Campfire Audio Andromeda in-ear Headphones - Official Thread

Wow, that’s a fantastic job you’ve done percy. Packed with info. One point and it’s only a very small one. But as you asked for any pointers I hope you take it as helpful. When you’re letting us listen to the Andromeda’s you’re talking over it and it’s a little distracting. Apart from this I really love what you’ve done. Congratulations on a fine first foray into online video reviews.

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Thanks Paul! The live listening thing definitely needs work. I’m not actually playing sound from the Andromeda because I don’t have a proper rig for recording them, rather I was hoping to use the songs as a reference point for my sound description, hence the talking over… Gonna have to think about this some.

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It’s a difficult one. As I have no experience with using such gear I cannot offer any help. You could as @TylersEclectic or @Resolve. These guy’s know about that kind of stuff I think. And there is the inimitable @Torq (Ian) will know how this stuff works.

Good luck with it all though. I thought you did a great job. Please keep it up. Perhaps you could do some series on how to EQ and measure FR for the beginner. I know it would help lots of people. Many don’t know where to start sometimes. I include myself in this. If one hasn’t any background in Science, Engineering or Hobby Electronics it’s daunting. I know that you’ve dabbled extensively with EQ. Perhaps others could chip in too. Maybe start a thread for it. You could become the EQ Guru. Just thinking out loud.

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I just spent some more time with the Andromedas this afternoon, and your statement perfectly sums up how I feel about them.

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For anyone wanting to see how the 2020 Andromeda compares to the OG Andromeda, here are some measurements from the GRAS rig:

Keep in mind that these are uncompensated, using the GRAS RA402 ear sim, which means 8khz and above may look a bit different from the 711 from Crin’s measurements. Here’s the official word from GRAS as to why:

The RA0401/02 has a damping system that attenuates the half-wave resonance at 13.5 kHz and thus extends the useful frequency range to 20 kHz. It uses the same ½” microphone as the original version and fully complies with the standard. This is why we recommend it as the first choice when you are looking for a “standard” 60318-4 ear simulator - but without its shortcomings at high frequencies. We think of it as “the new normal”.

For the Andromeda comparisons, the new one both sounds and measures a bit better in my opinion. It’s overall just more balanced, with a bit more energy in the mids and a bit less spicy treble. I think they didn’t need to curb the treble as significantly but it works.

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Noice!!! Andro2020 is quite the nice IEM… I find it similar to my AndroGold but the golds have more V shape to them… also I thought the Andro2020 reminded me of the U12t in signature… but less “Resolving” very smooth and easy to get along with… I could see this being a new standard do all IEM again… plus the price is good for a TOTL IEM!
here is a shot I did for Headphones.com

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Yes, agreed - it’s a great IEM. I’ll write up some impressions soon; I’ve had mine for a few weeks now and am getting used to them. Two immediate thoughts:

  1. like the Focal Clear* this is an IEM that doesn’t really do anything wrong; there’s nothing wonky or incoherent or imbalanced about its presentation, and it walks a nice line between being musical, engaging, and lively without being fatiguing
  2. its slightly dark sound signature makes for a lovely treble response - plenty of air and smoothness even while extending reasonably high. I suspect this makes it well-suited to a wide range of genres.

*to be clear (ahem), the Andro 2020 doesn’t sound like the Clear; the Clear is much punchier and has a brighter sound signature while also offering deeper bass extension, and the Clear has more treble sparkle than the Andro 2020. I’d say there’s a sweetness to the Andro 2020’s treble - the sparkle of the OG Andro seems to be reduced now. It would be interesting to compare the OG Andro’s treble directly with the 2020 (and the Clear’s).

