Campfire Audio is back in a sleek glossy black with a well needed update to the original 2016 Dorado.
We’d like to thank Campfire Audio for sending us this unit for review. The Dorado 2020 goes for 1099 USD. Click here to visit Campfire Audio’s site.
Campfire Audio needs no introduction – they’ve taken the audiophile IEM world by storm since they came out with the fully balanced armature 5 driver Andromeda back in 2016, and then hit it out of the park again with the Lyra II, Dorado and Vega. Though the Atlas and Comet weren’t quite as well received, CA came back with the Solaris, and this year, with refreshed versions of the Dorado and Vega. I’m pleased to say that I think they’re a very solid upgrade from the originals.
|Driver Type||10mm A.D.L.C. Diaphragm Dynamic Driver|
Single Custom Balanced Armature Driver
|Frequency Response||5 Hz – 22 kHz Frequency Response|
|Sensitivity||94 dB SPL @ 1kHz: 18.52 mVrs|
|Impedance||10 Ohm @ 1kHz Impedance|
|Cable||Campfire Audio Litz Cable – Silver Plated Copper Conductors with Berylium Copper MMCX and 3.5mm Stereo Plug|
Packaging & Accessories
Campfire audio continues to use their signature card stock box with foil embossed stellar details – its gotten a little bulkier than the days of the first gen Dorado though, taking on a wider square form compared to a more compact one before. It opens up elegantly like a present, unfolding four ways to reveal radiating gold stripes drawing your attention right to the centre of the second box inside.
On the lid are even more star and constellation motifs with the Campfire logo in the centre, placed above an illustration of a quaint mountain forest scene with a log cabin in the corner, probably harkening to the company’s origins in Portland, Oregon.
Inside this second box you’ll find a beautiful copper coloured carrying case with the Dorado nestled inside a black polyester pouch, each earpiece in its own compartment. Above it is a smaller box with the other accessories inside, including ear tips from Final Audio, Campfire Audio pin, and a small IEM cleaner brush.
Design & Ergonomics
Glossy and shiny black, the Dorado’s ceramic shells look as if they were made with obsidian, and sport perfectly polished steel sound nozzles to match. Fans of the first generation Lyra will also be fond of this look. It’s about 10-15% bigger than original Dorado as it has to fit in the larger dynamic driver as well as balanced armature driver, but actually fits about the same, though it does stick out from the ears more due to its larger size and longer nozzle. It also feels a tad weightier, though not so much that it affects the ergonomics of wearing it comfortably.
As it has come to be expected from Campfire Audio, the Dorado’s build quality is exceptional. The shells are perfectly manufactured, connections and joints seamless from every angle. One difference in this series is the colour of the Litz cable provided. The last generation Dorado came in silvery white, and this time it’s in a smoky dark grey. Somehow it feels to me like that this iteration of the CA Litz is more prone to getting tangled – I think the material of the insulation may have been replaced with something slightly softer.
Detailed Sound Analysis
Readers will surely be curious how this update compares to the original 2016 Dorado. If you were a fan of the original, you’ll love its predecessor much much more. The warmth and bassy-ness combined with sparkling highs is still there, but in my opinion, taken up an entire tier if I were to grade the two IEMs.
While the original suffered from the bass being somewhat bloated and muddy, the 2020 version brings an addictively luscious bass sound. The new 10mm A.D.L.C. Diaphragm Dynamic Driver is able to reach deep down into sub-bass regions, effortlessly oozing out all the rich textural qualities in the entire low frequency range. The Dorado has a strong, solid bass impact, but it manages to keeps things classy – it’s the discerning audiophile’s V-shaped IEM, in a way. I can’t express just how addictive the bass response is and how well rounded and dense it sounds, and as an added bonus, it doesn’t cause me to feel fatigued after long listening sessions. The bass response is just gorgeously firm without feeling like you’re getting hit by a truck with every beat. In my experience, many IEMs have bass impact that tends to target either the sub-bass or the mid-bass a little bit more, but the 10mm dynamic driver in the Dorado is able to accommodate both to give an extremely warm, full bodied bass sound. While the bass is rich, it also has a somewhat quick decay, letting the other frequencies have their turn to talk as well.
The tonal warmth of the Dorado persists through to the mids, undoubtedly a lot of even order harmonics being produced by the dynamic driver, warm even by Campfire’s standards considering the overall warm sound signature of their designs. Instruments and vocals are warm and inviting, but have a sense of crispness to them that cuts through the thicker low end as the single balanced armature helps out with some of the work. Vocals are realistic, not especially intimate, but the Dorado does tend to hone in on minute high frequency details of voices. Depending on the song and the vocal range of the singer’s voice, I personally find that the body of the vocals gets outshone by the high end details sometimes, particularly with male vocals. However, if you prefer this kind of ‘high-def’ detail extraction in vocals, the Dorado 2020 is going to be a great choice. It manages to strike a fine balance between brilliance and harshness, able to retrieve all the little shimmering details without shining too bright.
The Dorado 2020 has a wider, more open soundstage than the originals, due to its brighter high end and less boomy bass. Combined with its deep, robust bass and precise high frequency details, the Dorado 2020 presents a very fun and musical sound signature with a refined audiophile, hi-fi touch to it. It has a warm, analogue feel to it that I would attribute to the 10mm dynamic driver, and while the balanced armature driver brings a sense of brilliance that dynamic drivers typically can’t, I would deem the Dorado 2020 as an IEM that is good for fun, laidback listening and forgiving of bad recording quality rather than one that zooms in on precise details and textures.
- Beautiful design
- Gorgeous build quality with solid ceramic material for durability
- Robust subbass with good texture and a level of impact that’s not fatiguing
- Musical sound tuning with strong bass and sparkling highs that aren’t too harsh
- Some vocal tracks (mostly male voices) end up with too much treble (breathiness) emphasis
The Dorado 2020 has been thoroughly impressive to me overall, with a design that goes back to Campfire Audio’s old design language not only in terms of the shell but the most effective use of high quality, finely tuned drivers without resorting to pure quantity. The Dorado 2020 is a showcase of how a precisely designed IEM with just two drivers can outshine many products out there with more drivers, bigger price tags, and more marketing gimmicks. If you’re looking for a warm, inviting listening experience that has a generously firm low end and doesn’t shy away from the high frequencies, definitely consider the Dorado 2020.
Bonus photos of the Dorado 2020 and Vega 2020 together below!