Campfire - Solaris
Dec 23, 2019 at 10:15 PM Post #7,126 of 10,973

Rockwell75

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Posts
3,177
Likes
5,466
Location
BC, Canada
That bad huh? I guess I'll demo them in e-earphones next time I'm in tokyo. Wanna know what's with all the buzz

It's a YMMV thing. The mids were definitely one of the deal breakers for me with the Z1R. Definitely worth a demo before purchasing.
 
Dec 23, 2019 at 10:18 PM Post #7,127 of 10,973

Bozz_Keren

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 22, 2007
Posts
661
Likes
98
Location
Jakarta
not bad at all :) anyway it’s nice to see more people from my hometown....salam kenal pak!

Salam kenal pak.

Nice one you got there, it's been awhile I went to head-Fi meet, we should have a mini gathering here.
 
Dec 23, 2019 at 10:21 PM Post #7,129 of 10,973

Bozz_Keren

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 22, 2007
Posts
661
Likes
98
Location
Jakarta
It's a YMMV thing. The mids were definitely one of the deal breakers for me with the Z1R. Definitely worth a demo before purchasing.

yeah I def will demo them if got the chance.
Btw, which board do u use with cayin6ii?
 
Dec 23, 2019 at 10:22 PM Post #7,130 of 10,973

Rockwell75

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Posts
3,177
Likes
5,466
Location
BC, Canada
Dec 23, 2019 at 10:24 PM Post #7,132 of 10,973

normie610

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Nov 25, 2015
Posts
1,509
Likes
1,852
Location
Jakarta, Indonesia
Salam kenal pak.

Nice one you got there, it's been awhile I went to head-Fi meet, we should have a mini gathering here.

sure let’s do that :thumbsup:
 
Dec 24, 2019 at 7:36 AM Post #7,133 of 10,973

Tristy

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Nov 21, 2018
Posts
1,845
Likes
1,921
Location
England
It's a YMMV thing. The mids were definitely one of the deal breakers for me with the Z1R. Definitely worth a demo before purchasing.

Don’t forget the coherency issues...

and the fact that the “lesser” M9 model competes more with the Solaris in terms of detail retrieval.
 
Dec 24, 2019 at 8:48 AM Post #7,134 of 10,973

Rockwell75

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Posts
3,177
Likes
5,466
Location
BC, Canada
Dec 24, 2019 at 11:58 AM Post #7,135 of 10,973

Lookout57

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 22, 2015
Posts
1,473
Likes
2,003
I don't think my local store here have pw audio loki+ for demo. Already have alo 22 copper mixed with silver (modded) for my Andro, but it's too bulky and heavy especially with Solaris.
I'm thinking along black icon series because there's a sale going on musicteck right now and am looking for insights here for gold plated silver cable synergies on Solaris.
I have the ALO Gold 16 which is gold plated copper. Compared to the SXC 8 which is silver plated copper I prefer the Gold 16 as it opened the soundstage more but it did lose some of the bass on the Solaris OG. I need to do more testing of cables with the Solaris SE.
 
Dec 24, 2019 at 12:59 PM Post #7,136 of 10,973

Rockwell75

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Posts
3,177
Likes
5,466
Location
BC, Canada
Campfire Audio Solaris SE


2019 has been a hell of a year for me in terms of portable audio. In January of this year I, like so many other plebs, started scouring places like Head Fi and r/headphones for information on which over ear bluetooth noise cancelling head set was right for me. Little did I know at the time that doing so was going to kick off a journey of epic proportions that would take me through some of the best sounding (and most expensive) IEMs on the market right now. The idea of a "journey" is a very apt metaphor for many of us in this hobby as it often comprises a transition from one place to another, often over and over again. There are many (arguably the fortunate ones) who know what they're looking for immediately and go straight for it, there are others who think they know what they want but find along the way that what satisfies them in the end is nothing like what they thought they were seeking in the beginning, and there are those still who don't really have an end destination in mind at all-- they're simply enjoying the journey. The beautiful thing in this hobby is that the selection these days is so vast that there's something out there for everyone and it need not be the same thing for any two people. For anyone who cares I've already detailed a good deal of my own journey in my earlier reviews of the Campfire Audio Solaris and the Cayin N6ii (links in my sig)-- the purpose of this post is to detail everything that's happened since, highlighted by a showdown between what are unquestionably the two top IEMs* I have had the pleasure of demoing this year, the Campfire Audio Solaris Special Edition and the QDC Anole VX. So let's get on with it then...

