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Campfire - Solaris

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  1. fokta
    I see.. my bad...

    well just doing a short impression about budget friendly cable
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2019
  2. subguy812
    No dude, I didn't wish to try a more budget friendly cable, I was going to compare some of my more budget friendly DAP's I have.
  3. subguy812
    Wildcatsare1 likes this.
  4. cr3ativ3
    Ah ok .
    Fiio LC2.5/4.4D then :) awesome match with Solaris for balance
  5. Rockwell75
    I read everything I could find online and just pulled the trigger on the Cayin :) Can't wait to hear it with my Solaris. I might get to demo a Kann Cube when I stop by Campfire HQ in a couple weeks...but it would take something fairly miraculous to compel me to spend all that extra $$ and have to deal with a 2.5mm connection. I have a good feeling about the N6II though.
    fokta and Wildcatsare1 like this.
  6. BananaOoyoo

    Realized I never uploaded my impressions. Whoops.

    So after nine months of waiting, Campfire Audio is finally back in Korea with a new distributor (Greenpowertech? It's the first time I've heard of them, but it looks like they work pretty closely with Astell&Kern.)
    None of the IEMs are actually available yet, but there was an A&K event yesterday to showcase their new products (SP2000, SP1000 amp, KANN cube, T9ie), and the CA lineup was there to tag along. The official launch date is said to be sometime mid-July, and I'm guessing that the local price will be somewhere between $2000-2200.

    I got roughly 1 hour with the Solaris, which isn't enough to get a complete understanding of the IEMs but gave me a decent first impression to work with. Unfortunately, I found out the day of that the event was happening, so I was not able to bring my own source & tips.
    I used (small) E-Pro Horn Shaped Tips and listened using an ES100 (iTunes), SP1000 (Tidal), and SP2000 (random flac files). I don't care too much about burn-in, but I do know that these were not straight out of the box.

    To start, build quality on the Solaris was excellent, as expected of a Campfire Audio IEM. It looks and feels the part of a high-end IEM, and Campfire Audio is meticulous about eliminating even the smallest manufacturing defects. Aesthetically, the gold works really well with daps like the SP1000/2000 and WM1Z, though it doesn't quite do it for me personally. (I prefer something a bit more subdued.)
    The Super Litz cable likewise seemed well built and is soft/comfortable (good!), but I found that it also gets kinks a bit easily and has a mind of its own (meh.). It's not as bad or as stiff as some of the other Alo Audio cables (SXC8, SXC24, Copper 22, etc.), but I might actually prefer the standard Litz cable and would lean towards replacing it for something else.

    With regards to fit, I was pleasantly surprised with the Solaris. Yes, the new housing design is unreasonably large, but it's also pretty well designed in terms of shape. The edges found on Campfire Audio's BA-only models (and the Polaris) are gone, removing one possible source of irritation for the wearer, and because the nozzle area juts out a bit, my guess is that the user will either:
    1. Have larger ears/ear canals, in which case the IEM will fir comfortably, or
    2. Have smaller ears/ear canals, in which case the "body" of the housing sits far out enough that it doesn't rub against and irritate the ears. (I fall in this category, since while my ears aren't particularly small, my left ear & both ear canals are a bit unusual)
    Using the narrow-bore and deeper inserting E-Pro tips, I found the fit to be quite comfortable and felt that the weight distribution of the IEM was excellent. There seems to be some debate regarding the optimal eartips (have seen proponents of both narrow and wide bore tips), but in my case, I'm pretty certain that I would not get a good fit with the latter given my ear anatomy. In any case, the Solaris is much more comfortable for me than something like the IER-Z1R.

    When I started listening, the first thing that immediately jumped out was how sensitive the Solaris is. Two bars on my ES100/iPhone pairing was more than enough, and on the SP1000, the volume was set somewhere in the 15-20 range. In my opinion, this hypersensitivity is both a strength and a weakness - on one hand, it means that the Solaris should be at least usable with basically anything, but on the other hand, I did feel that the Solaris DD liked having a bit more power, but because of how quickly the Solaris got loud, there wasn't much wiggle room to take advantage of this.

    On a surface level, in terms of sound, Solaris seems to be Campfire's take on a balanced sound signature.
    Bass: At first, I was a bit underwhelmed with the lows using the Solaris with the ES100, but switching to the SP1000 led to a much nicer listening experience. While it doesn't extend as far as the Z1R or hit you like the Legend X, those are tuning choices rather than shortcomings, and both extension and impact were good with that satisfying DD sound.
    (On a side note, thank god Campfire decided to dial the DD back a few notches here - I strongly disliked the Atlas when I tried it, and I was worried that the Solaris would have similar issues of the bass just overpowering everything else. I could see an argument for the ADLC DD being a bit too tame in the Solaris, but overall, it does its job well here.)
    Mids: KB, give me back my mids! While a bit hyperbolic, there was definitely some weirdness in the mids. Unlike some of the Solaris detractors, I did not feel as though the (female) vocals were recessed. However, there were tonality issues, with vocals coming across as limp and lacking body. I almost wish the mids were recessed, because then these shortcomings would be less front-and-center and could maybe be better masked by the lows and highs. Not the biggest fan.
    Highs: Not too much to say here. The treble was energetic, and while it didn't quite sparkle like the Andromedas, I was pretty happy with it.
    Miscellaneous: The Solaris shines here. Soundstage, both width and depth, is excellent for an IEM - I wish I had brought my Andromedas there to compare (they had a pair there, but it was in use while I was auditioning the Solaris), but just off of memory, I'd guess it's in a similar ballpark, give or take a bit. Detail retrieval and overall imaging are also fantastic.

