Quite a few things have happened in the last couple weeks (mainly classes starting), and I’ve been sitting on a backlog of stuff I just don’t have the time to review in-depth. So here’s where I’ll just be quickly summarizing the stuff that I’ve gone through lately. I do have in-depth reviews for some of this stuff – on Headphones.com – and you can click the link to be re-directed.
Campfire Andromeda 2020 [5BA] [$1100]
I was pretty impressed by this iteration of the Andromeda. It follows something of a U-shaped frequency response.
- Anemic, BA bass. Quite quick, but struggles to produce any semblance of dynamic slam or texture.
- Fairly clean midrange with a slightly thicker note-weight to the lower-midrange.
- Treble spike that was present on the original Andromeda has been removed on this iteration. Clean, mostly smooth treble response.
Andro 2020’s technicalities are where it really shines, though. Imaging – specifically projection capability – is easily up there with the best I’ve heard. Fairly quick, snappy transients and great layering capability overall. If I had one real grip outside of the bass, it would be macro-details. The Andro 2020 just doesn’t scale macro-details very well, and there’s some compression going on. Nonetheless, the Andromeda 2020 gets a solid recommendation at the kilobuck price point.
Campfire Solaris 2020 [1DD/3BA] [$1500]
It’s not a bad IEM, not by a long shot. But it could use a good deal of work, as there’s a plethora issues here and there that ultimately impress the notion of something less than refined.
- Bass is in a really weird spot for a DD. I hear good dynamic slam, but there’s almost zero texture and it decays way too fast.
- Midrange is extremely thick. To a certain extent, it works with male vocals, but it comes off as severely bloated with female vocals. Not natural at all, and it’s god-awful listening to it.
- Treble is pretty decent to my ears. Certainly a bit more emphasis here, and it leans towards the rougher, sparkly side.
Fairly good technical capability – imaging is quite good, but I find that the overtly warm timbral coloration neuters layering capability and is somewhat distracting. My main issue here would be coherency: The textureless bass, gritty midrange, and sparkly treble produce a weird amalgamation that, in practice, sounds surprisingly decent but bugs the critic in me a good deal.
Joma Audio Trinity Brass [1DD/4BA/2EST] [$2800]
Ok, so the first thing I noticed about the Trinity is that it’s not actually made out of brass. The entire thing’s purple sans a few golden accents for the logo and nozzles. Super disappointing, I know. But seriously, you’d think they could actually make it out of brass or something given how much they’re charging. Who wouldn’t appreciate a unique, earwax patina? Jokes aside, let’s talk about the actual sound:
- Massive sub-bass emphasis with gobs of decay. Not of the highest quality though; it has a tendency to bleed into the midrange pretty badly and the attack is sluggish.
- The midrange is pretty nice. I don’t think the transients are the sharpest – far from it, in fact – but it’s quite natural, and there’s a slight lift to the FR which appeals to my upper-midrange tastes.
- Like most EST setups, it rolls of in the upper-registers; there’s a general lack of air.
When it comes to technicalities, the Trinity is decent. There’s a very warm coloration to the timbre that I find attenuates pure resolution and imaging capability. If it suffers from BA timbre or coherency issues, it’s difficult for me to tell because of this. Everything’s just a little too smoothed for my preferences. It’s quite the inoffensive IEM, though, and hard-to-fault. I like it. As for whether I think it’s worth it, well, that’s another matter entirely.
Vision Ears EVE20 [6BA] [$1300]
Signed up for the tour a while ago and totally forgot about it (no picture either because that’s just how forgettable this IEM is, sorry). It does sound vaguely reminiscent of the VE8. I didn’t really care for the VE8’s tonality albeit it being admittedly solid, so yeah, I’m not exactly vibing with the EVE20 either.
- The first thing that strikes me as different is the bass. It’s still virtually textureless, but there’s some more sub-bass emphasis and actual decay that the VE8 sorely lacked. That’s a welcome change for sure.
- Their midranges sound close to identical from my memory of VE8, maybe more recessed positionally with the EVE20. Both play better with male vocals, and I hear more sibilance to the EVE20.
- But treble – what happened to the treble? If the VE8 was lacking extension, the EVE20 sounds even more rolled-off; it has a very smoothed, far-too-subtle quality to it.
Technical capability is where the EVE20 really leaves something to be desired. VE8 had the same treble roll-off and ridiculously warm tonality, but it was still quite resolving – enough to play with some of the best. Conversely, I’m hearing that dreaded, low-fi “haze” to the EVE20’s timbre, and pure resolution/detail retrieval is lacking; not at all what I would expect from something at this price point.
For better or worse, Vision Ears is very consistent. Nothing I’ve heard from them has “wowed” me, but I also struggle to critique their stuff. All of their IEMs are fairly safe, well-tuned, and they’d be easy recommendations if it weren’t for the price. And really, that’s my biggest gripe – sans this thing being one of the most boring IEMs I’ve heard. I’m just not seeing a value proposition here, especially when there’s stuff in the sub-$300 bracket playing ball with the EVE20.