Campfire Dorado ($999) versus Campfire Vega ($1299)
While both the Dorado and Vega are cut from the same cloth, they share defining differences. Both share an excellent bass, north from neutral and delicious on impact. Similar to Andromeda, both are full-sounding units, with a nice bit of sparkle on top.
Vega however has slightly more upper bass emphasis. Dorado’s midrange is inherently warm, and has a more natural tone compared to Vega’s slightly brighter tone. Vega’s midrange, and especially upper midrange, is more transparent, with overall greater midrange resolution. This results in Dorado sounding slightly smoother and more forgiving, while Vega sounds clearer with better individual note articulation. Vega has a slightly more lifted treble response. This gives notes a sharper attack; guitars have more bite, and vocals have more clarity. Due to Vega’s deeper stage, it has an advantage in layering and accordingly separation.
Campfire Andromeda ($1099) versus Campfire Vega ($1299)
Moving on to the Campfire’s former sole flagship, the Andromeda. Similarly, the two share a distinct Campfire house sound, with a different tuning and stage positioning. Both are engaging and full-sounding monitors. Andromeda has a slightly wider stage, while Vega’s is deeper. This results in a more forward vocal positioning of Andromeda, and central positioning in Vega. Similar to Dorado, Andromeda has good separation based on its width, while Vega has a more effective layering.
Vega has overall more bass impact, with more sub-bass impact as well as enhanced upper bass. Nevertheless, Andromeda has a very nice mid-bass presence and tone. Andromeda has more lower and centre midrange emphasis. This results in slightly warmer and smoother vocals, while Vega has more vocal clarity. This gives Andromeda a more emotional vocal recreation for especially male vocals, while female vocals might sound sweeter on Vega. In addition, Vega has a more transparent upper midrange, with acoustic guitars and string instruments sounding clearer. Finally, Andromeda’s treble is thicker, while Vega’s has better definition.
Campfire Dorado ($999) versus Fidue Sirius ($899)
Two hybrid designs that nicely match each other in price and performance, with the Sirius leaning towards a midcentric signature and the Dorado a full-sounding V-shape. Both share a classic wide stage with good height, and similar depth. Overall, the Sirius has a more neutral presentation with an emphasis on the midrange.
Dorado has more bass quantity with a greater impact. Due to an enhanced mid-bass and fuller lower midrange, it creates thicker notes and has a fuller sound. The Sirius has more emphasis on the upper midrange; it is more pronounced and slightly brighter, while Dorado’s is thicker. Both share a similar treble presentation that is neither particularly enhanced or laidback. Due to Sirius’ leaner notes, it has a slight advantage in separation, while both share similar resolution.
Campfire Dorado ($999) versus Custom Art 8.2 (€1100)
Moving on to a multi-BA design, the Dorado meets Custom Art’s recently revised flagship. The 8.2 is has a warm and smooth midcentric signature, with Dorado having more lower as well as upper end emphasis. Both share a very similar rectangular stage.
Despite being powered by BA’s, the 8.2’s bass performs somewhere in between a BA and dynamic driver due to an enhanced mid-bass response which gives it a warmer atmosphere. It also gives it a slightly more natural decay than the common tight BA bass. The Dorado shares a similar mid-bass quantity, but adds more sub-bass impact. Overall, Dorado’s bass carries more weight. The 8.2’s midrange has similar size, but is warmer with a relatively more uncolored upper midrange. Dorado’s midrange has a slightly more clearer sound, with more treble emphasis compared to the laidback 8.2.
Campfire Vega ($1299) versus Rhapsodio Galaxy V2 ($1350)
High end dynamic drivers are still a rarity, so I’m glad I have at least one to compare with. But besides sharing a single dynamic driver design, the Galaxy and Vega have very little in common when it comes to sound. The two embody very different tuning philosophies, with Campfire traditionally focusing on a full and engaging signature, and the Galaxy on an uncolored and highly resolving sound. That being said, while the Galaxy is fairly linear it can’t be considered neutral either due to a 5 KHz peak that gives it a brighter than neutral tonality.
