The Campfire Orion. Much is the hype with this brand when it launched back early this year, and one glance at the IEM will tell you one distinct thing about it: it looks like it is built like a tank. This must be the toughest looking IEM I have ever seen in the market (yes, even if the ADVANCED M4 is one tough IEM, the Orion does look tougher. M4 doesn’t really look tough, it is just, well, tough). The black, militaristic finish combined with the edgy look and the screws does make it look more of something in a streetfight. And the Tinsel cable, oh the Tinsel cables! The only argument here is if it can deliver.
With a price tag of $349, this thing has got to deliver. Good thing that at least we can be sure that in terms of build, it did. As mentioned earlier, the build is nothing short of something you can use as a projectile to an erstwhile snowfight if you intend to hurt someone. I mean, this is one tough thing: the shell is a solid military grade aluminum which seems perfectly carved using a CNC machine. To keep the shell together, Alo used 3 screws deliberately displayed on the face of the earpiece just probably to brag how tough and sturdy it is. The black finish was topped off by the Campfire logo.
The tips were made of bare aluminum which looks just as solid as the shell. Fitting a tip is not an issue for me, and I tried using whirlwind tips, Spinfit tips and Spiral Dot tips which all fitted fine. I however opted for a pair of Spiral Dot tips for a reason I will talk about later on. Connectors are through MMCX, of which I must say is very secure when connected to the Tinsel cables. However, I noticed the MMCX female plug to be a bit loose when I try to pry the connectors off. Not a big issue for now, but maybe one in the future if improperly tugged.
What I like most on the Orion is the cable. Alo decided to use Tinsel wires, a type of wire that allows bend radius to be much greater than the thickness of the thin foil wrapped around each strands of the wire. This reduces the probability of metal fatigue on the wire which makes the cable quite impervious from breaking. The cable also sports an anodized splitter and an acrylic cinch and is terminated with a translucent 3.5mm plug that bears the Campfire logo.
To break away from my usual BRIs in the past, I will now start to add more info on my sound test just so you, my dear readers, will have an idea on the basis of my impressions:
DAP: Onkyo DP-X1
DAC: Chord Mojo
Interconnect: Micro USB to Micro USB with SPC Cables
Now on to the tracks:
Seal (Owner Of A Lonely Heart)
One thing I noticed with the Orion is its sensitivity. While other IEMs would normally just require a volume of 100-110, Orion was driven easily by DP-X1 within 80-90 range. Even with the use of Mojo, I haven’t even gone past the red mark to drive it according to my desired volume whereas other IEMs would normally be at the yellow marker. There is also a distinction on a certain level of neutrality on the Orion that is somehow immensely satisfying in spite of the fact that there really isn’t much color on the sound. Bass seemed a bit less in terms of quantity but delivered a satisfactory quality that should sate the appetite of anyone looking for this flavor. Looking at the FR readings on the Orion, there is a plunge on the highs yet you won’t say it is absent. The tuning for the IEM is in such way that each frequencies were distinct even without the peaks.
Metallica (Hero Of The Day – S&M)
Guitars on the intro sounded immaculate but lacked a bit of crisp that I often wanted in an IEM. Drums kind of reminded me on the punch of a fully burned in ADVANCED M4 wherein the kick was bare but is present, not punchy nor pounding. What I missed her is the sound of the trumpets which is clearly evident in the Trinity Audio Vyrus with a purple filter. Imaging is quite good but soundstage is a little narrow considering using a live track.
Joss Stone (Girl They Won’t Believe It)
Keyboards definitely starred this track using the Orion apart from Joss Stone’s voice. Drums were also punchier and more resonant compared to the first two tracks. It was quite a fun track with lots of energy yet every instruments are clearly discernible. Heck, I am not much of a fan but this track was quite an amusement to listen to.
I tried to pick up on the suggestion to use foam tips on the Orion and it worked well especially in a noisy travel environment. It literally shut off the sound around me, giving me a very comfy conveyance without the hassles of blaring Manila traffic.
The Orion has to be one of the most balanced IEM I have tried. It did not rely on coloration to showcase how good it is as an IEM, it just capitalized on the raw beauty of the sound it can produce. And it did so splendidly.