Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM: Review –

Astell&Kern does not need an introduction in the world of higher-finish personalized audio, but the Korean DAP maker is most certainly not a brand name identify that most individuals know. Their quality DAPs command a significant price tag and audiophiles who are pretty serious about higher performance headphones and transportable playback, have virtually assuredly attempted or owned a person of their items.

When you have continuously sent the greatest, prospective collaboration companions are not incredibly tough to obtain. With the exception of the a short while ago released Astell&Kern UW100 Wireless Earphones, all of their headphones and earphones have been made and created in partnership with other manufacturers Jerry Harvey, Beyerdynamic, and Campfire Audio.

The collaborations so much, have been retuning employment of existing headphones or earphones and nothing has truly been what I would call a match-changer. The merchandise were being by now very good and the modifications were built to greater fit the playback abilities of their existing DAPs. There is not anything at all incorrect with that but just how much does that move the needle?

Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM Box Front

I lately acquired the new Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEMs and I truly hope that both equally makes take the ball and run with it this is possibly the finest collaboration that I have been fortunate to review so significantly and I am happy to see that Astell&Kern and Campfire Audio have learned from their experience with the Solaris X collaboration and produced the needed modifications.

The Pathfinder isn’t the 1st collaboration concerning the two firms and when I’m positive Solaris owners will get their torches prepared — I wasn’t overly amazed with the Solaris X total. I anticipated a whole lot additional and I say that since I have been a Campfire Audio purchaser for a couple of decades and have a lot of knowledge with their products the Andromeda is one particular of my favourite IEMs and nonetheless will get regular use.

I travel with a pair of Campfire Audio Andromeda and the Astell&Kern KANN Alpha DAP and the combination is one particular that I like pretty significantly It is arguably one particular of the most enjoyable sections of my day when I can shed myself when I commute listening to songs through these two fantastic solutions.

There was most unquestionably some trepidation reviewing the Pathfinder, because I feared that it could conclusion up currently being my fourth prospect to evaluation the Solaris which unlike the Andromeda has not been a appreciate affair for me.

Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM Kit

The Skinny

We are not in the unboxing company, but I was pretty amazed with every little thing that Astell&Kern and Campfire Audio bundled in the packaging. The kit arrives with the Pathfinder earpieces, a divided fabric bag to guard them, and Campfire’s standard zipper situation to retail store the earpieces and just one of the provided cables.

There are 3 sets of cables to pick from in the box 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and a person that is terminated with 4.4mm jacks.

Quite number of manufacturers do that lots of only supply a person and charge you up to $350 for the supplemental cables.

They have also long gone the additional mile when it will come to ear suggestions the package deal features a set of silicone guidelines, three sets of foam guidelines, and a full established of Closing Audio E-Sequence recommendations. I cannot feel of too many earphone companies that do that and also involve a carry bag for the cable and tips, cleaning resource, and manuals.

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Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM Outside
Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM

The earpieces are finished in black and silver with a forged overall body in gloss black and metal confront plates with a mirror finish. The industrial style is a combination of the Solaris and the angular models from Astell&Kern with the faceplate acquiring six aspects of various measurements.

The nozzles are shiny stainless as nicely with matching rings around the MMCX port and vent. The complete package deal has somewhat sizeable heft and it most certainly feels as if Astell&Kern have had a larger hand in the build high quality and overall glimpse and feel.

Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM Cable

The cables are silver plated OFC Copper Litz in a four strand aspect-by-side flat housing that is also fairly visually impactful. The cable appears to be heavier than it is and with the ear-hooks at the north conclusion, weight is nicely dispersed and I had no difficulties with microphonic noise.

Astell&Kern and Campfire Audio definitely sent on the visual conclusion, but very several people today spend this sort of funds on earphones mainly because they are visually attractive the Pathfinder is a hybrid layout with a 10mm dynamic driver with a dual diaphragm and radial venting technique to superior regulate the very low conclusion.

The midrange is dealt with by a new twin chamber balanced armature, and the highs are handled by a pair of balanced armatures all of the armatures have been custom designed by Knowles for Campfire Audio.

The impedance was measured at 6.9 ohms (the supplied push package lists 6.2 ohms) and the calculated sensitivity was 96 dB/mW, producing the Pathfinder simple to generate but considerably source precise. 

The Pathfinder is intended to match nicely with Astell&Kern DAPs and other sources with in the vicinity of zero output impedance. If your source has a substantial output impedance, treatment requires to be taken when pairing them.


