The Diamond Among the Cobbles – A Review of the Campfire Audio Jupiter

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Campfire Audio Jupiter is a creature of detail. Resolution and finite rendering come first, but never at the expense of musicality. For Jupiter is in fact a warm IEM. It has a gentile U-Shaped sig, with bass and treble getting slightly more volume than vocals. I place the tone at neutral-warm, where there is plenty of meat on the bones, but sweet lord it is a resolving f**ker. There’s a decent amount of air, but I wouldn’t call this Jupiter’s strongest point.

Treble is the specialty here. That acoustic chamber does heavenly things for the two BAs housed therein. It all seems so boundless, extending high, and flooding the image with revealing light. Jupiter’s treble is aggressive, but I don’t find it grating in the least. A thick, sweet character defines the highs, which sooths what would otherwise be a biting ordeal. Like a spoonful of sugar to make it taste more like a treat than medicine. To my ears, it’s more than that. It’s a decadent dessert.

The mids are a clear affair. Traces of warmth and smoothness are present, yet they remain remarkably clear. Given they are also slightly recessed, placed back a step on the stage, this is all the more impressive. Vocals are not the most transparent I’ve heard, but they up there. Details flourish in a vivid, lifelike rendering. The vocals have good weight. That sweetness I heard in the treble is here as well. It all has a delicious, candy flavor that’s very hard not to love.

Jupiter’s bass is extraordinary. I’m so used to IEM’s with ten or more drivers I often forget just how much one Balanced Armature can achieve down below. We get real sub-bass, with deep rumbles, and blooming, rich tonality. As a BA, you also get speed, and let’s not forget, texture and detail. The low-end possesses serious weight, and colors the presentation with a modicum of warmth. Do these match the bass of my U12 or Solar? No, definitely not. But it’s satisfying.

Soundstage is above average in width and depth, and WAY above average in height, giving an impression of a grand hall with a tall, vaulted ceiling. It makes for a spacious picture indeed. The depth is aided by superb layering. You can easily perceive when an instrument is behind another, and how far behind. Imaging and separation are very good, and equal to most TOTL IEMs, though the very best, like Kaiser Encore, still beats Jupiter by a noticeable degree.

Switching over to Campfire Audio Dorado, and immediately I hear a smoother, lusher style. Dorado uses a single Dynamic Driver to cover the bass and mids, and the change is drastic. Unlike Jupiter, detail and resolution are not the main goals here. Silky, organic, unadulterated musicality is.

Dorado’s bass is the best I’ve heard in an IEM. Flat out THE BEST. First of all, it’s big. Big and powerful. Yet it’s masterfully tuned, so it never pollutes the other frequencies… too much. It goes down to the very depths of sub-bass and can just exist there, beyond hearing, where all you can do is feel it. Dorado’s DD pounds like no BA can, with visceral impact. The tonality is godlike, the most natural low-end of all my IEMs. Jupiter’s Balanced Armature bass is quicker, and a little better at details, but in every other way, Dorado dominates this category.

The vocals are less different between these two. Jupiter is again more detailed, and slightly clearer. Dorado is velvety, with a liquid-like nature. Because of that incredible bass, shared by the same Dynamic Driver, the mids suffer some bleed-over by those sub frequencies. But this becomes less of an issue after about 200 hours of burn-in. The vocals clear up much, gaining in transparency and resolution. They still aren’t at Jupiter’s level, but they aren’t far off, either. Dorado produces thinner note weight for the mids, and better air. To my ears, they sound a little more natural. That’s just a subjective opinion. Which you’d prefer may differ greatly.

Both Jupiter and Dorado use a duel Balanced Armature setup for the high frequencies, housed in their special TAEC design. Apart from Jupiter being tuned for what I hear as more treble, the quality is nearly the same. Pretty much everything I wrote about Jupiter’s highs hold true here. They have the same sweetness, the same thickness. They extend well, and sound open and large.

The soundstage on Dorado is in fact wider, but not as deep, nor as tall. I’m more of a width guy, myself, but in this case, I could go either way. Both have a great stage, in different ways. Dorado’s imaging is not quite TOTL level; it’s ever so slightly hazy. Separation is ok, but far from amazing. Resolution is just below what I’d expect from the price range.

Noble Audio Kaiser Encore is the closest IEM I have to Jupiter’s signature. They illustrate well the difference between mid-fi and summit-fi.

Putting in Encore, I’m floored by the increase in clarity and transparency. It makes Jupiter sound muddy in comparison. Everything opens up and gets so airy and spacious.

Encore’s treble extends higher than Jupiter. It’s hard to say which has greater presence, though. Jupiter’s highs have a thicker, sweeter sound. Encore’s is smoother, thinner, and more surgical. Encore is more refined, whereas Jupiter is maybe a little more fun. There’s greater shimmer in Encore’s high frequencies, but only by a small bit.

The bass is more controlled with Encore. It doesn’t bleed AT ALL into the mids. There’s less warmth in the tuning because of this. While Encore does have a slight emphasis in its lows, I’ve always felt it could use more. In this, I do like Jupiter better. Encore’s bass is technically superior, but Jupiter strike closer to my favorite signature, with greater sub-bass rumble, and a warmer flavor.

Encore’s vocals shatter Jupiter’s world. The jump in cleanliness, detail, the outrageous resolution… there’s just no competition. They sound more like full-size planar magnetics, that’s how realistic the rendering. Articulation is stellar. Every detail is brought out in fine relief. Note weight is perhaps equal between the two, but Encore’s transparency is such that the mids feel effortless, whereas Jupiter seems forced when put against this standard.

The Soundstage Kaiser Encore establishes is one of the very largest in the industry. It’s terribly wide, rather deep, and decently tall. Jupiter is a bit taller. Imaging and separation is also at the tippy top of the field, and a significant leap over Jupiter. Elements are so well defined you could walk between them blindfolded.

Indeed, Noble’s co-flagship is on another level entirely. Of course, you must remember, there is more than $1,000 difference. Encore had better be an upgrade.

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About Author

Pinky is an artsy twat. Illustration, graphic design, writing. Yet music escapes him, and always has. He builds his own cables, and likes to explore the craftsmanship of others. He's a stabby one, also. At the first hint of annoyance, out comes the blade. I say he's compensating for something... in a big bad way. If we all try really hard as a collective, maybe we can have him put down.

6 Comments

  1. Burn-in?
    When will you so-called educated audiophiles stop believing in nonsense?
    It has been proved not to exist.
    Apart from that, your review is barely acceptable, tending to praise the Noble (overrated as it is..) more than discuss the (also overrated and overpriced) piece of Campfire Audio.
    Pinkypoofter can do better.

    • Pinky Powers on

      These reviews are a narrative of my experience with a piece of gear. In the case of Dorado, I heard clearer vocals after so many of hours of burn-in. So I shared that. I will not censor my experience to keep in line with your expectations.

    • Are you seriously trying to say that “burn in” does not exist for dynamic drivers? Because, that’s what the author was referencing.

      Owning CA hardware myself… I, too, experienced a difference in sound quality, via tone separation and sound stage, over the course of 150hrs of burn in.

      Your comment reeks of immaturity. Please take your temper tantrums elsewhere.

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