The Campfire Audio Dorado 2020 is an update on the original universal IEM consisting of a dual-driver 10mm dynamic driver and single BA. It is priced at $1099.
Disclaimer: The Campfire Audio Dorado 2020 sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion in this review. We thank the team at Campfire Audio for giving us this opportunity.
To read more about Campfire Audio products we reviewed on Headfonics click here.
Note, this 2-page review follows our new scoring guidelines for 2020 which you can read up on here.
Our final review for 2020 is possibly quite apt with the final Campfire Audio release for the year, the Dorado 2020. A product name that perhaps not a logical choice to a pick for a 2021 review though doubtless, it will sell just as well next year as I am sure it will have done this year.
The original Dorado debuted in late 2016 and was positioned as Campfire’s first hybrid and in a way a precursor to their flagship, Solaris from 2018. This was Campfire’s ‘fun’ IEM with an impactful low-end, clear highs, and a nice vocal emphasis. Almost like a warmer or cuddlier Vega and something that paired very nicely for modern pop and rock.
With the launch of the Dorado 2020, things seem to have changed or reversed I might add. Quite apart from some aesthetical and internal design changes, the Vega 2020 is now your laid back performer, and the Dorado 2020 seems to have usurped the original Vega and Atlas as the ultimate high-contrast performer in the Campfire line-up.
The Dorado 2020 still continues the hybrid legacy of the original but this time with no crossover and one less driver. For the new version, they have gone with a single BA for the highs instead of a dual-BA but upped the quality of the dynamic driver with their latest 10mm dynamic for the mids and lows.
T.E.A.C is not used this time around for the BA configuration, however, it is strategically placed centrally in the spout of the new nozzle. The super small balanced armature sits centrally in the spout, and its proximity to the exit will give it a bit more presence and zing than sitting further back in the body.
Like the old Vega to new Vega 2020 transition, the Dorado 2020’s dynamic driver has moved from the smaller Dorado 8.5mm Beryllium PVD Dynamic Driver to the larger 10mm A.D.L.C. Diaphragm.
This is an amorphous diamond-like carbon coating material on the diaphragm to reduce flex and distortion. Neodymium magnets are added for the magnetic field around the voice coils to generate a ton of magnetic force, more so than generic similar-sized ferrite magnets.
With this switch, Campfire now uses the same dynamic driver across their high-end range, including the Vega 2020 and the Solaris 2020. Only the Polaris 2 from 2019 uses a smaller different 9.5mm driver among their hybrid line-up.
The second key tech is a follow-on from the Vega 2020 with the use of ceramic materials for the Dorado 2020 shells.
Quite apart from the new design aesthetic it brings to the table, and you can read more about that below, it is also a dense material that was first used on the Lyra MK1 back in 2015. The process to achieve that density is via a 600/1200 degrees 5-day sintering process that reduces the size whilst strengthening the relative density.
The actual density itself works well with the dynamic driver in taming down the potential for unnecessary vibration as well as adding to the overall durability of the shells. This is combined with a rear venting airflow design and an additional acoustic dampener to regulate that airflow to fine-tune that 10mm A.D.L.C. dynamic driver.
The Dorado 2020 is rated at 10Ω which is quite a bit lower than the 30Ω rating of the Vega 2020 and even lower than the 12.8Ω of the Andromeda 2020.
The SPL will be harder to judge compared to the original Dorado as Campfire Audio has shifted to a new measurement Vrms measurement system so the Dorado 2020 is rated at 94 dB [email protected] and takes 18.52 mVrms to get to that level.
That means it is a little bit more sensitive than the Vega 2020 which is rated at 19.86 mVrms but much less sensitive than the Andromeda 2020 at 7.01 mVrms and the Solaris 2020 at 6.54mVrms.
Campfire Audio has continued with a return to the original form factor of the Dorado but with a number of key refinements to its design and materials.
Gone is the older ‘sunrise’ colored liquid metal alloy with PVD coating housing and instead, we have a darker polished gunmetal colored ceramic body. The PVD is not entirely gone, however. Campfire Audio has redesigned the original nozzle from a black plastic mold to a more refined machined brass spout with a ‘gunmetal grey’ P.V.D. finish.
The actual dimensions of the Dorado 2020 are a little bigger also and most likely due to having to fit in that larger 10mm dynamic driver compared to the original’s smaller 8.5mm version. The nozzle dome is also a little thicker and the length of the spout marginally short but also a little thinner.
Like almost all of Campfire Audio’s 2020 releases, the Dorado 2020 uses the new fixed grill nozzle lip design first seen in the Atlas and Comet. However, the exact design has been subtly changed. The new design is more of a speckled venting system seen in the Vega 2020 than the symmetrical groove design of the Andromeda 2020.
The final big change is the dynamic driver venting port which was quite large and a bit of a design flow ‘breaker’ on the original. Now it is much more subtle, placed discreetly on the base of the front faceplate, and very hard to see.
