Campfire Audio Satsuma IEM Review

 

 

 

 

 

Campfire Audio Satsuma IEM Review

 

 

Campfire Audio is a US based company located in Portland – Oregon, which is specialized in the development and production of portable audio equipments such like In-Ear Monitors, cables and headphones.

Campfire Audio comes with two fresh IEM’s that do share a similar 3D printed monitor housing made of ABS material (expect Stainless Steel Spout) with an interior acoustic design. The one that is called Honeydew features a 10mm Full Range Dynamic Driver, while the Satsuma that I will now review for you comes equipped with a Single Full Range Ported Balanced Armature Driver.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: 

I would like to thank Campfire Audio for providing the Satsuma IEM as review sample. I am not affiliated with Campfire Audio or any third person beyond this review and all these words reflect my true, unaltered opinions about the product.

 

 

 

Price & Availability:

The MSRP price for the Campfire Audio Satsuma is $ 199,00 USD. More information’s can be found under the link below;

 

 

 

 

 

Package and Accessories:

The Campfire Audio Satsuma came in a square shaped box with a unique design same like the ARA & Solaris 2020. It is wrapped with a cardboard that is of USA made “French Paper Company” paper which has a label on the top that features the product illustration of the product.

 

The box itself is made from the same cardboard material in orange color that has the Campfire Audio logo on the top in gold color, set in a scene between a sky full of stars and a mountain surrounded by trees that could represent the nature of Oregon where the company is located.

 

 

Inside the box are the following items;

  • 1 pair x Campfire Audio Satsuma Monitors
  • 1 piece x Campfire Audio Smoky Lite Litz Cable with MMCX connectors
  • 5 pairs x Final Audio Silicone Ear Tips (extra small, small, medium, large, extra large)
  • 3 pairs x CA Silicon Ear Tips (small, medium, large)
  • 3 pairs x Foam tips (small, medium, large)
  • 1 piece x Campfire Audio Leaf Green Canvas Earphone Case
  • 1 piece x Campfire Audio Pin
  • 3 pieces x Pouch’s
  • 1 piece x Cleaning Tool
  • 1 piece x Print Material (Warranty Card, Final Audio Type E Instruction, User Manual)

 

The Satsuma comes with a rich accessory package that includes various types of ear tips, such like 5 pairs of Final Audio E Style Tips, 3 pairs of CA silicone ear tips with a wide opening and 3 pairs of Foam ear tips.

Compact Canvas Carrying Case is made in Portugal that has a so called Leafy Green color with a fresh look.  This is a new size carrying case from Campfire Audio, which is even more compact than the classic case dimensions that fits easily into your pocket.

The cleaning tool and the pin with the CA Logo are our classics that do come with all past Campfire Audio products.

 

 

 

Features, Design and Build Quality:

The Satsuma is a very lightweight In-Ear Monitor thanks to the monitor shell, which is made of 3D printed ABS (a sort of plastic) material in a fresh looking Orange Fizz color (the main body). I personally like new ABS housing that is scratch resistant, lightweight and comfortable. However, other maybe will prefer the old classical metal shells.

Campfire Audio carefully designed the acoustic chamber of the Satsuma that shapes the frequency response curve to optimize the performance of the Single BA that is located in the heart of the monitor, which is a so called Full-Range Ported Balanced Armature Driver. This full-range driver has an addition on the rear port to add the right amount of bass to the Satsuma.

The monitor shows a combination of 3 main parts, which are the front part (faceplate), the rear part and the stainless steel sound nozzle (also called Stainless Steel Spout). Satsuma features an acoustically optimized interior chamber the so called Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber™ (T.A.E.C.) that was crated with the latest 3D printing technology.

The front part of the monitor shells sports the Campfire Audio brand.

At the rear side of the monitor shell is the slightly angled the sound nozzle in silver color.

The sound nozzle shows a grill design with 8 small openings on the top.

