Campfire Solaris 2020 Mini-Review and Measurements

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by purr1n, Jun 1, 2020.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I will keep this one very succinct, but this thread for the OG Solaris is a good place to start. If you are not already familiar with the Solaris, which is a hybrid IEM that meshes two driver types, many aspects of the OG Solaris are still pertinent.
    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/campfire-audio-solaris-raising-the-bar.6926/

    IMG_20200601_100944.jpg

    The Solaris 2020 is an update that addresses a few things with the OG Solaris, at least in my mind. None of these issues were deal-breakers, and some may even be inclined to prefer the OG. In other words, I am not suggesting that everyone upgrade; but rather read and consider before doing so.
    1. OG Solaris' laid-back upper mids (and lower and maybe overall treble) which was a vocal complaint by more than a few. Keep in mind that more than a few preferred this presentation. I was OK with it and continued to use the Solaris.
    2. OG Solaris' physical footprint, too long a nozzle, too large a housing. I wasn't a fan of this, but I could like with it.
    Lets first take a look at the physical differences between the OG Solaris and Solaris 2020. I took a few photos to give you guys a better idea. The dimensions are smaller all around. The OG Solaris is black / gold. The Solaris 2020 is all black.

    OG Solaris = Gold faceplate; Solaris 2020 = all black.
    IMG_20200601_101047.jpg
    IMG_20200601_104406 (1).jpg
    IMG_20200601_104703.jpg

    As for whether these are suitable for exercise, definitely much more than before. However, the fit isn't quite as snug as the Ara / Andromeda type housing. The latter have nozzles that taper which allow for deeper insertion if desired and snugger fit in the concha. With the Solaris, there's only so far that I have shove them into my ear.
     
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    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    See general measurement notes before digesting the plots: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/note-on-iem-measurements-changelog.2153/ Any who allow a single or handful of measurements to define sound quality will be immediately banned from SBAF.

    Campfire Solaris 2020
    Frequency Response
    upload_2020-6-1_11-0-1.png

    Compared to OG Solaris (PUR) - fresh measurement.
    upload_2020-6-1_11-4-36.png

    Compared to Ara (GRY)
    upload_2020-6-1_11-6-51.png

    Subjectively, the Solaris 2020 sounded quite a bit brighter in the mid-treble and less laid-back in the upper mids. It's hard to say from the measurements for the highs because anything past 8kHz is questionable.
     
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  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Campfire Solaris Distortion L
    upload_2020-6-1_11-14-0.png

    Campfire Solaris Distortion R
    upload_2020-6-1_11-14-30.png

    Really, no much in terms of changes from the OG that can be gathered, given the difficulty and reliability of these types of measurements. I'm not hearing much of a difference here in terms of distortion either.
     
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    Last edited: Jun 1, 2020
  4. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Interesting left/right.

    Subjectively, is that audible to you?

    Also, on a side note... while I think the smaller shell size is welcome with the new Solaris, I find the new look a bit too muted. The gold/black look of the original looks a bit better to me... but maybe it's just me.
     
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  5. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I did those measurements a few times, reseated, etc. to make sure. I didn't hear a difference. It's hard to when the differences are narrow band and not too far in amplitude from each other. OG definitely more blingy. It's still very much like the old Solaris, just a bit brighter and with the upper mids filled (more than measurements here would suggest).
     
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    Last edited: Jun 1, 2020
  6. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Many people found the gold plating quite gaudy :D Could be a West vs East sensibility thing...

    You can buy the iFi copper-gold-silver cable to bring back that gold accent :D
     
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  7. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    Other comparisons I've seen say that the 2020 is a little bit fuller sounding - do you hear that? There''s a thinness/naseliness in the OG upper mids that bothers me at times.
     
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  8. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    I mean... I'm probably secretly a part of the rich Asian kids with hearing damage (tm) club. But honestly, the new ones are like... all black. That's as "muted" as I think anything can ever be.

    Have you seen the cringey orange, flowery 64Audio Tia Fourte? I'd cringe at that. Solaris is... okay.

