They’re not the last word in detail, but the Andromeda’s make up for that with engaging performance, delivering a big musical sound. As long as you have the kit and access to high-quality music files, the Campfire Audio Andromeda are fun, if expensive, IEMs.
- Big soundstage
- Confident, musical performance
- Impressive bass
- Comfortable fit
- Not the most finely detailed of listens
- Needs a suitably capable source
- T.A.E.C (Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber)
- Five balanced armature drivers
- Copper litz cable
Andromeda are in-ear monitors (IEM) from American brand Campfire Audio which specialises in high-end, hand-crafted headphones.
At just over £1000, the Andromeda are one of the brand’s more expensive IEMs. I first tested the Andromeda in August 2019 and found that while they displayed plenty of energy, there were aspects to the sound that weren’t as enjoyable. They’re back for a second showing, with equipment and sources more in line with their talents.
So with a name like Andromeda, do they offer a listening experience that’s out of this world?
- Premium build quality
- Looks may be divisive
- Chunky shape
Opening the Andromeda box is like unwrapping a present. First, there’s the cover to slip off; followed by a box adorned with stars and inscribed with the words “Nicely Done”. Finally, there’s a premium green leather case in which you can store the Andromeda buds, which comes with its own amusingly tiny brush to clean the IEM.
All of this is arguably over the top, but first impressions are important, and in this sense the Andromeda exude quality.
Build quality is excellent, as you’d expect at this price. The in-ear shells are made out of Zirconium-blasted aluminium. This makes them light but also tough, with the finish resistant to any markings or scratches thus far.
The earbuds’ design is machined-design and angular; some will find it appealing, others less so. The bevelled head screws give the Andromeda a slightly ungainly Frankenstein’s Monster look. However, there are nice high-quality touches to be found, such as the inscription of the Campfire Audio logo.
A “Classic” green finish, as Campfire Audio dubs it, certainly isn’t understated. One Trusted Reviews staffer commented that they looked ugly, while another thought them cool – but both felt the finish was overstated.
The Andromeda’s rather chunky look means they lack the svelteness of the Obravo Cupid or Fender Thirteen 6. However, the fit is good and they’re mostly comfortable to wear – although I have experienced just a slight feel of earache with the over-ear hook during longer sessions.
On a positive note, the fit does prove to be a solid foundation for noise isolation, blocking out plenty of surrounding noise. Once your music is up and running, you’ll hardly notice what’s around you. If the default ear tips don’t fit, there are a number of alternatives from extra-small sizes to extra large.
The cable used is silver-plated litz wire, which is light to wear and, according to Campfire, tangle resistant. It’s certainly lightweight (I’ve hardly noticed it), but the number of times I’ve had to unbunch them would imply they haven’t quite solved the problem of wires becoming entwined.
- Needs capable partner for source
- Big bass performance
- Sense of dynamism could be better
Part of the reason the Andromeda received an underwhelming response the first time around is that they appear slightly fussy in terms of partnering. For this re-review I’ve been supplied a Shanling M2X portable music player. Along with a Cyrus soundKey DAC and subscriptions to both Tidal and Qobuz, this made for a more engaging performance overall.
Campfire Audio has furnished the Andromeda with five balanced armature drivers: two for high frequencies, one for mid-range, and another two for low frequencies with a frequency response of 10kHz to 28kHz.
These combine to create a big, full-bodied sound. The Andromeda has a predisposition to go very loud, so it’s worth fiddling with the volume and setting it lower than expected for a comfortable balance.
Returning to Nas’ If I Ruled the World (Imagine That) on Tidal via the Shanling M2X, the bass is solidly defined. The harshness I first heard is missing for the most part, although there’s noticeable warmth that robs the track of some clarity and definition. These IEMs aren’t on the neutral side, but their slightly warm signature makes them a smooth performer.
The size of the soundstage is the biggest takeaway from the Andromeda. It’s impressively wide, with the staging of vocals and instruments excellent. This creates a vivid sense of depth and scale. Drop down to less expensive IEMs and you’ll experience less energy and scale; nor do they grab you with the same sense of immediacy.
That said, I wouldn’t say the Campfire Andromeda are the most intricately detailed of listens, but there’s plenty of clarity and texture. The Andromeda pitch their sound more forward than most, a trait that gives them a bolder presence but also makes for an involving, musical listen.
A spin of Justice’s Genesis and the bass is rich and impactful, the kind of big-sized performance expected from an on-ear pair of earphones.
They’re a confident sounding pair of IEMs, happy to take whatever music you give them, whether fast-paced or more gentle. Beyoncé’s vocals in Hold Up from her Lemonade album are big and bold, taking centre stage (quite literally). Her vocals are backed up by the Andromeda’s impressive feel for the low-end, as well as an equally impressive stereo image that exhibits the Andromeda’s skill in creating an expansive soundstage.
If there’s one aspect I find not as astute, it’s the Andromeda’s sense of dynamsm. It’s perfectly fine, but tonal shifts don’t grab the attention as much as I’d like, leaving me with the feeling they could be more expressive.
Should you buy it?
Full-bodied, expressive sound With the right kit, the Andromeda is a confident, skilled performer
If you’ve not got a quality source to go with it The best performance to extract from the Andromeda is with a capable source and high quality streaming service
Compared to the first outing of the Andromeda, these latest IEMs offer up a more consistent and fun performance. They aren’t the last word in fine detail and, dynamically, they could be more expressive. Nevertheless, the Andromeda are smooth and skilful, offering a big, musical sound that’s more befitting an IEM at this price.
They’ll need to be paired with equipment that suits their talents, but even with a £100 Cyrus soundKey DAC they sounded particularly good – although the soundKey does provide a bit of hiss. If you can look past the divisive looks, and provide them with the high-quality sources they require, the Campfire Audio Andromeda are a fun, appealing, if expensive, pair of IEMs.
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