Established in 2006, Audio Line Out (“ALO”) made its name by building high end audio cables for audio equipment. In 2015, ALO announced the creation of another branch that would be responsible for making IEMs called Campfire Audio (“CA”). Since then, CA has launched an impressive lineup of IEMs: the single BA Orion, the dual BA Nova, the single DD Beryllium driver Lyra and the four BA Jupiter. Their latest 5 driver flagship offering, the Andromeda caught my eye and I decided to take a leap and purchased it.
In my earlier days of this hobby, I found more enjoyment in the lower frequencies. The hard, the thumping, the wobble and ooze were all that I had sought after. The Prodigy, Crystal Method and Fatboy Slim were at the forefront of bands that fueled my adolescent angst. Finesse and grace was not on the priority list. With the passing of time, my taste has changed. It was my birthday in May, and having taken an extensive demo tour in Hong Kong with my partners in crime, I was finally ready to take the plunge into the deep end of the pool. I knew right away that my crown jewel would not be a bass heavy IEM. I wanted a piece with a great sound signature that would stand the test of time, something that hopefully as a person I would have to grow into.
I already enjoyed the Jupiter: great soundstage with immense clarity and smooth bass texture. It was certainly one of the most unique sound signatures I had ever heard, but despite its soaring highs and tremendous soundstage, I personally felt that the Jupiter’s mids were lacking a bit of sweetness. So when I heard from Oliver that there was an early bird rate from CA for their new flagship that had added a mid driver – the Andromeda, I took a rather haphazard chance and dropped my $999 USD.
Frequency Range – 10HZ–28 KHZ
Sensitivity – 115 DB SPL/MW
Impedance – 12.8 OHMS @ 1KHZ
Detachable Cable with MMCX Connection Type
I don’t have anything especially important to say about the specs apart from that the Andromeda is a highly sensitive IEM. Please turn down your volume when listening to the Andromeda or you will suffer from hearing loss.
Unboxing and Accessories
Like the rest of the CA lineup, the Andromeda comes in a neat little textured cardboard box with colourful printed graphics of galactic entities. When you first open it up, you are greeted only by a rich dark brown coloured hard leather case which has a very premium feel and also appeals to the handmade, artisanal, yet grounded feel of all of Campfire Audio’s products. Unzipping this case reveals the strikingly green Andromeda coiled up neatly inside a soft, off-white wool lining.
Underneath the case is another piece of card separating the main compartment and the accessories compartment, where you will find 3 sets of different tip choices, as well as an earhphone cleaning tool. The generous tip selection consists of S, M, and L sizes of Comply TX400 tips, normal foam tips, and silicon tips. There’s also a little Campfire Audio pin included so you can show off to the world what they’re missing out on.
Comfort and Build
I was very worried that I had just blindly bought an IEM I had never tried on and that the fit would be unsatisfactory. However, I was quickly reassured when I remembered that the Jupiter fit me very well. I would like to point out that even though I was part of the early bird batch that confirmed my payment May 10th, I had to wait for a family friend to bring it to Shanghai earliest July 12th as I could not find a better and safer way to transport my highly valuable item across the Pacific Ocean. During my wait I tried my best to not read the immense amount of Andromeda reviews pouring out from the community, firstly to try to keep myself as unbiased as possible but secondly also to keep me from going insane during my long wait time.
And finally, they have arrived. Oh how beautiful they are. The lush green color stands out from the crowd as a strong, forward statement. Black, blue and red are too last decade, and do not communicate the true intent and spirit of the designer. Green evokes a more exotic flavor. It conjures imagery of emerald, jade and malachite. The almost iridescent surface reflects light gorgeously, forcing me to tinker with it more than I imagined before even beginning to tip roll. The CNC milled anodized aluminium housing showcases the bold attitude of CA through its brave cuts and angles of the shell. Industrial, sturdy and modern are words that spring to mind when looking at the impressive metal housings held together by precision cut screws.
In terms of comfort – there have been some reviews from the community that have mentioned that the angular form of the Andromeda were slightly uncomfortable, with the corners slightly jabbing into the antihelix area of the ear. Personally, it fits me snugly and comfortably, but Campfire Audio has decided to release a new version with two chamfered off corners to provide a more comfortable fit. Since my unit was a pre-order, it does not have the new chamfered corners design.
The metallic canals of the Andromeda, which ends in 3 precisely milled out bores, leans towards shallow in terms of insertion – but your mileage may vary. Foam tips are slightly longer and grip the ear slightly better, while silicon tips provide a shallower insertion. The tips that I settled with are the M sized silicon tips which were the best for me in terms of comfort and sound. I tried the Complys and although there is a small boost in bass volume, the Comply M size was too big and the S too small for me. This review was done based on my experience with the M silicon tips.
The Andromeda now comes with the new ALO Litz cable, a stunning silver plated copper cable with a four core braid and transparent MMCX connectors. The right and left connectors are easily distinguishable through a small blue and red dot on the left and right sides. Compared to the older ALO Tinsel Wire cable which was extremely prone to tangling up , the new Litz cable is much more ergonomic as it is slightly more robust, and the braiding helps to keep it tangle free. I’m usually not a big fan of memory wire, but the Litz cable memory wire has the perfect balance between stiffness and softness. The sturdy MMCX connectors are easily snapped on and off, allowing for easy cable switching.
