Disclaimer: Campfire Audio supplied Lyra for the purposes of this review. I paid nothing this time, not even import details. You can find out more about Lyra at Campfire’s WIP website. Campfire Audio Lyra should debut at 749$ USD.
Editor’s note (Lieven): the Lyra used for the review were not production level units and the production units are going to be better as improvements have been made, tuning, higher spec magnets, and better mechanicals.
Digitalism’s I Love You Dude is alternately bassy and melodic. At times it even gushes. It’s not as moving as aM’s KNEwwaVE, or as hard-hitting as Justice’s self-titled album, but if you’re speed-testing headphones, it’s about as fully functional an album as exists.
Not that I’m speed-testing Campfire Audio’s Lyra. I’ve had them in and out of my ears for about three weeks. And I’m pretty familiar with them now. It’s just that I Love You Dude really is doing its job of fine-combing my thoughts on the first product from ALO Audio’s new brand.
Campfire Audio’s lineup: Jupiter, Orion, and Lyra, are beasts. Lyra’s drivetrain is an 8,5mm beryllium driver clad in a robust and acoustically sound ceramic housing. Unlike Orion and Jupiter, it pressure-fits tightly glued parts in a simple, tight package. The sound tube is made of hard plastic, the end of which is a metal grill. A breathing port between the MMCX connector and the sound tube feeds the driver the air it needs. If you’re out and about in the wind, that port will mildly whistle.
If not as punctiliously designed as Sennheiser’s IE800, Lyra is easily as well thought-out. Its edges direct light to planes, engravings, and logos. Every flat is a branding opportunity. Lyra’s bold angles are thoroughly Campfire Audio. To a T, this earphone fits the robust, earthy tones set by its brand name. This side of Ocharaku, I can’t find equal in iterative, brand-anchored design.
Unfortunately, it fits about as well as a FitEar Parterre, or 111: its rump never resting against your ear. It’s strange because both Orion and Jupiter get right up in there. If you’re a jogger or bicycler, Lyra probably won’t stay put throughout your workouts. It is perfect for the mass transit commuter, the desk jockey, the professional audiophile photographer, or maybe even the hiker.
Lyra’s cable is extremely durable. It is beautiful, and jacked into a reinforced L-shaped plug. Its business end is encased in ~2,5mm of rubber: getting it to play nice with your thick phone case will be tricky. But knowing you, I should probably move on to how well it gets on with with amps. Don’t worry. Unless your amp is so crowded that you rely on your four-year-old to plug its ins and outs in and out, you’re fine. And both modern DAPs and good amps have no problem supplying Lyra with the right amount of current for superb-quality audio.
But then there’s its memory wire. It is _the most_ energetic memory wire I’ve used, bar none. If Campfire Audio broke down and admitted they installed an unfurled paper clip in there, I’d not even blink. It’s obvious. Even my neighbour’s bit judo fingers have trouble keeping it depressed between his sausage fingers. This makes it a pain for both glasses wearers and for the two-eyes out there.
Me? I’ve opted to keep something PlusSound attached. Or, go higher in the ALO food chain to something like the ALO SXC 24.
As you know, I’m quite a fan of Ultrasone’s IQ and IQ Pro. What I’m not a fan of is the amount of wasted packaging used to keep them on retail shelves. Lyra comes in an awesome leather case. It’s got feltish woolish stuff on the inside. It is tough, battened down with a sturdy metal zipper, and ready for anything but being tossed overboard. While it isn’t water proof, Lyra’s unassuming cardboard packaging wastes no space, wastes few resources, wastes little ink, and screams we do things different.
I can’t applaud Campfire Audio enough for their dedication to reducing waste.
Under a hidden flap at the bottom of the cardboard box are three pair of silicon ear tips, three pair of foamies, and a wax loop.
I was told the foamies sound best. They certainly fit best.
More after the jump: