Campfire Audio Andromeda Review: Holy Cow, This is a Dream, Awesomesauce!

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by purr1n, May 13, 2016.

  1. Grahad2

    Grahad2 Red eyes from too much anime

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    IMO, you might like the WM1A.

    Neutral signature: ZX2 with Sound Adjustment off
    Warmer signature: WM1A
    Warmest signature: WM1Z
    Warm but slightly weird: Stock ZX2

    Mojo is even more warm so don't take warmest as a negative, just relative between the 3 Sonys.
     
  2. Cellist88

    Cellist88 Friend

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    i actually find the zx2 more syrupy and lacking air and transparency compared to the wm1 models. Perhaps what marvey meant but the "organic" sound. Imo WM1A and WM1Z are improvements when using the balanced connection. Also the hiss is far less. So ZX2> WM1A single-ended > WM1A balanced in hiss. I can't go back to the SE side of the WM1A for the andros because the increase in hiss is very apparent. I also listen at very low volumes....almost max is 12 steps out of 120 steps so hiss becomes more apparent. From what I remember of the ZX2,..i heard it cover about 1/3 to half the listening spectrum. Loved it but that was a deal breaker. Also the difference between the two players is very apparent when plugging them into studio monitors for playback. The ZX2 sounded significantly worse than the mojo when tested with my eve audio studio monitors.
     
  3. mscott58

    mscott58 Friend

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    Big CA user here (although Vega versus Andro) and have no end of love for my NW-WM1Z. Also own a 1A, but there's just something about that 1Z sound. Would only consider recommending it given your high-ish budget range. It's not for everyone, but it rocks. Cheers
     
  4. Cellist88

    Cellist88 Friend

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    i still to this day am tempted to upgrade to the wm1z, but ...that upgrade money can be used to get a Yggdrasil Lol
     
  5. EndGameSearch

    EndGameSearch Rando

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    I appreciate the feedback and welcome other opinions. Are IEM's just a totally different game than full size over the ear headphones? Meaning, with headphones there are countless combinations of AMPS and DACS to change the sound but everyone here seems to lean towards DAPs. I get that these IEM's require very little power but is that the main difference? I would think a DAP for all around convience but if sound quality is the number one goal than you could possibly get better sound going a different route. Not to answer my own question, but is the thought process that an IEM will hit it's full potential without the need for a DAC that cost thousands of dollars vs a full size headphone that scales with equipment.
     
  6. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Yeah, I'd pretty much echo this. Of the things that I find "good" with Andro... (please take the following with a grain of salt, I didn't spend too much time with 1A or 1Z, but I did compare them directly to AK120)

    Bass ranking:
    ZX2 w/ Sound Adjustment off
    1Z stock
    1A stock
    ZX2 stock
    AK120
    iPhone 6+

    Midrange ranking:
    AK120
    ZX2 w/ Sound Adjustment off
    1Z
    1A
    ZX2 stock
    iPhone 6+

    Treble ranking:
    ZX2 w/ Sound Adjustment off
    1A
    ZX2 stock
    1Z
    AK120
    iPhone 6+

    Tonal balance for me goes like... (from dark/warm to bright)
    1Z = total syrup warm but not too messy
    ZX2 stock = somewhat WTF but not that bad, probably treble too sharp?
    AK120 = nice and warm, not a lot of bass so it kind of tends towards a more warm/neutral sound, kind of midrange-focused
    1A = brighter than stock ZX2 by a bit if we go from that it's brighter than AK120
    ZX2 w/ Sound Adjustment off = mostly just bassy, slightly warm, tending toward HD650 + good tube amp, treble right at the edge of what I'd consider "okay"
    iPhone 6+ = dead neutral, "just right" but sibilant as 'uck to me.

    I've heard 1A and 1Z can also have Sound Adjustment turned off but I really have to hear them in that form first considering how good ZX2 with Sound Adjustment off really is. But quick demo at the last tradeshow left me wanting a stock 1A more so than 1Z considering 1A was already a bit too warm for me.

    I'm only recommending ZX2 due to me knowing more about it than
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2017
  7. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    It's not that.

    The answer is plain and simple: there exists currently no desktop solution that has a clean enough noise floor for Andro. I think I have tried most of the usual suspects (except for Chord Hugo 2?), and none of them even comes close to the iPhone 6+ in noise floor, which is actually still worse than some other DAPs with much cleaner noise floor. If there was a half decent desktop solution that just barely matches ZX2, then I'd buy that in a heartbeat.

    And yes, I've also tried IEMatch (report some pages back?) and found it to "deaden" far too much detail. It's a good solution for noise floor but it doesn't quite let Andro sound the way they do out of a good DAP.

