Campfire Audio Dorado 2020 Review

Sound Impressions

Summary

The Dorado 2020 is bigger, bolder, and more explosive sounding than the original, (see full comparison below). Critically, in the wider context of Campfire Audio’s line-up, the Dorado 2020 has its own very distinctive tuning and one that I think is better balanced than the first Dorado. 

Bass Power

Better balanced does not mean reference tuned or neutral sounding, however. Rather, there seems to be more conviction in terms of how much ‘color’ Campfire wanted in the new Dorado 2020 tuning. This is a classic V-shaped tuning, a ‘fun sound’ if you will, but also a performance that is not short on perceived dynamic range or articulation. 

The low-end is huge. It extends really deep with a bit of a sub-bass bias over any warm mid-bass hump more characteristic of the original’s bloomier character.

The inevitable V-shaped dip starts around 100Hz and continues right to around 1K so the bass/mids separation is quite strong and you will hear that when emphasized. Lower-mids presence is not huge though lower register bassier notes will possess a strong bass fundamental that kicks like a mule. 

Vocal presence

Vocal presence on the lower-mids will play second fiddle to the power of the bass response though the clean tone and separation will deliver a better than expected level of clarity.

From 1k to almost 5k you get a very substantial bump so instrumental presence and vocal forwardness across this range gets a substantial life and plenty of energy. Female vocals and percussion passages sound lively and forward but thankfully not too hot or peaky due to what seems to be a bit of a mid-treble dip around 7k.

That dip seems to take a little sting out of the harmonic balance of the Dorado 2020. Headroom remains very good though and it does sound extended due to what seems to be a bump in the upper treble from that single BA. 

Overall, the Dorado 2020 is a big performer for modern R&B sparse mixes, pop, synthwave, and anything with a driving rhythm underpinning the melody. Bassheads? Yes, and then some. 

Timbre

This is a high contrast clean sounding tonal presentation. On the low-end, you get a little warmth but this Dorado 2020 is more defined by sub-bass power with excellent layering. I do find the 10mm dynamic driver inside the newer version to have some nice control and better separation than the older 8.5mm version.

The older Dorado 2020 could also kick hard but its dip into the lower-mids was not as abrupt so it carried a lot of warmth with it into the midrange timbre. Here, the Dorado 2020 dip is much quicker and steeper into the lower-mids, resulting in far less warmth traveling up to give you that cooler timbral overtone. 

This, combined with a peppier and more energetic treble response, gives you that high-contrast tone in the Dorado 2020 mids. Lower-mids timbre is light, precise, and clean with not a huge amount of sustain or body but can deliver some solid bass fundamental the closer to 100Hz you get. 

I have to say when the bass is not in overdrive tenor or head voice vocals can sound very pure indeed with a lovely harmonic balance. Falsetto or higher pitching vocals are a little brighter with more treble influence offering a more pristine or ethereal timbral quality so quite a different tone to something like the warmer more relaxed sounding Vega 2020. 

Percussion work is a little drier than say the Andromeda 2020 or the Vega 2020. They sound energetic and very articulate with plenty of air and separation but not that rich or rounded in tone.  

Staging

The Dorado is tall and deep with a forward upper-mids and vocal presence stretching the staging with an admirable level of mids engagement for a V-Shaped tuning.

If you are coming from the original Dorado 2020 you also hear a bit of an upgrade in the dynamic range with superior instrumental separation, particularly on the vocals and treble which benefit from that cleaner tone and superior headroom.

The only caveat is the lower-mids presence which can be overshadowed by the bass response so really low-pitching guttural chest voicing lacks a little solidity and presence as also guitar work across the same frequency range.

Depth is really the calling card here and when called upon the Dorado 2020 extends really deep, perhaps the deepest of all the Campfire Audio’s monitors. You could argue the Polaris 2 has excellent depth but the quality of the dynamic diver on the Dorado is better so along with depth you get superior texture and control. 

That’s the final takeaway from the Dorado 2020’s staging quality – the control. It actually delivers a really nice black background that helps a lot with its imaging capability. Sure, a slight basis to the lows and highs but when not in overdrive I find the imaging spatial cues to be very easy to pick out indeed. 

Campfire Audio Dorado 2020

Synergy

Efficiency

The Dorado 2020 uses Campfire Audio’s new efficiency rating system which allows us to make direct comparisons for all 2020 models but for the older versions we have to rely more on our ear with some real-world testing.

The new system has the Dorado 2020 pegged at 10Ω for impedance which is fairly low, more so than the new Andromeda 2020 but a little higher than the new Ara.

