This is the thread to talk about Campfire Audio’s new IEM, the Solaris.
This is a great looking pair of iem’s. It would be great to hear these, coming from an Andromeda owners point of view.
Just had these arrive to the office today!
Giving them a spin with the Astell&Kern SP1000m and doing some Tidal streaming currently.
Their sound is surprising to start. I wouldn’t say that they sound like either the Andromeda or the Atlas but something else entirely. They definitely have more low-end than the Andromeda but its not nearly as boomy as the Atlas and is a lot less pronounced than I would have expected from reading impressions. But its also very tight and pleasant to listen to. The high-end sparkle that the Andromeda is famous for also doesn’t seem to be present with the Solaris. However, Ken has stated several times that the Solaris need burn in so I’ll see how it all blends together in a week or so.
If I were to compare it to an IEM from the Campfire line-up though, it would be the Polaris. Just a really beefed up version of the Polaris. The “Holographic Presentation” that Campfire talks about often with the Solaris is immediately noticeable as the soundstage sounds very wide. However, it almost gives off an echoey sound which is very strange so I am going to run it with a few different set-ups and see if maybe it was the SP1000M / Tidal Streaming doing something funky.
So for the first 30 minutes of listening, it has been a pleasant experience. Definitely a little different than what i was expecting based on impressions that I have read. The cable the Solaris comes with is definitely the best cable that Campfire has provided with their IEMs. The Solaris is also huge. I’ve got decently big ears but the Solaris are still a pretty tight fit and I could see a lot of people being uncomfortable with them, especially if they had issues with the Andromeda.
@Currawong did a good YouTube review of them with physical comparison to a bunch of the other CA IEMs…and yeah based on that these are “Huge” like proper “Huge”, unlike some orange colored peoples hands…
These could plausibly stand in for headphones in a Bladerunner movie-- can’t wait to hear them. Great photos as always @taronlissimore!
Those look really nice @taronlissimore!
Can you comment on unit-to-unit variation between US, Canada and Singapore please?
Jokes aside, the detail that goes into the CA IEMs is really stunning.
Haha I would not dare wade into those waters. I’ll leave that to the other online communities.
Ya Ken and his team are pretty much un-matched when it comes to the detail they put into their IEMs. Always impressed with that they produce and all the different designs they come up with.
They are huge in build but the nozzle is oddly a little more thin than the Andromeda? I could be completely wrong as we don’t currently have one in the office to do a back-to-back but I do remember the nozzle on the Andromeda being pretty wide.
@andrew currently has them sitting on his desk for some listening but they have not made their way into his ears yet. Think the size might be a little too intimidating!
There is a joke there…but I’ll leave it…
Nice first impressions and pictures!
Neither are doing anything to help me resist trying these …
They need to be run-in for at least a continuous week for best results. After that, I reckon that they are most outstanding with small-venue “live” recordings.
Here’s my video review of them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8BPyh_45gw
As you know I am an Iem man and I Love my Andromeda’s. I think the Andromeda’s hit a sweet spot for me. I love the Sparkle they have. I really wouldn’t want to lose that personally but some may do. They are nice looking though.
Did some more listening with various sources and there were some interesting changes based on the source. I also swapped over from the Comply tips to the Final E-series tips as I found I was getting a much better seal with them.
iFi Audio xCAN —> Campfire Audio Solaris: Loses its low-end emphasis almost immediately. It was the first thing I noticed and I was taken aback at how much the sound changed. This was through the S-balanced output. I fiddled around with the bass presence, 3d+, and xbass II but it just feels like a selling point of the Solaris disappears right away. Since the Solaris doesn’t quite have the sparkle of the Andromeda, losing that low-end really hurts the experience in my opinion. The OI of the xCAN is rated below 1 ohm according to the iFi Audio specs on their website. It’s kind of the opposite experience of what I have been having with my Astell&Kern Billie Jean IEMs.
Macbook Pro --> Solaris : Sounds fantastic straight out of the audio jack. But I have the volume at about 15-20% as anything higher than that gets real loud, super fast. The bass is back and fantastic. Everything sounds more lively than with the xCAN. Guitar strings sound absolutely fantastic on with Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide https://tidal.com/track/83169254. I’m not normally a country song kind of guy but Kip Moore’s acoustic version of Plead the Fifth absolutely shines with the Solaris https://tidal.com/track/98495218. Overall, straight out of the Macbook Pro headphone jack has been a great pairing.
iPhone 7 Plus —> Apple Lightning Adapter ----> Campfire Audio Solaris: This is my second favourite pairing so far. It seems to allow the Solaris to shine. The bass presence is still there, if not a little pulled back. A song like Yakuza by Alex, Ultraboss really shines when taking on that low-end. Hunter by Björk is another fantastic track with the consistent percussion throughout the whole song. Moving on to something with some guitar, Rise Against’s Like The Angel (Ghost Note Symphonies version). The string plucks are perfect and Solaris’ imaging is absolutely on point here. Instead of staring at @andrew’s mug in the office, it feels like the band is playing in front of me instead. Big fan of the Solaris with the Apple Lightning adapter.
