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Campfire Audio Andromeda Mini Review

Recently, after much consideration and waffling back and forth, I finally leapt in with both feet and bought one of the most popular higher end IEMs in the greater audiophile community, the much vaunted and highly acclaimed Campfire Audio Andromeda. This is, by a good margin, the most expensive individual headphone purchase I’ve made and, for the most part anyway, I went in blind. I’d never heard them before, so I had to rely on the impressions of others to tell me whether or not my hard-earned dollars would be worth investing in a pair of these emerald green (a beautiful shade of my favorite color) IEMs. It was a bit nerve-wracking, waiting for them to arrive, wondering whether or not they’d live up to the hype or turn out to be yet another sacred cow that fails to measure up.

But, once I got them, I excitedly tore into the package and almost immediately plugged them in for a listen. And then I unplugged them and plugged my iFi IEMatch in between the Andromedas and my amp. These things are highly sensitive. If you have a hissy or noisy source, these will amplify that so the IEMatch is a pretty good buy, to give you more usable volume control before they become too loud to stand.

It’s also worth noting that, due to the low impedance rating of the Andromedas and their high sensitivity, they are highly susceptible to impedance swings caused by sources with high output impedance and said sources can and will change the sound signature of the Andromedas. Some like the changes to the frequency response some sources deliver. Many don’t and prefer them to sound as close to the original sound as possible, so I’d recommend looking for digital audio players (DAPs) and amps with an output impedance lower than one ohm. Really, as close to zero as possible is best but as long as it’s below one ohm, you should be fine.

So, I’m three paragraphs in and I’ve yet to say anything about how they sound. Well, if I had to pick one word to describe how the Andromeda’s sound, that word would be “coherent”. That’s what immediately jumped out at me as I listened to my first few songs. Over the years, I’ve heard several multi-balanced-armature-based IEMs, including a few I’d rank rather highly in terms of coherence (like the Massdrop Plus and the Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10) but the Andromeda takes it to another level. Its five balanced armatures work in such perfect synchronicity as to sound like one.

Overall, I’d characterize the sound signature as mostly neutral with just a tad of added emphasis in just the right spots for spice so it never sounds dull or boring. The bass has excellent speed, impact and decay for a totally balanced armature-based earphone, which continues to impress me in my day-to-day listening. Detail retrieval is what one would expect of an IEM of this price, namely exceptional.

The Andromeda is a warm-sounding IEM, tilting its sound away from the reference-style tuning one would find in a good set of professional monitors. Despite “warmth” sometimes being closely associated with lacking or smoothing over fine detail, the Andromeda glosses over no micro details while the warmth of the sound signature makes them easy to listen to for hours on end. Extension at both ends is wonderful as well, featuring slightly boosted sub bass and delicate, airy treble that’s unlike anything I’ve heard in an IEM. Seriously, I’ve never been much of a treble-head but the Andromeda might make me one. This kind of treble – with slight emphasis for added sparkle but never to the point of being sibilant – is simply to die for.

The Andromeda’s technical ability is in a class of its own with regard to in ear monitors I’ve heard and when combined with a wide, open sound stage, impressive imaging capabilities and natural timbre, you end up with an IEM that goes a long way toward justifying its $1100 asking price.  So, after a few paragraphs of gushing over these IEMs, I’ll conclude by saying that sometimes, even when a product is hyped to no end, it can be well deserved. I don’t want to jinx it, but I may have found my endgame IEM. Campfire Audio’s Andromeda is a well-balanced, highly detailed, natural and thoroughly engaging IEM that I definitely recommend.

About Justin McBride