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The things that struck me first with the andromeda 2020 edition are:

  • Much better tonality for my preference (no more haze-fi)
  • The imaging and layering is excellent
  • I actually like this andromeda…but…
  • It is very, very, very, very source picky just like the old Andromeda - I did A LOT of measurements on various sources, output impedance, and even cable lengths and it all affected sound
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I only listened to it out of the IEM port on my RME ADI-2DAC… so it wasn’t a big issue for me, when I get them back I’ll try them with the DAPs I have on hand… maybe straight out of the iPhone and iPad with the best DAC… the Apple dongle :wink:

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I was sent the Andromeda 2020 for review, and I’ve been using it all this past week. It’s good. As in “I’ve been happily jamming out to it 5+ hours a day” good. I’ll probably have the review complete in a couple days, but seems very consistent with what everyone else is hearing. Here’s some brief impressions:

  • Campfire Audio has figured out pinna compensation. The sparkly treble has also been replaced with a much smoother response. Very safe, more laidback tonality that I think will appeal to a wider listening audience.
  • It’s one heck of a technical IEM; seriously, it’s making me re-evaluate my expectations for imaging in this regard.
  • Dynamics seems to be the biggest roadblock, though. And not just in its anemic, bass slam.
  • It’s still sensitive AF. Luckily, I don’t get that hissing on my DX160 once I actually start listening.

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Thank you for pointing this out - I’ve also been wondering about macro-dynamics. Out of my AK Jr the Andro 2020 sounds quite polite and gentle, having no real slam or punchiness. There’s a slight softness to the sound. Perhaps there isn’t the attack or sharpness to the leading edges of notes? I’m not sure. I’ll need to listen more carefully.

I suspect the lack of dynamics may also have something to do with the source. I’ve noticed more energy and excitement out of a Magni 3 (on low gain, obviously) and the Fulla 2 - be very, very careful with the volume pot!!! But the Andro 2020 is still soft out of these amps.

I’d been assuming the lack of dynamics might have owed something to coming from the Focal Clear, which have been my go-to over-ear headphone for the past few months. The Clear’s something of a macrodynamic monster, after all.

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Haha yea coming from a Focal, dynamics will sound quite limp. (macrodynamics that is)

The lower impedance of your source the more bass response and less treble the Andro will have. Ill post measurements of the impedance/source matching when I feel more comfortable with the measurements I’m taking.

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It would be great to see those measurements when you feel comfortable with them!

And, yes, I picked up the AK Jr. a little while ago precisely because I wanted a slightly higher output impedance so as to be able to compare it to my Schiit and iPhone 7, which all have a Zout of below an ohm, I believe. The goal here is to find the right DAP in due course - perhaps the new AK SR25, although now I’m wondering if an iBasso or Hiby might be preferable.

A fun, though not recommended combination I’ve tried with my Andro 2020 is the following: the Airist RDAC, which is dark + through the Magni 3 = the dark, rich texture of the LCD2-C (minus the sub-bass).

Loving these little green wonders. They are probably the most accessible, easily likeable IEM I’ve heard. I’ve thrown the full extent of my musical tastes at them and, while grandness and dynamic lows of my Solaris are certainly missed at times the Andro 2020 hasn’t hit a false note yet. I’ve heard some pretty great all BA IEMs, and while some are more impressive technically none are more enjoyable to listen to on the whole for me.

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nice review @Precogvision. best one you’ve written so far!

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Posted a quick YouTube review of the 2020 Edition. I’ll post a full on written review in the coming days.

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Great overview @antdroid ! I subscribed to your channel and am excited to learn more from you. As I was telling @TylersEclectic, it’s great to see the faces behind the invaluable expertise in this community.

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Thanks! I was a little nervous putting my face out there in YT land but its not too bad I guess.

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Campfire Audio has gone through a lot of iterations of their popular Andromeda line of in-ear monitors over the years and it’s still one of the most popular premium IEMs on the market. It’s always had the nice shell design with bold colors and a good technical and sound experience for the most part, which has made it a staple recommendation for years now, despite the continual change and special edition models that have come out.

And there’s been a lot. Even last year, Campfire released two updates to the Andromeda brand, with the 2019 update featuring a new shell design and new packaging, and the Andromeda Gold special limited edition model with black shell and gold fasteners. This year, Campfire has released a 2020 update to this classic line.

As a quick note, I do want to thank Taron from Headphones.com for letting me have some time with a loaner unit to write this review with. They also have a community forum called The Headphones Community, which is active and fun forum for audio enthusiast and one I highly recommend.

Packaging/Build

The 2020 model keeps the identifiable green anodized color and design, along with the updated shell that has more rounded edges that no longer pinch and stab the back of my ears. Like last year’s Gold model, the deeper and larger nozzle with grills from the Solaris is now on this 2020 update. This makes this overall, the most comfortable design of the Andromedas that I’ve tried (Andromeda Gold being the same design).

