For as long as I can remember, Campfire Audio (CA) has been synonymous with their Andromeda IEM and vice-versa. This remains true to this day even though the Andromeda lost their flagship status in Campfire Audio’s line.
Now, I never tried the original Andromedas. Every review I read about them had me look the other way although they often concluded with an award. Cons listed usually were some comfort/fit issues due to the shell’s design, a lack of bass and trebles which could sound harsh to some. As stated elsewhere, I have a preference for an open, lush/smooth/warm sound with some definition, texture and soundstage though none to excess. I basically prefer a balanced tuning. In all honesty, I also wasn’t ready to spend such an amount of money for a pair of IEMs — original or special edition, these are expensive — although I quickly ended-up spending their price in other portable Hi-Fi devices… something worth reflecting on.
With that being said, when I saw the announcement for the Andromeda Special Edition: Gold (Andromeda Gold from here onwards) I took the plunge and bought my first pair of high-end IEMs and I was in for a lesson I won’t forget anytime soon.
Andromeda Special Edition: Gold expands on the best elements of the Andromeda’s sonic signature with dramatic flourish. The bass is punchy and deep. The highs sparkle and the mids are present and unfiltered. This earphone is musical with ease all while delivering superior top-to-bottom coherence.Campfire Audio’s official description of the Andromeda Special Edition: Gold
Believe it or not, these are the lines which sold me on the Andromeda Gold. From a technical standpoint, the fact that the design was cross-over-less also appealed to me. The previous — and most expensive — pair of IEMs I owned were the Empire Ear’s Bravado featuring a hybrid design with one balanced armature, one dynamic driver and a 4-way crossover which sounded so much in your face that it was downright annoying. So how do the Andromeda Gold sound?
Campfire Audio Smoky Litz Cable, 3.5mm, Single-ended (stock cable)
Fleetwood Mac, Rumours, Never Going Back Again / Quality: 24-Bit 96.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Iron Maiden, Fear Of The Dark, Fear Of The Dark / Quality: 24-Bit 44.1 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Joni Mitchell, Blue, California / Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Nina Simone, Pastel Blues, Sinnerman (Live In New York/1965) / Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here, Wish You Were Here / Quality: DSD / SACD
Plüm, You’re the one, You’re the one / Quality: 16 bit 44.1 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Simon & Garfunkel, Sounds Of Silence, Anji / Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Stevie Wonder, Talking Book, Superstition (Album Version) / Quality: 24-Bit 192.0 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
Various Artists, Atlantic Jazz: Soul, Comin’ Home Baby (LP Version) / Quality: 16 bit 44.1 kHz – Stereo, FLAC
The Andromeda Gold sound engaging and musical, without being in your face. Small details and audio cues can be heard here and there without any annoyance that details can sometimes bring. Their soundstage is excellent and just right. The lows are there in the sense that one can feel them though not at the expense of the mids or highs which truly shine with no coloration impacting one or the other. I also (re)discovered that instruments and music have texture. In summary they are open, transparent and have the warmth which I believe music should have — unless you are into analytical/clinical sound.
CoMfort, tips and seal
In terms of overall comfort, they’re good. The shell’s design wasn’t an issue for me but I can see it being one for some. These are tiny IEMs though, I didn’t expect them to be so small. Three sets of tips come with the Andromeda Gold:
· Final Audio tips (xs/s/m/l/xl)
· Silicon earphone tips (s/m/l)
· Campfire Audio Earphone (foam) tips (s/m/l)
I use the medium silicone tips as they provide me with the best sound signature (particularly in terms of low-end), seal as well as comfort. The medium Final Audio tips provided a similar sound signature with a bit less rumble on the low-end and a little less comfort. However, note that these tips make the IEMs stick out of your ears a bit more due to their design. Last but not least, the medium Campfire Audio earphone (foam) tips almost made the low-end disappear to my ears so, if you only tolerate foam tips and are expecting low-ends such as the ones described above, beware.
In summary, the Andromeda Gold put a smile on my face. They are so well-rounded that I struggle to find some flaws, as you surely noticed. Since I bought them, they have been my daily pair of IEMs which I bring pretty much everywhere and use with any source. Until another pair knocks them down, they will be my point of reference for high-end IEMs.