Campfire Polaris Review – Creature of Coherence

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Verdict –

The Polaris might be a polarising model for some critics but will find a comfortable home with many listeners. It isn’t the most technically profound earphone around this price nor is it particularly neutral or balanced however, that was not Ken’s intention when designing the Polaris. Instead, what Campfire provide is an incredibly enjoyable, engaging and simply fun listen with their latest hybrid. The Polaris is a big statement towards other manufacturers, it is an incredibly well-considered take on the immensely popular V-shaped tonality that retains plenty of versatility. In addition, their focus on tonal excellence over pure technicality does indeed make them a great choice for those that prefer to drive their in-ears from a smartphone or other portable source. And as always, Campfire’s build quality doesn’t fail to impress and though their two tone look won’t be as universally pleasing as prior models, few will have issue with their finely sculpted sound.

Verdict – 8.5/10, The Polaris is a beast of coherence and tonal fineness. They are exceptionally well integrated for a hybrid and will be sure to put a smile on your face whether driven from a $1000 DAP or streaming Spotify from a smartphone.

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About Author

Avid writer, passionate photographer and full-time student, Ryan's audio origins and enduring interests lie within all aspects of portable audio. An ongoing desire to bring quality audio to the regular reader underpins his reviewer ethos as he seeks to bring a new perspective on the cutting edge and budget dredge alike.

14 Comments

  1. Magnus on

    Would be nice with a comparison between Polaris and Dorado. Especially regarding SQ, sound stage and how they handle poor recordings.

    • Ryan Soo on

      Hi Magnus,

      I did briefly have the Dorado in the past but can only compare from memory, I have the Lyra II at the moment and will be sure to provide plenty of comparison in my full review. The Dorado is older but pursues a similar style of tuning at a higher level of performance. Its bass is just as full but more depth focused and very controlled. Mids don’t have the same issue as the Polaris, they are more linear and natural overall but also lack the clarity of the Polaris. Treble extends considerably further on the Dorado, the soundstage is larger and imaging is more accurate. I don’t think either are super forgiving of low-quality file types given their more resolving nature however, the Polaris may sound better for poorly mastered albums due to its clearer sound, the Dorado is more resolving yet but also quite thick.

  2. Clarence on

    Hey Ryan, I know that this question is not related to the review, but what IEM would you recommend for at most $50 with preferably a warm sound signature with the LEAST sound isolation? I want to walk in the streets with these IEMs and low sound isolation is important for safety for incoming vehicles. I know that I could go the earphone route, but I would prefer in-ears if possible. Thanks!

    • Ryan Soo on

      Hi Clarence,

      No worries, I’ve been really enjoying the Final E3000, it’s semi-open so isolation is mediocre at best but they have a very nice warm sound with a lot of detail and range for their price, I’ll have my full review up in a few days. The EX1 2nd Gen is also a solid semi-open option but it has a thinner sound that may not work so well for your tastes. If you have any other questions, feel free to send me a PM on Head-fi, my user is ryanjsoo.

      Cheers,
      Ryan.

  3. Rich on

    Nice review Ryan. Have you ever tried CA’s other mid-priced offering the Lyra II? If so how does the Polaris compare? I own the Lyra IIs and love them. Great all day comfort and relaxed sound with strong dynamic driver bass. Can listen to them all day with no fatigue. Like the Polaris, the Lyra IIs aren’t turned for analytical listeners but tuned for folks like me who just want to pop in the earphones and enjoy their music. Also similar to the Polaris they scale well and sound good from portable sources but really sing when used with my Erzetich desktop headphone amp or my Aurender Flow. The Lyra IIs may also be one of the best values out there as well as I have seen them on Massdrop for $499. Would be interested to see a review of the Lyra IIs on the headphone list.

    • Ryan Soo on

      Hi Rich,

      Thanks for your comments, I have tried the Lyra II but I can’t provide direct comparison, only some comments from memory. They have a similar low-end, perhaps the Lyra II has a bit more depth but decay is slower. The Polaris has more midrange clarity and is more detailed with a little more lower treble aggression where the Lyra II is smoother. The Lyra II will fit a lot better for those with smaller ears and has no wind noise issues. I think they’re in the same ballpark tonality wise with the Polaris being the more engaging counterpart.

      • Rich on

        Thanks for your comments Ryan. Based on what you said i would consider the Polaris more of a sidegrade to the Lyra IIs vs an upgrade whereas the Vegas would be an upgrade. Have you tried the Beyerdynamic Xelento Remote? Would be interested to see a review of them.

        • Ryan Soo on

          No problem Rich, I would very much like a review of the Xelento’s too but haven’t been able to contact Beyer! I have tried them and along with the Vega, I do think they perform at a higher level than the Polaris and Lyra II overall but whether they will be tonally suitable for you is another question entirely. You are right in that the Polaris isn’t really an upgrade to the Lyra II, it’s rather another similarly priced option with different tuning. I will be sure to pester Beyer more in the future, hopefully, I’ll be to make more concrete comparison then.

          • Rich on

            At some point would be interesting to see a universal single dynamic driver IEM shootout. Even though the trend is to how many BA drivers you can cram in one earpiece, it seems as though single dynamic driver IEMs are making a comeback proving it is the implementation and tuning of the driver rather than number of drivers that determines audio quality. Would like to know how the Vega, Lyra II, IE800, Dita Answer Truth & Dream and other higher end models etc compare to one another.

  4. Juan luis on

    How compared with Noble Sage??

  5. CL on

    Thanks for the thorough review, i wanted to like the Polaris but what it does to certain male vocals, how it adds a thin, shouts telephonic to them is imho unacceptable for any iems over, say, 100$. But that’s just me.

    • Ryan Soo on

      I can see what people are saying about the lower midrange on these earphones, they are definitely more temperamental than a lot of other earphones but I found they were more natural than not. I suppose it depends on your music preferences and source synergy, the stock ear tips also suck a lot.

  6. John Lee on

    Have you ever heard the Sony Z5? Able to compare the hybrid sound between that and this?
    Thanks!

    • Ryan Soo on

      Sorry John,
      Haven’t had a chance to hear Sony’s in-ears since the XBA earphones since they aren’t available in my region. They do certainly look interesting, I’ll see if I can organize a review in the future,
      Ryan.

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