The packaging features the fancy outer paper covering and an inner box that is reminiscent of last year’s opening experience, which is an enjoyable one. The included case is made out of cork and has a greenish hue to it that looks unique and interesting. It has the purse-like look with zippered opening and soft inner padding. The package also comes with tips and several mesh protector pouches to store the IEMs individually in.

The included cable is the Smokey Litz cable that I really enjoyed previously. It’s lightweight, tangle-free, and easy to wear, and a significantly better experience than the cable used on the older Campfire products. The connectors are still mmcx at the shell, and the source features an L-shaped 3.5mm connector jack.

Sound Impressions

Source Gear

Like previous iterations of the Campfire Andromeda, the 2020 model is extremely source pairing dependent. This is because the multi-BA design is very sensitive to the output impedance of the source, whether that be your phone, audio player or an amplifier. Whatever is connected to these IEMs, may make a subtle but audible impact to the level of bass or treble this IEM projects.

In my testing, I’ve noticed audible changes depending on the source I use as well as the cable length I used! It seemed that every 3 feet cable extender I added made a 1 decibel change to the measurements I performed, with bass lowering and treble increasing as output impedance increased. I plotted a graph below of measuring directly out of the less than 0.10 ohm Topping A90, and using a 2.7 Ohm iFi EarBuddy adapter.

For my actual listening, I tried the Campfire Andromeda primarily out of my Topping A90, hooked up to the Schiit Bifrost 2, as well as my portable DAP, the Sony NW-ZX507.

The ZX507 is about 1-1.5 ohm output impedance from my various FR measurement test approximations, but I have yet to confirm it by measuring it directly.

General Sound

The Andromeda 2020 has a nice balanced sound signature that is slightly warm with a smooth treble response that is a bit different than the older models. While the older one, I tended to refer to it as “Haze-Fi”, due to it’s recessed upper mid-range and lower treble, the 2020 edition has that area raised up to a very natural and preferred level for my ears, making this an IEM that closely matches my target preference curve from 1KHz and up.

The first time I put this set on, I immediately noticed the Andromeda’s excellent imaging and layering capability. The first track I put on was Tingvall Trio’s “Sjuan”, which is a piano-led jazz song with deep basslines and a steady assault of snare drums and cymbals. The way each instruments resonates on the Andromeda was surprising, as I don’t remember feeling this way when I heard the original set, and it’s not something I’ve noticed in many IEMs in general. To me, it somewhat resembles the type of natural reflection that I heard from the Emu Rosewood cups that I recently reviewed on my Fostex 600 series headphones.

While the Andromeda doesn’t quite have the full natural effect that a typical hardwood used for real instruments has – it does have a little bit of a shimmering effect instead of a natural decay – I do enjoy the extra bit of resonance that adds a lively nature to my musical selections.

Bass response on these are surprisingly not the extra-warm and sometimes bloated affair I occasionally got with the original Andromeda. It’s a little tamer, while still being just north of neutral in warmth. There’s not a deep elevated sub-bass, but there’s still enough to make it sound present and rounded out. While I do think a little more sub-bass emphasis would have been nice, I can’t truly say I missed it either while listening to this product.

Texturing seemed pretty good. It doesn’t necessarily have a lengthy decay that is more noticeable to some of it’s competitors, but it layers instruments well with the added sonic resonance that creates a nice sound in a complex passage. I noticed that in particular songs from Beach House (“Lemon Glow” or “Lose Your Smile”) or Sonic Youth songs.

In “Lose Your Smile”, the soundscapes that remind me of Air’s Moon Safari come to life well on the Andromeda with glistening instruments panning left and right, and the sweeping synths strung across the field around me. The depth and macrodynamics are quite nice on this track.

On the other hand, “Lemon Glow” does seem a tad tame. This song can really rumble and hit hard with impactful and strong bass response. With the Andromeda, this slam factor is missing a bit. The deep low textures do seem a little missing in this case.

The mid-range is very smooth and coherent and there’s not too much more to say about it. I find that vocals are done well. There was never any sense of shout or fatigue or sibilant in any track I heard, and general voice tonality sounded correct. After listening to a lot of recent chi-fi offering where there is an elevated 1-2KHz region, going back to something with a smoother transition between the mid-range and lower treble presence region is a breath of fresh air. Female voices don’t come across ultra-forward, and have a little more space to breath.

