STORYTIME: Campfire Audio Customer Service

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by Lyander, Jul 27, 2023.

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  1. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    Fair warning, this is largely an entertainment piece and will be a long and rambling story even by my standards. Grab a drink and maybe some snacks. Put on some ambient music. SUMMARY: Campfire earned some pluses and minuses in my book through all this, but the pluses vastly outweighed the minuses. I applaud them.


    *********************************************
    I could go and start with a preamble about the how and why of my falling in love with the Campfire Solaris, but that'd add at least a few more minutes' runtime to this whole mess so I'll cut to the part where I get offered a pair of Solarises for a ridiculously generous price. I turn this offer down because I'm trying to be responsible with my money. The guy who offered them to me says he understands and we agree that I'm to ping him when I feel I'm able to justify the expense; what he doesn't know is that I at this point am fully intending for him to find another buyer so that I need not be tempted to be dumb with my money.

    This was in December of 2020.

    Some time later I see that he manages to find a new home for the Solarises, so I breathe a sigh of relief-- My gacha games fund secured (NOTE: this is humour, I loathe gacha games on principle because they're predatory business models). Unexpectedly, the same person messages me again in September of 2021 and tells me that he still has the Solarises and is willing to cut me a deal. I ask whether or not I'd been Mandela Effect-ed into thinking that he'd already successfully found a new home for them and I learn that the other buyer in question had a medical condition that precluded the use of IEMs, as IEMs gave them splitting headaches. The person offering them to me'd bought them back but found they couldn't justify keeping them when they had IEMs enough for their use case.

    "Just cover shipping for now, you can pay me the rest at your own convenience."

    ... Crap, he's good.

    Life happens and he finally manages to drop the Solarises off at his local post by early February of 2022; I manage to wrench the Solarii from the clutches of my local customs office by 11 March 2022. For those of you who may be familiar with another story I'd previously shared involving my local customs office, you're likely also thinking that I'm making shockingly good time.

    They sound as good as I remember, maybe even moreso now that I'm well able to lie down in bed and listen at my own leisure without worrying about friends snapping dweeby reactions on a vintage Leica when I find a song that I love that works really well with them or store clerks making sure that I'm not trying to squirrel stuff into any of a number of pockets I happen to have (I hate my body and wear multiple layers at every possible opportunity, even at the height of Philippine summers). It's a great deal of fun.

    Jump ahead four days to 15 March 2022 and suddenly the left channel loses bass: https://superbestaudiofriends.org/i...aris-raising-the-bar.6926/page-18#post-377542

    There is a moment of panic followed immediately by a persistent level of background-process panic occasionally dotted with moments of reprieve. It's during those moments of relative calm that I try the usual: "stuff it into a ziploc bag with a couple silica gel packs", leave it for a few days. No change. I make my own pouch from a cleaned up teabag cloth to protect the IEM from debris and stick it into a cup's worth of uncooked rice in the same ziploc bag-- the silica gel pack is still in there for good measure. No change.

    [​IMG]

    I send a repair request via Campfire's site ticketing and am very politely informed by a representative that I'd have to mail the Solarises to their address in Portland, Oregon, for them to be able to do anything. That'd be on top of any fees incurred on account of these being an out of warranty repair. Given prior experiences with my ill-reputed local post and even with ostensibly better courier services e.g. DHL, I decide to get in touch with one of Campfire's authorised distributors here in the Metro Manila area and arrange for them to facilitate the transfer to Portland (on that note, shoutout to Egghead Audiohub for always being chill with me hanging out to try nice headphones I'll likely never buy). It may not be any cheaper than using DHL or FedEx with correct insurance valuation, but at least I'll get to point the finger at someone else screwing up if the parcel does a Houdini.

