Every boutique audio company aspires to have what is known as a classic or timeless product that meets with universal approval. Examples include Sennheiser’s HD600, Audeze’s LCD-2, Hifiman’s HE6, and of course, Campfire Audio’s Andromeda.
For those that are fresh to the Andromeda, this has been an amazingly popular 5 balanced armature driver universal monitor priced around the $1k marker. However, since the launch of the class and original Andromeda, I have avoided reviewing subsequent editions for one reason or another.
This time we have some big changes in both the IEM’s internal design as well as the upgrading of some of the drivers traditionally used by CA. Now feels like a good moment to compare the old with the new.
The price, refreshingly, is the same as the original at an SRP of $1099. We can be thankful for that because the improvements are clearly there and could have easily warranted a minor price increase.
The Andromeda 2020 was part of a trilogy of IEM releases this year by Campfire Audio, the other two being the Solaris 2020, (review soon), and the new Ara.
All three share a lot of the new design elements that came with Campfire’s new approach that started with the Solaris SE and the custom Solstice. This includes a sold-body design, a 3D optimized construction, and a revised full-range drive for the mids.
The Andromeda 2020 still retains a lot of important legacy features since the original 2016 version including an all BA 5-driver design and their tubeless T.A.E.C. technology for high-frequency reproduction.
The core configuration of the Andromeda 2020 has remained the same since the original. This is a 5 balanced armature driver universal monitor with a T.A.E.C. configuration of 2 for the highs, one balanced armature for the mids, and 2 for the lows.
As confirmed, the Andromeda 2020 does share the same mids driver they started using with the Solaris SE and continued with the Ara and the new Solaris 2020. It is not a new driver for the Andromeda but having reviewed both the Ara and Solaris SE I do prefer the more refined tone.
The impedance rating has remained unchanged at 12.8Ω but like the Ara, (and all future models), Campfire Audio has opted to change their SPL rating from mW to mVrms required to reach a benchmark of 94dB @1kHz. In this case, it is 7.01 mVrms which means slightly more efficient than the 7.094mVrms Ara and slightly less efficient compared to the 6.54mVrms Solaris 2020.
Campfire Audio has continued to use its internal acoustical chamber design inside the Andromeda 2020 and something we first spoke about in the Ara review.
This is a 3D printing approach first developed in their custom monitor process and further expanded into what they now call a Solid-Body (patent-pending) internal chamber design. That means the tuning chambers are directly printed into the final earphone print.
By using a Solid-Body design and combining it with an optimized 3D construction, CA believes they can better control the final output to match their design objectives.
In the case of the Solaris SE is was staging and vocal performance, whereas the Ara opted for a hi-fidelity reference-type sound. The Andromeda 2020 signature has not so much been radically altered but instead, its ‘musical’ presentation has been refined into something a bit more balanced or coherent.
To be honest, the word coherent seems to be a welcome running theme with all Campfire Audio IEMs this year.
The classic angular anodized emerald green form factor has been retained, which to be honest would have been a sacrilege of sorts if ditched. This is an immediately recognizable design among portable audio audiophiles though the original was not without some fitting and chipping flaws.
The Andromeda 2020’s zirconium blasted aluminum shell material is also unchanged and they do offer a very durable feel in the hand. So also, the anodized finish with the classic edging on the extremities and the triple exposed screw plate aesthetic on the faceplate.
Interestingly, the new version has not opted for a lengthened nozzle as you will find on the Ara or the new Solaris 2020. In fact, the length looks more or less the same as the original though the design and materials are somewhat different.
Not only has the stainless-steel nozzle received a shinier new chrome finish but it has also grill has been changed to the new grill design first seen on the Atlas and entry-level comet. The original Andromeda has a more traditional triple-bore opening.
One final more subtle design change is the ‘tip lip’ on the nozzle. It is now is a little thinner allowing for more room below the lip itself for the tip to grip onto.
Comfort & Isolation
The fitting experience is virtually the same as the original. Campfire Audio has resisted lengthening the nozzle of the Andromeda 2020 similar to the Ara so the body will come in a bit closer to the basin of your concha and stick out a bit less.
Of course, I am aware that the edged finish and close fit will not be for everyone so I guess I am the lucky one because the Andromeda has never given me an issue with uncomfortable fitting.