    And of course, sound quality is still #1.

    If anything, I actually would prefer to have a Solaris with slightly less 8KHz. Its upper midrange presence is... just about enough to my ears. Looks like the 2020 is more of a "different take" rather than an improvement. That's not a bad thing, actually. Gives more choice.
     
  9. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Depends what's meant by fuller sounding or thinness. The OG Solaris was "fuller" and "less thin" using my understanding of these terms because of the lows and mids are higher relative to the upper mids and treble.

    In terms of "nasal", that usually means a low or mid-midrange bump in relation to the mid-to-upper mids. For sure I would say this has been corrected. I typically use Taylor Swift's You Belong to Me to evaluate this. The mastering is kind of off to feature certain aspects of Swift's voice, but it's overdone. Her voice during the chorus played back on a neutral system will be harsh, perhaps even startling so. If her voice isn't hrash, then I know the upper mids or harmonic ranges of the female voice are scooped, which they are on the OG Solaris. The Solaris 2020 largely takes care of these issues and indeed Swift's voice is not nasal and harsher (it really should be a tad harsher than that if the IEM were more neutral).
     
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    Last edited: Jun 1, 2020
  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Campfire Audio Impedance
    upload_2020-6-1_16-43-31.png

    Campfire Audio Step Response (driver time-alignment)
    upload_2020-6-1_16-44-34.png
     
  11. Rockwell

    Rockwell Almost "Made"

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    Haha...well I prefer the look of my abalone to either of the other two versions and I'm pretty sure it's at least subconsciously partially due to the fact that abalone is highly valued on the west coast of BC where I live :). Both the gold and abalone versions are very striking and imho classy looking.[/QUOTE]
     
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  12. USAudio

    USAudio Rando

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    These are tempting. I find myself moving more and more to IEMs as I don't like being trapped in one room to listen to quality sound. However, they sure are pricey - they cost almost as much as my Lyr 3, Bifrost 2 and HD650s combined.
    I guess that is the price we pay for quality sound and in this case ... mobility! :headbang:
     
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    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
  13. theveterans

    theveterans Acquaintance

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    IMO from a technical standpoint, the Solaris2020’s resolution in plankton is superior than the Sennheiser HD 650 though
     
  14. daniellistens

    daniellistens Acquaintance

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    @purr1n I’ve read your words about Andromeda and now Solaris.

    I have the Chord Mojo/Poly. You seem to like the Mojo with the Andromeda, what about the Solaris?
     
  15. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    I’m not going to make this a super long post (much to the dismay of @ChaChaRealSmooth), because while there are differences between OG Solaris and 2020 Solaris, they are to me about 85% the same. Also, the point of me trying them out is to see how the fit is better compared to the OG Solaris.

    Getting a few things out of the way:
    • 2020 Solaris feels and looks smaller than OG Solaris.
    • Thank goodness for the 2020 Solaris getting rid of the piss-gold yellow color (it looks too much like my pee).
      Also thank goodness that Campfire Audio got rid of that Super Litz cable from the OG Solaris. It was too stiff for my taste. The new Litz cables on the 2020 Solaris is better. It isn’t stiff, more flexible, and doesn’t pull my arm hair when comparing to the older Litz cable.
    • As stated on my Litz review/impressions, it comes with the new cork carrying case. The new cork carrying case is on par with the OG Solaris carrying case on preference (which is bigger than the OG Andromeda leather carrying case). In other words > Current CA cork carrying cases > OG Solaris leather carrying case > all the other CA carrying cases.
    • Tips used on 2020 Solaris: CA Marshmallow Small + JVC Spiral Dot Regular Medium
    • If you are hoping to not use the IEMatch on the 2020 Solaris, well I still have bad news for you: You will most likely still need to use it due to Input Z stuff.
      • And yes, you will still have minor lost of body/bass when using IEMatch High. That’s just how it goes……..
    • My OG Solaris review/impressions post: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...aris-raising-the-bar.6926/page-10#post-241700


    Gear List at time of Impressions/Review
    :

    Thinkpad X260 via Roon or Foobar2000-UPnP > Schiit Eitr > Massdrop x Airist R-2R DAC (RDAC) > Zampotech SW51+

    Roon or UPnP > PI2AES [Coax Output] or Pioneer DV-79AVi DVD Player (CD Transport) [Toslink Output] > Schiit Bifrost 2 > DNA Starlett

    Sony WM1A & Drop x JVC HA-FDX1.

