any discomfort or hotspots even in multi-hour listening sessions. In fact if it wasn't for the memory wire that I can't really get over personally, I find these earphones do an excellent job of just disappearing once you get a good fit, which shouldn't be too hard considering the generous included tip selection.
 
Isolation is definitely above average with the included Comply foam tips, wearing them on my rather long commute via bus I could barely hear other passengers or the bus itself at normal listening volumes. I was actually taken aback by how well details are still retained at lower listening volumes in what I would consider pretty noisy environments such as public transportation and restaurants. A big win in my book.
 
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Image credits to 

Sonic Impressions

 
Coming from a pair of SoundMAGIC E80s ($55USD) as my daily driver, I was really looking for something that would retain the neutral but mid-forward signature I had become addicted to on both my E80s and Mad Dogs while offering a pretty genre neutral presentation to satisfy my diversified tastes. Still skeptical after reading a few impressions on here, mostly from loaner program participants, I found that the Orion fit this bill perfectly. The single armature setup in the Orion is rarely limited by it's own solitary nature, and instead offers a balanced and close to reference sound across the entire frequency range.
 
The mid range is the star of the show on the Orion, and as a mid-head I couldn't be much happier. The order of the day here is resolution, and the Orion serves it up tastefully. Going through some of my favorites during my first listening session with these I was delighted at the amount of vocal emotion and weight I was experiencing, especially from singers I had heard a million times before. It's as if the vocal range in every track (especially with female vocals) was taken and blown-up 10 times, albeit only in the most tasteful way possible. Going back to my faithful E80s there was no contest, it was akin to going from any of your favorite headphones today to listening to the earphones included with your phone. (sorry SoundMAGIC!) Timbre, tonality and clarity are all spot on here, with guitars sounding especially heavenly.
 
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"Everybody loves me, everyone but you..."
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Hey Babe (1992), the debut solo album from Blake Babies favorite Juliana Hatfield is an 11-track feature of ballads regarding love & longing. Hatfield's twee, almost-childlike vocals shine through on the Orion like I have never had the pleasure of hearing them before. The light drum presence on tracks like The Lights is the forte of the Orions low-end capabilities, carrying Hatfield's voice and guitar arrangements whilst making sure the spotlight is never taken off them. When the ante is turned up a bit in the slightly satanical Get Off Your Knees the Orion keeps up nicely, ensuring the listener is kept head-nodding and toe-tapping throughout.
 
So what about the bass? "Bass may be light for some", "may lack bass presence", "some may find it bass light" are just a few quotes pulled from the (very short) list of negatives pertaining to the CA Orion. The truth of the matter is I really do think for the most part it depends on the listeners preference and due diligence before investing in these earphones, or any other for that matter. Short of trying them out yourself, the opinions of your peers are all you really have to go on, as well as (hopefully) a general understanding of your own taste and preferences. For me, I find the bass to be just enough to carry most tracks and genres of music. I had little difficulty adjusting to the Orion's signature coming from the other relatively neutral offerings mentioned earlier in the review. While the single armature design scores top marks for bass speed and texture, I only very rarely found it to be "not enough" to give some recordings the body or soul needed to be fully enjoyed. I particularly enjoyed the bass presentation of this earphone in most rock, pop and even trance recordings.
 
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"In December drinking horchata..."
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So as to keep this review unbiased by my personal penchant for female vocals I thought it prudent to discuss indie rock hit Vampire Weekend's sophomore offering Contra (2010). I find this recording perfectly illustrates the strengths of the Orion's low end as it's tracks feature more in the way of low-end punch and snap rather than boom and rumble. Right off the bat openers Horchata, White Sky and Holiday have lead singer Ezra Koenig's vocals displayed like that of a male angel, all the while never missing a single hit of the bands signature xylophone. The first single Cousins requires a fast-paced and deft delivery of guitar riffs and percussion alike and the Orion steps up once again without hesitation.
 
That just leaves us with the treble. While not a treble-head per se, I do enjoy the spinal shivers that can be provided only by rendering your favorite singers high notes in all their glory. That being said, despite my best efforts the large amounts of aggressive & hardcore punk, rock and ska in my library cannot be enjoyed on overly bright or fatiguing gear. I'm happy to report the Orions polite treble, while some may find lacking in sparkle, never has me on the verge of wanting to shut off a track. This non-fatiguing character in combination with excellent comfort and isolation make the Orion easy to recommend to those looking for a chill-out pair of phones on long commutes or work periods. That isn't to say the Orion comes off as boring or playing it too safe. An accentuation in the upper mids still keeps things very interesting in the vocal ranges (though a little bit too interesting with the stock silicone tips I found) and to my own ears, slightly addicting despite being technically unnatural in its response.
 
As far as sibilance goes, I did encounter some on certain recordings. However, due to these incidents being isolated to certain artists and vocalists in particular I'm willing to chalk it up to a poor recording. That being said, while I wouldn't classify the Orion as overly sharp or harsh, it can be revealing and audible noise floors in lower quality recordings can easily be heard. 
 
 
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"Don't think twice, it's all right..."
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Joan Baez's timeless collection of Bob Dylan covers in Baez Sings Dylan is one of my favorite acoustic and folk recordings of all time. It is an album I play through almost every piece of audio equipment I can as a test and thus I have listened to a countless number of times. Nevertheless, I have never heard such a breathtaking rendition of Baez's wide vocal range until I tried it on the Orion. Resolution is the key word here, and that is offered in spades on tracks like Love Minus Zero and Tears Of Rage. Personal favorite Boots Of Spanish Leather almost made me want to reach for tissues as Baez sings as both sides of a couple distanced by the sea. Toe tapping narratives such as Drifter's Escape had me grooving out in public without quite caring who was watching. And thus, this is where I found the Orion's are truly at their potential: with folk and acoustic music. I could write a novel on how each one of the twenty tracks on this LP are presented, but perhaps I'll save that for another review.
 
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Image credits to 

Summary

In conclusion, I find the balanced sound of the Orion close to perfection for my personal tastes. I doubt you can show me another pair of earphones at this price that share not only its prowess of many genres, but also its mastery of folk and acoustic music. If they come close in sonic performance, I promise you won't get the same accessories, build, comfort or isolation.
 
However, if you are in search of a bass presence elevated even slightly above neutral or treble extension to the stars and back (astronomy jokes), you may want to look elsewhere.
k4rstar
k4rstar
Thanks Jazzi and jinxy, already have a second write-up out and plan on doing more as soon as I can get my hands on new gear.
cmateski
cmateski
Thanks for the review. Good job :)
Sp12er3
Sp12er3
thanks for the review! as similar  mids and female vocal lover I'm very much interested now with the Orion.. my main IEM right now is Final Heaven II, and what an IEM it is for the price.
Pros: Build quality, sound quality, balance, vocal clarity, imaging ability, fit (shape), accessories, cable quality, and KB service.
Cons: Hard edges on the internal facing (comfort), cable slightly microphonic, some may find it bass light
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For larger views of any of the photos (1200 x 800) - please click on the individual images

INTRODUCTION

Firstly I want to shout out to Mark (Head-Fier d marc0) for working with Ken Ball from ALO/Campfire for making this tour possible, and also for inviting me. Secondly I’d like to thank Ken for making this possible. I know you’re getting exposure for your product range mate – but it is a wonderful thing to give us this opportunity.

There were a lot of ways I could tackle this introduction, but I thought I’d take you all on a bit of a different journey – as it’ll give you a bit of insight into who Campfire is, and how good their service is as well. I can say from the last couple of weeks experience that Mr Ken Ball cares very deeply for audio quality, for what he produces, and for the betterment of his products.

