Campfire Audio Andromeda (Mix Wave) MW10 Reviews & Impressions

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by shotgunshane, May 21, 2021.

  1. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Campfire Audio Mix Wave MW10

    The Andromeda MW10 is a Japanese exclusive for Mix Wave Co LTD released in fourth quarter 2019. It is a limited edition with a 500 unit run. On other sites and blogs it has reached somewhat mythical proportions of being the ‘best’ Andromeda. Being that it is a limited release with limited access, this version of the Andromeda has been a bit of an unknown for a long while. Thanks to @rhythmdevils and his personal tour, we at SBAF can find out just how good the MW10 is and where if fits in the Andromeda universe.

    The MW10 is an Andromeda through and through. My understanding is that it’s the same 5 balanced armatures, however it was the first Campfire Audio IEM to use the ceramic acoustic 3D printed chamber. The Mix Wave website describes the main change in tuning as mainly the mid-high range but as measurement and impression should show, there is significant difference in bass as well.

    Being a limited edition model, the MW10 received its own gorgeous blue color called Strato Blue. The faceplates screws are 24-karate gold-plated and the CA logo is an Avalon inlay, which shows different colors depending on the angle viewed. It really is, arguably, the most beautiful of the Andromeda variants.

    Picture from the Mix Wave website:
    upload_2021-5-21_20-52-28.png




    Comparison vs Andromeda OG
    via Mac Mini >> Pi2AES (via AES) >> RME ADI-2 PRO FS R

    upload_2021-5-21_20-52-55.png

    Upon initial switching, the greater bass and treble emphasis is immediately heard. The MW10 is quite bassy in my estimation. OG bass is obviously more linear, if a bit softer, whereas the MW10 bass hits much harder and also rumbles more. But it’s the harder mid bass impact that is much more apparent. Impact and rumble levels aside, bass texture is very similar between the two.

    MW10 male vocals carry just a bit more weight than OG but more noticeable is the more intimate closeness to the vocal on MW10, which I contribute to slightly greater lower midrange/upper bass presence. Female vocals also carry more upper mid energy on the MW10, lending to a more forward and energetic presentation as well. Not only are these difference apparent with vocals, but the midrange of the MW10 is also clearer and less hazy, albeit at the expense of some increased sibilance. Rock guitars have similar crunch but the MW10 has more bite and attack. While the MW10 is more articulate and separated in the midrange, the MW10 looses a bit of the unique wall of guitar sound the OG has.

    Treble is probably the greatest difference between the two, as the MW10 seems to have a lot more of it. While the timbre of the MW10 treble is very good, its tonal balance is skewed a little bright. In the past, where I’ve describe the OG as a downward sloping U shape, the MW10 comes across a strong W shape without the downward slope. Don’t get me wrong, the treble of the MW10 isn’t as strong as say the 64 Audio Fourte, or even the Solaris 2020, so we don’t have overt splashiness or cringing brightness here but if OG treble was too strong for you, then you can definitely skip the MW10. However, if you wanted more excitement in both bass and treble from Andromeda OG, then perhaps MW10 is what the doctor ordered.

    While the MW10 maintains the above average staging of the Andromeda lineage, there are some noticeable differences. The MW10 comes across as more forward and intimate, albeit within a more defined space and better imaging. The OG still comes across wider, while the MW10 taller with mostly similar depth between the two. I don’t have the Andromeda 2020 on hand but I suspect the 2020 will remain the most technically adept of all the Andromeda models.


    Legacy

    At the end of the day, the MW10 definitely seems to have improved on many of the OG’s technical capabilities. However it comes at a slight cost of exaggerated tonal balance. The stronger bass and treble sounds a bit less natural to me in direct comparison. However it is certainly loads of fun and it’s seriously good looking. While I could certainly understand some preferring this tuning to the OG and the 2020, I see the 2020 model as the better successor to the OG due to its more evenhandedness; even if sentimentally I still prefer the OG over all of them for its unrivaled treble performance. For me, the myth of the MW10 is exactly that- a myth due to its limited regional release. Rather, it’s just another variant (albeit a very good variant), with its own pluses and minuses, in the (legendary?) lineage of the Campfire Audio Andromeda.
     

