Some of our readers have written in to ask about which reasonably priced DAC pairs the best with Campfire IEMs. Personally, in the under $200 price range, I like to pair Campfire earbuds with the iFi Nano iDSD. There are a few reasons for this, and I’ll try to briefly highlight them all in this article. Today, I’ll be talking about pairing the iFi Nano with the IO, Polaris, Andromeda and Solaris, as these are probably the best sellers in Campfire Audio’s lineup.
Pairing the iFi Nano iDSD with Campfire IEMs: A Match Made in Heaven?
First, it’s important to note that unlike other famous DACs in this price range, the iFi Nano avoids coloring the sound too much. Relatively speaking, it’s quite a neutral DAC. And this is the first reason why I like pairing it with Campfire IEMs in general. The overall Campfire sound signature has such uniquely defining characteristics that you want avoid altering them too much in any way. Otherwise, you may lose the very attributes that make them famously Campfirish. With that in mind, here are my impressions as to the qualities that the iFi Nano brings out in each of these fantastic IEMs.
iFi Nano with the Campfire Andromeda
One of the reasons I love the Andromeda so much lies in its balance or tuning. The Andromeda has an ever present, full-bodied and all encompassing midrange. So, ideally, you want to bring out as much detail as you can in the mids. And the iFi Nano does a great job at separation. It adds cleanliness to instrument heavy arrangements. So, when you pair it to a very full sounding IEM, the iFi DAC will assist in cleanly layering the instruments so that you can hear everything that’s going on in the mix.
Furthermore, partly because of the balance, the Andromeda is also a melodically colorful IEM. And the iFi DAC presents a very fluid or smooth, melodious sound. So, with respect to musicality, the Andromeda and Nano also compliment one another beautifully.
iFi Nano with the Campfire Polaris
The Polaris is an extremely charismatic IEM, thanks in part to its bold, V-shaped sound signature. You’ll get tons of oomph in the low-end, and plenty of presence in the highs with very crispy, sparkly treble. It makes no apologies. And that’s why it’s so fun with respect to more modern genres, like pop and hip-hop. The one problem is that if you’re listening to this sound signature for extended periods of time, especially at higher volumes, the higher frequencies can become a little tiring on the ears. This one of the reasons I like pairing the iFi Nano with the Polaris. Rather than extending the highs, the iFi Nano instead attenuates the peaks every so slightly. The same is true for the bass, in that it avoids pushing the low-end too forward in the mix. It just takes some of the edge off the extremes and makes it a little more palatable for long listening stretches.
iFi Nano with the Campfire Solaris
Out of all the Campfire IEMs, the Solaris is undoubtedly the most impressive with respect to separation. And as mentioned above, the Nano really excels with resect to the level of clean separation it delivers. So, when these two things are paired, they highlight this attribute beautifully. The other undeniable characteristic of the Solaris is the massive soundstage. The iFi Nano, more than extending the depth and height of the imaging, just makes the stage feel bigger. So, when listening to live recordings especially, the Solaris just sounds massive when paired with the Nano.
iFi Nano with the Campfire IO
I’ve alway thought of the IO as the Andromeda’s little sister. She has that big midrange and overall fairness in balance. As in the Andromeda, the iFi Nano really outlines the instrumentation, delivering clean layering and clear separation in even the heaviest of mixes. Also, just as in all the other Campfire IEMs, the IO provides a big soundstage. And the Nano really highlights the grandness of the Campfire sound signature.
The last thing to note is that all Campfire IEMs are very sensitive, highly efficient earphones. They require very little amplification. In fact, if you pair it to a DAC/amp combo with too much power, you may risk inadvertently blowing out your ears or one of the drivers with an accidental nudge of the volume dial. Also, one of the only complaints I’ve heard about Campfire IEMs is the “hiss factor” that comes into play when pairing it to a DAC/amp. For both of the reasons mentioned above, it’s great to have a DAC/amp that is specifically designed for IEMs, such as the iFi Nano iDSD. Using the “iE” match output, the DAC will optimize the power output of its amp, ensuring that you don’t overdrive the earbuds. Less hiss, less danger to the earbuds. And this element is especially important with respect to highly sensitive IEMs, such as the Campfire Audio lineup.
I hope this article has answered some of our readers questions. If you have any more Campfire related queries, let us know, and we’ll be mildly happy to oblige.
If you’re interested in purchasing the iFi Nano for your Campfire IEM, you can get it here:
And yes, on Amazon.
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