Like others on the tour, I’ve been waiting for my turn with the IEMs, and a couple of weeks ago the Jupiter arrived. I was really looking forward to these, and popped them in my ears, and ……. let’s just say they weren’t to my tastes. I know a lot of people have raved over them – and they have some incredibly good points – spacious, refined, wonderful bass, extended treble – they just have a mid-range that jars badly with my particular tastes. I let my thoughts be known in the tour thread, and I was my usual quite blunt self. I’ll also note that I know of at least two others on Head-Fi who share my thoughts of mid-range issues. We all share the same sensitivity around the 2-3 kHz range – and this is where the Jupiter has quite a big drop (intentional) – to me it simply gives the Jupiter a measure of incoherency in its relation between lower and upper mid-range. It’s simply preference – but I would find it hard to be objective about an earphone where the most important part of the sonic signature was miles away from my own tastes. Call me narrow minded – but I couldn’t do it. I informed Mark, and this started some direct contact with Ken.

What followed were some frank but professional exchanges between the two of us. Ken was fairly disappointed in my comments. I was keen to let him know why, and what my issues were. We exchanged some graphs, I outlined all the issues I had – and we arranged for me to send not only the Jupiter back to him to be checked, but also some other IEMs I had on hand so he had some points of reference, and also was able to check my graphs on his own professional measuring equipment. This led to further dialogue – including a call to him – and some excellent discussion about both of our experiences and philosophy.

So let shorten thing by saying that Ken has helped me a lot with my measuring gear, and also identifying why I found the Jupiter so jarring. I in turn have helped him with (hopefully) some thoughts for future design changes. The thing I want to emphasise though is how professional he was in dealing with me, and also how passionate Ken is about his products and customer service.

So moving on from the Jupiter, a week ago the Orion arrived, and so with a little trepidation I had my first listen. And OMG I am happy that I continued the tour. Read on to find out why the Orion is one of the best tuned IEMs (for my tastes) I have heard in my five years on Head-Fi.

ABOUT CAMPFIRE AUDIO
Before Mark approached me I’d never heard of them. Then he mentioned the name Ken Ball and things clicked into place. Ken of course is the CEO and founder of ALO Audio (2006) and ALO is very well known for creating high quality audio components – including cables, amplifiers and all manner of other audio equipment. Ken founded Campfire Audio last year – with a vision of creating extremely high quality earphones with excellence in design, materials and of course sound quality.

DISCLAIMER
The Campfire Audio Orion was provided to me for review as part of a tour. I get to use it for 7-10 days then it goes to the next person. The only obligation I have as part of the tour is that I need to write about it. I am not affiliated to Campfire or ALO Audio in any way, and this is my subjective opinion of the Orion.

The Campfire Audio Orion can be sourced directly from Campfire Audio for USD 349

PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'.
(This is to give any readers a baseline for interpreting the review).


I'm a 49 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile – I just love my music. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up. I vary my listening from portables (including the FiiO X5ii, X3ii, X7, LP5 Pro and L3, and iPhone 5S) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > USB > iFi iDSD). I also use a portable set-up at work – usually either X3ii/X7/L3 > HP, or PC > E17K > HP. My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Beyer T1, Sennheiser HD600, and AKG K553. Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs, and lately it has mainly been with the Jays q-Jays, Alclair Curve2 and Adel U6. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).

I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences. I am not treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880. I have a specific sensitivity to the 2-3 kHz frequency area (most humans do) but my sensitivity is particularly strong, and I tend to like a relatively flat mid-range with slight elevation in the upper-mids around this area.

I have extensively tested myself (ABX) and I find aac256 or higher to be completely transparent. I do use exclusively red-book 16/44.1 if space is not an issue. All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line). I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables, and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’. I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 49, my hearing is less than perfect (it only extends to around 14 kHz nowadays).

Over the last week I’ve used the Orion paired with most of the sources I have at my disposal – from my iPhone to the L5Pro and X7. But for the review I’ve used mainly my X3ii + E17K, and also the X7. In the time I’ve been using the Orion, I haven’t noticed any sonic change. And although I used the Orion coupled with several different amplifiers, they are easily driven, and will pair nicely with most sources straight from the headphone out.

This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.

THE REVIEW

PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
The Orions arrived in their distinctive 76 x 116 x 65 mm rainbow coloured thin cardboard retail hinged lid box. It has that sort of 70’s psychedelic vibe about the patterning on it – and is very distinctive. The top (lid) simply has the word Orion and a short description, and the front face has a picture of the Orions.

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The distinctive Campfire box

Hinged lid

Storage case, and hidden compartment inside box

Opening the lid reveals the Campfire Audio case, and it really is a very sturdy case, but more “jacket or bag pocketable” than trousers. It measures approx. 75 x 115 x 40 mm. The case has a canvas outer, is zipped on 3 sides, and when opened reveals a soft wool interior which will definitely protect and preserve your IEMs. Despite the outside being canvas, it is quite strong, and pretty rigid.

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Accessories under the lid

Included accessories

The Campfire manual and warranty


Under the case is a hidden compartment which reveals the accessories. These include:

  1. S/M/L silicone tips
  2. S/M/L generic foam tips (some of these were missing from the demo pack)
  3. S/M/L genuine Comply T400 tips
  4. A cleaning brush / wax remover
  5. A Campfire Audio logo clothing button / pin
  6. Campfire’s foldout user manual (incl care instructions and warranty info)

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Tips, cleaning tool and Campfire "button"

The Orions and Tinsel cable safely in the case

Well padded and very sturdy canvas outer case



TBH, you really don’t need any more than what is included, as the cinch on the cable negates the need for a shirt clip. And while I note the omission of an airline adaptor or 3.5-6.3mm adaptor, really speaking – how many of us actually use these?

Whilst a smaller carry case would have been nice – I can understand the use for the larger case – it is just easier to handle and pack the Orions.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
(From Campfire’s website)

I’ve listed below the main specifications for the Campfire Orion.

Type
Single Balanced Armature full range driver
Current Retail
$349 (Campfire Website)
Freq Range
10 Hz – 28 kHz
Impedance
14 ohm (@ 1kHz)
Sensitivity
114 dB SPL /mW @ 1 kHz
Jack
3.5mm gold plated, 90 deg
Cable
1.4m, removable (MMCX) – silver plated copper (ALO Tinsel)
Weight
21g including cable and tips
IEM Shell
CMC aluminium
Body shape / fit
Ergonomic, cable over ear

FREQUENCY GRAPH
The graphs below are generated using the Vibro Veritas coupler and ARTA software. I must stress that they aren’t calibrated to IEC measurement standards, but the raw data I’m getting has been very consistent, and is actually not too far away from the raw data measured by other systems except for above 4-5 kHz where it shows significantly lower than measurements performed on a properly calibrated rig. So when reading the graphs, don’t take them as gospel – or at least remember that the area above 4-5 kHz will be significantly higher in actuality. It is my aim to get this system calibrated at some stage in the near future.

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Excellent channel matching

CSD with very clean decay measurements

Comparative data only - Jupiter vs Orion


What I’m hearing (subjective) – noted before I ever had these on the measurement bench.