On the top of each monitor shell is the Beryllium Copper MMCX (Micro Miniature Coaxial) connector that do offer a pretty tight connection.

 

 

The Satsuma comes with Campfire Audio’s New Litz Cable, the so called Smoky Lite, which is a lightweight, streamlined version of the classic “Smoky Litz” cable.

The Smoky Lite is made of 4 core Silver Plated Cooper wire material that has a soft, flexible and durable insulation in dark grey color.

The MMCX (Micro Miniature Coaxial) connectors are made of custom made beryllium copper material that provides a robust mating mechanism. According to Campfire Audio specs are the connectors durable enough to provide thousands of more pulls to the part’s life.

The MMCX connectors do have plastic housings in grey color that do sport left and right color indicators. Near the connectors are heat shrink ear guides in black color that do provide a more comfortable over the ear wearing experience.

The Y splitter and chin slider are made of metal in black color.

The 3.5mm single ended headphone jack has a plastic housing in black color with an L angled profile.

 

 

 

Comfort & Isolation:

The Satsuma is a very lightweight In-Ear Monitor with a small and ergonomic monitor shape that sits comfortable in to my average sized concha’s, which makes it to an ideal IEM to listen for long listening periods.

When it comes to the passive noise isolation of the Satsuma, I can say that it is on an average level that is sufficient enough for the use in relative noisy environments like a bus, metro or train.

 

 

 

Drivability & Pairing:

The Campfire Audio Satsuma has an impedance of 46.4 Ohms @ 1kHz and sensitivity of 94 dB, which may looks slightly power hungry on paper. However, it can be driven with relative weak sources such like Smartphone’s, Tablets or DAC/Amplifier adaptors that do make the overall presentation somewhat thin and lifeless.

Sources with better levels of amplification, such like portable DAC/AMP’s (FiiO Q5s, PALAB M1-Mini) or DAP’s (iBasso DX220 MAX, iBasso DX300) do offers a much better synergy and overall sound performance. The positive effect of such sources was especially audible in the lower frequency register.

 

 

 

Technical Specifications:

  • Driver Configuration    : Single Full Range Ported Balanced Armature Driver
  • Freq. Resp.                 : 5 Hz – 18 kHz
  • Sensitivity                   : 94 dB SPL @ 1kHz: 67 mVrms
  • Impedance                  : 46.4 Ohms @ 1kHz Impedance
  • Connector                   : Beryllium Copper MMMC (Micro Miniature Coaxial Connector)

 

 

 

 

Equipment’s used for this review:

  • In Ear Monitors         : Campfire Satsuma, Campfire Audio Comet, Final Audio B2
  • Sources (DAP/DAC) : iBasso DX220MAX, iBasso DX300, FiiO M11 Pro, FiiO Q5s, PALAB M1-Mini

 

 

 

 

 

Albums & Tracks used for this review:

  • Hayley Westenra – Odyssey Album (Dezzer HiFi)
  • Dionne Warwick – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sarah McLachlan – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say A Little Payer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • David Bowie – Heroes (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
  • Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Deezer HiFi)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Bro Safari, UFO! – Drama “Party Favor Remix” (Deezer HiFi)
  • Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Deezer HiFi)
  • Really Slow Motion – Deadwood (Deezer HiFi)
  • Jo Blankenburg – The Magelan Matrix (Spotify)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Lorde – Royals (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Lunatic Soul – The Passage (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove it) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)s
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
  • Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)

 

 

 

 

The Sound:

The Satsuma has a pretty close DNA with the Comet that I have highly enjoyed when I have got the pair for review, but with a more mature tuning that has solved some of the minor flaws that I have had experienced with the Comet.

The Satsuma has a slightly warmer tonality than neutral and shows a linear bass response with good sense of speed and control thanks to its Full-Range Balanced Armature Driver. The midrange on the other hand sounds pretty transparent, natural and detailed with both vocals and instruments especially when paired with good sources like the iBasso DX300 & DX220MAX. The treble range is moderately bright and fairly smooth in its presentation.

