Campfire Audio Vega

 Sound analysis.

After 200hrs of burn in, I found Vega to have a smooth, natural, resolving tonality with a signature that pushes L-shaped boundary.  It has a full bodied lush sound enhanced with a sub-bass rumble and mid-bass punch that can put a smile even on a face of a certified basshead, but at the same time you can clearly hear a rather detailed natural resolving mids and well defined treble in a single dynamic driver that feels like a hybrid with a separate sub-woofer.  While listening to Vega, I could easily shift the focus from sub-/mid-bass to mids and back without being distracted. The impact of the bass doesn’t come into play until its being called for.  For example, in instrumental, vocal, or live acoustic performance tracks where you don’t have a pounding 4×4 bass drum beat – the power of a strong bass impact will not be fully unleashed, though the bass gives a natural body to acoustic instruments.  But once you switch to EDM and Urban pop hits, the bass will come alive with analog power.

In more details, Vega has a deep low end extension with a noticeable sub-bass rumble and a strong impact of a visceral mid-bass.  The bass is pure analog, with a slower attack and a longer decay, the kind of bass you can both hear and feel, like floor standing speakers.  I wouldn’t say it’s a very well-controlled bass like you’ll find with BA drivers, but at the same time it doesn’t spill into lower mids, just gives some weight to mids by adding more body, and surprisingly not muddying the sound.  I found Vega’s bass scale up with more power, and while switching my sources to high gain I noticed low end becoming more controlled, with cleaner edges around note on/off transitions.  I’m not sure if the higher gain brings up mids a little more forward while balancing out the low end, or the bass itself gets affected, but either way I found marginal improvement in bass performance with some of my sources in high gain.

The lower mids have full body, complimented by clear and detailed organic upper mids. Mids are warm and smooth, not veiled or congested.  They are not revealing or analytical, but have a great resolution, natural tonality, and instrument separation, though not as much layering.  Vocals, both male and female, sound a little warmer but still realistic to my ears.  I gotta admit, I didn’t expect this level of details and resolution from IEM which is tuned so smooth.  It’s a totally different beast with plenty of clarity and details, just not micro-details.

Treble also has plenty of clarity, great definition, and a moderate amount of crunch, sparkle, and airiness, but it’s under control and with SpinFits there is no harshness or sibilance.  With a wide-bore opening eartips (Spiral Dots), I can hear more brightness and some of my sibilant test-tracks were more pronounced, so I would recommend staying with either SpinFits or Foam tips.  As I already mentioned, I have read a few comments with people questioning if Vega is sibilant.  My ears are very sensitive to brightness and sibilance, and with a right selection of eartips I had absolutely no issues, and could enjoy fatigue-free listening for hours.

Vega has a super wide soundstage expansion, also with plenty of depth and height.  The depth is not exactly far out of your head, but you don’t feel like being too close to the performer and can appreciate the natural 3D space of the sound.  I typically notice that for me a brighter treble with more airiness can improve the perception of soundstage expansion.  Vega doesn’t have a bright airy treble, meaning we are talking about the actual physical performance of a single dynamic driver which spreads the sound wide around you, not just a perception of it.

With such wide staging, you can also expect a decent imaging with an accurate placement of instruments and vocals, and the accuracy of the positioning was rather convincing.  In some songs, you do have to shift your focus to mids (from the bass) to appreciate the quality of imaging and sound positioning.

For me personally, layering and separation go together, while in case of Vega I find a rather good separation of instruments and vocals where I can shift my focus to easily distinguish everything, but the layering and transparency of the sound was typical of a smooth lush signature where it’s not exactly on a high level like you would find in analytically tuned revealing IEMs.

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Comparison.

In the following comparison, I made sure to keep both IEMs under test matched close in volume, and disable EQ and effects in my sources.

Vega vs Andromeda – Vega has a wider soundstage, while the depth is the same.  Vega has a deeper low end extension with more sub-bass rumble and higher impact of mid-bass.  Andro doesn’t lack in bass department, but in comparison its bass feels more balanced and less enhanced.  Both have similar fuller body lower mids, while Vega is a little thicker due to higher low end impact.  To my ears, both have a very similar detailed organic upper mids with a very similar characteristic of the sound.  Lots of similarities in treble as well, except Andro has a little more sparkle and airiness.  The main difference I hear between these two is the impact/extension of the sub-/mid-bass where Vega is clearly dominating.  That should be the main deciding factor when choosing between these two Campfire Audio flagships.

Vega vs SEM9 – Vega has a wider staging, while SEM9 has more depth.  Vega has a deeper sub-bass rumble and a touch more mid-bass punch, while SEM9 bass feels leaner and faster in comparison.  Lower mids are a little thinner in SEM9, while Vega has more body, and upper mids are also a little brighter and thinner in comparison to more organic lusher Vega mids.  Treble was very close in comparison.

