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Fun with the Atlas and Shanling M0
thank you for your thoughtful response; enough improvement there to consider the upgrade! I will say the SXC8 (very heavy and too thick for most people) created some of what you describe from the Atlas in my Vegas (transparency, smoothness in the mids and bigger staging) for me when I A/B'd it with the Ref 8 cable, and I think I am one of only a few actually using this cable with the Vegas right now...like everything else, I need to hear it for myself and decide on whether its a "must have" or not....thanks again
I'm using the SXC 8 on the Vega and Andromeda and found a similar improvement over the Ref 8.
I’m in the same exact boat. I’ve been waiting for A/B comparisons between the two because I absolutely love my Vegas and don’t really want to change them if the differences aren’t significant.
I stream Tidal (mostly the MQA) through a Hugo 2, WyWires Plat cable and Ether Flows, and find myself lately using my Vegas almost as much as the headphones....I never would have opted for IEMs over headphones before, thats how enjoyable i find the Vega / SXC 8 combo.....obv Atlas better be noticeable for me to make the change....
BTW, I "A/B"d for over a week with the Ref 8 and tried to find a reason to like the Ref 8 better (cuz everyone loves it, and its so light) but found myself going back again and again to the SXC 8 which for me was sweeter and more enjoyable to listen to-even tho its like having a garden hose hanging down....
Anyone try either the comet or atlas with small very small ear canals? My wife really likes the overall size and look, but very few iem’s fit her as she has tiny ears and canals.
For reference, Vegas and Lyras don’t fit her ears.
Will the SXC8 and Ref8 be updated to no memory wire like the cable included with the Atlas?
The original litz cable that came with my vega was so unergonomical that I decided to remove the memory wire myself.
Just returned from the Tokyo spring headphone show. As usual it was a great event and we had so much fun.
I spent some time checking in listening to some other well known IEMs, yeah I know I am just a wee bit bias but I was not able to find another IEM in the place that I liked more or even equal to the Atlas. Sorry I know that sounds horn tooting but I really cant be much more proud of the Atlas. There is something to be said about a full range driver, no crossovers, no component in the signal path, no mechanical resonance issues that all BAs seem to have etc.. The Atlas to me has superior spatial properties that I just do not hear in other IEMs. All IEMs will produce what I like to visualize or image as a "ball" of music in my head where all the magic happens. This ball will be, so big, the larger the better, better room for instrument separation and refinement, micro detail, transition speed, and mid and low decay etc... The larger this image or ball the more life like the experience = the closer I can get to that emotional response I am looking for. All with out phase and image anomalies that might lessen the shape or size of this ball of music in my head. Most IEMs have some sort of high frequency shift, or cupped sound or ice pick in the ear type that is not up my ally. The Atlas just checks all the boxes and does so with such authority, sorry dont take my word for it please read others upcoming reviews and or attend one of our many shows to have a listen and decide for yourself
Does the Atlas come with Final Audio tips instead of SpinFit tips?
Welcome to the family!
How is the sound sig on the Atlas? I really did not like the Vega, it had awesome bass, but that was it. I guess I want to know how the Atlas sizes up objectively
It‘s really nice to see somebody so passionate like you in the heaphone world. I like what you wrote here, that it seems more important to you to produce a certain kind of emotional (and very personal) response than a neutral reference. I understand that very well because that is what me, personally, I am also looking for in earphones as a customer.
Can I ask you a question?
Recent CA products pronounce bass a lot more than CA producs a while ago. What is your personal opinion about that ongoing debate between „audiophiles“ about too much (or not enough?) bass?
Btw, the Fujiya festval was great and I especially enjoyed the CA booth!
Please keep on doing great work!
It takes about 5 seconds to realize that the Atlas was a labor of love for the Campfire team. This juggernaut is the culmination of their wealth of experience, trials, tribulations, user feedback, and technological discoveries. The Atlas doesn’t pull any punches, so take your blood pressure medication because there will be heart palpitations.
As with all things in audio, the whole doesn’t equal the sum of its parts. There will inevitably be comparisons to the Vega because they both utilize an A.D.L.C. dynamic driver (8.5mm vs. 10mm), but that would be selling the Atlas short based on what I’m hearing. I can concede that upon first listen this appears to be an incremental upgrade across the FR over the Vega, but I also know that some minor refinements in this hobby create the pricing chasms between competing products and can subjectively impact the overall enjoyment of the music. As I give the Atlas more listening over the next few weeks, I strongly suspect the Vega will be supplanted as my favorite dynamic driver IEM.
We are in the age of a headphone renaissance with so many manufacturers jumping at the opportunity to provide the best possible equipment at any given price point. Campfire Audio exemplifies this philosophy by infusing their Portland culture into marvelous metals, unique topologies, and original sound signatures. They stand out in a sea of homogenous me-too products. I could not be more grateful that Ken and Co. dropped the money on the roulette table and took that gamble to bring their products to market. It’s a great time to be alive!