  1. Very (extremely) linear bass response which is has a little roll-off into the sub-bass, but nothing too dramatic.
  2. Very clean and coherent mid-range which I’d guess is relatively flat through to about 2 kHz – maybe with a slight tilt up, because female vocals sound wonderful in the presence or overtone area.
  3. Reasonably well extended but very smooth lower treble which falls well short of excessive sibilance (for me) and remains detailed with sufficient air for clarity.
  4. Overall I’d say that the Orion has an extremely well balanced frequency response. Vocals are in perfect harmony with bass, and while the treble response is smooth, there is still plenty of detail (cymbal decay is very good).

What should also be noted is how well the drivers are matched (and some of the differences shown in my measurements are likely to be minor differences in seating each ear piece. They are practically identical. When Ken says his team hand-pick and match the drivers, it isn’t just “marketing speak”.

BUILD & DESIGN
I’m the type of guy who quite enjoys simple, clean, industrial design. And on first look they are amazing to look at. Campfire uses a full machined aluminium enclosure. Each shell is taken from a solid block of aircraft grade aluminium and then each small batch is CNC machined and finished – with the process talking around 9 hours. After that they are anodised. The reason for this is simple – Campfire wanted to house the drivers very securely in a totally damped and non-resonant shell. And if you look at the CSD plot above, you can see how successful they were. Very impressive.

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First look at Tinsel cable and Orion

Exterior face and hex screws

Internal face and nozzle


Physically each shell measures approximately 20mm in length, 115mm in height and has a depth of approx. 15mm (including the nozzle). The nozzle itself is angled slightly forward and slightly up, extends approx. 6-7mm from the main body, and has an external diameter of 6mm. The shape is very ergonomic, and the Orion is designed to be used with the cable over ear. The IEM shell is 3 pieces in total – nozzle, shell and back plate – with the plate secured by 3 small hex screws. There are L/R marking on the inside of both ear pieces and the Campfire logo is also discretely engraved on the outer face. The finish is black matt, the entire shell is precision cut – and these look gorgeous.

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Very good angle on the nozzle

Clean joins, and precision CNC

MMCX connectors


At the top of the shell is a beryllium coated MMCX connector, and when used with the supplied silver plated copper ALO Tinsel cable, the connection is made with a very reassuring click. The cables do rotate in their sockets, but the connection itself seems to be very robust. Unfortunately this is one of those things that only time can be the judge of – but the craftsmanship and material used seem to indicate longevity (to me anyway).

As I mentioned, the cable is ALO’s “Tinsel” which is high purity sliver-plated copper wire encased in an FEP jacket. FEP is similar to Teflon, and some of the traits it has include resistance to chemicals, sweat, water, and oil. This means it should protect the wires from oxidation, and eliminate the “greening” effect. The male MMCX connector is again beryllium coated, fits very snugly, and has either a blue or red dot on the connector to indicate L/R. There is a 75mm length of memory wire for over-ear wear, and I’ve found this very malleable, but also holds its shape very well. The cable is approximately 1.4m long, and consists of two twisted pairs above the Y split which continue as a twisted quad right through to the jack. The Y split is small and light and houses an in-built cinch which works really well, but can be a little loose. The jack is 3.5mm, right angled, and has clear rubber housing. Strain relief is excellent. The jack will also fit my iPhone 5S with case in place, although YMMV as the diameter of the rubber base is around 6mm.

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Orion + Tinsel = perfect match

Memory wire and beryllium coated connectors

Fantastic angle for nozzle - L to R = Atlas, Orion, U6, A83


The one thing I did find with the Tinsel cable is that when sitting down (quiet environment with the cable sitting above my clothes), it could be a little microphonic. It’s not terrible, but there was some noise. However, I’ve used it a few times walking and with cable management (inside clothes) and use of the cinch, there is practically no cable noise at all. It was actually very good. The other thing to note with the cable is that they are prone to tangling, but if you are like me, and tend to wind carefully, and use the included ties, you shouldn’t have too many issues. If you are the type to scrunch and slip into a pocket though – you are going to get frustrated.

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Included ALO Tinsel cable

3.5mm Jack

Y split and cinch


So both aesthetically and physically I am highly impressed with the build and design except for one small point (which we’ll cover in the next section).

FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION
Fit for me is fantastic – the shells are very ergonomic in shape, and this includes the angle of the nozzles and also the placement of the cable exits. The shells (when fitted) do not extend outside my outer ear, and I would have no issues lying down with the Orion. The memory wire is also really well implemented here so that snugging the wires properly is easy. The fit is relatively shallow, so for me I had to resort to my larger tips. If it was possible to extend the nozzle length by a couple of mm, it would really help the overall fit I think.

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Extremely good fit - with malleable memory wire

Stock foam tips

Adel U6 vs Orion vs Atlas (notice the angles)


This leads me to comfort and my only real issue with the design. My ears are soft, smooth, and have a lot of curved surfaces. I’d bet yours do to. The interior of the Orion shell has a series of hard angular edges. I first noted this with the Jupiter, and it continued with the Orion. For the first while when wearing them, they actually created sore points on my ears. After more than 10 days (between the use of both), the soreness has disappeared, and I’m not really bothered by it anymore. But to me anyway, it is something that can be improved upon. The Orion doesn’t feel as though it isn’t there like some of my other IEMs. I’ve already covered this at length with Ken, including sending him some rough images of where the hot spots are, and he is already working on future fixes. And that is something else I’m really appreciating about Campfire – the desire to improve.

As far as isolation goes, it will be tip dependent. For me, using large Comply T400 tips, the isolation is excellent – at least as good as using my q-Jays.

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Sony Isolation and Comply "Comfort"

SpinFit and Spiral Dot

Ostry Blue & generic Dual Flange


And speaking of tips – those who’ve read my reviews will know that I have one ear canal slightly different to the other one (my right is very slightly smaller) - so I tend to find that usually single silicon flanges don't fit overly well. This is often even more of an issue with shallow fitting IEMs. I tried the large included silicones and was surprised to find them very comfortable and capable of getting a good seal. So I ran through some of the other tips I normally try.

Sony Isolation tips gave instant seal and brilliant results – but I had to be careful about some vacuum issues with any change of pressure. I also fit and had great success with Ostry’s blue and black tuning tips, Spin-fits, and also Spiral Dots. The lip on the Orion is fantastic for every tip I tried and I credit the reason for a lot of the success with the tips I tried to the angle of the nozzle. It isn’t just good – it is perfect.

So everything is practically perfect with the exception of the comfort. And it’s not bad, just not as good as it could be.

SOUND QUALITY
The following is what I hear from the Campfire Audio Orion. YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline). Most of the testing at this point (unless otherwise stated) was done with my FiiO X7 and large Comply T400 tips. For the record – on most tracks, the volume level on the X7 (with AM2 amp module attached) was around 22-24/120 on low gain which was giving me an average SPL of around 70-75 dB and peaks at around 80dB (A weighted measurements from my SPL meter).

Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.

Initial Thoughts
From the first time I listened to the Orion, it wasn’t a sense of “wow”, but more a sense that everything was simply in perfect balance. And that sense of completeness has grown the more I’ve listened to them. I’ve hardly wanted to tweak them during the entire week. Usually there will be something with an IEM which just needs a slight adjustment for me to find it perfect. But with the Orion, I’ve just been able to marvel at how well they have handled every genre I’ve played. The only thing I’ve tweaked occasionally is the bass, and that has been more to find out what the driver set-up is capable of. The device I’ve used hasn’t mattered either. I’ve tried them with the X7, solo out of the X3ii, with Martin’s new hybrid portable tube amp, and balanced out of L&Ps new L3. Each has a different flavour, and with each the overall sound has been sublime – and that to me is the characteristic of an extremely good IEM.