Vega vs U12 w/M15 – Vega has a wider staging, while U12 has more depth.  Vega has a deeper sub-bass rumble with more quantity, while the mid-bass is similar, though U12 is a little faster due to BA drivers.  Vega has just a touch more body in lower mids while upper mids are a little smoother and more organic in comparison to U12 being a little brighter and more transparent in comparison.  Vega’s treble is a little crisper with a touch more sparkle in comparison while both have a similar definition.

Vega vs DITA w/TWau mod – Vega has a little wider staging, while DITA has a little more depth.  DITA has a similar quality of rumble, but can’t match the quantity of Vega sub-bass.  Vega also has a little more mid-bass punch.  DITA lower mids are leaner and upper mids are brighter, thinner, and more transparent in comparison to a fuller body lower mids of Vega and a smoother and more natural organic upper mids of Vega.  When it comes to treble, even so Vega has a good definition and crunch, DITA extends further and has more airiness.

Vega vs W900 – Vega has a touch wider staging, while W900 has a little more depth.  The mid-bass punch between Vega and W900 is nearly the same, though W900 is a touch faster, and both have a very similar sub-bass rumble but Vega’s sub-bass has more quantity which adds more weight to the bass in comparison.  Lower mids are similar, though Vega has just a touch more body, while W900 has more revealing and transparent upper mids where Vega felt warmer and smoother in comparison. Both have a similar treble in terms of definition and sparkle, but W900 treble extends a lot further in comparison.  I’m currently using W900 with 1960 4-wire cable which gives advantage to the sound, but with its original SPC cable the sound is warmer and smoother, bringing mids closer to Vega.

Vega vs Pinnacle 1 – Very similar soundstage, in both width and depth.  Mid-bass punch is a little stronger in Vega, while sub-bass once again goes to Vega with a more superior rumble quantity.  Lower mids body is a little fuller in Vega, while P1 is a bit leaner, and P1 upper mids are thinner, brighter, a little more analytical, while Vega is smoother, more natural and organic.  P1 treble is also thinner, brighter, and with more airiness while Vega treble is smoother and more controlled.

Vega vs W80 –  Vega has a little wider soundstage, while both have the same depth.  Vega has more sub-bass rumble and a little stronger mid-bass punch, while W80 bass is less aggressive though mid-bass is a little faster.  W80 lower mids are a little leaner in comparison to a full body Vega, and upper mids in W80 are a little smoother and a touch more organic.  Vega’s upper mids are a little brighter and the same goes for treble were Vega’s treble is brighter and crisper in comparison to a smoother W80 treble.

Vega vs Zeus XRA – Totally different signature and technical performance, not even close, but I will mention it here anyway because I know people will ask for it.  Zeus and Vega are both great in their own way, per their unique tuning.  It will not make sense to compare neutral-revealing more mid-forward sound of Zeus to a more L-shaped full body lush organic Vega, especially when one (Zeus) has a neutral bass with more overall revealing transparency while the other (Vega) has a beautifully texture deep bass slam and organic smooth tonality.

Pair up.

In my testing, I used SpinFits which attenuate upper frequency harshness, and I also volume matched while gain switching.  In general, due to sensitivity of 102 dB and impedance of 17.5 ohms, Vega is not hard to drive, though you do need to push volume a little higher to compensate for slightly lower sensitivity, and as I already mentioned – in some cases bass performance scales up in high gain.

Lotoo Paw Gold – super wide/deep staging, smooth clear full body sound with a deep low end impact and excellent retrieval of details in mids along with a great treble definition.  Switching from low gain to high gain slightly attenuates sub-bass impact while keeping the same quality of rumble.

DX200 – super wide/deep staging, smooth clear full body sound. Bass has a deep sub-bass rumble, and a faster mid-bass punch, lower mids are a little closer to neutral and upper mids are very detailed and clear. Treble is crisp and well defined. Switching to high gain, bass is more under control, tighter, a little less aggressive, and mids are a little more forward. Excellent pair up.

Opus#2 – wide/deep staging, smooth clear full body sound.  Bass hits hard, especially sub-bass rumble, and mids are slightly pushed back.  Treble is crisp and detailed.  But once I switched to high gain, bass attenuates a little bit, not as boomy, and mids came more forward, balancing out the sound.

FiiO X7 w/AM3 – super wide/deep staging, smooth detailed full body sound with a nice sub-bass extension and faster mid-bass punch.  Here, the bass was not as overwhelming, and when switching to high gain, it balanced out very nicely with upper mids that have a great retrieval of details.  Treble was crisp and well defined.  I did enjoy this pair ups.

Plenue M2 – wide/deep staging, sound is too smooth, too much body.  Bass is too boomy in either low or high gains.  Mids are too laid back, smooth, and treble has a nice definition and sparkle, but overall sound sig is too L-shaped to enjoy upper mids and treble.  Of course, with JetEffects you can sculpture the sound to perfection, but without dsp effects it wasn’t my favorite pair up.