The Galaxy has a neutral bass with excellent sub-bass extension. It is tight, controlled, and therefore relatively fast for a dynamic driver. Vega’s bass carries significantly more weight, and has a more prominent role in the signature. Vega has a forward and full-bodied midrange. The Galaxy on the other hand has a more distant midrange, with overall leaner notes. While the Galaxy has a brighter than neutral signature, its midrange is relatively uncolored. Vega in turn has thicker notes, but also more prominent treble. Both have above average treble extension. Galaxy has a more apparent detail, but combines this with a leaner midrange. Vega in turn can be considered more engaging due to a fuller sound, combined with excellent clarity. The Galaxy has good separation due to the combination of a wide stage with lean notes. Despite the fuller sound, Vega equally has good separation, instead relying on its taller and especially deeper stage.
Campfire Vega ($1299) versus Perfect Seal Deca ($1450)
Perfect Seal tuned to their recent flagship to sound as natural as possible according to the diffuse field philosophy, and came very close in their attempt. Though somewhat light in bass, it has a natural sound and fairly accurate tonality. Vega on the other hand has a good deal more power, with an engaging signature due its forward presentation and high level of clarity.
While the Deca has good sub-bass extension, it falls slightly behind the iem average in overall impact. Vega has more bass impact, with more mid- and upper-bass emphasis. Accordingly, Vega has a fuller and more forward sound. Deca has a more distant lower midrange, and creates overall leaner notes. Its center midrange is relatively uncolored, with a slight upper midrange emphasis. This is where Deca shines, combining a natural sound with an accurate instrument timbre. Vega’s midrange in turn is slightly brighter and fuller, while also having more treble emphasis. Finally, both share a similar stage in width, while Vega’s is deeper. Both perform similarly in separation, while Vega’s imaging is more precise.
Campfire Vega ($1299) versus EarSonics S-EM9 ($1490)
The S-EM9 and Vega are two very different sounding monitors, mainly because Vega can be characterized as an engaging and full-sounding unit, while S-EM9 can be considered more delicate and refined. While the S-EM9 has a very nice bass that has a faint resemblance of a dynamic driver due to its warmth and weight, Vega has more sub-bass quantity as well as enhanced upper bass. The S-EM9 has a bump in the center midrange, surrounded by a dip in the upper bass as well as upper midrange. This gives it a nice vocal presentation, slightly warm and forward, but leaner and more delicate instrument notes resulting in a cleaner stage. Vega in turn creates thicker notes, and has a more forward instrument presentation due to the enhanced upper bass and upper midrange. The S-EM9’s treble is only slightly enhanced, while Vega’s is a bit brighter.
Both have similar resolution, and perform on a high level concerning imaging. When it comes to separation, both are very good in different ways. Vega has an overall larger stage, with more depth. Because of its stage dimensions, the thicker notes are clearly separated. The S-EM9’s stage might be slightly smaller, the separation is very clean and effortless due to the leaner midrange notes.
Nobody is going to accuse the Campfire for offering the most neutral or accurate iems. But the modern audiophile doesn’t exclusively listen to classical or jazz. With the Andromeda, Ken seemed to have cracked a code for what simply sounds good – and that at an affordable price. An iem that works well for a wide variety of genres, with to a signature that brings music to life. Lively bass, a full midrange and a nice bit of sparkle on top. With his two new offerings, Ken has continued in that direction, making tweaks in a proven recipe to offer more variation to his audience.
The following question would logically be which of these I prefer. My guess is, a lot of people will automatically go for Vega because of its unofficial flagship status, unaware that Dorado might suit them better. Campfire has stated all three models as co-flagships, and I tend to agree with that. While all three share an unmistakable Campfire house sound, there are variations that will make each model slightly more appealing to a distinct group. Dorado has the unencumbered ‘fun’ signature. Even though Vega has an edge when it comes to resolution and separation, Dorado combines a smooth sound with an exciting signature. The Dorado invites to listen bass-heavy dance or pop music, and I’ll put it on to unwind and forget about serious listening for a while. Vega on the other hand has a unique signature, combining a full sound with high definition and clarity. Best served with some nice guitars.
However, at this price point you really can’t go wrong if you’re looking in this direction. Andromeda was really a no-brainer for me when asked for a recommendation around the $1000 mark. Campfire has complicated this a bit by adding two more similarly priced models, so take some time to check which of the three might suit you best. Each model has their own advantage, but they all have one thing in common – excellent performance, at a more than competitive price.