I enjoyed the sound of the Solaris straight out of the box and can’t say I noticed any noticeable difference between out of the box and extended listening time. I really like the Solaris though and it’s a very tough choice between the Solaris and the Empire Ears Valkyrie for me at that price point (although the Valkyrie does have the better fit).
If you are having issues with fit beyond the tips helping I’d highly recommend grabbing a cable that isn’t as stiff as the super litz cable that comes with the Solaris. Campfire’s own smoky litz cable does wonders for comfort and also allows for easy readjustment. Would definitely recommend it if you can get your hands on it.
Happy to hear you managed to snag them for a deal at CanJam! Show specials are always great!
I just received a pair of Solaris SEs and have been running them through the gauntlet. Only been a couple of days, but so far my initial very high level impressions are consistent with others (so I don’t have much new to add to be honest):
-not the best low frequencies I’ve heard (my LX is better)
-not the best highs, either (I just got a pair of Valks as well and - while new - am loving the electrostatic sound sig; I also somewhat am leaning to the crispness of the highs on the Andromeda SE Gold which I really enjoy)
-the above two comments not withstanding, I love having the SEs in my ears…they are extremely resolving, do everything really well (even if they’re not the best at any one thing), the detail separation and clarity is amazing IMO
Keep in mind I’ve had them in my ears maybe 10-15 hours max so far and am also burning in a new DAP at the same time.
Also, regarding tips, I tend to prefer foams, and I’ve tried quite a few foams and silcones. Right now, my favorite is the Symbio hybrid foam/silicone. I’m using them on my LX and Valks as well. I have not tried the Sednas but may given them a spin given comments above.
Glad you’re enjoying them man The LX does have better bass…but it’s unsustainable for long stretches (for me anyway)…the Solaris is much more balanced. It’s probably my favorite “all rounder” that I’ve heard. Happy listening!
I realized I’ve never shared my SE Solaris impressions in any great detail in this thread, so stuck inside today with not much going on I thought I’d pick, choose and expand on some I’ve shared elsewhere.
2019 was a hell of a year for me in portable audio. One year ago January I, like so many other audiophile plebs, started scouring places like Head Fi and r/headphones for information on which over ear bluetooth noise cancelling head set was right for me. Little did I know at the time that doing so was going to kick off a journey of epic proportions that would take me through some of the best sounding IEMs on the market right now. The idea of a “journey” is a very apt metaphor for many of us in this hobby as it often comprises a transition from one place to another, often over and over again. There are many (arguably the fortunate ones) who know what they’re looking for immediately and go straight for it, there are others who think they know what they want but find along the way that what satisfies them in the end is nothing like what they thought they were seeking in the beginning, and there are those still who don’t really have an end destination in mind at all-- they’re simply enjoying the journey. The beautiful thing in this hobby is that the selection these days is so vast that there’s something out there for everyone and it need not be the same thing for any two people.
For a good chunk of last year (from about March to September) the OG Solaris was my bae-- it was the best “all arounder” IEM I’d heard to that point and I was more-or-less satisfied with it. Every now and again-- egged on by the sort of ever-present curiosity that plagues many of us in this hobby, and also, if I’m honest, a desire for just a dash more impact here and there in Solaris’ presentation-- I made a point of demoing all the TOTL IEMs I could to see if anything could usurp it. For a long time nothing could though many tried their best.
At the end of last summer I demoed a QDC Anole VX and was wowed by its vividness, detail and clarity. Haunted by the VX for a few days after I heard it at a meet I took the plunge and ordered one. Upon receiving it I did some a/b’ing back and forth and fell in love with the VX for its vivid, detailed and slightly aggressive sound and eventually decided to sell ny OG Solaris. Not much changed in the following weeks in my love of the VX-- it’s a fantastic IEM The biggest complaint I would lobby at it, apart from a dash of the BA timbre (though it does bass very well imho) is that it’s a little TOO aggressive in certain regions of the highs-- to the point that certain instruments sound, not quite “tizzy” or “sibilant” but a little too energetic and not quite natural. I noticed this especially with piano in some of Vince Guaraldi’s works. It could be a dash fatiguing after a while, but for the most part I could dismiss it.
