Campfire Audio presented its first TWS headphones, the Orbit model. They are equipped with a Bluetooth 5.2 interface with AAC and aptX Adaptive codecs and 10 mm dynamic drivers. The manufacturer promises entertaining sound and a large soundstage.
Campfire Audio decided to try their hand at True Wireless Stereo headphones. It is hardly surprising that such a decision is made because the popularity of this type of headphones is not decreasing. Undoubtedly, the “death” of the minijack in smartphones contributed to this, so users were somehow forced to TWS – it is not without reason that Apple earns a fortune on AirPods. However, I do not want to be a cynic because I use TWS headphones daily, and I like them very much – I think that in mobile applications, they are second to none.
The title Orbit, however, raises some doubts. The headphones were priced at Euro 330, which is more expensive than the top models of Sennheiser, Sony, or Technics. If we look at the manufacturer’s website, it will also turn out that Orbit does not offer ANC or transparent mode, and there is no support for the LDAC codec. Headphones must make up for functional deficiencies with sound to make their purchase profitable. I checked whether the Orbit impresses with sound.
- 3 pairs of silicone tips (sizes S, M, L);
- 3 pairs of thermo active foams (sizes S, M, L);
- USB-C cable (length 5 cm);
- charging case;
- Manual user instructions.
The equipment is richer than in typical GRP, because in addition to standard tips, we also get good foams in three sizes. A fan of the American brand will also appreciate the metal pin, made surprisingly solidly for this type of gadget. The only thing that disappoints is the cable with USB-C plugs on both sides, which is far too short (5 cm).
The Orbit resembles the shape of Campfire Audio’s wired in-ear headphones, but their colors distinguish them because the set is cream-caramel-green. The colors instantly reminded me of… pistachios. The headphones undoubtedly stand out from the crowd because it is something completely different from the dominant, monochromatic TWS. I have to admit that initially, I was for them, but Orbit won me over over time. However, a more subdued color version would be welcome.
The new in-ear headphones are “Andromeda-like”, but in fact, the Orbit only refers to Campfire Audio’s wired classics because their casings are more rounded. Both lids are, of course, touch panels, within which there is also a small, gold-plated manufacturer’s logo. On the inside, there are contacts, channel markings, and small air vents. And the sleeves look precisely like the standard Campfire Audio in-ear headphones, for example, the Solaris or Ara models.
The case fits the headphones perfectly because its edges are cut and angular. The accessory is vertical and narrow, and on the front, it is decorated with the full manufacturer’s logo embossed in plastic. At the bottom, we find a USB-C socket with a single diode, and inside the case, typical molds for headphones with pogo-pin connectors. Between them, there is a single button and a row of four orange LEDs.
The build quality is good. Plastics dominate because only the sleeves are made of metal, but you can feel that not just any plastic was used – they are smooth, stiff, and pleasant to the touch. This also applies to the case, which does not differ in quality from the headphones. I also did not like the hinge in the box because the cover has only minimal slack, and the magnets used are optimally strong – both the headphones and the lid of the case attract each other flawlessly.
Bulky housings and short and wide sleeves did not bode well. However, in my case, the Orbits protrude only slightly from the ears, do not compress the insides of the auricles, and firmly hold their places, so I can’t complain about ergonomics. This is mainly due to the optimal dimensions – HiFiMAN TWS800 or the new FiiO FW5, which I used alternately with Orbit, being larger models. The same is true of the Sony WF-1000XM4.
I have no complaints about the case either. The box is handy and light, so it fits well in the hand and easily in a trouser pocket. I also liked the location of the USB-C port on the bottom edge because the case usually lies flat, so the charging socket is always available. It’s great that the lid can also be opened with one hand, conveniently prying with your finger. Unfortunately, pulling out the headphones is not as easy as it should be – they are rounded and located quite deep in the molds, so sometimes it is difficult to pry them.
