Campfire Audio Polaris 2

General Information

Powerful Hybrid Design

This is an all new Polaris. The only thing that remains from the past is hybrid design and the striking blue finish.

Spacious highs and mids open up over top of rich and impactful bass. Polaris boasts a bombastic sound ideal for modern music. It delivers a listing experience that is simultaneously warm, natural, and detailed. This combination invites a serious listen. Treat yourself!

True ‘Cerulean’ Blue

Based on our classic Campfire Audio profile, Polaris features a’Cerulean’ Blue Anodized Finish with Black PVD Screws. Black Stainless Steel Spout and Machined Aluminum Body are paired with a custom beryllium / copper insulated round MMCX connector. This is an earphone that is meant to last.

Each earphone is assembled by hand in our workshop by our team of highly skilled craftspeople.

Insight into the Inside

Polaris features 2 unique proprietary acoustic technologies; our T.A.E.C.™ and our Polarity Tuned Chamber™. This allows us tune and design for each driver to ensure maximum sonic efficiency while maintaining cohesive presentation.

Our Polarity Tuned Chamber™ combines with a 9.2mm dynamic driver and does the heavy lifting while our T.A.E.C.™ paired with a balanced armature to present classic Campfire Audio sparkle.

New Cable & New Case

Building from our Silver Plated Copper Litz wire conductors and our popular tangle-resistant twisted cable weave, we’ve added a new stylish Smoky jacket to compliment the unique finish of our new line of earphones. A new light-weight molded ear-hook design replaces the memory wire. The result is a light weight cable that is a pleasure to use everyday.

Our exciting new premium ‘Blue’ leather protective zipper case is an update to our standard earphone cases we’ve used since our launch. Luxurious textured leather surrounds a substantial and protective rubber barrier that ensures that your earphones will remain safe while in transit. The interior is a dense faux wool lining that preserves the anodized finish of your earphones. Each case is made in Portugal by a small team of skilled crafts people that share our commitment to quality.

Specifications

5Hz–20kHz Frequency Response
105 dB SPL/mW Sensitivity @ 1k
17 Ohms @ 1kHz Impedance

Features

Single Balanced Armature + T.A.E.C.™
9.2mm Dynamic Driver + Polarity Tuned Chamber™
Newly Insulated Custom Beryllium / Copper MMCX Connections
‘Cerulean’ Blue Anodized Aluminum Body
Black PVD Screws
Black Stainless Steel Spout

Latest reviews

Pros: Nice deep bass. Beautiful iem looks. A true bass head iem.
Cons: Bass overshadows the mids, highs as well as any real detail retrieval. No amount of wide bore tips or cable rolling was able to fix this problem.
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I really like a dynamic hybrid iem. When I saw the new Polaris II with a bigger dynamic driver I got stoked. I got both the IO and Polaris II at the same time but I was most excited to have a “fun” bass oriented iem. Unfortunately I was in for a frustrating week of testing. This is definitely meant for a bass head who only cares about the low end hits and that’s it. The Campfire Polaris II is using a dynamic driver and single BA setup.



Comfort and fit- The new design has a slightly longer nozzle than the older CA iems and I have no comfort issues like I do with the andros or nova of old. The Polaris II is also a light iem so it can stay in the ear longer.



Onto the review of the sound! My personal preference are a dynamic hybrid iem where I get good hitting bass and have a brighter treble with decent mids. I listen to a lot of genres but I hover in the classic rock, blues and edm music with some rap here and there.



Gear used

iPhone X with headphone adapter, FiiO m11, smsl sh8/su8 combo.



Lows- DEEP! It really digs down low and has a nice thump and rumble. The best part is that the bass is clean and never sounds bloated with wide bore tips. The DD is however slow and the rumble lingers a little too long for my tastes.



Mids- Without EQ the bass is too much. The dynamic driver isn’t fast so the mids get overshadowed by the low end. With EQ on the 250 and lower hz brought down the mids sound just ok. The vocals end up being fairly in your face which again is fine.



Highs- The treble is fairly splashy and it’s bright enough that it can fight off some of the intense low end. Once the low end gets EQ’d down it reveals a somewhat “tinny” sounding treble. Unfortunately it doesn’t do well at detail retrieval.



Imaging- It gets somewhat lost in the overpowering bass. But when EQ’d it’s correct and I have no issues with it.



Soundstage- It’s wide. Not as wide as the CA IO I bought at the same time but it runs into the issue of the bass taking over and drowning out the soundstage at times.