The SPL is rated at 18.53mVrms to achieve 94 dB SPL @ 1kHz which means it is a little bit more sensitive than the Vega 2020 which needs 19.86 mVrms to reach the same level and you can hear that small gap in more rudimentary volume matching between the two on DAPs. 

I also find the Dorado 2020 to be a little more sensitive than the original Dorado which has a slightly higher 15Ω impedance rating and uses the classic SPL measurement of 105dB SPL. I would say the Dorado 2020 on the old system would be closer to 107-110dB SPL based on those rudimentary observations. 

It is still way less sensitive than the newer Andromeda 2020 and the Ara which have a much lower mVrms rating of 7.01 mVrms and 7.094mVrms respectively.

In a nutshell, the potential to pick up on hiss on DAPs is not an issue with the Dorado 2020 with most DAPs delivering a nice black background using the stock unbalanced cable. 

Campfire Audio Dorado 2020

Pairings

I tested no less than 6 DAPs with the Dorado 2020 of all shapes, sizes, and budgets and I came out of that session with a slight bias to pairing with neutral DAPs with excellent staging capabilities.

Warmer Sources

With a high contrast deep and tall staging quality, you need to maximize what comes in between also. So, warmer bass-heavy DAPs such as the HiBy R5 sound a little off for me unless you want a lot of bloom. There seems to be a slight imbalance with that pairing with too much warmth and intimacy for the Dorado 2020 to sound optimal.

The HiBy R8 did better, however with more dynamic range, better resolution, and a more expensive soundstage. However, this is a pairing for those that want to tone down the treble sparkle a little on the Dorado 2020 and produce a more natural tone.

Not a bad way to go except the Luxury & Precision P6 does that setup a bit better mainly because of the greater texture and detail it can inject into that dynamic driver. Still, you do not have quite enough treble sparkle for my personal preference and the balance between the bass and treble does seem very important for the Dorado 2020 to sound correct. 

Neutral Sources

Step forward the neutral DAPs, iBasso DX220 Max, Lotoo’s PAW Gold Touch, and the FiiO M15. These seem to get the Dorado 2020 performance just right. Not just because they are neutral but also because of the amount of separation all 3 DAPs can offer.

Midrange separation on these 3 was excellent with perhaps the iBasso DX220 MAX offering the most complete sound. The M15 did very well also but more so with a slight lowering of the bloom on the low-end. The dynamic driver inside the Dorado sounded agile, layered, and very nicely defined on the M15 allowing vocals to shine.

The treble is a little more aggressive and forward sounding on all 3 but not to the point where I would be concerned. If it does concern you then the R8 or P6 will suit you better.

Select Comparisons

Campfire Audio Dorado

$999

Technical

The original Dorado was launched in late 2016 and was their first true hybrid with a single 8.5mm Beryllium PVD Dynamic Driver for the lows and mids combined with a dual BA for the highs using T.A.E.C. 

This time around the Dorado 2020 has a larger 10mm A.D.L.C. Diaphragm dynamic driver but cuts the BA count down to a single as opposed to dual and interestingly no use of T.E.A.C or a crossover.

Instead, the single BA is positioned inside and inside the PVD-coated machined brass spout of the nozzle. In a way, it is still tubeless but a different application designed to balanced the weight and power of the larger dynamic driver.

In terms of efficiency, the original Dorado is rated at 15Ω and 105dB SPL whereas the new Dorado 2020 is lower at 10Ω but with a newer rating of 94 dB SPL @ 1kHz: 18.52 mVrms.

Since the rating system has changed for the new Dorado 2020 so we cannot do a like for like paper comparison in terms of efficiency. However, in real-world testing, I felt the Dorado 2020 might be the more efficient of the two and certainly the more dynamic sounding of the two. Definitely louder when volume matched on the Lotoo PAW Gold Touch in low-gain around 55 steps.

Despite being the louder of the two monitors the Dorado 2020, likes its predecessor, is not going to have problems with high noise floors. Testing with the FiiO M15 and the Cayin N3Pro in tube mode showed no signs of background hiss. 

Campfire Audio Dorado

Design

We have gone through most of the current design changes as mentioned on page 1 so rather than duplicate suffice to say the new Dorado 2020 has a slicker if marginally larger form factor and design.

This includes the new ceramic design in a very attractive gunmetal finish, a new machined brass nozzle with a PVD finish as well as a subtler vent placement and superior rounded MMCX connectors. 

Both still use a 4-core SPC Litz cable and the beryllium copper MMCX connectors however the finishing on the new Dorado 2020 is different with that smokey black jacket and the matching darker connectors and barrels. 

Performance

Aside from a heavier low-end, the older Dorado is quite different from the new 2020 version. If anything, the 2020 version has a lot more conviction in its coloration, meeting that classic V-shaped requirement with excellent contrast and a much better bass/treble balance.