    So those are my initial thoughts...
    Overall, Campfire Audio did a respectable job with the Solaris. While it does combine the Atlas DD with presumably the Andromeda BAs, it's not really a strict upgrade to either, and I don't quite get the reviews calling it an Andro with bass or the best of both worlds. Personally, I think the Solaris is a good, maybe great, IEM that has its own distinct sound and is Campfire's best attempt at using a dynamic driver to date. Unfortunately for me, unless something drastic changes in either the IEM or my impressions, I don't think the Solaris will scratch that itch for my endgame hybrid IEM - while it belongs in that flagship category with other similarly priced (and pricier) IEMs and while I definitely see myself listening to it again (often) when I visit my local headphone stores in the future, to me, it doesn't really scream "this is it" by unequivocally surpassing the IEMs that I'm currently using.
    Aslshark, bden59, fokta and 4 others like this.
  7. Tristy
    Based on a random, 1 hour listening session with the Solaris, I think readers should take your impression with a large pinch of salt. Owning both the andromeda and Solaris at one point, I can unequivocally say that the Solaris surpasses the Andromeda in all ways except for treble sparkle. Given more time and letting the DD settle (anyone that has had any experience with the Atlas can attest to the changes in this respect) I feel your impressions would be vastly different.
    ILyaX likes this.
  8. subguy812
    I had a feeling someone was going to mention the 1 hour session. I am inclined to agree with you. What I will say is the Solaris is definitely, to my ears, at the top of the CA heap. I love my Atlas, after it has had plenty of time to season, but technically the Solaris is a better performer. End game, for me there will never be one, but I could understand how it could be considered that to many, and it is okay if they think that.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2019
    ILyaX and Wildcatsare1 like this.
  9. cr3ativ3
    The Game is never Over :D
    fokta likes this.
  10. theveterans
    Sadly, I never heard how Solaris is supposed to sound when I demoed it due to fit issues. Couldn't get any good seal no matter the tips I use
  11. ExpatinJapan
    tanks for the impressions (as requested)

    Glad you finally got ti try the Solaris out after waiting so long.
  12. fokta
    Nice Impression...
    appreciate the efforts and the patience...
    wish u have a proper set up when u demo it.

    IMHO, Solaris is source sensitive...
    I am still surprised of what is capable when listening random song, and enjoy it.
    Never in my life, I use random all song, but now is my go to, to get the thrill...

    Hi, yes, u are right, Fitting is an issued for us in Asia.
    Luckily, my ear was consider big. so The fitting is good even with No foam. no the best isolation, but works for me.
    Hope you manage to proper demo it. I was grateful to you for ur advice to wait for solaris, when I wanted to push the trigger on Andro OG... TQ
    BananaOoyoo likes this.
  13. BananaOoyoo
    I did start off by saying that these were initial impressions and that 1 hour isn't nearly enough time with a product :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
    As someone who has tried the Atlas, Vega, Legend X, Zombie, etc., I am agnostic towards whether burn-in has minor effects on sound, as I generally don't get to compare a fresh-out-of-the-box IEM with a 200-hour counterpart. However, I do not buy that burn-in is some magical silver bullet of positive change.

    Solaris is an IEM I will be reaching for when I visit that store in the future, and it might take that title of most-listened-to-demo-unit away from the Custom Art Harmony 8.2. Schezade is a 15 minute walk from home, so I'm sure I'll get a lot more time with it to really flesh out my opinions.
    That said, the reduction in treble sparkle, to me, takes away one of the selling points of the Andromeda. My initial takeaway is that the Solaris beats the Atlas and is a sidegrade from the Andromeda in terms of technical ability while having a distinct sound signature. Still puts the Solaris towards the top of the IEMs I've tried to date, but because of this last point, I would not call the Solaris a direct upgrade from either (just as I wouldn't call the EE Legend X a direct upgrade from the EE Phantom).

    Maybe my second, third, or 100th listen significantly changes my opinion of it, but as of right now, I'm still looking for something more.
  14. fokta
    IMO, if u used foam, it somehow reduce the spark. and make sure the ear tip is widebore if u want to emphasize Hi freq
    BananaOoyoo likes this.
  15. ionier
    After months of usage I love solaris but can't be comfortable with it for more than an hour. I mean foams are good but the pressure is huge and silicons are more comfortable but sound signature is not as to my liking as foams.
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