The Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020 is the companies second revised and updated earphone we will be reviewing this month. Just like with the 2020 Solaris, this new model is a worthy successor to what was an almost perfect earphone to begin with. These aren’t a revolution to the Andromeda line. It’s an evolution. It picks up where the original left off and fine-tunes them to something even more special. Yet they still retain the characteristics which made the previous version so successful in the audiophile community.
Campfire didn’t need to make these changes; they could have kept selling the Andromeda as is. Buyers would still be happy in the knowledge that they had one of the best sounding earphones on the planet. The update wasn’t needed, but it is much appreciated.
Packaging and Accessories
The packaging and accessories seem to have been standardized right across Campfire Audios premium earphones, and the only noticeable changes are in the color schemes. Essentially what you get in the box with the Solaris and Ara models is the same set of extras you get with the Andromeda 2020.
The earphones come in all recycled cardboard packaging with some quite beautiful graphics and design touches. The whole unboxing experience is excellent, and the outer sleeve opening into an exploding star in which the earphones sit is a very smart idea. I enjoyed the novelty and appreciate that they go the extra mile to make the experience of receiving new earphones as exciting as it should be. It’s kind of a Campfire Audio theme that they find little ways to go the extra mile in every area.
Inside the inner box, you will find one more small cardboard box in which you will find the accessories and a case in which you can carry your earphones. The earphones are delivered inside the case, and it helps to keep them safe in transit without the need for a load of unnecessary packaging foam.
Campfire goes all out on the accessories, and they are all of the highest quality, so let’s see what you get in the box.
- 3x Styles of eartips in various sizes
- 1x Cleaning tool
- 1x Campfire Audio pin badge
- 1x Cork carry case
- 1x detachable MMCX cable
- 2x accessory carry pouches for accessories (Awesome they don’t use plastic bags for this)
- 2x pouches for the earphones
There is nothing else you will need, and as mentioned, everything is of a high standard. Of course, two areas of the accessories are worth looking at a little further, so let’s do that below.
I mentioned in the 2020 Solaris earphone review; CA has moved away from the leather cases they used in the past. They are now using this unique cork material you see in the photo. It has a unique look to it and is tinted green to match the aesthetics of the Andromeda.
Its sound quality and has tasteful company branding, but we are a little saddened that we lose the rigidity of the outgoing clamshell case design.
The cable is the new and much improved Smoky Litz cable. It fixes many of the problems of the previous Litz cable like the discoloration through oxidization and the terrible tangling. It’s a nice cable, but I still prefer using the Andromeda with my aftermarket cables from LabKable, Dunu, and Fearless audio.
Design and Build Quality
Campfire Audios build quality is second to none, as is the fit and finish of their earphones. The design is familiar, and those unfamiliar with it would struggle to tell the new earphone from the old just from looking at them. That’s a good thing because they were and still are one of the best built and best-looking earphones you can buy.
The body is that same aluminum shell that has been blasted with zirconium and then anodized with a beautiful emerald green finish. It has that industrial look to it with the sharp angular contours and exposed metal screws.
Also new on the 2020 issue is the polished stainless steel nozzles that look great and provides protection from dirt entering the chamber thanks to a new grill design.
In hand, they are most impressive. These feel like an indestructible lump of metal. The chassis is so robust and secure that I can’t see any fault developing from the housing over time. I have used the original Andromeda for around three years, including motorcycle trips across India and Vietnam, where they got subjected to months of abuse.
The only sign of wear was some of the anodization wearing off on the edges. This was from continually being put in and out of a helmet. They have been dropped, soaked, and generally mistreated along the way, and there has never been an issue. I expect the outer to hold up much the same on this new 2020 model. There also are some significant upgrades on the inside, which should make the Andromeda even more robust.
There is a new chassis on the inside which contains all the internal components. This means there are fewer free moving parts and less variability between batches. Campfire has been working on for some time and should make one of the world’s best-made earphones even more reliable.
Comfort and Isolation
Comfort is decent. They aren’t on a par with the new 2020 Solaris, which has a more rounded and ergonomically friendly body. The Andromeda is a more angular design and, as such, may cause more issues for people with small ears. If you are someone like me with medium ears or even bigger, you shouldn’t have any issues as the body is not overly large and sits reasonably flush to the side of the head without sticking out.
Isolation was very good. A combination of insertion depth and material density of the body does a lot to reduce the ingress of unwanted external sound.
