It’s been quite a while since I reviewed something from Campfire Audio. In the past, I’ve praised Campfire for their top-shelf, prestige quality IEMs that just ooze fidelity. The Andromeda 2020 was one of their most popular earphones released this year, and the Ara also made some waves. Now, Campfire looks to close out the year with another new release, an update for their Dorado model. Like the Andromeda, this is meant to be an improved version, with the year in front of it signifying the difference. Let’s see if the Dorado 2020 stacks up with Campfire’s already impressive lineup.
What You Get
I always appreciate Campfire’s presentation. The cardboard, takeout style packaging is pretty much a staple by now, and it’s welcome here. As per usual with Campfire products, the IEMs are stored in their patented soft pouches that divide the earpieces themselves. They’ll already be attached to their Litz MMCX cable with a 3.5mm connector. Aside from your warranty card and cleaning tool, Campfire includes a wide array of ear tip options, as they like to do. You’ll find three sizes of marshmallow, and silicone tips, as well as a few bonus tips in various sizes. Don’t forget about that Campfire branded pin too.
Look and Feel
I was familiar with the Dorado’s original design, but the updated 2020s get a significantly striking upgrade when it comes to their look. Instead of the silver, aluminum style, the body is made from high-density ceramic that forms a single solid piece. The Dorado is one of Campfire’s more ear-friendly shaped bodies, and that architecture is brought over to the new model. . It features a more ergonomic housing design that isn’t so off-putting at first glance compared to other selections from this manufacturer.
My favorite design aspect of this new model is the slimmer spout which makes the best use out of all the different ear tip selections. It’s made up of an all-black PVD finish, creating a glossier aesthetic. A thinner nozzle also usually means there won’t be any added pressure when inserting the IEM into my ear, which I very much appreciate. The fit works incredibly well, as there was rarely a need for any significant adjustments or tip-switching during my listening sessions. I felt that the Dorado 2020 proved to be one of Campfire’s more seamless fits, and it might even attract more people to this series. The housing sits nicely on top of your outer ear, as the spout sustains the body securely.
The Dorado 2020 features some interesting interior components that aim to deliver a hybrid design. This iteration achieves a 10mm amorphous diamond-like dynamic driver, with plasma-enhanced CVD diaphragms. This unit controls most of the mids and lows, while a single balanced armature relegates the rest of the output. The system altogether attains an SPL of 98dB at 1kHz.
Campfire isn’t new to low impedance IEMs that pack a punch, but the Dorado 2020 is especially sensitive to gain control. The total impedance is only 10 Ohms at 1kHz, making the new Dorado easily usable with any 3.5mm headphone connector, whether that’d be for laptops or smartphones. If you’re using one of these peripherals, make sure you watch your volume levels before playback, because the Dorado 2020 can really blast significant signal. Other than that, the frequency response promises a wide batch of detail potential, with Dorado capable of retrieval from 5Hz-22Hz.
With Campfire, I have the habit of setting my expectations high, but for the Dorado 2020, I went in with a clear head. Suffice it to say, the new Dorado didn’t disappoint. This IEM sports a significantly wide stereo stage, with a sense of fullness that the imaging helps communicate to an impressive degree. Elements appear extremely present and feature their most natural state of clarity. Spatiality is tightly accurate, and panning information is smooth and shares immersive characteristics. Sounds like gliding harps or an expressive drum kit have a linear, but roomy tonality, like they the individual notes can be picked from inside your head.
Tracks like “Kalopsia” from Queens of the Stone Age exhibit a percussion that’s so crystal clear, you almost get a sense of the studio space. You won’t have to worry about a noticeable noise floor though, as The Dorado 2020 does a great job filtering that out for listeners who may not like that level of detail. Layering isn’t as impressive, but separation is sufficient enough to leave every frequency band with a clear representation even if space is a little backed up.
This is one of the most aggressively neutral responses you’re going to get out of a bass. It might not satisfy everyone, but I thought the balancing and dynamic potential was just as impressive as going for deep, booming bass. There’s just the slightest degree of sub-bass here, enough to give the timbre a significant color, as opposed to being flat. Bass can still be articulate, like the groove of Beck’s “Unforgiven” where the progression can still be felt taking a leading role in the track. It’s nicely separated, relegating most of the image to your bottom jaw, but it doesn’t take up too much of the limelight when other sounds want to take the lead for a bit.
What a fulfilling, crisp mid-range Campfire has given this IEM. They’re definitely a brand that sets the bar high as far as detail is concerned, but the Dorado 2020 is right up there as well. This earphone provides exceptional clarity and definition, and it rivals some of the best out there currently on the market. Low mids get a touch of boost, as to give some character to the more neutral bass, lifting the sound to exceed a broader sense of levity and resolution. Acoustic guitars have an apparent breath that is intensely passionate, articulating sonic qualities like buzzing strings, and fret straining. Vocals are as expressive as ever on the Dorado, with male vocal performances displaying remarkable characteristics like warm vibrations in lower mid registers. Upper mids also show great detail and demonstrate a top-end emphasis on certain instrumental tonalities.
If you thought the mids were the high point of the Dorado 2020, you’ll be surprised when I tell you how excellent these highs are. While the mids illustrate a crisp, even timbre, the highs boast an even richer area of detail retrieval. The sharpness of some higher frequency bands might put off a few, but fans of sizzling, sparkly treble will rejoice. I appreciated the new Dorado’s high-level of structure and willingness to make light of certain qualities that are only necessary to specific genres of music. For instance, on the album “MEGATOWER I” from Deaths Dynamic Door, some tracks have a noticeable hiss and sometimes show a loose frequency here and there. This is important to the experience of that album, and I’m glad the Dorado 2020 was able to accomplish that.
I’ve been a fan of a lot of what Campfire Audio has to offer, and the Dorado 2020 is no exception. This IEM shows a significant upgrade from its previous iteration while setting itself apart from other brands as well. The level of sound quality is always exceptional when it comes to Campfire, but the Dorado offers other characteristics that make it a more unique IEM in the long run.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Sound quality, fit, pleasing look, powerful output, ear tips
Cons: Bass might disappoint some
The Campfire Dorado 2020 is available at Audio46.
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