Home » Reviews » Earphones » Campfire Audio Chromatic Series

Campfire Audio Chromatic Series


When Campfire Audio announced the simultaneous release of a new IEM series called Chromatic late last year, it followed a spate of hit-and-miss releases of old favourites and a new flagship, and so came as somewhat of an interesting surprise at the time. 

Part of the new series was a ‘veteran’ of Campfire’s lineup, Supermoon (reviewed here). Supermoon was my first ever experience of a Campfire IEM, and also my first ever custom IEM, so to see it bundled with the other Chromatics made me think this was going to be a collective of wild and wonderful tunings and technologies rather than a cohesively-themed grouping of similarly-tuned IEMs.  

Turns out my hunch was right.

A short while ago, I got sent the flagship of the series, Bonneville, with the intention of profiling it independently of the rest. As you’ll read in my first look review, I found Bonneville to be “an easy-listening all-rounder that has the potential to be a real crowd pleaser…with a pleasant, slightly warm, slightly dry, sometimes raw but always engaging tonality.” 

And so, my curiosity was piqued about what the other two members of the gang, Ponderosa and Cascara, could offer, in either contrast or complement, to these other two very accomplished performers. 

Instead of splicing and dicing the reviews, I decided that one mega review of all four – revisiting Supermoon and Bonneville, and discovering Ponderosa and Cascara – would be the best way to showcase what Campfire has attempted here: a literal smorgasbord of sounds for different palettes and wallets.  

(Re)introducing Chromatic Series

In its marketing blurb, Campfire positions Chromatic Series as ‘an extension of its mission to offer uncompromising sound at an excellent value‘. Looking through the range, with Bonneville priced at $1,399, Supermoon reduced from $1,599 to $1,099, and Cascara sliding in at $499, there’s no question that Campfire is aiming squarely at the value market. 

Even if you consider spending more than $1,000 on an IEM as excessive, in the current market, a set of high-performance IEMs in these price tiers from a trusted, proven brand like Campfire is pleasing indeed. What’s more, because each of the four IEMs is very different to each other – in tuning and technical ability, not only in price – price alone isn’t likely to be the determining factor for most buyers. 

Let’s take a closer look at each of these IEMs and how Campfire positions them:

Cascara ($499). This single driver IEM is built around Campfire’s new 10mm dual magnetic dynamic driver, which features ‘an enhanced magnetic field to create greater efficiency, superior transient response, and precision diaphragm movement’. 

Like the other IEMs in the series, Cascara features a solid-body design with a semi-custom 3D-printed housing based on Campfire’s extensive database of ear impressions, and a stainless steel faceplate that houses a robust mmcx connector. 

  • Frequency Response: 5Hz–20 kHz 
  • SPL: 94 dB @ 1 kHz: 16.6 mVrms
  • Impedance: 23 Ohms @ 1 kHz 
  • Less than 1% Total Harmonic Distortion

Ponderosa ($799). With five balanced armature drivers and an optional green colourway, Ponderosa has hints of Campfire’s classic Andromeda in its design.

Using what it calls Phase Harmony Engineering, Campfire splits the frequency bands for each driver, letting them focus on specific ranges. This, according to Campfire, is done in combination with ‘precision-engineered driver housings and shell geometry, coupled with custom damping values…to physically shape the tuning and response of the drivers and…their interaction with one another’. It also purportedly helps to eliminate points of phase cancellation and improve technical performance.

In addition to PHE, Ponderosa also features Campfire’s patented T.A.E.C technology, which places each driver into its own customised space inside the solid-body design to ‘allow for the emphasis/de-emphasis of specific frequency bands, enabling the ultra-fine tuning of a driver’. 

  • Frequency Response: 5Hz–20 kHz
  • SPL: 94 dB @ 1 kHz: 8.1 mVrms
  • Impedance: 6 Ohms @ 1 kHz
  • Less than 1% Total Harmonic Distortion

Supermoon ($1,099). With its custom-made 14mm planar driver that is not – contrary to conventional Internet ‘wisdom’ – the same driver used by cheap Chinese planars, Supermoon is unique in Campfire’s lineup and still today is one of the only higher-end single planar driver IEMs available anywhere.  

The large surface area and powerful magnets used to control the planar driver give it a unique blend of power and speed, approximating the thrust and weight of good dynamic driver bass, and the speed and resolution of balanced armature midrange and treble drivers. Now a veteran of the lineup, the refreshed Supermoon is even better value for those who didn’t get a chance to try it out when it was first released as a custom-only model. 

  • Frequency Response: 5Hz–20 kHz 
  • SPL: 94 dB @ 1 kHz: 54 mVrms
  • Impedance: 15.5 Ohms @ 1 kHz 
  • Less than 1% Total Harmonic Distortion

Bonneville ($1,399). If there is such a thing as the ‘best of all worlds’, Bonneville is that, at least in the context of Chromatic Series. The only ‘hybrid’ IEM in the group, Bonneville features the same dual magnet dynamic driver found in Cascara, along with three balanced armature drivers – including the new Knowles dual diaphragm driver said to bolster vocal performance in the midrange – and two high frequency armatures for precise treble. 

Along with Phase Harmony Engineering borrowed from Ponderosa, Bonneville liberally cherry-picks the best technology Campfire has to offer and blends it into the Chromatic Series flagship. That also extends to tuning, which borrows some of Cascara’s bass heft, adds Ponderosa’s nuance and treble precision, and fuses them all with a touch of speed and space reminiscent of Supermoon’s planar. 

  • Frequency Response: 5Hz–20 kHz 
  • SPL: 94 dB @ 1 kHz: 14.59 mVrms
  • Impedance: 29 Ohms @ 1 kHz 
  • Less than 1% Total Harmonic Distortion

Continue to packaging and accessories…



Picture of Guy Lerner

Guy Lerner

An avid photographer and writer 'in real life', Guy's passion for music and technology created the perfect storm for his love of portable audio. When he's not playing with the latest and greatest head-fi gear, he prefers to spend time away from the hobby with his two (almost) grown kids and wife in the breathtaking city of Cape Town, and traveling around his native South Africa.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent posts