Campfire Audio's new IO earphones look out of this world

Campfire Audio IO earbuds

Campfire Audio might not be a household name, particularly outside its native Oregon, but in its four years of existence the company has launched no fewer than 15 different pairs of headphones, mostly of the in-ear variety, and all with space-y names such as Jupiter, Orion and Comet.

Most of the company's models also come with astronomical price tags of over £1000, but its latest in-ear design, the IO, is a much more down-to-Earth £299.

Despite the comparatively affordable price tag, the IOs make a great first impression. With 24K gold screws and an Iron Man-esque garnet anodised finish, Tony Stark himself would be proud of the design. Aesthetically, the closest earphones in the Campfire Audio range are the Andromeda IEMs, which would set you back a cool £1049 ($1099).

Clearly, sacrifices have had to be made to hit the far lower price, most notably to the number of drivers: while there are five drivers in the Andromedas, there are 'only' two in the new IOs. But, according to Campfire Audio, "driver count has never been as especially important to our designs as the proper selection and implementation of particular drivers. When using more than a single driver, it is as much about the synergy between drivers as it is about any one particular driver".

The new IOs comprise a dual balanced armature driver design, using an "oversized" woofer BA and small tweeter. Apparently, after each unit is individually made and tested, it goes into a "pairing pool" to find its ideal sonic other half. Updated Beryllium/copper MMCX connections, an anodised aluminium body, stainless steel spout and (don't forget those) 24K gold screws make for an extremely attractive little package. 

And we haven't even started on accessories. In the box there's an upgraded "Bordeaux" premium leather travel case that's made in Portugal, a new-look Campfire Audio Smoky Jacket tangle-resistant Litz cable, no fewer than 11 tips (in three different materials) for an ideal size and texture match, a little cleaning brush and even a lapel pin.

A lapel pin might be pushing it somewhat, but perhaps we could be persuaded to wear it if the IOs provide the out-of-this-world performance that Campfire Audio suggests.


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Becky has been a full-time staff writer at What Hi-Fi? since March 2019. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, she freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 20-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance is of course tethered to a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo, This is Cabaret and The Stage. When not writing, she dances, spins in the air, drinks coffee, watches football or surfs in Cornwall with her other half – a football writer whose talent knows no bounds.