The dynamic range from the larger 10mm dynamic driver is better. It sounds tighter, more explosive, and with less bloom. The older smaller 8.5mm is fun-sounding though not as weighted on the sub-bass and offering more mid-bass warmth.

There is less of a lower-mids dip in the older version hence some warmth creeping into the mids compared to the cooler tone of the new Dorado 2020. Some might prefer that slightly richer more rounded tone on the older version but others might opt for the cleaner more articulate Dorado 2020 mids. 

Vocals on the older Dorado sounds a bit more laid back. It still has a hump and some presence around 1-2 but it is not as marked or elevated as the Dorado 2020 which continues its elevated and forceful sound right up to around 5k. The older version drops back a bit from 3-7k with only a minor bump at 7k so it does not have the same energy or headroom.

The Dorado 2020 definitely has a more forward treble presence and better extension despite having only 1 BA compared to the two inside the older Dorado. Neither really have a hot 7k so they do not sound peaky at all, rather the upper-mids and upper-treble presence of the Dorado 2020 is more keenly felt which gives it that energy and sparkle. ‘

Overall, the Dorado 2020 is deeper and more powerful sounding, with more high-contrasting cleaner sounding timbre. The Dorado original is warmer, more laid back, and the darker sounding of the two monitors. 

Campfire Audio Vega 2020

$899

Technical

We recently reviewed the Vega 2020, and like the Dorado 2020, it has a number of similar changes to the dynamic driver and design. Unlike the Dorado 2020, the Vega 2020 is a single dynamic driver design.

However, like the Dorado 2020, it also uses the same A.D.L.C. 10mm dynamic driver for the lows and mids. While the size and diaphragm materials are the same, the drivers have different faceplates and windings to achieve their different performances.

The additional driver in the Dorado 2020 configuration is the BA driver in the actual nozzle near the exit for some highs additional presence.

Neither monitors use any crossover technology though a single dynamic driver Vega 2020 hardly needs it. Nor do they have any ‘Solid-Body” or 3D optimization.

Both the Vega 2020 and the Dorado 2020 have similar performance rating methodologies so we can directly compare. The Dorado 2020 is rated at 10Ω and needs 18.52mVrms to hit 94dB SPL @1kHz. This compares to the Vega 2020 which is rated at a higher 36Ω and requires a bit more power at 19.86mVrms to achieve 94 [email protected]

You will not hear much of a current gap between either and volume adjustments are marginal to match. Both are relatively easy to drive though good power will optimize performance and tighten the low end compared to weaker outputs. Neither are overly sensitive to hiss.

Campfire Audio Vega 2020

Design

Both the Vega 2020 and the Dorado 2020 have gone through very similar design enhancements. Both retain their original form factor but like the Vega 2020, the Dorado 2020 is slightly bigger and taller due to the use of the new nozzle design and having to accommodate that larger 10mm dynamic driver inside. 

The materials on both are ceramic though the coloration on the Dorado 2020 is a gunmetal finish compared to the pristine white of the Vega 2020. The PVD finished stainless-steel nozzle is also a little more muted or greyish on the Dorado 2020 compared to the silvery shine of the Vega 2020 nozzle.

Aside from that the comfort and isolation levels are exactly the same, both MMCX connectors are the latest round versions and both also offer the 4-core SPC Litz smokey jacket detachable cables. 

Performance

Both of these monitors are going for the ‘fun factor’ with an exaggerated but powerful low-end. However, the first thing that is going to leap out in terms of differences is that BA driver in the Dorado 2020.

First, it introduces a bit more extension and treble presence on the Dorado 2020 which balanced quite nicely with the power and warmth from the low-end. The second is the added dimension of BA texture with its faster articulation and precise imaging but also a slightly thinner sounding and colder timbre. 

The Vega 2020 sounds quite different even though that dynamic driver is the same driver. The low-end has a bit more bloom and quantity with a slightly slower or longer decay. It sounds denser but warmer with a bit more heft right at the sub-bass level. There is less of a mid-bass punch compared to the Dorado 2020 also.

The Vega 2020 treble is also noticeably more relaxed compared to the Dorado 2020’s BA-infused treble energy. Combine that with the slightly cooler low-end and you get a different harmonic balance in the mids.

The Vega 2020 mids are smooth, liquid but slightly rounded with a little less outright vocal presence. The Dorado 2020 is a cleaner sound with a bit more treble infusion producing a crisper tone to both instruments and vocal performances. 

You could argue that the Vega 2020 has a darker sounding appeal or a smoother more liquid tone from top to bottom. Whereas the Dorado has a punchier higher-contrast energetic style with a cleaner mids and treble response. 

Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020

$1099

Technical

The classic reborn so to speak with an updated design both inside and out and a new tuning signature, (full review here).

This is a very different proposition with 5 BA drivers using a T.A.E.C. configuration of 2 for the highs, one balanced armature for the mids, and 2 for the lows compared to that single 10mm A.L.D.C. dynamic driver for the mids and lows and the single BA for the highs inside the Dorado 2020.

CA has decided not to use their new ‘Solid-body” 3D printed internal acoustical chamber design in the Dorado, something which the Andromeda 2020 has. Also, the optimized 3D construction used in conjunction with the Solid-Body process, also a feature of the Andromeda 2020 but also not used for the Dorado 2020 internal layout. 

Specs are an easier comparison with both using the same new rating system from Campfire Audio. The Andromeda 2020 is rated at 7.01mVrms to achieve 94dB SPL @1kHz whereas the Dorado 2020 has a rated spec of 18.52 mVrms to achieve the same 94dB SPL @1kHz.

That does mean the Dorado 2020 is a bit less sensitive, most likely due to the dynamic driver, so it will need a little more power. However, it is better for higher noise floors so offers a blacker background with the FiiO M15, HiBy R8, and the Cayin N3Pro to name but a few.

Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020

Design

Once again, another older gen 1 design versus the gen 2 design and once again preferring the gen 1 variant.

The Andromeda 2020 uses one of the more debatable of the 4 house designs used by Campfire in terms of overall comfort. This is the classic angular anodized emerald green form factor but with a shorter silvery nozzle and the slot style grill front compared to the longer and thinner machined brass and PVD finished nozzle of the Dorado 2020.

The Andromeda 2020 is marginally bigger than the Dorado 2020 but not hugely so with more of an emphasis on width and those angular cuts on the edging drawing our attention a bit more in the ear. The Dorado 2020 is definitely smoother and more comfortable in the ear, however, the Andromeda 2020 is all BA meaning no bass vent offering superior isolation. 

Both use the latest MMCX connectors and that black smokey jacketed 4-core 1.m SPC Litz cable so they handle quite similarly with very low memory retention and microphonics.

Performance

These two monitors have a very different timbre and FR emphasis so the choice is heavily preference-based. The Dorado 2020 is much more V-shaped with a highly-contrast tone compared to the Andromeda 2020 which sounds shallower but with a smoother sound. 

The key differentiator on the low-end is the dynamic driver of the Dorado 2020. It reaches deeper, sounds much more powerful, and with superior texture to the Andromeda 2020 BA configuration. This is the monitor you want for EDM or heavy-hitting bass synth.

The Andromeda 2020 is tighter, faster-paced, and not as dominant which does allow the mids to breathe better. As a result, the mids come across with a bit more clarity, especially lower-mids and vocals up to 1k. The Dorado 2020 sounds comparatively dipped for the equivalent instrumental presence and male vocals. 

Both do have a bump beyond 1k, so both have relatively forward-sounding higher-pitched vocal performances but here the Andromeda 2020 has a bit more of a natural tone to its delivery.

The Dorado 2020 has more of a high contrast timbre in its vocals and midrange timbre from that single BA presence. It is cleaner sounding but you hear more of the fundamental weight and upper harmonic order and comes across as a little thinner and leaner.

The new Andromeda 2020 treble is more relaxed for me oddly enough. Still articulate and nicely extended but more coherent, smoother and that shows in the better harmonic balance in the mids. The Dorado 2020 single BA is a little pepper sounding, slightly leaner and brighter though not overly bright. You get some nice energy but you can tell it’s a single BA as opposed to 2 or more.

Campfire Audio Dorado 2020

Our Verdict

The Dorado 2020 is one of Campfire Audio’s most distinct and fun sounding high-end monitors to date. In keeping with a trend, I found increasingly prevalent in 2020, high-end monitors are more open to mixing technical prowess with outrageously fun-sounding tunings.

The Dorado 2020 is no exception with an ‘in your face’ V-shaped tuning combined with a powerful but nicely defined low-end, sparkling highs, and a clean but clear sounding midrange. It is tailor-made for that sparse mixing style so prevalent in modern music today. 

It is ironic, it is almost as if the Vega 2020 is where you would have expected the older Dorado to evolve to and the older Vega to morph into the new Dorado 2020. It is almost as if they swapped identities and took them to their respective next levels. If you are an out and out basshead or looking to upgrade from the Polaris 2, then the Dorado 2020 is an obvious pick. 

Campfire Audio Dorado 2020 Specifications

  • 5 Hz – 22 kHz Frequency Response
  • 94 dB SPL @ 1kHz: 18.52 mVrms
  • 10 Ohm @ 1kHz Impedance
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