Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020, Solaris 2020, and ARA

Design.

While unboxing experience and selection of accessories was nearly identical between these three, the design of each IEM requires a separate attention which I’m going to cover individually in this section of the review.  But before I begin, there were 2 common features I would like to bring up.

First one is Campfire Audio Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber (T.A.E.C.) which is a patented design of an optimized acoustic resonator assembly machined into the shell.  It actually replaces the traditional tube and dampener system commonly used in many IEMs by adjusting the volume of space in front of the driver.  T.A.E.C. has been used in many previous CFA IEMs.

The new addition in 2020 models is a Solid Body Design which provides optimized acoustic performance by including the tuning chambers directly into the earphone print.  In other words, it is what CFA refers to as a single monolithic boot design with all the drivers inside, including the built-in sound path, which also ensures a much tighter build tolerance.


ARA ($1,299)

cfa-2020-x07

Starting with the new kid on the block, it’s a brand new 7 BA drivers ARA IEM which according to CFA was inspired by a tuning of their special edition Andro Gold and also 10-year anniversary edition MW10 (MixWave) which featured crossover-less design.  As a matter of fact, while having a familiar outline of a signature Andro shell, the spout is elongated, similar to Andro Gold design.

The shell is machined from Grade 2 Titanium billet, with a raw titanium finish, PVD black stainless-steel spout with a new grill design, and black screws.  And of course, you will find their latest beryllium/copper MMCX socket.  The titanium shell, accentuated with black screws and spout, has a rich eye candy look.  It is still lightweight, has a comfortable secure fit, and good isolation.

Inside, you will find a crossover-less driver single boot design which incorporates their new Solid-Body acoustics design.  The split between 7BA drivers is Dual (2x) high frequency BAs (T.A.E.C), Single (1x) mid frequency BA, and Quad (4x) low frequency BAs.  The impedance of ARA is 8.5 ohms with 93 dB sensitivity, but despite its lower sensitivity it did not require to push volume higher or to drive with more powerful source.

Solaris 2020 ($1,499)

cfa-2020-x09

From the “new kid”, we move on to a “total makeover” surprise which is 2020 version of Solaris.  One of the main complaints about OG Solaris was its size which some found to be a bit uncomfortable, asking CFA for custom version of this popular hybrid.  Campfire reply was a new 20% smaller shell which is also 25% lighter in weight (from 8g to 6g).  Also, the new design is less flashy since the gold faceplate is gone.  With an exception of stainless-steel spout, it’s now an all-black shell with a bonus feature of a fingerprint magnet.

The shape of the shell is a perfectly scaled down version of the OG Solaris, featuring a durable black PVD finished body, vented shell (for dynamic driver), and as already mentioned, a stainless-steel short spout with a new grill design.  Of course, the latest beryllium/copper MMCX socket is there as well.

Inside, it features single boot “Solid-Body” acoustic design, and the identical driver config as OG Solaris.  It is still a 4-driver hybrid design with Dual (2x) high frequency BAs (T.A.E.C), Single (1x) mid frequency BA, and the same single 10mm DD for lows with plasma enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition (C.V.D.) Amorphous Diamond Like Carbon (A.D.L.C.) diaphragm.  The impedance of Solaris 2020 is 15.5 ohms with 115 dB sensitivity.

Andromeda 2020 ($1,099)

cfa-2020-x08

Since its first introduction, Andro went through a number of different versions and special editions, everything from v1, v2, v3, white, gold, mw10, and now 2020 version.  Some changes were cosmetic only (going from v1 to v2), others were special limited editions with unique tuning.  But the common Andro iteration remained the same inside of zirconium blasted aluminum shells with a classic emerald green anodizing finish and the latest custom beryllium/copper MMCX socket.

The only exterior change here is the new grill pattern at the end of stainless-steel short spout.  But inside, Andro was updated with a single monolithic boot Solid-Body acoustic design.  The 5-driver config and the crossover are still the same with a Dual (2x) high frequency BAs (T.A.E.C), Single (1x) mid frequency BA, and Dual (2x) low frequency BAs.  The impedance of Andro 2020 is 12.8 ohms with 112.8 dB sensitivity.

Page 3 – Sound analysis of ARA and Solaris 2020.
Page 4 – Sound analysis of Andromeda 2020 and Conclusion with the Final Comparison.

11 thoughts on “Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020, Solaris 2020, and ARA

  1. Thank you for the detail review.
    Is Cayin N6 II with EO1/E02 a good match with the Solaris?
    It seems to have some hiss but might not be too bad.
    Please advise.

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      1. Thank you for your quick response. Would I be able to reduce the hiss by selecting to low gain?
        I am also contemplating to sell the Solaris and get the 64 Audio Trio/Nio to elimniate the hiss issue. But I think the 64 Audio Trio/Nio sound signature is more mid focus. Can you share your thought on this? Thanks again.

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      2. low gain or using E02 with ddhifi DJ30A adapter so you can connect 3.5mm cable to their 4.4mm output (it’s a special custom adapter). High power of balanced 4.4mm (E02) will cause more hissing, but single ended 3.5mm mode will have less power and less hissing (like in E01)… Neither Trio not Nio are mid-forward (mid-forward usually has neutral bass and more forward upper mids/lower treble), Trio is more u-shaped (lifted bass and treble), Nio could vary as you go through different modules, from balanced to more L-shaped (it packs quite a bass punch when using M20 module).

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  2. Thanks so much for the info for Cayin N6 II, 64 Audio Neo, and Solaris. This is so helpful!

    Are there any other IEMs which have sound signature ( I believe is V -shaped) similar to Solaris but with not as sensitivities and no subject to hiss. Ideal it would be great around $1k-$1.5k max.

    I have a AK 70 Mark II and want to update the DAP as well. Don’t sure that I want to get a SR25 as I don’t think the sound signature is much better than my AK70 II. So I think of updating to the Cayin N6ll or Shanglin M6 Pro but I hear the sound is very dry from other online reviewers.

    I enjoy reading your review quite often but just don’t have a BIG wallet as others. Thanks 🙂

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    1. SR15 was a replacement of ak70mkII. And SR25 is a noticeable improvement over SR15 (read my SR25 review). Love SR25. But if you want to save money, ibasso dx160 is great as well.

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  3. Super stuff, as ever. I asked this on the Head-Fi thread but wonder if you can clarify – does the Ara sound signature resemble a full size headphone you can think. I get the shape of the Solaris, which is appealing. The sense I’m getting of the Ara is that it has tonal overlaps with the Eikon and maybe the HD650? Is that accurate? Thanks!

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    1. I’m the wrong person to ask about full size cans, as you can see, 99% of my reviews are IEMs. Not too familiar with HD headphones. Considering neutral bass of ARA, maybe some of the higher end Audio Technica headphones where there is less emphasis on bass and more on upper mids/treble?

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      1. Ok, well that would suit me as I’m a big fan of the latest high-end AT stuff. Thanks in any case, I’ll ask around.

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  4. Hey there Twister between campfire andromeda 2020, meze rai penta and final audio a8000 which one do you prefer and what can you say are the biggest differences between the three.

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    1. for my own personal taste, Andro ’20 and Rai Penta are better. Sorry, overwhelmed with too much stuff now to write a more detailed comparison, perhaps you can extrapolate it from my corresponding reviews. But the big difference is that A8k is very bright, analytical, and vivid, while other two are more natural and smoother.

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