Campfire Audio Atlas in-ear Headphones - Official Thread

This is the thread to discuss Campfire Audio’s newest Flagship, the Atlas.

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Love this headphone. AM using it currently. Got it last week. Its casing has a nice feel and the lows seriously make you rumble in your ears! It deff. has more clarety in the highs than the Vega though. I’m keeping bo the Vega and Atlis too!

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Is there a genre of music that the Atlas excels in? Or is it good with all types?

Honestly? It probably does best with older recordings that need a lot of base.

Or if you are just a base head.

For me, they excel with high-quality, non-compressed recordings, especially where a bit of a bass boost can give the music body, and a somewhat pronounced treble gives air to instruments, rather than reveals distortion. In that case, they are magic. With modern compressed music I didn’t find them so enjoyable.

It’s definitely a love/hate relationship with high-end audio gear sometimes when so much music is compressed before release.

I’m curious to know whether anyone has tried the Campfire Audio Comet alongside the Atlas? What differences are noticeable between the two?

I’m already quite pleased that Campfire Audio has released another option, alongside the Orion, to get folks into their ecosystem. Because I can’t say this enough–their ecosystem is goooood.

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Andrew is currently filming an impression video for the Atlas so I decided to throw together a quick unboxing video for everyone to see what’s inside.

Andrew will be posting his video impressions to youtube while I will post my written impressions on here soon!
I think the Atlas is definitely a headphone that should be joining the loaner program though. They are a pretty fun listen so far. Not nearly as overwhelming as the Cascade.

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Hey Guys,

I’ve sold my CA Vegas, and am selling my Audeze LCDi4’s, and consolidating down to one pair of IEM’s for now. I’ve been giving it a lot of thought, and ended up going with the CA Atlas, as I enjoyed the Vegas so much whilst I owned them. To sum it up quickly, the Atlas is like a bigger sounding Vega, with a hint of Andromeda about them.

Now, these are just initial impressions, the kind of stuff that hits you right away, vs the smaller nuances you notice over time. Mostly this will all be in comparison to the Vega, as that is my previous CA reference point.

The Bass is similar in quantity to the Vega, but seems to integrate into the whole frequency response more, if that makes sense? It doesn’t over do it, and drown out the other frequencies. Its a bit less harsh sounding, more rounder sounding, easier to listen to.

The mids seem more detailed than the Vegas. In fact, everything seems more detailed. The mids are a tiny bit recessed I think. Kinda sound smoother, and more even than the Vegas.

The treble is the most improved part over the Vega. Its a bit less bright than the Vega, and less shouty. I haven’t noticed any sibilance yet :slight_smile:

The soundstage is a bit bigger than the Vega, but perhaps not as wide as the Andromeda. However, I’m going off of memory of the Andromeda, I haven’t heard them for a little while. The Atlas sound “bigger” than both the Vega and Andromeda, a more enveloping and full sound.

As usual with CA/ALO, the cable is great. Doesn’t get all tangled and messed up. Nice and supple. The Atlas are really comfy, especially wearing them down vs. Over the ear.

I haven’t done a lot of tip rolling yet. I’m having a bit of trouble with the Final Audio tips and suffocation of the sound completely in my left ear. I’ll keep working on this and report back with how I feel about all the tips. Currently running the marshmallow CA tips, small size.

All in all, the Atlas are great so far. Bigger and fuller sounding than the Vega, but also a bit easier to listen to. Less harsh. If you guys have any questions, just let me know :slight_smile:

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Nice, powering them out of your mojo?

They’re a handsome pair of iem’s. I like iem’s and it’s great when you can get a pair that you’re really happy with. I own the Andromeda’s and these are to my taste but I haven’t heard any other Campfire iem’s. I would like to hear the Atlas’s someday, they seem like an interesting option.

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yeah, i’m thinking of building a transportable solution with them and, without an easy ability to test, thinking about either the WA8, the xDSD, or something else … just trying to think through the trade-offs and curious if the Atlas have any unique synergies with one DAP or another, one portable dac/amp or another …

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I did when I still had them. That was a write up that is a few months old. I ended up having so much trouble with driver flex I decided to return them sadly. However, it was not due to disliking the sound they produced, that is for sure.

can you say more about that? i.e., “trouble with driver flex”? What did you replace with (if anything)? Thanks!