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  2. Rockwell

    Rockwell Almost "Made"

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    Epic post thanks for sharing...I think this is the first graph of the MW10 I've ever seen. I had the MW10 for a bit last December and I basically agree with your assessment. I ended up selling it to fund another purchase because ultimately it seemed a lot more similar to my Solaris SE than the 2020 Andromeda had when I'd owned that one a few months prior. Having recently re-purchased the 2020 because I never could get its sound out of my head-- even after owning the MW10-- my sense is that it doesn't have quite the low end emphasis that the MW10 did but the overall presentation is more to my liking, most likely for the reasons you're describing here but I can't say for sure as I've never a/b'd them back to back. Ffor my tastes the 2020 is the preferred Andromeda currently available. That said the MW10 is beautiful...so beautiful in fact that I felt like I was always walking on eggshells when handling or taking it out because I didn't want to chip the paint or blemish it somehow.
     
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  3. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Andromeda MW10 Review and comparison vs Andromeda 2020 and Ara

    [​IMG]

    I have a pretty different take on this iem from @shotgunshane which is interesting because we usually hear things similarly. We both think the Gaudio Nair is the most neutral iem we’ve heard. So it goes with iems I guess. The iem wildcard.

    I’m a bit under the weather right now so will keep this succinct.

    Gear:
    Pi2aes > Gungnir A1 > Loki > 789 with Sigma 11 LPS

    TLDR;
    The MW10 is a truly special iem in a specific way but not without faults. It is more neutral from bass to upper mids than the 2020 but has a huge treble emphasis. However, it has less BA or any other whacky timbre than any BA iem I’ve heard including the Ara.

    Bass:
    Excellent, very neutral, tight, pretty damn good extension. Sounds very close to natural dynamic bass to me. Good detail. It beats the Ara’s bass to my ears which was never that much better than the 2020 to me despite the extra penises.

    Midrange:
    Less recessed than the 2020 but still a bit recessed compared to my Mackie Monitors or an HD650. Natural tone and timbre. Male vocals have proper weight and female vocals have proper breath.

    Treble:
    Way elevated to the point of being a joke especially considering how neutral the rest of the spectrum is. I can easily bring it down with my Loki but then I think it winds up missing air in the 10-20khz range making the treble a bit dull sounding.

    Timbre:
    Outstanding. The Ara is supposed to be king of BA timbre but I had issues with its timbre. I even bought a pair and really tried to like them. I think Ken intentionally tried to eliminate BA timbre with them. I don’t know how he did it but I’m guessing some kind of damping is involved and he went overboard trying to kill it and they wound up overdamped. The Ara sounds dry to me like the HD650. The MW10 doesn’t have this dryness it has smoother timbre vs Ara. There’s a dynamic weight to instruments that ive never heard in a BA iem before. It’s not 100% there. If I was told these were ortho iems I would think they sounded kind of light and soft for an ortho. But it’s closer to an electrodynamic than any BA iem I’ve heard.

    The bad:
    The downside to this great timbre is a loss of clarity snd speed and refinement compared to the 2020. It doesn’t lack clarity in the grand scheme of iems but when compared to the 2020 and other TOTL iems like the Solaris it sounds a bit dull.

    However, the gains in clarity made by other BA iems all come with BA timbre. That fast, ethereal BA sound. The MW10 doesn’t have that at all.

    It’s a shame this is a special edition and has such elevated treble I think a lot of people would love the sound of them if the treble was neutral and extended (it probably is extended but EQing down the treble winds up turning down 10-20khz too much)

    I wish Kevin would work on a new version of this iem with whatever unique housing (ceramic housing?) with better tuning as an alternative to the 2020 andromeda. There is definitely great potential here.

    I’ll be interested in seeing distortion measurements.
     
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    Last edited: May 31, 2021
  4. Rockwell

    Rockwell Almost "Made"

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    Kevin = Ken?
     
  5. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Yes thank you :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2021 at 3:50 PM

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