INTRODUCTION:

Campfire Audio, nothing else needed in this introduction. It’s a brand that explains itself.

Andromeda, Solaris, Ara run the show for Campfire but they have had another upper mid range hybrid IEM priced at $1099, yes, exactly same as the Andromeda. It has a more comfortable ceramic shell and a brass nozzle with PVD finishing on it. It only has one color option, black.

Now to the point, our focus here is the Dorado 2020, a simple hybrid IEM. The OG Dorado had an 8.5mm beryllium pvd DD paired with dual BA drivers, I never got a chance to try that beauty but now I have the evolved 2020 version. It has a single A.D.L.C. dynamic driver (with neodymium rare earth magnet) paired with custom BA driver.

In their words:

Greater than the sum of its parts.

A single balanced armature augments our custom-tuned 10mm A.D.L.C. diaphragm dynamic driver.  Leaving the sparkling highs to the B.A., this dynamic driver is afforded the space to dig in a bit deeper, reach a bit lower, and deliver rich and satisfying bass.  Its vocal delivery is precise and pronounced.  Dorado 2020 is very much a hybrid high fidelity earphone.

I will compare it with Shozy Blackhole and Thieaudio Monarch.

Get one for yourself from these links:

P.S. I would like to thank Ken (KB) for the review unit.

ACCESSORIES:

I have received a handful of Campfire audio IEMs and all the IEMs have exactly same set of accessories. The only differences are their packaging color and the color of the carry case. This time around the carry case is shiny orange in color. I don’t like the outer material of this case, it’s wrinkly and doesn’t feel as premium. I like the way these IEMs maintain eco friendly packaging with only paper and cardboard usage. No unnecessary use of material.

The first thing greeting us is the carry pouch, the IEMs and the cable is placed inside it, while the earpieces are placed in tips organizers. Sets of Final Audio tips, wide bore tips and bullets foam tips are placed in a paper box placed over the pouch. A Campfire Audio badge and a cleaning tool can be found in the same paper box. These tips organizers are really handy if you like to travel with your tips.

HOW IS THE CABLE:

I always prefer good quality cables with any IEM priced over $100. Dorado 2020 has the same litz build as the cheaper IEMs and is exactly what the ARA and Andromeda ship with. I like this 4 core SPC cable with beryllium copper MMCX connectors. The cores have a layer of clear coat on them to protect it from minor scratches. It is not flashy or as premium looking as the DUNU Zen cable but it compliments these IEMs both aesthetically and sonically.

Build quality of this cable is very good. It is one of the more supple cables with a low profile. It barely has any microphonics. Cable guides too are supple and comfortable. 3.5mm jack has some stress reliever but it is missing at the Y-splitter. There is a cable slider to keep things tidy.

All in all it is a reasonable cable at this price.

BUILD QUALITY AND ERGONOMICS:

Unique it must sound but Dorado 2020 has a black ceramic shell and this adds to the feel of the earpieces. The brass nozzle with grey PVD finish is an excellent choice, giving the earpieces a very premium feel and look. Yes, these materials have high density and the earpieces are not light weight. It is heavier than the Solaris 2020. There is single vent on the back plate for the DD to breathe. The off body MMCX port gives it a unique look.

The Dorado 2020 is a bit unique when it comes to conventional shapes of IEMs. It doesn’t have a very ergonomically designed shell but the smaller size with a barrel shaped shell makes it a very comfortable IEM inside the ear. The longer than usual nozzle helps a lot with fitting comfort and stability. This nozzle can fit T200 and T400 sized tips without much problem. The rounded barrel design has no uncomfortable sides what so ever.

PAIRING WITH SOURCES:

Dorado 2020 has an impedance of just 10ohm and 94db of sensitivity at 1k which is fairly low for an IEM but strangely it easily gets loud. Don’t even need to dial the volume past 50% on my MI Note 10 pro to attain a fairly loud volume.

And guess what, it doesn’t need heavy stuff to sound better. This is another beautiful thing about this IEM. Put it through a decent mobile phone or a 4.8W dac/amp it doesn’t show exponential improvements. Yes the Micro Signature brings out the best out of it by expanding the stage, giving it a deeper and wider space which improves it’s sonicality. But the difference is not huge and if you don’t have a Micro Signature, you don’t need to bother. Use what you have the Dorado 2020 won’t complain. But to gain dynamics do use atleast a decent DAC/amp like Earmen Sparrow.

Sound quality, comparisons, pairing with sources and conclusion on next page.

