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.
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)
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)
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.