Campfire Audio Solaris 2020


Headphoneus Supremus
Campfire Audio Solaris 2020: This “new” model rocks.
Pros: CFA build
Bass is superbly presented
Rich tonality suits my tastes
Cons: Large fit
Not mine
Campfire Audio Solaris 2020 ($1499): This “new” model rocks.




As luck would have it, the tasty trio of new CA wares came my way, the Ara 2020, Andromeda 2020 and this; the Solaris 2020. Upon first listen of all three, I noted how they seemed similar to me. Then after closer inspection, I began to understand the intricacies of each and how they were different. The Andro is the detail king, rightly taking back its crown as an extremely detailed critter. My goodness, it really does. The Aras just sounds right no matter the source music. It really does, and I can see why it is the favorite of some. And this one? The Solaris? Not having heard the first or second gen, I cannot say how it is different other than reading the reviews of HeadPie, thecontraptionist and twister6. They are much more versed than I, but the Solaris to me proved why it is the flagship of the range. It is like Ken & Co took the criticisms in stride and produced and F-you, this is what we can do. All three-sound phenomenal, and I again appreciate what Campfire Audio has done to the market. They produced three winners of distinctly different signatures, enough so that you will find one, which fits your tastes.

I am a very lucky reviewer to have all three on hand and will do my best to discern the sound of each. As these are loaner units to me, I have no financial obligation whatsoever in this and simply appreciate and covet my time with the trio together.



5Hz–20 kHz Frequency Response
94 dB SPL @ 1kHz: 6.54 mVrms
15.5 Ohms @ 1kHz Impedance
Less than 1% Total Harmonic Distortion


Durable Black PVD Finished Body
Dual Custom Balanced Armature Drivers + T.A.E.C. (High)
Single Updated Custom Balanced Armature Driver (Mid)
Specially Tuned 10mm Dynamic Driver (Mid + Low)
Plasma enhanced Chemical Vapor Depostion (C.V.D.) Amorphous Diamond Like Carbon (A.D.L.C.) Diaphragm.
Beryllium / Copper MMCX Connections
Stainless Steel Spout

Gear Used/Compared:

Empire Ears Legend X ($2299)
Campfire Ara 2020 ($1299)
Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020 ($1099)

Cayin N6 mk2
Shanling M6 Pro


Joey Alexander-Warna album and others
Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado
twenty one pilots album, Trench
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Big Head Todd & The Monsters-Beautiful World
Mark Knopfler-Down The Road Wherever
Elton John-yep, still good, still cool
Tidal MQA


This will be short. The units came to me in their new cork case, with drawstring “laundry-like” airy bag inside and some tips. That’s it. But from the website you note that you get the traditional Campfire Audio plethora of goodies, that are functional and needed. I have always preferred Comply foam tips on the CA models I have had and reviewed, and this is no different.

The cork case is a new thing, and I do appreciate how CA continues to think about their environmental impact. More and more this is becoming the trend, and Campfire is right up there at the forefront.



The original Solaris was an extraordinary sounding unit, which to many had really poor fit due to the size. I can only take others word at this, and I trust their judgements. That said, the fit of the 2020 is very good. I start with that because it was such a conspirational point to many. Needlessly so in my humble opinion. If you liked it, and it fit, use it. But, the 2020 is noticeably smaller and I have no problem wearing it for long periods. I currently listen to Alex Fox’s excellent album Guitar On Fire through the Cayin n6ii mk2 and have no problem for long sessions. Fitting nearly flush, the Solaris does fit much better, even with a longer nozzle. The angle of which fit my average sized ear well. So, from the fit standpoint, CA took the criticism of the past and turned it into a positive.

Build is of course top notch. I have yet to see a subpar CA model, after owning and reviewing many. Made of three distinct parts to the shell, the fit together is top notch as you would expect. The larger (depth-wise) faceplate fits neatly onto the main shell portion, which has some nice edging, which I assume helps grip as well as the acoustics of the chamber. Both in black, the color compliments the silver nozzle, which has a nice lip to keep the tips in place. A vent hole on top of the main shell provides venting and pressure release when inserting into you ear. A single small starz screw in gold/bronze adorns the top as well, which holds the “halves” together. I will say that the glossy black does gather fingerprints but not like some of the acrylic models I have had in the past. Add in the subtle inlaid CA logo on the faceplate and you get an understated presentation in black. Reminiscent of that black on black on black car or SUV laden the same way, you appreciate the understated elegance and look instead of an “in your face” black presentation. Subtle but thoughtful and I like it.

Using the traditional MMCX connectivity, the Litz cables on CA models always come across to me as a bit thin. That is until I listen to them. The Solaris 2020 comes with the smoky four-layer silver coated copper Litz instead of the thinner cables. I like this cable quite a bit although it does keep its wound shape a bit. With no microphonics and a very tight y-splitter, the cable sounds and works well. I will admit I prefer copper cables (don’t go there...), but a silver-plated cable has its merits of which others can espouse the virtues, much better than I.

With a good over-ear bend and sheath the Litz cable lies nicely and without fuss, unlike some which give you an industrial strength bend and sheathing episodic dilemma. CA seems to get ergonomics right overall, even with the odd fitting shells of old. Tailoring to a bit of change is not bad, and CA continues to improve the user functionality aspect on demand.


Technicals (to a point) & sound:

Running the same technicals inside but fine-tuned, the Solaris 2020 “features 2 custom balanced armature drivers paired with our T.A.E.C for extended highs, without sibilance or fatigue. A larger single rear-ported balanced armature driver provides rich delivery of mid frequencies. A specially tuned version of our 10mm A.D.L.C. dynamic driver, optimized with our Polarity Tuned Chamber, anchors the sonic performance with deeply engaging mid-frequency tonality and visceral bass response,” so sayeth the website.

This is their way of stating that the insides have been fine tuned for greater accuracy and detail, while providing excellent resolution as well as clarity. I would agree as the Solaris sounds mighty fine through the N6ii mk2. Providing excellent bass depth, the dynamic driver provides the near-patented CA-level of bass but with greater control than in the past. Excellent reach is afforded as a result. Historia De Un Amor sounds sublime in its presentation, and the bass guitar lays down a carpeted ride for the rest. Such a sensuous song, that rings true through the duo.

More manufacturers are going for what CA calls their TAEC, the Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber, or the tuning of the shell to match the sound emitted from the BA’s and DD. One need only look at Fir audio and how they have gone tubeless to promote the sound characteristics of a listening room. In the Solaris, the final product of the TAEC tuning is an expansive listening “room,” which gives excellent soundstage as well, without becoming bloated or overly cavernous. Expansive is good here, because this allows the extension of the other characteristics to work in concert together for a thoroughly fine listening pleasure. Nothing steps on the other sound increments. The mids come across as vibrant and alive when called upon with either male or female vocals. I found myself enjoying Bonnie Raitt anew as well as Billy Eilish’s superb vocal presentation through the Solaris as a result. This level of tuning is meant to mimic your fine listening room, and the more this comes about, you clearly hear the definition and result of that tuning in more manufacturers. Relying on the “tried” technology of “only” balanced armatures and dynamic drivers, CA provides that incremental increase in sound, which makes the Solaris more mature in evolution rather than revolution. In a sense this makes it a revolution.


To me treble presentation has been rather good and off-key to my ears in CA models of the past. While I have appreciated the rolling off of that end due to my limitations; it came at the cost of detail retrieval and that last bit of clarity, which can really define the character of an IEM. The Nova of old was my first taste, and while I really liked it, the maturation process is easy to see. The Solaris thankfully provides that amount of detail and clarity, which were missing form some in the past. Is it on Andromeda levels? Certainly not, but working together with what the Solaris’ forte is, beautiful sounding mids and a solid thump from the bassline; the trio works in concert. Guitar On Fire (Latin Disco Version) defines this perfectly. Since it is a disco version, there is plenty of which you could complain about up top, but the Solaris does not promote such sibilance or harshness, only top-class notes that would make others blush when taken as a whole. This is a really fine representation of that particular song and makes you understand that the Solaris is worthy of its place up top.

Layering is rather complimentary instead of defining. As you piece it all together, this would be akin to that fine five-layer cake, which promotes the whole. Each layer is distinct and tasty but taken together becomes the showstopper from the British Baking Show.


Sometimes the melding of those layers is more important than the definition of said layers. The Andro definitely separates and is meant for that. The Solaris compliments instead. While the TAEC takes care of the highs, the Polarity Tuned Chamber (PTC) takes care of the lows. Essentially building a special compartment for the dynamic driver allows the Solaris to mimic that listening room pleasurable sound. Especially working in concert as I mentioned with the TAEC. This would be a time where acronyms do in fact mean business and are not simply marketing. Think of the PTC as a built acoustic chamber, which can amplify the lower end, much like the proper placement of a good Paradigm subwoofer. And as we all know placement of the subwoofer is of paramount importance.


Campfire Audio Solaris 2020 ($1499) v Empire Ears Legend X ($2299):

My unabashedly all-time favorite IEM, The LX combined with the Eletech Socrates cable is a superb example of two companies’ finest wares combining to make my listen ing pleasures nirvanic in nature. Yes, the LX does not present the best upper end, but I do not care. Much like you take a saltine cracker between drinks at a wine tasting evening, the LX refines my senses before another review. Have I heard better IEM’s? Yes. Do I like those more? No. For to me when combined, the cost of my two outweighs any perceived benefit from those others.

And here is where you could call the distinction of the Solaris at roughly half the price of my combination duo well worth the cost. When compared to others “flagship” models, the CA flagship holds itself extremely well. Better presentation up top than the LX gives me notice that there are others out there, which can hold a candle to it, even if I like the LX more. Well done, CA.

Campfire Audio Solaris 2020 ($1499) v Campfire Ara 2020 ($1299):

Another fine reviewer calls the Ara his favorite of the trio, and I completely understand why. Listening to that IEM of traditional CA-block shape, I concurred for the detailed response of sound emoting from within is indeed extraordinary. While it does not have the punch of the Solaris down low, it more than makes up for that with detailed precision and clarity. Of the three, this to me would be the most “neutral” of the trio, and most “middle of the road.” That is not necessarily a bad thing, as my wife is a middle child, and for that comes a level of tolerance and maturity beyond the oldest and baby of those trio. I am thankful, indeed.

Running all BA’s, seven of them, one would expect a lesser bass performance than the Solaris. While the amount is less, the presentation is nonetheless impressive. If you want the bass monster, go Vega 2020. If you want that solid middle ground, with excellent detail retrieval and sumptuous male vocals, then you are hard pressed to find a better CA than the Ara 2020. See more in my review.

Campfire Audio Solaris 2020 ($1499) v Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020 ($1099):

Having had the pleasure of hearing Pinky’s original Andro’s I was mesmerized by the crispness of sound and the clarity wrought from an IEM. At the time, I considered my short listen a lesson in clarity that withstood the time and test of many more expensive IEM’s. Detail is the name of the Andromeda 2020, and as such has huge shoes to fulfill the obligations wrought by its grandfather. Running “only five” balanced armatures per side (dual high, dual low, and one mid) the Andromeda benefits as well from the TAEC technology for the highs. I do think and quoting from memory, that the Andro 2020 has reclaimed its rightful spot as the detail king. Clarity of such is hard to surpass than this, even if those highs SEEM a bit tamed versus the Ara. Going back to back to back, I can clearly define the trio, and I was surprised that the Ara holds itself so well against the Andro. Maybe those two extra BA’s have something to do with that, but the Andro still holds its spot with regard to a clarity of which few can match, especially at this “entry-level” price into the realm of TOTL territory.

You could certainly do much worse at this price than the Andro, which makes you appreciate its heritage all the more.



I finish this review listening to Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb from The wall, of course. One of my all-time favorite songs, it defines that era to me. Cognitive dissidence along with passive protestations around the world in a time of change. Not like the 60’s/70’s and the Vietnam era mind you, but the final throes of Communism and those horrible eastern bloc dictators, which sprung from the ashes of discord. Pink Floyd was at their peak (which ran for well on 3 decades, mind you...), and The Wall concert was one of spectacular proportion’s such that only outdoor venues could do the concert justice. Arrowhead Stadium holds 80,000 people, and it felt like you were a painful part of that dissidence and made to almost feel like the kids marching through the education system.

