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Campfire Audio Cascara Review

Christopher Coke Posted:
Hardware Reviews 0

Campfire Audio is one of the leading audio brands in the United States, best known for its mega-hits like the Andromeda. Today, we’re looking at one of the newest members of the company’s Chromatic series, the Cascara. Driven by a single dynamic driver (DD), it delivers a rich, fun, bass-forward sound that makes for the perfect entry-point into the world of high-end, high-res audio. At $499, it’s one of the most affordable in-ear monitors (IEMs) in the company’s line-up and blew us away at every turn — even for gaming. If you like bass, this is a set you don’t want to miss.


  • Current Price: $499 (Campfire Audio, Amazon)
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz–20 kHz
  • SPL: 94 dB @ 1 kHz: 16.6 mVrms
  • Impedance: 23 Ohms @ 1 kHz
  • Less than 1% Total Harmonic Distortion

Campfire Audio Cascara - First Impressions and Key Features 

On the surface, the Campfire Audio Cascara seems pretty simple but there’s more going on here than what’s evident on the surface. It uses a single dynamic driver design without any details shared on the diaphragm — one of the most common ways Eastern brands sell the quality of their drivers. Instead, Campfire Audio focuses on its construction and range.

Dynamic drivers are a popular choice in IEMs and headphones due to the cohesiveness of their sound and their excellent bass response. A great dynamic driver can reach to deep into the low end and deliver punch and slam that planar magnetics and balanced armatures struggle to achieve. Because only a single driver is at play here, there’s no need for a crossover to split the frequency range, everything comes through with a silky smoothness only the best DDs can provide.

The Cascara uses a large, 10mm dynamic driver to deliver its sonics. It’s able to move a lot of air, providing a tactile, haptic sensation to the sub-bass. Unlike most dynamics, however, Campfire has integrated a dual magnetic design to increase its performance. Adding this second magnet increases the strength of the magnetic field, allowing the driver to start and stop more quickly and with added precision. This rapidity, or speed, makes the entire low-end sound tighter with bigger impact and more texture. It also allows the upper registers to offer greater presence.

Of course, driver type and driver count only amount to so much. What really matters is how the engineers crafting the sound tune the earphones. This involves everything from the acoustic chamber within the IEM to the dampening materials between it and your ear. We’ll get into this more in the Listening Impressions section but Campfire Audio is a master at its craft and this is an excellently tuned IEM for fans of a warmer, bass-centric flavor of sound.

There’s also something really interesting about the design and presentation of this set that culminates in a unique sense of identity for the Campfire brand and the Cascara as a set. The packaging, for example, comes in a matching blue to the set itself and is adorned with graphics that are rich with personality. There’s a 1970s vibe to it that reminds me of my youth attending ‘Dead shows with my parents. A box is just a box, until it’s not. In this case, it’s an introduction.

Inside, the earphones come in a zippered carrying case of padded blue mesh. Inside, an even tinier version of this bag protects each individual earpiece. You’ll still want to treat them with care but this will allow you to safely carry them in a bag. I also like that there’s room for the earphones as well as the cable and accessories on the other side of the bag. 

Along with the earphones themselves, you also get a very nice cable. Campfire calls this its Timestream cable. Unlike most cables of this type, it uses a completely flat, almost ribbon cable like, design. There are four strands that run side by side and gleam with their silver finish. While the design might be unusual, it works quite well and is not prone to tangling. With a simple roadie wrap, I was able to get it wound very smoothly for transport. It also has virtually no memory from being wound and unwinds very nicely.

You can pick up the Cascara in two versions and in two colors, blue or black. The Standard version, which I was sent, includes the mesh bag and a single cable in your choice of 3.5mm single-ended, 2.5mm balanced, or 4.4mm balanced. For another $200, you can upgrade to the Deluxe Package, which includes all three Timestream cables, a special bag for cable storage, an upgraded handmade leather carrying case, and the mesh carrying case included here. 

I will say that it's a bit disappointing that you're stuck with a single cable type for $500. Modular cable ends are becoming very common in the wider market, especially at this price point. Since it uses standard MMCX connectors, it's easy to upgrade the cable yourself, but I would have loved to have seen modular terminations as an option here.

It's also available in universal IEM form or custom molded to your ears. The custom molds will run you an additional $400 and come in either Audiophile or Artist fits. The latter has longer nozzles for better isolation for use on stage. 

The stock fit is quite interesting. It looks much more like a custom IEM than most others designed for general use. Taking a close look at them you'll find that they are highly contoured and have longer than average nozzles. The faceplate is also quite interesting and that it's really a metal insert attached to this resin shell.

I have to admit that I was actually pretty concerned they wouldn't be comfortable. Custom IEMs are made using molds for your specific ear. With such long nozzles these appeared to risk an uncomfortably deep fit that may not actually match my ears. 

I'm pleased to say I actually found them quite comfortable and exceptionally isolating. That deep fit makes a remarkable distance in how much outside noise they're able to block out. It's no exaggeration to say that the Cascara blocks out more noise than most active noise canceling earbuds. Once they are fit, they stay rock solid and don't move. While I would never suggest exercising in such an expensive pair of earphones, they would actually work quite well for that.

