CanJam SoCal 2016: Campfire Audio’s forthcoming over-ear headphones


Split personality Pt. 2. You might better know Ken Ball as the head honcho of Portland’s ALO Audio – see here. With the newer Campfire Audio, Ball takes his sharp eye for aesthetics and feel for materials to the next level with wearable transducers; from the show signage to the packaging to the carry cases to the products contained therein, Campfire Audio’s line of in-ear monitors aspire to Dieter Rams’ work for Braun, Ball’s self-confessed inspiration for his own industrial design work.

Less than a year on from the brand’s introduction, Campfire Audio’s number one selling IEM to date is the Jupiter (US$899/pair), a 4 x balanced armature implementation that marries the low-end punch and heavy tone of the Beryllium dynamic-driving Lyra (US$749) to the purity of the single BA-d Orion (US$349). As per my review coverage of all three models, there is no obvious Campfire Audio house sound. Each piece presents with a different personality. Similarly, the chamfered-edged aluminium of the Orion and Jupiter gives way to rounded edges on the Lyra’s ceramic housing, the latter feeling considerably different in the hand to the former.


Tucked away under his table at CanJam SoCal, Ball had a prototype of a new IEM that should see release ‘soon’. Details are fuzzy but I can tell you it’s not ceramic and it’s not CNC-d aluminium and it will likely be perceived by many as Ball’s best-looking piece to date.

In sharper focus and with less secret squirrel comes further intel on Campfire Audio’s forthcoming portable headphone. It’s still a prototype, is nameless, is foldable, closed-back, predominantly aluminium, uses ‘HD800’ connectors, has detachable ear-pads that allow for additional tuning of its 42mm beryllium driver and ships with a gorgeous leather carry case, which is where we kick off this two-minute introductory video:

Expect to see pricing in the region of US$700 – 800 when this headphone comes to market. A brief hook-up with my Sony ZX2 Walkman exposed its top-end airiness as a standout feature. That means it should mate well with tube amplification…

…like that championed by Ball’s other brand, ALO Audio. Co-incidence? Unlikely.

Further information: Campfire Audio



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Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

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    • Yeah, he’s travelling at a rate of knots behind the scenes right now but I think what sets him apart is his keen interest in materials and form.