Times have changed, and I find myself part of that “education system,” charged with teaching the youth of our society not only the conceptual knowledge but the ability to critically think through the process and problem solve. Too often, a quick fix is wanted, and this must be countered with a slow burn process of knowledge. This is where the Solaris 2020 has bridged that time effectively. Switching immediately to Alex Fox, the Solaris shows it can change with the music and with time. Taking that abuse such as the citizens of those eastern European countries (not really on par, but please stay with the theme), CA moved on from turmoil to produce these fine winners. The Solaris 2020 simply put, is one of the finest IEM’s I have listened to during 2020-21 and when you consider the price, actually blows right on past those of higher price and capabilities. Not really meant to compete against what I would call the hyper-TOTL, the Solaris provides the listener with a thoroughly satisfying production and presentation. Combining the bass of the Vega, but controlled with the character of the Ara’s mids and Andro’s detailed clarity to a point, the Solaris 2020 is one darn fine IEM, and I am thankful I was able to listen to it.

Great read! 🖤


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Excellent build quality; smooth and nice finish
Well accessorized
Very all-rounder sound with large soundstage
Cons: Shells are still on the large side
Cable is good but not best
Might require other ear tips for ideal fit and sound quality
Campfire Audio Solaris 2020

solaris (1).jpg

Website – Campfire Audio

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  • 5Hz–20 kHz Frequency Response
  • 94 dB SPL @ 1kHz: 6.54 mVrms
  • 15.5 Ohms @ 1kHz Impedance
  • Less than 1% Total Harmonic Distortion
  • Durable Black PVD Finished Body
  • Dual Custom Balanced Armature Drivers + T.A.E.C. (High)
  • Single Updated Custom Balanced Armature Driver (Mid)
  • Specially Tuned 10mm Dynamic Driver (Mid + Low)
  • Plasma enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition (C.V.D.) Amorphous Diamond Like Carbon (A.D.L.C.) Diaphragm.
  • Beryllium / Copper MMCX Connections
  • Stainless Steel Spout

Price: U$ 1499.

Solaris 2020 page.

The review is based on a Solaris 2020 unit lent by Campfire Audio.

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The Solaris 2020 arrives in the same package previously introduced with the 2019 models (Andromeda, IO, and Polaris 2). A compact cardboard box with an extra outer paper layer. Inside, the same kind of portable case, now of cork material with a finish that fits more the ‘campfire’ theme over the fancy leather ones of the 2019 models. Also, two small boxes containing three kinds of ear tips, generic single silicone tips (3 sizes), final E tips (full set of 5 sizes) and foam tips (3 sizes). The earphones themselves are properly arranged inside the case with each earpiece inside the dual mesh bag for extra protection and medium size foam tips already installed. There is also a cleaning tool and the usual little Campfire Audio pin. Maybe not a luxury unboxing experience to brag about as found on other brands’ flagships, but there is nothing missing.

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The new Solaris 2020 version strikes with its unique design, excellent build and nice aesthetics. Like previous Solaris iterations, it differs from any other of the Campfire Audio earphones line – like the distinctive Andromeda and others’ polygonal shape and the more compact rounded Vega/Dorado. The Solaris is still the company's highest (universal) model and as such features the best build quality, well worth its ‘flagship’ tag. And even among many other top-tier IEMs, the Solaris may be close to set a benchmark being one of the best built and finished earphones. While the original Solaris shells were substantially large, compared to the Andromeda and siblings or to several other IEMs, this 2020 version has been shrunken to a more acceptable, less challenging dimensions – about 20% smaller than the original. Still, it holds the exact same outer design and inner special structure, BA and dynamic drivers and rest of components, though missing the attractive gold faceplates (or more artistic SE’s ones). I must say that this is a very welcomed take from Campfire Audio, as for many people the so large housings were nearly impossible to fit properly.

All the materials applied here feel really very premium. Main body is of PVD coated metal alloy (aluminum, CNC machined), all in a more discreet black color theme. The faceplates do pick a bit of fingertips, but not as much as some shiny mirror-like stainless steel IEMs. The spout is of stainless steel with a round shaped base and fairly long body finished with a grill at its opening (instead of multiple bores), if a bit wider than standard. There is a small vent located at the upper part of the body close to the cable connection, logically needed for the dynamic driver. There is no driver flex.

Tech inside consists of a common hybrid driver setup of one large 10mm dynamic driver for lows and mids, one BA for mids and dual BA for highs. Moreover, they are all installed in a resin 3D-printed mold which not only holds them more securely than the traditional hollow shells, but (in theory) should also allow a higher acoustic performance.

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The Solaris 2020 earpieces are still rather voluminous and hold a significant weight to them. The good part is that they are all smooth and well rounded, unlike the sharp corners found on the Andromeda, Polaris, etc. While I personally prefer the fit and comfort of the Solaris over those and a couple of other flagship IEMs, the use of proper ear tips is essential, more than with other earphones; primarily to achieve the best seal and fit, but also for optimal audio performance. The inclusion of final E tips is nice, but personally neither those, the more generic silicone tips, or even the memory foam tips provided the best results. As mentioned in a previous review, my preferred tips for the Solaris were the new final E tips for TWS and the Sedna (or alternatively, JVC Spiral Dot). They all have a softer body and wider bore that allow a more secure and quicker seal on the ear canal. Yet, the fit is not too deep and the earpieces stick out of the ears. Isolation level is rather good, despite the proper venting, as the large design covers a wide area of the outer ear.

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The cable is the new Super Smoky Litz. Included only with the Solaris (or sold separately for $200!), while all the other earphones models arrive with the standard Smoky Litz. It looks pretty much like the standard Smoky, but doubles the inner wire strands count and thus is about 30~50 % thicker. The overall design is still the same: four separated strands tightly twisted on the lower half and two to each side on the upper part. Wire material is silver-plated copper, which is pretty standard with most IEMs. There are fixed preformed ear hooks (no memory wire). The plug is terminated on a standard 3.5mm. The connectors are of the usual and good own Campfire Audio MMCX type, beryllium copper coated, and provide a very secure connection to the earphones. However, there is one main complaint about this cable. While thicker and more robust than the standard one, it is much stiffer and even holds a very mild memory effect. Kind of disappointing for the price and a top-model earphone; though not as awful as other few (very proud of themselves) companies are including in their much more expensive IEMs, but still below what you can find on decent Chinese brands at a fraction of the Solaris’ price. Nonetheless, it is still comfortable to wear, and while the ear hooks feel tighter, they actually help to keep the earphones in place with their large size and weight.


The Solaris is a very well balanced IEM and one of the most enjoyable I’ve tried. Each of the many Campfire Audio earphones I could try has its own specific tuning that differentiates strongly from the other, and the Solaris is well worth its ‘flagship’ model tag having the best all-rounder response of all them. It is an excellent example of how a hybrid IEM can combine the good characteristics of both dynamic and armature drivers. That said, the Solaris deviates from a pure ‘reference’ kind of tuning, and instead provides a very easy to like presentation that comprises very little in any of its frequency response areas. Overall, it can be described as a very mild u-shaped response with very solid bass impact and energetic and lively treble while the midrange still has plenty of body and weight.

One thing worth noting. The Solaris is very ear tip dependent, more than the source it is paired with. As commented above, none of the included tips did justice to the Solaris, and that includes the final E tips which I do find very good on many other IEMs. My preferable option would have been dual-flange tips, but those didn’t help to the fit, and SpinFit didn’t provide the most optimal sonic results, either. Best results I found were with the new final TWS E tips and, alternatively, the Azla Sedna tips. The softer material of these tips helped a lot to achieve a better seal and comfort, and ultimately, the wider bore opening contributed for the most optimal sound quality in bass, mids, treble and stage. Regarding drivability, sensitivity has been lowered to below the 100dB mark and impedance raised to a more rate, even so the Solaris doesn’t really demand extra amplification or very powerful source. A little hiss was still hearable from the iBasso DX300, but only when music was not being played. And yet, it is an earphone that tends to shine paired with a better audio source.

One of the first things to notice on the Solaris is the bass. It is inclined towards a warm tonality, very rich and very engaging. The whole bass is enhanced, forward but not overwhelming. It may not be sufficient for true heavy-bass fans, but otherwise it is well emphasized and presents one of the most enjoyable balance of quantity and quality. Extension is remarkable, with good depth and rumble. Dynamics, decay and texture are as expected from a good and large dynamic driver; very natural timbre and high speed that, while not reaching that of multi-BA sets, will suit fast music tracks without much struggle. While sub-bass reach is effortless and very present, there is a bit more bias and power towards the mid-bass area. In pure quality, the bass responds well according to the source, and the better it is the better layering and separation it will reach. Quantity-wise, it is less source dependent, but surprisingly it has excellent synergy with richer sounding DAPs such as the M8 and DX300. Regardless, it is a very engaging and enveloping bass performance.

The midrange is very rich, full and generally very smooth. The balance is shifted more towards the upper midrange region. That’s not to say the low midrange sounds distant or thin. It is actually thick and well bodied, and mostly neutral in position next to rest of the frequencies, being the bass and upper-mid and low treble more elevated. If anything, the transition from bass to low-mids is not tight enough (considering the price), and the layering on the low-mids is not as good as it is on the bass, and dynamics, while very good, still have that BA limitation compared to dynamic drivers. But otherwise the midrange is very well weighted, with a correct and rather natural timbre, a bit of warm tonality on its low region and more energy towards its upper side. The texture is just right for vocals – male voices are weighty enough, though female voices are more highlighted. Sibilance is rare, but still hearable on selected tracks. Quality is excellent – high level of detail with a wide sense of space and air. Instruments are very well separated and positioned, if a bit pushing upper instruments forward. It is not tuned for ultra micro details, but the finest details are easy to pick up within the rich and smooth tuning.

Treble balances perfectly with the rest of the sound, and on its own is quite even with just a little priority on the lower-treble area, whereas the upper is a tad more laid back. Yet, the extension is great on the Solaris, almost mirroring the low-end extension from the dynamic driver counterpart. Quantity wise, it is plenty; very energetic, sparkly and still not tiring, sharp or harsh. There is some sibilance occasionally when paired with a more neutral-to-bright source (e.g. PAW 6000), but most of the time it is an engaging and comfortable treble presentation. If being picky, then there is that kind of BA timbre (especially compared to the Anole VX or ProMission X, but less compromising than the sharper Hyla Sarda with its piezoelectric ceramic unit for highs). The speed and resolution are superb, and in pure quality, is among the best I’ve heard on a IEM.

Soundstage is one of the strongest aspects of the Solaris, if not the best part. Among the largest and most expansive out of an IEM, with great width and very equal height and front to back distance. The Hyla Sarda is still wider in its right to left separation but doesn’t reach the depth, height nor does it have a surrounding 3D-effect as the Solaris is capable of, breaking the standards of the in-ear monitors and mimicking the open and large presentation of large headphones. Even though it already sounds impressive out of more affordable entry players, I do think it requires a proper audio source to really shine in its staging and imaging. On a (arguably) portable setup, the best combination I found was with the Shanling M8 and DX300, which is to be expected considering these sources excel in stage and dynamics. Surprisingly, the synergy is very favorable in terms of tonality, despite the less neutral and richer presentation of these two DAPs. The bass is particularly powerful and engaging and presents a fuller lower-midrange out of the M8. On the DX300 it is almost as wide but not as large sounding, though more linear and neutral through bass to midrange, fast speed on lows and with a bit more sizzling treble.


qdc Anole VX
(10 BA w/tuning switches)

In its most neutral setup (all 3 switches off) the Anole VX is indeed more neutral sounding than the Solaris. The VX is still one of the most detailed earphones with extreme micro-detail, highest speed and impeccable resolution. Bass is less impactful, full or dense than the Solaris, and not as extended or rumbly at the lowest sub-bass registers. Midrange is less thick yet more forward on the VX, clearer and more balanced through low to upper mids. Solaris can give more density on instruments, whereas the VX has better separation and more air. Treble, while really good on the Solaris, is beaten by the VX’s. While a bit brighter on the VX, it performs with further extension, treble dynamics, quality and balance. On the other hand, the Solaris wins when it gets to soundstage, by a noticeable margin, being simply larger and more surrounding. Lastly, the qdc VX is lighter and much more comfortable, while the Solaris is much better built.

final A8000

Current flagship from final with a single pure Beryllium dynamic driver. The A8000 has greater extension on both ends and sounds more cohesive in its whole presentation – not surprising having a single dynamic driver versus the Solaris’ hybrid setup. A8000 is also faster, more precise and sharper in layering and superb dynamics. Mid-bass is more forward, impactful and weightier on the Solaris. On the other hand, sub-bass quality is better on the A8000. On the midrange, the A8000 is more neutral and linear, with equal positioning between low and upper mids. It does sound a bit leaner and cooler in tonality. Instruments’ separation is more precise on the A8000 and there is more air. But in result, it is much less forgiving and critical. On the treble, the A8000 has the upper hand in pure quality, detail and resolution, but it is also brighter and sharper and can become easily more fatiguing. The Solaris is less compromising in sound presentation, more fun and easy to listen to with a wide variety of genres. As for soundstage, I’d say it is a draw, and both scale higher with better sources. Also in build quality and overall comfort they’d score the same rating.