    First thing first I noticed that the 2020 Solaris appeared to have a minor mid-range bump due to the smaller size of the shells. I think there is a minor lower treble bump as well. I don’t mind this depending on how the IEM is designed and also Input Z. However, without using the IEMatch directly into my amps I found the upper mids/lower treble to stick out too much if using low impedance input/setting on my desk amps. I could be wrong, but I think @shotgunshane was also having similar issues on his setup. I did miss the OG Solaris not having an emphasis on this area of sound (or maybe it was barely slight). On high impedance input/setting on my desk amps the emphasis does go down a bit, but it can make the sound have an “U-Sound” effect. This help certain recordings, but makes others recordings sound too hot. The bass from what I remembered when having the OG Solaris is excellent, same deal here with the 2020 Solaris. That DD driver gives the Solaris revisions body and minor increase in bass slam than something like the CA Ara. However, the CA Ara is a pure BA IEM where those drivers are helping the Ara make it better than the Solaris revisions on bass textures. Besides the minor sound adjustments due to the smaller shell size, 2020 Solaris sounds about 85% the same of an OG Solaris. It sounds real TOTL, but there’s some things you must consider. To be honest, I prefer the OG Solaris due to the reason as I stated earlier. Almost forgot, these still have excellent soundstage for an IEM like the OG Solaris.

    With the IEMatch on high I found most of the weird sound bumps as stated above to be “fixed.” We know that on most Campfire Audio stuff they are super sensitive to Input Z, and 2020 Solaris is no different. However, the biggest catch I believe when using the IEMatch is that the bass loses some of its impact and liveliness. It also kind of made the upper treble lose some of it liveliness/airiness. I really don’t like the trade-off here and I feel it is holding the Solaris by its balls. I had similar issues on my other CA IEMs that I had in the past (but it wasn’t too bad with the Ara in my experience). With that being said, I stated the possible issues when using the 2020 Solaris without the IEMatch on my desk amps. I think for most users they would have to use the IEMatch to get the most out of the sound if running the 2020 Solaris on their desk amp. Input Z sensitive is something you have to live with on CA IEMS...

    In my opinion the CA IEMs sounds/work best on DAPs/Transportable setups that was designed for IEMs in mind.. Some desk amps like the THX AAA 789 was also designed for low Input Z IEMs, but the catch of that one is a dealing with a cooler amp. When I had the Gaudio Nair loaner I really liked the using the IEMatch on it. What it does for it is making that IEM really neutral sounding when I needed it, and I didn’t really feel that I was losing anything from using it. I got the 2020 Solaris to sound it best without any of the weird Input Z quirks via the Sony WM1A. Classic Sony DAP sound right here folks, organic bass and relaxed highs. However, I really enjoy using the 2020 Solaris on them. I did notice a minor treble sheen on some of my really bright recordings from my video game soundtracks. So more/less I prefer using WM1A with the 2020 Solaris. Too bad the 2020 Solaris IMO still has issues on desk amps with/without IEMatch. And with using IEMatch you still have to give up a few things, errrr.

    The big reason why I sold the OG Solaris was the fit. As some of you may know, I felt serious discomfort after using the OG Solaris for about an hour. I was kind-of curious if the smaller size 2020 Solaris is any better in this regard. Well…...it is much better for my ears but not 100% there. Yes, the weight reduction of the 2020 Solaris does help quite a bit here. However, the angle to get them in my ears is still not 100%. For me, I felt it is pushing downward/upward in my ears by a little (this was worse on the OG Solaris). I prefer the sound of the CA Marshmallow tips, but even with the small size ones it was hurting my inner ear just a little too much. Swamping them out with the regular JVC Spiral Dots solve that problem for the most part. But when using the Spiral Dots I lose some of the bass impact and it was a minor tilt towards brightness.