The Atlas and Comet are arguably the most visually striking models CA has conceptualized. It’s all in the small details. The hand polished stainless steel looks good even when mottled with fingerprints. Unlike the zirconium blasted aluminum shells of the BA models or the liquid metal alloy of the DD models, the Atlas and Comet have a matching finish 3D printed tip and applying/removing ear tips is quite effortless. The overall fit and finish looks and feels second to none.
The new silver cable is wound with a twist and purported to reduce tangling and microphonics. I can attest that it works exceptionally well. I’m certain CA sought to address this since the Atlas is designed to be worn down and that will inherently make any IEM more susceptible to microphonics.
Comfort is going to depend on a few variables: ear tip type, ear tip size, and wear preference. Unlike the other CA offerings which are designed to be worn over ear, the Atlas is designed to be worn down. The closest comparison I’ve personally experienced with this design would be the IE 800 / IE 800 S. Spending the necessary time to get the fit just right will make or break the experience for some and I don’t want anyone to miss hearing what the Atlas can do.
There are three different types of ear tips: CA stock foam, CA silicone, and Final Audio E Series edge style. I recommend checking your prejudice for a specific type of ear tip and take the time to try each one in all available sizes. In addition, cinching the chin slider up high and using a shirt clip definitely improve the overall comfort.
Personal ear tip preference order:
CA stock foam
Final Audio E Series edge style
I will admit that this one surprised me a little. I have smaller ear canals and typically always use the smallest size ear tip available; however, the smallest CA stock foam is always one size larger than the smallest of the other supplied ear tip types. This turned out to be a perfect match for me and effortlessly holds the Atlas in place without the need to adjust it two minutes later. It simply stays put and is super comfortable through some of my impromptu dance moves. I suspect the body heat from your ears allows the foam to expand as well and that contributes to keeping it in place.
The Final Audio Series edge style is made of silicone and has a thick ribbed stem for rigidity similar to the SpinFit tips. There are 5 different sizes available for this ear tip, so the experimentation options are endless and I actually preferred using two different sizes for the left and right. These ear tips render a slightly different sound compared to the CA stock foam, but I ultimately found myself adjusting it every few minutes as it slowly worked its way out of my ear.
The CA silicone is the only ear tip that is almost flush with the Atlas’s tip barrel and as a direct result means you will get a deeper insertion. I couldn’t get these to sit in place for me, regardless of the size. If you have experience with the IE 800 and had trouble with the fit, then this will be a similar affair.
The Atlas can definitely be worn over ear with success, but it’s not as comfortable or ergonomic as popping them straight in your ears.
Naturally I couldn’t wait to hear these straight out of the box and throw the burn-in caveats to the wind. I promised myself that I wouldn’t provide anything less than helpful impressions to potential listeners and curb the emotional commentary, but some promises were meant to be broken. I will be the first to admit that when I heard reports regarding sonic improvements across the FR versus the Vega, I winced a little. More isn’t always better. Better is better.
My initial impression of the Atlas in comparison to the venerable Vega after 10 hours of listening through my Hugo 2 is that it simply does everything better across the gamut. It could be the increase in driver size, the polarity tuned chamber, the new silver braided cable, but I can’t unhear these noticeable differences in detail, speed, texture, and nuance.
The high frequencies cleave instrumental notes with aplomb while simultaneously supplying more detail. The timbre has increased to a degree I can only describe as liquid realism; the treble appears in the mix and decays fast enough to tickle my eardrum at times. I don’t want it to come across as hyperbole when I say it’s some of the finest treble I’ve ever heard, but it is beyond reproach on even the most sibilant of test tracks.
The mids have increased definition and stand more in the spotlight. They even manage to steal the show during complex passages with the other two frequencies in full effect. I’m hearing the male vocals as having more bite and rasp in the chest while female vocals are angelic and smooth, which is exactly how I like them.
The bass to end all bass. The bass other bass wishes it could be. There are plenty of people who don’t enjoy a lot of bass and I was in that same camp years ago. I didn’t even know I liked bass this much until CA came along. I now subscribe to an old GM slogan: it’s not more than you need, it’s more than you’re used to. That being said, the bass is indeed larger in both scale and physicality than the Vega, but irrationally embodies more textural detail and impactful speed. These elemental improvements together create a unified, organic whole across a wider range of music genres. It’s also worth noting that the bass will inevitably settle down and become more refined with more hours of use.
This is a little more difficult to articulate, but the Atlas is more spacious and every frequency yields more delineated notes. The Atlas can at times feel like you’re drowning in a sea of detail and that renders moments of serious emotional engagement. It’s a good thing we’re all here to feel feelings because with the Atlas they will be felt.
I can’t say I’m speechless after writing down so many thoughts, but my heart is racing with excitement. The Atlas commands your attention from the very first listen and sets out to accomplish things that I didn’t think were possible with a dynamic driver: (a) treble with unmatched breadth and realism, (b) effortless and unencumbered mids, and (c) bass with speed, impact, and textural detail. CA further proves that you really can have it all.