Campfire Audio Andromeda (Mix Wave) MW10 Reviews & Impressions

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by shotgunshane, May 21, 2021.

  1. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Campfire Audio Mix Wave MW10

    The Andromeda MW10 is a Japanese exclusive for Mix Wave Co LTD released in fourth quarter 2019. It is a limited edition with a 500 unit run. On other sites and blogs it has reached somewhat mythical proportions of being the ‘best’ Andromeda. Being that it is a limited release with limited access, this version of the Andromeda has been a bit of an unknown for a long while. Thanks to @rhythmdevils and his personal tour, we at SBAF can find out just how good the MW10 is and where if fits in the Andromeda universe.

    The MW10 is an Andromeda through and through. My understanding is that it’s the same 5 balanced armatures, however it was the first Campfire Audio IEM to use the ceramic acoustic 3D printed chamber. The Mix Wave website describes the main change in tuning as mainly the mid-high range but as measurement and impression should show, there is significant difference in bass as well.

    Being a limited edition model, the MW10 received its own gorgeous blue color called Strato Blue. The faceplates screws are 24-karate gold-plated and the CA logo is an Avalon inlay, which shows different colors depending on the angle viewed. It really is, arguably, the most beautiful of the Andromeda variants.

    Picture from the Mix Wave website:
    upload_2021-5-21_20-52-28.png




    Comparison vs Andromeda OG
    via Mac Mini >> Pi2AES (via AES) >> RME ADI-2 PRO FS R

    upload_2021-5-21_20-52-55.png

    Upon initial switching, the greater bass and treble emphasis is immediately heard. The MW10 is quite bassy in my estimation. OG bass is obviously more linear, if a bit softer, whereas the MW10 bass hits much harder and also rumbles more. But it’s the harder mid bass impact that is much more apparent. Impact and rumble levels aside, bass texture is very similar between the two.

    MW10 male vocals carry just a bit more weight than OG but more noticeable is the more intimate closeness to the vocal on MW10, which I contribute to slightly greater lower midrange/upper bass presence. Female vocals also carry more upper mid energy on the MW10, lending to a more forward and energetic presentation as well. Not only are these difference apparent with vocals, but the midrange of the MW10 is also clearer and less hazy, albeit at the expense of some increased sibilance. Rock guitars have similar crunch but the MW10 has more bite and attack. While the MW10 is more articulate and separated in the midrange, the MW10 looses a bit of the unique wall of guitar sound the OG has.

    Treble is probably the greatest difference between the two, as the MW10 seems to have a lot more of it. While the timbre of the MW10 treble is very good, its tonal balance is skewed a little bright. In the past, where I’ve describe the OG as a downward sloping U shape, the MW10 comes across a strong W shape without the downward slope. Don’t get me wrong, the treble of the MW10 isn’t as strong as say the 64 Audio Fourte, or even the Solaris 2020, so we don’t have overt splashiness or cringing brightness here but if OG treble was too strong for you, then you can definitely skip the MW10. However, if you wanted more excitement in both bass and treble from Andromeda OG, then perhaps MW10 is what the doctor ordered.

    While the MW10 maintains the above average staging of the Andromeda lineage, there are some noticeable differences. The MW10 comes across as more forward and intimate, albeit within a more defined space and better imaging. The OG still comes across wider, while the MW10 taller with mostly similar depth between the two. I don’t have the Andromeda 2020 on hand but I suspect the 2020 will remain the most technically adept of all the Andromeda models.


    Legacy

    At the end of the day, the MW10 definitely seems to have improved on many of the OG’s technical capabilities. However it comes at a slight cost of exaggerated tonal balance. The stronger bass and treble sounds a bit less natural to me in direct comparison. However it is certainly loads of fun and it’s seriously good looking. While I could certainly understand some preferring this tuning to the OG and the 2020, I see the 2020 model as the better successor to the OG due to its more evenhandedness; even if sentimentally I still prefer the OG over all of them for its unrivaled treble performance. For me, the myth of the MW10 is exactly that- a myth due to its limited regional release. Rather, it’s just another variant (albeit a very good variant), with its own pluses and minuses, in the (legendary?) lineage of the Campfire Audio Andromeda.
     

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  2. Rockwell

    Rockwell Friend

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    Epic post thanks for sharing...I think this is the first graph of the MW10 I've ever seen. I had the MW10 for a bit last December and I basically agree with your assessment. I ended up selling it to fund another purchase because ultimately it seemed a lot more similar to my Solaris SE than the 2020 Andromeda had when I'd owned that one a few months prior. Having recently re-purchased the 2020 because I never could get its sound out of my head-- even after owning the MW10-- my sense is that it doesn't have quite the low end emphasis that the MW10 did but the overall presentation is more to my liking, most likely for the reasons you're describing here but I can't say for sure as I've never a/b'd them back to back. Ffor my tastes the 2020 is the preferred Andromeda currently available. That said the MW10 is beautiful...so beautiful in fact that I felt like I was always walking on eggshells when handling or taking it out because I didn't want to chip the paint or blemish it somehow.
     