Astell&Kern SP1000M —> Solaris: My favourite pairing so far. The level of detail with this pairing is on another level. Third Eye Blind’s Jumper shines. The little guitar strumming through the first half of the song is loud and clear, percussion is on point. Avicii’s Without You does lose some of the bass oompf that the Lightning adapter and iPhone combo had but not too the extant of the xCAN and the level of detail that replaces it more than makes up for it. This combo is a lot like what I pictured the Solaris to be when it was first announced which was and Andromeda with Atlas bass. Although it’s not quite there, it is almost there.
That’s it for source impressions so far but we did just get a Astell&Kern SR15, FiiO BTR1K, FiiO BTR3 and FiiO M9 in so I am sure I will be playing around with the source gear for the next little while. Nothing better than new gear day!
Just found this thread. Thanks for the great impressions and pairing recommendations. The SPM1000M is a out of reach for me, but the fact they play well straight out of the Macbook Pro or iPhone is very attractive. There is something nice about being able to just plug and go, and keep things simple sometimes!
The A&K SR15 is unreasonably good, also. No, it’s not a mini-SP1000M, but feature-wise it’s 99% on par (minor delta in its native-rate support, but otherwise feature complete).
Put another way … I already had the SP1000M … with flagship IEMs …
And decided I also wanted something with similar functionality (etc.) in a smaller, and most importantly CHEAPER, package, so wound up buying this:
Both have near ideal OI for the CA Solaris and Andromeda …
This is just some afternoon impressions of listening to the Solaris, along with the Andromeda and Vega. I actually have not heard any of these three before, but was able to listen to the Andromeda-S and Atlas from @HeartOfSky, and also previously listened to the Comet and Orion.
I didn’t notice the big effect of output impedance on the Orion as I have so far on the Solaris and Andromeda. I’ve only listened to the Vega in little spurts, as it is a bit bassier than I want – but not as bassy as the Atlas which hits harder but with more detail.
With the Andromeda, I preferred using 2-3 Ohm OI to give it a brighter sound, as with less than 1 Ohm impedance, it was a bit bassy to me. The S model was also bassy, but from recollection more bassy. With the Solaris, I am finding that I like it with lower OI than with 2-3 Ohms. For reference, I am using an IEMatch and EarBuddy to play with OI.
With OI of less than 1, the bass is present and very filling and there’s plenty of sparkle in the upper mids and lower treble – i’d say even more so than the Andromedas. I’ll take some measurements with my new IEC coupler later. With the Ear Buddy and IE Match set at High (2-3 Ohms), the bass tamed too much and the treble brightens a bit, and it becomes somewhat diffuse-field target (to me).
I am finding the Solaris to have just a little bit more depth and width to it than the Andromeda.
In terms of fit, the Solaris’ size is definitely intimidating as mentioned by others. Surprisingly though, it fits very comfortably, and I normally wear small sized tips. It does stick out a bit and looks a little awkward but I actually find them more comfortable, so far, than the Andromedas. I’ll have to see if the bulk and weight bother me in longer listening sessions without swapping back and forth between sets.
I found the fit of the Solaris to be pretty daunting when I was using them the first couple of times. After about a week I could get them to where I wanted and not have any comfort issues. But they are noticeably bulkier and heavier than the Andromeda or something like the Tia Fourte.
I found their “Holographic Presentation” (As Campfire calls it) to be a little off-putting at first but after spending some more time with them i came to really enjoy it.
This was a trap. I really am loving these. Given my experience with ridiculously shaped/sized IEMs (iSine and UM ME1), I must like heavy, crazy IEMs.
The big issue I found was the cable. I have never enjoyed cables with memory wire and the same rings true on these. They caused the Solaris to move and sit in the wrong position with any movement and that immediately causes pain. Since these are loaners, I didn’t want to go to town with the cable, and instead am using another set of balanced 2.5mm cables that do not have any memory wire or memory wrap, and the comfort is much better for me.
I also switched to my custom hybrid tips I made (silicone outside with sliced up foam tips inside) and they really help with the comfort thing. Im getting a new set of my normal foam tips tomorrow so I’ll try those again, as most of foams I have now are either too large or getting worn out from too much use.
I also have a set of random double flange silicone tips that are working really well for comfort. The only problem is my right ear is hurting right now from trying out and failing on so many tips with this. I need to rest them and give one of these “approved” tips a longer session.
Anyway, the “holographic” sound is pretty awesome. I think that’s what I like the most of this IEM. It’s spacious and the bass is plenty (for me) and never feels overly emphasized. The little spike it has in the lower treble is just where I like it, and it emphasizes guitar strings. There’s plenty of upper treble for air and sparkle and really makes this sound quite grand.
(edit: normalized Harman Target to 1Khz)
How’s the channel matching?
I will remeasure tonight. I measured using a new foam and an old foam on each ear and so my results were a little off for matching but will try with fresh tips.