Campfire Audio Solaris - raising the bar?

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by mscott58, Oct 10, 2018.

  1. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    Bigger threads like these could use some indexing in the OP of valued member's reviews/impressions/insights!

    @purr1n @mscott58
     
  2. purr1n

    purr1n On vacation

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  3. mscott58

    mscott58 Friend

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    @OJneg - Per your suggestion I've added a bit of a TOC to the OP (and included La Cenric's feelings as well). Let me know if you want me to make any additions/edits. Cheers
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
  4. Rockwell

    Rockwell Friend

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    I received a Cayin N6ii in the mail yesterday...first impressions are very positive. The DAP has a very organic and slightly warm tint that brings out all the best in Solaris. Separation, imaging and holography are all improved. On many tracks my ZX300 seems almost veiled and lifeless in comparison. I never really understood what the terms "emotional" and "musical" with respect to sound signatures really meant until I heard the Solaris through the N6ii. I listened to a high res version of "Horse With No Name" and it almost brought me to tears. Suffice to say I'm very impressed so far.
     
  5. Rockwell

    Rockwell Friend

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    Officially a week in and the Cayin N6ii absolutely rocks as a source for the Solaris. I'm not sure if it's Cayin's tuning or that the Solaris responds well to extra power but everything has improved-- staging, dynamics, separation. It almost feels as though the low end has been tastefully and subtly lifted-- any thoughts that Solaris might be weak in the bass department vanish completely with the N6ii. It's as though before, with the ZX300, there was a thin plastic sheen over the sound but now that is gone and everything feels a lot more intimate. Highly recommended.
     
  6. Aeron

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    Good to hear, I might have to sell my Khan and buy a Cayin!
     
  7. Rockwell

    Rockwell Friend

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    Possible stupid question, but do you mean Kahn the IEM or Kann the player?
     
  8. mscott58

    mscott58 Friend

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    Maybe he meant this Khan?

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Aeron

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    Whoops, while I find the great, evil Khan more interesting, I was talking about my Kann. Though I’m pissed at A&K, refusing to add Quboz and Deezer to a one year old $1,500 device is criminal neglect. There could be an N6ii in my future.
     
  10. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    These words are late in coming, but given that there are already a ton of great reviews and impressions about the Campfire Audio Solaris IEM any contributions herein are really confirmation echoes of commentary by others such as @seamon and @purr1n .
    awaiting to see if @shotgunshane will have more advanced commentary on Solaris one day.

    Source: MacBook pro with Audirvana and various ALAC and FLAC files
    DAC/Amps were: Woo Audio WA8 Eclipse, LH GO2APro Infinity, iFi xDSD.
    (notice a battery powered theme there?)
    Comparison IEMs: CA Andromeda

    have never lusted or owned uber TOTL IEMs, always been happy with Andromeda especially with IEMatch providing the right OI and with WA8 at work desk the pair makes a superb setup. There’s more Andro magic than just with the ZX2.

    Enter Solaris. (SBAF loaner program for the win)
    Holy F. different ball game without question!
    the Solaris sound was like going from great closed headphones to even better open headphones- everything just went bigger compared to Andro.

    Bass has balls! not big round lazy fuzzy low hangers. but energy and tightness without dipping into the mids.
    Layering in spades showed supreme presentation that never became muddled or constricted during busy passages.
    Head stage has exemplary width and that “look over your shoulder” surprise aspect when hearing something in the background, something not frequently noticed with Andromeda.
    Vocals didn’t seem too forward (a pet peeve) and contained body, not breathiness.

    Things learned:
    tips and depth matter for real, as others have stated.
    while loving the Solaris sound, took me a LONG while to find the proper depth and angle for comfort, finally settling with the SUPERB Sony Triple Comfort tips, purchased from Japan via eBay.

    Yet even with Triple Comfort tips, issues after 1+ hour of listening caused physical ear fatigue, usually in the form of canal pressure.
    Unfortunately, if the shoe doesn’t fit (well) and can’t wear it long term, then Andromeda remains my high end IEM, with a slight loss of Andro lust knowing that something does sound appreciably better.

    if Solaris ever becomes a CIEM will race to get current molds and pony up the cash, because they are worth the coin. Prior to hearing Solaris and reading about over rated 10 or 12 driver IEMs made from red stone plus moon rocks selling for $2000+ no way would I have any desire to drop much $ into IEMs. Yet Solaris delivers the wow factor at a fair price in an industry hell bent on highway robbery.

    @KenBall hit a home run with Solaris from a sonics perspective that keeps me on alert for all upcoming advances from Campfire Audio.
     