  3. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Andromeda MW10 Review and comparison vs Andromeda 2020 and Ara

    [​IMG]

    I have a pretty different take on this iem from @shotgunshane which is interesting because we usually hear things similarly. We both think the Gaudio Nair is the most neutral iem we’ve heard. So it goes with iems I guess. The iem wildcard.

    I’m a bit under the weather right now so will keep this succinct.

    Gear:
    Pi2aes > Gungnir A1 > Loki > 789 with Sigma 11 LPS

    TLDR;
    The MW10 is a truly special iem in a specific way but not without faults. It is more neutral from bass to upper mids than the 2020 but has a huge treble emphasis. However, it has less BA or any other whacky timbre than any BA iem I’ve heard including the Ara.

    Bass:
    Excellent, very neutral, tight, pretty damn good extension. Sounds very close to natural dynamic bass to me. Good detail. It beats the Ara’s bass to my ears which was never that much better than the 2020 to me despite the extra penises.

    Midrange:
    Less recessed than the 2020 but still a bit recessed compared to my Mackie Monitors or an HD650. Natural tone and timbre. Male vocals have proper weight and female vocals have proper breath.

    Treble:
    Way elevated to the point of being a joke especially considering how neutral the rest of the spectrum is. I can easily bring it down with my Loki but then I think it winds up missing air in the 10-20khz range making the treble a bit dull sounding.

    Timbre:
    Outstanding. The Ara is supposed to be king of BA timbre but I had issues with its timbre. I even bought a pair and really tried to like them. I think Ken intentionally tried to eliminate BA timbre with them. I don’t know how he did it but I’m guessing some kind of damping is involved and he went overboard trying to kill it and they wound up overdamped. The Ara sounds dry to me like the HD650. The MW10 doesn’t have this dryness it has smoother timbre vs Ara. There’s a dynamic weight to instruments that ive never heard in a BA iem before. It’s not 100% there. If I was told these were ortho iems I would think they sounded kind of light and soft for an ortho. But it’s closer to an electrodynamic than any BA iem I’ve heard.

    The bad:
    The downside to this great timbre is a loss of clarity snd speed and refinement compared to the 2020. It doesn’t lack clarity in the grand scheme of iems but when compared to the 2020 and other TOTL iems like the Solaris it sounds a bit dull.

    However, the gains in clarity made by other BA iems all come with BA timbre. That fast, ethereal BA sound. The MW10 doesn’t have that at all.

    It’s a shame this is a special edition and has such elevated treble I think a lot of people would love the sound of them if the treble was neutral and extended (it probably is extended but EQing down the treble winds up turning down 10-20khz too much)

    I wish Kevin would work on a new version of this iem with whatever unique housing (ceramic housing?) with better tuning as an alternative to the 2020 andromeda. There is definitely great potential here.

    I’ll be interested in seeing distortion measurements.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2021
  4. Rockwell

    Rockwell Friend

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    Kevin = Ken?
     
  5. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Yes thank you :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2021
  6. Tchoupitoulas

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    Comparison of the MW10 with the Andromeda 2020
    Thank you very much, @rhythmdevils, for kindly making the loaner tour possible. It’s a real treat to hear this rare, exotic species - especially as the MW10 has been described as the almightiest of the Andromedas.


    Gear and a Caveat

    To compare it with my Andro 2020, I used the same cable, tips, and source, a Sony NW-ZX2.

    I should add that I can’t help but wonder if my impressions, below, have to something do with issues of volume matching. I kept the volume setting the same on my ZX2 for both IEMs, but I don’t have a way of measuring my actual listening levels. Here are these IEMs’ specs - please note the different units (emphasis added), which frustrate my ability to tell if they’re all that different: according to official sources, the MW10’s sensitivity is 112.8dB SPL/mW and its impedance is 12.8Ω at 1kHz (see here) while the Andro 2020’s sensitivity is 94 dB SPL at 1kHz: 7.01 mVrms and its impedance is 12.8 Ohms @ 1kHz (here).


    Comparisons
    This is probably more a comment about my hearing than the IEMs but I could detect few differences between the two Andros. If I’d been told in advance that they had the same tuning, I doubt I’d have any reason to disagree. I don’t think I could reliably tell the two apart in a blind test. With that said, I’m reasonably confident about one observation, less confident about a couple of others, and not very confident about a fourth thing.