For a good chunk of this year (from about March to September) the OG Solaris was my bae-- it was the best "all arounder" IEM I'd heard to that point and I was more-or-less satisfied with it. Every now and again-- egged on by the sort of curiosity that plagues all of us who frequent Head Fi and other places like it, and also, if I'm honest, a desire for just a dash more impact here and there in Solaris' presentation-- I made a point of demoing all the TOTL IEMs I could to see if anything could usurp it. For a long time nothing could though many (including such heavyweights as the Z1R and u12t) tried their best. Fast forward to September of this year when I had the pleasure of a long awaited demo of the much heralded QDC Anole VX. Many people whose opinions I deeply respect (@antdroid , @McMadface , @Mrcojocaru , @koven , to name a few) had owned both the Solaris and VX and preferred the latter, so I was naturally very interested in trying it out. The opportunity arose in September at a meet in Seattle where I was able to gather with some fellow enthusiasts and demo @antdroid 's VX. The fact that it was him who exposed me to the VX first hand was a neat little "completing of the circle" relative to his own journey, but that's a story for another day. Anyway I had a good demo that day and, while it was impressive, I wasn't immediately sold. The VX is a very competent IEM but, like the Solaris, its greatest strength is that it does everything rather well and doesn't overwhelm or offend at first listen.

80699625_10162919878215654_8390525754437271552_n.jpg


Still though, the die was cast. I found in the days following my initial demo of the VX that I couldn't get its sound out of my head-- it's vividness, detail and clarity-- and after being haunted as such for a few days I took the plunge and ordered a used Anole VX of my own. Upon receiving it I did some a/b'ing back and forth and fell in love with the VX for its vivid, detailed and slightly aggressive sound and found that, despite being an all BA monitor it did what no other IEM up to that point had been able to do-- usurped the Solaris. Not much changed in the following weeks in my love of the VX-- it's a fantastic IEM The biggest complaint I would lobby at it, apart from a dash of the BA timbre (though it does bass very well imho) is that it's a little TOO aggressive in certain regions of the highs-- to the point that certain instruments sound, not quite "tizzy" or "sibilant" but a little too energetic and not quite natural. I noticed this especially with piano in some of Vince Guaraldi's works. It could be a dash fatiguing after a while, but not to the point where I could actively complain about it. Furthermore, if I'm being honest, there were certain elements of Solaris' presentation that I missed very much, namely it's more holographic presentation, instrument separation, natural instrumental timbre and, of course, the DD bass. Taking all that into account, along with my love of Campfire Audio's whole mode of presentation, philosophy and ethos, when @KB announced the SE Solaris in November I was unable to resist and pre-ordered from Travis at Headphone Bar almost immediately.

81237315_10162919879090654_245217253639847936_n.jpg


The five or so weeks between my pre-order of the Solaris SE and its arrival into my hands were some of the longest of my audiophile career (I hate the wait for new gear in the mail) but suffice to say the wait was worth it and the moment I got the package in my hands was one of the greatest in my short time in this hobby. The unboxing experience was wonderful. As I've said I love CFA's whole mode of presentation-- minimalist, beautiful, memorable, effective. It was a very different experience from the needless bulk of the VX or the ostentatious and borderline obnoxious packaging of the Z1R. Furthermore the build quality is superb (as I've come to expect from CFA) and the IEMs themselves are beyond beautiful, especially when paired with ALO's own smoky litz cable (which I picked up from Headphone Bar along with the Solaris). All of this said, build quality and packaging mean nothing if the sound quality isn't up to par.

79952965_10162919913640654_7724219161089409024_n.jpg

So how is the sound? There is no other way to put it-- the SE Solaris sounds simply divine. In my estimation Campfire Audio has knocked it out of the park-- this is the best sounding IEM I have heard this year. I should state again at the outset that, as I have indicated in previous posts, I have not had the chance yet to a/b the SE Solaris vs. the OG directly so anything I state in that regard will be from memory. All of that said, the most prominent improvement according to my memory is with the mid-range in general and with the presentation of vocals in particular. Vocals sound more robust, bodied and forward. Mark Knopfler, Morrissey and Michael Jackson all sound like they're in the room with me singing into my ear. One common complaint of the OG Solaris was that there was a touch of "hollowness" in certain regions of the mids, most apparent on vocals-- from what I can tell that has been totally remedied in the Solaris SE. The second most prominent difference I notice (relative to my own memory) is that the bass, while not being increased in quantity, sounds cleaner and more detailed. Thirdly I would say that the SE Solaris has more air and sparkle than the OG. At the time it was released I (among others) described the OG Solaris as "Andro plus bass" however many lovers of the Andro objected to that characterization claiming that the Solaris lacked the air and sparkle up top that characterized the Andro. I would be very much curious to hear some of those people's impressions of the SE Solaris. Beyond that I feel confident in saying that the SE Solaris is, above all, a refinement of the sound of the original as all the defining characteristics are there-- a dynamic but disciplined and non intrusive low end, peerless instrument separation, natural instrumental timbre, holographic 3-d soundstage, and so on. The biggest revelation for me is that I no longer find myself craving more "impact" in the low end as I'm too afraid it would interfere with the "wholeness" of the picture presented. This is arguably the biggest triumph of the Solaris in general in my estimation, something that SE Solaris just refines a wee bit.

