Campfire Audio Cascade

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by cskippy, Mar 23, 2018.

  1. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    First off, I have to give a huge thanks to Ken for sending these to me. There will be a tour sign up for these.

    Alright, I've spent plenty of time with these headphones and there are some things to like but I think most at SBAF will think they are too bass heavy, at least in stock form. I will be honest and critical as that is the best kind of feedback. Fit and finish is excellent as is the packaging and accessories.

    Listening Impressions:
    When I first put these on I was reminded of a dance club or teens blasting music in their car with subs overpowering everything. It's fun for certain music but I felt details were lost and imaging was hurt as the bass was just overpowering the rest of the music.

    However, with the mods I settle on, they turn in to a very competent closed back headphone still with an emphasis on bass but the bass no longer masks the rest of the frequencies. If you can overlook the mid bass, timbre is excellent. Voices, instruments and ambiance is all realistically rendered. I found my EQ settings below really showcase what these headphones can do.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The headband is the only sore area both in looks and feel as I get a hot spot on my head with the way the headband is shaped. It looks like it will spread out and distribute the weight off the center point but the cup gimbals flare out so much that the head band is stretched wide and ends up touching the top of your head anyways. Pad size and shape is surprisingly large as my ears slip inside for the most part and the pads are soft enough to not cause discomfort with extended listening.

    First, stock measurements, channel matching ( a real bugger), distortion (excellent, limited on my rig, CSDs:

    ***Please keep in mind, these were incredibly hard to measure due to the easily deformed thick leather pads. I'm sure matching is potentially closer than shown below, although I tried of and on for several hours to get these matched as close as possible.***

    Driver matching:

    [​IMG]

    Left driver positional variation:

    [​IMG]

    Left driver distortion:

    [​IMG]

    Left driver CSD:

    [​IMG]

    Left driver impulse response:

    [​IMG]

    Right driver positional variation:

    [​IMG]

    Right driver distortion:

    [​IMG]

    Right driver CSD:

    [​IMG]

    Right driver impulse response:

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    A quick EQ to reduce the bass really shows off what they can do as the sound stage and imaging is hidden by the overbearing bass. I did a cut at 80Hz -8dB Q 0.7 and this did wonders to open things up while still maintaining good bass extension.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I know many, including myself prefer not to use EQ, either due to principals or because it's simply not feasible in their system. I tried a couple different mods but settled on a felt ring that slightly breaks the seal and reduces the bass just enough let the other qualities like sound stage and cohesiveness (something you are a master at, i.e. Andromeda) shine.

    First I tried this:

    [​IMG]

    This broke the seal too much which lost the bass extension. Next I tried a 1mm creatology non adhesive foam ring that would go around the edge of the driver between the driver and pad like so:

    [​IMG]

    You can see it peaking out between the cup and pad breaking the seal slightly:

    [​IMG]

    This was perfect! Brought the bass down to acceptable levels and actually smoothed out some of the treble peaks as well.
    Here is a left/right average to see the effect:

    [​IMG]

    Left driver CSD:

    [​IMG]

    Left driver modded impulse response:

    [​IMG]

    Right driver modded CSD:

    [​IMG]

    Right driver modded impulse response:

    [​IMG]

    In addition to the felt mod, I tried a couple of pads. Most didn't fit or didn't due anything worth while but the Brainwavz Leather HM5 pad (left pad in pic below) did quite well just needed some sort of baffle to bring the bass back a touch and fill in the 4kHz dip:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Out of curiosity, I removed the bottom damping piece, not advised lol!

    [​IMG]

    These drivers really have potential. No pads, driver resting against coupler:

    [​IMG]

    My gut says either perforated pads, felt inner material or a slight modification to the existing pad baffle could yield fantastic results that would please the large majority of listeners. I think we can achieve near Andromeda tuning honestly.
     
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  3. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    Here are a couple of headphone comparisons that I though might be relevant.

    ***NOTE These are compared to modded Cascade as that was my preference.***

    Denon D7200
    [​IMG]

    ZMF Eikon
    [​IMG]

    LCD 2C
    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Lyer25

    Lyer25 Old at heart, young in other places

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    So it's BASS in stock form, but really quite excellent with some relatively quick tinkering? Definitely sounds like an Andro with even more low end :p

    The pad-less driver measurements are indeed beautiful, and is pretty much the only reason I still want to demo this. Getting Andromeda tuning in a closed-back headphone (with nice build) sounds very tempting for the price. How would you say detail and imaging compares to the Fostex TH-X00or Sony Z7, or microdetailing vs the Senn HD650?

    P.S.
    Thanks for the measurements, @cskippy!
     
  5. LSW

    LSW Facebook Friend

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    Your measurements look pretty close to mine. I'll throw up this HD650 vs cascade comparo just for reference sake. Nice work as always.[​IMG]
     
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  6. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    These are tuned like Vega, not Andromeda. Even with the mod the bass is still plenty. I don't have any closed cans on hand to compare but the drivers are really quick and the housing seems to control the resonances well. They don't really have a cupped sound like the TH-X00 but there is more mid bass. The sound stage is actually very impressive for an on ear, not in your head and with decent width, it seemed a touch wider than HD650. With EQ or mods they can sound extremely balanced and clear.
     
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  7. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    How is the isolation stock vs modded? Enough to keep bus rides and public areas / restaurants manageable?
     
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  8. obsiCO

    obsiCO Thai Fish Experiment Gone Wrong

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    Thank you for the measurements and mods!

    This review from "Head Pie" (or whoeverheis) said that Cascade becomes less bassy and less bloated after 200 hours(!) of burn-in. I'm curious if that is really the case?
     
