Campfire Audio has a whole new set of IEMs out, introducing new designs and sound to get excited about. Sitting in the just under the thousand dollar range in the Ponderosa for $799. Is it a better version of the models It’ll be replacing in Campfire’s line?
What You Get
- Campfire Audio Ponderosa (Deluxe Edition)
- Green leather case
- Foam and silicone tips
- 3 Time Stream Cables in multiple terminations
- Cushioned Cable Bag
- Cleaning tool
- Campfire Audio pin
- Dual-pocket Breezy Bag Micro
Look & Feel
Part of Campfire’s new line of IEMs is the complete redesign of their outer shell. This design is comparable to custom IEMs with a universal fit. It makes for a unique shell where the shape is more of a mold than the aluminum material seen on past models like the Andromeda and Ara. While the Ponderosa looks like a cumbersome fit out of the box, when worn, it sits naturally in your concha without stretching out or adding fatigue to your ears.
The Ponderosa’s driver configuration is made up of five custom balanced armatures. It has two drivers for lows, one for mids, and 2 for high frequencies. With the deluxe edition of the Ponderosa, you have more cable options, but no matter what termination you use, you shouldn’t need a ton of power to get a good amount of volume from the IEMs.
Campfire IEMs usually have a good width to them, and that’s accurate for the Ponderosa. You get full scope for the left and right channels, showcasing the stereo field with separation and depth. As far as the imaging goes, the Ponderosa feels big, but not holographic. Sound elements that have hard panning will strictly reside in their space without appearing outward with any dimension to it. Nothing about the spatial imaging feels plain, but you’ll feel the solidity of the instruments mostly inside of your head.
If you’re a fan of the darker timbre that exists within a lot of Campfire IEMs, then you’ll be happy with the bass on the Ponderosa. Its tone is thick and highly resonant. The frequencies retain some nice detail and texture, but may come off as a bit bloated to some. It has a clear shape to it though, as the frequencies appear a lot more concise and less scattered. This brings out some invigorating bass performances that come off very smoothly, even if they lack transparency.
With the emphasis granted by the low mids, the midrange as a whole comes off with a lot of weight. There’s a present drive to the mids, but it definitely plays favorites in picking out which ranges of frequency the Ponderosa wants to push. This is the best version of a dark IEM that still gives the rest of the midrange almost equal presence. Vocals gain the most transparency, sticking out considerably, but still lacking an upper-midrange boost.
Usually with darker IEMs the highs get the short end of the stick, but on the Ponderodsa, they’re given a nice presence. There’s a clear tail to instruments, with the highs making a lot of sound elements feel complete. The highs don’t receive as much drive as other ranges of frequency, but appear balanced and without any noticeable roll-off.
While the Ponderosa has a sound signature you’d expect, it does a great job refining that sound. Campfire IEMs should be fun to listen to, and the Ponderosa delivers on that in excellent fashion. The soundstage, bass, vocal response, and even the highs all come through in elegant fashion. The new shell also gives the Ponderosa a fresh look, as well as a comfortable fit. It definitely joins the ranks of great IEMs for under a thousand.
The Campfire Audio Ponderosa is available here.