Cable rolling- I tried to cable roll with the intent of calming down the low end a little to obtain a more present mids and highs with no luck at all. The stock cable is nice and the connectors stay snug in the iem sockets. No noticeable floor noise going balanced which was nice.



Tip rolling- The final E tips included make the bass more intense and it actually starts to sound bloated. The foams or any wide bore tips are my recommendation to open up the sound stage and hear more of the mids and highs.



Amping- This will be fairly short. With the low end being so overpowering I couldn’t get a good sense if amping these was helping or not. The (IMO) clinical sounding FiiO m11 did actually calm the bass slightly but not in a way I could tell if more power was doing anything.



Comparisons:

Ikko oh10- the oh10 is more balanced overall sound wise and the low end isn’t as intense. It does still have a really great low end. It is however much heavier and I find the CA iems look much better in design.



ADV Sound m5-5d- These are no longer made but they still fell in the same price range as the Polaris II when they existed. The bass on the m5-5d has the same clean sound but it’s a more acceptable level of rumble and impact. The mids and highs are much more detailed than the Polaris II as well.



Overall thoughts

When I tested the Campfire IO I was a tip change away from enjoying music. It needed more bass so I was excited to pop these in and find a CA iem that wasn’t a Solaris or Atlas for a little less price wise. I thought maybe these needed a burn in since it was using a dynamic driver so I let them run from my M11’s library on repeat for 4 days straight. I spent more time frustrated and trying to calm the bass than actually listening to music. I’ll admit there were times I thought the intense bass was really fun but after a few edm tracks I was irritated by the loss of detail. These were never advertised as being anything but monster bass iems and there is indeed an audience for a thunder thumping low end and I think this works well for those seeking that type of sound signature. The biggest problem is the price. Had these been $300 like the IO I could see the focus on just the low end. These cost $500 however and unless you got money burning a hole in your pockets or you need to collect CA iems like a Pokémon trainer needs all the Pokémon, you could just get the Ikko OH10 for $189 which gets you 70ish percent of the way to the Polaris II bass rumble but with more balance and detail retrieval. For a hybrid above $300 is has to complete with my ADV M5-5D which doesn’t exist anymore so I’m always looking for a backup if it ever goes down. Unfortunately the Polaris II doesn’t come close to the sound quality of my M5-5D. I hate to rate these low since I was excited to use them and really loved the deep blue color. Once again, these never claimed to have detail as well as deep low end but I was expecting more for the price. Thanks for reading!

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Pros: Thick, bold sound with crystal clear highs
-Immersive, vibrant signature
-Great set of accessories
Cons: Not meant for those who seek calm/flat sound
-Some may find the sound a bit exaggerated
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Campfire Audio Polaris II Review: Tsunami

We previously covered the red, and now it's time for the blue. Campfire Audio Polaris II is an upgraded model from the original Polaris, and I remember back in the days when the first Polaris came out. I remember myself being mildly surprised as Polaris was one of their very earliest hybrid IEMs. Despite the good start, Polaris I have been discontinued shortly as Campfire moved on with their phase of products. But now it's back as Version 2, revamped from inside out. Along with us taking a look at how the Polaris II sounds and performs, I have also got myself ready with the original Polaris for the comparison. Let us now jump into the review.




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Packaging

Campfire Audio finally went through some revamp with their packaging and I am happy about it. There are lots that do not pay much attention (or not at all), which is very reasonable. But I believe better packaging and boxing do matter when talking about premium IEMs. The size of the new packaging still goes for a reasonably small box but roughly twice the bigger than the old ones. Once you remove the CA sticker on the rear of the box, the outer packaging would unfold and reveal the inner box which includes all the belongings. I very much enjoy this new packaging as they are beautifully designed inside out and gives a feeling as if you are unboxing a present.


Other than the earpieces, it includes 1 set of 3.5mm stock cable, 1 leather case, 3 pairs of earpiece pouch, 5 pairs of Final Audio eartips, 3 pairs of CA eartips, 3 pairs of CA foam tips, 1 CA Lapel pin, and a cleaning tool. CA used to provide only 1 pair of earpiece pouch before, but it seems like they have realized the demand for it and started to throw in an extra 2 pairs - which I appreciate a lot. The lather case is also newly designed to have the same color as the earpiece. The size also got slightly larger for better convenience when storing with custom cables.




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Earpieces

As shown, this "mechanical-looking" appearance has been Campfire Audio's signature design from the get-go. The earpiece is made of machined aluminum and sports an edgy look, though the edges are slightly rounded as well as the inner side forming a fairly ergonomic shape. Not the best in terms of comfort or compatibility, but the fit is not bothering at least. Though users with smaller outer ears will have problems fitting these to their ears as the earpieces are still a bit chunky and edgy. The color has been adjusted as well. The old Polaris used to have a dark blue shell with a black faceplate but now redesigned with a full Cerulean blue body with black screws to spice up the looks.


For the drivers, Polaris II uses a 1BA + 9.2mm 1DD hybrid setup which is each incorporated with T.A.E.C. (Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber) and P.T.C. (Polarity Tuned Chamber). These are specifically designed inner structures that sit in front of the driver, taking a major role in creating their signature sound. The nozzles are made of stainless steel and separated into 2 bores. Another thing to note is that the shape of the nozzle has changed. The nozzles are visibly longer than the old ones which give deeper fit and better isolation. The earpieces are detachable and use custom-made MMCX sockets that are compatible with typical ones yet inforced in durability.




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Cable

The stock cable went through some changes too. The one from Polaris I had a glossy black jacket which was quite light and soft, but slightly stiff and tangly. The new version has a smoky grey jacket that solves such problems as well as being even softer. Metal memory wires are gone too and replaced with a simple ear hook design.




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Sound impression - Ultra lows / Upper lows

The first thing I feel from the bass is its weight. This is not a kind of bass that aggressively smashes hard nor mushy, instead gently drops down the heavy bass. The dark, thick bass dives deep with calmness and under control. It provides a warm, meaty punch without getting out of control or making the texture mushy. While the bass is dense, the texture feels organic and doesn't show any metallic nature. These punches are bold and strong but only to the moderate level, hitting the sweet spot. Typically, basshead IEMs deliver a strong and muscular punch with large bass quantity. That sure is enjoyable, but not for too long as the strong bass slams would eventually shorten the listening session where you could use the IEM without getting your ears fatigued.


In the case of Polaris II, its deep, large, and bold bass serves my ears well to the point worth calling them a basshead IEM but also allows me to listen without getting my ears tired as the slams are not too hard or have high stiffness. It naturally and gradually stretches down towards the ultra lows with clear and manly rumble. The sub-bass continues its deep and dark characteristics and keeps the bass flow very coherent and stable - or "flat" in terms of the bass flow (not bass quantity) throughout the low range. Reverbs spread out full and naturally but keeps the atmosphere, having a delicate taste to it. Its consistently low-centered, well-condensed bass is one of the strongest charms Polaris II presents.




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Sound impression - Mids / Overall presentation

One of the common characteristics from common hybrid setups is the vivid positional difference between lows and mids - lows stepping back and mids popping out to the front. That makes the sound fun along with achieving clearer mids, but it also means the imaging and presentation are getting less natural. Polaris II seeks to sit between this dilemma by having the organic dynamic driver as the base (or body) of the sound along with having a bit of glimpse of BA texture melted on the top. Not drastic, but the crunchy BA texture makes a little more exposure as it approaches the upper mids.


While mids are well distinguished, lows and mids are nicely connected with natural harmony, having more of a single driver nature. Mids are mildly forwarded or positioned similarly to the lows. The temperature is close to neutral and the brightness tips over to the darker side, just around to consider them to be dim. Vocal thickness sits around neutral or bold depending on the tone; lower mids keep the vocal meaty while the upper mids are neutral. It's a type of richness where the vocals fill the sound


CA also handled the sibilance area quite well. The sibilance area isn't "silenced" but creates a minimal amount of "s-" sound with a soft tone, just as the amount of an actual human voice would generate in real life. Not only this is fatigue-free, but it also spices up the fun and adds coolness to the atmosphere. Before and after this small peak, the vocals show a steady flow throughout the mid-range and approach to the treble.




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Sound impression - Highs / etc.

If lows and mids were mostly about filling up with smoothness and depth, highs are where the crisp layerings start to kick in. Not sharp but sleek treble acts a refreshment from the deep and bassy low range. Compared to the lower range, the thickness is thinner but only slightly, keep a good balance consistency throughout the range. The crisps and sparkles are very boldly presented with snappy reaction speed. It is not a type of treble slams that pierces into the ears but enjoyable almost without any fatigues. Highs are similar or a little lesser in quantity than the mids, but the power and the brightness are always kept under control, thoroughly preventing the trebles from getting harsh or rough.