True, I used the foam tips on the original as the alternative silicone tips I did not like the sound signature from. The foam tips tend to push out the Andromeda 2020 a little also whilst still achieving the fit I want but even the Final E tips did not create any discomfort.
The level of isolation from the included foam and Final E tips is surprisingly close to each other. I honestly did not feel there was much of a gap between the two for passive noise cancelation.
However, the more rigid aluminum shells of the Andromeda 2020 offers a good level of background isolation but not the top-level that some of those heavily contoured acrylic shells can offer.
There is a 3rd set of in-house short stem silicone single bore tips but I tend not to use them. The isolation is very poor so a lot of noise gets in and a lot of bass goes out the door leaving the sound a little unbalanced.
The Final E Tips are probably the most dynamic of the three tips with a solid bass response and sparkling treble but for those looking for a warmer more relaxed sound through the mids then the foam tips are more appropriate.
Cable & Connectors
Campfire Audio has retained its excellent custom beryllium/copper MMCX connection materials on the new Andromeda 2020 design and in truth, I have changed the original Andromeda cable countless times, and not once have they failed over the last 4 years.
They have, however, changed the design of those sockets to the newer circular inset MMCX socket which I find to be a lot easier to connect and disconnect than the original insert. The new socket is also thicker and even more durable looking than the original.
I would have loved to have seen that SuperLitz cable from the Solaris included with the Andromeda 2020. It is an SPC stock cable I respect for its gutsy level of dynamic range and double the strand count over the stock cable that we get here.
The 1.32m CA Litz cable is actually ok in my book, at least in terms of handling and microphonics which is exceptionally low. This is the same cable they have included with the Ara with a 4-wire SPC Litz geometry and a smoked twisted jacket finish.
The splitter is a low-profile black aluminum barrel with matching chin cinch that articulates quite easily and stays in place. This particular termination is a right angle 3.5mm gold-plated 3.5mm TRS jack in a very durable high-density rubber enclosure. It also has some memory wire but it is the lighter springy type rather than the stiffer memory retention variety which I prefer.
Overall, the Andromeda 2020 stock cable will give you a smooth sound and typical of SPC cables a bit more high-frequency presence and sparkle.
Packaging & Accessories
The Andromeda 2020 continues the new and larger packaging styling of the Ara and a few other previous IEM releases over the last year or so. Gone are the little logistic budget-friendly boxes from the previous range (not including the Solaris) and a more intricate and bigger display box.
The theme is a classic Andromeda green on the outside with the customary CA collage of colors and the Andromeda 2020 itself on the front label.
The mechanics of the unboxing is more like a little petal-type paper fold on the base of the box. This, in turn, allows you to peel off the outer box cover to reveal a flip-top tan-colored container adorned with the more traditional Campfire Audio branding.
Flip the box lid and inside you have the accessories inside a similarly colored cardboard tube and an all-new cork material carry-case inside of which you will find the Andromeda 2020 and the SPC Litz cable. As always with Campfire, the accessory line-up is just beautiful as well as plentiful.
The full lineup of accessories closely matches the IO and is as follows:
Final e-tips (xs/s/m/l/xl)
Foam Marshmallow tips S/M/L
Silicone single-bore tips S/M/L
3 x cushioned pockets (for the monitors and foam tips)
New cork carry case
SPC Litz cable
Campfire Audio pin badge
Cork Carry Case
The beautiful new Portuguese-made case is similar in shape to the Ara design which is a purse-type metropolitan design with slightly softer side support compared to the older more rigid square casing they used on all previous models. The inside is finished with the same cool charcoal faux wool furry lining from the older generation.
The Andromeda 2020 case also uses the new premium cork materials sourced from a Cork Suberus L tree that is apparently harvested only once every 9 years for sustainability reasons. And of course, it had to be in the Andromeda green. You would not have it any other way.
The cork texture creates an entirely new aesthetic to the older leather styling but still very unique. The actual feel is quite smooth in your hand with the distinctive worn look adding only a tiny amount of grainy texture to the material.
The new case is somewhat tighter on the inside than the older cases but it has enough expansion to its design so you can stuff plenty in there and zip it shut. Just watch out you do not catch the cable in the zipper as you close it.
One final observation is on the case zipper itself. The CA pendant seems smaller and lighter now with an all-silver finish as opposed to silver and black.
Click on page 2 below for sound impressions and comparisons