If you haven’t heard about Campfire Audio you might find it interesting to know that this as a brand has gained a lot of trust and following from every corner of this world. They initially were making IEMs under their parent company ALO but later decided to branch their IEMs under “Campfire Audio”. Torch bearer for campfire audio has been the Andromeda. This 5ba driver IEM has been the talk of the town ever since its inception. Nothing has made more wave and chatter than the Andromeda. It brought them some of the best praise and accolades.
Then came the Solaris, their flagship hybrid to take the baton and now the Solaris 2020 does the flagship duty.
But Campfire is not just about flagship IEMs. They have had a few entry level IEMs like the last gen IEM, Comet. People were struggling with its shape and weigh though.
This time around they came up with two cute looking entry level IEMs with flagship level accessories and cable and fit. These have very similar form and design as the flagship ARA or Andromeda. Both Honeydew and Satsuma have only one driver each. While the Honeydew has a single 10mm dynamic driver the Satsuma has one full range BA driver. While the Yellow colored Honeydew is priced at $249 the orange colored Satsuma asks for $199. Both these IEMs have no other color options since Campfire IEMs maintain their color schemes unless stated explicitly.
I have a few IEMs in this price range to compare these two. Some hybrids and some multi BA IEMs, priced around the Campfire twins.
Get Honeydew from these links:
All the IEMs I received have exactly same set of accessories. The only differences are their packaging color and carry case color. I like the way these IEMs maintain eco friendly packaging with only paper and cardboard usage. No unnecessary use of material.
The first thing greeting us is the carry pouches and the IEMs with the cables are placed inside them, while the earpieces are placed in tips organizers. Sets of Final Audio tips, wide bore tips and bullets foam tips are placed in a paper box placed over the pouch. One can find a Campfire Audio badge and all the placed inside the same paper box. These tips organizers are really helpful if you want to carry your tips on the move.
HOW IS THE CABLE:
Now this is a very interesting scenario. I always prefer good quality cables with any IEM priced over $100. These IEMs have the same litz build as the more premium IEMs. There are some cosmetic changes to the appearance of it but the cores are very similar. I like this 4 core SPC “Smoky Lite” cable with beryllium copper MMCX connectors. It has a layer of clear coat on it to protect it from minor scratches. it is not flashy or as premium looking as the DUNU SA3 cable but it compliments these IEMs both aesthetically and sonically.
Build quality of this cable is very good. It is one of the more supple cables with a low profile. It barely has any microphonics. The cable guides too are supple and comfortable. The 3.5mm jack has some stress reliever but is missing at the Y-splitter. There is a cable slider to keep things tidy.
All in all it is an excellent cable at this price point.
BUILD QUALITY AND ERGONOMICS:
Campfire audio has given their entry level IEMs an upgrade ergonomically. These IEMs have a very similar design to the more premium IEMs like Andromeda. But unlike the premium range we have polycarbonate body here while retaining the metal nozzles, providing better strength and stability. This nozzle is aptly long giving a reasonably secure fit.
There is a single pressure releasing vent on the Honeydew while the Satsuma has none.
I really like this slightly smaller size of both the IEMs. It is smaller than their metal clad siblings, sans the weight and sharp edges. I love the fit.
The single DD Honeydew has an very approachable impedance of just 17.68ohm and is very easy to drive out of basic audio devices. Use it as a daily driver with mobile phones is at your leisure with your laptop for movie watching this IEM complies without much problem. The lowly sensitive of just 94db can be a downer with quiet sources or else it’s perfectly capable of getting very loud. Use a small DAC/amp to extract better layering, note depth and stage.
Satsuma on the other hand has an impedance of 46.4ohm and with a BA inside it’s slightly tricky to drive. With similar sensitivity this too gets loud without much problem but don’t sound best unless used with good sources. It has nice bass and mids out of mobile phones but when driven out of Micro Signature it just simply sings at it’s full potential. It delivers much Better treble clarity separation, notes definition and accuracy.
Honeydew SQ and comparison – Page 2
Satsuma SQ, comparison and conclusion – Page 3
This is the IEM which should be leading the charge for the Campfire Audio budget segment. It’s 10mm DD favors bass, thankfully it’s not a crazy bass minded IEM. It has a bass head level of sub-bass body while the mid range takes the back seat and the treble region has enough energy to put the honeydew in the V.
It has the typical Campfire tonality which is not exceptionally dynamic or dull while keeping it closer to natural. I would have liked a bit more dynamics to the mid range but it’s okay..