Trebles on Polaris II do a really nice job standing on a narrow apex, delivering highly vibrant and powerful textures without getting superficial or fatiguing. Despite the boosted sound, the sound is accurately presented in terms of timbre and imaging. And thanks to such nature from the trebles as well as the large bass, the staging is considerably large and very dynamic. It uplifts the sound with liveliness and intensity, making the music a lot more engaging. Polaris II sports one of the most engaging IEM among the Campfire family while keeping Campfire's house signature and maintaining a comfortable sound.




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Comparing with Polaris I (Original Polaris)

My first impression of comparing these two IEMs is that Polaris II follows the exact direction the original Polaris has yet improved in all aspects in a surprisingly seamless manner. The bass is visibly darker, clearer and better condensed to the bottom, delivering a weightier punch as well as a deeper extension towards the ultra lows. Depending on tracks, the original Polaris sometimes portrayed a tonality that was somewhat "heterogeneous", DD and BA drivers being less harmonic.


On the other hand, Polaris II has not only been revised to have an organic, neutral tone but also improved in texture details too. The staging is also a major difference. The sound from Polaris II is more evenly spread out and a lot more organized, while the presentation on the original Polaris occasionally got messy or even fly over here and there without a particular focus.





Eartip / Cable suggestions

Recommended eartips for Polaris II would be either Final E-Type (the ones included as accessories) or Acoustune AET08. In this case, it would be solely up to personal preference. AET08 provides a lot more transparent, airy, and unaltered sound signature while widening the stage. E-Type, on the other hand, would deepen the bass even further and makes the thundering bass even stronger while smoothening yet not killing the mids and highs. I enjoy using these with AET08 instead, but for those who are looking to make the bass even heavier or found the trebles a little tiring, the E-types would be a more appropriate choice.


For the cable, the matching mostly works out well with pure copper or silver-plated copper ones. I would recommend Han Sound Muse II as it naturally powers up the clarity and crispiness while keeping the weighty punch from the lower ends. Pure silver or treble-oriented cables will not match for most cases. Matching such cables would easily tip over this IEM's timbre as well as overpowering the sibilance and treble.




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Verdicts

Polaris II presents a very vibrant, engaging, and colorful signature that respects accuracy and neutrality. Rather than by your own will, Polaris II immerses you into its tsunami. It is very pleasing to see this IEM heading for the very same tuning the original Polaris did, which this time, CA nailed it hard. Thundering lows, shiny highs, and last but not least, its thick yet engaging mids deliver plenty of liveliness to the music. If you are seeking for a robust and fun-sounding IEM, look no more. Your answers are here!



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Visit www.aboutaudio.org and follow on Instagram / Facebook for exclusive content!
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Thanks to CA for providing Polaris II for an honest feedback/review.
I am not affiliated with CA and none of my words were modded or asked to be changed.
ActuallySparky
ActuallySparky
"Some may find the sound a bit exaggerated" is an understatement. The Polaris are unapologetically exaggerated. It's their main selling point!
Pros: A fun sound signature for bass-heavy music
Comfortable fit
Excellent build quality
Reasonable stock cable
Cons: Not super detailed
Tuning is not ideal for all genres of music
Wind noise
Long time reader, first time head-fi reviewer. Hopefully this is helpful to someone out there!

I'm a basshead who generally likes fun, V-shaped sound signatures. That's not to say I can't appreciate clean, neutral sound too, but when I'm listening to electronic or rock music, I value a punchy low end that rattles my brains around.

I picked up the Polaris II as a way to step up from the chi-fi bass-heavy IEMs I'd been experimenting with recently. As fun as some of those experiments were (in particular I had a fondness for the TFZ No. 3), most of the cheaper offerings suffered bloat and poor control of the bass, presenting as tubby and smeared.

Sound
TL/DR; The Polaris are somewhat polarizing! If you like thunderous, seismic midbass, and generally listen to music with thudding basslines, you'll like the Polaris. If you don't like meaty, impactful bass then my goodness, you'll hate the Polaris.

You know those old land yachts that people put way too many subwoofers in and drive around rattling neighborhood windows? Yeah, that's what the Polaris is, but with just enough Dynamat applied to keep the car from rattling itself into oblivion. When you wear them, your head shakes just like the frame of that poor car. Polaris renders deep, slamming midbass and lots of it. Beyond having tons of volume, the lower frequencies are rendered with good texture and a warm, meaty tone. This much focus on the low end is a love it or hate it quality, and I personally love it.