    The IEMs, carrying pouch, and the original Super Litz cable I'd been using which was very much beginning to act like it'd overdosed on a certain little blue pill, it was that stiff, were packed alongside a note explaining what'd happened. I swing by the local distro on 20 March to hand them off, and the rep, Chris, confirms via the ever-growing email chain that they'd begun coordinating the repair process by 22 March. Some small talk about a break-in at Campfire HQ transpires, but it's not until 03 and 04 May that Chris confirms receipt of the Solarii and later informs me that they'd just be replacing the busted channel wholesale. It'll set me back $199, but to ensure channel matching they'll actually be replacing both pieces with a new pair that measures very close to each other.

    Considering I'll effectively be left with a new-to-me set and, per Campfire, a full year's warranty coverage to help with peace of mind, I thought it was a fair deal in my favour.

    The conversation veers around to my asking whether they'd been able to identify what, precisely, went wrong with the original pair, because I'd like very much not to go through this whole mess again. Chris says that the cost in time and resources of investigating the failure is significant as they'd have to conduct incremental repair and re-testing cycles but not to worry as this was very unlikely to have been borne of user error.

    Sure, that works.

    It takes a few weeks on account of PayPal and my debit card being insufferable in their own ways, but I agree to their solution and remit payment by 26 May; I'm told that my Solarises would be included alongside a routine shipment to Egghead, ostensibly to keep costs down, and me being cheap in my own strange way I consent to this. I get word that they're sent off on 15 June, but it's not until 04 July that they're ready for pickup back at Egghead. I was informed that the 1-year limited warranty would take effect when I pick the IEMs back up so I'm in no particular hurry. To sweeten the deal, Chris tosses in a new Super Litz cable as a gift; I had a general idea of what higher end cables cost, but when I saw that the cable itself was $199.00 MSRP I laughed-- "Buy a cable and we'll give you a new-to-you pair of Solarises, gratis!"? Yeah viewing it that way softened the blow a bit; humour is a great coping mechanism when exercised judiciously.

    I manage to make time to drop by on 06 July and inform Campfire that they're free to start counting down the year's coverage from there (though realistically they'd be verifying with Egghead and not just taking a random customer at their word, I now realise with hindsight). On top of the $199 repair fee I'm charged another $110 or so in shipping; as a testament to the kindness of the guy that initially sold me the Solarises, he offered to comp half of all repair fees incurred-- I nearly fractured a finger typing out a message taking him up on that offer (this is a joke, I'm not THAT clumsy).

    [​IMG]

    I open up the carrying case and find two Super Litz cables, one significantly more pliable than the other, a spare pair of Campfire's Marshmallow tips in the same size as I'd sent over, and... three different Solaris pieces. In a bit of a mixup, it turns out that they'd shipped the leftover functional right channel from the original pair back to me alongside the replacement pair. Chris wonders aloud how that even happened and asks very nicely if I could be bothered to drop the leftover piece off at Egghead next time I happened by. Being a bit of a sentimental moron, I ask if I might not be allowed to hold onto it as a memento of sorts-- it wasn't until later on that a friend told me that there was, inexplicably, a decent used market for stray high end IEM pieces. Should have suspected that, but I had no intentions of engaging anyway and would have likely been further upstream without a paddle had I tried flipping the piece:

    To reiterate, the replacement pair plus the accessory piece was picked up on 06 July 2022; by 22 August of the same year I notice that the RIGHT Solaris piece suddenly loses bass in the same manner. It could have happened any time within the previous two weeks because I'm usually struggling with stuffed sinuses around this time of year; it wasn't until I ran multiple sweeps on the MiniDSP EARS rig that I came to the conclusion that I must be CJ from GTA: San Andreas

    [​IMG]

    I'm tossing three different graphs below, the top being to exhibit how the replacement pair really was rather well-matched, the second being to illustrate the differences between the original Solaris pair I had and the replacement set (exhibited using both LEFT channels here), and the third to show how both units that'd failed exhibited similar abrupt rolloff. Also, and I have no idea how to integrate this point elegantly into the story above: with only the attendant at Egghead, myself, and extant deities as witness to this, I did notice upon demoing the replacement set back in July of 2022 that the MMCX connector on the left replacement Solaris piece was slightly loose, enough so that it'd make a loud clicking sound if I nudged the cable-side connector even slightly. I tried swapping cables, yep the clicking was attributable to the MMCX port on the Solaris chassis itself. Lovely.

