T.H.E Show Newport 2015: Campfire Audio
Surprised by the new name in the room I walked over to the Campfire Audio booth, only to be surprised again to see ALO Audio's Ken Ball manning the booth. Ken has been making headphone amps and accessories for a long time at ALO but caught the bug to make some headphones a few years ago. Evidently work in the lab has gone well and he's now launching a new company to produce the line. His initial offering will be three IEMs.
All three of the new IEMs are somewhat unusual, each in it's own way. (Just a quick note that the links below are from their still under construction web site, so forgive the missing bits.)
The Orion ($499) is their entry-level single balanced armature model, and is unusual in the fact that at this price you normally don't see billet aluminum CNC manufactured shells and MMCX cable connectors at the earpieces so they can be swapped for balanced cables if desired.
The Lyra ($749) uses a single 8.5mm beryllium dynamic driver and is housed in a ceramic shell. This was my favorite of the group with a quick, yet rich, sound.
The Jupiter ($1249) is a quad balanced armature IEM in a two-way configuration with two drivers for bass and two for treble. Its unusual characteristic is that it doesn't use tubes and filters to couple sound to the ears, but rather the output of the drivers directly enter what Ken called a resonator chamber that outputs to the ear at the other end. He said this provides better extension in the high frequencies.
Also at the table were a couple of prototype full-size headphones, one open and one closed, and one of which had a diamond driver! I must say Ken's not afraid of trying some very interesting things.
Most fun of all was talking to Ken about headphone measurements. He purchased a measurement rig for the product development and said it was both the most fun and most frustrating thing he's ever done in audio. I have to say I envy him in his taskwhile I get to measure lots of headphones, I never get to use it iteratively while making acoustic changes in a product development cycle. I'd love to do that someday.
Click here if you can't see the video.