One of the greatest earphones Campfire Audio ever produced was the original Lyra model. One of the things I liked a lot about it was the ceramic body, which gave a cool look and created a unique experience in regards to sound. The new Vega 2020 is a return to the ceramic housings and the Dorado, which we are also reviewing in a separate article. This is an expensive high-end earphone, and it is not going to be for everyone with its uniquely aggressive tuning, but if you are a bass head audiophile, you might just want to keep reading.
Unboxing and Accessories
The unboxing experience is shown in the video above. It’s an exciting experience opening the Vega, and that’s something Campfire does very well. The box’s starburst opening is a really nice touch that adds to the excitement of getting your new earphones, and I like that they are using recyclable materials throughout.
The case isn’t the greatest. The company has had some magnificent cases in the past, and while the basics are all there for this one to follow, the finish on this and the Dorado are not up to the standard I have come to expect. In this case, it was a poorly wrinkled surface caused by bad gluing that let it down, and on the Dorado, it was a misalignment of the fabric. These are only cosmetic issues and not something that affects the use of the case.
The accessories are excellent with three different types of tips in multiple sizes (Comply with foam and silicone). You also get a cleaning tool, accessory pouches, and the Campfire Audio metal pin badge.
The cable is good, not my favorite out there as I think it still retains too much memory. However, it is lightweight and made of excellent materials. I really like a few things, such as a right angle jack connector (3.5mm standard) and MMCX connectors, which I will happily take every time over the 2-pin alternative.
Build Quality and Design
If you are well versed in the audiophile IEM world, you will know the Campfire Audio earphones have an almost iconic shape and style. Yes, the company has strayed over the years with the Solaris and Comet models, but the Vega has the traditional shape that the company is best known for.
People not familiar with the early releases will also not know about the ceramic shell, which I thought had been replaced by metal bodies never to return. It’s back, and in the Vega, it’s the most beautiful iteration of this line yet. The minute I pulled them out of the case, I was in awe. The ceramic is finished in an almost pearlescent finish that catches the eye and agrees with my preference for minimalist design.
They are small as well, one of the smallest campfire audio models I have seen in some time. Already being familiar with the companies other models, I knew there would be no issues with fit.
On the body, there is a subtle CA logo but nothing shouty or over the top. The Vega is designed to be worn with the cable over the ear in the traditional monitor style, and to accomplish this, they have a gold plated MMCX connector at the top of the housing, angled forward, to accept the cable.
The cable is very good. Far better than the original Litz and tinsel models we saw on early campfire cables. It is virtually the same as the cable included on the more expensive Solaris 2020 earphones but uses slightly thinner gauge wires. It produces low microphonics but is slightly prone to tangling than the latest outstanding flagship cables from Fearless Audio and Thieaudio. The hardware is good, and I like having a right angle adapter; and the Vega comes with a standard 3.5mm jack, but ALO audio also has a range of cables available in a balanced configuration.
Comfort and Isolation
I mentioned above how small the earphones are, and there are absolutely no issues for me with the fit. The Campfire audio Vega is truly the all-day earphone. Small ears will also get along with the design, and the medium depth insertion provides good comfort in combination with the fantastic included Final E-series eartips.
This medium insertion into the ear canal and the solid body provides good isolation. Slightly above average in my opinion and perfectly suitable for commuting and travel.
Let me be absolutely clear, the Vega 2020is not an all-around earphone; it is not optimal for all genres; it is very, very good at what it does but lacks the all-around versatility if you listen to a wide range of genres.
First, let me explain the concept as to why I like the Campfire Audio approach.
I spoke with Caleb and Ken Ball of Campfire many years ago, 2 of the nicest folks I have met at the usually stuffy and dull High End shows in Munich. I remember them talking about having a wide range of tuning options available.
If we take Shure Electronics as an example, you see their headphone range, Aonic 3 ($199), Aonic 4 ($299), Aonic 5 ($499), SE846($999). Also, distinct earphones are designed to hit an exact price point. If I have $1000 to burn and want a Shure headphone, the only option I have is to buy them and hope they suit my tuning preference or go to another brand. In my opinion, this is a true flaw in thinking when selling to audiophiles who have a very clear focus on the performance requirements of the earphones they intend to buy. Unfortunately, it is a flaw I see repeated with many companies who are simply trying to fit you to a mold rather than offer you options.
Conversely, let’s take a look at the Campfire Audio business model. Between $899 and $1,099 (essentially in the same price bracket), You have currently had three models from which to choose. The Vega 2020, The Dorado 2020, and the Andromeda 2020. That’s 3 options around the same price point, and they sound so vastly different that you, the buyer, are now presented with 3 options and will be more likely to choose one to your own taste.
I think this is the way to do it, and they have done it right. One musical model (Dorado), one accurate model (Andromeda), one bass model (Vega). And the crazy thing is that in each of these categories, Campfire has a model that I would happily recommend for their respective tuning styles.
Sorry for the digression, but I think it will all tie together as I dive deeper into how the Campfire Audio Vega sound.
The tuning of the Vega is what you will notice instantly. They are absolute bass monsters. A deep ethereal rumble that smashes your eardrums to pieces with its impactful sub-bass response. I did not in any way, see that coming. They have gone all out on bass on this one, in a way that I can think of few companies trying to achieve because they are hamstrung in trying to create one earphone to please everyone at a price point.
The highs and midrange are no slouch. It’s neutral and smooth with what you would expect to see in a high-end earphone like this. The highs have a good extension and decay, alluding to the decent soundstage, and the smoothness makes them inoffensive to people who are sibilance sensitive. The midrange is smooth and detailed without have a shouty over cooked upper mid. Some warmth complements the low end rather than being starkly opposing. It’s all very cohesive in the tuning overall, but it’s the starkly different quantities.
On most tracks, regardless of genre, the bass is very dominant, and no amount of EQing will reign it back in. But in music where bass really deep bass is required (Especially in EDM), these excel in the low end like no other in sheer brutality and the excitement that brings to your listening sessions.
In my opinion, these are the best quantity and quality combination in regards to sub-bass, so if that is a particular area of interest to you, then these are a no-brainer. If you value a more balanced sound or require an earphone with more versatility, I would tend to steer you towards the Dorado 2020 and Andromeda 2020 as alternatives.
Knowing nothing about the Vega 2020 before undertaking this review, I certainly wasn’t expecting what came out of the box. A gorgeous earphone with the outstanding build quality might have alluded to a refined and delicate sound, but these turned out to be basshead earphones in the purest sense of the word. I’m a big fan of them for certain genres, but as I listen to various genres, they would not be my choice as for a single earphone. Now, if you could swing ownership of the Andromeda and the Vega simultaneously, you would have a setup for any situation….. however, that may be just a slight fantasy given such a setup would cost two grand. Brilliant earphones in the right hands.