Where Campfire's tuning expertise shines through is that even with all that rumbly bass, the mids and highs are still quite distinct and aren't smothered into oblivion. That being said, the low end is the star of the show. The Polaris aren't incredibly detailed in the mids, and while the T.E.A.C. BA used for the highs does add some pop and sparkle, they lack the detail and accuracy I'd normally associate with balanced armatures.

A note on tip selection - normally the first thing I do with any IEM is switch from foam to silicon tips to get the most bass out of a pair of IEMs. I did this with the Polaris, but honestly, with the Final E tips, the bass was simply too much, even for me. After a few days of burn in, I tried the foam tips, and found them the perfect way to keep the bass from overcoming everything else on these little blue IEMs.

A note on wind noise - the Polaris suffers from it. The vent on the outside likely helps with the bass performance, but leads to whistling if it's windy. Don't wear them while exercising or outside.

A few albums I listened to while writing this review:
Infected Mushroom - The Gathering: the low end performance shines on electronic music like this. There's still enough shine in the highs to pop, but every rippling bassline has punch. The Polaris rendered authoritative thump in B.P. Empire and Unbalanced, while still being reasonably smooth and musical in more organic tracks like Dance with the Kadafi.

Gorillaz - Plastic Beach: Again, the low end performance suits the Gorillaz style well. Tracks like Superfast Jellyfish demonstrate the Polaris' ability to provider decent layering, separation, and clarity to vocals over a thunderous beat. This album (and most of the Gorillaz music) is really fun with the Polaris.

Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping: This album is hit or miss on the Polaris. Tracks with a solid and engaging bassline and come off beautifully on these IEMs, but some of the other tracks feel a little thin for the vocals buried under more bass that Of Montreal ever intended. Gronlandic Edit stood out as wonderful rendition here - the deep bassline was smooth and impactful, while the higher vocal harmony wasn't at all trampled and had great harmonics and clear rendering.

Junkie XL - Mad Max Fury Road OST: This album has a lot of intentionally hot and distorted bass. I found that particularly with the silicone tips, this sounded AWFUL on the Polaris. With the foam tips it was a little better, but with so much bass, that distortion felt amplified and overbearing. I suspect Junkie XL would be pleased to know his soundtrack was unsettling, even if some of that credit goes to to the IEM.

Carbon Based Lifeforms - Derelicts: The ambience of this album suits good low end performance well. There are some lovely droning baselines that add to the ethereal mood of the music. This is another case where the foam tips make everything sound great, but the Final E tips were simply too much and made the sound topple over from the weight of the bass.

The Mars Volta - Amputechture: This is a perfect example of where the Polaris fails to shine. A wide-ranging experimental rock experience made indistinct and boomy by the bass-heavy tuning. The lack of details in the mids takes focus away from the breathy vocals, and the bass is overbearing in a few of the more swelling moments.

Ludvig Forssell - Death Stranding OST: What a wild ride, even without the Polaris. On a few of the tracks, the low-end rumble felt to be a touch much, but overall, the juiced tuning on the Polaris handles the growling lows and isolated loneliness of this album well.

Daft Punk - Random Access Memories: Another fun album with the Polaris. Tracks throughout feature deep, smooth basslines that shake my brain. Giorgio by Moroder showcases the rendering of deep male vocals beautifully.

Build quality
The folks Campfire get high marks here. The unboxing of the Polaris was an experience, everything arranged neatly and sequentially. The IEMs themselves are thoughtfully designed for comfort, and beautifully machined. The stock cable has a plastic 3.5mm termination which isn't my favorite, but the cable itself is wonderfully pliable and tangle-free.

The included carry case is nicely implemented and feels very premium. I hope it weathers with age and becomes beautifully worn. The Polaris also comes with 2-section foam mesh dividers for keeping the two IEMs from knocking against each other in the case and scuffing their anodized finish. This is a nice touch, but it's fiddly to get them in and out and honestly I just end up shoving the IEMs and cable into the blue leather case without packing the individual monitors away separately.

Conclusion
If you like fun, engaging bass, and most of your music matches presents well with an extra subwoofer, then you'll likely enjoy the Polaris. If you don't like bass, then these will be overbearing and awful. With my musical tastes, I'll give it a 4.0. It would get a 5.0 for some genres, but it's lack of flexibility drives it down into a more specialized tool, and thus not getting top marks. One of the most fun and engaging headphones I've ever heard.
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