If I was to now describe the signature in a few words/phrases – I’d choose the words clear, balanced, detailed, and smooth.

Overall Detail / Clarity / Resolution
Tracks used: “Gaucho”, “Sultans of Swing”

Fantastic clarity, and at first both tracks seem a little lean and perhaps a little bass light, but as I’ve listened to both tracks more throughout the week I’ve realised that what I’m simply not hearing is the bass guitar dominating like I’m used to with some the triple hybrids I have. And it’s different, but it’s a very good different. The overall resolution is excellent, and I’m picking up all the minute details like drum stick clicks. Cymbals are there and easily heard, but not highlighted. The cymbal decay is effortless. Focus is in the mid-range, but it is a balanced focus with everything coming together separately, but forming a very cohesive whole. It’s easy to focus on particular parts, but also easy to simply relax and let the music take you away. And while there is bite in the guitar and a little bit of edge where it is needed, the lower treble still has fantastic resolution but without being the slightest bit peaky. How did you do this Ken? It is phenomenal.

Sound-stage & Imaging
Tracks used: “Tundra”, “Dante’s Prayer”, “Let it Rain”

I started as usual with Amber Rubarth’s binaural track Tundra for measuring depth and width of stage. The first noticeable thing is the extremely precise imaging – the clarity and sense of separation is very good. Width is just on the peripheral of my head space (which is actually pretty good for an IEM), and there is an equally good sense of depth. There is also genuine sense of 3D space, and the blackness of the background, and sense of separation of individual instruments is very good indeed.

“Dante’s Prayer” is up next (I know this live track well, and I know from video where the real placement of instruments is on stage). This track is never really expansive but it is good to judge tonal balance - combo of piano, cello and vocals. The Orion is wonderful with this track, and handles positioning really well. But my main reason for using the track is the applause at the end. With some headphones it is possible to get total immersion (HD600) where you can be right in the audience. The Orion gives both width and depth and for a few seconds the illusion is there. It isn’t as forceful as the HD600 but it is impressively present.

The final track in this section is Amanda Marshall’s “Let It Rain” and I use it for two reasons – it has been miked to give a holographic feel (which the Orion nails perfectly – a beautifully 3D sense of the music around me), and it’s a good track to test sibilance (I know it is in the recording). At my normal listening levels, the sibilance is there, but barely noticeable, and definitely not annoying at my listening level.

Bass Quality and Quantity
Tracks used: “Bleeding Muddy Waters”, “Royals”, “Electric Daisy Violin”

Mark Lanegan’s track is always my first test for bass quality, quantity and also any bass bleed. The track could be described as dark and brooding – but usually has nice contrast between deep drum beats and Marks throaty vocals. The visceral impact is missing but interestingly the tonal quality of Mark’s vocals still comes through perfectly. And the bass is so clean and clear – with no signs of bleed. It is different to what I’m used to, but nevertheless I still find it enjoyable. I did try a bit of EQ lifting both sub and mid-bass, and it is definitely possible to coax more out of the driver if necessary, but it’s never going to reach the same type of impact as a dynamic driver.

Lorde’s track “Royals” is my sub-bass impact test – and the Orion shows its extension by reaching quite low – but it’s obviously rolled off. The rumble is there but barely. Ella’s vocals are very clear, and the presentation is good – but bass lovers are going to find the quality great but the quantity not so much. For me – I adjust easily, and there is always EQ if I needed a boost.

Because I was a little conflicted on my opinion of the bass performance, I finished with Lindsey Stirling’s “Electric Daisy Violin”. It’s a good reasonably bass heavy track which is a good test of speed and impact. Again with the Orion, the speed is there, and the overall quality is fantastic, but the impact is refined rather than “pumping”. For all that though, once you get used to the overall tonal balance, it is a combination that I can personally live with.

Female Vocals
Tracks used: “Aventine”, “Strong”, “For You”, “The Bad In Each Other”, “Howl”, “Safer”, “Light as a Feather”, “Man on the Moon”

And this is where the Orion simply blows me away. It’s often difficult to find an IEM that does female vocals well without sacrificing some of the lower mid-range. Yet the Orion is incredibly good with both. As soon as I started playing Agnes Obel’s “Aventine” for the first time I knew the Orion was a winner. Great contrast between Cello and vocals, and absolutely no hollowness with the vocals at all. Obel can be a bit honky at times if the cohesion isn’t there, and the transition from lower to upper mids with the Orion is seamless. Vocals have that euphony which I personally like. For me this presentation is perfect.

This was repeated with every female artist I tried, and especially so with London Grammar and also Gabriella Cilmi. Safer can give me goose-bumps whenever it’s captured perfectly, and the Orion didn’t disappoint. Even the tracks with a bit of bass (Feist, FatM), while not as dynamic as with my hybrids, were still utterly compelling.

The standout this time was Sarah Jarosz, and it was so good I ended up listening to her entire album. Any time an IEM has me doing this during a review, I know it is a winner.

Male Vocals
Tracks used: “Away From the Sun”, “Art for Art’s Sake”, “Broken Wings”, “Diary of Jayne”, “Hotel California”, “Keith Don’t Go”, “EWBTCIAST”

Moving to some of my male artists, and I was expecting a little weakness with the lower bass levels, but what I didn’t prepare myself for was how good the overall balance would perform – even with a lot of my rock collection.
3 Door’s Down’s “Away From the Sun” was first, and whilst the bass was a little more subdued than my hybrids, the balance more than makes up for it. Again I’m struck by the natural tonality and balance. Add the separation of instruments and you have a really nice mix – where all of a sudden the softer bass isn’t as much of an issue as I thought it might be.

Trying some older classic rocks (10CC) and again the vocals are presented so clearly and in such perfect balance with the rest of track that it’s difficult not to just sit back and relax, and forget the job at hand. The key here for me is the clarity and detail, and while the overall tonality might not be rich or lush, it is still full enough to satisfy me. The sense of stereo space is very good too – especially with this particular track.

Switching out to more guitar based acoustic music (Eagles / Lofgren), or slower rock (Alter Bridge’s “Broken Wings”) and here is where the Orion soars. Stringed instruments are fantastic, and my live version of Hotel California ends up being an eye closing, toe-tapping experience. The best part is that the vocals in all three tracks are full, and I’m noticing no weakness or tonal leanness.

Time to get to Pearl Jam and as per usual, if Vedder works, then it’s a winner. And for my tastes, it is perfection. Again everything is in balance, gobs of detail, and there is brilliant texture and timbre in Eddie’s vocal presentation. The bass guitar this time is in perfect balance, and the cymbal decay is incredibly life-like.

This time I’m not going to go through genres individually – the Orion (for my tastes) was brilliant with everything. It didn’t have the impact for some of the heavier electronica, or hip-hop. Yet I still found some of AVB’s trance, of Little Dragon’s trip-hop thoroughly enjoyable. It was particularly good with alt-rock (Floyd and Porcupine Tree were both incredible). And both Jazz and Classical were utterly enjoyable. I have a couple of live classical performances, and they were amazing. Netrebko and Garanca singing Lakme’s “Flower Duet” was nothing short of divine.

AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS
As I alluded to earlier, the Orion is easily driven out of a smartphone or DAP, and on my iPhone 5S I’m sitting around 20-25%. Any louder and its getting a bit uncomfortably loud.

