Since the IEM Renaissance, novels have been written about the Campfire Andromeda sound. So, we won’t delve into a long breakdown of the Andromeda’s sound signature in this review. If you’d like to take a walk down memory lane, there are ample Andromeda reviews and comparisons on MajorHifi’s site. But some things have definitely changed since the original Andromeda, which was released over 5 years ago. What improvements can you expect the Andromeda Emerald Sea? And do the performance enhancements warrant an upgrade? More important, what’s in that damn snazzy new box?!
What’s In the Box
- Campfire Audio Andromeda Emerald Sea IEMs
- Campfire Audio Time Stream Cables. (2.5mm balanced, 3.5mm unbalanced, 4.4mm balanced)
- Campfire Audio Leather Folding Case (w/Silver Carabiner)
- Memory Foam Tips (s/m/l))
- Silicon Earphone Tips (s/m/l)
- RipStop Cable Bag with Magnetic Closure
- Campfire Audio Lapel Pin
- Cleaning Tool
- Document Collection
Die hard Campfire fans will be beyond thrilled and hopefully, somewhat tickled when they open the package. As soon as I lifted the lid of the wood box, a strong scent of a campfire wafted my way. I’m being literal, here. Smoke. And all of a sudden, I felt like pulling out my guitar and some marshmallows, and gathering all my colleagues over for a kumbaya session. As if this wasn’t enough, I found a small brass or copper sculpture of an elegant female hand. Sure enough, there was a hole in the lifted part of the box. And I knew just what to do. I stuck that sexy little hand in the hole and immediately hung the new Andromeda Emerald Sea buds on it to capture the Kodak moment. Honestly, I have no words. Except to say that, as someone who owns the original Andromeda, I didn’t know whether to be moved to tears or just sigh, and say, “See, I told you. The Andromeda will never die.”
Campfire has also transitioned from the eco-friendly small cork carrying case, featured in its 2020 edition, to a larger and admittedly more seductive, olive green leather, dual folding case. Inside the case, you’ll even find loops and a carabiner to connect various bits and pieces you might usually carry in your coat pocket. The Andromeda also now comes with balanced cables, (in both 2.5mm and 4.4mm terminations) in addition the the 3.5mm cable. And the balanced cables come neatly curled in yet another dual folding case, this time, made from a soft brown, Patagonia-like material.
Look and Feel
So, let’s take a breath and move on to how the Emerald Sea earbuds themselves look and feel. Just to see how far the Andromeda has come since being first released years ago, I compared them to the original model. Campfire still employs a machined aluminum design. But although the weight and overall size is the about the same, the new Andromeda has developed some curves. It has also transitioned from tiny screws to stainless steel fasteners. So, we’re transforming from a once trendy, industrial vibe, to a sleeker, more refined design. And because the edges have been rounded, the part of the shell that fits in the ear is actually smaller. And I have to say, more comfortable.
The Andromeda Emerald Sea still sports 5 balanced armature drivers, but Campfire has updated their design to lower distortion even further and maximize stability and durability. And like the first couple of Andromeda models, the Emerald Sea is dangerously easy to drive. I’ve had some accidents in the past with it, so I highly recommend that if you use a DAC/amp with a volume dial (to be honest, a more simple DAC dongle is preferable) be very careful to not accidentally swipe that dial up. Now, onto the new cables. The original ALO Audio copper Litz cable has been replaced with Campfire’s new “Time Stream” cables, made from silver-plated copper. And smartly, Campfire decided to make these new cables flat to avoid tangling. As mentioned above, Campfire has also included 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced cables. To keep things fair, I used the 3.5mm unbalanced cable for this review, since the previous models only came with 3.5mm terminations.
So, let’s talk about what’s different. I didn’t have an Andromeda 2020 handy for this review. So, I compared the sound of the Emerald Sea to the original Andromeda, which I own. But it should be noted that the 2020 model did deliver some notable improvements in sound from the original, mostly with respect to resonance reduction. Overall, the 2020 produced a tighter or more “dampened” profile with slightly easier or more disciplined highs. But Campfire is not stupid. They’re not going to fix something that ain’t broken. The tuning on the Emerald Green is the same, and the sound signature is undeniably Andromeda. Campfire has simply refined an already near-perfect IEM. But yes, comparing the Emerald Green to the original, you’ll hear a more forgiving sound overall. This is because the Andromeda slams with such hard impact (think kick drums, snares, bass punches) that it has a certain edginess to it, specifically when you’re listening to pop, funk and other snappy modern genres. So even the slightest bit of plangency can make it feel almost too keyed up. The Emerald Sea tempers these edges just slightly to make for a purer listening experience. Technically, it seems to have reduced any hint of distortion or resonance to a level of almost zero. And that’s about the only improvement you can expect or even want from a close to flawless sound signature.
If you own the original Andromeda (with all the drivers still in tact) and you listen to the latest, Emerald Sea, you’ll likely be convinced that it’s time for an upgrade. After all, it’s probably been about 5 years since you dropped over $1K on an IEM. And objectively speaking, you won’t find a better or more charismatic sounding IEM under $1500. Compared to the original Andromeda, the improvements in sound, especially with respect to resonance, are noticeable. That being said, if you own the 2020 version, you may want to hold onto them for a bit. Compared to the 2020, the improvements on the Emerald Sea are only incremental. The Emerald Green seems to be marketed to the poor souls who have yet to be graced with the magic of the Andromeda sound. And in a world that is saturated with so many new and hyped up IEMs selling at insane prices, it seems that Campfire had no choice but to remind old audiophiles and educate the new ones about what a true IEM unicorn can deliver. Hence, the ironically over-the-top packaging. So, if you don’t already own an Andromeda yet, buy it now. I know I must remain objective as a reviewer. But I have to admit, Campfire is right. The Andromeda (now, the Emerald Sea) is the Porsche of IEMs and will always be a GOAT at this price point.
Campfire Audio Andromeda Emerald Green
|Divers||5 Balanced Armatures|
|Frequency Response||5Hz – 20kHz|
5Hz–20 kHz Frequency Response
94 dB SPL @ 1kHz: 11.84 mVrms
6.375 Ohms @ 1kHz Impedance
Less than 0.5% Total Harmonic Distortion