SOUND QUALITY:

What makes a IEM good. We usually look for drivers. More the drivers the better validation it gets in any given price point but the Dorado 2020 is a contradiction to this mindset. It simply is not a IEM that gives up anything for anything else. In my mind this is what an IEM should sound and feel like. Dorado 2020 has rumbly yet dynamic bass, clean and clear mid range and impressive treble. It has an excellent balance of warmth and brightness. Dorado is so adaptive that it can sound mid forward, bassy or treble minded depending upon the demand of the song.

In their words:

“One balanced armature and one dynamic driver. No cross-over, no complications.  We’ve found these distilled pairings reproduce sound more faithfully, with improved resolution and better cohesion than those with over-complicated cross-over schemes.”

I am using a clear wide bore tip (similar to the stock wide bore) and Micro Signature for this review.

BASS:

The 10mm A.D.L.C. dynamic driver inside Dorado 2020 is pure magic. The dynamic abilities of this driver are simply supreme. It doesn’t try to hold back like the Solaris 2020. It has the control and balance which demands admiration. Its resolution and definition is a notch above the Monarch and Dunu Zen.

This sub-bass is simply some of the best, as good as the Solaris 2020 and slightly less voluminous than the Thieaudio Monarch. Did I forgot to mention that it has excellent sub-bass extension? The mid bass is in line with the sub-bass and deliver excellent feel to the lower end. The full and meatiness of notes are very enjoyable and the quality is 2nd to none. The texture and accuracy doesn’t leave a lot to be desired either. The only problem a critical listener can complain about is its decay speed, it is decent but is on the slower side, proving a much deeper and weighty impact which can feel a bit on the boomier side. Note’s impacts are soft, softer than Shozy Blackhole and DUNU Zen giving it a more pleasing feel. The upper bass has slightly smaller body and energy than the mid bass and nicely blends into the lower mids.

MIDS:

I love the fact that Campfire decided to let the DD handle both the bass and mid ranges. It shows how much faith the brand has on this driver. This totally eliminates any disparity in the lower mids. It is as good as any subsequent regions. Lower mid instruments have excellent energy and transparency. Whatever the driver is, tuning is the key and Campfire has nailed it. These notes are not unnaturally fast or slow and have a pleasing timber and a very cohesive tonality. Notes have accurate body too. They do not feel thin or thick, neither lack height. The accuracy and precision is not behind what BA based IEMs deliver as the Dorado 2020 maintains excellent edge and finishing definition.

Let it be male of female vocals, they are very accurate here. Most of the time we have to compromise with one of the gender, and male vocals lack the accuracy with thickness or body in majority of cases. Dorado has equally impressive male and female vocals which have excellent throatiness with right amount of finishing sharpness. Both have some of the best texture and the extra bit of details between the notes is delivered effortlessly. Instruments too are exceptionally good, I do feel that some instruments lack slightly less emphasis than others but that’s not unusual and all have very good transparency. It does have slight bit of lack in notes height in the upper mid region but that too doesn’t lack details or energy. All in all Dorado 2020 has an excellent mid range even for around $1000.

HIGHS:

This is where the game changes. The DD seizes its operation and the BA driver takes over and things get a bit less even. It effortlessly maintains excellent sparkle without getting remotely uncomfortable while delivering equally impressive finishing definition and details. But it’s not all rosy here. There is a bit of unevenness when it comes to emphasis. Even instruments adjacent to each other they don’t have similar energy which can be a small chink in Dorado 2020’s excellence.

It just simply does not let any note get uncomfortable while delivering a very accurate note’s body. They too have a very crisp and excellent contrast between fore and background instruments. Note’s do not lack with height either which gives it a fuller feel. This BA driver has excellent treble extension too. There is very good amount of air and separation along with layering.

STAGE AND IMAGING:

Dorado 2020 has a very good stage. It has one of the tallest stage and the Z-axis depth is excellent too. The only problem is with X-axis width which is not very good. It nearly gives it a more closed in feel but can’t be labeled as intimate though. I really like the imaging which is clean and very accurate. Instruments have excellent density but the sonicality is slightly less capable as the stage is not very flexible and does restrict it from making dynamic cue placements. Layering and separation is excellent.

PAIRING WITH CABLES:

ISN SC4:

This is a very similar cable with 4 cores and hybrid of silver and copper strands inside.

This cable adds a bit more X-axis width while making the stage a bit less tall, making it more rounded. The lower end is tighter now with slightly less air and smaller body. Level of details and texture are similar but not as defined. Mids are a bit in the V while vocals are not as wholesome. The timber and tonality are slightly more attacking and less organic respectively. I definitely can tell the lack of treble energy here bit that can be a positive and negative depending upon preferences. Notes do not feel as natural or cohesive but definitely are a bit more analytical and tighter.