    The one thing I’m reasonably confident about - enough to place a $20 bet on it - is that the bass on the MW10 is a bit more emphasized. I suspect the bass tuning is roughly similar to the 2020’s except that it is boosted ever so slightly. In other words, I suspect it’s not that the bass presentation is all that different from the 2020’s. It’s just a bit more prominent, or forward.

    Second, I’m even less confident that there’s slightly more of a treble emphasis with the MW10. Maybe it’s just the power of persuasion, from having online reviews and impressions, but I wondered if I was hearing a slightly more v-shaped sound signature to the MW10. I wouldn’t place a bet over $10 on this, though.

    Third, at times I wondered if the mids of the 2020 were more forward. This might just be a consequence of the 2020’s bass being less prominent. Maximum bet on this? $10.

    And, finally and least confidently, I wondered if the 2020 had a smoother, more even sound. I thought I detected some instances in which the MW10 was a bit grainier, a bit rougher, a bit less even, especially in the upper mids and into the treble. But I’m so lacking in confidence about this that I wouldn’t even place a bet on it. It’s likely that fatigue or my mood better explain these perceptions.


    Conclusion
    All of this is to say that the differences between the two IEMs are very subtle (to me). They’re subtle enough that I can’t say that I favor one over the other. And that’s a great thing: it’s nice to know now, from first-hand experience, that in the universe of the Andromedas, I’m not missing out by not having the MW10. Thank you again, @rhythmdevils, I really appreciate this opportunity to hear the MW10.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2021
  7. YMO

    YMO Chewbacca's hairy brother

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    Thank you @rhythmdevils for letting me walk around shirtless in my apartment with the MW10s in my ears.

    Gear List:

    Thinkpad X260 via Roon or Foobar2000 via UPnP Output Component or BubbleUPnP > PI2AES [Coax Output] > Schiit Bifrost 2 > Schiit IEMagni

    Shanling M3X

    I used the CA Marshmallow Small Tips since those are the most common tips for CA IEMs.

    Not going to talk about this one too long, it is just an OG Andro with some changes that depending on your ears it is a good thing or a bad thing. Yes these do look good upfront, it is just an Andro that is painted blue.

    I want to get this out of the way, the big difference on the MW10 is the treble response being more well...more than usual. I will call this part the hot sauce. Too much hot sauce is a bad thing, but when you need the hot sauce it will bring out excellent results. This is what the treble of the MW10 is to me. I prefer this treble presentation over the OG Andro, but on some electronic tracks it was just too much. On other tracks the treble was just wonderful to the point that "ok maybe this isn't realistic but who cares. It isn't like the Andros was a realistic IEM to begin with on tuning." I think the treble would be welcomed in some classic pieces, but I wouldn't be shocked if it will cause some listeners to cringe on some higher freq instruments. In other words on some tracks the extra hot sauce is worth it, on others it is like ugh. With that being said, I didn't find the MW10 to be mostly bright on my setups. However, I can see where the MW10 is going to suck quick on brighter/neutralist setups or amps with a lower output z.

    Mids and bass are very similar to the OG Andro. I think with the tuning adjustment here it seems the bass has more focused than usual (but not subbass, big difference). I didn't mind this at all, but it is still BA drivers doing bass and their faults are here on the MW10 with not enough air in this region. I can understand why some say MW10 has more bass than the OG Andro..... Going back to the mids, some vocals could drive me crazy on top of the treble being extended (Grace Jones), while others were just fine. The mids are mostly the same like the OG Andro: More upfront than CA other higher end IEMs with a dip in the lower mids where the treble starts to kick up in the upper mids. There is some haze, but it isn't much like the OG Andro since the treble response to me mostly gets rid of it.

    I think the main reason why MW10 was limited to Japan since I think the more treble is welcomed to a lot of pop music in that side of the world. Also, limited editions sells pretty quickly and junk. At least it is not stupid crazy like some of the other IEMs with crazy V-shaped sound and treble killing you like there is no tomorrow.

    So yeah...if you didn't like the OG Andro on its treble and weaker bass, skip the MW10. If you want more bass focused that isn't subbass focused and want more hot sauce treble, MW10 is worth a listen. I still think the OG Andro is better for the majority of people than the MW10 if I gotta be honest. Would the MW10 type tuning be popular as a perma IEM model from CA? That I dunno....but I do know that CA should take the OG Solaris sound and put it in the same shell as the Solaris 2020. That would make more people jizz in their pants.
     
  8. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I ok'd a nude audition, so this is welcome news!
     
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