Campfire Ara Review - Perfection - Nicely Done!

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by purr1n, May 27, 2020.

  1. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Honestly, I read the title and I was like "oh, he doesn't like them". And then I read the thread and I was like...

    ...hm, so why is the thread not titled "OMG, buy Ara now"?
     
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  2. Soups

    Soups Sadomasochistic cat

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    Curious, would such a crossover-less BA design also help lessen unit variance?
     
  3. Rockwell

    Rockwell Almost "Made"

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    The bass of the u12t is unique among the BA IEMs I have heard for its "DD like" speed and decay. In that regard it's a step above other BA IEMs with great bass (Anole VX, VE8 and Andro Gold). To my ears, however, none of the above have that weight and density that characterizes DD bass and which in my experience no BA has been able to replicate. It's one of those things I've discovered that I'm pretty OCD about and for that reason (as of yet) I haven't been able to satisfy myself with any pure BA IEM. The Ara sounds very interesting though and once Coronapocalypse is over I should be able to head over to my local CFA distributor and give it (along with the Solaris 2020) and whirl. I'm particularly interested to hear how my SE Solaris stacks up against the 2020.
     
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  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Fixed.
     
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  5. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    Does it make you forget you're listening to BAs?
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
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  6. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Nope. Well at times, especially in the lows and mids.
     
  7. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I'm more worried about human error (placement, tips, etc.) when it comes to measurements!

    I surmise no crossovers would help if there's any variation with impedance curves since crossover formulas are so precisely predicated on impedance. I do think that multiple drivers can help with smoothing out production variances, assuming variances are random and don't trend one way or another depending upon production batches.

    It's my understanding some IEM people hate Campfire, so any inventions will be knee-jerk reaction as BS. Goes with the territory. There are circles in the IEM world which are fiercely territorial on brands. I've seen a lot of very personally targeted shit-slinging over a decade and it's a large reason why I've ceded my IEM investigations and curiosities to others. Well, other than the fact and I could only stomach yet another 17-driver IEM, or $4200 special exotic IEMs from brands seemingly established yesterday, or a random dude who has self-appointed himself as an expert because he was lectured to by an IEM guru, or yet another new Chi-Fi entrant with destroy my ears tuning. I know what I like and I'll let the rich kids in Asia pee over each other in regards to IEMs.

    Crossoverless is certainly not BS. There's a reason why the niche wide-bander movement exists in the two-channel world. But there are tradeoffs. And as you mentioned, active systems, which almost de-facto with pro monitors, and then there is Linn from decades ago with their Aktiv.

    Agreed on the deeper insertion. Similar housing with Andromeda, but longer nozzle allows for this. I've since moved to the Final Audio silicone tips (included in the package), using a size smaller than what I would typically use, and shoved them deeper than I would normally would. The deeper insertion allays the subjective 4-5kHz emphasis. The silicone makes the bass even punchier and crisper.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
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  8. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    As Marv said, human errors dominate when it comes to IEM measurements.

    The fact is just that... my ears are not perfect mechanical couplers. I know for a fact that my left ear has a slightly wider opening than my right ear and that opening affects things quite a bit.

    A good test I usually do is... put on the IEMs, do a sine sweep, and then see if there is no frequency at which sound is slanted completely to one side. Also I can pick up buzzing and zinging better like this.
     
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  9. Empeiros Audio

    Empeiros Audio Rando

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    From my experience with the Andromeda Gold, the tips which allow for the best bass are Campfire Audio's stock silicone tips. In your last sentence, it's not clear to me whether you refer to the Final Audio silicone tips or Campfire's. If you referred to the Final tips, you might want to try the ones from Campfire. It should elevate the bass a tad more.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I wouldn't say that I necessarily was looking for moar bass or lows, other than what deeper insertion would provide. I actually would not want more bass than this! These are ones I'm talking about below. Either way, the Campfire silicone tips I can't actually get a good seal from. They lack the "support" that the Final ones do - that is they tend to squish and don't quite hold their form well enough for my funky ear canal.

    IMG_20200529_124801.jpg
     
  11. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Final E were great with Andro Gold. More “monitor/reference” type of sound.

    I’ve never liked the foamies. Too thick sounding and not very good at isolating higher frequencies (mechanical keyboard key strokes). Also not very comfortable.
     
  12. La Cenric

    La Cenric Friend

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    I don't think human error in IEM measurements is as bad as everyone is making it out to be. In-ear coupling is typically very very consistent given proper technique and methodology since you really only have two variables to account for (insertion depth and seal compromise), maybe three if you want to account for tips as well (which really only affects 5-6kHz and up unless you have a tip that intentionally compromises seal or something). Wouldn't go as far as to say that human error "dominates".

    Definitely far more consistent and less prone to human error than headphone measurements, at least.
     
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  13. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Well, at that point, you're basically saying every single pair of IEMs ever made were measured with the exact same insertion depth and fit by all manufacturers.

    And even assuming that that's true, that means all manufacturers are assuming every living person will be able to insert said IEMs at the exact same insertion depth and fit.

    I don't know. In my experience, some IEMs need to be measured with a deeper insertion, while some must be shallow, in order to see the full effect of what's happening when a real human wears them.

    At least then the FR is more consistent to what I hear, because again, my ears are not perfect mechanical couplers. But I guess we can agree to disagree.
     
  14. La Cenric

    La Cenric Friend

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    I'm not sure what the counter-argument here is since I fully agree that different IEMs fit differently, and so have different insertion depths/resonance points.

