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Campfire Audio Satsuma – A Real-World Review

Mike Levine puts Campfire Audio Satsuma In-Ear-Monitors to the test in our latest Real-World Review.

Campfire Audio Satsuma
Campfire Audio Satsuma

Satsuma is a new in-ear monitor from Campfire Audio, a Portland, Oregon-based manufacturer that makes custom-fit and universal-fit models. The company says the orange-colored IEMs can “transition effortlessly from studio monitor to everyday listening companion.”

If you’re someone who produces music while on the road, a product like this could be particularly appealing. It would shield you from outside sounds enough to work in public spaces like airport waiting rooms without having to carry around a pair of full-sized studio headphones.

The Satsumas come with a generous selection of different-sized earphone tips. I experimented with several until I found the ones that worked best for me.” Their snug fit helped improve both the isolation and bass response. Although the Satsumas didn’t provide as much isolation as my custom-fit IEMs—no big surprise there—they did cut out a lot of outside sound.

The Satsumas feature a detachable twisted-wire cable with a 3.5mm jack on one end and Campfire Audio’s Custom Beryllium/Copper connectors on the other. The latter feature micro-miniature coaxial (MMCX) connectors, which are truly tiny and provide a snug connection.

Campfire Audio doesn’t include a 3.5mm-to- 1/4-inch adapter, which you’ll need to connect with pro gear. I found that a bit puzzling since they’re marketing these IEMs for studio use. I own several different varieties of those adapters, and the first couple I tried didn’t connect securely with the Satsuma’s jack. Wiggling the jack caused the connection to cut out intermittently.

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At first, I thought it was cable itself, but it turned out to be the adapters. The third one I tried, an old Radio Shack adapter with a plastic grip, fit snugly. I looked on the Campfire Audio site but couldn’t find any adapters for sale or any that the company recommended. You may have to experiment to find one that works best.

Once I got that squared away, I was able to focus on the sound quality. I used the Satsumas while tracking and mixing and listening to streaming music, and I was impressed with their sound and isolation.

Campfire Audio describes these IEMs as sounding “natural and balanced,” which seems like an accurate description. I could definitely mix with them. And for traveling, they’re a big step up from most earbuds from a fidelity standpoint. For stage use, I’d prefer universal-fit IEMs, but Satsuma’s isolation seems quite good for a universal-fit model.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to Campfire Audio’s gorgeous industrial design.