The design necessitates finding the right tip to make the fit work, however. Campfire election of silicone and memory foam tips in the box (as well as a neat little pin, if you're interested in a memento). The smallest silicone tip is quite small, which should allow even petite listeners to find a comfortable fit. The memory foam tips are also exceptionally comfortable. I generally avoid foam tips, but these didn't bother me and allowed for even better isolation.

All in all, it is a pretty good package for the cost of entry. $499 isn't cheap, even if it is one of the most affordable entries in Campfire Audio’s catalog. What you are getting for that money is refined and exceptionally well considered. I actually consider this to be one of the most unique earphones I've reviewed yet, and is an exceptionally nice introduction to this classic brand.

Campfire Audio Cascara - Listening Impressions 

The Campfire Audio Cascara isn’t an exceptionally sensitive pair of earphones but they aren’t difficult to drive. I was able to achieve a listenable volume even using the integrated audio on my laptop, but I would still recommend you invest in an upgraded dongle DAC or standalone unit for the best experience. The Cascara is a ton of fun, and you’ll be able to enjoy that even from very casual sources, but give it a little bit of extra power and it shines.

This is a pair that I would absolutely consider basshead IEM. The low-end is bold and prominent, with plenty of slam and impact. It’s well-suited to pop and hip-hop but any genre or content that leans into the low-end can sound great on these. Killswitch Engage is a metalcore band and sounds fantastic on these with a thick, punchy body. 

I am a big fan of bass in headphones — as long as it’s done well — and it really is here. Kicks have a tangible haptic quality. Gunshots and explosions in games have thump. The double magnet structure and enhanced speed also help the precision of the bass. It’s refined and crisp with nothing soft or hazy about it. 

The powerful bass leads to slightly warmed lower mids, but they don’t wind up sounding muddy. There’s a lushness, especially to male vocals, that stops short of becoming husky. I enjoy this kind of lower mids coloration but it’s admittedly not as accurate as a more neutral sounding set. The Cascara isn’t concerned with being a reference monitor, however, and this balance works well with the rumbly, thick low-end. 

The upper-mids are accentuated, giving instruments clarity and presence. This is a smart tuning decision lest instruments like guitars begin to sound veiled. While the warmth slightly masks some of the detail in the crunch of distorted guitars the upper-mids tuning brings out some of the resonating detail to present a better perception of clarity. The tuning of this range is fairly critical to the overall vibe of the headphones, bringing us back up the frequency range roller coaster to draw out detail.

As the Cascara ascends into the treble regions, there’s a smoothness to its sound that makes them easy to listen to for extended sessions. This also bolsters its gaming chops because you can get lost in your game without being reminded you’re wearing over-bright IEMs. Smooth though it is, it’s still crisp and refined. Liek the upper mids, the treble has been well tuned to make details like cymbals and hi-hats come forward. It’s the yin to the bass’s yang, giving us this nice two-sided balance without either end overpowering the other.

The technical capability of the Cascara is quite good. It presents a detailed listening experience across the entire spectrum, but I find bass texture to be the star of the show. I really love how percussion pops out, however, which is my second favorite quality. They aren’t the absolute best thanks to some of that lower-mids warmth leveraging body over detail but it’s a trade-off I understand and it worthwhile for the fun tuning it’s clearly going for. 

The soundstage is surprisingly good. For a bass-centric pair of IEMs, I went in expecting these to sound slightly constrained but they’re anything but. I found the listening experience to be rather wide, actually, with a good amount of depth and very good stereo imaging. The left, right, and center images are nice and clear, though for 360-degree audio, something like Dolby Atmos is necessary. 

The Cascara is a great earphone for gaming. The balance of bass presence, impact, and detail in the upper mids and treble provides an immersive and frequently thrilling gaming experience. The stereo imaging is sufficient for competitive gaming but, as I mentioned, can be enhanced further with Dolby Atmos. The fact that it’s simultaneously isolating and non-fatiguing makes them a solid pick even outside of the great tuning for single- and multiplayer games. 

Overall Impressions and Final Thoughts

The Campfire Audio Cascara was my first introduction to Campfire Audio and it was a long time coming. I’m glad that I was able to begin with the Cascara, an earphone I hadn’t heard of previously but that has turned out to be one of my favorites. It brings an exceptionally fun sound that’s easy to lose hours too, whether you’re listening to your favorite music or slipping away into a video game. Its unique look and fit makes it even better as one of the most isolating IEMs in its price range. 

It’s for a particular kind of listener: the bass fan, that guy or gal who doesn’t really care whether they’re listening to something that offers the pinnacle of accuracy, and instead wants something fun that will have them bobbing their head and tapping their feet. That’s who this is for and, if you’re like me, it’s a pretty joyous experience.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes. Articles may include affiliate links from which we may earn a small commission to help support the site. Authors do not earn affiliate revenue or commissions. 

8.5 Great
  • Premium look, feel, and design
  • Snug, isolating, and comfortable fit
  • Excellent bass - rich, detailed, and fast
  • Lots of detail in the uppers mids and treble; very good clarity
  • Great for both music and gaming
  • Fit may create issues for some listeners
  • Bass-rich sound will be great for some but too much for others
  • Non-modular cable in standard package


Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight