Superlative build quality and cable, Exciting, high-definition sound, Open soundstage, Mostly source agnostic
Diffuse imaging, Not especially natural or linear through the midrange
The IO is not for those seeking absolute linearity, balance or realism, but rather an exciting listening experience charged with quirk and character.
Campfire Audio has undoubtedly risen to become one of the most prominent names in audio with their former flagship Andromeda achieving almost universal recommendation. From the same minds comes the IO, a new value-orientated model that offers the Yin to the Orion’s Yang. Where Campfire’s former value model utilises a single BA driver to produce a reference sound, the IO implements an oversized BA woofer + tweeter with TAEC housing to provide a more extended sound with a significantly more engaging signature. Despite the almost unanimously warm reception of Campfire’s previous earphones, the IO is undoubtedly one of the most controversial IEMs released of late and certainly one of Campfire’s most daring. You can read more about the IO and buy one for yourself here.
I would like to thank Campfire Audio very much for their quick communication and for providing me with the IO for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
Campfire Audio have spiced up the unboxing experience to thoroughly dazzle, even before you set sight on the precision-milled housings, Campfire delivers a premium experience. The cardboard externals open up, revealing gold foil innards hugging a hard box in the centre. Inside, users are greeted with a new style of leather zip-up carry case with scratch-free faux shearling interior. The earphones themselves are inside the case with each earpiece separated by a 2-compartment mesh pouch that prevents scratches during transit. Underneath are 3 pairs of generic silicone tips, Final E ear tips in 5 sizes, in addition to 3 pairs of more isolating memory foam tips. A cleaning tool and Campfire Audio pin are also provided for ongoing maintenance.
Featuring Campfire Audio’s signature build quality, the IO sports gorgeous metal housings, now with slightly rounded off corners and smooth edges to aid a more comfortable fit. The machine work is impeccable, lacking the circumferential ridges of previous batches and featuring a more superlative satin finish. The IO is adorned in garnet red with gold screw highlights, a stunning combination that goes hand in hand with the new smoked cable.
The housings are also reasonably sized and will be familiar to anyone who has experienced other Campfire Audio earphones. They do protrude notably from the ear but also fit snugly and comfortably into them, producing no hotspots for me over extended listening. They feature the nozzle design of the Atlas that offers a deeper fit than previous Campfire earphones and fit smaller T200 tips. Combined with a fully-sealed design and dense metal housings, passive noise isolation is among the best even with silicone tips. There are ideal for frequent commuters and air travel.
A new cable also makes an appearance with silver-plated copper Litz conductors and the same twisted weave as debuted on the original Polaris. It has a new smoked jacket that feels even softer than the previous Litz wire and the same upgraded Beryllium MMCX connectors and well relieved 3.5mm right angle plug. Users that had issue with Campfire’s memory wire ear guides will be delighted to hear that the new cable has pre-moulded guides that hug the ear more elegantly. The new cable is supple, sleek and sturdy delivering an excellent experience as one would expect from a former cable manufacturer.
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