I’ve been following Campfire Audio since the beginning and like so many others, I’ve grown very fond of their designs and tuning. However, there is a stigma in this hobby where people tend to gravitate towards the extremities of a product line, focussing on either the affordable Orion or the exquisite but cost prohibitive Andromeda. And while these models have received no shortage of acclaim, Campfire’s midrange offerings are far less popular, there is barely a mention of the Nova and even the Jupiter only receives the occasional nod every now and then. The dual hybrid driver Polaris thus serves as a pertinent statement, replacing the Nova as Campfire’s midrange in-ear. With an RRP of $599 USD, Ken designed the Polaris to be the most accessible earphone with the highest price/performance ratio in his entire line-up. Furthermore, the earphones feature Campfire’s signature build quality and excellent Litz cable, their fun sound signature a progression of everything Campfire has learnt over past years. Featuring the tried and tested T.A.E.C combined with a cutting edge dynamic driver chamber, let’s see how Campfire’s latest earphone performs!
I would like to thank JD from Campfire Audio very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the Polaris for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
The Polaris is packaged similarly to the rest of Campfire’s earphones in a small and simple but very distinctive box. Inside is one of Campfire’s signature zippered carry cases which are easily the nicest I’ve come across, the Polaris comes with the same style of case as the Vega and Dorado.
It’s an authentic black leather case with faux shearling interior that prevents the metal housings from scratching or chipping each other during transit. Just below are the other accessories, 3 sizes of authentic Spinfits, three pairs of memory foam tips and 3 pairs of regular silicone tips.
Since the Polaris has a revised nozzle from the other Campfire earphones, I preferred to use Comply T400’s, green stemmed Penonaudio tips and Dunu silicone tips since I wasn’t able to achieve a solid seal with the included tips. Spinfits also provided an agreeable experience though the earphones sat a bit laterally in my ear, producing some instability during daily use. Campfire also provide a pin with the company logo which is a nice little addition.
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how this compare to the sennheiser ie 80s?
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.
Would be nice with a comparison between Polaris and Dorado. Especially regarding SQ, sound stage and how they handle poor recordings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 $499. Would be interested to see a review of the Lyra IIs on the headphone list.
How compared with Noble Sage??
I can see what people are saying about the lower midrange on these earphones, they are definitely more temperamental than a lot of other earphones but I found they were more natural than not. I suppose it depends on your music preferences and source synergy, the stock ear tips also suck a lot.
Thanks for the thorough review, i wanted to like the Polaris but what it does to certain male vocals, how it adds a thin, shouts telephonic to them is imho unacceptable for any iems over, say, 100$. But that’s just me.
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,
Have you ever heard the Sony Z5? Able to compare the hybrid sound between that and this?