Campfire Audio is continuing its trend of releasing 2020 updates to its high profile models. This year we’ve seen the likes of the Andromeda, Vega, and Solaris receive new iterations with improvements to sonic quality and design. I recently reviewed the new Dorado 2020 here on MajorHiFi, and I liked them quite a bit. Now comes the inevitable comparison, where we stack the old and new against each other. So let’s see how well the Dorado 2020 improve upon the original.
What You Get
The original Dorado came before Campfire started using their patented take out box style packaging and fashionable carrying cases. Although Campfire has always supplied its customers with a plethora of ear tips, there’s just more of a selection in the 2020 edition. Other than tips, both items come with cleaning tools, and insignia styled pins. The original Dorado also came out before Campfire started using their softer pouches to store their contents, including the earphones themselves. In the original Dorado, the IEMs were separated into two different drawstring bags, while the new model is kept in the same bag with a divider so they don’t clank around.
Look and Feel
For the most part, both models feature the same miniature shaped body, with the biggest difference coming from the spout. The Dorado 2020 sports a thinner, more ergonomic stem for the nozzle, compared to the originals thicker design. I found that the ear tips were more useful in securing the housing to your ear in the 2020s without feeling like there was too much pressure stored in your ear canal. The newer Dorados sport the ideal fit for those who are worried about comfort based on their physical builds. In terms of aesthetics, the original Dorado seems like a prototype of the 2020 edition. The bronze finish of the original is a nice look, but the black, glossy finish is definitely the more appealing choice in my opinion.
Campfire Audio is no stranger to using high-quality components with its interior systems. While the original Dorado supported an 8.5mm dynamic driver, the new Dorado 2020 is just a step above that with 10mm units and plasma-enhanced CVD diaphragms. However, the first Dorado contains 2 balanced armatures compared to the new versions single hybrid system. The original also contains a tubeless resonator box for high frequencies.
This is a brand that likes to pump as much volume in your ear as possible, without sacrificing clarity or richness. Both IEMs are low impedance models, with the original featuring 17.5 Ohms, and the 2020 edition being only 10 Ohms. The new Dorado is definitely more sensitive in its volume output, but the previous iteration is also similarly prone to high gains. Be careful where your volume meter is at with both models. Each earphone uses a 3.5mm connector. There are no other adapters included with either pair, which makes me assume the intended use for these IEMs is with smartphones, laptops, and DAPs. I would lean more towards using a DAP with the Dorados, but I would recommend using a DAC if you’re listening from smartphones or laptops. While the signal is rich and plentiful, the output won’t feature a lot of headroom. The cleaner the signal, the more justice is done to the overall timbre of these earphones.
The Dorados both feature their own unique stages that differ, but no to the detriment of the other. While the new Dorado showcases the wider soundstage, the original focus on depth. The Dorado 2020 has a more linear stereo response than the original, but its quality lies in its expansive spatiality. The original exhibits a more inward depth that shows some great layering and separation. It’s a more internal sound that uses its layering to communicate its specific sense of clarity in the lows, mids, and highs. The 2020 uses a more linear stage that feels like a more natural space. This IEM aims for a more accurate image, implementing a wider stage to harness all the details it can.
Both IEMs feature a very dry bass, and in the 2020s it’s almost aggressive how neutral it can be. It showcases restraint, as well as balance and potential for a dynamic response. The bass can jump between being articulate at one point, to exhibiting a flatter, reference bassed response without going to bland. It’ll take the lead when it needs to, and separate itself when the track calls for it. The original Dorado definitely has the more stand out low-end on the first impression. It’s the thicker, more immediately satisfying option for bass enthusiasts, even if there are better options from Campfire’s library with a richer response.
Campfire is on-brand when it comes to the mid-range of both of these IEMs. The low mids take on more of a front face in both models, but the 2020 implements better distinction between frequency bands. The original can get a bit boomy at times, and doesn’t offer the same clarity as to its upgrade. Both mid-bands still appear full and meaty thanks to the stellar imaging. However, the latest Dorado makes better use of its definition. Acoustic instruments sound sweeter, and vocals are more present while not taking up too much limelight.
The highs have the biggest noticeable difference in both models, and as far as the Dorado 2020 is concerned, it’s the biggest upgrade. Compared to the originals more smooth, rounded treble, the 2020s feature a more significant emphasis. The Dorado should still satisfy those not looking for brightness or sibilance, but the new Dorado just has so much more detail I personally prefer in my sound signature. Sparkle and sizzle are all qualities you’ll find on the Dorado 2020, and for my taste, it’s a welcome addition.
I don’t believe there is a straight-up “better” version of the Dorados here. The only immediate feature on the Dorado 2020 I would call an upgrade would be the thinner spout, as it greatly improves the fit. Other than that, both sound signatures offer something for everyone. If you like bass with smooth, rolled off highs, the original is the way to go. If you love a crisp timbre, with analytical details, the Dorado 2020 is your guy. $1299 for the new Dorado is more expensive than the $999 originals, but for some, it might be worth it.
|Driver Type||Dynamic, 8.5mm||Dynamic, 10mm|
|Impedance||17.5 Ohms||10 Ohms|
|Cable||Beryllium MMCX||Beryllium/Copper MMCX|