Fir Audio VxV

Despite being a 5-driver hybrid IEM, the Fir VxV acts differently than one would expect from a hybrid model. Tuned for more accuracy and detail, the VxV has a neutral to slightly midrange forward presentation, and sparkly, quality treble. The lows are quick, realistic in a good ‘dynamic driver’ texture, but much lighter in body and impact; extension is shorter and lacks the rumble of the powerful and rich Solaris. Midrange feels more forward, compared to the reserved low-end, though still lighter, leaner than the thicker midrange on the Solaris, and then goes brighter on its upper mids. Treble is energetic with great quality and micro detail, though less forgiving than the smoother Solaris. In pure technical abilities on their treble, both IEMs are not too different, though the Solaris has a more engaging presentation – or ‘musicality’, if you prefer. The Solaris is simply a clear, and excellent, example of the ‘traditional’ hybrid setup.
Fit is easier on the VxV and so is comfort. The lighter housings and more the relaxed vented fit works better for longer listening time (probably thanks to the ATOM system).

Oriolus Reborn LTD

Both the Solaris and Reborn LTD are four-driver’ hybrids of 1 Dynamic & 3 BA. The bass on the Reborn, while present enough, is softer in mid-bass and much less deep, shy and limited in sub-bass reach. Dynamics are below as well, and the Reborn is also quicker in decay. As a result, it leaves a cleaner transition to the low-midrange. In fact, the midrange is more forward on the Reborn, and has a very nice texture on it that specially shines in vocals. The Solaris is more all-rounded when it gets to instruments-vocals balance. Treble is more relaxed on the Reborn, and below in quality, though less prone to sibilance next to energetic Solaris. Soundstage is not even a competition – the Reborn is average and intimate, the Solaris is large and wide.

Hyla Sarda

The Sarda has a more complex hybrid configuration. Triple driver type hybrid (or tri-brid, as some may call it) of one dynamic (10mm) for lows, two BA (dual Sonion) for mids and one Piezoelectric Ceramic for highs, and presents a very pronounced v-shaped signature. The bass is greater than the Solaris, stronger mid-bass punch and even more elevated sub-bass. The Sarda has actually one of the best sub-bass presentations: it has the extension, depth, rumble and sheer power. Treble, while it extends very well, is sharper, less natural and easier to show signs of sibilance. Midrange is more distant – thicker and darker in tonality on the low-mids and less presence of upper-mids. The main issue with the Sarda lies in its midrange timbre: it sounds unnatural and incoherent compared to several competitors (at the $1~1.5K price bracket), and clearly against the Solaris. Soundstage as is large and even wider on the Sarda, but doesn’t show the same front to back distance nor the height of the Solaris, which feels more spherical and 3-dimensional.

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To sum-up, the Campfire Audio Solaris 2020 is one of the best built in-ear earphones with a very premium look and finish. The earpieces are still large but fortunately less compromising than the original shells. The case is nice, though the included tips may not help to achieve the best fit or do much justice to the sound, and ultimately, the cable could have been more comfortable. That aside, the sound presentation is very easy to like. It sounds very rich, with strong bass, full midrange and great treble quality, and the soundstage is among the best found in an IEM form. Pretty much an all-rounder sound; easy to drive, and yet more impressive with a good quality source.


100+ Head-Fier
Campfire Audio Solaris 2020
Pros: Astonishing timbre
Beautiful, moist, and textured midrange
Smaller than the original one
Great packaging
Very good soundstage
Nice, refined design
Easy to drive
Calming, comforting to listen to
Having the build quality, packaging, and sound quality - overall very good value
Cons: Not the most neutral
Detail-wise not on the level of UM MEST
Cable is okay, but Flagship tier IEM deserves better

Campfire Audio Solaris 2020 is a second, not-limited edition of the original Solaris. Sharing the same driver configuration (1DD + 3BA), with changes on the outside, as well as on the inside. It is yet again priced at $1499.


Let’s start this review with a little going back in time. It is 2018, and Campfire Audio launches its new flagship – the Solaris.

It was vastly popular, and it gained a lot of attention back in the day. There was a certain problem that has been mentioned numerous times, though – the size of the IEMs.
To put that straight – Solaris was a big, big IEM. So big that it resulted in an uncomfortable fit for many users. It was rather sad, seeing a product crafted to perfection in terms of build quality and the sound not realizing its full potential on the market.
Two years have passed, Campfire Audio kept listening, and they came up with the revamped 2020 version of its Solaris. The biggest change? The size, which was great to hear for many. Well, here it is, let’s see what it’s all about.



Flowers everywhere!

New flagship – same old attention to detail when it comes to the packaging and unboxing experience. The box itself has been updated as well. First of all, it is much smaller, and the graphic on top has been changed to this beautiful, floral-themed picture of the Solaris 2020.

The box is smaller mainly due to yet another change – the case. Sure, the original case was beautiful and well-made, but it was….well, just like the Solaris – huge. The 2020 version comes with a much smaller case hand-made of cork in Portugal. Just like with the Ara I received a while ago – I simply love it. It’s beautiful, functional, and protective. Wish it was black, like the IEMs, but this brown color is brilliant as well.

The rest of the unboxing is pretty much the same as with every CFA IEM – a selection of tips (including the fantastic Final E type tips), a cloth-pin, papers, and the cable.





Super Smoky Litz – A nice upgrade to the Litz cable, but I still recommend getting a nice aftermarket cable.

Just like the Solaris LE reviewed last week, the 2020 version comes with the Alo Audio “Super Smoky Litz” cable. Compared to the standard Litz cable included with the rest of CFA’s lineup, it is more chunky and feels a bit more premium, thanks to that.

As stated in the LE’s review: It’s a good quality cable, but I hope that Campfire Audio will include a new cable with their next flagship IEM. More and more manufacturers decide to cooperate with cable manufacturers such as Effect Audio, Eletech, etc., to provide the best quality possible out of the box. The Super Smoky Litz is good, but I believe such a great IEM like the Solaris deserves an ever better cable, and I believe most of you will just get one.



Build quality and design​



Campfire Audio made a big step to the site when it comes to the design of the new Solaris 2020, compared to the OG version. While the original was big, bold, and had gold faceplates that were screaming “LOOK AT ME”, the 2020 is stealthy, refined, and simply beautiful.

The build quality and finish are what you may expect from Campfire Audio – spectacular. I’m saying that in every single review of CFA’s products, and I’ll keep saying that – when it comes to the build quality of an IEM, Campfire Audio is a number one brand on the market for me.

As far as the design goes, I wasn’t really impressed when I first saw them in the official photos. I thought that they look kinda…basic, too basic. It was when I first got them in my hands when I realized how wrong I was. Everything, from the shape to fine details to the overall presentation and finish, screams quality and refinement. Don’t let the photos fool you – they look and feel great.



While the difference in size might not look as prominent, the Solaris 2020 is much more comfortable than its bigger brother.

Okay, I’ve told you about the OG Solaris biggest problem, which was the comfort. Having in mind the 20% smaller body of the 2020 version, how is it regarding ergonomics?

To tell the whole story – I’ve got the Solaris LE, which has the same shape as the original Solaris next to me, and I can easily use them. They do get a little bit uncomfortable after an hour or two because of the size, but for me, they are far from being simply bad in terms of comfort.
Having that in mind though, I can easily use the Solaris 2020 for the whole day without any problem. They are much more comfortable than the original one, they don’t stick out of your ears as much, and it’s just a better experience in this regard.
When compared to other IEMs on the market, the 2020 is comfortable, but it won’t disappear in your ear like the Dorado 2020 or Vega 2020. They fit better thanks to even smaller and much more rounded shells, and I find them to be one of the most comfortable “high-end” IEMs you can get today. No worries though, if you’re considering getting the Solaris 2020 – the comfort definitely won’t be problematic.




Just like I said in the LE review – 1DD + 3BA driver configuration probably won’t impress anybody in 2021, especially at the asking price of $1499.

But how important is it really? Not at all in my opinion, as the main dish is the sound coming out of these, not the drivers used to do it. Solaris 2020 has the most important thing covered, though – a dynamic driver for the bass. There’s simply no way to achieve such a great impact and physicality to the bass from a BA driver, get over it. So, as far as the configuration goes – while not being impressive on paper, it’s tuned with such skill and refinement that it simply doesn’t matter at all.



The mood of this photo describes the sound signature perfectly.

Let’s put that straight and simple – the Solaris 2020 doesn’t sound as I expected them to. I was expecting that big, bold, and exciting signature known from the original Solaris. And while I could somehow call them so, there’s one thing that comes into my mind when listening to them – refinement.

The bass is the thing that has changed the least when it comes to the sound. It’s still physical, prominent, and extremely fun. While not as crazy sounding as the new Dorado 2020 or not as full and dynamic as the Unique Melody MEST, it represents all the benefits coming from a big dynamic driver. Thanks to that, it’s both impactful, roaring, and well-controlled. You’re gonna hear every single detail, layer, and texture, as the Solaris gives you a great insight into the music.
The most important thing, though – It’s tuned so well that it doesn’t matter if you’re listening to classical music, jazz, metal, or some modern pop – it can do it all without even the slightest problem.
Hugh Masekela’s “Hope” is one of the greatest jazz albums of all time, and trust me…it’s mastered like a masterpiece. How does the Solaris 2020 perform? You’d probably ask, well…it’s absolutely great. Rich, diverse and crispy low frequencies loaded with details, and the most important – it’s never too much nor too weak. Quantity is simply spot-on, which is very important when it comes to this kind of music, isn’t it?

The midrange…oh, the sweet midrange. Literally sweet. This is by far my favorite thing about Solaris 2020. It’s dark, moist, lush, natural, and rich to the limit. Being the biggest difference in the sound between the 2020 and OG Solaris, the midrange is a true star of the show here. As far as timbre goes – in my opinion, this is just perfect, 100% natural, and so pleasing to listen to….beautiful. This might as well be my favorite vocal reproduction in an IEM that I’ve ever listened to.
The most impressive thing, though – while being very rich and “wet” sounding, it’s ridiculously detailed and accurate at the same time. I honestly could give you like 10 song examples here, but I’d be praising it to the sun. If you really care about male vocal in music and you value that “tube-ish”, gooey, rich, and romantic midrange, this is the IEM for you. Period.


Black and elegant.

The treble is similar to midrange in terms of timbre and tone. While not being as forward and intimate sounding as the mid frequencies, they also have that sweetness and refinement. That’s yet another change to the original Solaris, which was more focused, forward, and energetic in the upper frequencies. There are no sacrifices to the quality, though, as the 2020’s highs are just as detailed and accurate. It’s just the overall presentation that has been changed, making a slight step back and wearing darker colors while maintaining that TOTL level of details and refinement. Not everyone’s gonna like that approach – sure, if you’re into more energetic, vivid, and forward treble response, then you’re probably won’t be happy with that change. It is more relaxing and less fatiguing to listen to, and it maintained all the great technicalities, though, which I believe is a great improvement over the original.

The original Solaris was praised to the sun for its soundstage, and I’m happy to report that the 2020 version is also very impressive in this regard. While the overall tone has changed to this dark and intimate goodness, it affects the staging in a way. See, the new Solaris is such moist, elegant and rich sounding that it gives you a sense of the soundstage being smaller than the original. I don’t believe it to be true, though, as the main difference is that the instruments and vocal is presented closer to the listener, and the overall size of the instruments has been magnified. It is still a big and accurate soundstage that sounds simply spectacular.