I originally replaced them with the Hifiman RE2000, and now I’ve purchased a pair of Tia Fourte. The problem I had was I would put the earphone in my ear, and the seal would completely suffocate the driver, meaning it wouldn’t produce any sound. Foam tips solved the problem, but I don’t really enjoy foam tips. Only a half seal with silicon tips would allow them to produce sound. Now, this may be due to my ears and they way they are shaped, I’m not too sure.

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Oh wow that must have been a real downer. Strange though, do you think it was just a problem with the shape of your ears or maybe the iem’s themselves?

I’m really not sure to be honest. Maybe a bit of both! I didn’t want to take a chance so I returned them.

Yeah, I would certainly have done the same. How you liking your new iem’s?

They won’t arrive until next week, so I’m just enjoying the Tin Hifi T2 currently :slight_smile: They are great for the money, IMO.

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Yes I’ve heard this from lots of people. The T2’s are very popular. I shall have to pick some up. I might go for the pro version though. Good look with your iem’s when they arrive.

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Introduction

I’ve traditionally been of the opinion that IEMs can’t do bass the same way that over-ears can. Even with my Campfire Andromeda, which has ample presence below 100hz on sources with less than 1ohm output impedance, it’s not the same as some of my closed-back over-ears or planar magnetic headphones in that department. Something about the tonal definition, control and dynamic slam of the bass just isn’t there in the same way. This is especially noticeable in less than ideal listening environments that IEMs are often used in, such as while on the train or a bus. The low frequency hum of whatever mode of transportation I’m using gets in the way of the tonal richness for the representation of lower instruments. The Campfire Audio Atlas completely changes that perspective.

Specs:

  • 105 dB SPL/mW Sensitivity
  • 19 Ohms @ 1kHz Impedance
  • Less than 1% THD
  • Single Full Range 10mm Dynamic Driver
  • Plasma enhanced Chemical Vapor Depostion (C.V.D.) Amorphous Diamond Like Carbon (A.D.L.C.) Diaphragm.
  • Stainless Steel Body

Price - $1,299.00

Source:

FLAC Library, TIDAL (HiFi and Master) - iFi iDSD Micro Black Label -> Atlas

Music

Michael Wollny, Patricia Barber, Holly Cole, Gogo Penguin, Brad Mehldau, Julian Lage, Thomas Fonnesbaek, Phronesis, Gerardo Nunez

Design
Touting a unique “hair dryer” look, the Atlas goes for a more understated and smaller design than the stand-out shapes and colors of the other Campfire Audio IEMs. Instead of going for the usual ‘around the ear’ cable wearing style, the Atlas uses a straight down system, which admittedly I prefer. It’s also surprisingly heavy for its size, but nothing that gets in the way of fit and comfort. For me the fit is excellent with the provided foam tips, and while it is slightly heavier than the Andromeda, I actually prefer the fit and comfort of the Atlas overall.

On the driver front, the Atlas changes out the multitude of balanced armature drivers that Campfire Audio and many other high performance IEM manufacturers use, opting for a single dynamic driver instead. This is important because one of the most common criticisms of BA driver IEMs is that while they’re generally able to provide good performance, they also have a tendency to sound somewhat artificial - almost as if there’s a sort of metallic smearing or strained effect to the sound. With the Atlas, that concern has been addressed by making use of their unique “Amorphous Diamond-like Carbon” diaphragm driver. This type of driver was used in the Vega as well, but the Atlas increases the size to 10mm up from the Vega’s 8.5mm driver. The bottom line is that by switching to this dynamic driver, the Atlas should be able to produce a more natural tone and timbre than traditional multi-BA systems.

Performance
As mentioned, one of the advantages of using multiple balanced armature drivers is that their performant abilities are generally quite good. Surprisingly, the Atlas’ dynamic driver somehow manages to perform even better. I also don’t say that lightly because for the longest time I considered the Andromeda to be one of the better performing IEMS, especially from a resolution and detail retrieval perspective. I can now confidently say that the Atlas does do a better job of this than the Andromeda. It’s also made an enormous improvement on bass performance and definition. The kind of dynamic slam and control that I’ve been missing with most IEMs is now clearly available with the Atlas. The stage is also quite spacious, but nothing more than the Andromeda, however I will say that the imaging on the Atlas does seem to be a bit more distinct. This is again likely to do with the improvements in detail retrieval capabilities - and if anyone has read my other reviews they know I tend to connect image distinction with detail a bit. For timbre, the switch to a dynamic driver has made a significant improvement. Gone is the somewhat artificial and strained effect, replaced by a more natural sound.

