Campfire Audio Fathom

The Campfire Audio Fathom is the newest release from the American IEM legend. It uses 6 balanced-armature drivers and it's priced at $1049.

Introduction to the Campfire Audio Fathom Review

 

Campfire Audio is one of those companies that have been featured on Ear Fidelity the most throughout the years. Because of that, I believe that this company doesn’t need any introduction in this review. Let me just focus on the most essential aspects here.

Campfire Audio was founded in 2015 by Ken Ball. They gained enormous recognition ever since releasing their legendary Andromeda. Since then, the Andromeda and their Solaris both have been released in multiple versions. 

Last year they released an Andromeda Emerald Sea and Solaris Stellar Horizon, both of which have been reviewed at Ear Fidelity in 2023. Not long ago they also presented the Orbit, which is their first TWS release to date. 

Today we’re taking a look at the newest model, the Fathom. It continues the design language that is present in the Andromeda Emerald Sea, at least when it comes to the shape and materials used.

It is promised to be a neutral, reference-like tuned IEM that will please audiophiles, giving them great technical performance and universal tuning. Let’s dive right into it and see if this new release should be on your buying list.

Packaging

Set that comes with Campfire Audio Fathom

I received the Campfire Audio Fathom weeks before the official announcement, and I got just the IEMs with accessories. This means that I don’t have the original box in my hand, so I cannot give you my impressions on the unboxing experience in this review.

I did get all the accessories though, so I can definitely give you my 2 cents about those. 

First of all, you’ll get two Time Stream Cables – terminated to 3.5mm and 4.4mm. Gone is a 2.5mm cable included in the box, and this is a good move, As I stated in my Solaris Stellar Horizon review, this is such a niche termination nowadays, that there’s no point in including it and increasing the price of the product.

Apart from the cables, you’ll get two cases. The main case is a Handmade Leather ‘Dimensional Folding’ Case. It’s definitely a quality addition, but again – this case is not really functional. I’d much rather have a hard case that most manufacturers use. It protects your IEMs a lot more. The leather folding case of the Fathom is enough to store your IEMs in when you’re at home, but I wouldn’t trust it when tossing it into a backpack or a suitcase. Because of that, even though it’s a good quality accessory, I don’t see it serving the purpose it’s supposed to.

Another case is a mesh-type case with a zipper, that you can actually wear like a shoulder bag. It’s semi-transparent though, and the protective aspect is rather poor. Again, a cool, well-made piece of accessory that I don’t really see a purpose for. Companies like Fir Audio include high-quality, leather cases that are very protective and you don’t have to worry about your IEMs after tossing them into your bag. I wish Campfire Audio went with a more functional approach with their accessories. 

Lastly, you’ll be getting both silicone and foam eartips. A lot of people enjoy Campfire Audio foam tips, so it’s nice that they continue to provide them with their IEMs. As usual, though, I’m using those with Comply foam tips, which have been my favorite for many, many years now.

Design, Build and Comfort

Reviewed Campfire Audio Fathom shares the shape and overall design language with the newest Andromeda, the Emerald Sea. It’s made of machined aluminum shells that are anodized in black. The surface is completely smooth to the touch, and all the edges are machined to perfection. 

This is one of those things that have been criticized in the previous versions of the Andromeda. People usually complained about the edges being a bit on the sharp side, resulting in somewhat mediocre comfort. The new shell that is present in the Fathom is much more comfortable and forgiving. These IEMs fit me perfectly, and I’m easily able to listen to them for hours with no fatigue whatsoever. The Fathom is also rather lightweight, which further improves the comfort. 

Another comfortable aspect of the tested Campfire Audio Fathom is the Time Stream cable. It is a flat-design cable that is very comfortable and doesn’t get in the way. As always, the cables are terminated in MMCX, which is my favorite type of connector for an IEM. Additionally, Campfire Audio has been using the best MMCX sockets and plugs in the business for years now, and I never ever had a single problem with those. 

Another thing is the design. The Campfire Audio Fathom is an interesting case, as it’s mainly black, but it has those rainbow PVD fasteners that add depth and uniqueness to the entire deisng of the IEM. They do have that purple tint to them, and they look truly stunning in daylight. I really like this approach, as the Fathom looks stealthy and minimalistic at first, but it has those accents that make it more interesting to the eye. 