Crafted to perfection.

To summarize – the Solaris 2020 is an improvement in terms of design and comfort to the original Solaris. As for the sound, the signature has changed quite significantly, now offering a very rich, dark, and moist sound that is simply one of its kind.


VS Campfire Audio Dorado 2020

Campfire Audio Dorado 2020

The main focus of the Dorado 2020 is being held on its monstrous bass and the overall spectacular sound. While it’s one of my favorite IEMs for modern music and metal, it can’t really compare to the Solaris 2020 in terms of refinement and technicalities. Solaris 2020 is more intimate, rich and calm sounding of the two as well. Thanks to such differences in tuning, I actually tend to switch between the two depending on the mood and the choice of music.

VS Campfire Audio Ara

Campfire Audio Ara

The CFA Ara is a reference-tuned IEM and it sounds much more sterile and neutral. While I’d give a slight edge to the Ara in terms of detail retrieval, the Solaris 2020 wins when it comes to timbre and smoothness. Also, while female vocals may sound more impressive on the Ara, it doesn’t perform as well in the lower spectrum of the sound, including male vocals. The Ara is for you if you dig a very neutral and superbly detailed sound, but if you simply want to relax, the Solaris 2020 should be on your plate.

VS Unique Melody MEST

Unique Melody MEST

These two are quite different. The UM MEST is more spectacular, brave and exciting sounding and it has a slight edge in imaging. Solaris 2020 on the other hand is thicker in the midrange, especially with the vocals. While the overall detail retrieval is better in the UM, the Solaris is calmer and more “safe” sounding, that’s why these two compliments each other very well. If you can’t choose one…just get both, you won’t be disappointed.



Nicely done.

Campfire Audio really did a great job with the Solaris 2020. They’ve listened to the main problems with the original Solaris and fixed all of them, maintaining flagship-tier sound quality. It is tuned differently than the OG, focusing on a rich, dark and very refined tone. It quickly became my favorite Campfire Audio IEM ever thanks to its beautiful, natural tone. I’m going to summarize the Solaris 2020 in one word – flawless.

Highly recommended.

Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
  • Headphones – Campfire Audio Dorado 2020, Vega 2020, Lime Ears Aether R, Meze Rai Penta, Audeze LCD3, Campfire Audio Ara, Noble Audio Khan, Final A8000, Unique Melody MEST, Campfire Audio Solaris LE, Fir Audio VxV
  • Sources– Cayin N3Pro, Lotoo Paw Gold Touch, Cayin N5ii, Fiio M15, Cayin N6ii, Cayin N8, JDSLabs Atom stack, SMSL SU-9 + SH-9
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Headphoneus Supremus
Campfire Audio Solaris 2020: Lean and Mean
Pros: 20% smaller than the original with better ergonomics – Improved midrange performance – New colour scheme is more universally appealing
Cons: Still somewhat picky about source (hiss) – Slight memory in the cable keeps it from fully straightening out – Sound stage size a step back from 2019 model

Today we're checking out Campfire Audio's new top of the top of the line model, the revised Solaris 2020.

The original Solaris was a stunner in all aspects. The large, gold-plated housings drew in the eye while a bold tune pleased the ear. However, the black and gold colour scheme and fairly massive housings earned it some critics. The new Solaris addresses those complaints quite competently with a 20% size reduction and stealthy, all-black look. Along with the visual and ergonomic updates, internally the Solaris has seen some changes with the introduction of Campfire's new 'Solid-Body' technology that houses all four drivers to produce an even more coherent and refined sound.

Did all of these changes take away from what made the Solaris a modern classic, or did they simply add to and further refine an already impressive product. Let's take a closer look, shall we?


What I Hear The Solaris 2020 is a more balanced and refined take on the original. While the low end and upper ranges have remained relatively unaltered, the midrange has been pushed up and upper mids smoothed out leading to a sound that is more even and coherent when listened to as a whole.

The 2020 sees a fairly restrained boost in the low end, especially compared to other models in Campfire's lineup. Extension is excellent with a fairly linear move from sub- to mid- and upper-bass regions. As with the 2019 version, the Solaris 2020 seems to go for a smooth, uber-refined presentation. That said, texturing is still quite good giving it the grittyness needed to properly represent grungy basslines like those from Tobacco and The Prodigy. That said, the sort of slick, squeaky clean bass lines you hear in synth pop and from artists like DJ Fresh feel a little more in line with what the Solaris 2020 excels with. This earphone also doesn't lack whatsoever when it comes to speed and control, as evidenced using it with speed metal such as Havok's “D.O.A.”. Rapid notes remain well-defined without any blurring or smearing of detail. Each hit comes through loud and clear.

The treble region remains as energetic and vibrant as it was on the 2019 model, if not just a hint more so. The dual armatures display the same snappiness and rapid decay with tightly formed, splash-free notes. This is evident comparing the 2020 Solaris to the 2019 model on Havok's “Scumbag in Disguise” and the chaotic cymbal work present on that track. While lower treble in the 2019 Solaris saw a dip in emphasis, things are much more even on the 2020 model. In addition to a pleasing level of shimmer and sparkle, the bumped presence region sees a logical but subtle increase in resolution over last years offering. Everything sounds just a little more detailed and present through the Solaris 2020.

The midrange of the 2020 Solaris sees the most change compared to it's predecessor with the midrange taking on a more even presentation thanks to a rise between 1k and 2k and a smoothing out of the old model's dip at 4k. This results in more prominent, cleaner sounding vocals with better texturing and bite on instruments. I also found they injected a hint more warmth into the presentation which betters the already impressive showing of the 2019 model with Paul Williams' performance on Daft Punk's “Touch”. The 2020 Solaris also removed the occasional tendency towards a hollow or echo-ey sound on some tracks, like Aesop Rock's “Racing Stripes”. I actually enjoyed this quality because it complimented the 2019 model's airy staging, but I can't argue that a more accurate presentation is anything but positive.

Speaking of airy staging, the 2020 Solaris still impresses, BUT, I find it is a small step back from the previous version. While on more intimate tracks like Culprate's “Undefined” it still brings vocals into an uncomfortably tight position, on more spacious sounding tracks like Infected Mushrooms “Converting Vegetarians”, sounds don't spin and flit off into the distance quite to the same extent. The more forward vocal presentation supports this impression, closing in the staging somewhat. The Solaris 2020 still has an exceptional sound stage with plenty of width and depth on tap, it's just less extreme than the previous version. It's a worthy trade off given the improvements found elsewhere, like a smaller size and enhanced ergonomics. The 2019 model's outstanding imaging, layering, and separation qualities thankfully remain unhindered by the more compact staging and are present in full force with the Solaris 2020.

Overall I think Campfire's engineers did a stellar job of updating and improving upon the 2019 Solaris, without sacrificing the qualities that made the original version so good. While the adjusted midrange balance and 20% size reduction likely had a hand in shrinking the sound stage, the trade offs were well worth it in my opinion.

Campfire Audio Solaris 2020.jpgSolaris 2020 & Friends.jpg

Compared To A Peer (volumes matched with Dayton iMM-6)

Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020 (1,099.00 USD): The 2020 Andromeda and 2020 Solaris very much sound like they are cut from the same cloth with the Andromeda's tuning targeting the mids and treble when compared to the Solaris.' more balanced feel. The treble presentation on the Andromeda is slightly more vibrant with some extra sheen up top giving it a hint more energy. The extra presence region emphasis gives it a bit more detail too, particularly in vocal regions. The Solaris' presentation carries more weight,warmth, and density, most notable in the mids. That's likely down to the dynamic driver which shares presentation duties with an armature vs. the Andromeda and it's lone midrange armature. Attack and decay qualities are quite similar in the mids and treble, as is timbre quality. The low end is where most of the differences in presentation lie thanks to Solaris' use of a dynamic driver. While bass quantity and extension is quite similar, I found the Andromeda to lack the visceral punch of the Solaris on the same tracks. On the other hand, while plenty quick and un-phased by complicated passages, the Solaris' dynamic driver lacks the rapidity and effortless control of the Andromeda's low range armatures. When it comes to sound stage the Andromeda 2020 comes across wider and deeper, despite having more forward upper mids. They both image equally well with the Andromeda showing slightly better layering qualities to the Solaris' improved instrument separation.

When it comes to design and build, I'd say the Solaris feels like the more premium product. The weight and feeling of density it carries is not replicated by the equally well constructed Andromeda. Added details like the ribbed interior and vent designs also help give the Solaris an edge. When it comes to visual design, I still prefer the Andromeda. While the angular shells in use are nothing new at this point and have been copied to death by immoral imitators, it is aging wonderfully and remains very eye catching and appealing. To me it is a timeless design that will remain desirable decades from now. The Solaris is beautiful too, but isn't quite as interesting or distinct. If you disagree, good. Like what you like and everyone else be damned. When it comes to cables the Solaris' is basically the same thing. While thicker, it shares all the same hardware. I personally like thin and light cables so I prefer the one shipped with the Andromeda, even if it is clearly inferior. Overall they both come across as the premium products they are with the Solaris exuding just that much more premium juice from it's shapely pores.

HiFiMAN RE2000 (2,000 USD): The RE2000's tuning follows a similar trajectory as the Solaris with a reasonably balanced, u-shaped sound. Treble on the RE2000 doesn't extend to the same extent but sees more upper treble emphasis that gives it a bit more sparkle and shimmer in general. Detail, control, and speed are similar, though the 2020 Solaris' lower treble adjustments give it a clear edge. The 2020 Solaris' mid-range is more forward and linear with a similar warmth. The tuning adjustments ensure it remains overall a cleaner, crisper sounding experience as we heard with the previous model. It is also more detailed than the RE2000. Bass on the RE2000 is more evenly balanced between mid- and sub-bass regions versus the Solaris which is still quite linear, but ever so subtly skewed towards sub-bass regions. The extra mid-bass of the RE2000 gives it's low end a fuller appearance and more punch. The Solaris' sub-bass provides more physical rumble on the lowest notes. Texture is similarly presented between the two. While the RE2000 has a well above average sound stage that fell behind what the 2019 model output, the 2020 Solaris is much more in line in every direction. Where the Solaris retains the edge is the technical qualities. Tracks display improved layering over the RE2000 and instruments are better separated with more space between them.

While I thoroughly enjoy the sound of the RE2000, build quality has almost always been a criticism of their iems. Pitting it against the 2020 Solaris makes this very apparent. Unlike the Solaris which is all metal, the RE2000 uses a mix of plastic and gold-plated brass, the latter of which is already showing wear. The 2020 Solaris' all-black paint job application feels a lot more durable, though it's not as eye catching as either the RE2000 or 2019 Solaris. The Hifiman logo is printed onto the plastic face plate, unlike on the Solaris where it is part of the machining process and integrated into the face plate. The 2-pin input on the RE2000 extends off the top of the earpiece and isn't a seamless aspect of the design like it is on the Solaris. The cables are not comparable at all. Like the Solaris' cable, the RE2000's features silver-plated copper wiring. However, it is stuffed into a fairly generic black rubber sheath and poorly relieved everywhere. It would feel more at home on a budget friendly earphone than a 2,000 USD flagship. Overall, the 2020 Solaris' design and build feels every bit the 1,499.00 USD it costs whereas the RE2000 fails to meet basic expectations for a 2,000 USD product.


In The Ear While the Solaris 2020's shells look very similar to the original at first glance, peer closer (or put them side-by-side) and you will noticed that the changes are drastic. First off, the new Solaris is 20% smaller than the original model. While that may not sound like much, the result is a much more compact earphone that no longer dwarfs similarly equipped products. It is also particularly impressive because the new Solaris retains the four driver hybrid layout and previous tech (ex. T.E.A.C), all while incorporating Campfire's new solid body design. This smaller size has gone a long way towards improving ergonomics, as has the new nozzle angle. For me at least, they have the Solaris sitting much more naturally in the ear. The fairly sharp rake of the original nozzle's angle has been toned down to an almost 90 degree angle that keeps the body pressed tightly against the ear, and nestled comfortably in the antitragus and concha. Still, even with all these improvements the general shape of this earphone isn't quite as ergonomic as some of the competition resulting in the occasional need to re-seat for a good seal.

