New Flames of Campfire!
PROS: updated tuning of mids (relative to OG for Andro and Solaris), new original more transparent tuning (ARA), new premium soft cable, high quality accessories, still a very attractive price with an impressive price/performance ratio.
CONS: expect some hissing.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
I still can’t get over Ken’s and Caleb’s poker faces when I asked them early this year at CanJam NYC’20 if Campfire Audio is planning to release something new. Without blinking an eye, they only mentioned about a possibility of some lower end model later this year. You can only imagine my surprise when a few months later I was watching Head-fi TV where they were talking about the updated line up of Andromeda 2020, Solaris 2020, and all new ARA. So, when opportunity knocked on my door, Campfire Audio (CFA) didn’t have to ask me twice if I’m interested to review their new IEMs.
Once all three arrived and I started to share initial impressions and pictures on Head-fi, my original intent was to have a short combined first look overview, followed later by a full review. But as I continued to answer numerous questions about 2020 CFA models, I realized that short impressions write up will not be enough. I still wanted to publish a combined review because majority of questions I received were either about comparison of 2020 Andro and Solaris to their OG versions, or comparison of all three to decide which one to pick. And this is exactly what you will find in this full detailed review!
Unboxing and Accessories.
The best way to describe CFA 2020 unboxing experience is “like a box of chocolate”. While I know some don’t really care about unboxing in general, this was on a totally different eye candy level. And don’t take my words for it, just look at the pictures.
Each IEM comes in a compact box with its own color scheme and 3D picture of corresponding model popping out from the cover of the fancy French paper wrapping. That wrapping is held together by a round sticker on the back which you need to cut/remove to unfold the top layer like it’s an origami, and inside it looked just like a candy box. The view was even more impressive since I was doing all 3 boxes at the same time in the kitchen, and my wife and kids passing by thought for real that I was opening candy boxes.
When you open the actual product box, inside you will find a new premium cork zipper earphone case, in different dyed colors (Andro – green, ARA – blue, Solaris – brown) to match the color theme of each IEM packaging. These cases are made in Portugal, from a material found in outer bark of the Cork Oak Trees, and each features a thick faux wool lining and a quality zipper. The cases are very compact, pocket friendly, and great for storage and keeping IEMs secure during transport.
To make sure anodized finish of the shells is not ruined by IEMs banging against each other inside the case, Campfire also includes earphone protection double-pocket sleeve, 3 pairs of it. One was used for IEMs, and other spares were used for eartips storage. The other included accessories, besides a stock super smoky Litz SPC cable, were a set of Final Audio E-type brand name eartips (xs/s/m/l/xl), generic silicone eartips (s/m/l) and marshmallow eartips (s/m/l), Campfire Audio traditional lapel pin, and a cleaning tool.
The new stock 2020 CFA cable is 3.5mm TRS terminated, with 90-deg gold-plated plug and over-molded rubbery housing with a nice grip and built-in strain relief. The 4 twisted Silver-Plated Copper Litz multi diameter stranding wire conductors have a smoky finish with a medical grade soft PVC jacket. The y-split is a slim aluminum black “bullet” with a matching chin slider which retracts from the split. The wires going to each earpiece after the split are twisted, and closer to mmcx connector housing have a piece of heat-shrink pre-shaped flexible earhook (no more memory wire!!!). The mmcx connector itself uses a quality beryllium copper material, and the smoky housing of the connector has red/blue dots corresponding to Right/Left sides.
The original Super Litz cable found in OG Solaris has thicker conductors and a little stiffer in comparison to lighter, softer, and more pliable Super Smoky Litz cable. Also, the original Super Litz had memory wire, while Super Smoky Litz didn’t, only a flexible pre-shaped earhook.
And in addition to physical difference, the perception of sound difference when going between these cables was quite noticeable as well. For example, with Andro 2020, the original “silver” Super Litz cable has more body in mids and narrower soundstage width, while Super Smoky Litz cable gives new Andro mids/vocals more transparency, more air between layers, and noticeably wider soundstage when tested with LPGT. The difference was noticeable to my ears in a number of blind tests.