I’ve been up since dawn, meditating and purifying my ears in anticipation of today’s review. Following up on the highly successful Andromeda, the Campfire Andromeda S uses a stainless steel housing and tweaked driver for a new take on a HiFi staple, but will retail for the same $1099 price. But how does the Andromeda S sound? And how does it stack up to the original Andromeda?
Campfire Andromeda S Review
The Campfire Andromeda S shows up at our review office in a typical Campfire retail package. Inside, there’s a leather zippered case holding the earphones and detachable MMCX cable. You also get a wealth of eartips, a cleaning tool, and that snazzy Campfire logo pin.
With the same shape as the original Andromeda, the Andromeda S would look similar if not for the stainless steel housing. This makes the earphone look like it has been dipped in silver. At first glance, the unbridled sensuality of the Andromeda S jump to mind. Its metal finish seems almost liquid, but the sharp angles and solid weight of the earpieces are deliciously juxtaposed against this illusion.
The Andromeda S comes with the standard clear 4 ft (1.2 m) Litz cable. Situated in my ear, this earphone remains as comfortable as the original Andromeda. Some folks I’ve talked to seem to think the Andromeda S is considerably heavier. Personally, I think the increase in weight is fairly slight, but this may be something you will have to judge for yourself.
According to Campfire, the driver received a “special edition tuning”. Going into this review, I was incredibly curious about how much would change from the stock Andromeda’s tuning. Quite a lot, it turns out.
Frequency Range: 10-28,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance: 12.8 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 112.8 dB
These specs reveal a slightly wider-than-average frequency range – possibly translating to slightly more detailed highs and lows. That low nominal impedance will work wonderfully with phones, computers, and DAPs. Sound Pressure Level is an impressive 112.8 decibels, so it should go without saying that the Andromeda S gets LOUD. While you probably won’t need an amp to drive this highly-efficient amp, I do recommend a good DAC to get the most detail possible. For my listening sessions, I used my trusty FiiO Q5, but now I’m aching to try the S with something even better, like the iFi iDSD Micro Black Label…
Driving, powerful, and full, the low end on the Andromeda S delivers an impressive listening experience. There’s a natural sense of detail here, but one that is complimented by the same immaculate, contrasting, precise bass found on the original Andromeda. With it’s vibrant impact and resolving nature, this is the kind of low end audiophiles dream about. The fact that Campfire retained this defining feature in the Andromeda S comes as no surprise, but the way that low end syncs with the rest of the sound profile remains nothing short of amazing.
Here the Andromeda S begins to truly come into its own, with a forward-leaning midrange that presents a TON of detail. Layers upon layers of detail. Cornucopias of detail. Cosmoses of detail. And this is done with the kind of accuracy you would expect from Campfire, too. Bordering on a reference-grade sound, these mids practically drip with nuance and minutiae.
Like the original Andromeda, the Andromeda S features a slightly bright edge to the high end, while never skimping on the detail. The overall relaxed, smoothed nature of the highs seems slightly less impressive on this new Andromeda, though not for lack of emphasis or detail. Rather, the forward leaning mids seem to steal just a tiny bit of contrast between highs and lows (unlike on the original, warmer-sounding Andromeda).
Airy and precise, the sense of soundstage remains similar to that of the original Andromeda. To my ears, there might be the impression of slightly more space, but I think this may be the mids playing tricks on my ears. Personally, I think the stainless steel housing on the Andromeda S might offer a slightly cleaner sound with less distortion than the original Andromeda’s aluminum housing – a common problem with aluminum shells in general.
I love the stainless steel housing, despite it becoming covered in fingerprints. It’s very glam, very ritzy. You feel like a superstar just holding it in your hands.
But the sound is the real accomplishment here. Campfire outdoes itself with the Andromeda S. So clean and detailed, this sound definitely seems like the perfect reference benchmark for critical HiFi listening.
The Andromeda S is a balanced, neutral alternative to the original Andromeda. Objectively, I want to say that one is not better than the other, but subjectively, I prefer a flat or balanced sound. Due to the neutral sound and impressive detail (as well as the slightly less distorted sound), it’s my subjective opinion that the Andromeda S is far and away a better earphone.
Do you prefer a warmer sound? If so, you should probably stick with the old Andromeda. But for folks like me – who held off from the original Andromeda in favor of a more neutral sound – the Andromeda S offers a more analytical and revealing sound.
At $1099, the Andromeda S offers an impressive re-imagining of the original Andromeda. With a cleaner, more-analytical sound, it presents clear value to those in need of a truly HiFi reference earphone. Our take? The Andromeda S is another soaring achievement for Campfire, and a revolutionary progression from the original Andromeda.
Get the Andromeda S for the best price here: