Campfire Audio Lyra IEMs

I’ve recently reviewed two other earphones from Campfire Audio, the Orion and the Jupiter. Both were excellent in their own ways so I expected good things from Campfire’s premium dynamic model, the Lyra. Sadly, my experience with it has been underwhelming…

Overview

The Lyra retails for around $1,100 here in Australia so it’s definitely in the upper echelon of IEMs, particularly single-driver, dynamic models. It’s external design, build quality and accessories are excellent and it’s specifications on paper don’t pose any concerns.

  • Impedance:  17 ohms
  • Frequency Response:  8 – 28,000 Hz
  • Driver:  8.5mm Beryllium PVD Diaphragm Dynamic

Design & Accessories

CA Lyra-5180008Out of the box, the Lyras look the part with the beautiful set of accessories I raved about in my review of the Jupiters and another example of spectacular engineering – this time with a custom-made, high density ceramic body. The Lyras look and feel amazing so I expected performance to match.

Before I discuss the performance though, I also want to comment on the ergonomics of the Lyras. While they look magnificent, I found the shaping of the nozzle and enclosure led to an average fit and comfort for my slightly tricky ears. Many people will have no troubles at all with the Lyras, but I found them to be unusual to insert and never completely comfortable while wearing. To me it felt like the Lyras were always protruding a little too much, not from an aesthetic standpoint, but from a stability standpoint. It felt like they wanted to fall out of my ears with any wrong move. In reality, they stayed put through normal movement (walking around the house, sitting, standing, etc.) but I was never confident of the fit – a little like the strangely shaped FIDUE A83.

Sound Quality

CA Lyra-5180004As regular readers will know, there is much I will forgive for a top-notch sound so the Lyras were still in with a shot despite my troubles with their fit, but sadly, as I’ve already suggested, the sound quality just doesn’t stack up.

On the surface there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Lyra’s sound. They are smooth, well-controlled in the bass, well-extended in the treble and everything is well-balanced with no glaringly obvious peaks or troughs in the frequency response. The problem for me with the Lyra’s sound is that there is nothing special about it and it sounds flat and lifeless in terms of ambience and staging.

Given that there are no obvious flaws in the frequency response from the Lyras, I’m not sure what is holding them back, but they constantly reminded me that I was listening to a recording and that’s the last thing you want from any earphones, particularly >$1000 earphones. The Lyras present a reasonable sense of separation from left to right and with a well-focussed centre to the soundstage, but it’s all just so 2-dimensional and never engaging. In fact, I’d go so far as saying that I prefer the $50 Shozy Zero earphones (review coming soon) thanks to their pure engagement of the listener in the audio. Technically, the Lyras are probably superior in a number of ways, but if the end result isn’t an engaging immersion in the music then all of that technology and balanced tuning means nothing.

Summary

CA Lyra-5180005This has been a disappointing review to write because I always like to find a product’s niche or strong points, but honestly, at $1000+ an earphone has to be better than the Lyra. There are too many amazing options for less money and there’s no way I could recommend the Lyra to anyone. In fact, if you were considering buying Campfire Audio earphones I would say to choose the much cheaper Orion over the Lyra or to spend just a little more cash and get the outstanding Jupiter. Campfire Audio offer a number of great products (with more coming soon apparently), but the Lyra should not be considered among that stable in my opinion.

Lachlan Fennen Written by:

Facilitator, training design consultant, blogger / writer and amateur photographer

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