Campfire Audio has two brand-new IEMs that are available now. They’re both follow-ups to some of their most well-regarded models, the Andromeda and Solaris. These new Emerald Sea and Stellar Horizon IEMs are bound to be compared to one another, so here is a review that will tell you what the strengths are of each model, and which one might sound more to your liking.
What You Get
Both the Andromeda Emerald Sea and Solaris Stellar Horizon come packaged with the same accessories, which include the following.
- 3x ‘Time Stream’ Cables: 3.5mm Stereo, 2.5mm TRRS Balanced, 4.4mm Balanced
- Dimension Folding Leather Case with Magnetic Closure and Complimenting Carabiner
- RipStop Cable Pouch with Magnetic Closure
- 3x Marshmallow Tips (S, M, L)
- 3x Silicon Tips (S, M, L)
- Earphone Cleaning Tool & Campfire Audio Lapel Pin
- ‘Ohm’ Hand & ‘Lava Flow’ Risograph Printed Display Background
Look & Feel
Here is where the Solaris is going to seem the strongest in this comparison. The Stellar Horizon is a striking set of IEMs, with gold, and bronze accents mixed with a stainless steel housing. Its design is totally reminiscent of a luxury item, while the Emerald Sea looks more like a restructured version of its previous iteration. With both IEMs, I much prefer the fit with a pair of foam tips rather than silicone. I feel like the fit is a lot better supported and isolated, as the silicone tips feel a bit too loose.
The Solaris definitely has a more specialized driver configuration compared to the Andromeda. A hybrid driver system is implemented in the Solaris, while the Andromeda sticks to its 5BA design. Both IEMs are very easy to drive, with the Andromeda having the strongest output of the two. Using the Andromeda with an A&K DAP, I barely needed to turn up the volume past its starting mark, as the loudness was almost immediate.
There is a pleasant bubble of spatial imaging going on with the Andromeda, but compared to the Solaris, it doesn’t feel like anything special. Tightly layered, yes, but the Solaris is able to showcase a lot more pinpoint precision with stereo positioning and grander width. You still get a perfectly clear image and a realistic presentation of the stereo field. However, the Solaris just feels so much more complete. Sound elements carry more dimension to them and the layers are easier to decern throughout the sound signature.
What these IEMs differ the most is in the bass. This is where the original Andromeda and the 2020 version showed most of its best qualities, and that goes for the Emerald Sea. The lows are rich and envigorating, lifting up the tone with a thick and punchy response. Switching over to the Solaris, it will feel like the sound signature is missing something. There is virtually no weight to the tone at all, and it results in a much leaner timbre. While some might not mind the lack of bass, the Solaris still only offers a surface-level response that lacks energy compared to the Andromeda.
You’ll get two different ends of the audio spectrum emphasized here. For the Andromeda, it’s the low mids and for the Solaris, it’s the upper mids. This gives the Andromeda a warmer texture, while the Solaris excels in more biting notes and crisper vocals. Overall, they share two distinctly different flavors of tone, and I can appreciate both on different levels.
This is where the Solaris had some serious problems for me. The timbre of most of the high frequencies is particularly sharp and metallic. You’ll have a much easier time with the Andromeda, as its smoother high frequencies feature good detail while being way more relaxed in the mix.
Whenever Campfire Audio releases multiple IEMs, it’s hard to figure out which one will have your flavor of sound. In the case of the Solaris and Andromeda, that distinction is made abundantly clear right off the bat. The Solaris is on one end of the sound spectrum, while the Andromeda is on the other. Overall, I think the Andromeda Emerald Sea is just way easier to listen to in general, as it doesn’t possess the shrillness of the Stellar Horizon. However, the Stellar Horizon has the best design, and the best soundstage of the two, so if you can get past its metallic texture, then I would recommend it over the Emerald Sea.