Build quality is as expected from the brand. That's to say, it's basically flawless. Fit and finish of the three pieces that make up the Solaris, those being the stainless steel nozzle and two body components, are without any gaps or misaligned segments. The CA logo on the faceplate is neatly recessed and well-defined. While I miss the two-tone gold and black look of the original Solaris, the mono-tone look of the new model is more sleek and focused. The piano black paint is neatly applied and even across the entire surface and has held up well to bumps and scrapes with no discernible damage gained over the last few months. The sea-shell like ribs that adorned the inner body of the 2019 Solaris return for the new model, adding some flair to an otherwise fairly straightforward design. Along the top of each housing is a reasonably wide vent and a tiny Torx screw holding on the face plate. You also find Campfire's beryllium/copper MMCX ports, which in my experience are the most durable and reliable in the business. The ports on the gen 1 Polaris I've been using for years, that has seen countless cable swaps, are just as tight and secure as they were on day one. I have no reason to believe it would be any different here.

The included cable is very similar to that of that on the original Solaris. The thickness, metal y-split and chin cinch, and the 90 degree angled y-split all return, though their colouring has been darkened to match the smoky look of the new sheath. The new sheath is slightly more flexible than before, though it still lightly retains bends and kinks and never quite straightens out. I also appreciate that the memory wire used in the past is gone. It has been replaced with flexible preformed ear guides that, for me at least, help significantly with general fit and stability of the Solaris 2020.

When it comes to isolating you from the outside world, the Solaris 2020 is pretty average at best. With the stock silicone tips in place and no music playing, I can hold a conversation with someone easily enough and hear the snicking of the key caps on my laptop as I type, no problem. Campfire's Mushroom foams tips go a long way towards improving the passive isolation of this earphone, and are recommended should you be planning to listen in noisy environments.


In The Box The packaging for Campfire Audio's 2020 trio follows the format set by 2019's releases with the earphones arriving in a squat, square box, protected by an exterior sheath that is sealed shut by a Campfire Audio seal on the back. While past releases had a clear astronomical theme to them, this year things have gone more psychedelic Hawaiian. On the front of the sheath is a large sticker with an image of the earphones along with the usual branding and model info, all set over top of a vibrantly coloured floral pattern. Another sticker is present around the front edge containing another image of the earphones, some company info, among other details, all set over the same wild background.

Breaking the seal allows the sheath to unfold in four segments revealing the main box within. Lifting it out reveals the same uplifting interior to the sheath that we saw last year; the CA logo dead centre with rays exploding outwards in a dramatic fashion. Looking back at the main box we see Campfire's familiar mountainous scene along with more CA branding. Lift the lid and you're greeted to “Nicely Done” printed on the front flap and their now standard half-moon carrying case, though this time it is made from sustainably harvested cork instead of leather. You also find a smaller cardboard box containing the main suite of accessories. Tucked beneath it all is a warranty card and manual. In all you get:
  • Solaris 2020 earphones
  • Cork carrying case
  • Smoky Jacket Silver Plated Copper Litz Cable
  • Final Audio tips (xs/s/m/l/xl)
  • Campfire Audio Marshmallow tips (s/m/l)
  • Medium bore single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
  • Campfire Audio lapel pin
  • Cleaning tool
  • Mesh accessory case (x3)
Overall a pretty fantastic unboxing experience, as I have come to expect from the brand. Their use of recyclable, sustainable materials is a brand standard and a welcome departure from the needlessly complicated (though fun to disassemble) and less environmentally friendly packaging of the competition. The accessory kit is right up there with the best I've experience thanks to the inclusion of a wide variety of tips and styles. Final Audio's Type E tips are durable and provide a fantastic seal, giving most earphones you pair them with a slight low end boost thanks to the small bore. The included wide bore tips are fairly standard but they too provide a good seal and are a more balanced sounding option. Campfire's Marshmallow tips have shown themselves to be fairly resilient for a foam tip and do a great job of boosting isolation and softening treble peaks. The inclusion of a number of mesh bags to store everything in is awesome too.


Final Thoughts The Solaris 2020 earns it's keep as Campfire Audio's top dog flagship. Coming hot on the heels of the 2019 model, you'd be forgiven for expecting a warmed over, slightly altered version of the original Solaris. Fortunately, that's not the case. Instead we have a re-imagining of the 2019 Solaris with a 20% smaller, more ergonomically sound shell and updated tuning that retains the magic of the original while eliminating what minor flaws their were. While this does result in a less expansive but still impressive sound stage, it's a welcome trade off for all the benefits to be found elsewhere.

If you're looking for a new flagship earphone and want something capable and full of character, do yourself a favour and audition the Solaris 2020.

Thanks for reading!

- B9

Disclaimer A huge thanks to Caleb with Campfire Audio for arranging a sample of the Solaris 2020 for the purposes of review, and to be sent along to some fellow reviewers afterwards. The thoughts within this review are my own subjective impressions based on more time than expected with this earphone. They do not represent Campfire Audio or any other entity. At the time of writing, the Solaris 2020 retailed for 1,499.00 USD:

  • Frequency Response: 5Hz–20 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 94 dB SPL @ 1kHz: 6.54 mVrms
  • Impedance: 15.5 Ohms @ 1kHz Impedance
  • Harmonic Distortion: Less than 1%
  • Drivers: Dual Custom Balanced Armature Drivers + T.A.E.C. (High), Single Updated Custom Balanced Armature Driver (Mid), Specially Tuned 10mm Dynamic Driver (Mid + Low)
Gear Used For Testing LG Q70, Earstudio HUD100, Earmen TR-Amp, Asus FX53V, TEAC HA-501

Some Test Tunes
Supertramp – Crime of the Century
Slipknot – Vol 3 (The Subliminal Verses)
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
King Crimson – Lark's Tongues in Aspic
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy
Steely Dan – The Royal Scam
Porcupine Tree – Stupid Dreams


Headphoneus Supremus
Things Behind the Sun - a review of the CA Solaris 2020
Pros: Powerful low end
Very engaging and musical tuning
Dark, rich and organic
Robust construction
Carrying case
Cons: Dull and utilitarian design (for my tastes at least)
Slightly variable synergies (see review)
Hiss on some sources
Things Behind the Sun - A review of the Campfire Audio Solaris IEM


Campfire Audio are a well-known audio company who.. wait; you already know all this, don’t you?
In case you don’t, see here for more:

On their website, they are able to proudly state:
“Each model in our earphone line is designed and assembled by hand in our Portland, Oregon workshop; our earphones are second to none in performance and finish”.
It gives me a warm feeling all over to read that.

Did you know there was a TV series made called “Portlandia”, all about that place? Having never been there, I can’t comment on its accuracy, but it’s a place I’ve longed to visit (Oregon generally I mean). One day.. one day..

IEM details from the official website:

This link also has explanations of the considerable amount of tech that features in these IEMs.

The Solaris 2020 retails at USD $1’499.

My thanks to Campfire Audio for authorising this sample to be provided to me in exchange for my honest review.

It’s one of the now ubiquitous hybrid designs, featuring(and I quote): “2 custom balanced armature drivers paired with our T.A.E.C for extended highs, without sibilance or fatigue. A larger single rear-ported balanced armature driver provides rich delivery of mid frequencies. A specially tuned version of our 10mm A.D.L.C. dynamic driver, optimized with our Polarity Tuned Chamber, anchors the sonic performance with deeply engaging mid-frequency tonality and visceral bass response”

By now, you are surely scratching your flustered heads in bewilderment, asking “but Layman1, what would such a powerhouse of an IEM even look like?!” :astonished:

Sigh no more, as Mumford & Sons would say; instead regale your retinas with the following sumptuous images!

This (above) is what Portland, Oregon actually looks like!
As mentioned, I've never in fact been there, so I can make this claim with absolutely no authority whatsoever :)
Never has removing the cork filled Layman1 with such anticipation.
Wait, hang on a minute..

Build Quality and accessories:

A note of praise for the packaging. Most manufacturers at this price point are going for sleek and understatedly prestigious packaging (which I like of course) but the Solaris 2020 is a riotous explosion of colour and flower images. Continuing the floral theme, upon removing the gold sun sticker at the back, the whole box opens like a blossom in spring to reveal a big gold sun design inside. Lovely design and a surprising and enjoyable unboxing experience.

The Solaris 2020 are solidly built with no visible blemishes or flaws of any kind.

I notice what looks like a surprisingly large (2-3mm long?) rectangular-shaped vent on the interior half of the shell, facing forward in the same direction as the MMCX sockets.

I’m used to pinprick sized vents, so this was worthy of note.
I am listening alone, so I can’t comment on whether this results in any significant levels of noise leakage. I do find these IEMs slightly fatiguing at times and have wished on a few occasions that they came with some kind of ADEL-type solution for relieving pressure.

Regarding the aesthetics, Campfire Audio have taken a leaf this time out of the Henry Ford playbook, offering the Solaris 2020 in any colour you like, as long as it’s black

Well, I am morally obliged to share my honest thoughts here and for me, this iteration of Solaris is a backwards step in terms of aesthetics.

Now, a key point about aesthetic appeal is that it hinges greatly upon personal tastes, so please take my comments in the purely subjective and constructive spirit in which they are intended.

I’ll be honest and say that – for my personal tastes – I’ve never much liked the appearance of any Campfire IEMs, that is, until the release of the original Solaris. Mmm.. gold.. yum… :)

Factor in it being a hybrid IEM, and I was greatly enthused!

Then came the Solaris SE, with those stunning abalone faceplates, and I was drooling with the best of them.

Fast-forward to now and I’m struggling to find much that’s positive to say regarding the appearance of the 2020.

It looks solid and well-engineered. The nozzles look extremely robust and precise. If you wanted a high-quality IEM to wear whilst out and about that didn’t attract unwanted attention, this could be a bonus.

But I just feel at around $1500, it’s just a really plain and disappointing design that seems to just be a placeholder for a new/limited edition to come later at some point with a more beauteous design.

Still, Layman1 is not a fellow to wallow and dwell on the negative, so permit me to turn that frown upside-down by praising the size and fit of the Solaris 2020!

I understand that the prior iterations of the Solaris were of a size that some people found uncomfortable or difficult to get a good seal with. When I tried the original Solaris at a CanJam, I found them fairly large, but personally had no issues with the fit.

However, the new 2020 model is significantly smaller, and has – for me – good ergonomics, with a nozzle length and shape that enables me to get a perfect seal with both foam and silicone tips.

The cable that comes bundled with the Solaris seems pretty good.

I don’t imagine it’s on the level of those IEM manufacturers who bundle branded luxury cables from makers such as Effect Audio and Eletech, but it’s got an aesthetically pleasing twisted braid design with an understated charcoal grey colour and seems to be of robust construction.

However, here we come to another pet hate of mine (two of them in the same review? time to duck and cover!) which is IEMs at top of the line prices being shipped with 3.5mm cables as standard.
Such things of course are like a red rag to a bull for Layman1 :)

I simply think at this price point, most people who buy it will be using dedicated DAPs, amps and whatnot, and invariably wanting to use the balanced outputs from them.

I strongly believe the buyer should be able to specify their choice of a 3.5, 2.5 or 4.4mm plug at this price when purchasing.
At the very least, supply a 2.5mm balanced cable and 3.5mm and 4.4mm adaptors.

Still, to end this section on a positive note, the case that comes with the Solaris 2020 is a lovely new addition, made of a very attractive and fairly sturdy looking cork material with a gorgeous texture and colour.


In a shake-up to my usual format of almost heretical proportions, I’m going to try putting the summary first (gasp!), and those that want to read a track-by-track breakdown of my findings can continue on (plus there’s the brief Conclusion at the end of the review). Feel free to let me know if you prefer it this way or sally forth with the torches and pitchforks if you wish things to go back to how they were.

I'll also be including, in separate sections below the track by track part, impressions taken with a demo cable on loan to me, and comparisons with the Unique Melody MEST.

Just a brief aside about hiss, before I begin.
I've read many comments on whether or not (or how much) the Solaris - and other IEMs - hiss with certain sources.
It's never been something that's really bothered me (not like 3.5mm cables on TOTL IEMs lol), but I should mention that when listening on the WM1Z, I hear pretty significant hiss the moment it's plugged in.
This is not audible once music is playing, but it makes me wonder whether it might be still there, in the mix, increasing my fatigue or something.
Either way, I enjoyed listening, and didn't notice it, so I'm just mentioning it for those for whom it is A Big Deal.

