Canjam Socal 2019: Part One with Campfire Audio and the Kaldas Electrostatic

CanJam Socal 2019 really knows their audience – the show didn’t start until a leisurely 10 a.m. on Saturday, which seemed to go over pretty well with the attending crowd and exhibitors.

The main area isn’t massive, part of which helps retain the nice cozy feel that I personally enjoy so much about meets and CanJams. The heavily-carpeted hall area and low ceilings generally helped keep background noise to tolerable levels, and I was able to get some relatively uninterrupted listening time before the crowds started to show up.

First up was Campfire Audio who have a new(ish) model called the Io out, which replaces their Orion IEM as a relatively neutrally-tuned, moderately priced offering. It comes in a very slick ‘garnet red’ color, and has a dual Balanced-Armature design. The cable is Campfire’s silver-plated copper Litz with standard MMCX connectors. It comes in at a $299 USD, which I believe is $50 less than the Orion, and it comes with Campfire’s new signature swanky, color-coordinated case. The fit and finish on these things is really in it’s own league, it’s hard not to be impressed whenever I stop at Campfire’s table.

I sat down to take a listen, and really enjoyed what I heard. With a good fit, this really is a very balanced IEM. I dislike a lot of the ‘bass cannon’ IEMs on the market, but these are very well balanced, with great clarity to mids and highs without sacrificing low-end dynamics. The texture of the sound was very coherent across the entire frequency range, and bass offered the same detail and sense of transparency and sound character as the mids and highs, a kind of tonally rich, weighty presentation that never made transients too forward. I really dig this IEM and will be looking to get my hands on a pair if I can. This is what good, reasonably priced hi-fi should be: well-built and excellent sounding.

The next stop was the Kaldas Research booth, an Indian company that has been working on an electrostatic headphone for about three years now. Their first effort, the RR1 Conquest was on display, and this thing was a huge surprise. Out of a small Koss electrostatic amp this had some of the clearest, most textured and clean bass I have ever heard on any headphone, electrostatic or not. The mids and highs were nicely balanced as well, but didn’t have any of the trademark flaws I typically associate with other electrostatics, like aggressive treble or lack of dynamic punch. Build is excellent, very industrial and somewhat plain but very sturdy. Comfort with the suspension strap and modest but firm clamping is very good.

Retailing for a very reasonable $500 USD – $650 with a bespoke case – you can get these direct from Kaldas, who ship internationally. That said, they told me they’re having difficulty keeping them in stock, and as they’re 100 per cent built in the Kaldas factory in India, you may have to wait a while to get your hands on a pair.

That’s all for now from Day One, more to come.

Campfire Audio / Kaldas Audio