  11. Rockwell

    Rockwell Friend

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    Great impressions. I agree with everything, especially Solaris being a big step up from Andro (and Atlas for that matter). Also:

    The bass of Solaris is one of its greatest strengths imho. I would encourage anyone who (like me) was almost put off Solaris by reading complaints of it having weak bass to try it for yourself-- you may (again, like me) be pleasantly surprised. The bass has authority and power but doesn't overwhelm-- instead contributing to an overall very balanced sound signature. Fit and seal are hugely important though, so don't give up until you get it right.
     
  12. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    ^Impressions I wrote were with Klipsch HP-3 in mind as a baseline— as much as the treble of the Solaris was a bit much for me with certain tips, the bass quality more than made up for it. I'd actually compare it to the TH900 (more to my preference in the bass than HP-3 in balance, cleanliness, and texture), God-almighty low rumble that doesn't eat into the midrange, not bloated. Just based on subjectives I'm tempted to say that there might be a bit of an upper-bass or lower-mid dip similar to the Fostexes, but if there is one it is extremely subtle*.

    People are saying the Solaris has weak bass? WTF.

    *Edit: just now looked up squiggles. Hah, called it!
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
  13. AdvanTech

    AdvanTech Friend

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    This! I can’t do universals because they irritate my ears. Here’s to hoping.
     
  14. Rockwell

    Rockwell Friend

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    I remember reading comments (by Caleb I think) where he said that the complications involved in getting the tuning right in a custom hybrid would be too difficult for them given the size of their staff-- which is why their only custom offering right now is a single DD.
     
  15. mscott58

    mscott58 Friend

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    CFA had been looking at some types of custom molded sleeves to make the IEMs into pseudo CIEMs, and there are other vendors that do that as well. Maybe an option for you guys?

    @KenBall - Do you make any progress in such molded sleeves for the Solaris?
     
  16. Aeron

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    A second, and I guess third on what’s been said above. The Solaris is my favorite iem, bar none, but my ears grow fatigued after an hour or so. I would absolutely love a “fitted” solution, especially if it comes with the blessing of @KenBall .
     
  17. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    Yeah, 43ed'ed, if solaris fit better, I'd be 100% in.
     
  18. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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  19. KenBall

    KenBall Owner - Campfire Audio

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    Hey Guys,

    Regarding a custom slip over for the Solaris. I was working on this for some time but 2 things have slowed us down. One we do not have enough workers to devote to the slip over project on account that we simply do not have enough bodies and the load for the Equinox is too high at the moment. Were also doing more CIEM R and D as well. The other issue I found is that when you create a custom slip over for a universal IEM its super critical to have as short as possible sound bore, very difficult. I posted more info about this on HF, am I allowed to post a link ?? here.

    They are far more comfortable but I was not happy with how the slip over shifted the FREQ too much to the left.

    I have not given up but its on the back burner.

    Ken
     
  20. Rockwell

    Rockwell Friend

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    So after two weeks of experiencing something of a dark night of the soul(aris) I'm officially back in the club. At the end of last month I ordered a Sony IER Z1R, entirely out of curiosity and love of Sony products in general and not due to any inherent dissatisfaction with the Solaris. Upon receiving the Z1R I was deeply impressed with its bass and treble extension and overall sexiness-- to the point that I was prepared to make it my main IEM. Fortunately I didn't rush into anything and I kept my Solaris on hand for the last couple weeks.

    Long story shortened-- yesterday, after two weeks of struggling with the fit and just over a week of listening exclusively to the Z1R, I switched over to the Solaris and I was struck by how much I'd missed its beautiful balanced sound, robust midrange, detail retrieval and holographic soundstage. Another thing that jumped out at me after many days of not hearing the Solaris was how coherent and "whole" its presentation of sound is. The Z1R is a great sounding IEM, but after switching back to Solaris I found myself really noticing the recessed midrange and comparatively confined soundstage. In addition to that I remembered how well Solaris fit me-- I can wear them for hours comfortably whether on the couch or out and about. They are substantially lighter than the Z1R and I can easily forget they're there. For a few hours yesterday I did some a/b'ing between the two with some of my favorite tracks I found that I actually preferred the sound of the Solaris a significant percentage of the time. I think that in a rush to embrace the Z1R initially I glossed over many of the strengths of the Solaris. Ultimately they both have their strengths-- for me it's treble/bass extension and definition on the Z1R & balance, a more robust midrange, resolution and an airy and holographic soundstage on the Solaris-- however I'm finding that lately my preferences tend more towards the balanced presentation of the Solaris to the mild V of the Z1R. Factoring in the fit issues, and what are imho certain superior technicalities, and the balance has tilted decisively in favor of the Solaris for me. The Solaris is fundamentally a TOTL IEM on par with the best on the market and if balance and coherence combined with delicious DD bass is your thing, then I'm not sure there's anything better out there right now. Sometimes we need to branch out for a bit to really appreciate the greatness of the things that we have. In a nutshell: Solaris FTW!
     

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