The original Campfire Audio Andromeda inspired a consensual zeal amongst hi-fi aficionados across all four corners of the globe. Naturally, this was a hard feat to achieve especially where personal preferences predominate and the IEM scene continues to evolve. Nevertheless, the kilobuck IEM stood tall and won universal appeal for its soundstage, clarity and supreme tonality. Since the Andromeda’s conception four years ago, Campfire Audio have released several flagships including the Campfire Audio Ara, Campfire Audio Solaris 2020 and an all-new iteration of the well-lauded classic.
Touted the Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020, the new IEMs from Ken Ball retain the original’s unique emerald green enclosure as well as the same quintuple driver configuration. The Andromeda 2020, however, benefits from a patent-pending solid body enclosure to maximize internal sonic acoustics alongside a slightly altered tuning. Campfire Audio have heavily implicated this technology across all their latest flagships with the defining vision of improving reference reliability and sonic performance. At $1099, can the Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020 compete with today’s offerings? Read the review to find out…
Akin to its latest releases, Campfire Audio have stepped up the unboxing experience. With the Andromeda 2020, users are greeted to a silver speckled outer sleeve hosting a graphic imprint of monitors amidst a backdrop of green and maroon hues. Each IEM’s specific theme is a tactful approach to developing brand consistency as well as crafting an overall refined look.
Included within the packaging are: a selection of Final Audio tips, Campfire Audio Earphone tips, Silicone Ear Tips, a lapel pin, cleaning tool, Campfire Audio Litz cable and a cork carrying case. The sustainable cork case is made in Portugal and harvested from the outer bark of the Cork Oak Tree. The abundance of accessories, together with the well-constructed case, bear the hallmarks of a premium product.
The intricate outer box sleeve opens like a lotus flower bloom to reveal an inner box which houses the earphones and accompanying accessories. It is clear to see that a lot of thought has gone into the user experience from box to product.
Build & Design
The design of the Andromeda 2020 is unapologetically distinct with its emerald green finish and angular contours. The design is not as seamless as the Solaris 2020 and presents as rather more industrial with its inbuilt screws and demarcated two-plate finish. Campfire Audio have opted for Zirconium blasted aluminum shells finished in a green anodizing composite. Next to the originals, the Andromeda 2020 features a new spout design with a signature grill pattern to keep the IEMs debris free. It is nice to see that the company have chamfered the edges from yesteryear iterations to keep the fit as comforting as possible.
Like the original, the Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020 adopts a 5-driver design with dual balanced armature (BA) drivers for the low, a single for the mid-section and dual BA drivers for the highs.
The ‘Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber’ is Campfire Audio’s answer to 64 Audio’s ‘tia’ technology. Since the drivers are closer to the ear and air is utilized as an acoustic resonator, higher frequencies are able to be delivered unadulterated and with great extension.
The Solid Body Design ties the topology together with a ‘crossover-less’ performance allowing tuning chambers to be directly incorporated into the final 3D printed interior. This precise level of engineering has enabled Campfire Audio to fine tune IEMs to their desired tuning.
Campfire Audio have utilized a Silver-Plated Copper Litz in a smoky jacket finish for the stock cable. The cable employs a tangle-resistant dual braid design with beryllium/copper MMCX connections and an L-shaped 3.5 mm termination jack. Overall, the cable has great handleability with a low weight profile
Fit & Isolation
The Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020 are one of the more comfortable IEMs with a shallow depth insertion and lightweight cable. The monitors sit flush against the conchae of the ears without irritation and at the right depth. The angled cable over the ear has the right amount of slack and memory retention to ensure a quick fit with each listen.
The Andromeda 2020 are not a particularly isolating pair of IEMs which is likely owing to its shallow insertion and depth. There is also some sound leakage at higher volumes.
The original Andromeda won audiences for its universally pleasing tonality in the form of a mid-centric tuning with sparkling highs. While having only briefly listened to the original, the Andromeda 2020 is a slightly more mature and balanced sound with a tempered treble. Both versions possess the same responsive drivers which capably highlight micro-dynamic changes with ease. As it stands, the Andromeda 2020 is an accomplished IEM with a full and easy midrange with an added openness and sense of scale.
For a balanced-armature design, the Andromeda capitalizes on a well-tuned bass with moderate punchiness and effective decay. Yes, there may not be the slam or authority of true dynamic drivers but the Andromeda’s delineate a versatile low-end which works well across multiple genres. This is a presentation which is not afraid to dig deep when sub-bass frequencies are called upon or deliver tactility where necessary. This low-end extension coupled with a lively and tight mid-bass aids in delivering an incredibly engaging and rhythmic sound. It must be impressed that the Andromeda 2020 is particularly susceptible to an effective seal and hence users should direct efforts to obtain this. Compared to Campfire Audio’s Ara, the Andromeda 2020 emphasizes more mid-bass bloom while the Ara focuses on sub-bass extension with a more technically proficient sound. The Tia Fourte, on the other hand, packs in a more authoritative bass presence with a greater and thicker note size albeit with less textural articulacy.
