The Ara has landed, Campfire Audio Ara unboxing and initial impressions

The Campfire Audio Ara (pronounced era) marks a departure from the rest of the lineup. It’s a 7 balanced armature design (4 low, 1 mid, 2 high) with an integrated boot to tune the internal acoustic space and arrange all the components without the use of a crossover network. It’s got a hot titanium body and comes with a memory wire free Smoky Litz (4 wire silver-plated copper) cable and loads of eartips that are sure to give the majority of users their weapon of choice. I was going to put in Benny Benassi – Satisfaction, but that is too much T&A for a topic that doesn’t actually include T&A hifi gear.

Unboxing

Who likes some audio porn? I like some audio porn as much as the next. There are curves galore on instagram, but I’m looking at angular things like the Campfire Audio lineup. There is something wrong with audiophiles. Here’s the full unboxing video experience without the moving pictures. Move your head if you want to create that effect. This is my first time unboxing a Campfire Audio IEM.

As mentioned by others, the outer box looks like a candy box or Chinese take-away on the backside. It’s fun and unique, but pretty darn difficult to reseal.

Indeed.

The little two chamber pouch is for keeping the IEMs from scratching each other. Cool.

Initial impressions

I’ve listened to the Ara for about 7 hours now. My blogmate just got the Solaris 2020 in. I really like the Ara.

I find the bass on the Ara really nice. It’s not elevated, but it isn’t missing or rolled off. It’s got good extension with a touch of warmth to it. The texture and resolution in the bass are excellent. Its the neutral version of audiophile bass. The overall character of the Ara is smooth and musical. Stage width and height are good, but depth is not very deep. Instrument placement and layering are good. I wouldn’t call these a reference tuning, personally. Reference tunings tend to be a little more bright. I don’t think these are a mixing tool, but they are a joyful listen.These are quite musical. Both male and female vocals do really well. They have heaps of genre flexibility. I’ve thrown jazz vocalists like Barb Jungr and metal ranging from Slayer to Schizoid Lloyd. I tested the bass drop on Yosi Horikawa – Wandering and it goes deep with resolution, but without much rumble. Which is what you expect on a fully balanced armature unit. There are some exceptions to that rule, but it usually applies.

Of the tips included with the Ara, I couldn’t get a good fit with the wide bore tips (going to try Symbio W), and I prefer the fit and sound of the Final Type E tips. The E types always lend a nice precision that I typically dig. The foamies are good foams, with no notable effect on frequency response, which is great given how soft they are. I’m normally a ML on the Type E tips, but I’m using the L tips, as I find a shallow insertion depth more comfortable than getting a lot of the nozzle in my ear. The shallower fit makes less of the shell touch my ear. I rotate the shell a little bit forward to minimise angular contact with the outer edge of my ear. The cable is comfortable on the ear. I don’t think most will need to upgrade. I asked Campfire for a 4.4mm cable with the

These take nothing to drive. On the Cayin N6ii with the T01 and E02 I’m usually in the 30s (max 100 scale) on low gain. Cayin needs to make an even lower gain setting so I can use more of the volume dial. On the E02, I get a little bit of hiss when listening to Macy Gray – The Heart and Slowly (24-192, binaural) during dead silent parts (the dynamic range is huge on these tracks), but most of the time I don’t notice it. I get it a little bit on Infected Mushroom – Heavy Weight (16-44) too.  Throwing an adapter chain with the iFi iEMatch 2.5mm knocks the hiss out, and it tolerates both the high and ultra settings without falling victim to clipping on Heavy Weight. It might slightly reduce dynamics in this mode, but the hiss is gone. I’ll need to do more listening and also do a check on whether the T01 has any hiss (I don’t recall any).

I’m looking forward to more time with these. They are emphatically musical, but also really faithful to the source content. It’s a great musical neutral tuning and right up my alley.

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