Overall, Campfire Audio has proven throughout the years that its IEMs are beautifully crafted and very durable. It’s the same with the newest Fathom, which is a very good thing in my opinion. 

Tech

Closeup on reviewed Campfire Audio Fathom

Campfire Audio is one of those companies that don’t seem to follow trends within the IEMs market. We have had Bone Conductor and EST drivers for years now, but Campfire Audio only offers Dynamic and Armature drivers. 

The newest Fathom uses 6 custom-made BA drivers per site, which is 1 more than their legendary Andromeda. Balanced armatures don’t usually have the impact and thickness of a good dynamic driver, not even mention Bone Conduction technology. At the same time, It’s been proven many times that with good tuning, a BA-only setup is just as competitive as all those crazy driver configurations. 

At the end of the day, it’s the sound that matters, not what makes it. Campfire Audio seems to really understand this. 

The Time Stream cable features 8 silver-plated copper conductors in a ribbon configuration. It is a very good stock cable, both comfortable and good sounding. I don’t believe you’ll need an upgrade anytime soon when you pull the trigger here.

Sound of the reviewed Campfire Audio Fathom

Reviewed Campfire Audio Fathom is said to provide a “detailed presentation with just the right touch of mid-band warmth that elevates vocal performance and offers a glowing musical experience.”. This is actually a very correct summary of how this IEM sounds.

I would describe tested CFA Fathom as a combination of warm-bright. It gives you a very nice weight to the music, especially in the midrange, and the treble is sparkly and highly detailed. Let’s get right into our usual style, and describe every aspect separately.

The bass is impressive, especially for an all-BA IEM. It has a good attack, it’s firm, well-controlled and it’s never lacking. I’d go as far as saying that this is probably the most impressive bass from a BA-only IEM that I’ve heard in a long time. I like my bass thick, and while it’s nothing compared to the GOATs like Fir Audio Krypton 5, this is a very nice combination of technicalities and pure pleasure in this department. 

This kind of bass works with basically all music genres. Tech Noir by Gunship has a good bass presence, but it’s a fast and snappy bass response, and the Fathom delivers just that. Some classic rock records like the legendary The Wall by Pink Floyd are not built around the bass, but they surely need it to shine. Reviewed Campfire Audio Fathom offers a fast and firm bass response that has great detail retrieval, which just suits this kind of music perfectly as well. 

This is definitely not your typical basshead IEM though. It’s still BA, so the bass is not huge and insanely impactful, but at the same time, it’s very satisfying, especially in this price range. This is a fantastic IEM if you’re really into kick drums, as these sound spectacular on the Fathom. Physical, fast, controlled, with just the round amount of body and presence. I didn’t expect this level of bass performance from a Balanced Armature only IEM. Nice.

The midrange is tilting towards warmth, it’s smooth and rather delicate. This gives you an intimate and emotional approach to vocals. It goes well with a fast and tactile bass and sparkly treble, creating a sort of balance that compliments the rest of the frequency response.

If you’ve been reading my reviews for a while, you probably know that I’m an absolute SUCKER for this kind of midrange presentation. I like my midrange smooth, thick, and romantic. This is the reason why I loved the Solaris 2020 so much. Campfire Audio Fathom is not as beautiful in the midrange as the Solaris 2020, but it also has great qualities, just not to such an extent. 

The overall midrange presentation is rather soft and warm, so keep that in mind if that’s not your preference. Take note though that this character doesn’t influence the technical aspects of the sound, as the midrange here is detailed and has a very good resolution as well. Don’t expect a slow and dull sound, as it’s definitely not it. 

The treble is quite sparkly and detail-oriented. It is not the brighter side so expect a lot of air and information in your music while listening to the Fathom. For me personally, it goes a little bit too much on very rare occasions, but I’m highly sensitive to it, so you probably shouldn’t worry.

It actually goes well with the rest of the frequency response. It adds that touch of excitement that compliments a rather soft midrange perfectly. Because of that, the reviewed Campfire Audio Fathom certainly entertains a lot, and it’s definitely not a boring IEM. 

When listening to the Crystalline by Midnight, the saxophone sounds incredibly forward and its timbre is absolutely spot-on. Well, this song is an absolute banger, no matter what are you listening to it on, but the Fathom really does a great job at making it even better.