 

I have used the medium sized Final Audio E Tips that were included to the package together with the stock Smoky Lite Litz cable. My main source was the iBasso DX220 MAX and DX300 that do scale very well with the Satsuma.

 

Bass:

The bass response of the Campfire Audio Satsuma depends highly to the source you will pair with it since it is equipped with a single full-range balanced armature driver. I do recommend you use the Satsuma with a source with good amplification to hear the true potential of the pretty capable BA driver.

So, lower frequency area of the Satsuma shows a pretty linear tuning with focal point in the midbass region. The subbass has moderate depth, intensity and rumble, while it is produced in a very controlled manner, when I do listen to songs like Massive Attack’s “Angel”, Lorde’s “Royals” and Bro Safari, Ufo!  “Drama (Party Favor Remix)”.

The midbass region of the Satsuma is more audible compared to the subbass area. Instruments like kick & snare drums, violas and acoustic guitars are reproduced with an average sense of depth and intensity, while the resolution is top notch especially with good sources like a DX220MAX or DX300.

The bass of the Satsuma stands out with is technicality and gives the quantity less priority, which is otherwise fairly enough for genres such like Metal, Jazz, Blues or Acoustic music. However, bass heavy genres such like EDM, Trance, RnB, etc. don’t have enough energy, depth or intensity, for that I highly recommend the Campfire Audio Honeydew, which shows an impressive performance.

 

 

Midrange:

The midrange of the Satsuma is the area where its shines with is natural and balanced presentation and nicely done warmish tonality. The midrange is reproduced with a good level of clarity and airiness that comes from the upper midrange region that shows an audible boost around the 3 kHz region.

The midrange stands out with its transparency, natural timbre and micro detail retrieval when I do pair it with a good source and feed it with good recorded albums and tracks.

Both male and female vocals do sound pretty emotional, intimate and detailed. The voice of male vocals such like Isaac Hayes, Barry White and Sting do have a nice sense of depth and body. Female vocals such like Sarah McLachlan and Dionne Warwick do sound pretty intimate and emotional, and are reproduced with a good level of clarity.

The Campfire Audio Satsuma offers a great sound performance with strings instruments like guitars and violins, or instruments like pianos and keyboards. For example, the guitar performances of Otto Liebert in “The River” or Eric Clapton’s show in its Unplugged Album are quite impressive.

The lower midrange of the Satsuma is less highlighted compared to the upper midrange area that is strongly pronounced. The upper midrange tends from time to time to sibilance, when I do listen to albums and tracks that do show a poor sound quality. So, if you feed the Satsuma with HQ tracks and albums you will definitely enjoy the overall midrange performance that truly shines.

 

Treble:

The treble range of the Campfire Audio Satsuma sounds less pronounced compared to the upper midrange. The transitions from the upper midrange towards the lower treble area (presence) are in general fairly controlled.

The lower treble region has a pretty smooth character that is free of sharpness even when I do listen to treble intensive songs. The lower treble has an audible roll-off with an dip around the 5 kHz region that was also visible on some measurements that are available on the web.

The lower treble extension is in general short, while the level of control is on a pretty good level. The Satsuma shows in general a sufficient sense of clarity and definition in this area.

The upper treble (brilliance) region of the Campfire Audio Satsuma is more pronounced compared to the lower treble register (presence) that shows a mildly peak around the 6 – 7 kHz region that adds the overall presentation of the Satsuma an efficient sense of airiness and sparkle, when I do listen to instruments like snare drums, hi-hats, pianos or electro guitars, while the extension is on an moderate level.

If you are sensitive to treble brightness/sharpness and are in search for a fatigue free but uncompressed and fairly lively presentation in this area, the Satsuma will definitely fulfill your expectations.

