Not satisfied with having just a superstar pure balanced armature and a pure dynamic driver product selection, Campfire Audio has also decided to begin their foray into hybrid territory with their latest release – the Dorado.
We would like to thank Campfire Audio for supplying us with the Dorado free of charge for this review. The Campfire Audio Dorado goes for about 999USD. You can click here for more information.
Campfire Audio has hit it out of the ballpark with every single one of their releases ever since their humble beginnings with the Orion, Lyra, and Jupiter. They’ve showcased their ability to provide amazing sonic quality regardless of driver configuration by employing innovative technologies such as tubeless resonator chambers, showing a stalwart defiance to the idea that the only way to increase quality is by doubling and tripling the amount of balanced armatures.
With the Campfire Audio Dorado, they’ve showcased their willingness to even further expand their repertoire by employing a hybrid 1DD2BA configuration, and as someone who’s been a long time fan of hybrid IEMs, I have to say they have another winner on their hands.
For those who don’t like reading, here’s a summary. But you should probably read the detailed review anyway.
- Hard hitting, “V shaped” sound with powerful dynamic driver bass and exceptional highs provided by the dual high balanced armatures
- Generally very well resolved sound throughout the entire frequency range
- Seamless blending of the crossover between the dynamic driver and balanced armatures
- Tiny housing will fit most ears
- Liquid metal alloy housing has amazing build quality
- Bass frequency range is tuned to be a little boomy; slight bleed over into mids
- The mids aren’t the most detailed
- The nozzle is quite long and wide, this might not be a snug “nestled in the ear” fit for everyone
|Driver Configuration (per side)||8.5mm PVD Beryllium Dynamic Driver + 2 balanced armature drivers per side|
|Sensitivity||107 dB SPL/mW|
|Impedance||15 Ohms @ 1kHz|
|Cable||3.5mm plug Litz Wire Cable by Campfire Audio|
|Accessories||Faux leather earphone carrying case
2 small carrying pouches
3 pairs of Foam tips (S, M, L)
3 pairs of Silicon tips (S, M, L)
3 pairs of SpinFit tips (S, M, L)
1 Campfire Audio logo metal pin
Design and Ergonomics
Encased in a liquid metal alloy housing like its brothers the Vega and Lyra 2 but with a matte rose gold finish, the Dorado has a understated sense of class. Unlike the original Campfire balanced armature line, this new series comes in a very compact and round cornered package based off the form of the original Lyra. The finishing of the smooth metal housing is perfect – from the flawlessness of the material at every curve and every chamfered edge, to the seamless transition from metal to matte black plastic at its driver vent and nozzle, this is a testament to Campfire Audio’s dedication to quality.
However, despite the impressively small package that the Dorado comes in, the nozzle (probably for tuning reasons) is actually quite long – about 1cm long, and also wide enough that I did have to spend some time trying out different tips to find the perfect fit. All of Campfire Audio’s products come with the stock black foam tips fitted, but as I find that foam tends to roll off the top end too much for my liking, I finally settled for the red SpinFits for a comfortable fit paired with a sound that I liked. Even then, Oliver had some qualms that the nozzle made it feel like the IEM was sticking too far out of the ear and did not feel secure enough for him. In comparison, the Vega and Lyra II have more ergonomically designed shorter nozzles.
As for the supplied Campfire Audio Litz Cable – I have nothing but praise for it. Personally, I’m not an advocate of claims that cables will improve the quality of audio, but having spent a lot of time with it, I can attest to its quality of design, durability, and ergonomics. Made of Silver-coated copper, triple braided from the 3.5mm plug up till the the splitter where it splits into 2 dual braided strands protected in a PVC jacket, ending in a MMCX plug, the shiny silver CA Litz cable is impressive in its looks and has also been made to be highly durable. What impressed me the most was how it disappeared from my mind as I was immersed in the music – there are virtually no microphonics at all due to its lightweight and soft design. It’s also quite easy to untangle in the rare event that you do get it tangled up.
Note: This review was done with the SpinFit tips installed; I found that the stock foam tips were too bassy and rolled off the highs too much for my liking.
If you’re looking for an IEM that has an energetic, warm and fun sound that has a delicate smattering of detail retrieval, look no further. The Dorado has an aggressive bass and lower mids forward sound with succinct highs; its strength lies in a sense of overall immersion rather than surgical detail retrieval.
