BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Campfire Audio Andromeda

Hello and welcome to another installment of Bus Ride Impression. I am rounding off the last of the three goodies sent over by Lyle and this one is going to be quite an interesting one, the Campfire Audio Andromeda. The Andromeda was the flagship model of CA prior to the release of the Vega and I must say, Campfire did a pretty good job in terms of marketing their brand. One thing that CA capitalized on was the build of their models, which I think should be natural given how tough and solid looking their offers are.

But before anything else I would like to thank Lyle again for the sponsorship. It was a great set of toys and I must say given these, you have quite a good taste in sound, although it was pretty evident what your sound sig preference is. Don’t worry, as much as we have an opposite preference, I still like your choices really.

So with its seemingly jagged looking earpieces, the Andromeda looks nothing short of something you expect to last quite a while, built like a tank as some would say. I totally agree, the way the earpieces are chiseled by a CNC machine definitely tells you that CA meant business when they came up with the designs of their IEMs.

Let’s go through it then, shall we?

Build

As mentioned earlier, the Andromeda looks like something that can double as a defensive tool. It was made so tough you can actually take the cables off and chuck it on an attacker and I won’t be surprised if you know someone out by doing so if you are lucky. The chiseling done by CA was quite masculine and brutish; you can feel by the weight how CA invested on a good pair of shells for each earpiece.

Yet, I will have to say that as brutish it may look like, it really looked awesome for me. Sure, it isn’t the slimmest earpiece you can find in an IEM, but the contours and the screws on the Andromeda does look sexy.

campfireaudio_andromeda_earpiece1

However, what makes the Andromeda muy macho is also its drawback; while some this fact appeals to a lot of people in terms of looks, it presents a bit of an issue towards comfort. The edges of the Andromeda may cause a bit of discomfort to some especially to those with relatively smaller earlobes. The size of the earpieces can also be an issue given its larger than average build. For me though, it is not an issue; the earpieces sits quite nicely on my ears with some room to spare from those edges. Just so long as I won’t sleep with the Andromeda I should be doing fine.

campfireaudio_andromeda_cable2

The packaging also includes a Litz MMCX cable which is a departure from their other models’ SPC Tinsel cable, with a claim from CA that it sounds a lot better in terms of the low ends. The cable feels quite supple, and being a sucker for braided cables I practically liked this better. I also liked how discreet the splitter and plug is. CA decided for something minimalist, something I appreciate in an IEM.

campfireaudio_andromeda_case1

Also included is a svelte leather case similar to other models. Quite tough enough, I think the case can protect the IEM well. It is also nice to see the case lined with fiber to avoid unwanted scratches on the shells. Would have been nice if CA decided to add a small pocket for a small pouch of silica gel, but then I am just nitpicking.

Overall you will see that CA did their job in terms of the build and the packaging. Aptly so, for the price they are asking for I pretty much expect the build and packaging be something standard for their line of products.

Sound

In a nutshell, the Andromeda sounded a bit thick on the mid range while having a really nice sparkle on the high end. It doesn’t exactly have that punchy bass but has quite excellent quality with ample quantity while sounding a bit laid back than a lot of IEMs. This practically is my general observation as I listened to it using different tracks. For a more visual representation, here’s an FR reading for the Andromeda:

campfireaudio_andromeda_frgraph

While you will see a peak around the 8-9 kHz range, it wasn’t really something that will make you twitch upon using the Andromeda. Bass tends to have quite a long, smooth extension while highs starts to drop at around 12kHz range. Minor dipping on the mid range can be seen, but is just right to provide that healthy dose.

Now let’s try the Andromeda using some tracks. For the test, I will go for my trusty Onkyo DP-X1 and the Sony NW-WM1A to see how it does.

Misery (Maroon 5, Hands All Over)

Bass of the Andromeda really works for me: the punch isn’t overwhelming but sounded wet and cohesive. Voices also worked in excellent harmony while the splashes of the cymbals sounded rich. Imaging is one of the forte of the Andromeda, the presentation of each elements on the track is defined so well without being too spacious.

Message In A Bottle (The Police, Regatta De Blanc)

The basslines by Sting sounded really pronounced over the drums and the guitars on this track. It kind of felt that the arrangement for the track was set to have Sting’s vocals and bassline to standout, however it didn’t sound unnatural at all. It just felt a bit disconcerting considering how I typically hear it. Cymbals are of healthy dose, omnipresent but not harsh.

Love Song For No One (John Mayer, Room For Squares)

That slightly distorted guitar intro sounded a bit less raunchier that how I normally would here it from the Trinity Audio Phantom Master 4. Still, you can hear it clearly as to how pronounced it is. John Mayer’s voice definitely is a bit forward, but what stood out for me was how smooth the vocals are. There aren’t any piercing sound at any point of the track, thankfully as that might be an issue for some.

The difference I noticed between using the DP-X1 and the NW-WM1A as the source for the Andromeda is that the IEM tends to be transparent on the source feeding the sound to it. Albeit the Andromeda has its own signature, it still is able to carry what the source’s sound sig is. Good thing about the Andromeda is it adapts to both sources well.

Wrap Up

So, is it worth shelling out $1099 for an Andromeda? For me it is based on your perspective; in my case I would normally think that for the price, you can already get a decent sounding custom IEM. However, I know people who are not really into CIEMs and would opt for an in ear that fits their taste. For those who are into the sound signature of the Andromeda, there are other models in the market which may work depending on the individual. However, for something with such signature and build, one would wonder why would even settle for anything else.

For me, I will recommend this, simply because it’s got two of my major considerations when choosing an IEM. If only I got eleven hundred dollars lying around.

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