    Also it's not true that desktop DAC/amps will always be better. The whole answer to that will probably require a whole different discussion, but the TL;DR version is: different use cases for different things. You already answered your own question: Andro just uses too little power, so driving it will require different considerations other than just "more gain, more power" like with desktop setups.
     
  8. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Have not heard 1A, but otherwise I'm with @Bill-P on his rankings for everything else. Keep in mind it's a matter of synergies. The 1Z was definitely a better DAP than the ZX2, but ZX2 (sound process off) has certain synergies with the Andromeda. Also I found the x2 extra weight and form factor of the 1Z undesirable.

    @EndGameSearch: it's more about synergy and your personal preferences rather than cutting to the chase for the best.

    I happen to like the organic sound of the Sony DAPs, for better or worse, especially for with the BA drivers of the Andro.

    The CHORD DACs below the DAVE all seem to exhibit a prickly timbre in the highs, especially from laptop USB ports. This bothers me slightly, annoys the heck out of some others here, and doesn't seem to bother anyone at HF.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2017
  9. Grahad2

    Grahad2 Red eyes from too much anime

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    Did you turn sound adjustment off on the ZX2? I didn't like the stock ZX2 at all - slow in the bass, lacking some air and having some strange meatiness in the sound that sounded disjointed - but it is a different DAP entirely with the sound adjustment off.

    WM1A and WM1Z is a lot easier to set up, Sony has a direct mode or something straight in the settings (can't remember the exact spelling) to bypass.

    Desktop wise there is only 1 set up I've actually liked with the Andro's, but I'm not very sensitive to hiss, so that's probably a contributing factor.
     
  10. EndGameSearch

    EndGameSearch Rando

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    I appreciate the feedback. The WM1A sounds like it could be the answer. I will likely still test out the Chord Hugo 2 just because I really WANT that solution to work based on the reviews I've read but it's impedence is close to zero so I won't hold my breath.

    Does anyone have a recomendation of a balanced cable or adapter for the Andro's? My HD800s came with a balanced cable but I do not have any experience with anything other than SE.

    As a side note, the pairing with the Woo WA8 is fantastic. Maybe I just got lucky there but they sound perfect together to my ears.
     
  11. EndGameSearch

    EndGameSearch Rando

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    I just realized the WM1A is not Android based or Wifi enabled. Deal killer with my dependency on Tidal.
     
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    I'd give the Hugo 2 a try. I rather liked the Andromeda with the CHORD Mojo. I ended up using the dedicated USB port (bus not shared with other USB ports and separate driver) on an older Sony VAIO laptop for best results. Still thought ZX2 was better.

    It's hard for us to give you solid advice without knowing your preferences or having reference points.

    The semi-portable AIO market is kind of a mess. Nothing really spectacular. I'd also consider the iFi iDSD Micro BL. Don't get hung up on price or marketing. Give the Schiit Fulla 2 a shot too, especially if you don't mind using external USB power from a smartphone charger.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2017
  13. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Andros with the ZX2 beat out many desktop systems I've heard. I think people just assume a desktop amp and DAC must be better because moar power. I don't even have a proper desktop system right now because the Andros are so good and don't require a desktop level amp.
     
  14. deafdoorknob

    deafdoorknob Almost "Made"

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    for those who may not wish to change their existing DAP or phones, having trouble with hiss but unhappy with iemmatch. Cypher Labs' Picollo portable amp has a -12db attenuation mode (same goes for the discontinued ALO national +), fully discrete (op amp free) and relatively transparent tonality. the zo is <1 but it's not a bass heavy sound and it lasts for 20 hours between charges.
     
  15. Muse Wanderer

    Muse Wanderer Friend

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    I am still searching for a DAP or portable amp/DAC that matches well with the Andros. My priority is a neutral sound signature with classical music I mostly listen to. My current reference, pending speakers arrival, is the Yggdrasil-Rag-Utopia. I aim for life-like orchestral music I am used to listen to in the live setting.

    I found my tonal preference with the Samsung Galaxy S5 despite poor technicalities with respect to treble sibilance (subdued with Comply with wax guard), poor resolution, imaging and staging.

    The Yggdrasil - Ragnarok (SE end with 3.3ohm OI) creates a perfectly neutral sound signature. It is hissy mind you, despite using it on lowest gain, but there is quite a bit of volume pot control. The Utopias take preference with this setup though as expected. @Serious measured my Andros via his Ragnarok SE and the FR curve matches the UERM via low ohm OI remarkable well.

    I tried various DAPs and DAC-Amps at shows this past year but none impressed me.