The soundstage is wide and deep and it offers a good separation. The imaging is very accurate and the staging has that feeling of openness, which further elevates that focus on entertaining yet technical sound performance.

The size of the soundstage is not enormous, but I would definitely call it a natural size. It does the job with every music genre, but don’t expect something out of this world. The soundstage is very good – everything you should expect from an IEM from this price bracket. 


This comparison isn’t entirely fair, as the Solaris Stellar Horizon is way pricier, but let’s do it anyway. They definitely serve a different purpose, and both are targetted towards different types of audiophiles.

The Solaris is much more neutral, and open-sounding and it has a more impactful bass after all. It will appeal more to a universal approach type of people who value a neutral tone and an absolute focus on the technical aspects of the sound.

The Fathom on the other hand is more relaxed in the midrange and brighter on top, which makes it a more entertaining type of listen that is focused more on being unique than to always be as accurate as possible. 

Because of all of this, the Solaris Stellar Horizon is also a better IEM when it comes to detail, resolution, and the overall speed of the sound. No wonder, since it costs more than 2 times more, but it’s not always the case obviously. 

To sum it up as easily as possible – go for the Solaris Stellar Horizon if you’re after a neutral, highly detailed type of presentation, and obviously if you can afford it. If you’re more into a unique type of sound that focuses more on emotions, the Fathom is a wonderful alternative for a fraction of the price. 

Campfire Audio Supermoon

This is somewhat of a similar story to the first comparison but to an even greater extent. The Supermoon is a hyper-detailed oriented IEM that has basically zero warmth to it. It’s all about that detail, fast transients, and unlimited resolution.

The biggest difference is that I’m sure the Supermoon will be too much for many people, while the Fathom is very easy to enjoy and like. I personally enjoy the Fathom a lot more, as it’s more of my type of sound, and it’s not as unforgiving as the Supermoon.

However, if you’re a detail-chaser and all you care about is a fast, neutral sound, the Supermoon is very hard to beat in its price category. If you tried it and it was too much for you, the Fathom might actually be the answer. It’s more forgiving, more universal, has that nice smoothness to the midrange, and a nice, impactful bass.

Pick your poison I suppose. They’re too different to call one superior here. 

Campfire Audio Bonneville

Now we have two IEMs that are focused on sounding engaging. The Bonneville though is a rather dark and dynamic sounding IEM with fantastic bass response. On the other hand, the reviewed Campfire Audio Fathom is brighter, not as dynamic, and offers a more chill midrange performance.

The Bonneville is a more extreme-sounding IEM of the two, it’s not even a contest. It has that ability to take you dancing and forget about the world. The Fathom on the other hand is more like a soothing, warm blanket on a winter evening, with a little bit of spice to make things a little bit more exciting. 

I really like the approach of Campfire Audio with their latest releases – each offers a significant set of strengths that just go incredibly well with different things. 

Unique Melody MEXT

Those two are vastly different from each other, each having a completely different type of approach to the sound.

Before that, however, I would like to focus on the build quality first. While the MEXT is built well and very comfortable, the sheer quality of the Fathom is just way higher, no questions asked.

When it comes to sound, the MEXT is a very thick, bassy type of animal. The Fathom is way more natural and effortless sounding, also being significantly more universal when it comes to music and equipment pairing.

I would also give a technical edge to the Fathom, as it provides better detail retrieval and a more airy presentation, not being as condensed as the MEXT.

However, if you like your sound very powerful, thick, and loaded with bass, the MEXT might be the better choice for you, regardless of its compromises.

Campfire Audio Fathom – summary

The Campfire Audio Fathom is a spiritual successor to the pre-ES Andromeda. It is now the most universal offering from the brand.

Considering its beautiful design and build quality, married with a sound that is engaging yet polished and easy to listen to, the Fathom has everything it takes to become the new bestseller from CFA.

The price surprised me in a very good way, as I do believe the Fathom is very reasonably priced, considering its level of performance and craftsmanship. It’s really hard not to recommend these. Good job Campfire Audio!

Big thanks to Campfire Audio for providing us with the Fathom for this review. I wasn’t paid or asked to say anything good or bad about this product, all of the above is just my personal, unbiased opinion.