    The fit is still behind the CA Ara IMO (which is currently my favorite CA IEM with regards to fit for my ears). However, the CA IEMs are a few steps behind toward the Gaudio Nair on pure comfort. While the 2020 Solaris is a sizable improvement over the Gaudio Nair on technicalities (bass is a good start why Solaris is better), I’ll take the Nair anytime due to how much more comfortable they are for my ears. When spending this much on IEMs you have to take comfort into serious consideration. I’m willing to lose technicalities if it means better comfort. If you have tons of tips to try out on the 2020 Solaris then I recommend you tip roll them until you get to the sound/comfort you are looking for in them.


    Conclusion:


    A perfect Solaris for me is the OG Solaris sound with a 2020 Solaris shell that plays better with desk amps without using IEMatch. I could live with the 2020 Solaris, but honestly I don’t use DAPs that much since I been working from home. I still believe anything from CA works best on DAPs/transportable setups. However, I value an IEM that can play nicely on desk amps. While I really appreciate the sound of the Solaris, it isn’t a practical IEM for me to use. With that being said, the smaller shell size is a nice improvement over the OG Solaris, but too bad the minor sound adjustment isn’t fully to my liking. The fit is better for my ears, but it is hard to spend this much on an IEM when they are cheaper IEMs that are worse in technicalities, but surpass the 2020 Solaris on fit (which is what I focus on). Look on the bright side, the sound is ace if using it correctly.
     
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  16. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    my interest in replacing SE Solaris with the Solaris 2020 was all about fit also.
    despite perhaps slight deltas with OG, wouldn't go back. if you can't wear them (for awhile), you don't hear/use them.
    thus, if comfort is king- yes, choose the IEM which "fits" best so you can listen!

    while waiting for the iDSD Sig, can report that my ears and Solaris 2020 have:
    - no need for IEMatch when using a 2.5 BAL connector to the Shanling UP4
    - barely any need for IEMatch with using 3.5 TRRS BAL into the iFi xDSD, unless the air (not hiss) bothers you in silence
    - no need for IEMatch when connected to 3.5 SE of Woo WA8 Eclipse (now gone). dead blackness.

    might connect the Solaris 2020 into EC ZDS tomorrow for a "sensitivity" test.
    maybe jack into the EC BW2 in a couple weeks.
    point being- yes, some amps are good pairings with CA IEMs, others obviously not.
    I don't find this the fault of CA Solaris 2020.
    This is the way.
     
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  17. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    I don't think it is the fault of the CA Solaris 2020 either, I just think it is a super picky in general due to its low Input Z requirements to make them sound best. I just wish CA can put a little more focus on desk amp bums like me. Then again, why focus on us when the majority of people are using transportables and DAPs for their CA stuff.

    Oh well, I'll continue plugging them in my desk amps and hear the results. :rolleyes:
     
  18. Rockwell

    Rockwell Almost "Made"

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    I've heard all three Solari through a variety of sources and I agree that they fare better on portable players than desktop sources. I believe in the instructions that come with CFA IEMs they advise against ever plugging them in to anything connected to an electrical main (Ie., a desktop amp or a DAP that is charging). If you have the chance or the means run them through a Lotoo PAW S1 mini-DAC-- it's crystal clear with just a touch of warmth and an inky black background. It brings out the best in Solaris imho and is my personal favorite source for them.
     
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  19. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    I have it. It’s great for the price, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the ECP T4 fed by either Bifrost 2 or Wavelight.
     
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Mojo's Zout is near zero. The Andro will have more emphasis in the lows and less in the highs from near zero Zout amps. Maybe a bit too much bass. However the lean/neutral tonality of the Mojo counteracts this effect ans ends up working really well with the Andro.

    The Mojo with the Solaris 2020 I would not be too sure about. Mojo with the OG Solaris, sure. The Solaris 2020 can be slightly bright, and my preference has been with darker sounding sources (xDuoo with OPA627).
     
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