I am using Qudelix 5k and Micro Signature for this review.
I barely get an immediate wow effect from an IEM, IEMs take time to impress me but the Honeydew is a different creature when it comes to bass. The sub-bass body is one of the biggest I have heard in this price range, so is the rumble. It just feels complete, full and aptly weighty. This is the kind if sub-bass which will make a bass head happy. It has layers of air hitting the ear drum with authority. I think this is the limit. A bit more weight and rumble might have affected its dynamics and details retrieving capabilities. Unlike most of the DD based IEMs this mid-bass does not out grow the sub-bass. It maintains similar area and volume but starts to lose body at the later stage. It still has very good body and meaty notes but the Ikko OH10 does better here. Now this lack of body helps with decay speed. It is not fast by a long shot but is not slow either giving it a more natural feel. The upper bass loses good chunk of volume but does not lose details and blends smoothly into the lower mids.
The amount of details and texture extracted out of this single 10mm DD is very good. I definitely would have liked a bit more definition.
After delivering one of the most satisfying lower ends the Honeydew delivers a reasonably good mid range. Since it’s the only driver here it has no transition phases. It just simply drops energy in the mid range and affects the vocals the most while instruments manage to hold their ground. There are a lot of things and variations when it comes to sound. The lack of energy is evident across the mid range but it does not affect the clarity or level of details. It just does not deliver sharper or forward sounding notes but still has very relevant and transparent instruments. Finishing of the instruments are blunt. They lack bite. There is some loss of dynamics and notes height too.
Vocals can’t be called bad. It is affected by odd placement. If the imaging was a bit more centered instead of being around the bass notes it would have had been cleaner and clearer. Both male and female vocals have nice clarity and details but both lack the required amount of finishing definition. A bit of sharpness would have made this a very capable IEM. It still has the organic timber but thanks to lack of finishing sharpness and note height it sounds smoother and tamed. The upper treble region is where things start to spice up. The notes start to sharpen up and Honeydew manages to gain energy giving it a proper V shaped signature.
If the mid range is slightly less desirable this treble region is mouth watering. Honeydew maintains the added energy of the upper mids and the transition of smoother than any other IEM with crossovers. This added energy gives the Honeydew excellent transparency and extra bit of air between instruments. It brings pleasing sparkle and liveliness to the mix. Notes have right amount of height and weight to them. One does not need to worry about extension either, it is better than Ikko OH10 and rubs shoulder with the Fiio FD5 (If I have to pick a treble region I will pick this because of its cleaner and less congested presentation).
The only shortcoming is at its floor where the notes originate from. It’s slightly less clean due to overlapping or else this is a very formidable treble region without any down side.
STAGE AND IMAGING:
This has a very good stage size, one of the biggest at this price range, bigger than Ikko OH10 and OH1, especially in the X-axis while being more rounded. It has very good layering and air between instruments. I have no problem with the stage and instrument placing but one. This mid range could have been placed in line with the rest of the instruments. No part of the spectrum dominates the sound. I would have liked a different placement for the vocals, it is a bit less controlled giving a sense of being all over the place.
VS Ikko OH10:
This hybrid driver IEM is similar when it comes to their target consumers. While the OH10 is more balanced it starts to lose energy gradually, immediately after the bass region.
OH10 has a very good lower end but is not close to the amount of sub-bass rumble of the Honeydew. It has bigger and fuller mid-bass, can be labeled as a hump but both have juicy and weighty notes. Honeydew has it heavier though. Mid range is where the OH10 pulls ahead with its forwardness but does not get extra point for better details. The losing point is the treble for the OH10, It does not maintain enough energy at the treble region and is less clean and transparent. Stage size of the Honeydew is more expansion but the OH10 has better height.
If I have to pick one it will be the Honeydew. It is more fun and has better overall details and clairty.
VS Copplinn Alula:
This is the replacement of the Comet. Comet was known for its sound quality but it had a all metal shell which was causing some discomfort due to its weight which has been rectified with the Satsuma. This PVC clad IEM with metal nozzle balances the weight much better than most IEMs in the market.
This single BA driver delivers a fairly balanced sound maintaining a fairly voluminous lower end, well forward mid range and a slightly less aggressive treble region. This is the cheapest offering from campfire after all.