The Andromeda 2020 conducts an invitingly full and slightly warm symphony where the mids are concerned. It is a broadly appealing tonality, like the original, which is malleable to an eclectic set of genres. This is particularly attributable to its forward mid-section but also its revered ability to strike balance between technicality and musicality. To this extent, the Andromeda 2020 is highly engaging with a clear, open and marginally thick midrange. Although not a strictly neutral or reference timbre, the Andromeda 2020 uses its midrange to its advantage capturing interest from the outset with mid-forward tendencies and upper mid gains. More tonally balanced compared to the original, the Andromeda 2020 effectively employs less bottom-top contrast while still retaining its classic immersion factor. Note size and density are good and the Andromeda 2020 seemingly revels in transparency. These monitors are by no means the most resolving nor the most adept at micro-detail retrieval but have a clear enough signature to keep detail fans pleased.
Interestingly, Campfire Audio have toned down the open and sparkly treble which was one of the original’s defining characteristics. The new sound is less bright as a result of less upstroke in the 7 to 9K territories but still retains enough extension to convey immediacy and upper frequency shine. The Andromeda 2020 opts for a smoother frequency response compared to the original and is more forgiving to harsh or poorly recorded tracks. There is a good level of up top detail, but my preferences would have liked to see a brighter tonal shift for even higher levels of engagement.
Soundstage & Imaging
While the Andromeda 2020 is mid-forward in presentation, it evades congestion with its open and spacious soundscape. The delivery of sonic cues is nuanced and the Andromeda excels in instrument separation. Where some IEMs suffer from three-blob staging, the Andromeda 2020 is completely cohesive with a well-rounded 3D presentation of sound. It is not the widest in terms of projection, but it would hard to feel short-changed given its impressive holistic capabilities and immersion.
Campfire Audio Ara ($1299)
The Ara is technically superior to the Campfire Audio Andromeda with its great note resolving capacity and predilection towards short sustain transients. However, the Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020 has the more pleasing tonality with more warmth worked into the overall signature. Both IEMs have great soundstage presentations with the Ara possessing better localization of spatial cues while the Andromeda 2020 delivers an airier tonal density. Each earphone caters towards a different listener with the Andromeda 2020 being the more musical of the pair while the Ara the more reference sounding.
64 Audio U18t ($2999)
The Andromeda 2020 and the U18t are interesting comparators. Both are nuanced, balanced and share a passion for detail. Yet, the U18t emphasizes an airier sound with more energy in the higher frequencies. The Andromedas, on the other hand, demonstrate silkier mids with a more mid-centric warmth. Both monitors deliver on a spacious sound with the U18t sounding slightly grander with larger note size. Transparency is also greater on the U18t with more incisiveness whereas the Andromedas are relatively more laidback in tonality.
The original Andromedas were notable for their high sensitivity and picky matching with output impedance. The Andromeda 2020 still possess the same specs with 12.8 Ohms at 1kHz and 112.8 dB sensitivity. This means that source selection is important for an optimal sound – the Lotoo PAW 6000 and FiiO M15 are examples of two DAPs which pair particularly well with the Andromedas whereas the Cayin N8 does introduce a noticeable noise floor.
The Andromeda 2020 is a revisit to Campfire Audio’s runaway success. The newer iteration pays homage to its predecessor with a clear and open soundstage and a silky midrange. However, the Andromeda 2020 delivers a more balanced tonal profile with a slightly subdued treble presence. While some may point out that it detracts from the original’s tuning, the Andromeda 2020 still has that signature engagement value. The tonality is just more laidback and fatigue free. Since the original’s release, there have been developments in technology and the release of powerful contenders in the IEM arena. However, the Andromeda 2020 still competes well with its tuning – a sound rich with musical drive backed by strong technicalities. Alongside its robust build and the new smoky Litz cable, the Andromeda 2020 resurfaces well and remains a great value for money proposition.
Campfire Audio Andromeda
- Dual High Frequency Balanced Armature Drivers + T.A.E.C.
- Single Mid Frequency Balanced Armature Driver
- Dual Low Frequency Balanced Armature Drivers
- 10Hz–28 kHz Frequency Response
- 94 dB SPL @ 1kHz: 7.01 mVrms
- 12.8 Ohms @ 1kHz Impedance