    REPLACEMENT SET-- excellent matching!:
    [​IMG]

    14 AUGUST EDIT: I realised I had the wrong graph inserted below. Fixed.
    Left Channels Comparison (YELLOW = ORIGINAL SET; CYAN = REPLACEMENT SET):
    [​IMG]

    FAILED CHANNELS (ORANGE = ORIGINAL LEFT; GREEN = REPLACEMENT RIGHT):
    [​IMG]

    ... Naturally, I am more than slightly frustrated by all this. I'd been babying the replacement pair because I was afraid of this precise thing happening, so for the same failure to repeat both confused and appalled me. I send another email to Campfire's support email and inform them of what'd happened. At the same time I put in an order for enough silica gel that, were I so inclined, I could bundle together into a mass great enough to give someone a concussion. At this point I'm not so sure that I'd be disinclined to use it on myself.

    Chris at Campfire commiserates and agrees that this is all highly unusual but not to worry, they'd be doing their best to keep repair costs down as best they can (though unfortunately the cost of shipping the IEMs to Portland are Egghead's to determine). Okay, fine, that works. The PHP to USD exchange rate is looking very unflattering to me just now but sure, fuck it.

    It's while I'm packing the Solarii back up for another trip to the other side of the globe that I find the spare channel from the original pair that they'd accidentally sent back. I'm a slow person on the best of days so it takes a few seconds of blind staring before action potential finally reaches the correct synapse and I recognise that the leftover channel is the same one that had just failed.

    1/2
     
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    Last edited: Aug 14, 2023
  2. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    This is the part of the story where it may bear pointing out that while they are technically both the same SKU, i.e. Campfire Solaris (pre-2020), there appear to be at least two versions that I am aware of. The first is the original version which uses a small circular vent hole for the BA drivers; this is what I originally purchased used. The second version, which is what I'd received as a replacement set from Campfire, has a significantly larger capsule-shaped vent for the BAs. Part of me wonders how much of the difference in midrange-through-treble voicing could be attributed to this, on top of the presumable swap from Bellsing BA drivers to less... objectionably-developed components. So there is at least one overt difference between these two pieces that could make for a very disjointed listening experience.

    [​IMG]

    Looking at the graph just above, which features both the original right channel and the replacement left channel, it's a bit of a roller coaster compared to the very tightly-matched replacement set before that one lost bass. Still, I'm resigned to sending all three pieces back in at this point and figure that I've not really got a lot to lose by trying it out, so I do.

    It sounds... fine. Surprisingly so.

    Resolution and headstage are still grand, and while imaging may not be as tight as I remember hearing, I'm all too aware that acknowledging both the different vent holes and the relatively disparate FR graphs before actually just listening to the mismatched pair (not to mention the fact that I have it mentally filed as a mismatched pair) could be feeding placebo and nervosa, so I just run with it.

    This bears repating: I had been babying both the original used pair I'd bought as well as the replacement set from Campfire because these are far from being inexpensive IEMs, never mind that I got them at a great price (less great after the costs of repairs and international shipping, though). Now that Campfire was just waiting on me to drop them off at Egghead again though, I started giving less of a bother about treating them with kid gloves-- they're being shipped off to the end of the world again anyway so realistically speaking how much more harm can be done short of my running them over with a a forklift? Not that I'm a licenced forklift operator, but the sentiment is there.

    I travel a lot more than usual during this time period. I'd still be considered a recluse by most well-adjusted human beings' standards I think, but where both pairs of Solarises that'd been neurotically coddled ended up with one piece failing, the mismatched pair survived long car trips, being worn around my neck as I'm walking down a relatively secluded beach (not using them because only a true heathen would be wearing IEMs when they could be listening to waves crashing on a craggy shore) or just hopping around with me through the metro area on dates with friends, dates with dates, and just meandering around taking photographs for fun while trying not to inhale too much smog.