Campfire Audio has somehow managed to make use of the same 8.5mm PVD beryllium driver employed in the Lyra II to produce a more enveloping and powerful bass response, and combined with the dual high balanced armature combo taken from the Jupiter and Andromeda, you get a great energetic dynamic driver sound with superb high frequency detail and resolution. The two dual armatures placed in their proprietary TAEC (Tuned Acoustic Expansion, which I suspect is a new name for their tubeless resonator technology that was advertised in the Andromeda and Jupiter) produce unadulterated high frequency quality and extension that most dynamic drivers will have problems recreating without either sibilance or sacrificing some resolution in other frequencies. Most hybrids have somewhat discernable crossover points, but the Dorado’s integration of its hybrid configuration is practically seamless. The sound differences between dynamic and balanced armature are obvious to the experienced audiophile and the transitions can sometimes be heard, but in the Dorado I could only tell because the quality of the high frequency reproduction was so good.
Going back down to the low frequency range, the Dorado has plenty of bass presence and weight to it. It’s not a laidback kind of bass sound that something like the Oriolus has, but is more intimate and with more impact resounding just from around the sub to mid-bass area. At the same time, the impact is not so overwhelming that it becomes the entire focus of the listening experience. Sub-bass tones tend to be rather obvious, giving a rich fullness to this low frequency area, and combined with plentiful amounts of dynamic driver decay it is a sound that will appeal to people with a liking for powerful, warm bass response. The Dorado’s bass sound signature is not for the analytical, detailed listener and walks a fine line between having lots of presence and becoming too boomy.
The Dorado opens up to the midrange with lots of energy that combined with its punchy bass produces an aggressive forcefulness that lends itself to heavier music such as metal. The relentless ferocity in Every Time I Die’s El Dorado was paired perfectly with the Dorado’s own energetic sound signature. The slight midrange forwardness is served with a good amount of resolution and texture which helps with reinforcing the presence of lower guitar notes and vocals. This high-mid region sounds recessed in comparison to the rest of the frequencies, but not so much that I would confidently call the Dorado a very V-shaped sound signature. Vocals aren’t especially pronounced in the Dorado in more layered music, taking a more neutral if not ever so rolled off approach to the reproduction as we approach the high-mids, but they have a satisfying enough breathy quality and detail to them thanks to a deft high frequency delivery.
Armed with the dual balanced armatures from the Jupiter and Andromeda, the Dorado makes sure you’ll never miss a single high frequency note, twinkle or shimmer even in the busiest of musical passages. The noticeable quality of high to extreme-high frequencies is immediately noticeable and is one of the Dorado’s biggest strengths; there’s never any sibilance, just a clear and scintillating quality to subtleties such as the softly lisping qualities in female vocals, the shimmer of hats and cymbals, or the piercing notes of the piccolo in an orchestral piece.
Dorado is intimacy, energy, and slightly rolled off midrange with much warmer overall tone and the cohesion of a dynamic driver sound; the Oriolus is all about a more open sound, still warm, but comparatively ‘drier’ in tone and more revealing in individual details of instruments especially in the mid to high range. The Oriolus also has much more vocal presence as it has a 2kHz peak. Extreme highs are still clear, but dont sound as far reaching or surgically precise as the Dorado.
The Vega has slightly less subbass boominess but has a tighter and solid bass sound that seems to pound into the centre of the head. Vegas mid range frequencies also have better separation. Highs might not nearly be as crisp as the Dorado’s, but the overall energy and transition in midhighs to highs is better in the Vega. I might be heaping praise on the Vega too much here because I really do find it amazing, but honestly the Dorado is no slouch either and is only edged out by the very best.
The Dorado most noticeably has a much thicker bass response compared to the Lyra, but the Lyra is more open and laidback sounding with more forward and clearer vocals and is relatively more neutral. However, the Dorado’s dual high armatures are way better at hitting those extreme high notes.
Big bass is easy to achieve, and the Dorado does have that. But what separates it from the chaff is the quality of its bass, and everything else that comes with it. The Dorado doesn’t just have an energetic bass, the overall resolution and quality of sound that it brings to the table is top notch, and would be my personal recommendation for lovers of heavier, energetic music genres . The implementation of the hybrid configuration is seamless – this IEM is definitely worth checking out. For the price tag of 999USD, the price tag will indeed be steep for many, but compared to other IEMs in this price bracket, the Dorado is right near the top for me.