AK120ii – wide/deep staging, smooth detailed sound with a better controlled bass, still a great impact of mid-bass and a nice sub-bass rumble, but bass is not too much in your face.  Lower mids have full body, but sound cleaner, and upper mids is revealing and nicely balanced.  Treble is crisp and well defined.  Surprisingly, this was another great pair up.

Cayin i5 – super wide/deep staging, smooth clear full body sound with a deep low end impact and strong mid-bass punch, lower mids have a nice full body and upper mids are clear and detailed, but pushed a little back.  As soon as I switched to high gain, bass became more controlled, not too much in your face, and mids came up and became more detailed, more revealing.  Treble is crisp and well defined.

FiiO X5iii – wide/deep staging, smooth clear full body warm sound, bass is a little too boomy, spilling into mids, while upper mids are pushed back and a little less detailed.  Once I switched to high gain, bass settle down a bit, became tighter and faster, and not as aggressive, while mids came up, being more detailed and brighter.  Treble is crisp and well defined.

iDSD Micro – super wide/deep staging, smooth full body detailed sound, keeping it in Normal gain, bass has a great sub-bass rumble with a nice fast mid-bass punch, but bass is not as aggressive, nice impact but not overwhelming.  Lower mids have a nice full body but not as thick.  Upper mids have a great retrieval of details, very organic and clear.  Treble is crisp and well defined.  Excellent pair up.

Galaxy Note 4 – soundstage still wide/deep, but not as wide as other daps, though definitely above average.  The bass is deep and with a noticeable level of impact, but I don’t hear it as overwhelming.  Mids are full bodied, clear, smooth. Treble is a little smoother as well, not as crisp or airy, but well defined.  Over all, sound is more L-shaped, but surprisingly not too congested.  It’s not as resolving as with other higher res DAPs, but still not bad for a smartphone.

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Conclusion.

Andromeda and Vega – two flagship releases with each being a homerun for Campfire Audio.  I’m enjoying both and lately find myself using Vega more often.  I guess we all go through different listening cycles where sometimes we want more neutral revealing signature, and other times something more balanced.  And on some occasions, you want to feed your inner-basshead craving to satisfy a guilty pleasure of deeper low end extension and more aggressive mid-bass punch.  That’s where Vega comes into play with its unique smooth, resolving, and very natural tonality enhanced with an excellent sub-bass rumble and dynamic quality mid-bass punch.  And if you are allergic to extra bass, Vega responds well to EQ.  I recently reviewed another pair of IEMs where I admitted about not being a fan of EQ, but I didn’t mind enhancing the bass to finetune the sound.  Here, it’s an opposite experience where if I get tired of sub-bass, I can always apply a little bit of EQ cut.  But for now, I’m enjoying the sound way too much to even think about it.  And of course, you can’t talk about the sound quality without mentioning the technology behind it, with world’s first non-crystalline diamond-carbon coated driver and liquid alloy metal housing.  Vega sound signature and design are quite unique, and if it’s your cup of tea – hold on to that cup when you hit the play!

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14 thoughts on “Campfire Audio Vega

  1. I much enjoy your reviews twister. Question: I have the FLC 8s and now have a chance to buy the Vegas …have you ever heard the FLC 8s, and in your opinion is the Vega 4 times better in Sonic performance give the 4-5x price difference?

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  2. twister: how did this sound against the FLC 8S which i am currently using?
    i have a chance for some vegas @ US$800 but theyre’ 4x the price of the FLC.
    are they that much better in your op?
    i love detail, space, balance and great (but not overdone) bass slam.
    cheers and continued success with your sit.

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    1. Sorry, just finally got to write a reply. I do have FLC8s, it was a demo CIEM unit with a modified universal nozzle so I can use eartips. To be honest. if you want lots of analog bass, go for VEGA. But Vega is not the kind of iem to replace your other ones. It’s a great one to have in addition to your other ones, whenever you feel like having more bass AND if you have a powerful source to drive it. FLC8s is a lot easier to drive, has a lot more flexibility to play with filters to change the sound. It doesn’t have the same bass impact like Vega and might be not as resolving, but I think FLC8s will be more practical to use. Plus, I don’t know your source and not sure if it will be sufficient to drive Vega.

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      1. Im about to buy the Vega, but Im really concerned about the nozzle width and therefore comfort. Right now my preferred universal IEM is the SE846, do you have any idea how much Vega’s nozzle compares to SE846’s?

        Regards!

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      2. SE846 has the same nozzle as Westone, their tips are interchangeable. So, in comparison to that – VEGA nozzle is probably 3x as big in diameter. But the question here, what size of eartips are you using? For example, 846 with a large tip could be the same as VEGA with a small tip. But if you are using the smallest tip with 846, you could have a problem with VEGA.

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