I also volume matched and compared X3ii vs X3ii + E17K, and there was no discernible audible difference in dynamic presentation – so I think it is pretty safe to say that extra amping won’t be necessary. Based on the specs alone (14 ohm and 114dB SPL), straight out of the headphone-out of most sources should be more than enough. Small plug though – I really enjoyed the tonality of the X3ii + IMS-HVA (Hybrid Valve Amp).

orion28.jpgorion29.jpg[size=inherit]orion30.jpg[/size]

Orion with Martin's HVA

Orion balanced mode from the L&P L3

Orion with the FiiO X7 (and AM2)


One thing to be aware of though is the relatively high sensitivity and low impedance of the Orion, so ideally a source with under 2 ohms output impedance is desirable. I tried – with the X3ii and E17K – to detect any hiss, but as expected (my high frequency hearing is hopeless), I couldn’t hear any. So I asked once again for my lovely wife to “lend an ear”. She’s pretty good at hearing hiss, and she couldn’t detect any via the E17K at right up to 60/60, so with my set-up, the Orion is excellent.

RESPONSE TO EQ?
Although I didn’t play around a lot with EQ, I did want to see what could be done with the bass using a simple EQ (tone controls on the E17K). So I switched to the X3ii + E17K, gave the bass control +4, and went back to some of my bassier tracks.

It added both mid-bass impact and also some sub-bass slam. It also warmed and thickened things a little. To be honest I actually preferred the overall tonality and bass of the un-eq’d Orion, but it’s nice to know that you can coax some extra impact out if you need it.

COMPARISONS
So what do I try and compare with when pitching the Orion against other IEMs? It is the only single BA I have, so I decided to go with earphones in a similar price point. I chose the DUNU DN2000J, Alclair Curve 2, and Jay’s Q-Jays – mostly because of their price points, but also because of their relative balance, somewhat similar frequency curves, and because they are all earphones I use on a reasonably regular basis.

As always, the IEMs were compared after volume matching (SPL meter and test tones), but the comparisons are completely subjective. For these tests I used the X3ii and E17K – simply because it is easier to volume match with this combo.


  • Orion $349 vs DN2000J $289.
    This pitches a single BA against a triple hybrid, but as you can see from the graph, comparatively they have similar frequency shaping, and the price is relative.

    The build on both is impeccable, but for fit, the superior ergonomics of the Orion win out. Comfort is a bit of a wash, but if Ken does fix the internal edging, it would again go to the Orion. It also comes with the removable Tinsel cable which is a plus.

    Comparatively, the 2000J sounds a good deal more V shaped with more bass presence, and also more of an edge in the upper registers. Bass on both is very good quality, quick and well defined. The 2000J simply has a little more impact. Both are incredible with female vocals, with the 2000J being a little more euphonic. If I was judging alone on female vocals, I’d probably pick the 2000J. When you factor in male vocals and look at overall tonality though – the Orion just has a fuller, richer, and more balanced signature.

    Despite the price difference, I would take the Orion.
    orion31.jpgOrionv2KJ.png

    Orion vs DN2000J

    Comparative freq graph

  • Orion $349 vs Alclair Curve 2 $249
    This time it’s a single BA vs a dual BA. The graphs this time have a little more difference with the Curve having more bass, a similar mid-range, but less lower treble. The Curve is considerably cheaper.

    The build on both is very good – for materials you’d take the Orion, but for actual ergonomics and also comfort, the Curve will beat almost everything in its class. Simply put they are one of the most comfortable IEM’s I’ve ever worn. Both have a removable cable, but I would call the cable on the Orion better overall quality.

    Comparatively the Curve is a lot bassier, and although mildly V shaped, it is a lot more rolled off in the lower and upper treble. Bass has a lot more impact with the Curve, but it remains quick and well textured. It does bring warmth to the overall signature though, and for someone who values enhanced clarity, this is where the Orion pulls away. Both are incredibly competent IEMs, but the detail retrieval on the Orion is simply better. It is cleaner and clearer, and for my personal tastes, this trumps the warmer, easier going signature of the Curve.
    orion32.jpgOrionvCurve.png

    Orion vs Alclair Curve2

    Comparative freq graph


  • Orion $349 vs q-Jays $400
    An interesting comparison, and one I should qualify before we start. I liked the q-Jays so much I bought the review pair from q-Jays (paid real cash). Like the Curve comparison, this is single BA vs dual BA.

    This time the build on both is quite simply impeccable. Both are made with exquisite precision, and both from durable high quality materials. Ergonomically it is a tie and although both have different shapes, both are also extremely easy to fit. For comfort though, the q-Jays win easily. They disappear when worn – I’m hoping that Ken’s improvements will even that playing field eventually. Both have MMCX removable cables, both are very good quality – the Tinsel looks and feels better, but the q-Jays is easier to handle.

    Sonically both have very similar measurements, and they also sound very, very similar. Although the graph shows the Orion having a little more bass than the Jays, when listening the two are actually very close. Both have incredibly well controlled and textured bass though, and very similar mid-range presentations. I know some have difficulty with the q-Jays lower treble peak, but it’s never bothered me. What I do find a little strange comparing the two though is that the Orion actually sounds slightly clearer and cleaner in its vocal presentation. This could be the very slight bump at 2 kHz combined with my acuity or sensitivity in this particular frequency.

    Choosing one over the other though is very difficult, and for me the only thing holding the Orion back is the comfort. And again, if Campfire does fix the internal shell shaping, I think I would choose the Orion over the q-Jays, and that should tell you how much I’m impressed by this earphone.
    orion33.jpgOrionvq-Jays.png

    Orions vs q-Jays

    Comparative freq graph

CAMPFIRE AUDIO ORION – SUMMARY

So here we are again, and time to summarise my experience with the Orion.

The Orion is an incredibly well built single BA IEM, with a very good ergonomic fit, and also an extremely good quality cable. A quick note on the cable too – it retails on ALO’s site for $149 if sold separately.

As far as fit and comfort goes, the fit for me is superb, but the comfort could be better with a few hard angles on the internal face making longer term listening sessions occasionally uncomfortable. YMMV in this regard.

Sonically the Orion is brilliantly balanced and quite neutral with very linear bass, an extremely coherent and well-tuned mid-range which delivers very clear vocals. The lower treble is well extended, and has plenty of detail, but falls short of any peakiness or sibilance.

The Orion will likely suit:

  1. Fans of balanced presentation, and those who like clean and clear vocal presence
  2. Those who value very good imaging and reasonable sound staging

The Orion may not suit anyone who:

  1. Enjoys or requires significant bass impact
  2. Likes a V shaped sound signature

At a current RRP of USD 349, the Orion represents very good value in my opinion, and the overall quality of build, fit and sonics (for those who like its particular presentation) is an excellent standard.

One thing I haven’t mentioned is the dedication and service of the Campfire Audio team. In my dealing to date, I have been very impressed by their willingness to take critique on board, and above all to constructively engage with their market audience, and ultimately improve the final product.

So would I buy these, and would I recommend them to friends or family? For myself this is an easy “yes”. I intend getting a pair as soon as the comfort issues are addressed – unless of course Ken releases something better in the near future. 4.5 stars from me, and it would be a perfect 5 if the comfort was better.

Once again I’d like to thank Ken and Mark for making this opportunity available.


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Brooko
Brooko
Yep  - definitely still in the queue
R
RAINING-BLOOD
From purely sound quality perspective, how does this iem is compared to full sized headphones, like Nighawks, audeze sine, or any other similarly priced cans? 
Brooko
Brooko
Hi - unfortunately I no longer have the IEM (it was part of a tour) so it is very difficult to make those kinds of call when its now been more than 6 months since I had the Orion for the review. And if the headphones you mentioned, I haven't heard the Sine or Nighthawks.  To give a rough guess - I would definitely say the Orion has similar audio quality to my HD630VB (which I absolutely love).
Pros: Great design and build quality, outstanding accessories, very enjoyable signature
Cons: Slightly rolled-off treble, may lack bass presence for some people
I recently reviewed the Campfire Audio Jupiter earphones and really liked a lot of what I heard and saw. Next up in the tour are the Campfire Audio Orion, a single-driver IEM cut from the same cloth as the Jupiter.
 