All in all, the Andromeda looks as good as it feels secure. There is no doubt that this is a piece of incredible craftsmanship. Seamlessly melding together striking aesthetics with a unique and musical sound.
Sound and Separation
And finally, what you’ve all been waiting for – the sound. No doubt all of you want to know: What’s the bass like? The mids? How about the highs? But one of the first things one notices when listening to the Andromeda is its expansive soundstage.
The Andromeda has an incredibly impressive soundstage, rivalling the absolute top of the industry. Width extends to just beyond my shoulders, height goes up to just beyond the tips of my hair and depth reaches down to just below the back of my jaw. This makes for a highly immersive listening experience, throwing the user into a world of three dimensional sound and music.
The bass of the Andromeda extends deep, with a bass presence just a touch above neutral, making it a conservatively warm IEM. The bass is unobtrusive, only finding its way into the music when called upon, and shying away when told to step back. Bass impact is very sharp, with an incredibly fast attack, making songs with a hard edged beat almost unbearable to listen to at moderate to high volumes. Bass texture is smooth, rich and thick with great control, almost too lean for my current taste, but nothing that cannot be adjusted with a few tweaks of the equalizer. The Andromeda responds very well to tweaking in the 60 hz and 170 hz range, easily adding warmth and bass volume for people who feel that the low end lacks oomph. Please note, adding more bass response will undoubtedly skew the entire sound signature and affect the sweetness of the mids.
The Andromeda has exceptionally lush mids. Sweet, full and enveloping, female vocals sound natural and realistic. You are able to clearly make out the shape of the singers’ lips, as well as picking up all their intimate breaths and whisps. Trumpets, pianos and guitars sound great with just the right amount of timbre, echoing in your head and lingering with a beautiful resonance. Instrument separation and imaging is very well defined with astounding clarity. When listening to live orchestra, each instrument and sound source has lots of air and space between them, offering a very comfortable and grand listening experience.
The upper mids are really where the Andromeda begins to shine. Where many other IEMs may begin to sound screechy and chalky, the Andromeda has just begun getting into its stride. The Andromeda “sings” effortlessly when reproducing high female vocals, violins and other higher frequency instruments. The upper mids of the Andromeda “rings” and “sings” its way into a deliciously airy and sparkly high end, with no bumps or drops in between.
The Andromeda’s highs are where these IEMs really shine and standout from the crowd, with exceptional clarity and extension. Campfire Audio has used a “tubeless resonator box” design where the two balanced armature drivers in charge of the high frequencies are contained and instead of having the traditional design with tubes and dampers, the resonator box allows the highs to resonate straight out of the bore without compromising even the slightest bit on clarity. Where other IEMs may sound narrow in their pursuit for the high frequencies, the Andromeda goes on up and up seemingly without end, with great texture and impact. It shows immense clarity and has a brightness which is not dry at all. Liquid and cohesive, sibilance is controlled to an absolute minimum, only showing a shadow at the most intense of moments. The Andromeda performs very well with female opera vocals, violin solo performances and other musical recordings focusing on the upper mid to high frequencies. There is no breaking, no sharpness. Just a smooth, constant flow of bright notes.
Undoubtedly a bright IEM with a focus on the mids and highs, the Andromeda exercises control and restraint in its presentation of bass. I wouldn’t call this sound signature reference nor neutral. It is just a touch warmer than flat in the bass department and a few percentage points even further in its rich mids to highs. The sound is engaging, revealing and clear.
The standout feature of the Andromeda is its soundstage and imaging in the upper frequencies. Clear and concise with such an agreeable texture, the highs of the Andromeda can clearly place whatever sound source thrown at it to surgical precision. It is also this which makes the highs so easy to listen to, making you easily overlook any little shrieks and hisses that meander through the Andromeda soundscape.
If you are looking for an earphone with unparalleled clarity in the highs with a gentle focus on the bass and mids, while also boasting cutting edge production technique, then look no further. I am sure that the Andromeda will bring your listening experience to new heights and perhaps beyond what was previously perceived as the limits of the sky.
August 8, 2016 at 11:44 PM
What do you say compare to SE846?
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August 8, 2016 at 11:55 PM
I would say that the CA Andromeda has a much more expansive soundstage with a focus on clarity and separation of instruments and sounds. The Andromeda’s bass is less impactful and powerful than the SE846’s – rather, it provides a cleaner and leaner sound. The 846 will generally sound warmer than the Andromeda, but its clarity and separation in mids and highs will tend to lag behind the Andromeda’s.
If you would like to read more about the SE846, please check out our other review here:
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August 9, 2016 at 1:41 AM
Alfred, thanks for your comparison. BTW great reviews on both IEMs!
I got my Andromeda couple weeks ago and I do really enjoy it. I just worried about missing another great IEM from Shure that I don’t have a chance to listen to.
August 12, 2016 at 6:28 AM
What will you say compare to JH Audio Roxanne?
August 12, 2016 at 10:02 AM
Here are some quick comparisons between the JH Roxanne and CA Andromeda:
Roxanne also has a ‘huge’ sound signature but its soundstage is not as wide as Andromeda.
It also tends to have much more focus on the low frequencies with quite a big bass hump and comparatively veiled sound, but it is definitely a more ‘fun’ sound compared to the Andromeda which is more focused on reproducing accurate small details and treble.
Roxanne is great for rock and heavier genres of music in our opinion, and it is also great at reproducing live recordings.
Hope this helps.