Tonality
Note that this measurement was taken with the MiniDSP EARS rig and shouldn’t be considered industry standard or objective. This graph uses IDF compensation.


While the tonality is clearly very ‘V’ shaped, it has to be said that the Atlas’ bass response is actually remarkable. It is significantly elevated, however because of the driver’s performant capabilities, it doesn’t sound bloated or loose. This is a well defined, articulate, and hard hitting bass - even if it’s also too much. It’s almost as if Ken Ball decided to see just how far he could push the bass. I’m sure he’s into EDM.

Unfortunately, the V-shape really is not my preference. There’s a strong recession in the upper midrange and lower treble, that rises back up too early. This causes a somewhat compressed yet splashy quality. I had the same criticism of the treble on the Vega, and it’s that this type of rise at 6khz causes it to sound both sharp and compressed at the same time. Thankfully this is before the more annoying sibilance range at 8.5khz, and so it’s not overly harsh. The driver’s performance helps in this area as well as there’s no grain or audible distortion to the highs. Still, the treble is much better on the Andromeda with a rise at a more appropriate place. I often find that the measure of good treble is how well the ‘S’ sounds resolve, and I find this often to be the most challenging part of the frequency response to get right. On that front the Atlas is passable but not exceptional. It’s almost as if the bulk of the treble is a large peak that’s been cut out specifically at the sibilance range to avoid harshness of the ‘S’ and ‘T’ sounds in particular. It’s definitely a good idea, but still not optimal. Moreover, beyond the sibilance range, the Atlas has another peak. This won’t be as audible (especially for some people), but it does cause the edge of certain tones to be a bit sharper than they otherwise would be. Whether this is a good thing or not will depend on the listener.

As much as there’s lots to be critical of when it comes to the Atlas’ tonality, the fact that its driver is so good allows it to get away with a less than desirable frequency response. When you first listen to this IEM, it’s incredibly impressive, and that quality can’t be overstated enough. It sounds great, in spite of its tonality - to the point where it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure.

Comparisons

Campfire Andromeda - While the Atlas has better performance, the Andromeda’s tonality is more to my preference in ideal environments. I do appreciate the improved timbre of the Atlas, but I’m not as bothered by the BA sound as some are. In sub-optimal listening environments like on transit, I’d take the Atlas without question - but at home or at the office, I prefer the Andromeda.

Campfire Vega - The Vega uses a similar driver and has a similar ‘V’ shaped tonality. In many ways the Atlas is the Vega’s final form. It’s just better all around, and easily worth the price increase if you’re looking for that tonality.

Campfire Polaris V2 - I mention this because it also has a similar tonality, even though it’s quite a bit less expensive. Going from the Polaris to the Vega to the Atlas really does demonstrate just how much performance matters. The Polaris’ bass is nowhere near as tight and well-controlled. The Atlas is categorically superior as far as guilty pleasure IEMs go.

Campfire Io - Campfire’s latest entry borrows much more from the Andromeda than their dynamic driver line. While only a fraction of the price, this is a good indicator for how significant the BA timbre can be. While the Io also has a substantial recession between 2-3khz (more dramatic and potentially more noticeable), I actually find that the Io does a better job than the Atlas in the treble - at least as far as tonality is concerned. The Atlas’ performance, however, makes up for the stumble. I would take the Atlas over the Io without question.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t recommend the Atlas for critical or analytic listening, and for my preferences the Andromeda still does a better job, regardless of the Atlas’ improved performant qualities. However for less than ideal listening environments - the kind where I’m most likely to use IEMs than anything else - the Atlas does do a better job. It never sounds like you’re missing presence or tonal richness, even while on the commute or out in public. In better environments, the Atlas is still absolutely a guilty pleasure IEM, in spite of its tonality not being my preference at all. I can definitely see many listeners being impressed by the bass of the Atlas in particular, and for those who are specifically looking for a ‘V’ shaped sound signature this gets a thorough recommendation. And even though it’s not the kind of thing I’m into, it does change the landscape for me when it comes to what’s possible with bass performance in IEMs, and that’s also a very good thing.

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