Before I talk about the Orions, I need to rectify an oversight in my last review by expressing my sincere thanks to @d marc0 for arranging this for local Australian and New Zealander Head-Fiers.
 

Overview

 
  1. Frequency response:  10-16,000Hz
  2. Impedance:  14 ohm @ 1kHz
  3. Sensitivity:  113dB SPL/mW (@ 1kHz)
 
One of the common limitations with balanced armatures is their inherently limited frequency range so for CA to extract nearly the full audible frequency range from a single driver is impressive. Of course measurements can be deceiving, but, without completely spoiling the review, I can confirm that this is a legit specification.
 

Design & Accessories

 
The Orions share much of their design and range of accessories with their more expensive sibling Jupiters, This leads to the Orions being amazingly well built and well-furnished with a great carry case, range of tips and the same outstanding cable as the Jupiters. The only real differences are that the Jupiters have an extra cable and the Orion case is grey canvas instead of leather. Given the price difference (the Orions cost about half what the Jupiters sell for), the quality and accessories provided are excellent. That said, the Orions still aren't cheap so it's good that the build and accessories are as good as they are.
 

Sound Quality

 

Treble

CAOrion-1149.jpg
 
The treble from the Orions is much more controlled than I expected from a single-armature earphone. In fact, the treble from the Orions is a little bit smooth and rolled off, but I quite like it for that reason. There is a slight lack of extension as you might expect from the 16kHz upper limit on the frequency response (keeping in mind that there is often roll-off occurring before an earphone reaches its upper / lower limits).
 
On some tracks, and probably depending on your ears and the tips you use, I also find there to be a slight lift in the lower treble that can make some sounds a little artificial and can make some recordings sound a touch forced. In some ways this is reminiscent of the FIDUE A83 and, like the A83, can result in an enjoyable and even addictive sense of clarity and texture once your ears adapt to the sound, but is actually an unnatural sound in the truest sense.
 

Mids

 
Other than the lower treble / upper mid emphasis I just mentioned, the mid-range from the Orions is fantastic - a really enjoyable presentation that has weight and body while maintaining crystal-clear clarity. In this way, the Orions remind me of the Noble Savants. They're not quite as laser-focussed as the Savants, but I actually find them more musical overall as a result.
 
One thing I definitely like about the mid-range from the Orions is the way individual sounds pop out of recordings without losing the coherency of the overall sound. It's very enjoyable.
 

Bass

 
The Orions are about as good as you can get with a single armature I think. They're not going to compete with a good multi-BA setup, but they are extremely good for a single armature and that design definitely brings the coherency of not having multiple drivers doing different things.
 
The bass itself is well extended and of good quality, but it's still a little behind the rest of the music if you compare it to what you hear in a live situation. Thankfully, the Orions don't sound anaemic like some other single-armature (and even multi-armature) designs I've heard, but my personal taste calls for a little more bottom end to really get the full emotional experience of the music.
 

Staging

 
The coherency of the single armature pays dividends in the soundstage and imaging which are both excellent. The stage isn't particularly large, but it's beautifully defined and has a great sense of 3-dimensionality, stretching forwards nicely and out to each side.
 
Instruments and vocalists are well defined in their own spaces in the soundstage and there's a good sense of space between each sound while still sounding like a coherent, singular presentation - not blown out and artificial.
 

Summary

 
CAOrion-1153.jpg
All-in-all, I would say that the Orions are a very worthy option if you're looking for a bullet-proof and beautifully designed, made and accessorised IEM. They're best suited to those who like a slightly warmer-than-neutral sound (i.e. clarity that errs towards musicality) and will sound great with most sources and recordings in my brief experiences with them.
 
If you're a bass-head or a treble-head you should probably look elsewhere, but if you like a well-tuned sound that's both revealing and musical then the Orions are worth checking out.
 

Comparison with the Jupiters

 
Having reviewed the Jupiters prior to the Orions, I would say that the Jupiters are clearly superior earphones as you'd expect from their specifications and price tag, but the Orions are clearly from the same family and offer a very good proportion of the Jupiter's performance for around half the price. The bonus is that you get the same incredible quality and accessories despite that greatly reduced price tag so if you're drooling over the Jupiters, but can't quite stretch the budget, you should definitely check out the Orions.
shigzeo
shigzeo
Great work. Concur.
wolfjeanne
wolfjeanne
any idea how these compare to ACS T1/Crescendo DS-11 or Etymotic's single BA offerings? From your description it seems like they would be slightly warmer sounding.
Pros: Gorgeous appearance, build quality, sound linearity.
Cons: Safe treble tuning, no sparkle, a little bit of resonance with live recordings.

Campfire Audio Orion

"Beauty within and without!"
 
 
Firstly, I’d like to thank @d marc0 for organising this review. It’s always a great opportunity to be a part of these.
 
There has been a lot of different IEM companies coming out of the woodworks in the past couple of years, and I always get a good feeling when I see something that truly stands out because I know that it will leave a mark on the Head-Fi community. This is definitely evident with Campfire Au
I’ve never heard of Campfire Audio, but I do know ALO, and know that the quality of the cables and amplifiers are nothing to dismiss. This experience in the audio industry has shone through with their new line-up of IEMs. You can tell this by just looking at the pictures that these earphones are unique, and you can only hope that they get it right, and for the most part, they got it very right!
 

A little about the Campfire Audio Orion

More info at the CA website: http://campfireaudio.com/orion/
Frequency response​
12 - 22 000  Hz
Impedance​
17 Ohm
Sensitivity​
114  dB
Plug​
Gold Plated 3.5mm (1/8”) 90° Angled
Beryllium and Copper Custom Alloy MMXC
Cable Length​
1.48m (SPC)
Speaker diameter​
Single Balanced Armature Driver
 
 
[size=24.57px]Build[/size]

Housing

Oh the build! The Orion is indisputably the best looking IEM I’ve held in my hand. I’m a huge fan of good machining and the Orion is flawlessly CNC cut with laser precision accuracy to the micron. They’re held together with socket machine screws, a silver coloured aluminium nozzle and MMXC cable connectors. The whole unit absolutely screams “Quality Product” and just for the beauty of it alone I’d pay the $550 price tag, and it only gets better from here. They don't just look great, they also feel great. Even though the housing is a little on the large side, and it does have sharp edges, it's made in a way that feels very comfortable and natural when you position them just right in your ears. They sit well thanks to the earguides and you just forget that they're in.

Cable

This cable is absolutely divine! Can someone say “Bling, bling!”? The first thing I saw where I unboxed them was the cable and it just melted my heart. I believe that it is tinsel covered SPC wire inside. The MMXC connectors, are beryllium and copper custom alloy, are housed in a clear acrylic moulded strain relief which fuses with the clear ear guides, which have memory wire and can be shaped to suit your ear. The cable is insulated is sparkly silver material which feels tough, yet it’s malleable and surprisingly has a minimal amount of memory. The wire is very slippery which means that it doesn’t snag on clothing and it is very light, so light actually that you can’t even feel it’s presence.
The only dislike I have with it is the way the MMXC connectors rotate freely in the socket. It would be so much better if there was an interference fit of some sort to minimise this.
 