    Fast forward to 04 February 2023 and I drop the three pieces off at Egghead again. Through nearly half a year of significantly more exhaustive use with greater exposure to the elements than before, the mismatched pair was still going strong. It was that, more than anything else, that helped alleviate fears that I'd somehow been the one killing the IEMs unknowingly; that a pair would survive that much travel and wear and still be fully functional while two previous sets had failed while only being exposed to my home and the odd trip to a mall to have coffee with a friend? I don't know about you, but that was rather telling in my opinion.

    I'm chatting again with Chris at Campfire and pointing out that my issues seem to lie primarily with the ADLC drivers crapping out so maybe I could downgrade to a SKU that was all-BA because while I'd certainly miss the viscerality of the original Solaris which was part of why I was so thoroughly enamoured by it, enough so that I convinced myself that I was fine selling off the Klipsch HP-3s I'd been rocking for over four years to help with repairs, I wasn't so silly as to keep testing my luck. I'd never tried an Ara at this point but it seems rather well-received so I ask whether I might not be able to just leave the Solarises with them and instead pick up a pair of Aras used, provided I get ears on them and find them to my liking.

    The cost to acquire an Ara, after accounting for the trade-in value of a Solaris, would normally be $500, but given the $199 I'd paid previously they'd happily knock it down to $300. Ah, yeah, no thanks. Also, and I'm jumping backwards time a bit here, I did get to demo the Ara fairly extensively when I drop the Solarii off at Egghead a second time and found them not much to my liking-- the midrange-through-treble voicing was more grating to me and they are indeed lacking in the viscerality that I loved on the Solaris. Technically excellent, but not as fun to listen to.

    Some time after, more for the sake of making conversation than anything else, I ask whether Chris has any recommendations for affordable cables I could be using in lieu of the stock Super Litz that comes with the Solaris, because the formerly pliable one I'd received just over half a year ago was already beginning to stiffen-- something about the climate is unkind to the jacketing on these cables, I'm told, and there's not much to be done about it. That said, they're happy to send me ANOTHER free replacement cable at no cost. It's at this point that I remember ALO Audio predates Campfire by a fair bit and chuckle to myself that I may end up profiting in cables if I sell them before the Viagra kicks in and they forget how to drape well. Sure, why not.

    I suddenly get word on 13 May 2023 that Egghead'd finally shipped the Solarises off to Portland. Again, I dropped them off there on 04 February, so it seems to me that there were three months I could have just held onto them longer and not have had to deal with the triflange tips on the Etymotic ER2XRs scratching against my ear canals. Well international logistics are difficult and I did say I wasn't in much of a hurry if consolidating shipments meant I could save a few bucks here and there. Fair enough. I shoot Campfire an email and ask them to let me know when the Solarises arrive.

    Moving back in time again, there was a curious line in a message from Chris on 01 February that stated, and I quote: "... if you'd like to send all three [Solaris pieces] back, I can create a matched, functioning pair of Solaris at no cost and get back to you". The use of "create" here is very specific, and during the three month interim between my dropping the IEMs off at Egghead and learning that they hadn't actually been shipped off yet, I make conversation attempting to clarify what precisely the process for the repair will be-- I ask whether the dynamic driver from the older right channel will simply be transplanted into the newer right channel; this theory is thankfully rebuffed. I'm told that any driver pulled from a unit will be discarded (as they are generally not reusable), with a new one from their stock deployed in its place; while I'd be keeping the newer capsule-shaped vent chasses the internals would be all new. I am amenable to this solution and consent to the process.

