We have been reviewing a few of Campfire Audio’s new earphones for the past couple of weeks, and those have been revisions of existing models as opposed to all-out new products. The Ara is an entirely new offering at the upper end of the company IEM line. It uses the companies famous angular body and has a whopping seven balanced armature drivers on each side. The price is $1299 in the US market, but they will be available globally from Campfire themselves and their distributors.
The Ara has the same packaging that you find on most other Campfire Audio releases for 2020, the box and case are personalized to compliment this particular earphone.
The packaging is all cardboard, so you don’t have to feel guilty about tossing some single-use plastics. Its an excellent unboxing experience with the starry night sleeve opening up like an exploding star to reveal the box containing the earphones.
On the inside, Campfire has taken care of everything you need and given you lots of options for eartips as well as including a few useful items like storage pouches, a case, and a cleaning tool.
Here is everything you will find in the box:
- 1x Campfire Audio Ara earphone1x Smoky Litz earphone cable
- 1x Carry Case
- 3x Tip styles in various sizes
- 2x cable tidies
- 2x Accessory pouches
- 1x Campfire Audio pin badge
- Warranty card and manual
Nothing is missing from what I would like to see, and the accessories are all very high quality.
The cable is the same model that you get with the Campfire Audio Andromeda we reviewed a few days ago. It’s not quite as impressive as the one you get when you buy the new Solaris 2020. Yet, it’s a vast improvement on the companies old Litz cables, which were prone to tangling and discoloration.
Terminated in gold plated MMCX connectors, which I prefer over the old two-pin connectors. I have never had an MMCX break on me but have had lots of issues with the two-pin variety over the years.
Its a simple twist braid with a splitter and slide and ends in a standard right angle 3.5mm jack with CA branding.
I found the cable worked well, and it was far better at resisting tangling than the old model. It feels supple and is the right length for someone my height (6’2).
Campfire has always included good cases with their earphones, and again they go the extra mile in providing you something functional and unique. The case for the Ara is made from cork and died into a twilight blue color. There is lots of space on the inside so you could easily fit a balanced cable and some extra tips if your someone who travels a lot and uses various sources.
Build Quality and Design
I have been one of the biggest fans of Campfire Audios design language and build quality over the years, and the Ara is no exception. Despite being a new earphone, they retain most of the characteristics of the old models while at the same time making a couple of crucial refinements that take the shells to the next level.
Campfire Audio always distinguishes its new models with their color scheme. Usually through some process of anodization on the all-metal bodies. This time, however, they are letting the metal speak for itself. The Ara is constructed of titanium, and it has a lovely gray matte finish to it. Combine that with the nozzles being made in black and the dark-colored Litz cable, and you have a gorgeous looking set of IEM’s.
The build quality is second to none. The most used housing in Campfire Audio’s line is instantly recognizable to most audio enthusiasts. They haven’t varied the design a lot because they haven’t had to; with this generation, they polish them off a bit.
Where the vents on nozzles past have been string boreholes, the ends get finished with asymmetrical girl patterns that will provide extra protection against wax buildup and dirt.
On the inside, Campfire uses a new boot, which I believe is 3D printed and allows them to place the drivers in the correct positions and holds the seven balanced armature drivers securely in place.
Other than everything feels a bit more refined and well finished than on the earlier models.
Fit and Isolation
Despite being on the larger side of the Campfire Audio line, the Ara should work well with medium and large-sized ears. People with small ears had a better look elsewhere as the body is relatively wide and deep.
The nozzles are also quite long and sit at a medium to deep in terms of insertion depth. This provides excellent isolation when combined with the dense metal body. As a result, we can heartily recommend Ara for people looking for a set of monitors for studio use and in public settings where there is a lot of ambient noise.
The Campfire Audio Ara is a fantastic sounding earphone if you are someone who likes prominent mids and a treble focus. These are not to considered as one of Campfires base models. Additionally, they are not one of the companies’ warm and lush earphones. Ara is transparent, uncolored, and has a bright clear, and open top end. The resolve massive amounts of detail, making them perfect for tasks like critical listening and studio monitoring.
The treble is bright and slightly elevated in the mid-treble, it’s very revealing while also creating a sense of spacious clarity to the sound. You can clearly define different notes and instruments from the high notes, and the low ends sit back in prominence. The lows are very tight and very punchy yet not as textured as the Solaris or Andromeda. Indeed, the Ara cannot reach anywhere near the Solaris’ sub-bass response.
An area I kept going back and forth to was the synergy and transitions between lows and mids. It seems very linear, almost like the low end sits relatively flat to the mids in the frequency curves. It’s when you get to the treble is there any slight enhancement. This leads the IEM’s to have a very mid focussed sound, and in that area, they display phenomenal clarity and realism. Yet there is no warmth, it’s pure, almost a little cold.
The soundstage was big; this will be down to the air in the top end. Imaging is exceptional, as is the detail retrieval, perhaps the most revealing and accurate Campfire Audio earphone to date.
Sounds great, right? For some folks, yes absolutely, for the majority no. The Campfire Audio Ara is undoubtedly unique; those who enjoy more focus on highs and less on lows will love them. The feel like a tool earphone, something I would use in place of my Etymotic ER4S for monitoring. However, when listening for enjoyment, I like a more prominent low end and warmer lush mids, to me its the Solaris that is the stars of the companies 2020 lineup. Still, I could see how people will love this earphone, and I think it will do exceptionally well in Profesional and Asian markets due to the tuning.
The completion of this Ara review wraps up three consecutive days of Campfire Audio reviews on Audiophile on, and I have thoroughly enjoyed testing every one of the new earphones. CA is one of my favorite earphones for a reason. They have options for every sound preference; the overall package is always a joy; the build and styling are up there with the best. Throw that in with the fact that they are just generally nice guys, with a strong team behind them and bags of passion, it’s the type of company worth supporting.
The Ara is a unique earphone; it’s one of their most ambitious yet and has seven drivers in each earpiece. The sound is jaw-dropping revealing and incredibly transparent. It’s not the one id take for day to day listening, I love the Solaris 2020, but if the tuning described above fits your style, then I can’t think of something that is quite as unique as the Ara.
You can find out more about the Campfire Audio Ara from the IEM’s official webpage.