When I rate and review earphones, I try to ignore their price when I start testing, to give the audio quality a clean slate. Alas, when earphones cost £249 (as of this writing), you develop certain expectations – both as far as the audio quality goes, and the extra features.
Campfire Audio’s Orbit true wireless earphones, therefore, gave me a hard time. The audio quality is mostly excellent, with a wide soundscape, high volume levels (with no distortion whatsoever) and balanced sound. They support advanced audio codecs like AAC and aptX, and the battery times are not bad at 8.5 hours on the buds and 30 additional hours on the slim case.
But then we get to the list of what’s missing – there’s no Active Noise Cancellation at all, no in-ear detection, no multi-device support, no way to customise the controls, and even the smartphone app is problematic.
Can you look away from all these missing features when the sound is good enough? Sometimes – but it’s harder when the earbuds cost this much. Having said that… let’s dig in deeper.
Quick Look – Campfire Audio Orbit
What are they: Expensive, slim and portable True Wireless Bluetooth earphones.
Value for Money
- Excellent audio quality
- Good in-ear seal, especially with the supplied foam ear tips
- Decent battery times
- aptX and AAC audio codecs
- No Active Noise Cancellation or Ambient mode
- No In-ear detection
- No dual-device support
Features and Specs
- Driver unit: 10mm Dynamic Drivers
- Battery Playing Time: 8.5 hours
- Additional Battery Time on Case: 30 Hours
- Full charging time: Case: 2.5 hours
- Case charging port: USB-C / Wireless charging
- Codecs: Bluetooth 5.2, aptX Adaptive, AAC, SBC
- Extra Features: Smartphone app for extra personalisation / IPX5 Sweat & Water Resistant
Campfire Audio’s first true wireless earphones are a mixed bag: the audio quality is great (just don’t expect heart-thumping bass), and if that’s your main concern, they certainly deliver. But at their current price point, the lack of several features we now take for granted is a disappointment.
Table of Contents
Who Are The Campfire Audio Orbit For?
Campfire Audio, based in Portland, Oregon, has been making audio equipment since 2015. They’re probably best known for their in-ear monitors, with several critically acclaimed wired models.
The “Orbit” pair, launched in late 2022, are the company’s first true wireless earphones. The aim was to bring Campfire Audio’s signature sound quality into the crowded wireless earbuds market.
At a retail price of £249 – they’re certainly aiming high, with the likes of Apple, Sony and Bose marked as the competition. But these days, when sub-£100 earphones deliver great results with a laundry list of features – is audio quality enough?
Since I usually focus on mid-range earbuds that are much more affordable – it was a surprise to find true wireless earphones, in this day and age, that lack features we now take for granted – Active Noise Cancellation, for example. In-ear detection (that stops the music when you take a bud out of your ear). Dual-device support that lets you pair two devices to the same earbuds.
And the list goes on. Even the Campfire Audio app is a disappointment, with confusing EQ presets and no way to customise the touch controls.
If you’re an avid fan of Campfire Audio’s products and sound – you’ll probably get your fix. But at this price level – there are better options out there.
Using The Campfire Audio Orbit
Size and Comfort
I have to start with the box. Yes, it’s a carton box that people usually bin the next day – but in this case, the Orbit earbuds do come in a beautiful box. When you’re paying £249, I guess you come to expect an attractive box. So – done.
Then there’s the shape of the earbuds themselves. When you review a lot of true wireless earphones, they all start looking the same at some point, with two primary form factors – the ones with stems, and the ones… without.
The Orbit earbuds have a unique form factor – there no stems, and if I had to compare them to anything – it’s of course Campfire Audio’s own wired earbuds that have a similar shape.
It’s all very plasticky, but the beige/cream colours are nice. The downside of this irregular shape, is that for some reason the earbuds are hard to take out of the case.
If your fingers are even slightly moist and slippery – forget about it. Furthermore, with the touch buttons covering almost the entire outer face of the earbuds, it’s almost impossible to push them into your ear without accidentally pressing something.
And then, even putting them back in the case is sometimes problematic – if you don’t push hard enough, they don’t turn off (even if you close the case) – and stay connected to your phone. I had a couple of instances where a phone call was diverted to the earbuds in my kitchen, while I was with my phone upstairs…
In the box, you get five additional (6 in total) ear tip sizes – and three of those are foam eartips, which is a nice plus. I’m a big fan of foam eartips, as they provide a better in-ear seal – especially in this case, where there’s no ANC.
