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

    Dismiss Notice

Campfire Audio Orion

Rating:
4.32143/5,
  1. Brooko
    Campfire Audio Orion – Almost Balanced Perfection (for me)
    Written by Brooko
    Published Apr 4, 2016
    4.5/5,
    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
    orion37.jpg
    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.

    orion01.jpg orion02.jpg orion03.jpg

    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.

    orion04.jpg orion05.jpg orion06.jpg

    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)

    orion07.jpg orion08.jpg orion09.jpg

    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.

    Orionchannels.png OrionCSD.png OrionvsJupiter.png

    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.

    orion10.jpg orion11.jpg orion12.jpg

    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.

    orion13.jpg orion14.jpg orion21.jpg

    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.

    orion22.jpg orion20.jpg orion16.jpg

    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.

    orion17.jpg orion18.jpg orion19.jpg

    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.

    orion27.jpg orion23.jpg orion34.jpg

    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.

    orion24.jpg orion25.jpg orion26.jpg

    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.jpg orion29.jpg orion30.jpg

    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.jpg Orionv2KJ.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.jpg OrionvCurve.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.jpg Orionvq-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.


    orion35.jpg

    orion36.jpg
      djvkool, peter123, jinxy245 and 11 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Brooko
      Yep  - definitely still in the queue
      Brooko, Apr 11, 2016
    3. 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? 
      RAINING-BLOOD, Jan 27, 2017
    4. 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).
      Brooko, Jan 28, 2017
  2. Loquah
    Campfire Audio Orion - Single-Armature Perfection
    Written by Loquah
    Published Mar 17, 2016
    4.0/5,
    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.
      Baycode, d marc0 and DJScope like this.
    1. shigzeo
      Great work. Concur.
      shigzeo, Mar 18, 2016
    2. 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.
      wolfjeanne, Mar 21, 2016
  3. DJScope
    Campfire Audio Orion: "Beauty within and without!"
    Written by DJScope
    Published Mar 1, 2016
    4.5/5,
    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

     
     
    Build

    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.
     
     ​
     

     
     

     
     

     
     

     
     
    IMG_6823.jpg
     
    IMG_6824.jpg  
    IMG_6825.jpg  
    IMG_6831.jpg  
    IMG_6836.jpg  
    IMG_6839.jpg  
     

     

    Score

    score.png
     

    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!
     [​IMG]
     

     

     
      H20Fidelity, d marc0 and Light - Man like this.
  4. d marc0
    Campfire Audio Orion: A New Breed!
    Written by d marc0
    Published Feb 29, 2016
    4.5/5,
    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.

    [​IMG]

    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

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    1. View previous replies...
    2. 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 marc0, Mar 4, 2016
    3. Diego Davila
      I would buy these iems just to enjoy the case lol
      Diego Davila, Mar 4, 2016
    4. d marc0
      @Diego Davila  if Campfire Audio sells these cases separately, they'd probably get a lot of orders.
      d marc0, Mar 4, 2016