    More waiting passes by. I idly check Campfire's site to see whether they have any other distributors in the Philippines I can swing by to try other odds and ends and bemusedly note that the "Phillipines" was the sole country on their list that was misspelled. I point it out, they correct it. Fun. Still no confirmation from Campfire that the Solarises'd landed there by 07 July 2023, so I'm back to twiddling my thumbs.

    Four days later, on 11 July 2023, I get an SMS from my contact at Egghead that my Solarises were ready for pickup, and I was being charged for what looked like more than just shipping back and forth. Huh.

    I sent an email to Chris asking whether international shipping had really gotten so bad and how they'd unlocked the secret to instantaneous matter transportation without cluing the rest of the world in. As it turns out my Solarises HAD arrived at Campfire HQ at some point in the past between 13 May and then, but because Chris was out of the office at the time there was no one to carry out the repairs as agreed upon; rather than replace the drivers in the matched chasses I'd sent in, they'd simply replaced one channel entirely, possibly with a mismatched vent hole style as I'd already been using before sending them in a second time. I literally could have simply mailed them the newer right channel and kept using the mismatched pair, saving myself time and money!

    How absolutely fun.

    I am a person that is incapable of expressing frustration in a healthy manner, I am aware, and I am very often conflict avoidant because I know myself well enough to admit that I tend to lose my head a bit when in conflict. This is shameful to say but while I'd generally been jovial and unserious through the email exchange so far, which at this point totalled over 60 messages back and forth, I grew a bit snippy upon learning that the repairs could have been conducted in a way I'd not agreed to, and that I'd be charged more than cost of shipping which, again, was something discussed and agreed upon. Naturally I spoilt that moment of Karen-ness by apologising for being uncharacteristically terse in that same email.

    By way of apology for the mishandling of the repair process and as a vouchsafe against future failure they offered to fully waive all fees and send me a backup pair of IEMs.

    I had to re-read that last bit slowly several times before 1.) it sunk in, and 2.) I managed to convince myself that I wasn't deluded.

    While I was fully expecting something along the lines of an Orbit or Honeydew, something very much on the more affordable end of the spectrum, the initial offers pitched to me were other hybrid designs like the Mammoth or the Dorado 2020. The Mammoth was a model I got to try shortly after it was launched, and I remember not being a fan. This left the Dorado for consideration, but looking up FR graphs and, more pertinently, refamiliarising myself with impressions from folk here on SBAF, I realised that I'd ultimately be consigned to rehoming them were I to accept. I did feel like a grand old ass for being picky when I'm being offered a no-strings-attached apology IEM, but I belatedly realised that the Solarises are very much out of production at this point and that it would be unwise to presume that they'd just be able to keep servicing pairs I send in.

    With that in mind, I ask whether they had any suggestions they could toss my way that were without their ADLC dynamic driver, which seems to have been the component that failed in both instances. While I did note that the Dorado 2020 wasn't all THAT far behind the Solaris in MSRP, I had an inkling that it may not have been quite as popular as its larger, more blinged-out older sibling, which could have led to their being more willing to let go of a spare set of one of these than, say, a Solaris 2020 (which I have had the opportunity to demo at multiple points in the past-- as was the case with the Ara, the voicing wasn't much for me). Chris suggests the Holocene, a model I had no recall hearing of til then but that seemed a good compromise; it's a 3BA design in a similar looking chassis to the Andromeda, but with longer nozzles that, in my case, would translate to a better fit.

    Nice.

    I finally get around to planning a trip to Egghead the weekend before I'm writing this post: 22 July 2023, just under 500 days from initially retrieving the Solarii out from the depths of my local customs office. I bring my phone out to explain that fees'd been waived (and I did obtain permission to share the email thread before doing so-- proper's proper) while handing over a claim stub that'd nearly ossified from being in my wallet for so long. While there I ask whether they have the Mammoth (for a second take, maybe I'd like em after all), the Dorado 2020 (maybe that mid treble spike won't be as bad for me as it is for others?), or the Holocene (frontrunner at this point, really) for me to try out; negative on all three counts but hey here's an Andromeda and Ara for you to try out.