Overall summary:

For me, the Solaris 2020 is a hybrid not only in terms of its physical design but also in terms of its sound.

It has a relatively unusual dark richness and intimacy in the sound signature that reminds me of the EE Phantom, but combines that with aspects of the more conventional tuning common to today’s hybrid IEMs; impact and slam and texture from those dynamic drivers, and sometimes peaky upper mids and treble.

It has a good soundstage size – I hear it as being quite wide and tall and averagely deep - but the fairly intimate and dark tuning means that this is not as apparent on some songs as it is with other IEMs.

Similarly, it has very good detail levels, but the presentation is more organic and subtle; it’s all there if you listen out to it, but it doesn’t draw your attention to it in a demanding way. Also, it seems to present detail in a somewhat non-uniform way; on some songs there are certain details that are captured so well and bring a big smile to my face, but there’s also other tracks where I’m waiting for the details that I know usually pop out to me with other IEMs, but they’re just a bit muted here.

On songs that themselves are mastered in such a way as to sound fairly intimate and/or dark, the Solaris 2020 can sound a bit muddy and congested; conversely with songs that have a spacious and expansive or energetic sound, the Solaris 2020 shines by adding to those elements a mature, engaging and musical presentation.

I think the only issue I’ve found with the Solaris – and what’s made it something of a tough gig to review at times - is that it is mostly a great IEM, but I’m also finding it to be a bit variable.

On many songs it will sound world class; but then one will come along where it may be merely above average or sound a bit muddy/congested, which can sometimes be fixed by using Xelastec tips instead of foams, or a different cable. The problem is, even from songs within the same genre, there is this variability regarding which tips (or cable) produces optimal results, and what aspects of the sound signature are going to come to the fore.

Overall, I feel it's close to being outstanding all-round.
As it stands, I think the Solaris 2020 would appeal obviously to those who've had a chance to demo it and enjoy its sound as it is, and those who are happy to experiment and try out different tips, cables, EQ settings and whatnot.

As it is though, I'll still keep listening to it because it sounds so great, and imagine it will remain in my collection, and I'll experiment more and see if I can figure out an ideal 'use case' for it (for example, my EE Nemesis is for rock and hip-hop when I want thunderous bass; my EE Phantom and Stealth Sonics U4 are for when I'm fatigued/stressed and want something rich, warm and smooth; and my $9 fake Apple ear buds are for when people I don't like ask if they can listen to my earphones) :)
The Solaris 2020 is too good to ignore, but I'm not sure that it's consistently excellent with enough of the wide variety of music that I listen to to be a full-time daily driver for me. Maybe I just need longer with it? I've had it for a couple of months now though.

I feel with a few tweaks to the sound signature (and aesthetics!) it could be a no-brainer choice that could be hugely competitive in the TOTL segment and the good news is, it's left me very impressed with Campfire Audio in terms of their abilities and capabilities, and I have little doubt they will be able to take this very good IEM to even higher heights in the future :)

[EDIT]: I have taken the somewhat unusual step of retrospectively bumping up the overall score of the Solaris 2020 up to 4.5 stars.
I've already had it for a couple of months and have listened to it plenty during the review process, but since then I still keep coming back to it.

I can't help the feeling that there's something imperfect that I'd like to change (perhaps through cable rolling later, if I can find the right match), and plus I do find it to be a bit fatiguing, both in terms of ear pressure and some (for my subjective sensitivities) peakiness in the upper mids/treble.
But for all that, I can't stop listening to it on a daily basis, because it's otherwise so damn good, such a great performer with a unique and enchantingly engaging sound signature:)

A few notes on my review process:

With regards to the review process, I have a few tracks which I’ve only found available on MP3; the rest are FLAC or WAV in 16/44 or 24 bit hi-res, with a few DSD56 tracks sneaking their way in too.
For the purposes of this review, I used the Sony WM1Z DAP with MrWalkman’s WM1A/Z++ custom FW.

I used New Bee Foam tips, which are the tips I use as standard with pretty much all my IEMs, so they serve as a good baseline benchmark for me in terms of comparing sound signatures from one IEM to another.

As you read the track-by-track impressions, please be aware that I had quite different results using Sedna Xelastec ear tips, and also with a different cable; I’ve included notes in my song-by-song breakdown of differences between the two tips as and when I noticed them and a separate section to describe the effect of the different cable.

Overall, for my tastes, I’m sticking with the New Bee foam tips as they seem to more consistently deliver a sound that I enjoy with a wide variety of music.

The Sedna Xelastec seemed to bring a lift in the upper mids and treble, sometimes taming the occasional issues with peakiness and providing a reduction in mid-bass warmth.

This also allowed the Solaris 2020 to better show its technical chops with regards to soundstage size. I think the sub-bass power seems a bit stronger with these tips too.

Track by track evaluation:

As ever, my preferred method of testing is to try out the product(s) in question with a selection of songs from various genres and to let that process draw out the comparative strengths and weaknesses of each product, with a summary (now at the beginning of ‘The Sound’ section) for those who lack my infinite saintly patience :wink:

Of course, you may just want to flick through, pausing only when you see a song that you know well, or one that belongs in a genre you favour.

Alison Lau – Handel’s Lascia la spina (24-96 HDTracks FLAC)
There are three main details I look out for when critical listening with this track:

1) the very first part of the track, where you can make out a collective intake of breath and movement as the players of the stringed instruments prepare to start playing. On some IEMs this detail is not very prominent, but it’s loud and clear here with the Solaris 2020.

2) The way the strings swoop down low from 14-15 seconds; I’m looking at how well the IEM presents the richness, depth and timbre. The Solaris 2020 does this pretty well; I’d give it around 7 out of 10. However, aside from this I was immediately struck by how astonishingly well it presented the strings generally; I think fans of classical music are going to find a lot to love with the Solaris 2020! It’s stunningly engaging, rich and musical, as if it were tuned precisely to come alive with such material.

3) the vocals of talented Hong Kong soprano Alison Lau are able to soar higher than the cost of an Apple Account bill for a child’s iPad, whose parents forgot to switch off in-app purchases.
As such, with some IEMs the vocals can become uncomfortably piercing for people (such as myself) with sensitivities in this area. The Solaris 2020 crosses the line for me occasionally; not as bad as some IEMs, but worse than others. It’s all relative though and chances are most people will have no issues at all.

Club 8 – Love Dies (16-44 FLAC)
This is a song I use for testing soundstage. From around 40 seconds to 1m06s, the song adds more sounds and you can hear the soundstage unfolding out like a blossoming flower in the latter stages of this section, as more sounds come in outside the pre-existing perceived outer edge of the soundstage. The Solaris 2020 does fairly well on this song; it displays pretty good soundstage size, but doesn’t quite reach the extremes of expansion that I’ve heard in other IEMs I’ve tried. Also, the sound is just slightly too piercing for me in places on this track, which is – I admit – a strong test of such things, with pretty high pitched crystalline female vocals and a slightly sibilant mastering.

Park Ji Yoon – 성인식 Sunginshik (Coming-of-age ceremony) (320k mp3 – only because I can’t find it in FLAC or on CD anywhere! Help!)
This is a sultry, driving, grown-up piece of K-pop.
I recall that on the UM MEST, the bassline on this song was at subterranean levels and enormously engaging.

However, with the Solaris 2020, it’s more balanced with the rest of the song and relatively understated. Upon closer inspection and comparison, the sound on the MEST is more clear, wide open and separated which, along with a more powerful sub-bass on the MEST allows the bassline definition and space to shine.

With the Solaris 2020 I’m hearing a more intimate tuning with less space between the components of the song. There’s increased mid-bass power and overall a greater warmth present in both the mid-bass and the mids generally.

I feel the MEST suffered from a slight lack of warmth and body in the mids (pretty much the only criticism I had however); this is certainly not an issue for me with the Solaris 2020.

I find the Solaris 2020 in comparison to be full-bodied, with the meaty low-end carrying over into the lower mids although without any feeling of being bloated or muddy.
This is all relative of course; for me the MEST was noteworthy for having a simply colossal soundstage and outstanding separation.

Buena Vista Social Club - Chan Chan (24-96 HDTracks FLAC)
Passes the trumpet test (potentially wince-inducing trumpet solo from 2mins 38s in). Not even slightly peaky or sharp.

Cigarettes After Sex - K. (16-44 FLAC)
This song is already mastered in quite a muted, intimate and bass-heavy way; this makes it prone to sounding a bit closed-in, congested and mid-bass-heavy with IEMs that don’t have the kind of tuning to alleviate this affect, and unfortunately the Solaris 2020 falls victim to this mastering here.

Just all sounds a bit too congested and veiled, but a good part of that is just down to the mastering of the song (with the Xelastec tips this effect is reduced, but it also sounds more muted for some reason).

Club 8 - Kinky Love (16-44 FLAC)
Again, mid-bass just sounds a bit too dense and congested (quite a bit more open and balanced with Xelastec tips).

This effect mostly disappears once the high and crystalline vocals and synths come in.

Counting Crows - Angels of the Silences (16-44 FLAC)
This track is kind of the polar opposite of the Cigarettes After Sex track previously; it’s mastered fairly bass-light, but more expansive. However, it’s heavy on ‘wall of noise’ electric guitars which overall on certain IEMs can come across as being a bit sharp and fatiguing, especially without much mid-bass to ground it all.
Here, the Solaris 2020 does a good job.

I’m actually surprised that the bass still doesn’t seem that present; I thought the Solaris would have more of an impact here. Still, overall, the Solaris sounds good here; it separates out things quite nicely, provides some much-needed low end body to the song, and smooths out the sharpness of the guitars whilst preserving their crunch and texture.

Counting Crows - Good Time (16-44 FLAC)
Wow, the Solaris 2020 is superb here.
The percussion just sounds so realistic, fantastic timbre!
From 17 seconds to 45 seconds into the track, there’s just percussion, vocals, piano and bass. And it all sounds pinpoint precise, separated and the timbre of the vocals and indeed everything else is very realistic (interestingly, a reduction in mid-bass warmth with the Xelastec tips makes this song slightly more detailed, but rather less engaging).

Counting Crows - Omaha (24-192 WAV)
Noticeably good separation, real thump and solidity to the drum in the opening bars. Vocals slightly off-centre to the right and slightly forward, clear and captures the timbre well.

Miles Davis – Blue in Green (24-192 HDTracks FLAC)
Comes across a bit muted with the Xelastec tips. Mind you, this does wonders for the trumpet, reducing any chance of it being sharp or fatiguing.

There’s good texture to the brushed percussion and the double bass extends deep, but both suffer perhaps with a tiny bit less definition and clarity than I’d expect. However, it does make for a nice smooth and tranquil presentation overall.

Aurora (German soprano-metal group, 24-44 HD FLAC)
Such clarity and timbre to the vocals (more so with the Xelastec tips).

The Solaris 2020 really presents this song extremely well.

Some lovely richness and depth when the metal guitars come in from 29 seconds onwards (less so with the Xelastec tips; this song profits from the mid-bass warmth that the Solaris brings with my New Bee foam tips).

The key take-home point here is that the Solaris 2020 does very well with female vocals. With that in mind, please proceed to the next song in our selection!

Farhan Saeed & Shreya Ghoshal – Thodi Der (16-44 FLAC)
This Bollywood stunner is a good track for seeing how an IEM presents male and female vocals, since it contains testing examples of both.

The female vocal is very light and high pitched, whilst the male vocal is relatively high pitched, but both (on the right IEM) demonstrate a lovely timbre and emotiveness.

I have to say, the Solaris 2020 does superbly here. Every aspect of the song is close to perfect; the vocals are captivating, rich and lifelike and avoid any kind of sharpness or sibilance. This is a song where the Solaris sounds open and spacious, but still with some of that dark richness and intimacy which makes the vocals and the music so enchanting on this IEM.

Anberlin - The Art of War (16-44 FLAC)
Medium level of clarity to the sound of the bass channel opening up.

Opening synthetic beat sounds very slightly muffled/muddy due to the mid-bass lift (not with the Xelastec tips).

Again, separation and imaging are excellent. Soundstage not huge but large, and the strong separation and imaging help to give a clear delineation between instruments and effects, allowing each space to captivate and shine.

