Campfire Audio Nova. What is all the buzz about? On Head-fi.org the Campfire Audio thread dedicated to the Andromeda and Nova models are all abuzz with the sweet expectation of how the new model could sound. Tie that in with 200 units recently up for grabs on Massdrop and a pre-order at a decent price on the Campfire Audio website and the IEM community goes into a blind feeding frenzy.
I was fortunate enough through circumstance to receive an early unit of the Nova and have attempted on head-fi.org to give initial impressions which were predictably garbled to an extent, although in my defense I think I painted enough of picture of what the Nova would sound like to help those in their purchasing decisions.
Common sense told me to hold off for a proper full review but my public awaited! And being the gentleman I am, I half delivered.
On with the show.
*Build, packaging and fit is the same across Campfire Audio products so excuse me If I borrow from earlier reviews for those sections.
Build, quality and shape is virtually identical across the board with Campfire Audio products.
The Nova as you can see in the photos is machined from aluminum and is sturdy. It is a strong, well built IEM, robust and able to handle most rough housing.
It is lightweight which belies its outer image, it gives the illusion of being sharp edged but is in fact rounded in its own way thanks to great design.
Simple, functional and elegant.
The cable has a chin slider to help keep them secure as well as a memory wire for around the ears.
Well this is the section that most are looking for, maybe even breezing past the build, packaging and fit sections in search of an answer to the question that will enable them proceed to unite them with their precious.
Reviewing the Nova has been a struggle at time, from requests for early fractured impressions from the denizens of head-fi.org desperately trying to make a decision before the pre-order and Massdrop close their doors.....Nothing like a limited time to set a feeding frenzy going for the early adopters, but thats all part of the fun.....to having in my possession the higher end CA Jupiter and CA Andromeda to confuse matters further.
Reviewing low end gear and high end gear is infinitely easier than review mid fi gear.
I was torn between whether to review the Andromeda or Nova first and went for the flagship, perhaps the old adage `save the best for last` would have fitted the process more finely, If only I had been more prescient. Hindsight can possess more accurate vision than the sharpest illuminating foresight.
As usual I clocked up a decent set of hours on the IEMs before commencing the review, either through listening, leaving an old iphone to play varied music and tracks on shuffle as well as having a burn album on there of different frequencies. In the end over 150 hours were logged.
Most of the testing was done using the Centrance Hifi-Skyn with an ipod touch 6G 128GB using Flacplayer app by Dan Leehr. Other times I used the Shozy Alien.
Tips used were either the stock silicone tips or the JVC Spiral tips.
Whether you purchased these on the pre-order or Massdrop promotions at a discount, or joined the party later to pay slightly more the Nova is great value at the mid price point range of US$499.
Fantastic build, excellent sound and a wonderful cable, not to mention stunning looks makes this a regret free purchase.
Of course with Campfire Audio offering five different models to choose from with each tuned to a certain signature one has to find the right model for ones own personal taste.
The Campfire Audio Nova is an excellent new entrant into the mid fi world of IEMs, not the most over crowded area but still one fraught with competition.
The Nova is not a $200-300 IEM, nor is it in the $700 plus bracket.
I think it is excellent as an IEM, but when I have the Andromeda sitting here I can easily hear who comes out in top. But that is an unfair comparison in terms of price and performance.
It is a quality IEM, build is great and the sound splendid. If it is in your price range I think one would be happy with the purchase.
It does not seem to have a V shape as such, and one can also customize the sound slightly with tips.
Some have described the Nova as a dark IEM, that is track and source and track dependent imho , at other times I found them to be light and airy. I think when the song has a lot of central and upper mids it can appear darker.
It could be due to how much power the amp involved has.
It is a fairly even IEM overall.
Bass and treble are moderate.
The bass can be increased or decreased via tip rolling.
With the stock tips the highs are airy and realistic rather than extended.
If I was to do a sound signature shape comparison off hand:
Jupiter XxX, Andromeda XXX, Nova XXx.
All in all an enjoyable IEM, the Nova reproduces the tracks fairly accurately, has a nice organic sense to it, does not seem to color the music. The fit for me is quite comfortable and long listening sessions are non fatiguing.