During the original launch of the first three IEMs, the Jupiter was pitched by Campfire Audio as their highest resolving of the range at that time. I am not completely sure if they came out and said this was their flagship and given it is a Quad BA, and there is room upwards, that might not have been the wisest thing to do. However, most people presumed as such based on it being the most expensive.
Of course, being a BA design there is always room to move upwards and onwards and whilst I am not a subscriber to the ‘more is better driver’ theory, when done right, it can and should sound better. So I am not at all surprised that Campfire Audio have taken a bite out of the driver theory and produced their new $1099 5 BA driver Andromeda, which they are putting out there as their best sounding IEM to date. Is it their flagship? Maybe it is this year, who can tell. I am certain though is that the Andromeda is the clearest sign yet of the maturity of the team in CA and the current confidence that their IEM range is doing the business.
What Is The Pitch?
Universal 5 driver
The Andromeda configuration is entirely BA with 2 drivers for the lows, 1 for the mids and 2 (plus tubeless resonator) for the highs. There are not a huge amount of wholly universal 5 BA driver IEMs kicking around in the market at the moment. After hunting around that observation took me a little by surprise. Usually, it is the universal version of an existing CIEM or a CIEM itself that packs in 5 drivers upwards such as the Noble 5, the UM Merlin (hybrid) and or the recently launched universal hybrid the Fidue Sirius (another 4+1 hybrid). Probably the one standout 5 driver in the market by a well-known name was the W50 from Westone, (you can also throw in the UM-50 into that pot also), which we reviewed in June 2014 and I am afraid to say it did not strike a chord with me at all.
CA have sought to differentiate the Andromeda from the cluster of competitive CIEMs out there at this price mark by introducing two key design choices. The first we saw and talked about a little during the Orion review and that is the switch from the previous SPC Tinsel cable to their new Litz constructed cable. Campfire claims that the new cable really ‘ups’ the sonic resolution beyond and introduced up to a 3dB gain in the lower frequency response when they tested side by side the old cable on the Orion. This cable now comes standard with all new CA IEMs by the way so this effect should be felt right across the board.
The second aspect of the Andromeda is the continuation of the use of an optimized resonator assembly we first saw in the Jupiter which CA believe is a clear upgrade on a traditional tube and dampener system that you find in other IEMs. CA’s pitch here is that the resonator assembly allows the Andromeda to really have an edge over traditional designs in terms of detail retrieval and treble extension (primarily applied to the dual BA for the highs) that may not have been possible with tubes and dampeners, even with 5 drivers.
CA have drawn from the previous releases so for the Andromeda it very much a case of “if it is not broken do not fix it” design wise. There are a few minor tweaks though even though both the Jupiter and the Andromeda share almost the same form factor. The biggest one is the color. It is green. I couldn’t honestly say it would have been my first choice but up close and personal it does work much better than I had anticipated as well as having a little more pop than the Jupiter’s blander color scheme.
Second, the materials used and the CNC process seems to have gone through a refinement process with the Andromeda now feeling a lot smoother and of a higher quality finish than the slightly duller materials of the Jupiter’s housing. The CA logo, in turn, benefits from a more prominent and sharper cut on the smoother faceplate of the Andromeda shell. In short, it stands out a lot more.
Bores, Edges, and Screws
The edging on the housing of the Andromeda does feel a little bit sharper and less rounded than the Jupiter which I found to be a curious design choice given comfort can be critical and the screws have also changed to a slightly larger silver variant. They do look of much higher quality but they also much more prominent on the Andromeda design than the more discreet Jupiter screws. One final difference to note is the tri-bore delivery system on the nozzle compared to the dual-bore design in the Jupiter. In all other design areas including nozzle length, angle, and the highly durable MMCX beryllium copper cable connectors are the same between the Jupiter and Andromeda.
Overall the Andromeda does have a slightly more solid industrial feel than the Jupiter and in the hand, it also feels a tiny bit heavier. Given that it is packing an extra driver it would not be a surprise to me that there is some official weight differential though very marginal.
Fit & Seal
Despite the slightly sharper edges of the Andromeda, the fit and comfort levels were excellent and on the exact same level as the Jupiter which was also a very good fit indeed. I was half expecting these to have a slightly more unforgiving fit and of course ears do differ but thankfully at no time did I feel any undue pressure on my outer ear. Given the weight and aluminum finish though you do feel a bit more presence than the tinier Westone variants though the MMCX system does give you more lateral movement to get them snug and secure.
The seal with the Comply tips is well above average and whilst the nozzle is not the deepest there is really zero movement or gaps being created in either an open or close jaw stance. Once again the Andromeda beats out the SE846, IE800 and the Roxanne for fit and seal, which at this price is essential.
The cable on the CA IEMs is a bit of a journey with the rather stiff memory plastic coated sheath cable in the beta units to the more pliant wearable version in the retail release to the now, and in my mind, superior Litz cable that I spoke about before in the Orion review. The original cable was constructed from SPC (silver plated copper) into what CA term as their ‘tinsel wire’ and was housed in an FEP (Fluorinated ethylene propylene) jacket.
The new cable is now a dual wire braided SPC Litz 1.35m cable of similar length to the original Tinsel wire but a bit thicker and heavier. It is much more pliant and easier to work with no memory retention whatsoever and a very classy matching y-split silver metal tube and clear plastic chin strap. It is terminated with MMCX pure Beryllium copper connectors and it retains the transparent plastic right angle 3.5mm jack from the original tinsel cable. The newer Litz cable also has soft and easy to manipulate memory plastic coated sheaths just like the previous version 2 of the Tinsel cable. It is purported to generate an increase in overall dynamic range, a 3dB gain in the low-end response over the previous cable as well as producing a cleaner more resolving signature than the Tinsel.
The final change to the Andromeda release is more of a cosmetic one but nevertheless an initial out of the box eye-catching one and that’s the good old “huggy bear” style leather case. Magnificently worn looking tan leather with lashings of internally lined fluffy fur has now been replaced by a chocolate brown leather finish and, yes, lashings of fluffy fur. Combined with the green of the Andromeda it is an attention seek combination, bolder perhaps and probably quite pornographic on some audiophile level.
It does everything that previous designs have done before; great at protecting your IEM, enough room for a spare cable or set of tips and doesn’t look out of place on a camping week for two in the Rockies or in the back pocket of your local pimp.
Beyond the new chocolate infused hard case CA have also saw fit to include a number of other accessories including:
- A guide booklet
- Comply TX-400 Tips
- Foam earphone Tips
- Silicone Earphone Tips
- Earphone clearing tool (with magnetic holder)
- Small CA branded broach
Page 2: Sound Impressions