Disclaimer: The Campfire Audio Equinox sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank the team at Campfire Audio for giving us this opportunity.
You can read more about Campfire Audio products we reviewed on Headfonics by clicking here.
Campfire Audio do some great universal monitors. Pretty much one of the most consistent brands out there with the likes of the Andromeda and Solaris gaining an almost ubiquitous status in the audiophile community.
Their designs have never stood still from the original Lyra to the Andromeda and to the eye-catching designs of the Atlas and the Solaris.
One of the driving forces behind all of these designs changes that I think Ken and the team have found the most intensive has been the comfort and fit of a universal monitor.
Step forward the $1499 Equinox. This is the company’s first custom monitor and it firmly addresses the one area that should leave the universal range in the rearview mirror; that all-important fit, and seal.
However, the Equinox is quite different to 99% of the custom offerings out there in the market today. Both inside and outside in terms of build and technology you could say the Equinox is quite unique.
So, what makes the Equinox different apart from being the only CIEM in the product range. Well, the first is the use of a single dynamic driver. There is no BA in the Equinox, unlike the Andromeda or the hybrid Solaris.
The Equinox draws from the Atlas A.D.L.C, (Amorphous Diamond Like Carbon), 10mm Dynamic Driver but with a tweak in the tuning (see page 2 for sound impressions) to produce a signature that is not quite as “tub-thumping” as the Atlas.
The Equinox is also 3D printed but with a specific focus on comfort for a non-stage artist. That means a super short nozzle quite unlike I have seen on any other custom monitor before.
The pitch here is to basically overcome the traditional hurdles of accurately printing “beyond the second bend” of your ear canal. Whilst some prefer a deep higher pressure insert with a super-seal this one will negate that in favor of long-term comfort and a good seal.
The final key point is that the Equinox is a limited run product line at just 100 units per quarter annum, roughly due to production scaling right now. You have to be quick to get this one as they do seem to run out fast.
Process For Ordering
Because the Equinox is a custom monitor you will be required to send in your ear impressions in advance and wait a short while for the final version to be sent back to you. Typically you can purchase it via your local Campfire Audio dealer. For customers without a local dealer or customers in the USA, you can order Equinox directly when available.
The steps for ordering are as follows:
1. Buy Equinox via Campfireaudio.com
2. CA provide a shipping label for your impressions
3. Send in your ear impressions / digital scan
4. CA design and assemble your custom Equinox
5. CA then ship your Equinox to you
For those coming to customs the first time, this is a critical phase. The fit of the final Equinox sent to you will depend on the accuracy of your ear impressions done at your local audiologist. The normal advice here is a full ear impression to the second bend of the ear canal. Even if CA will chop off most of the ear canal part in their build process they still need that to create the correct width on the nozzle.
From there I generally stick them a small hard plastic food container with a few loosely scrunched tissues to prevent them moving and then ship them out to Campfire with a reliable courier. Usual turnaround time I am told is 2-3 weeks max which is good enough. I have seen faster but I have seen a heck of a lot slower.
For hardened pros who use digital scans, this may save a lot of time and money since the Equinox is 3D printed but do check with CA in advance that your scans are acceptable. This is what I did in HK last year when we bumped into the CA team.
This is not your typical hollow body acrylic custom build. There is a very definite Atlas/Comet influence in there with a stainless-steel driver housing finished with CA etched silver alloy motif on the top.
The motif is basically that driver housing with a vented port for the 10mm dynamic driver to breathe as well as the stem for the MMCX termination port. The body is held in place with 2 discreet screws on either side.
Behind the alloy enclosure, and what takes up the bulk of the size, is the custom 3D printed acrylic body. As the good man Henry Ford once said, “you can have any color you like so long as it is in black”. And indeed, that is the case with the Equinox.
Call it a limitation of 3D printing or call it a deliberate design approach. Either way, the all-black Equinox body combined with the chrome finished stainless-steel driver enclosure is visually quite striking and flawless in its finish. Just do not expect it to come in pink, blue or anything else that takes your fancy.
Then there is the nozzle. It is impishly short, fat and deadly smooth. It runs a dual bore exit so no horn design with one largish rounded bore and a smaller second bore just above. The abrupt stop is just about at the point where the Equinox will slip and seal into your ear canal.
Cables & Connectors
CA have fitted the Equinox with the same beryllium connectors that you will fine with the rest of their high-end universal lineup at the tip of the alloy stem.
Quite apart from the attractive little gold accents to the black and alloy design these add welcome durability to the Equinox build quality. They are tougher than the standard MMCX brass connectors on the market so cable rollers can snap on and off a lot longer on the Equinox without fear of the connection breaking.
The Equinox came out before CA launched the SuperLitz cable they pack with the Solaris. Instead, you get a 1.2m pure silver Litz 4-wire geometry inside a translucent jacket wound with a nice tight twist that provides some excellent flexibility and zero microphonics.
I have been enjoying the last few rounds of Litz cable builds Campfire Audio have seen fit to pair with their flagship monitors and this one is no different. The cable build quality is lightweight, nicely finished and terminated with a choice of 3.5mm, 2.5mm or 4.4mm. You also get the beryllium MMCX connectors, a matching chrome stainless-steel alloy Y-split barrel and decent strain reliefs on the jack.
Comfort & Fit
Oh, no doubt the Equinox has killer comfort. The lack of a nozzle extension immediately takes away all the potential irritants a slightly large extended nozzle might bring. There is simply no pressure at all on the ear canal because there is no acrylic in there adding to it.
This is not really suitable for a stage artist though. That longer depth is required for stability so it is more for you and me or anyone without a lick of singing talent and who likes to hear someone else work for their money.
Of course, bear in mind, the final level of comfort will come from the accuracy of your ear impressions but with a 3D printing process that likelihood is good that you will get that if the audiologist did a good job on those molds.
The seal is average though and I guess that is to be expected given the big venting port on the top of the alloy enclosure combined with the relaxed nozzle fitting. I can still hear the rumblings of my air con that the likes of the all-BA Phantom completely block out.
Mind you I have had a fair amount of relaxing short nozzle fittings though longer than the Equinox’s and they are on par with the CA design for isolation. Examples such as the CA FIBAE 3, AAW’s W900 all have that similar approach to comfort as a priority over the absolute seal.
Accessories & Packaging
I am not sure we will see this packaging again since they recently changed to a different design with the launch of the IO and Polaris II this year.
This is classic Campfire Audio in look and feel with the small astrologically adorned stiffened paper box and accompanying accessories and a carry case inside. This time the overall tone of the box graphics is black and white as opposed to the brighter colors of the universal range.
The full accessory line-up inside includes the cable (with your termination of choice) and their usual cool fur-lined black leather zipper carry case that you get with the likes of the Atlas. I love these cases, probably some of the best in the business and do a great job protecting your monitors with the fur lining adding a touch of class.
You also get CA’s stock pamphlets and the branded pendant, cleaning tool but of course, being a custom monitor, you do not get any tips.
Click on Page 2 for Sound Impressions & Comparisons