You also get a USB-C charging cable, the charging case, which supports Qi wireless charging, and a Campfire Audio lapel pin, because why not.
The earphones have an IPX5 water and sweat resistance rating – which means you can safely use them in the rain or when working out, but you can’t jump into the pool with them.
All in all, the earbuds feel good in the ear. They’re very lightweight, so they don’t grow heavy even after hours of use, and the wide selection of eartips means it’s easy to find a pair that sits well in your ear.
Pairing And Controlling
With Bluetooth 5.2 support, pairing the Orbit was pretty straightforward – even though I did encounter one snafu – for some reason, my Android phone saw them as both earphones and a separate audio device, and when I picked the “wrong” one, I had to reset the earbuds (via a button on the case) and re-pair them as, well, earphones.
There’s no dual-device support, which is a shame – so if you want to use them with your phone, and then with your laptop – you have to make one device “forget” them, and then re-pair them with the second device.
Having used the Orbit for several weeks, I never encountered any sudden disconnections or Bluetooth noises and crackles – even when I walked around crowded places.
Controlling the earphones is easy, and the touch surface is quite accurate – not too sensitive and not too hard. There’s support for one tap, two taps and three taps – which means you can control the volume, play/pause, skip forward/back, and voice assistant activation.
Sadly, the smartphone app doesn’t let you customise the touch controls – maybe that’s something that can be added with a software update in the future – but it’s a strange omission.
OK, now that I’m done complaining about missing features, it’s time to look at the main attraction – the sound quality.
Thankfully, this is one area where the Orbit earbuds don’t disappoint, for the most part. Regular readers will know I’m a deep-bass fan, and the bass here may be just a bit too balanced for my tastes – but if you’re looking for clear, well-balanced sound – you won’t find anything to complain about.
I started my testing with Queen of the Silver City by Glassio. The song sounds great with its shimmering synths, pulsing beats, and dreamy vocals.
The earbuds delivered excellent mids and highs, letting the hypnotic rhythms, ethereal vocals, and rich layers of synths and percussion shine through.
When it came to the bass, as mentioned it wasn’t as deep as I usually like it (even for such tiny earbuds), but it wasn’t a deal breaker. Also, the foam, marshmallow-style eartips do give the bass a nudge in the right direction.
Moving on to Blondie’s Heart of Glass, this classic rock-disco track totally shined with its energetic atmosphere and Debbie Harry’s smooth vocals.
The Orbit earbuds made it sound fresh and more infectious than ever, especially when it comes to the disco beat. Even when I increased the volume to a high setting (and it can get QUITE high!) – there was no distortion or shrillness.
All in all, I had a very pleasant listening experience, with the earbuds sitting snuggly in my ears and delivering sound quality that is not so common for tiny earbuds.
You can tweak the EQ via Campfire Audio’s app – and there are also several presets you can pick from. Strangely, they don’t have names – just numbers – so it’s like opening a mystery box every time you switch to an EQ preset.
As mentioned, the Orbit buds don’t have any Active Noise Cancellation. When you use the foam eartips, they provide a pretty good seal. Is it enough on a loud train ride, or near a noisy road? no. I really wish Campfire Audio provided some ANC – as even sub-£100 earbuds have decent implementations of the technology these days, not to mention direct competitors like Sony and Apple.
As expected these days, the Orbit also have two microphones that let you conduct phone calls. There are no fancy sound filtering tricks here, so if you’re in a noisy environment, that’s what you’ll sound like – but in a quiet room, the voices on the other side of the call were warm and pleasant , and I was heard perfectly.
Bottom Line: Are The Campfire Audio Orbit Earbuds Worth It?
With so much competition in the true wireless arena these days – both at the high-end levels and the mid-range levels, companies have to really excel if they want to stand out in the crowd.
Campfire Audio’s first true wireless earphones don’t quite manage to do that. It seems they were looking to rely on audio quality alone – and yes, the audio quality is mostly brilliant.
And that will be enough for some. But when you’re being asked to pay £249 for earphones, you have certain expectations these days – especially in terms of features and added technology.
So yes, the audio quality is important, and it delivers. But if we ever get an Orbit 2.0 in the future – it will hopefully combine the great audio with more bells and whistles. Or, you know – it doesn’t cost as much.