This is not an upgrade cable but is a more serious and analytical one.

EFFECT AUDIO ARES II+:

Ares II has to be one of the best copper Cables under $300 and it makes the stock cable sound agitated and a bit horrid.

This does induce a bit of W shaped sound and has a much bigger stage with slightly better air between instruments. Lower end is tighter without sacrificing texture or details. The slight bits of unevenness with the upper mid and treble notes are taken care of. The treble is similarly sparkly but has slightly fuller and weightier notes which again is a good or bad thing depending upon preferences.

Is this an upgrade? Yes, bigger stage, better linearity and tighter bass is good enough to make an upgrade especially when it doesn’t introduce any abnormalities.

LABKABLE PEGASI:

This particular pairing is like steroids to the Dorado 2020. The SPC nature really matches the needs of the Dorado and takes the IEM to another level. Even the details and clarity are improved. Stock cable is very clear but this is even more vivid. Even the micro details are exceptionally good with added texture. The whole spectrum get a bit more neutralish sacrificing some warmth and fun feeling.

The lower end is similarly fuller but tighter with more texture. The best thing is the mid range. It now has some of the best texture, as good as the Solaris and the amount of details is not inferior either. Treble is another win, it’s much more even with improved details and contrast.

The biggest improvement is the stage, it now has 80% more X-axis width giving it a more holographic feel.

Pegasi is a proper upgrade cable for any IEM. Highly recommended.

COMPARISONS:

VS SHOZY BLACKHOLE:

The Blackhole is a single DD IEM with some of the best details. It simply has the technical superiority even over the VE8 but it loses points when it comes down to musicality or cohesive factor. The bass is not rumbly or full, the decay is a bit too immediate and much like a BA based IEM. The mid range even when has exceptional transparency is slightly in the V. The treble is equally impressive with excellent instrument placement and layering. But the stage size is not very impressive and the tonality is slightly metallic.

And the elephant in the room is, it has no isolation whatsoever.

VS THIEAUDIO MONARCH:

Monarch has a lot of drivers but is still in the V while the bass is one of the heaviest I have ever experienced and it is not as dynamically capable as the Dorado 2020. The mid range lacks notes height and some body. Vocals are good but the Dorado is simply superior. The tonality here is less natural and even some instruments sound a bit suppressed. It does have an upper mid emphasis which helps it emulate a more detailed output while Dorado 2020 has nothing like that. It is much more balanced. The treble of the Monarch is a bit shaper and closer to reality but that gets tiring lot faster while the Dorado dials the aggression a bit down without lacking anything while being exceptionally comfortable.

Dorado has much bigger stage than the Monarch.

It’s not hard to pick, Monarch barely holds its own against the EST112 leave the much superior Dorado 2020 alone.

CONCLUSION:

You know what, I can write the whole review in this conclusion. Super impressed. It sounds and looks cool yet elegant.

Dorado 2020 feels like a proper evolution of how a Hybrid IEM should sound. I don’t think any other IEM has this balance as good as the Dorado 2020. When we buy an IEM we want good bass (don’t kid yourself, everyone enjoys a good thumpy lower end), clear and non suppressed mid range with a very transparent treble which doesn’t dial down the upper treble energy to make things sound smoother. Dorado has all of these things. It is a proper evolution. It ticks all the boxes and doesn’t have any obvious flaws unless you try to look things in an absolutely analytical way. And even then the only down side is lack of extra attack, sllhtly bit of wobble at the treble region and stage width. If I don’t think about these minor flaws, this is the IEM to buy. 

It can do everything. It has the ability to fit any kind of music. Its tonality is excellent so is its timber. When it comes to sound, the Dorado 2020 has nailed it. It doesn’t lack the finish or elegant poise either. It is not the king of Campfire Audio lineup but it doesn’t sound like anything less than that.

If you are confused about which IEM to pick for around $1000, take the Dorado 2020. It simply is the complete IEM we all want. It doesn’t have any discomfort either and is more comfortable than the Metal shell counter parts from CFA like ARA and Andromeda.

When I put this IEM in my ears I try to find flaws and I barely see any, it just captivates my imagination, it involves me in the music, it just simply is one of the most cohesive IEM I have ever used along with the VE8. I am impressed by the “Dorado 2020” is the biggest understatement of my reviewing career. It is one of the most satisfying IEM (from every aspect) I have ever used around $1200 along with the Ara, Nocturnal Eden and Shozy Pola39.