The bassline that comes in from 11 seconds onwards is presented fairly well; with the Solaris 2020 is has a good level of power and rumble, but disappointingly, not much in the way of texture (note: I found it somewhat more powerful and textured with Sedna Xelastec tips)
It’s delightfully easy to distinguish separate (or echoed) vocals from one another, a fact which hugely adds to the enjoyment of listening to music with the Solaris 2020.

Live – Throwing Copper album (16-44 FLAC)
This whole album sounds significantly better to my ears with the New Bee foam tips.

For me, this is an album with a pretty neutrally-mastered bass, such that the often hard-hitting drums and guitars can reduce my enjoyment of these great songs, making them sound a bit aggressive and lacking in body.

With the New Bee foam tips on the Solaris 2020, there was a real musicality to the opening electro-acoustic guitar strumming on ‘Sh** Towne’, and a lovely depth of body, richness and resonance when the rest of the instruments came in. I found this continued on all the tracks, and was one of the most enjoyable presentations of this album I’ve heard with any IEM at any price. However, this was lost to a fair extent when I switched over to the Xelastec tips. There was a bit more space and clarity, but that richness and resonance was diminished.


Unique Melody MEST (USD $1399):
Of the IEMs in my collection, these are the ones that have the greatest similarities to the Solaris 2020; they are both hybrid IEMs, both around the same price and both offering a rather unique, energetic and bold tuning.

I just listened to the following songs A/B testing the MEST and Solaris 2020:
Alison Lau - Handel's Lascia la spina (24-96 HDTracks)
Page & Plant (Unledded) - Friends (24-96 PBTHAL vinyl rip)
Queen - It's Late (24-96 HDTracks)
Poison - Dove Sei (16-44 FLAC)
Marit Larsen - Faith & Science (16-44 FLAC)

With Alison Lau, I felt the MEST came out on top in terms of detail retrieval, soundstage and separation, but the Solaris 2020 nailed the musicality bit, it's fuller bodied mids presenting the strings to perfection.
With regards to vocals, they were occasionally too piercing on the Solaris 2020, but not on the MEST.

With Page & Plant, it's a similar story; MEST was more detailed and technically a bit better, but the Solaris was able to really captivate me with the way it presented the instruments.

For the Queen track, I noticed that on the MEST, the two guitars that play in the opening segment were spatially separated significantly wider; this also had the beneficial side-effect of truly placing Freddie Mercury's vocals centre-stage where they belong, and giving them a distinct space from which they could shine.

The Solaris was by no means congested here, but the slightly closer spacing had the effect of making the vocals sound slightly recessed in comparison.

I felt the guitars had more bite and accuracy on the MEST, but more body and power on the Solaris.

Onto the Poison track. For you fellow 80/90's hair-rock fans wondering why you can't remember a Poison track with an Italian title, it's because this is another group called Poison, an Italian hip-hop group that I stumbled upon whilst searching for hi-res versions of tracks by the other Poison.
This song features one of the most thunderous synthetic bass/drum lines I've ever heard and served as an ideal tool for comparing the low ends of the Solaris and MEST.
The MEST has significantly greater sub-bass power and extension, but less rumble and mid-bass power.
The Solaris has less sub-bass power and extension, but significantly head-shaking mid-bass rumble and impact.
I was also looking at the other parts of the music to critically compare it alongside the - ahem - rhythm section, but as soon as Dat Bass kicked in on either IEM, I forgot completely what I was thinking.
As Mike Tyson once wryly observed:
"Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face" :D

Switching to real drums with Marit Larsen's Faith & Science, again the Solaris hit significantly harder and with much more of a ringing impact.

Overall, these two excellent IEMs are rather different; the MEST is very vivid, energetic, detailed and technical and with a touch of musicality too. Its weakness for me is a lack of body and warmth in the mids, which detracts from its musicality overall. It has excellent low end impact and extension, but could use a bit more mid-bass rumble and power in my opinion.

The mids of the Solaris 2020 are more rich and full-bodied, but I feel the treble of the Solaris 2020 has significantly less air and sparkle. The Solaris is more laid back, but despite that, I can't say it's more smooth because on songs that have the potential to make me wince with sharp or piercing vocals, cymbal smashes and whatnot, it was usually the one that triggered me, rather than the MEST.

Technically, the Solaris is a very good, but slightly variable performer depending on the song being listened to; the MEST is consistently outstanding in this regard for me, its presentation of detail is superb and its soundstage and separation are world-class in my opinion.

Ultimately though, I think that whilst their prices align, their sound signatures are rather different, and it's likely that someone looking for 'dark, rich and organic' is not going to be considering the MEST (or may simply be a chocolate lover who stumbled into the wrong forum) :D

Cable swap:

Illustrious Head-Fi member @skedra has very kindly loaned me a demo cable that he created; it’s a 4-wire cable crafted from an exciting mix of gold-plated copper wire and palladium-plated silver wire.
It's still a work in progress but already looks (and sounds) rather special indeed.

It was supple and comfortable and made a noticeable change to the sound signature of the Solaris 2020:

The background is blacker; notes stand out more and detail and resolution are increased.
Soundstage and separation also increased.

The only ‘negative’ for me is slightly less warmth and richness in the low end.

Just to be clear, on many IEMs, this would not be an issue (and could be a benefit); however, with the Solaris, I personally like the warmth and richness it has, so I missed it a bit here; your mileage may vary, as they say :)

Listening to a 24-96 HDTracks version of Paul Simon's "The Coast", there's two things I'm looking out for:
1) the sound of a special instrument, a kind of hand-struck drum that comes in at 12 seconds into the track.
It has a strange v-shaped sound (the drum, not the cable!), diving down into sub-bass then shooting up again.
I feel there's slightly more body and impact to this on the stock cable.

2) the guitar that comes in at 16 seconds.
I think it sounds more hi-res on Skedra’s cable, but there's a gorgeous musical feeling that this guitar sound has on some IEMs (and cables, I assume!). I'm hearing it on Solaris with the stock cable, but not much with Skedra’s cable.
It sounds great, just maybe a touch less of the richness and resonance that's making the guitar sound so lovely on the stock cable.

Everything else shines more beautifully with Skedra’s cable though; the hi-res song just sounds… well, more hi-res :)


The Solaris 2020 is a special IEM with a pretty unique tuning.

It can be slightly hit and miss sometimes, but if you’re willing to play around with different cables and tips, then this can be alleviated to a fair extent. Technical performance can vary from very good to excellent.

The good news is that when it finds synergy with a track (cable/eartip swapping can help), it can sound simply superb; for my tastes, among the best presentations of some tracks I’ve ever heard.

It has a gorgeously dark, rich sound, which combines with the powerful low end and a small degree of sparkle in the treble to produce a captivating sound signature overall.
If you want a powerful and engaging IEM with body AND soul, look no further :)
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You are too kind! Many thanks! And yes, I think the both the MEST and Solaris are great IEMs, just in different ways. Which is good, as we all have different preferences :)
Great review! Thanks for sharing. Do you have any thoughts on how the MEST compares to OG Solaris?
Unfortunately I've never heard the OG Solaris, but if you ask on the official Solaris thread (and/or MEST thread), chances are there will be someone with experience of both. Best of luck! :)

Watermelon Boi

100+ Head-Fier
Campfire Audio Solaris 2020: Gently ripen
Pros: Rich and moist texture
Refined layerings and wide staging
Even comfortable and easier to handle
Tonality got even organic
Cons: Only includes 3.5mm termination
Campfire Audio Solaris 2020 Review: Gently ripen

The popular brand from the portable audio industry, Campfire Audio, has come up with a new stream of products - Ara, Andromeda 2020, and Solaris 2020. The original Solaris used to be CA's most expensive product as well and gained a great amount of interest throughout the community. Now they have released Solaris 2020, a refined/retuned version of the original one where many elements have been adjusted, inside and outside. Let us now cut to the chase and see how this new version performs along with making comparisons.


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. This phase of lineups has a flower theme to it as it is apparent to the box design.

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 appropriately larger with a wider opening, now making it more convenient when storing the IEMs with thicker cables. It is also worth mentioning that the case material has now changed to sustainably harvested cork which is economically friendly and even durable than leather. The size increase also happened to the earpiece pouches as well, making it easier and smoother to store the earpieces.

Earpieces - Design

For those who have used or experienced the original Solaris, you could have been challenged or overwhelmed to get the proper fit, especially if you have small ears. Although I personally did not struggle much to get them in my ears, they sure were bulky. Due to that reason, CA brought a 20% reduction in size, including the thickness while maintaining the overall shape and design that Solaris used to have. The edges got slightly rounder than the original, but still keeping the same looks and vibes.

While its particular design may make them look to still appear big, the difference gets very apparent and sensible as you actually wear them. The earpieces are now surprisingly small and would snug right in the ears without any sense of bulkiness, unlike the original Solaris where the fit rather felt as if the earpieces were dangling from the ears. The cavity is fully coated with a sleek black color with much finer texture whereas the original Solaris has been applied with a glittery gold faceplate which was vulnerable to getting chipped off. Now, the faceplates have been changed to a glossy yet not-cheapy looking finish, making us much easier to keep them in a clean state.

Earpieces - Specs

Let us now cover the internals of this urbane-style IEM. Solaris 2020 is comprised of a 3BA+1DD configuration per side. All applied with CA's classic chamber tuning, T.A.E.C, two custom-made BA drivers are for the highs with 1 rear-sided BA driver placed the mids. The included 10mm A.D.L.C dynamic driver is the same one used for Atlas, taking charge of lows and mids. Yet for Solaris 2020, the dynamic driver is topped with the Polarity Tuned Chamber, plus the custom-tuning in order to make harmony with the BA drivers.

The shape and size of the nozzles stay the same - however, due to the smaller cavity, there is a good amount of chance that you would be able to achieve deeper insertion as you wear. It must have been challenging to get the 20% smaller earpieces packed with not only the drivers but also the chambers and other components, though it still happened. Will the size reduction negatively affect the sound? Stay yourself tuned as we soon move on to the sound impressions.


Previously, the beloved Litz cable was updated to Smoky Litz, and now it is time for the Super Litz to go through the same. Solaris 2020 comes with Super Smoky Litz which is made based on the one from the original Solaris but now even better. The sleeves now have a grey color while the original transparent sleeves were versatile to oxidation and discoloration. I can also feel that the cable got softer and more pliable. CA has also removed the metal rod from the earguides and installed the memory tubes only, making the earguides to snug right around the ears.

I am very glad that they have made this change as the original Super Litz was a tad stiff, along with the metal rods inside the earguides made things worse. Super Smoky Litz is made of thick silver-plated copper Litz wires, braided to have 4 cores. The cable is terminated as MMCX-3.5mm, just as usual. It would have been better to see some extra functionalities or accessories regarding the cable termination as an IEM in this level of price would have no small amount of needs for balanced outputs. I wonder if CA will have plans for applying changeable plugs later on. Perhaps the future will tell.

Sound impression - Lows

Lows feel to be gently pressurized to the bottom of the headroom where the bass not only adds stability as the bass is getting driven but also prevents the reverbs from bouncing upwards and leaking into the lower mids. The bass is toned to have a serious, dark, and classy mood where I find it to be one of the most charming basses I have heard. The surface of the bass is polished smooth but able to catch small bits of details, hence growls from the bass are prominent but do not get grainy or dry.

Alongside, lows would dive gently but with superb clarity and depth that makes Solaris 2020 possible to pick up the ultra-low details very vividly without any need to overpower the quantity. Since that, while this IEM oozes with deep, dark bass presence, the bass production itself is kept very well leveled and balanced throughout the range. What I also appreciate from the lows is its field-like bass area that scales wide. It gently and carefully spreads out sideways, posing an elegancy that feels profound yet not burdensome. Yet still, Solaris 2020 does not put behind acquiring the density as the vast bass expansion does not thin out the density one bit. Lows are packed with deep, meaty particles and texture, keeping its stout stance all along.

Sound impression - Mids

With no dips or unnatural turbulences being made, mids take a small step forward with a stable transition from the lows. The vocal tone is moist, deep in color, and organic but not plain. Mids are smooth yet revealing just as Solaris 2020 did with its bass, yet in mids, the analytical level goes much higher and exposing the texture details in a more explicit manner. One of the key highlights from the mids is its fabric-like texture. This does not recess the vocals but instead greatly helps to form a nice virtual presentation where the sound feels to be coming out from a heavy build speaker. I personally find this quite interesting for a hybrid IEM as the dynamic driver and the balanced armatures sound so unified and seamlessly connected in order to create this certain texture.