Usage and functionality
The touch panels are responsive, and the user interface design is mainly symmetrical. A double tap on the left earphone plays the previous track, and the right one changes the track to the next one. By contrast, holding down the left panel decreases the volume, and the right panel increases it, which is intuitive and easy to remember. In turn, headphones pause music (single tap) and trigger voice assistants/answer calls (triple tap). Pairing is also not a challenge because the button in the case is responsible for it, which additionally resets the device after holding it for a long time.
Unfortunately, the Orbits don’t have active noise reduction, and passive isolation is nothing special. While listening to music, the environment was not bothersome while listening to music, but during quieter repertoire or breaks, I could clearly hear outside noise. Foams improved the situation, but superior sound insulation was still questioned. So in this aspect, Orbit has no chance with most TWS headphones equipped with the ANC system – Sony WF-1000XM4, Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3, and other models insulate undeniably better.
The functionality is limited. In addition to ANC or transparent mode, there are also no proximity sensors, i.e., the music does not pause automatically after removing the headphones from the ears. Unfortunately, Orbit only supports AAC and aptX codecs because I couldn’t activate aptX Adaptive in any way. I checked it with Realme GT Master Edition and Motorola Edge 30 Fusion smartphones that support the latest Qualcomm codec. On the other hand, the call quality was good – the interlocutors could hear me perfectly. However, a lot depends on the conditions because the headphones, on average, mute the environment.
Working time is entirely satisfactory. Admittedly, I didn’t get 8.5 hours from the specs, but these may be the results for SBC or AAC codecs. I did a battery test using the apt-X codec, the volume was set to about 60% of the scale (this is enough because the Orbit is very loud) – the headphones lasted precisely 7 hours and 3 minutes on a single charge. It’s great that the case can be refilled on wireless chargers compatible with the Qi standard.
Smartphone app… is available. That’s all I can say about it because the interface looks terrible and the possibilities are small. The app also has a lot of problems – it is unstable, and not all functions work correctly. Therefore, the application should not have debuted in this form; the manufacturer must refine it.
The main screen only displays the user manual because individual commands can be disabled but not modified. In turn, the manual graphic equalizer often refuses to obey – it happened that while manipulating the Orbit sliders, they disconnected from the smartphone, and only one handset connected to it. The headphones had to be reset and paired again. So it’s better to use one of the seven predefined settings, which fortunately do their job.
- interface: Bluetooth 5.2 LE with AAC codecs, aptX Adaptive
- drivers: dynamic 10 mm
- frequency response: 5Hz-20kHz
- functions: touch panels, inductive charging, IPX5 water resistance, smartphone application
- batteries: 50 mAh (single handset); 270mAh (case)
- weight: 6 g (single earphone); 33g (case)
Orbit sounds friendly and effective. The sound signature is musical, and the sound is warm, smooth, and spacious. The low tones have been strengthened because the headphones offer a massive, weighted, and dense sound, but the bottom of the band does not wholly flood the midrange yet. In turn, the treble has been softened, as if rounded – those sensitive to treble will be satisfied, but fans of clear sound not necessarily. However, a lot can be done with a concealer.
The bass willingly goes ahead and shows off, above all, a fat midbass. The headphones also pull out the sub-bass, but after the bass’s increased warmth, smoothness, and density, I conclude that its mid-range has more to say. The bass also hits dynamically, is sustained for a long time, and decays efficiently, so the music is engaging – I enjoyed listening to electronics, rock, and metal. Fortunately, the bass calms down in the lighter repertoire, thanks to which virtuoso basses, double basses, or pianos do not sound subwoofer. However, one should not expect outstanding detail and exemplary differentiation of instruments because the priority is entertainment, not analysis.
The midrange is warm, highly saturated, and smooth because of its lower subrange rules, and the upper one is gentle. I don’t have a problem with that – in headphones of this type, I am looking for the pleasure of music on a walk or travel. The vocals are not muted yet, they do not disappear in the background, but a lot depends on the production of the music – in the bass repertoire, the midrange recedes into the background, and the upper vocals seem slightly subdued. This is helped by the equalizer number 2 from the Campfire Audio application, which calms down the bass for the upper midrange and treble. Clarity is also added by the equalizer number 6, but this exaggeratedly sharpens the treble and distances the midrange.
