Campfire Audio Vega 2020 – Big, Bold & Beautiful
Excellent build and cable, Ergonomic and compact design, Powerful yet technically-apt sound, Coherent and naturally voiced midrange
Mediocre separation, Vocals may be too full and laid-back for some
The Vega 2020 offers splendid ergonomics and build combined with a rich and engaging yet coherent tuning built atop a strong technical foundation.
Campfire Audio are an audio company born in Oregon, USA who have made a huge name for themselves with their industrial metal designs and engaging sound tuning. The Andromeda is likely the model known to most, but perhaps more impressive, is that the Vega remains their 2nd highest selling model of all time despite having been discontinued for a few years now. The company is reinvigorating their DD line-up, receiving the same treatment as the Andro and Solaris. Similar to their original incarnations, these models feature more engaging and generally bassier sound profiles than their BA counterparts but have certainly made some strides over their predecessors in execution. The Vega 2020 introduces new materials, an updated driver inspired by that from the Atlas, and a slight reshuffling of the product order; the hybrid Dorado now assuming flagship status. In a market ripe with innovations and complexity, the Vega takes things back to basics with a focus on simplicity and cohesiveness.
The new Vega is available for $899 USD. You can read all about it and treat yourself to one on Campfire Audio.
I would like to thank Caleb from Campfire Audio very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the Vega 2020 for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
- Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 20 kHz
- Sensitivity: 94 dB @ 1kHz
- Impedance: 32 Ohms @ 1kHz
The Pitch –
The new Vega is constructed from ceramic rather than aluminium and implements a stainless steel as opposed to plastic spout. Campfire Audio utilise an 8-day process to increase density and achieve a uniform finish with tight tolerances. A dense housing is essential for dynamic driver designs as it helps to mitigate vibrations and resonances; friends in the industry have recorded shorter decay times in CSD with denser housing materials. The new housing feels notably more robust than the original Vega indeed, the brass spouted Dorado 2020 taking this one step further.
The Vega 2020 implements a derivative of the same 10mm driver used in the Atlas, a step up in size from the 8.5mm driver in the Vega. It uses the same A.D.L.C (amorphous diamond-like carbon) coating that enables a lightweight yet rigid diaphragm. This reduces modal breakup at high-frequencies for better extension while the long-stroke of the dynamic driver permits a powerful, extended bass response. An acoustic dampener controls back-pressure to optimise the impulse response.
Campfire Audio’s unboxings are always a pleasure and their updated line-up employs a similar experience to other models released this year. Opening the rear lets the colourful shell slide away from an internal hard box. The box contains a new carrying case, switching out the cork construction for a delightful seafoam green canvas made from upcycled marine plastic. Alongside the silver metal zipper and Campfire Audio tag, it exudes a classic American aesthetic.
Inside are the earphones with shells protected within a mesh IEM bag that prevents the housings from scratching each other. In a separate box are two more pouches, great for use with other IEMs. One contains 5 pairs of Final Audio E-tips, the other containing 3 pairs of foam tips and 3 pairs of Campfire Audio silicone tips. A cleaning tool and CFA pin are also included. It’s a very comprehensive package, E-tips are a personal favourite in both sound and ergonomics, and a premium experience that rewards buyers.
Campfire Audio have always had a knack with their colour choices and their latest crop of IEMs exemplifies this, they are appealing in-ear designs with loads of character. The Vega 2020 has a clean white porcelain finish with silver stainless steel spout. Rather than raw stainless steel or PVD, CFA’s new earphones are made from ceramic treated through an 8-day process refined from the original Lyra. The result is a flawless hyper-gloss surface that is smooth and free from imperfections. The tolerances are also just as tight as their new Alu shells, with excellent faceplate matching and no sharp edges.
They are also supposedly more scratch resistant than PVD and that has been my experience when pocketing the earphones without a case, I haven’t noticed any scratches or chips. That said, like the ie800 that employs a similar construction, be careful not to drop these earphones as they can crack. When compared to the original Vega, the stainless steel spouts make this a substantially more premium experience while the ceramic shells are palpably denser. It feels like a very high-quality piece of design and the shape and colours surely possess the timeless appeal CFA are renowned for.
The cable too is just as agreeable, CFA’s new Smokey Litz wire as seen on all post 2019 models. The custom Beryllium MMCX connectors make a return, promising to be harder-wearing than regular connectors, they provide a confident lock and low tolerances; I haven’t had one fail on me during my years with CFA IEMs either. The cable itself is very easy to live with, with a very supple jacket and robust braided construction. The right-angle plug is very well relieved and the pre-moulded ear guides comfortably route the cable over the ear for a more stable fit. It has minimal microphonic noise transmission and isn’t too tangle prone.
Fit & Isolation –
The overall dimensions and shell design is identical to the original Vega and Lyra II so if your ears agree with those, you would have no issues with these. In isolation, these are very compact and ergonomic shells. Once fit correctly, they barely contact the outer ear and their small size lets them disappear during longer listening with zero discomfort. That said, the nozzle design has changes, now more in line with their BA earphones, so it is noticeably longer than the plastic Vega nozzle. That said, there is no step that limits how far the ear tip can be pushed onto the nozzle, so overall, the fit depth is actually similar. The upside is that CFA are able to control the acoustics of the sound output a little better to achieve a more consistent sound between listeners with this design.
As before, the seal is very good which, combined with the lightweight design and over-ear fit makes them perfectly stable even during active use. Driver flex is clearly apparent when inserting the earphones but caused no degradation to sound performance during my testing. Isolation is improved noticeably over the original Vega. It’s still not as good as a sealed BA monitor but they are easily sufficient for commute and daily use. They would do in a pinch for noisy environments such as air travel and the metro when combined with their full and punchy tuning too.
Thanks for yet another comprehensive review! I realise you have yet to do a full review of the a8000, i hope that is in the cards, as it seems to be quite a divisive design, with some calling it harsh and almost unlistenable. Would really appreciate a comparison between the a8k and the sony ex1000, i am sure i am not alone in hoping for a more ergonomic, better isolating ex1k one day… for myself, even after owning 64 audio’s trio, u12t, EE’s Zeus XIV and Acoustune’s 1650, i still use and enjoy the ex1k most, despite its lower treble peak.
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Thank you for the kind words, this one definitely took a while!
Yep, the A8000 review will be coming up. From preliminary impressions, I find it to be very technically impressive, for sure a bit intense in the upper-midrange and sharp in the lower-treble. It has a good tonality when damped with some micropore tape or alcohol swab. It is quite different to the EX1000 in terms of tuning and presentation IMO, but I did own it quite a while ago so I’ll have to look into a unit for comparison to make more detailed comparison.
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Thx and looking forward to it!
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