My best example of this is the Stevie Nicks-led “Dreams” from Fleetwood Mac. Her voice can become very shouty and fatiguing on some IEMs where there is a early and steep rise, but on the Andromeda, her voice is nicely placed not too far forward, while still sounding in the center of the stage.

One example of a track where I find the coherency and mid-range and treble sound very much in-tune with each other is Jason Isbell’s “24 Frames.” The song has a wonderful amount of instrument play and transitions from an all-acoustic beginning to effects-driven electric guitar in the breaks between the chorus and the bridge that sounds ultra-smooth. Isbell’s voice has a soft but defined voice. There acoustic guitar strings have a nice resonance to it, while cymbals hit with nice extension and realism.

Comparisons

Campfire Solaris (original)

I have yet to listen to the 2020 Solaris nor I had a chance to listen to the Special Edition model, but when compared to the original Solaris, from memory, I find the Andromeda to have a much more coherent and more correct tonality and instrument timbre across the board. Where the Solaris may beat the Andromeda is the 3D soundstage which is fun and unique, and perhaps the more natural lingering decay in the bass. That said, the Solaris does not have a typical lengthy decay, but still more so than the Andromeda 2020 does.

The Solaris was a tough one to wear as well, and I had major fit pain after 30 minutes to an hour of usage and this has not been a problem at all on the Andromeda 2020 design. This pick is easy for me, and while I still like the Solaris, the Andromeda 2020 is now the king of the Campfire lineup for my preferences.

Hidition Viento

The Hidition Viento-B is a Custom IEM that I own now, and does have some similarities to the Andromeda 2020. I find both to have some similar mid-range and treble traits and both have a very natural tonality and strong coherency. The Viento-B has better sub-bass extension and elevation which creates more sub-bass rumble for me, while the Andromeda does have a nice resonance-effect, most likely due to its tubeless and acoustic chamber design.

Unique Melody MEST

The MEST is new quad-brid IEM featuring dynamic driver, balanced armatures, electrostatic tweeters and a bone conductor driver for good measure. It has a more V-shaped sound signature than the Andromeda 2020, and I do find it a more exciting listen with a bigger bass response and a more holographic soundstage that seems to change from song to song, while still retaining generally accurate timbre. The Andromeda 2020 is much more even keeled and presents stuff in a more normal and natural way.

64 Audio U12T

The U12t is one of my most highly rated IEMs as it has solid tonality and technical performance. Actually, all the ones listed in this comparison section are very good, but the U12t is also the most boring of all of these in some sense. This is because it does nothing really wrong and does most things right. It does have a lot better bass performance than the Andromeda 2020 in my opinion, with more sub-bass extension and elevation, better decay and slam, as well as a thicker sound. It does have less exciting treble and does seem to be a tad more laid back, and hence I do find it a bit boring sounding, but tonally correct.

Fearless x Crinacle Dawn

The Dawn is also one of those IEMs where I find the tonality its strongest suit. It doesn’t quite have the technical chops as the U12t or the Andromeda 2020. I think the Dawn, again, has better sub-bass. The Andromeda has a more coherent sound and much better dynamics as I found the Dawn to sound very forward and missing a lot of depth and layering capability for something that cost $1400. The Andromeda doesn’t have issues with this area.

Wrap-Up

I’ve said a lot of good positive things about the Campfire Andromeda 2020 and that actually would have surprised me coming into this. I was not a big fan of the original version, but did appreciate it for what it was. This model came in and really took me away. I am impressed most by it’s technical performance in the area of layering of instruments, dynamics and imaging. The tonality has changed for the better and sounds much more inline with my target preferences, and I found the new fit to be much more easy to wear and extremely comfortable.

To top all of that up, the standard unboxing and accessories that Campfire has been known for is left untouched and still one of the better packages available today.

My only main area I found lacking was it did not have an elevated deep sub-bass which does make it lack a little bit of rumble and the shakes, and the bigger concern of source matching. The impedance shifts on the Andromeda 2020 are very much the same as the original one, however in this case, I prefer a lower impedance than a higher one.

All in all, the Campfire team did a wonderful job on this updated model to their classic Andromeda. This one comes highly recommended.

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