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In Berlin: Campfire Audio Orbit

  • When it comes to reputation, Campfire Audio’s sat solidly in the wired IEM camp; until last December’s announcement of Orbit, the Portland company’s first true wireless IEM. Would they send me a pair? Yep. But how to review them?

    Our first port of call might be the website spec sheet where we learn of Orbit’s matte ABS plastic body that’s been tipped with a stainless steel spout and houses a 1cm ‘liquid crystal polymer’ dynamic driver. We might also take note of Orbit’s support for AAC and aptX Bluetooth codecs and its impressive 8.5-hour runtime between charges. An additional 20 hours can be pulled from the carry case that’s been made from the same matte-finished ABS plastic: its lime-green interior isn’t aimed at those not keeping pace with modern design trends and who might prefer the USB-C recharge socket over the Qi wireless charging smarts. Gym users might take note of Orbit’s IPX5 water resistance rating. But there’s something missing…

    If we want our review to hold water, we should avoid faux-comparative sign-offs. “Competes with rivals two or three times the price” serves only a manufacturer’s pull-quote-hungry marketing department and leaves the reader (or viewer) in the dark about the exact nature of those rivals. If we are going to claim that a product “competes well beyond its price point”, we should underpin that conclusion with exemplification.

    Specifics in place, if we want our A/B comparisons to hold weight, we should avoid those that lean on long-term audio memory. Only the really big stuff sticks once a rival product has gone back to the manufacturer e.g an exaggerated bass or a much brighter treble. Everything else must be wrangled from side-by-side comparisons where the reviewer is in possession of product A and product B at the same time. That’s especially true if those comparisons are to turn up reliable intel for would-be cross-shoppers.

    To what should I compare Campfire’s Orbit?

    I still own the Apple AirPods Pro 2 and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 but doing the A/B and A/C would only be half helpful. Those are mass-market-focussed TW IEMs. For that target market, the Campfire Orbit’s absence of active noise cancellation would likely be a deal breaker. Besides, not even the Sennheiser can pull up alongside the Apple in turning a major outside din into a minor drone or hiss. The Orbit arrive from the left field with a stronger focus on sound quality than on everyday niceties.

    And it’s from the leftfield that I purchased two other lesser-known TW IEMs: one less costly than the Orbit’s US$249 asking and one more expensive. And digging into these three units has given each one some airtime. In other words, I will be sacrificing some depth on Orbit’s in order to gain some breadth and context. Hello, whataboutery!

    I have tested the three leftfield TW IEMs at home, in the street and on a plane. I have considered each model’s comfort, feature set, accompanying app, phone call quality, sound quality with music playback before asking “Who is this for?“. Along the way, I will also be asking and answering: can a true wireless IEM with no active noise cancellation compete with rivals that do?

    That review-overview video will land in two weeks. Before then – and the reason for this post – I wanted to show you the elaborate nature of Campfire Audio’s environmentally-friendly packaging with a quick unboxing video.

    Further information: Campfire Audio

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

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