    My point was that you can get the same measurement over and over on an in-ear coupling system if you wanted to, and it'll be extremely easy to do so (I can perform a demonstration if needed). Else, if human error truly dominates and we can't tell systemic error from random error, then all left-right channel measurements would be wholly unreliable and cannot even be used for channel matching purposes.

    Basically in regards to this point:

    For QC and channel matching purposes? Absolutely. They have to. EDIT: within each manufacturer's own product range, so every batch of ER4s will be measured at the same insertion depth and fit for QC, but this insertion depth and fit will not be the same as, say, the SE215 QC process.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2020
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  15. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    First up: I'm not an IEM measurement guru and have measured maybe only a dozen IEMs or so (not accounting for mods), so take this with a grain of salt...
    I wanted to add that matching insertion depth is not hard when you already have a measurement that you feel is representative. Once you exactly match the frequency of the high frequency peak the rest of the range should also match perfectly given nothing else changed. Matching it is easy since, if it is too low you simply insert it slightly deeper, if it is too high in frequency you lessen insertion depth. Easy.
    FWIW (and we've argued about that before, so I'd rather avoid it again) I actually hear those insertion depth related peaks myself, so it becomes quite easy to match my own insertion depth in the measurement. Just that my coupler doesn't behave like my ear canals, it's more ringy (sharper insertion depth peaks) and treats different types of IEMs differently. I think an IEC coupler is much better in that regard from the measurements I've seen.

    @Bill-P the range for matching the λ/2 resonance isn't too large. Ear canal length seems to vary between 30 and 20mm. IME the deepest I can insert an IEM is around 12mm from the eardrum, so 14kHz is the highest I can do, while someone with a shallow fit and a long ear canal may be able to push the resonance down to 6kHz or roughly 28mm. I think a more typical range for most IEMs is 7-10kHz.
    One thing you can do to lessen the peak is making the sound bore go deeper in your ears than the eartips, although that is very unconventional and uncomfortable if done wrong.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2020
  16. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    I'm sure you can train yourself to insert the same side (Left or Right) into the coupler 1000 times while blindfolded and get exactly the same measurements. There's no doubt there. I think we can at least agree on this.

    But that's just you. I don't think you can apply that standard to all of those who are taking IEM measurements, especially not to those who are only doing it as a hobby like myself. I don't "earn" anything from making perfectly synchronized movements every time. So in those cases, my own human errors do dominate. All I can do is try to get close, but I won't nitpick every 0.5dB.

    Also, knowing that my own ears will do their own "balancing act" makes me want to worry about my human errors even less... because even if something measures perfectly on my perfectly matched coupler when I do perfect movements, my ears will still cause some slight imbalance.

    Well, sure... if I was a QC engineer and my sole existence depends on perfectly matched IEM measurements, then... yes, I do agree, I have to get good at it. This is definitely something you can apply to manufacturers, regardless of scale. But the original point I was making is that I don't tend to "assume" everyone making IEM measurements is able to do so consistently every single time. Sure, I can trust you, and maybe @Serious but that's a sample size of 2.

    Unless you'll tell me to start trusting manufacturers' measurements next. :bow:
     
  17. PhoenixClaw

    PhoenixClaw Friend

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    I was very interested in the Ara until I saw this. I was hoping that CFA (applies to most manufacturers really) would design an iem to be more usable across multiple devices. I am not a fan of the source pairing or IEMatch game and would prefer a pair of iems that won't sound different coming from my desktop set-up, work laptop, toaster, etc.
     
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  18. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    @Bill-P I think now I get where our disconnect is. I didn't mean to imply that the insertion depth would just simply match up perfectly on first try (although I have clear tubing and could measure it with calipers). But when using REW and using the graph overlay you can keep measuring and tweaking it until the other channel is virtually on top of the first one (assuming good channel matching of course). It usually only takes a couple measurements and with a 128k sweep you can do so within a minute. Without the FR to guide you it becomes a lot harder. Tbh this is the one of the main reasons I stopped using ARTA and transitioned to REW. There are many other reasons, too.

    Either way, not too relevant for this thread. IME channel matching in IEMs tends to be superb. Human factors (differently sized left and right ear canals) dominate most of the time.
     
  19. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    1. Given that there is no crossover, the impedance curve is likely the summation of all the drivers. Hence the steadily rising response. Since for any frequency, the impedance is representative of all of the drivers instead of just the ones operating in that frequency, it’s probable the effects may not be as drastic. I will take measurements from amps with different output Z to see what happens.
    2. The curve isn’t as crazy as Andromeda. If the above isn’t true and we just go by the numbers, there shouldn’t be major changes in frequency response. In my experience so far, the ZX2 with about 2-ohms Zout actually sounded warmer than from the near zero Zout of the Magni 3+, even though by the numbers, it should have been the other way around. I figure there wasn’t much going on with FR shifts based on impedance curve, and what I was hearing was mostly the inherent warmth and sound characteristic of the ZX2.
    3. The main issue Is with the sensitivity which presents a challenge for headamps and desktop sources. However 6db of digital or source line level attenuation will do the trick. I have had no issue with portable players or phones.
    4. Before coming to so quick a conclusion, know what the Zout of your sources are. Are you actually running a 20-ohm Zout desktop amp, a 40-ohm Zout dongle, and a 5-ohm Zout phone? I don’t think I have a single device with higher than 5-ohm Zout in the house, everything is has a Zout under 2-3ohms, and I’m not hearing major frequency response changes like with the Andromeda. Again, I’ll run some tests to confirm.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2020
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Your main reason is weak. Ctrl-A overlays in ARTA. Your many other reasons are better.
     
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