Fotor_157793221534444.jpg

So what of the VX? The Anole VX is a top tier IEM, make no mistake, and if I'm honest it probably still edges the Solaris in terms of raw detail, vividness and resolution. I hate to say it as sometimes such terms make me barf, but a big difference between the two is that the VX is more analytical and the Solaris SE is more musical, or emotional. How would I quantify that? I'm not sure that I could except to say that when I'm listening to the VX I often pause and marvel at all the nuance and detail of what's being presented to me. On the other hand, with the same track, the Solaris, while being no slouch in the detail department, sways me with the "whole picture". I'm more likely to stop what I'm doing in the mall and start dancing when I'm listening to the Solaris or lose myself in the airy holographic presentation. Fundamentally the SE Solaris, like the OG, is a bit of a "gestalt" that is to say a "whole is greater than the sum of its parts" IEM-- it's hard to point to one single element of the sound, rather it presents a cohesive, balanced, detailed, natural sounding and musical picture that, in its entirety, has not been equaled in any other in-ears I have tried. Another key difference between the VX and Solaris SE is in their stage. With the VX the best analogy I can think of right now is of a multi-decker sandwich in front of you-- it's easy to get lost in the nuance of all the details and all the layers-- it's a very deep stage but not as expansive on the left and right. With the Solaris on the other hand-- and just now as I am writing this has it finally occurred to me why "Solaris" may be the perfect name for this IEM-- it feels like you're at the centre of a vast stellar system grounded by the power of the low end. Unlike with the VX where the detail unfolds before me, with Solaris it's all around me in three dimensional glory. Another strength of the Solaris over the VX (for me) is in the naturalness of its timbre-- sometimes, especially with pianos, the VX sounds very "hyper real", as though you've turned the intensity up just a little too high (to borrow someone else's metaphor). Ultimately it boils down to personal preference, and for many the SE Solaris will be at most a side-grade from the VX, but for me it's a definite upgrade. Nicely done.

80741299_10162919913575654_5149314266305658880_n.jpg

Edit: A/B with OG Solaris

I managed to stop by Headphone Bar yesterday and got in a quick a/b with OG Solaris. Hearing OG Solaris for the first time in 3 months after having SE Solaris for over a week was interesting. It's true that the differences are not night and day-- SE Solaris is definitely still Solaris...which imho is a good thing as for those of us who love it there isn't much that needed changing. The differences are subtle and more-or-less in line with what I wrote in my original impressions. The most notable improvement imho is in clarity, separation and a greater sense of space-- everything seems to have a little more space to breath and as such more space for detail to become evident. This, to me, is a thing I think Solaris does better than any IEM I've heard: it generates a sense of space and separation...you really feel like you're floating at the centre of a vast and well defined soundscape. Couple this with the dynamic bass and it's pure win for me. Vocals, particularly male vocals (as that's what I listen to and am more familiar with) definitely feel more bodied and forward in the mix. There also seems to be a dash more shimmer up top and the bass is cleaner. I never would have described the bass in OG Solaris as "muddy" or "hazy", but relative to SE it feels just slightly so. All in all it's precisely what it was advertised as-- still a Solaris with some subtle refinements to the sound. It might not sound like a lot, or jump out at you at first listen, but as you spend more time with it the refinements become more evident-- they were enough to push the SE Solaris above the Anole VX for me as my top IEM of 2019.



*Usual caveat that audio is a fundamentally subjective hobby and blah blah blah everything I state in absolute terms needs to have the addendum "relative to my own tastes and preferences" attached to it.
 

Attachments

  • 80394244_10162919878360654_3868773185797226496_n.jpg
    80394244_10162919878360654_3868773185797226496_n.jpg
    145.4 KB · Views: 0
  • 80953775_10162919878655654_7481943612154970112_n.jpg
    80953775_10162919878655654_7481943612154970112_n.jpg
    40.6 KB · Views: 0
Last edited:
Dec 24, 2019 at 10:28 PM Post #7,138 of 10,973

Lookout57

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 22, 2015
Posts
1,473
Likes
2,003
]
@Lookout57
Have you tried Solaris with alo pure silver. Did the bass increased?
I did way back when I first got he Solaris and found that I preferred the SXC 8 as if I remember correctly the SXC 8 had better bass than the silver.

I do have a DoubleHelix Symbiote SP V3 OCC Silver Type 4 8 wire on order and will be testing it on all my IEMs and will report my findings.
 
Dec 24, 2019 at 11:10 PM Post #7,139 of 10,973

Bozz_Keren

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 22, 2007
Posts
661
Likes
98
Location
Jakarta
I did way back when I first got he Solaris and found that I preferred the SXC 8 as if I remember correctly the SXC 8 had better bass than the silver.

I do have a DoubleHelix Symbiote SP V3 OCC Silver Type 4 8 wire on order and will be testing it on all my IEMs and will report my findings.

Nice, looking forward to your impressions
 

Users who are viewing this thread

  • Toom
Top