Packaging

The Orion comes in a pretty simple cardboard box, what is special though, is what is on the box. The psychedelic and cosmic looking print is gorgeous and adds to the uniqueness of this product.

Accessories

The earphones come is a really nice canvas outer lined zipped clamshell which is lined internally with sheet skin. There is a webbing inside which doesn’t allow the clamshell to open all the way. I found this to work extremely well in practice as it makes sure that the earphone never falls out by accident. I’ve not seen anything like this before.
Campfire Audio include a very nice selection of ear tips that mostly consist of foam tips. I’m not a big fan of foam tips, but I do use them when dampening of sibilance and harsh treble is required, needless to say, they weren’t required here.
In the box you get:
  1. 3 pairs of rather standard silicone tips (S/M/L)
  2. 3 pairs of generic hard foam tips (S/M/L)
  3. 3 pairs of COMPLY TX-400 foam tips (S/M/L)
  4. A cleaning brush and ear wax prod.
  5. A little booklet with all the juice details about the Orion.
  6. A little CA "Fanboy" shirt pin. (That's funny, nice touch!)
 

Sound

All my listening and evaluation consists of various genres of music including but not limited to: trance, house, funk, acoustic, rock, orchestral and electronic.
Gear used: Audio-gd NFB-15 amp/DAC, FiiO X1, FiiO E17 (PC as transport). Eartips used are Fidue dual-flange wide bore for semi-deep insertion.
 
The sound characteristics of the Orion is borderline reference. It’s quite flat and tame but lacks excitement and sparkle, though were it shines is linearity and sense of space. It has a very good 3D image which makes up for it’s somewhat average soundstage width. The coherency of sound elements are well defined and make for a very enjoyable intimate listening session. I found that where the Orion has all of this pronounced uniqueness and beauty in appearance it somewhat lacks in sound character. Thus the downfall of making a linear sounding headphone. It’s not for everyone but I found them to be technically well versed and I think I would rate them above both the new Jays Q-JAYS, and the Noble Savant. The average consumer who is not a treble-head would surely love these.

Treble

Safe tuning is what I understand the treble to be, and is the main reason I think this IEM lacks character. The treble is too smoothed and is a little slow on decay. I found this to be very evident with live recorded orchestral scores where there is a lot of reverb. The BA’s pick up the echoes and as they build up they start to resonate and ring giving the sound signature a little bit of a hollow or “flangy” character. This does not translate to studio recording though and is not noticeable most of the time.
The rounded treble response means that they are a very good choice for those you like to listen to music loudly. I’ve never encountered any sibilance or harshness. For the most part, the treble is very accurate and true in timbre.

Mids

Mids are separated very well from the treble and bass regions. Vocals are well defined in the head space and feel a little forward and natural. They are a little warm and with the reverb pickup they actually sound very raw and real. Though this feels really great, it’s not a reference type sound and in effect it sounds a bit smudged with male vocals; you can't have it all. This also translates to different kind of acoustics like guitars and pianos.

Bass

Good bass in my opinion starts with good, deep and fast sub bass, and the Orion does this right. The bass maybe a little recessed, but it's good where it matters. Bass guitar really shines through with good roll of the note, and 808 kicks stand out like nothing else. I’m a fan of this type of bass response; it does away with any bloat and unnecessary pomp in the bottom end which gives of a faux punch. What many would be interested is if they react well the EQing of the bass, and that answer is yes. Giving it a boost in the whole region up to 200Hz elevates the Orion to a nicely punchy sounding IEM.
 
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Score

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Conclusion

I would say that the Campfire Audio Orion is a very good entry level for a new venture company. It’s not without its flaws, which I think most people won’t even notice. This product stands out like a star in the night sky and will give you that “bling factor” some people look for when buying headphones. I fell in love with the Orion at first site and it’s the kind of product I would never forget. Simply astonishing!
 
Cheers!
 

 

 

 
Pros: Gorgeous packaging, premium built IEM and accessories, Sweet reference sound.
Cons: Lower treble emphasis when using silicon tips, microphonic cable.
Campfire Audio is an audio design and manufacturing company located in Portland, Oregon USA. The company began by hand-building cables and audio amplifiers as ALO Audio, which is now a known brand for a wide range of high quality audio products. Last year ALO Audio marked its 10th year at Head-fi.org and to celebrate the milestone, Campfire Audio was introduced. A brand with a new focus and vision; building earphones with high quality components through fine craftsmanship without compromising sound quality. Earphones that will stand up to the riggers of daily use while performing at the highest level.

Three brand new In-ear Monitors (IEM) were introduced by Campfire Audio, they are the Jupiter, Lyra and Orion. These IEMs were all designed and custom tuned from the ground up, using Campfire Audio's in-house techniques. In this review, we will look at the Orion - a single balanced armature driver IEM described to have the sonic quality to bring your daily listening to a new level of enjoyment.

RETAIL PRICE:           US$ 349
DRIVER SPEC:           Single Balanced Armature Driver
IMPEDANCE:              14 Ohm
SENSITIVITY:             113 dB SPL/mW
FREQ RESPONSE:    10Hz - 16KHz
TERMINATIONS:         Beryllium Copper hardened MMCX, 3.5 mm gold plated L-plug
INCLUDED CABLE:    1.35 M Silver-plated Copper Tinsel Wire with FEP jacket

Disclaimer: This review unit was provided as a loaner by Campfire Audio.



I still remember my very first job offer. The company I applied for made a lasting impression based solely on how they presented themselves. That made a massive difference to my perspective on whether or not the company was worth working for. A classic example of the saying, "the first impression, is the last impression". This time around, Campfire Audio is making an impression...  Their packaging is conservative and practical; all in a small, lightweight cardboard box. It has a simplistic design but ironically eye-catching. Just looking at the box, a part of me hesitated in breaking the seal that resembles an artwork. The other part of my confused self was anxious to see what's inside. If this is how I feel about the package, how much more when I see what's inside?! Dear friends, I was not disappointed. After breaking the seal with surgical precision, I was greeted with a beautiful case containing an exquisite pair of IEMs. Campfire Audio has delivered on their promise, fine craftsmanship from the inside - out. Accessories may leave others wanting for more, but really... what else do you need? To be honest, I think a shirt clip can be a valuable add-on as a tool to minimise cable noise (microphonics). Not that it's hard to acquire one, but having a clip that aesthetically matches the beautiful Tinsel Wire cable would've been nice. Other than that, the product packaging is a beauty!

  1. 3 pairs Comply Tx 400 tips (S,M,L)
  2. 3 pairs foam tips (S,M,L)
  3. 3 pairs silicon tips (S,M,L)
  4. Cleaning Tool
  5. Carrying Case
  6. Campfire Audio Pin
  7. User Guide



SETUP:
iPod Touch 5th Gen > OPPO HA-2
16/44 FLAC and ALAC
Comply Tx 400 tips were used

TEST TRACKS:
Dr. Chesky’s Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc
Seductive Souls - How It Feels
Pantera - Domination
Lorde - Royals
Jewel - Somewhere Over The Rainbow
Dire Straits - Sultans of Swing
Phil Collins - Easy Lover
Nirvana - Lithium
Avicii - Heart Upon My Sleeve

Campfire Audio did good on their promise to provide an IEM built through fine craftsmanship. The Orion is a primary example boasting CNC'd Aluminium enclosures with anodised finish. The build quality screams premium, a testimony of their dedication and passion. Looking closely at the finish, the surfaces have a nice texture and aren't prone to dents nor scratches. The textured surface may be less desirable to those who prefer the smooth finish of plastics. The shape is designed to conform with the contours of your ear but the size may be an issue for those with really small ears. Best to audition them first if there's any doubt they'd fit you. I consider my ears to be smaller than average and in my experience, the Orions just barely fit my ears. If they were a millimetre longer, they would've caused some issues. Fortunately, I did not experience any discomfort from wearing the Orion. The only thing worth mentioning is the slight discomfort caused by the chamfered edges as they rub against a specific cartilage in my ear whenever I push the IEMs in. Once they are in, there are no issues at all. The IEMs sit securely in my ears, and stay on even when I'm moving constantly. Please note that your experience may vary to mine because we all have different ear shapes and sizes.