I paired the Pathfinder with my Astell&Kern KANN Alpha, Sony WM1A, and a borrowed Astell&Kern SP2000 to check its effectiveness with portables, and an RME ADI-2 FSR BE Reference DAC and Yulong Aurora to check place of work/desktop pairings.    

There was no surprise that the Astell&Kern DAPs supplied a a little hotter and more organic audio than the Sony which leans far more in direction of currently being analytical sounding.

Both equally the RME and Aurora made available identical sonic signature with a bit considerably less heat than the Astell&Kern DAPs but a touch much more than the Sony. The very best pairings were being the Astell&Kern SP2000 and Yulong Aurora that struck the very best balance between coloration, texture, and element all round.

Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM Frequency Chart

There is some extra emphasis in the very low conclude that gives the Pathfinder a bit of extra effects and definition, but it commences to path-off close to 100Hz and I never felt that it crossed in excess of better in the bass vary.

The sub-bass is well controlled notes experienced very good texture and depth and I usually felt that it was effectively defined no matter of the genre of audio that I listened to.

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The frequency range from the mid-bass to the reduced midrange is really linear sounding and it certainly seems like Astell&Kern and Campfire Audio aimed for a “W” tuning with the Pathfinder.

The new twin dynamic driver is very articulate sounding with additional than adequate texture, clarity, and manage there is virtually no bleed from the bass into the mid-assortment which retains the total presentation very open up and balanced.

The Pathfinder is a not a bass head IEM, but with some EQ utilized, the low conclude can provide reference high quality effect and definition and I problem why any one would have to have extra. Never punish your hearing.

Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM

The decrease mid-assortment is clean up and totally free of any extra emphasis male vocals are delivered with superb take note excess weight, precise timbre, and additional than ample detail. I was pretty amazed with how the Pathfinder reproduces the cello and acoustic guitar timbre, detail, and never ever pushed much too significantly forward into the combine that they interfere with the vocals.

There is some extra emphasis in the midrange that does insert some power and presence to violin strings and piano notes I was worried that it would increase as well significantly into the upper mid-range and affect vocals, but it manages to restrain itself just more than enough and not turn into tricky or strident sounding.

One of the elements of the Solaris’ performance that I did not love was the comparable emphasis in the mid-assortment adopted by a somewhat sharp dip which led to unevenness in the upper mid-range and decrease treble.

Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM

Whilst the Pathfinder shares the similar increase in the mid-array, it does not knowledge the exact dip as we shift from the upper mid-vary into the reduced treble the result is that feminine vocals are smoother, a lot less recessed, and sent with much more resolution and existence. There is a tiny dip but not ample to improve the general tonal stability and presentation.

The lower treble is more balanced sounding than the Solaris X percussion has good snap, and cymbals and snares are introduced with sufficient vitality to audio real looking. There is some included emphasis all over 5kHz, but it does not increase much over and above 6kHz.

Vocals are shipped with great presence and avoid getting to be fatiguing in the 6 – 9kHz range. The Pathfinder seems relatively open up at the prime and there is a gradual roll-off all around 14kHz there is a diploma of airiness and sparkle at the leading that hardly ever appears artificial or etched.

The soundstage has very very good depth and top, but shut IEMs continue to only produce a rather intimate performance. The orchestra placement demonstrates extremely great stereo separation and instrument separation on the phase. Imaging is superb with musicians carved firmly in location and with extremely small change.   

Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM Wired


The $1,900 Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEM is a incredibly spectacular collaboration that exceeds the audio high-quality of any Solaris design but produced. I’m likely to try to eat my text and say that it is a retuning of the Solaris and that I adore it.

It is surely not economical and you do need to utilize high high quality DAPs and desktop DAC/Amplifiers to definitely working experience what it can do your Iphone 13 with a Dongle DAC won’t audio horrible with the Pathfinders but it won’t be the same experience.

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How does it examine to the rest of Campfire Audio variety? It is their most effective launch considering the fact that the Andromeda and that is fairly significant praise.

If you already individual an Astell&Kern DAP and are seeking for a pair of IEMs that will never ever be the weak url in the chain — think about the Pathfinder for the reason that they characterize their most effective collaboration to day. If you do not individual an Astell&Kern DAP, the Pathfinder is nonetheless the best Solaris variant yet and properly worthy of a seem.

Where by to purchase: $1,899 at Audio46

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