In this section, I'll try to give a bit of a picture of what the comparison between the different acoustic dampeners presents as in listening. With all of them, there is a slight bass tilt to the headphones, but with none of them does the bass ever overpower or cloud out the mids. That bass tilt increases fairly noticeably as you step down in pore size, and with the 7μm filter in place, I think that these could at least satisfy the wants of a basshead, although there are those that would still be looking for more.
Detail across all ranges is very good, with almost every small detail with which I've become so acquainted in my test track set coming across with good fidelity and faith to source. Although the soundstage is comparatively small (to most open-back headphones that I've heard), imaging and separation are extremely good. Every track within the mix comes through as distinct and separate, even in extremely busy tracks (see: most of Animals as Leaders discography, as well as much of Snarky Puppy). Something that these headphones do especially well is handling of texture - these headphones presented among the most pleasant rendition of Yosi Horikawa's Wandering EP that I've yet heard.
Leakage is minimal, given the fully closed-back design, and isolation is pretty good. These don't match the likes of any noice-cancelling over-ear, but they certainly do well enough to combat the noise of a busy room.
Something that I'd like to touch on here is that these headphones sounded great off of every source that I ran them through. They sound almost 100% as good out of my Pixel's headphone jack as they do out of Neurochrome's $1299 HP-1. This was great for me, since, when coupled with their relatively high portability, I was able to use them on-the-go just as easily as I was as dedicated, desk headphones.
Note: the remainder of the sound portion is conducted with the 10μm pore size acoustic dampener on the earpads.
Songs used: Three Ralphs by DJ Shadow, I Never Woke Up in Handcuffs Before by Hans Zimmer, and The Way It Was by Coast Modern
These headphones do bass very well. Although they don't quite match the likes of some very good ortho or biodynamics, they get very close. The first mental note I made was actually that I no longer felt as bad about having sold my personal pair of Fostex's TH-900 Mk II, since these get damn close to matching the sheer thump and force that I got out of those headphones.
In terms of more granular description, with the 10μm filters in place, the bass has very good slam and impact, without losing detail. Although they hammered their way through, "Three Ralphs," showing off some very good sub-bass extension, they don't lose their pace in a faster, more demanding track, like, "I Never Woke Up in Handcuffs Before". As mentioned above, texture generally is very good, and this range is no exception. Because of their speed, these headphones are very good at conveying the subtle and small variances that make a side-chained sawtooth synth so satisfying as a driving bassline.
Key descriptors: detailed, powerful, and controlled
Songs used: From Darkness by Avishai Cohen Trio, Tadow by FKJ & Masego, and Nocturne (Live) by Julian Lage
The mids are actually the highlight of these headphones for me. They remain detailed enough to find almost every subtlety of the recordings that I know best, but have just the right amount of lushness and flow to them to keep them engaging and pleasant to hear. Vocals of both genders come across as natural, with good detail and clarity. Instrumental lines are well controlled, allowing for good fidelity to source, and an overall sense of pervasive realism in the listening experience. The staging comes through in this range particularly, with instruments and vocals forming an intimate, but very clear picture of where everything was intended to be.
Key descriptors: natural, accurate, and engaging
Songs used: Ageispolis by Aphex Twin, Whammy by Death Grips, and Helix by Flume
This range serves as a great compliment to the former two. Extension is very good, with almost no peakiness to speak of. All of the detail sensitivity that I refer to above is supported by the quality of this range. I experienced almost no sibilance in my time with these - although these may be my overall favorite pair of headphones, they haven't dethroned the Kaiser Encore as one of few to get a zero-flaw mark in the treble. Cymbals have very good fidelity, with every element of the attack and decay of all types coming through clearly and accurately. Apologies for this always being one of my metrics for this range, but as I've said before, I've usually found it representative of a certain sense of fidelity for a headphone, and it is in this case. Plus, it doesn't hurt that I've got a lot of live exposure to them.
Key descriptors: extended, detailed, and poignant
I don't exactly know how to approach this wrap-up section for these headphones. I will admit that my opinion has been somewhat flavored with time, but I feel that the above qualifications of the headphones are accurate to my experience and representative of what motivates my opinion. These truly are a wonderful pair of headphones, and an incredibly impressive first shot at over-ear headphones for a company that has never approached that market before.
Campfire Audio has delivered an extremely competent headphone that is anything but boring. The inclusion of four swappable acoustic dampeners still boggles my mind a little bit, as that acoustic design element is anything but simple. The price point is high, but for that price, Campfire Audio delivers supremely good build quality, with no exposed actuation points, and nothing but the highest-quality materials available. Everything, from the cable to the case to the headphones themselves, screams quality. If what I described above seems like the sound signature, form-factor, and implementation for you, these should be at the top of your list.
Having had these headphones on my head for the past month or so, I could not be more excited to see what Campfire Audio has in store next - maybe an open-back? I can't say, but if they apply the brain and design power that it's clear they have in spades, I'm sure whatever comes next will be everything but anything bad.
These headphones were provided to me by Campfire Audio. I am not being paid by anyone to write this review, to endorse the product reviewed, or for the content that I put in the review.
These headphones were powered by an Astell&Kern AK Junior, a Google Pixel, a Neurochrome HP-1, and by whatever soundcard is in the motherboard of my computer.
I have had these headphones for about a month, and I have put about 60 hours of analytical listening through them during that period.
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