Disclaimer: The Campfire Audio Polaris 2 sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. 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.
This is the second part of our Campfire Audio First Contact series and this time it is the new edition of their popular Polaris hybrid universal monitor which retails for $499.
Now we have given this a Polaris 2 title just so as not to get confused with the original Polaris which came out in 2017. You may also see various tweaks on this title in Google searches such as Polaris II. However, Campfire Audio is still calling this Polaris without any mention of 2.
So, in terms of positioning, the older Polaris is discontinued and this new one takes its place right away but with the exact same name and price.
Ok so on the face of it not much has changed. The Polaris 2 is still a dual hybrid driver consisting of a single dynamic and 1 balanced armature and yes, the T.E.A.C tech is still there from the original Polaris.
However, dig deeper and there is a lot more going on here. The dynamic driver is now bigger, going from the original 8.5mm with the Polarity Tuned Chamber™ to a 9.2mm Dynamic Driver with the Polarity Tuned Chamber.
I think you already will have a sense of what might mean in terms of tuning. CA have already alluded that this new larger DD, combined with the single BA for the highs has been tuned differently to the original so this is not a cosmetic tweak.
Much like the new IO, the Polaris 2 has had a substantial tweak in terms of packaging and accessories. The theme is still the classic Polaris ‘water-themed’ blue color for the packaging right down to the leather outer of the new carry case. The box shape and ‘unfolding’ has changed and now matches that of the IO.
Gone are the little logistic budget friendly boxes from the previous range (not including the Solaris) and in comes something a bit more intricate and bigger. They do make for a nicer display box on the retail shelf though they may come at an enhanced logistics cost for the company.
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 grey colored container adorned with the more traditional Campfire Audio branding.
Flip the box lid and inside you have the accessories inside a similarly colored cardboard tube and the new carry case inside which you will find the Polaris 2 and an upgraded SPC Litz cable. As always with Campfire, the accessory line-up is just beautiful as well as plentiful.
The full lineup of accessories closely matches the IO 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)
New leather carry case
SPC Litz cable
Campfire Audio pin badge
The new case is similar in materials and finishing to the IO case but with a slightly more conservative blue hue on the leather rather than the garnet tone. This is more of a purse-type metropolitan design with slightly softer side support compared to the older more rigid square casing they used on all previous models. The inside is finished with the same cool charcoal furry lining which is the same as the IO case.
My initial impression of its carrying capacity is that it might not have quite the same useable space inside as the older versions. This might be something to do with the rounded finish as there is slightly less depth on the sides. However, it does seem to have a bit more of an expansive property to its leather 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 Polaris 2 retains the Cerulean blue theme of the original Polaris and the classic edged body design. However, instead of the polymer-ceramic composite Cerakote coating and darker faceplate, the new design is now finished with a single blue anodized coating throughout with a black triple screw finish. The Polaris 2 dimensions and depth of the nozzle remain unchanged but the faceplate seems slimmer than the older version.
My initial impressions of the new design are favorable. Despite being the same size the Polaris 2 build looks a bit more streamlined with a lower profile screw aesthetic. The darker tone and shape of the nozzle also blends in better with those new screws. Two major change on the nozzle is the use of the new grill designs from the Comet, IO, and Atlas and the switched from hard plastics to a black coated stainless steel.
Cable & Connectors
The Polaris 2 MMCX connectors are new in design and use a custom beryllium/copper insulated design. I must say they look a lot tidier than the older traditional design of the original Polaris and so far I have had zero issues pinching and detaching the MMCX cable.
The new cable is the same cable now used with the recently launched IO which is their higher-tier SPC Litz and it is a good upgrade on the original Polaris Copper Litz cable. From a performance point of view, we will get into that more on the full review but from a physical point of view the new SPC Litz with the smoky jacket finish is far more premium looking and like the IO visual, it does blend in a lot nicer with the finish of the Polaris 2.
Also, with the IO stock cable, the Polaris 2 cable has done away with memory wire and instead now uses a springy type build. I prefer this over memory wire when sliding over the ear. Less manipulation required and more comfortable as a result.
This particular cable is 1.35m and terminated with a right angle 3.5mm TRS jack and those beryllium MMCX connectors on the other side. It is a quiet cable, no physical noise on the wire but it does retain a tiny bit of kinking here and there.
Comfort & Fit
Coming from the first Polaris to the new edition I can’t really detect any changes in the comfort and seal on initial use and swapping around. That’s not a bad thing as I always felt the Polaris was one of the better ones for sealing due to the slightly angular and longer nozzle compared to the Jupiter and Andromeda.
The port venting on the faceplate of the Polaris will prevent it from achieving BA enclosure levels of seal but with the foam tips, I was fairly happy with the amount of passive isolation it offered. There are a ton of other tips and like the IO I need to go through them in more detail, especially now that they come packed with Final E tips and not SpinFits. For these impressions, we went with foams. for the comfort and seal.
Initial Sound Impressions
(Tested with Sony 1Z, Lotoo PAW Gold Touch, HiBy R6 Pro and Cayin N6ii using Flac 16BIT 44.1k tracks)
Oh gosh if you are coming from the older Polaris get ready for a big change because the new Polaris is a much harder hitter and seems also to be a little more sensitive to current. I found myself pushing up the volume on the older version when switching around so yeah definitely a more sensitive monitor and the specs do suggest as such with a new 105dB SPL compared to the older 97.5dB SPL.
My first plugin test with the Sony 1Z delivered a much fuller low-end from that larger driver and a much deeper soundstage as a result. The older Polaris’s smaller DD just sounded, well, smaller with a more subtle elevation on the low-end and just not as aggressive and weighted in its delivery. The new Polaris DD has power and weight right down to 20Hz and does not mind showing it off.
The treble on the Polaris 2 is just excellent and a perfect counter to its strong low-end performance. You get plenty of headroom and air and no shortage of sparkle but at the same time, it is not lean or amplified to the point where it kills the instrumental harmonic balance.
Mids are more neutral but there is a definite bump in there somewhere for vocal clarity so not recessed or V-shaped, still relatively W-shaped for me. I also like the tone of the vocals on the Polaris 2. They seem ‘fleshier’ than the IO performance with good texture and a nice balance between even and odd harmonic overtones. So, whilst not as forward as the IO, they sound a little more natural to my ear.
This is a ‘big’ sounding IEM right out of the box. Right away, I can tell the bass performance is just going to slay modern R’n’B, EDM, and hip-hop. Even on neutral sources like the Lotoo PAW Gold Touch, there is no shortage of depth and power from the Polaris pairing.
I would like to see how other tips affect the balance on the Polaris 2 and how options like PMEQ can tease out a bit more midrange presence in part. However, these feel like messing with the ice in a huge jug of frothy beer. The Polaris 2 is what it is and that is punchy, powerful and fun sounding. Our main review is simply going to tell you that in a lot more revealing detail so stay tuned!