 

Soundstage & Imaging:

The Campfire Audio Satsuma has a fairly natural and expansive soundstage presentation, which offers a slightly better sense of wideness compared to its depth. The stage of the Satsuma shows enough air and space between vocals and instruments, while the separation and placement is in general quite precise.

 

 

 

Some Comparisons:

 

Campfire Audio Satsuma versus Campfire Audio Comet:

The Comet was one of my favorite IEM’s in its price range when it first came out in 2018. It has a solid metal shell that looks more premium but a bit heavy, compared to the Satsuma that has a 3D Printed ABS monitor shell that looks less premium but, which offers a better fit and comfort.

As I have mentioned before the Comet and the Satsuma do share quite similar DNA with some minor but fairly audible sound differences.

The Comet has a tad warmer tonality compared to the Satsuma that is produced in the lower midrange area. The Satsuma shows a slightly more linear bass response compared to the Comet that has a bit more midbass depth, body and intensity. The Satsuma on the other hand has the upper hand in terms of clarity and micro detail in this area.

The midrange of the Satsuma is slightly more forward and a bit brighter in tonality, in direct comparison to the Comet that shows a slightly warmer and fuller overall midrange character.

The upper midrange of the Satsuma shows a tad more dynamism and resolution.

The treble range of the Satsuma is more energetic, crisp and detailed, while the upper treble region shows a higher sense of clarity and definition.

Both In-Ear Monitors do offers a fairly precise placement and separation of instruments and vocals, while the Satsuma has the slightly edge when it comes to the wideness, depth and airiness of the stage.

 

 

 

Campfire Audio Satsuma versus Final Audio B2:

Both IEM’s do feature a Single Full-Range Balanced Armature Driver and do share a linear bass response. However, the subbass of the Campfire Audio Satsuma is a tad deeper, shows more rumble and has better level of extension.

The midbass of the Final Audio B2 shows less intensity and impact, while the difference is not very high, but fairly audible when I do listen to instrument like an acoustic guitar, kick drum or contrabass. The bass of both IEM’s is pretty controlled, shows a fast decay and is in general fast.

The midrange of the Campfire Audio Satsuma is superior in terms of clarity, airiness and micro detail retrieval. The lower midrange of the Satsuma has slightly more body, which makes it more successful with male vocals.

The upper midrange of both IEM’s sounds pronounced, however the Satsuma has again the edge when it comes to the extension and detail retrieval in this area that was quite audible when I do listen to female vocals or instruments like pianos and or guitars.

The lower treble region of the Final Audio B2 is more highlighted and detailed, compared to the Campfire Audio Satsuma, but sounds a bit unnatural. The Satsuma on the other hand has the upper hand in terms of upper treble extension, detailed retrieval and sparkle.

The soundstage of the Campfire Audio Satsuma offers a better sense of wideness and airiness, while the performance of both IEM’s in terms of soundstage depth is pretty equal.

 

 

Conclusion:

The Campfire Audio Satsuma is a very capable In-Ear Monitor that offers a great vocal and instrument performance with its Single Full-Range Ported Balanced Armature Driver. However, it will show its true potential, when you pair it with a good source that has an adequate level of amplifications. Moreover, it has a very ergonomic fit and fresh look, comes with a cool Zipper Case, a nice Silver Plate Copper Litz Cable and lots of Ear Tips.

 

 

Pros and Cons:

  • + Bass Response (Speed, Decay, Control)
  • + Instrument & Vocal Performance
  • + Smooth yet Pretty Detailed Treble Character
  • + Shines if you pair it with a good source
  • + Look, Feel, Fit & Comfort
  • + Rich Accessory Package

 

  • – Slightly Roll-Off in the Lower Treble Region
  • – Not ideal for Bass Heavy Genres
  • – Plastic Shell and Color maybe not everyone’s taste

 

 

 Thank you for the Read!

 

 

 

 

 

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