For a single BA IEM Satsuma delivers a reasonably voluminous lower end. It is as good as multi BA IEMs like the TNA BA8 and better than DUNU SA3. It has reasonable sub-bass rumble but the extension is nothing to write home about. It has nice mid bass body and is not very fast delivering reasonable weight. Thankfully it does not lose any texture or details. It has a juicy and wet feel to it. The slam is not big, punch is not hard and the rumble is not comparable to most of the dynamic drivers but is slightly more satisfying than the BGVP DH3. The Upper bass is well controlled and nicely integrates into the lower mids. This lower end is tuned well.
Honeydew is no where bad when it comes to mid range. Yes it’s in the V but it’s very good at extracting details while maintaining good notes body and sharpness. Its single BA sibling ups the ante with a more forward and accurate presentation. This mid range is very similar to BA based IEMs in this price range. Notes are agile and crisp. The biggest plus point of the Satsuma over most BA based IEMs is its refinement and its balance of things. Most chi-fi IEMs are edgy and raw, even the DUNU SA3 has unnatural notes height and can be slightly aggressive with presentation. Satsuma has its aggression under control, has excellent refinement with accurate notes weight and height. It manages to deliver most of the micro details in the background with very good transparency and clarity.
Vocals sound crisp and clear and have no coloration with a close to natural tonality. The decay is paced with both precision and accuracy in mind, giving the notes nice amount of body and accuracy. Both male and female vocals have very good texture and details but female vocals have better sharpness and accuracy. Instruments have good attack. Notes are on the revealing side with the right amount finishing sharpness. The upper mid range is well under control with nice details and clarity. It doesn’t sound lush in any way but is not unnaturally sharp either.
The weakest point of this beautiful sounding IEM is its treble region. It starts very well as it maintains very good energy into the lower treble region, gains a few more decibels but then sadly starts to lose most of its energy as it goes deeper. The upper treble does not maintain much transparency or clarity. But it does maintain very good details and sparkle till the upper treble roll off. Cymbals and pianos have nice transparency. It just doesn’t have the extra bit of micro details available with the Akoustyx R220. Separation and layering is good with okay amount of air and space between instruments. The treble stage is well spread with even density. If you love clean and inoffensive treble, Satsuma fits the bill.
STAGE AND IMAGING:-
Satsuma has an above average stage size, slightly smaller than the Honeydew as it lacks a bit of X-axis width. It does not have the height of the Ikko OH10 but is more rounded. Instruments have very good density and air between then except at the upper treble region when it starts to lose separation. Imaging is excellent too. There are no anomalies here but the mid range takes the lion’s share leaving enough space for the rest of the spectrum.
VS TRN BA8:
This might seem a bit unfair but the Satsuma is more expensive than the BA8. It has better overall details and transparency across the spectrum. If you are after details only, you dont need to read more, but there is much more to the story.
This 8BA driver IEM delivers bigger bass body, much better sub-bass extension and rumble. This nearly feels like a DD inside. The decay speed is on the slower side giving it fuller more rounded feel and more weight. The mid bass too is more voluminous. The mid range slightly in the V but is tuned to be leaner and more sharp. Note’s height is reasonable. Tonality is good but the timber is dry and slightly on the gloomy side. Vocals are sharper than intended, not lush or easy on the ear by a long shot. It has a sharper and more edgy finishing to the notes. Treble has very similar traits. The BA8 simply cuts off half of the upper treble region. If you go out and look for extension you will feel lost. Till that point it is as good as it gets. It has slightly better separation and but layering is much better on the Satsuma.
Satsuma has a much bigger stage in every direction, nearly 70% bigger, and the musical presentation is much easier on the ear for longer hours. Even when it lacks a bit of sharpness I will have to pick it over the raw and moody BA8.
It is much easier to recommend both the IEMs. Yes, both have shortcomings but which IEM doesn’t have down sides? It’s more about what you want and picking the one with least number of flaws. And the set of accessories are icing on the cake. No other brand can say that they do better than this for under $250. Final tips, Bullets tips and the Litz lite cable in their own are worth nearly $100.
The Honeydew is simply excellent for a bass seeker. It has the thump and rumble worth admiring. Even if I am not a bass head it still brings a sense of satisfaction. The only flaw is the less forward mid range, I am not complaining since it does not veil or obstruct.
Satsuma on the other hand has much better mid range. It does not flatten the lower end the treble region is better than most of the competitors. It’s a well rounded package with a very good balance of everything.
Pick depending upon your need and both these IEMs are very good at what they do. Just don’t let your expectations run wild and these will perform admirably as intended.
This is it, enjoy your music!!