Comfort & Isolation
If you enjoyed the original Dorado’s comfort levels then you are going to feel the same way about the Dorado 2020. Very little has changed in that respect.
Even with the slightly larger Dorado 2020 body the smooth cornering and relatively lightweight body make these a supremely comfort fit for a non-acrylic body universal monitor. These are snugger than the Solaris as well as the Andromeda form factors and alongside the Vega 2020, my favorite Campfire Audio 2020 design for pure comfort levels.
The Dorado 2020 is deep enough with the stock medium foam tips adding just the right amount of pressure to hold them firmly in place. The supplied Final E tips will not feel quite as secure but the smoother silicone surface is even comfier. Nothing really brushes on your ear in an uncomfortable fashion, this is a really sweet fitting form factor.
The seal is pretty good for a vented dynamic driver, certainly nowhere near as open as some competitors but it is really the comfort level where the Dorado 2020 excels.
Campfire Audio has kept the supplied tips line-up very consistent with the Ara, Andromeda 2020, and the Vega 2020 all using the same mix of stock foam, stock silicone, and Final E single bore silicone variants.
As before the Final E tips isolate just as well as the stock foam tips with the stock silicone tips not working for me at all. I simply cannot get a good seal with those non branded silicone variants and it sounds dreadful.
The Final E tips are comfier than the foam tips but they will change the tonal signature a little so the choice between the two might come down to pure preference. I find the Final E will tease out more bass impact and a little more top-end sparkle whereas the foam tips are mellower or warmer but not quite as engaging as the Final E signature.
Of course, the Dorado 2020 has a lot more treble presence compared to the Vega 2020 so whilst I would be very quick to recommend the Final E for those, I would be more studied instead for the Dorado 2020 as some might be more sensitive to enhanced treble.
Campfire Audio has opted to use the same new rounded MMCX connector sockets from their last batch of releases. Combined with the beryllium copper plating, make them very easy to connect and disconnect. They also seem a little sturdier than the previous less tidy looking squarish designs.
Campfire Audio has stuck with their 1.32m CA Litz cable which also comes with the recent Andromeda and Vega 2020.
This is a 4-core version and is actually ok in my book, at least in terms of handling and microphonics which is exceptionally low. This is the same cable they have included also with the Vega 2020 and uses an SPC Litz geometry inside a smoked twisted jacket finish.
The splitter is a low-profile black aluminum barrel with a matching chin cinch that articulates quite easily and stays in place. This particular termination is a right angle 3.5mm gold-plated 3.5mm TRS jack in a very durable high-density rubber enclosure. It also has some memory wire but it is the lighter springy type rather than the stiffer memory retention variety which I prefer.
Overall, the Dorado 2020 stock cable will give you a smooth sound and typical of SPC cables a bit more high-frequency presence and sparkle, especially if used in combination with the Final E tips.
Packaging & Accessories
The Dorado 2020 packaging follows the same design ethos as the Solaris and Andromeda 2020 so that means a bigger box with an additional smaller box for the accessories inside.
Like the Vega 2020, the package is just oh so 70s’ which I love. This time it’s a mix of pale greens and reds with the black drivers firmly in the middle. It’s beautifully chaotic looking and brings back some fond childhood memories of my pop’s trade booth stalls from the same era.
The mechanics of the unboxing is more like a little petal-type paper fold on the base of the box. This, in turn, allows you to peel off the outer box cover to reveal a flip-top container with that same pale red design adorned with the more traditional Campfire Audio branding.
Inside you have the accessories and tips inside a similarly colored cardboard tube and an all-new ‘Diver Orange” upcycled marine plastic zipper case inside of which you will find the Dorado 2020 and the SPC Litz cable. As always with Campfire, the accessory line-up is plentiful.
The full lineup of accessories is similar to the Andromeda and Solaris 2020 and is as follows:
- Final e-tips (xs/s/m/l/xl)
- Foam Marshmallow tips (S/M/L)
- Silicone single-bore tips (S/M/L)
- 3 x cushioned pockets (for the monitors and foam tips)
- Cleaning brush/pick
- New Diver Orange plastic zipper carry case
- SPC Litz cable
- Campfire Audio pin badge
The form factor and mechanics are the same as the cork case of the Andromeda and Solaris 2020 but the materials and color are quite different. This time it is a zany beautiful faded orange or an almost classic chrome version of orange with the Dorado 2020 case.
It does look retro but bold like an Instagram version of regular orange color and it does have the added bonus of a single uniform color right to the silver zipper whereas the cork case is two-tone.
The case is somewhat tighter on the inside than the older squarer cases but it has enough expansion to its design so you can stuff plenty in there and zip it shut. Just watch out you do not catch the cable in the zipper as you close it.
The inside is also finished with the same cool faux wool furry lining from the older generation though Campfire Audio has gone back to the charcoal of the previous versions as opposed to the off-white inside the Seafoam green case of the Vega 2020.
Click on Page 2 below for sound impressions and comparisons