What do they sound like? They sound like a set of Andromeda’s. Fascinating. Near perfect tonality. Unbelievable transparency and insane detail retrieval. Everything is unique about them, and in my mind, they are as technically perfect as you can get for the price.
It’s a masterpiece from Ken Ball and the team that should not be overlooked amongst all these new releases from other companies. The reason the Andromeda still holds its ground sonically today is that they were so far ahead of the competition when they were first released. Now with the 2020 Andromeda release, they refine their design and cement their position in the hierarchy of legendary IEM’s.
Many people struggle with an elevated treble. The truth is you can have something which extends fully while being both crisp and prominent. This is one of the hardest things to get right in the whole of the audio world. Make an earphone overly bassy, and it usually just called out for being so. However, go too hot on the treble, and you run the risk of an almost pain like reaction. Some people struggle with the high end on many of the top end earphones, especially those that become screechy or sibilant.
The Andromeda doesn’t do that, and it has some of the best quality trebles I have heard to date. It has a great extension and a tonne of detail. The quality of this top-end has the effect of opening up the appearance of the soundstage and provides an airy quality to the tuning. It doesn’t go sibilant at any point, and despite its range in the upper frequency, it never seems to overstep its mark. Remaining poised, controlled, and true to life where others may push it too far in trying to appear “revealing.”
Jazz mainly benefits from the strong treble performance, and high hats and flute seem very accurate to source when comparing directly with my Stax SR007. That’s a compliment if I ever wrote one.
To this day, the Gen one still impresses me whenever I listen due to the remarkable levels of detail and separation in the midrange. It’s true again in 2020 with the new version. The midrange was indistinguishable from my other set, and that is fantastic. If you have ever heard someone talking about how you can hear details you don’t usually hear, then the Andromeda 2020 is the antithesis of that thought. You can hear every nuance, every parting of a lip, every slide on a fretboard, every dampening of a piano peddle. If it was there in the original recording, you are going to hear it on the Andromeda.
Despite being so revealing and detail forward, the sound is stunningly natural; it got the slightest hint of warmth, which takes it away from being a cold signature of reference tuned earphones. You can easily enjoy your music with the Andromeda not just listen to analyze, but despite its technical prowess, you can sit down and just jam with your earphones on.
The bass of the earphones is as expected first draw. I still prefer the Solaris in the low end due to the ability to move more air volume and hit with more punch in the sub-bass. The Andromeda’s bass is remarkable for a balanced armature with a substantial impact and lots of texture. It can hit hard and keep up with any track regardless of speed. Sub-bass is decent, but it’s the upper bass ranges that shine, and it pairs unobtrusively with the lows.
Soundstage for an IEM is on the broad side, and imaging is spectacular. Also worthy of note is the seamless blending of the frequencies.
The majority of this review was carried out using the YunLVMei A2 and Astel & Kern Cube, and the Andromeda is an earphone capable of showing off the prowess of these DAP’s. It was very noticeable the improvements in the sound we got from using a high-end DAP to even something midrange like our iBasso DX160. The 160 was no slouch and sounded great as well, but the YunLVMei, while being awful in some areas is an excellent pairing sound-wise with the Andromeda
Well, this is obvious. The only thing that is tough to swallow for most people is going to be the price. The retail price north of $1000 will mean very few people get the pleasure of hearing the Andromeda 2020. It’s hard to begrudge Campfire here, though. They are a tiny company that moves small quantities of earphones. Economies of scale are at play here, and they are a small American team competing in a world of mass-produced Asian earphones.
I never feel that their earphones are overpriced because so much effort must go into making these models, the build quality and finish is always of the highest quality. Some companies I have called out in the past like Noble and Dita feel like they pull their prices out their backsides. I never get the feeling that CA is overpricing their earphones. Some people like to price up parts and materials and wonder why some gear is so expensive; they forget that countless hours of design and often a lifetime of garnered knowledge is being put into such products and that where the real value lies.
So yes, they are expensive, but considering earphones are stupidly going north of $5000 USD in 2020, yet the Andromeda is still one of the best sounding they might even look like a bargain to some… Maybe. It’s all relative.
The Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020 is an excellent refinement of an already fantastic earphone. I think the changes to the cable, internals, and nozzle are all welcome additions, and it’s a nice touch of them to upgrade the case and packaging to keep things fresh. They are undoubtedly expensive, but the finish and sound are up there with the best, and these will undoubtedly be worthy of end game status for a lot of people.
If you have the money to spend and like lots of detail, natural sound, great build quality, and styling then you should definitely consider the Andromeda 2020. They definitely get our recommendation. an outstanding earphone.