    So I was in a stange situation of preferring my phone to other sources I tried. I never heard the ZX2 but held out from buying it since the WM1A came out. After listening to various accounts of its sound, I purchased it this March and lived with it till now. The first impression in the first 15 seconds was exactly right... DARK sounding! Warm bass that the deeper it goes the louder it is! It is still smooth and does not bleed much into mids, but takes over the sound. This was especially apparent in baroque music such as Bach's cantatas, (e.g. BWV 8) were the basso continuo is omni present. The basso underpins the whole music, as typical in baroque, but should not take over the other voices such as the flute in Bachs BWV 8 piece.

    After a while, I got used to the WM1A sound signature, as always happens with new purchased equipment. I did not try the balanced out but felt that the high gain setting and direct sound ON helped with the sound. Direct sound should not impart a change in sound but I doubt whether it is as effective as the ZX2 with all the sound processes off. The WM1A is really resolving and the imaging, staging and clarity are outstanding. There is less hiss than my phone and Rag. Technicalities are not at par as the Yggdrasil-Rag but very comfortable music. However I don't want easy going, comfortable music. When I put on the Utopias, I get caught up by the neutral sound signature with the full energy and force of the musical piece. My S5 also presents a better 'LIFTED' tonality that is more ALIVE than the WM1A.

    So after 4 months I came to realise that the WM1A is not for me. It does not present music realistically, being too organic and dark. It feels like I am sitting next to the double bass and cello section with the violins and high winds subdued. So I am back to step one, Andros paired with the S5, and will probably stay like this for a while. I will probably move to an as yet unheard ZX2 at some point, but at the moment I don't feel like taking another risk.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
  16. Cellist88

    Cellist88 Friend

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    Grahad, I tried the ZX2 in the all different types of settings, including a pseudo sound adjustment setting. The Clarity on the single ended of the wm1a should not be compared with the balanced. I can understand muse wanderer's impressions if they were done with the stock cable without the grounded TRRS. THe high gain setting makes things much more upfront, and bassy, and takes away air. I find myself switching from low-gain to hi-gain a lot depending on the track. The improvement of clarity from unbalanced to balanced is bigger than the difference of the SE to Bal on GO v2+. I would give balanced a try. I know balanced isn't always better but in this case I would not judge it from just the SE alone.
     
  17. Muse Wanderer

    Muse Wanderer Friend

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    I tried both Hi and Lo gain and the difference was subtle. The elevated bass compared to mids was apparent on both. Treble was very controlled to the point of not being much exciting but very pleasing. I considered getting a balanced 4.4mm cable and contacted Ken about this. However the price was spiralling up with a new cable. Furthermore, considering that the balanced out has a similar 0.9 OI to the unbalanced out, I thought that the tonality of the Andro may not change much and did not want to risk it.

    Does the WM1A have a more neutral sound signature on unbalanced? Have you heard Andros from SE out of a Ragnarok? Clarity of WM1A is great, I understand, but my concern is tonality rather than absolute clarity. Nevertheless, non-linear tonality would cause linear distorsion impacting on clarity of mids. The lifting of the mids on Ragnarok and S5 is so obvious, it is ridiculous how the sound is night and day different.

    Apart from different preferences which may not be similar between listeners, the Andros have a chamaleonic nature that changes 'colour' between sources, it drives me crazy! The best option is to try out a source before purchase irrespective of anyone's opinion. Adding a source such as the ZX2 to a loaner would really help us, Andro-loving SBAFers.
     
  18. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    Do tell. Inquiring minds want to know.
    I really enjoy the Andros out of my micro iDSD (silver) with iEMatch on High and power on Normal (software volume required on my Note 3 source to get to useful pot range on the iDSD). I don't notice any "deadening" from iEMatch that others are bothered by (I use a prototype pigtail with my iDAC2 as well), but that may just be the tonal shift distracting me from noticing it.

    I haven't heard the wunderbar hi-end Sony DAPs with the Andros, but I just got an el cheapo NW-A35 (impressions w/ Andros by @Griffon here) in preparation for an MUC-M2BT1. Compared to the iDSD, vocals seem a bit more forward, highs possibly less etchy, stage is a bit wider, and bass a bit bloomier with less extension. Not really sure if it's just me imagining the differences in the bass. The A35 seems to have a bit more mid-bass but with less punch, and less sub-bass. But then I switch back to the iFi and I'm not sure.
     
  19. Grahad2

    Grahad2 Red eyes from too much anime

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    It was a somewhat chinese looking combo unit with Soekris DAM1021 feeding a Lehmann buffer. A friend had it around when I was over at his place, was pretty special with the Andro but sounded not so nice with my MG6pros (these love low impedance for control down low so the ~5 OI didn't work well with them) so I wasn't that interested. I think it's the Vinshine (like the one that uncola had).
     
  20. Spl4tt

    Spl4tt Rando

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    How did you root your ZX2? I'm searching for a method since I have it.
    There isn't even twrp for it
     

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