The highs are mellow. A roll-off enhances warmth, massiveness, and smoothness in the highest octaves. In the default configuration, the headphones forgive a lot of recordings – even sharper songs sound accessible. However, I lacked spark, overall clarity, and detail in the treble. Again, the situation was saved by the equalizer number 2, which brightens the headphones, increases detail, and evens the sound. Jazz, classic rock, or blues sounded better with it. However, you should know that the soprano boost increases its digitality, which is typical for DSP-tuned Bluetooth headphones.
The soundstage is large for TWS headphones. First, stereophony is in the lead because the channels have been strongly separated. This is somewhat standard for TWS headphones, but Orbit sounds wider than usual consumer TWS headphones. I also appreciated the depth and height of the stage, so the instruments were exposed in many planes. Headphones also separate them well, but here the effect depends on the equalizer. On this default, the bass fills the stage’s corners, limiting the distances between the instruments. Concealer number 2, on the other hand, calms the lower part, thanks to which the aeration is more excellent.
Campfire Audio Orbit – comparisons with other headphones
Sony WF-1000XM4 are also musically tuned headphones with deep bass but with a different character. The Orbits are smoother, softer, and more colorful because the Sonys sound harder, clearly outlining the sound more strongly. I also noticed that the factory settings of the WF-1000XM4 sound more apparent, and they hit the bass harder, which shows off its attack. Orbits are not as explosive in the bass, they generate more massive, slower, and rounder low tones. The level is generally similar, but I think the Orbit sounds more spacious – they win over the Sony primarily with the depth and height of the stage.
Then I combined Orbit with FiiO FW5, i.e., hybrid headphones. It was immediately audible because the FW5 presented more muscular upper mids, a much brighter treble, and a less developed bass. Orbit sounded more bass, soft, smooth, and colorful, but became much less clear, even with the number 2 equalizer active. You can hear that Campfire Audio focused on the low end, while FiiO prioritized the upper ranges. I also quickly picked up the differences in the stage – the FW5 generated a smaller and more spherical space, and the Orbit sounded ellipsoidal. More about this confrontation and the FW5 will soon be included in the test dedicated to FiiO headphones.
The Orbit differs significantly from the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 or Technics EAH-AZ60. These first headphones sound more natural and even, placing the midrange closer than the Orbits. In turn, the Technics is brighter and more analytical in their transmission; with them, the Campfire Audio headphones are clearly on the musical side of the force. However, it should be remembered that all models can be tuned quite freely, adjusting the sound to your taste. The aforementioned equalizer number 2 evens out the sound of the Orbit model, reducing the differences with the Momentums or Technics.
Campfire Audio Orbit is compromised headphones. They lack ANC, proximity sensors, and several other options known from consumer models. In addition, the application is underdeveloped because it works unstable and does not spoil with functions. To make matters worse, the test piece did not support the aptX Adaptive codec, despite the manufacturer’s assurances.
However, the manufacturer cared for rich equipment, solid workmanship, and unusual design. Also, I was not too fond of ergonomics, which applies to comfortable headphones and a handy case. I think the service design deserves praise, as does the uptime. As stated by the manufacturer, the sound is far from neutral, musical, and spatial, which may be liked. If not, the sound can be equalized with equalizer number 2, my favorite.
Campfire Audio Orbit costs around Euro 330. There is no question of high profitability, and the sound, although good, is similar in quality to popular top-shelf headphones, only more spacious. Therefore, if we are interested in functions and ANC, it is better to reach for proven solutions. However, when we want to try something else, we are aware of the limitations of the Orbits, and the cost does not matter; the headphones are worth trying. I wouldn’t choose them myself, but I enjoyed using them and listening to them, despite their flaws.
+ foams included
+ solid workmanship
+ original design
+ convenient operation
+ high ergonomics
+ successful case
+ Qi charging
+ effective, pleasant, and spatial sound
+ The possibility of equalizing with an equalizer
– no aptX Adaptive (despite declared support)
– no ANC and many additional functions
– underdeveloped mobile application