If I’m being honest, at that point there were certain elements of Solaris’ presentation that I missed very much, namely its more holographic presentation, instrument separation, natural instrumental timbre and, of course, the DD bass. Taking all that into account, along with my love of Campfire Audio’s whole mode of presentation, philosophy and ethos, when the SE Solaris in November I was unable to resist and pre-ordered from Travis at Headphone Bar almost immediately.
The five or so weeks between my pre-order of the Solaris SE and its arrival into my hands were some of the longest of my audiophile career (I hate the wait for new gear in the mail) but suffice to say the wait was worth it and the moment I got the package in my hands was one of the greatest in my short time in this hobby. The unboxing experience was wonderful. As I’ve said I love CFA’s whole mode of presentation-- minimalist, beautiful, memorable, effective. It was a very different experience from the needless bulk of the VX or the ostentatious packaging of the IER Z1R. Furthermore the build quality is superb (as I’ve come to expect from CFA) and the IEMs themselves are beyond beautiful—they definitely appealed to me more in person than the photos, and that impression has grown on me in time. I will say one more thing about the packaging—of all the IEMs I’ve owned only with CFA IEMs (and I have owned the Comet, Atlas, Solaris OG and Solaris SE) do I feel compelled to display it on a shelf due to how cool it looks. All of this said, build quality and packaging mean nothing if the sound quality isn’t up to par.
So how is the sound? The SE Solaris sounds simply divine to my ears. In my estimation Campfire Audio has knocked it out of the park—it was the best sounding IEM that I heard in 2019. I managed to stop by Headphone Bar again about a week after receiving the SE and got in an a/b with OG Solaris. Hearing OG Solaris for the first time in 3 months after having SE Solaris for over a week was interesting. It’s true that the differences are not night and day-- SE Solaris is definitely still Solaris…which imho is a good thing as for those of us who love it there isn’t much that needed changing. The differences are subtle and more-or-less in line with what I wrote in my original impressions. The most notable improvement imho is in clarity, separation and a greater sense of space-- everything seems to have a little more space to breath and as such more space for detail to become evident. This, to me, is a thing I think Solaris does as good or better than any IEM I’ve heard: it generates a sense of space and separation…you really feel like you’re floating at the centre of a vast and well-defined soundscape—but at the same time there is a coherent and ever-present unity discernible in the signature. This to me is the mark of a well-balanced signature—for every element to occupy its own space while simultaneously manifesting as a unity. Couple all of this with the dynamic bass and it’s pure win for me. Vocals, particularly male vocals (as that’s what I listen to and am more familiar with) definitely feel more bodied and forward in the mix. Mark Knopfler, Morrissey and Michael Jackson all sound like they’re in the room with me singing into my ear. There also seems to be a dash more shimmer up top and the bass is cleaner. I never would have described the bass in OG Solaris as “muddy” or “hazy”, but relative to SE it feels just slightly so.
I would say that the SE Solaris has more air and sparkle than the OG. At the time it was released I (among others) described the OG Solaris as “Andro plus bass” however many lovers of the Andro objected to that characterization claiming that the Solaris lacked the air and sparkle up top that characterized the Andro. I suspect that the SE may be closer to this than the OG, but I don’t have enough experience with Andro to really weigh in.
All in all it’s precisely what it was advertised as-- still a Solaris with some subtle refinements to the sound. The defining characteristics are there-- a dynamic but disciplined and non intrusive low end, peerless instrument separation, natural instrumental timbre, holographic 3-d soundstage, and so on. The biggest revelation for me is that I no longer find myself craving more “impact” in the low end as I’m too afraid it would interfere with the “wholeness” of the picture presented. This is arguably the biggest triumph of the Solaris in general in my estimation, something that SE Solaris just refines a wee bit. It might not sound like a lot, or jump out at you at first listen, but as you spend more time with it the refinements become more evident-- they were enough to push the SE Solaris above the Anole VX for me as my top IEM of 2019.