The temperature is neutral warm on the lower mids and gets cooler and fresher as we move upwards. Hence mids and upper mids persist a mild coolness and airiness that opens up the atmosphere. It also brings out more crisps and bites to the sound that goes further on making clear distinctions, but at the same time not breaking the harmony. The sibilance area on the upper mids is well handled by replacing possible spikes with a touch of spice. This "spice" actually holds a major role as it serves as a refrigerant to freshen up the lower-end atmosphere which is rather deep and warm. The sound rays on mids show a well-padded thickness that is just mildly thickened from neutral. Thanks to that, vocals sound full-bodied and bold enough to continue Solaris 2020's robust sound signature while satisfying both male and female vocals.

Sound impression - Highs, etc.

Highs take a small step back than the mids and similar in the distance as the lows. Yet they firmly hold onto the clarity that makes them just as clear as the vocals if not clearer. Treble strikes are very crisp and agile where they show instant strike and decay, barely leaving reverbs except the airiness that they carry. Of course, the natural splashes are not omitted but only highlighted to the point where it would not stuff up the upper atmosphere. With a highly refined, smoothened texture, trebles present to a silk-like fineness that is smooth but capable of highlighting all the small bits of sparkles and treble layers. The timbre is on point with naturality which leaves a rich aftertaste, making every bite of trebles sweet and tasty.

Following the legacy achieved from the original, Solaris 2020 presents one large and wide staging. The depth is super dense and thick in color with moist and full upwards extension, forming a 3D headroom while not breaking the imaging accuracy. As some Campfire IEMs did back then, there are some white noises present due to its impedance but the black background compensates in order to achieve the quietness. Also, the white noise will not be too sensible unless the track is paused. As we head to the end of the impressions, I would like to quickly talk through the eartip recommendation. After some tip-rolling, I have found that JVC Spiral Dots++ worked out the best for me than others (stock Final E-Type, other Spiral Dots, etc.) The tone and texture just sound perfectly right once I use these, so I would recommend giving those a try if you own or planning to grab Solaris 2020.


-Campfire Audio Solaris OG (Original)-

The first IEM to put up to the comparison of course needs to be the original Solaris, which I would refer here as Solaris OG. The first general difference I have spotted between them is the imaging/staging style. It may feel to be a subtle change but once you dive deeper into their sounds, the changes turn out to be quite big. Solaris OG creates a headroom that is more "up in the air" with slightly wider expansion. This greatly helped the sound to feel rich and headphone-like, yet at the same time, it also caused where the sound may feel a bit light-weight (especially the bass) or not enough of "touching the ground" type of stableness. Solaris 2020 now has all that by putting up the sound closer that gives better immersion. The bass response has improved as well by achieving more depth, punchiness, and intact feeling to the ground.

Another difference I have spotted is to do with the tone. Solaris OG had mildly hyped upper ends and having the extra finesse as a topping while Solaris 2020 sticks to the basics by keeping a natural, unexaggerated tone that is equipped with elegance to its nature. Although the upper ends got comfier to listen, that doesn't mean the charms have been degraded - as, in fact, highs are as equal or got even more attractive depending on your taste, since the more natural toning. However, at the end of the day, I would put both IEMs on the same level and put it as a tie since both IEMs share the same trunk with just the different branches. Some will enjoy the original while the others (and those who disliked OG for the reasons mentioned above) will enjoy the new version. All based on preferences, which are done by gives and takes.

-Astrotec Phoenix-

I would also like to compare Solaris 2020 with Astrotec's flagship IEM, the Phoenix. Note that I have accompanied Phoenix with the Aune B1 amplifier since it requires high power by nature. The way how low-end texture and the punchiness are presented is quite similar between these two as those elastic, weighty bounciness from the diaphragm takes a huge roll in the bass. The audible bass extension is equally nice, appropriately mining out that deep and dark force oozing out from all the way down. However, the ultra lows from Phoenix are tighter and even less bloated with reverbs, therefore making a clearer presence. On the other hand, ultra lows show slightly better visibility as they pose more quantity and vibrancy. Upper lows are rather similar in quantity.

Relatively speaking, the texture from Solaris 2020 is more revealing with slightly thicker grains. Of course, the fineness and resolution are not falling behind one bit - in fact, it is equally if not mildly better than Phoenix as Solaris 2020 shows once stellar resolution. While that, Phoenix comes with a counterattack by forming a smoother surface with finer grains. Solaris 2020 takes a reasonable lead once we move on to the trebles. While the extension from both IEMs is on a similar league, Solaris 2020 shows more energy that makes them stand out clearer than Phoenix does. The treble strikes are also more elastic, hence it leaving with a tastier note.


Solaris 2020 is a fine example of a brand paying close attention to what the consumers want. Campfire Audio has gone through necessary changes inside out, making the usability a lot lesser in hassle. A retouch to the sound has also been done for those who wanted a different perspective from the original Solaris, all while not abandoning the charms the original Solaris had. Solaris 2020 definitely has a noticeable advantage fitting-wise, yet the retouch to the sound has been done very respectfully, as the competition between the new and the original is more of a yin and yang type of situation - both the original Solaris and the Solaris 2020 having an equal level of charms and performances, hence the personal taste would be the one that would decide which one would be better suitable for you.

For the original Solaris owners - rest assured. If you had to drink a bitter cup for not being able to fit the original Solaris properly into your ears, then it is definitely recommendable to try again with the Solaris 2020, as now the chances for you to achieve the right fit are much higher. When it comes to the sound, Solaris 2020 is not meant to kill off the original but to give a complete "Solaris experience" by providing both perspectives from the same base. If weighing a bit more on the lower-ends with a further neutral tone is what you want, listening to Solaris 2020 must be included in your to-do list.


Andromeda (original) / Polaris II / IO
Atlas / Comet

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Thanks to Campfire Audio for providing Solaris 2020 in exchange for an honest impression/feedback.
I am not affiliated with Campfire Audio and none of my words were modded or asked to be changed.


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100+ Head-Fier
Solaris 2020 Review and Comparison to Campfire Andromeda
Pros: Thick, addictive note
Cons: Reduced airiness
Solaris 2020 Review and Comparison to Campfire Andromeda


The Solaris 2020 is the latest and greatest remix of the controversial Campfire Solaris. Campfire Audio’s claim to fame was the Campfire Andromeda, an IEM with a near-universally loved audio signature. To this date, I maintain that the Campfire Andromeda was “sonic gold” - I wonder if even Campfire truly understands the science behind why so many people are drawn to the Andromeda.

Regardless, the Solaris is perhaps an attempt by Campfire to show that they are more than the Andromeda. The Solaris seems to be cultivated from feedback gathered over the Andromeda’s lifecycle, and attempts to fill a niche that is not satisfied by the Andromeda. In this sense, people interested in the Solaris should be warned - it is not a direct upgrade from the Andromeda. The Solaris is decidedly a sidegrade, and an expensive one at that. Let’s discuss.

I’ve had the Solaris 2020 for over a month, and have been waiting to write this review in order to get over new-toy syndrome.

Build Quality and Comfort
The build quality of the Solaris exceeds the Andromeda, and that’s high praise. I always loved how the Andromeda felt in the hand - the cold metal body with some heft to it felt rather premium. The Solaris takes this a step further, with a sleek, black PVD coat that (while being a fingerprint magnet) adds a sense of stealthy elegance and feels just a tad bit more premium than the Cerakote or anodized surface of the Andromeda. It also seems less prone to wear or chipping.

The packaging is stunning. The Campfire Solaris arrives in a stunning tan/gold box that is befitting its name. I am also a fan of the new cork cases included with the Campfire IEMs. They look decidedly rustic, they have an intriguing texture, and are far more sustainable (and ethical) than leather. However, the zippers on the Campfire cases remain notoriously rough and annoying to use. I had to apply some WD-40 to the zipper to make it more usable.

The Solaris 2020 is not as comfortable as the Andromedas for me. The nozzles are bigger, requiring me to go down a tip size, but more importantly, the IEMs seem to protrude out of my ears more than I’d expect. Also, the design of the Solaris seems to exacerbate the asymmetry in my ear canals. I had to use different sized tips on each side, something I rarely have to do on any IEM.

The included Final Audio eartips are acceptable on the Solaris 2020. Aftermarket Comply Foam tips sound even better to me, and are much more pliable and comfortable than the included foam tips. Both tips clean up the highs of the Solaris, reducing sibilance and increasing comfort.

Sound Quality
While the Andromeda had an instantly lovable signature, the signature of the Solaris took me time to understand. “Brain burn-in” is definitely a thing here, and it took me about a week to see why I should keep the Solaris.

The Solaris is less engaging and more relaxing than the Andromeda. This can lead to an initial impression that the Solaris is not as technically capable as the Andromedas, but much the opposite is true. In critical listening, I found that the Solaris was able to extract more detail from songs than the Andromeda. However, the Andromeda was more promiscuous with the (lesser) detail that it managed to extract in comparison to the Solaris.

The soundstage of the Solaris feels similar to the Andromeda (maybe a bit less) and imaging is superior. The Solaris doesn’t feel as airy as the Andromeda, despite (to my ears) being more accurate at high frequency reproduction. For example, in in Zalza - Terminal (2:37), the Solaris is better at producing the sound of falling rain compared to the Andromeda, but overall the Solaris has less air than the Andromeda, leading to an initial impression of reduced stage.

Instrument layering is superior: when multiple instruments are playing, each instrument contributes its proper weight and characteristics to the sound. This feels really good when you have multiple strings/cellos/violins playing concurrently.

Instrument separation is about the same: it’s about as easy to pick apart instruments on the Solaris as it was on the Andromedas.

Highs, Mids, and Lows
In long-term listening, I find the Solaris highs are more bearable than the Andromedas, and more natural too. After a listening session with the Solaris, when I return to the Andromedas, the highs feel unnaturally thin and almost tinny. The increased soundstage is there but it’s simply not worth the trade.

I find the Solaris mids are excellent and are more forward than the Andromedas. The mids feel spot-on to me, but I’m not the best judge of mids, so I can’t really say much more here.

The Solaris bass is fantastic. The Solaris exhibits far more bass and sub-bass than the Andromeda. The bass feels more natural, more full, more tactile, and manages to fill in many of the sub-bass frequencies that are absent on the Andromeda. In terms of bass, the Solaris is a huge win, and I’d almost recommend the Solaris over the Andromeda based off of the lows alone.

Sound Summary
To conclude, the Solaris’s audio is a marked change from the Andromeda. It is more intimate, but it is more full - it has more substance. The Solaris’s note is warmer, thicker, and fuller than the Andromeda while maintaining phenomenal technicalities. This comes at the expense of some air and soundstage. As such, I maintain that the Solaris is a sidegrade from the Andromeda and not an upgrade.



The Solaris seems like Campfire’s attempt to prove that they are more than the Andromeda, and I think it largely succeeds. The Solaris is every bit as capable and enjoyable of a headphone as the Andromeda, and while it doesn’t have that instant ‘wow’ factor, the Solaris does right what the Andromeda does wrong.

In the battle of technicalities and qualities, where some are traded for others, I personally find that the Solaris comes out ahead of the Andromedas, and it is now my IEM of choice. The Solaris’s thicker note is extremely compelling and draws me into the music more than the Andromeda ever did. However, I maintain that the Solaris is a sidegrade, not an upgrade, because the sound of the two headphones are distinctly different. If the Andromeda is an Sennheiser HD800S, the Solaris is a ZMF Verite Closed (review here).

If you’re new to the hobby, I might still recommend the Andromeda. If you’ve been around for some time - if you’re looking for a headphone that does what the Andromeda cannot - or if you simply have new-toy syndrome, I’d wholeheartedly recommend the Solaris.
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You, sir, NAILED the differences between this and the OG Solaris.
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Hi @VTMA8132 - I used the RME ADI-2 fs DAC at home and a Qudelix 5K on the go.
I have been on the fence between the Andromeda and Solaris for about 6 months now, leaning more toward the Solaris. I did listen to the Andromeda (not the 2020) at an RMAF a few years back and liked it very much, so I don't think I would be disappointed by either. Good review.
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