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  9. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    Isolation was excellent being on ear as they have a very good seal with the plush pads. I didn't notice a difference with the felt mod. They isolate as well as anything I've heard closed back, maybe not as good as DT770 but I haven't heard those in a looooong time.
     
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  10. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    The isolation of the DT770 was one of the few things I liked about that headphone. Gives a good frame of reference.

    Thanks!
     
  11. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    @cskippy - Hey, something just caught in my brain. You said on-ear.

    I thought these were over ear? I hate anything that touches my ears, so would this thing drive me into a homicidal rage the moment I put them on?
     
  12. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    They have small pads but your ears slip in with the back of the pads touching your head and the front of the pad slightly on ear, at least for me. Honestly, it wasn't a problem and i hate on ear headphones like the DT1350. These also don't clamp hard so there is less pressure on your ears.
     
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  13. Dr. Higgs

    Dr. Higgs Boson - Member

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    No. I wouldn't say they were particularly bloated to begin with though.
     
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  14. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Campfire Cascade impression (loaner program)

    Still not sure where to post this. If not appropriate, please move this to a proper thread.

    I have not used any Campfire products before. So it's my virgin experience for this company. haha

    Appearance/ weight / comfort

    These headphones are beautiful. More beautiful than you might see in pictures. Build quality is also top notch. IMHO sadly, cascade does not make wearers handsome. This problem is more evident on short hairs or shaved head. Look at the picture below.

    cascade3.jpg

    Got an idea? :(

    This is a kind of deal breaker for me if I am on the market. I needed intensive bravery or thick skin (or both) to use cascade for commuting or outdoor purposes. It might be just my problem of strange skull.

    With my kitchen scale, cascade weighted 368g (w/o cable) and 397g (w/ cable). Campfire claims "13.5 oz (without cable) or approximately 383 g". Hmm.. Maybe they're a bit conservative about specs.

    Comfort-wise, ear pads are great (feel very comfy, and inner space is quite large) but head bend was just meh (didn't help weight distribution much). Overall way less comfortable than Nighthawk..

    Sound

    Listening was done with:
    • Fulla 2 → Cascade (mostly)
    • ADI-2 DAC (hp out) → Cascade
    • ADI-2 DAC → Lyr 3 → Cascade
    Cascade is not very picky. You don't need super sources or super amps. Sounds quite acceptable even right out of iphone or mac book. But I recommend to use good DAPs or portable dac-amp unless you want to lose too much potentials. I personally enjoyed the combination with Fulla 2 a lot.

    In its stock form, sounds too bassy. Not only sub-bass, but also too much mid- and high- bass masked midrange. I generally classify eq-needs of headphones into three categories: 1) no eq needed (e.g. HD650) 2) eq-recommended (e.g. LCD2C) 3) eq-must (e.g. Nighthawk). Cascade is almost on "eq-must" level.

    Bassy stock FR was indeed helpful in noisy environment. There are usually quite amount of low-freq noise in commuting buses (I often measure it using noise measuring app lol). Lots of bass help me to maintain good signal-to-noise ratio without cranking up too much. (but like I said, there was appearance issue..)

    Addressing this problem is quite straightforward either via eq or via felt-mod. Thanks @cskippy for modding info!

    EQ addresses bass issue better. I still feel 5-6k is slightly off, but not very annoyingly.
    Felt-mod, on the other hand, magically refines treble (no idea why though). Bass is decently subdued except sub-bass.
    Finally I settled for the combination of felt-mod AND eq (-5dB at 120hz, Q=3 or see below).

    [​IMG]

    With these modes, cascade begins to show its capability as an all-rounder. Indeed reminded me of Nighthawk's sound when properly eqed. A bit bright and warm tonality. Moderately fast and detailed, having good timbres. Instruments and stages are rendered persuasively. While eqed NH still has much evener bass-midrange responses, cascade delineate trebles better with more elegance and refinement. I also like cascade's treble over Eikon. Sometimes sounds slightly metallic (cskippy's CSD measurements have no strange resonance pattern though) but tastefully so. Of course sounds closed.. but not as closed as I expected for small closed-back over-ear headphones. Slightly less open than Eikon.

    AFAIK Cascade used Be diaphragm, but sonic character is quite different from Utopia. Cascade behaved more like traditional metal units. Probably due to different metallurgy methods (cascade: PVD, utopia: rolled foil)?

    Conclusion

    1. I like its sound when properly calibrated.
    2. It cannot satisfy my needs (I am not a brave guy to regularly wear this outside.. + Open cans do better jobs for home uses)
    3. Rather expect any open-back or semi-open headphones that Campfire develop with this capable driver in the future.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
  15. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf Thread Judge Code-6 District

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    Does sub-bass extension feel rolled at all? I have a lot of bottom-octave heavy material and I would hope test tones are still clearly audible at 25-40 hz and don't feel dramatically shelved vs ~70hz+

    Also, those distortion measurements are pretty fantastic for a closed-back DD.

    Wonder what further modding potential there is here.
     
  16. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Sub-bass was slightly rolled off. Particularly so when compared to great open orthos such as LCD2C (I remember classic HFMs behaved very similarly in sub bass). In practice, I don't think Cascade would have any audible issues in very low notes.
     
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  17. Nordpol Anton

    Nordpol Anton Rando

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  18. LSW

    LSW Facebook Friend

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    Thank you. I bought a pair of the cloth pads to try out. If they work anything like vega tip rolling it could be great.
     
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  19. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    Please post measurements and impressions when you can. I hope these fix my minor issues with Cascade.
     
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  20. Dr. Higgs

    Dr. Higgs Boson - Member

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    I’ve got a pair of the new pads incoming as well. I don’t have any measurement gear, but should be pretty evident if they actually reduce the bass hump.
     
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