*Usual caveat that audio is a fundamentally subjective hobby and blah blah blah everything I state in absolute terms needs to have the addendum “relative to my own tastes and preferences” attached to it.
Results of a 4-way shootout between the Vision Ears VE8, CFA Solaris SE, 64 Audio u12t and EE Legend X:
You’re iem journey has been a rapid one and I for one have enjoyed following it. You seem very much like me in that regard once you know what you want you go for it and don’t bugger about. I really have enjoyed reading your impressions too. Thanks.
It seems quick on the surface but I’ve spent much of my life admiring high quality audio from a distance-- wanting to get into it but never quite finding the time or resources until later in life. Once I was ready to take the plunge I had some idea what I wanted…or at least I thought I did. It’s stupidly cliche but the expression “follow your heart” has real import in this hobby. It’s easy to get attached to certain biases and ideals or bewildered by all the different influences and perspectives out there and to ultimately forget that this is fundamentally a personal journey. Everyone has their own perspective, their own preferences-- no two people experience everything the same-- or arguably even any one thing. I believe that the greater the extent that someone is willing/able to identify and go after exactly what they want-- and be guided primarily by their own perceptions and inclinations-- the greater will be their overall satisfaction in this hobby.
I wholeheartedly agree. I get attached to my iem’s which is silly. As they are only tools in the end. I also try not to take criticism of any gear I have personally. As you say it’s all opinion based is feedback to a certain extent. IMHO anyway. The problem comes when some folk really do take it as a personal affront when they hear criticisms of their gear. This leads to bun fights and handbags at dawn on some forums.
I hadn’t had a chance to listen to my Solaris for about a month until yesterday, and I am always surprised how cohesive and spacious they sound when I come back to them. I listened to a new classical piano recording on Qobuz - one can really hear the micro-resonances of the piano strings, the attack and decay of each note, the sense of the space, and even the sound of the sustain pedal fluttering. An awesome experience.
Of course, as good as they are, I always get that sense of curiosity that causes me to go consider another insanely expensive IEM purchase. I’m going to get that Verite C or Stellia first, though!
That “sense of curiosity” you get is the driving force of this hobby I love my Solaris SE-- I’ve spent much of the past year going through all sorts of high end IEMs and there isn’t anything else out there quite like it in my experience.
Ahhh this ever present curiosity is the bane of my life. And having followed your journey closely I really want to try the Solaris very badly. I am sure I would love it. I love my Andromeda’s but that extra bit that the Solaris seems to have has intrigued me.
Hi everyone, I’m currently having a Campfire Audio Solaris with iFi iDSD Micro Black Label, do anyone ever tried with this combo? If so, what’s your impressions or thinking about this? Is it matching your expectation with this combo? If not, what combo did you guys use? Would be better if you guys replace the Micro BL with another DAC.
I like this combo, although I don’t use it very often. I just always have to remind myself to be absolutely sure to properly set the mode and gain before feeding them (particularly because I sometimes use the iFi in line out mode).
I mostly use the Solaris with my iBasso DAP or with an iPad/Chord Mojo combo.
Edit: I should clarify that I am not necessarily saying the combos I use have better sound quality, just that they are more in line with my listening habits. My iFi is at my desk, and I find that the Solaris are a bit cumbersome there due to cord length, so I use them in more portable, on the go applications.
For some reason, I tried to use the Mojo before BL, but because the noise I hear when I plug the Solaris in the Mojo is noticeable and kinda annoying, that’s why I switched to BL. Do you experience the same thing?
I used that exact combo at work before selling my Solaris and it did the job well ! At home, I pair my micro BL with the Topping D50s, which should be a little bit more “reference” sounding. That could be a solution is you want a more neutral sound.