The old Vega vs the new Vega. Read on to find out more.
A little background might be in order. Campfire Audio provided the original Vega to me for review in 2016, when I was still a balanced armatures (BA) guy. The original Vega single-handedly converted me to the single dynamic driver (DD) religion, and I have not looked back since. In fact, I exclusively used the Vega for much of the next 4 years, with many of my favorite BA units falling by the wayside in the process. It was an utter paradigm shift, to say the least. Obviously, it was with much excitement when Campfire Audio introduced the successor to the original Vega in 2020, when they systematically updated almost their entire IEM lineup. I wonder what has been changed and whether the spirit of the Vega has been left intact as a result, as any loyal Vega fan would do naturally.
|Driver Type||10mm A.D.L.C. Diaphragm Single Full Range 10mm Dynamic Driver|
|Frequency Response||5 Hz – 20 kHz Frequency Response|
|Sensitivity||94 dB SPL @ 1kHz: 19.86 mVrs|
|Impedance||36 Ohm @ 1kHz Impedance|
|Cable||Campfire Audio Litz Cable – Silver Plated Copper Conductors with Berylium Copper MMCX and 3.5mm Stereo Plug|
Packaging & Accessories
Before we get down to business, allow us to focus a little on the outer beauty of this revised gem. The packaging is decked in festive spirits, while the green pouch made of recyclable materials is a nice touch. All the usual Campfire Audio suspects are present as well, with the generous variety of ear tip offerings, the IEM cleaning brush, and as well as the Campfire Audio pin.
There are also new additions to the packaging in the form of soft polyester pouches which offer further protection to the gorgeous IEMs inside. Note the change from SpinFit ear tips to the new Final Audio Type E series ear tips which are quite nice as well.
Design & Ergonomics
This time around, the Vega second generation is clothed in robust, highly polished and scratch resistant white ceramic shells. It is now sporting a single 10mm Amorphous Diamond-Like Carbon dynamic driver on each side, slightly increased in size from the 8.5mm non-crystalline DD in the original. The cable has also changed to smoky litz with silver plated copper, and making the connection with the custom beryllium copper MMCX jacks provides worry-free durability. Overall, the external appearance gets a solid upgrade all around, and feels much more refined and hardy to the original.
Detailed Sound Analysis
Onto the sound – my initial impression was that it started out dense and clumped together, but after patiently running it with real music (not white-noise) for a few months, it has since opened up into a thick and voluminous sound. All the trademark tactile physical punch, natural decay, cohesion, darkness, density and impact are all pretty much there. The signature natural oomph gives it a lot of depth and full bodied lushness, and the mids can only be described as forward and engaging. The bass is much more linear and controlled and less colored this time around, but this is with extreme relativity to the original Vega 2016.
Make no mistake, this still sounds like Vega through and through, with the powerful bass response continuously hitting you with start-stop dynamism, the vocals sumptuous and thick, and a lot of air being moved to bestow it a stunningly natural realism. Everything has a lot of body, smoothness, and an altogether velvety and inviting sounding timbre. There’s a sparkle in the treble, though nowhere near the soaring splendor of an equivalent Andromeda unit or even the crispness of the Dorado 2020. After months of burn-in, most of the traces of ringy, strident treble died down and the voluminous soundstage steadily expanded, contributing to a sound more and more freed from grain and harshness.
This is one of the winning strengths of the Vega lineage, the level of clemency the Vega 2020 shows to less than optimal recordings. It’s not unusual for some to find the looming and everpresent bass overwhelming, but it is exactly this character that masks most of the glaring flaws in older and less than perfect recordings, allowing you to bask in the emotion these tunes often excel at, without being bogged down or constantly distracted by technical inadequacies of that era. In this sense, the Vega 2020 elevates itself as a versatile jack of all trades, and is not a picky, esoteric prince that only plays well with elitism.
Going back and forth between the two generations of Vega, I can’t help but repeatedly feel that the new Vega 2020 has traded some of the old luscious magic for more balanced coherence, layering and control.
Yes, the bass is still a visceral punch, dynamically explosive in every sense of the word, but it is now thoroughly tighter, more regulated, and stately. Putting back in the original Vega, the raw emotions came rushing back with euphoria, and thus I would describe the original as having more of a unique disposition in a widely saturated market.
The Vega 2020 trades some of that boldness for maturity, shedding some of those cathartic outbursts for a more refined and balanced sound. In the end, you can definitely see the traces of a familial resemblance, but it is also telling who is the angsty teenager singing their heart out, and who is the proper adult, all grown up with their idiosyncrasies ironed out.
- Rich, luscious and warm sound
- Matured from the original Vega
- Extremely coherent due to single driver design
- May not have enough treble sparkle for some listeners
In an age where driver count is the reigning order of the day, and hybrids with triple driver technology are not uncommon, the lone DD offerings have become a rare sighting. Just as I proclaimed the original Vega a paradigm-shifting experience 3 years back, it is just as easy to recommend the Vega 2020 just as all those years ago. If Vega loyalists have also matured themselves in the last 4 years, the Vega 2020 might just be the perfect match, pairing a more refined sound without losing the old luscious magic. But if you are still a diehard fanatic addicted to the OG original Vega, well, you’ve still got it and you just have to reach for it.
Bonus photos of the Vega 2020 and Dorado 2020 together below!