The cables are attached using MMCX connectors, hardened with Beryllium Copper. This improves the resistance of the connectors to wear and tear. The included cable is a silver plated copper 4 conductor tinsel wire protected by a rugged FEP jacket. FEP improves signal travel and eliminates oxidation on the tinsel wire - so this cable won't turn "HULK" on you.  I must say, this cable is gorgeous! Easily one of the best cables I've ever used for IEMs. These are worn over the ears with the aid of short memory wires. There is a slight disadvantage in wearing this cable, the FEP jacket easily conducts cable noise (microphonics) whenever they rub against clothing. This is where the cable cinch comes in handy, pull it up to your neck and it neutralises most of the cable noise. As mentioned earlier, a shirt clip is also an effective tool to minimise microphonics.

All of these components are beautifully made and should be kept well protected from harsh environments. Included is a vintage looking zipper case featuring a soft interior with plenty of room to store the Orion and its accessories.



There are a few key factors in making sure your IEMs perform as they should be. The most notable ones are comfort, seal, insertion, and the type of ear tips. In this review I'd like to focus on the type of ear tips. I personally prefer hybrid silicon tips over foam tips. More often than not, silicon tips don't alter the sound dramatically. Foam tips are known to attenuate the lower treble and for that reason, I rarely use them as my go-to tips inspite the fact that they're the most comfortable tips ever made. What's ironic is I find the foam tips to be the perfect match for the Orion. I wouldn't be surprised if the engineers at Campfire Audio knew this hence, the inclusion of Comply foam tips in the accessories. Please note that I've paired the Orion with Comply Tx 400 tips in this review.

The overall sound signature of the Orion is neutral-reference or flat. Using a Sine Sweep Test, I can't hear any deviation from the sub bass region all the way to the lower midrange. Bass is pretty solid, with surprisingly deep extension into the sub bass region. Looking at the specifications, it says frequency response is from 10Hz! My hearing is limited and can only detect from 23Hz but I kid you not, Orion reaches deep bass. If you're a fan of Lorde, Royals is a great test track for sub bass extension and the Orion manages to pull it off despite its flat bass response. That is pretty impressive for a single balanced armature driver. Decay and timbre reminded me of the BAM mechanism from Final Audio Design. The bass response sounded more dynamic and natural compared to most single balanced armature drivers. It's not the fastest for drum blasts nor house music, but it's not bad either. I'd say there's a bit of weight or energy in its bass without affecting tonality. Bassheads wanting more punch and slam should look elsewhere. The Orion is strictly flat in its bass presentation.



Based on what I can remember from all my experiences with IEMs, the Orion is one of the most "reference" sounding of the bunch. The popular Etymotic ER4s is the standard bearer of "reference" for most audiophiles and yet, I don't have a problem putting the Orion next to them. I had the pleasure of borrowing the ER4s from uncle H20 and used them for a good few weeks. Based on my memory of that experience, the Orion is more linear in bass response, equally if not better in the midrange, while the ER4s extends better in the highs. Altogether, I feel the Orion can pose as a serious competitor in the "reference" class of IEMs. This is only my humble opinion and have no objective data to support this claim. So please take this with a grain of salt.

I'm not saying the Orion is the perfect reference IEM. It does deviate a bit by slightly accentuating the lower treble and then rolling off much earlier than it should. As a result a cymbal's timbre is ever so slightly thinner than normal. I've tested this using the track from Phil Collins - Easy Lover, the intro is a succession of cymbal crashes and the Orion (with silicon tips) didn't sound as natural as the ER4s in this scenario. This is where the Comply Tx 400 becomes significant because it successfully tamed the lower treble emphasis by a considerable margin. Thus, a cymbal's timbre sounded nearly as natural as the ER4s. I also mentioned the upper treble roll off and yes, airiness and soundstage take a slight hit. Noticeable when listening to well master complex track like Sultans of Swing by the Dire Straits. Other than that, the rest of the frequency bandwidth is spot on - "reference".

Midrange is where the unexpected magic happens. Unlike most single-BA IEMs I've tried, vocals on the Orion has a powerful presence. Intricate details from the singer's voice and breathing are equally projected in terms of depth. Tonality is spot on, producing excellent impressions on various instruments like the cello, acoustic guitar, piano, and alike. Avicii's Heart Upon My Sleeve is an instrumental and the Orion demonstrates its prowess in producing the right tonality, imaging, and depth between the various instruments. However, one must take notice of volume level with the Orion; the exceptional clarity and detail in the upper midrange can be quite fatiguing with aggressive music such as Nirvana's Lithium. Quite a transparent IEM overall, worthy of the title "reference" in my books.

The Orion is a very sensitive IEM, so choosing the right source is important. The iPod touch 5th Gen can easily drive this IEM. I can't even get passed 40% volume because it's too bloody loud!  The pairing is almost dead silent with minute audible background noises. However, the opposite holds true when paired with the OPPO HA-2 DAC/AMP. The Orion hisses substantially on the HA-2 and it's unfortunate because there is a noticeable improvement in bass texture and speed. The Orion's is a great performer for the most part. It is even good at imaging - placing instrumental cues on the right spots, but the spacing is a little bit narrow. Possibly caused by the early roll off in the upper treble. Fortunately, it doesn't sound congested in most of the tracks I've tested. An improvement on airiness and soundstage width are potential benefits should the Orion be tweaked to reverse the treble roll off. Once realised, that simple tweak can bring the Orion a lot closer to perfection.



Considering this is Campfire Audio's first attempt at building In-ear Monitors, I am quite impressed with what they have achieved. Seldom have I encountered an emerging manufacturer do so well on their first try, but Campfire Audio has exceeded my expectations. The Orion is the first to arrive at my review table and right off the bat it has gained my respect. This is a "reference" sounding IEM perfect for critical listeners who don't want a coloured sound signature. If you're after a neutral yet musical sound experience, the Orion may not be for you unless you are willing to toggle that bass boost on your DAP or AMP. I've tested the Orion's tolerance to bass boost and it can definitely handle the accentuation with no audible distortion. Comparing the Orion to one of my favourite single balanced armature IEMs - Final Audio Design Heaven V, I find the Orion better at bass control, detail, and layering. Overall, the Orion has better clarity and more natural tonality while the Heaven V is warmer and laid back in comparison. I can't wait for the next Campfire Audio IEM to hit my desk. It'll be interesting to see the contrasting difference between the three siblings.

d marc0
d marc0
@r3n88 thanks for the recommendation. Unfortunately, the review unit is on tour. Hopefully I get to try the Spinfit just before the Orion gets sent back to Campfire Audio.
D
Diego Davila
I would buy these iems just to enjoy the case lol
d marc0
d marc0
@Diego Davila  if Campfire Audio sells these cases separately, they'd probably get a lot of orders.
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