    [​IMG]

    The Andromeda they bring out is battered, but frankly it wears the marks of extensive use very well. For how polarising Campfire's voicing can be at times, I see a lot less complaining about how their IEMs look (the Trifecta, which I still have yet to get ears on but have no real desire to go out of my way to demo just now, is something of an exception). I'd heard the Andromeda a few times now in store demo settings and at meets with friends and was only too happy to reacquaint myself with them-- while brighter than I'd like, it's hard to argue with their technicalities. It takes all of five seconds for me to wonder whether using the Etymotic ER2XRs for so long had somehow resulted in cerumen impacting against my eardrums because where the hell did all the treble go?!

    I take one piece out and take a closer look, fully expecting then to see a film of someone else's earwax blocking the nozzle vents or something similarly gross. Instead of that, I see a grille resembling that of my Solaris-- ah damn, it was the Andromeda 2020! No wonder I liked it; I hadn't gotten to try one out before then, but just going off trusted impressions and FR I figured it'd be right up my alley in many respects, albeit not a categorical improvement over the original Solaris yet.

    After a while they track down and bring out the Solaris box I'd dropped off back in early February, and I begin figuratively tearing into it. I see the original leather case, the singular same cable I'd shipped it off with all those months ago (ah, they missed that memo about another free cable too I guess, sad), the same Marshmallow tips I'd initially sent off, and, ah here's something new, a pair of small silicone eartips that I am not familiar enough with the IEM space to be able to identify out of hand.

    [​IMG]

    While my pinnae are very small, my ear canals are actually on the medium-large to large side of things, so while the inclusion of free new eartips was appreciated they were very much unusable to me for the most part. But hey at least I still had a couple of Marshmallow tips in reserve from the last time I'd gotten a parcel from Portland.

    I try the Solarises out then and there to make sure things were functioning well. Yep, both make sound and both have bass. That's as far as I'm willing to get into these for now. A couple hours pass by with me just hanging around the store listening to music out of the Andro 2020s, occasionally swapping to the Ara and my Solaris just to re-establish baselines, and having a good time of it really.

    I linger around the store for a while longer trying the Andromeda 2020s and looking for relatively affordable ANC wireless headphones for my one sister who'd actually meant to come along but fell sick on the day of. I try a few cheaper Sony DAPs out because I've been rocking an Apple dongle all this time following my moving to a newer phone and it's not the most rugged thing ever-- I get random bits of static crunch and unprompted disconnections when I move too quickly around. There is another moment of brief but intense panic when I plug the Solaris into one of the cheaper DAPs they had on display (might have been the NW-A50? I forgot to take note of the model number) and searcu Tidal for one of my default low end tests now-- Sakamoto Ryuichi and Alva Noto's Noon, and realise there's no bass. Trying very hard not to hyperventilate right then and there I carefully unplug the Solaris and clip it back into the Apple dongle sticking out of my phone-- I play a local copy of the selfsame track and am relieved to find that the near-subsonic skull massage service was still very much in business. Gotcha, either something was very wrong with the Sony DAP or it was just a high enough OI to nerf the bass on them.

    And for anyone curious, yes the pair I received was indeed mismatched (mind the vents near the MMCX connectors):

    [​IMG]

    I shoot Campfire another email confirming receipt of the Solarii and noting that they were indeed mismatched (the image above was included in that message). I note that the only IEMs they had available to demo were the Ara and Andromeda 2020, and that while I had a bit more trouble getting the Andromedae to sit securely in my ear they sounded much more my style than did the Aras. Chris suggests that the Holocene may indeed be worth sending over as a fallback pair given its alleged reputation as an Andromeda Jr. and its having longer nozzles than the Andromedas. At this point I'd been checking out the Campfire Marketplace for pre-owned and b-stock units and see that there's a fair selection of Andromedas that are being sold for significantly less than MSRP on the Dorado, and in one case nearly as little as for the Holocene. Okay, I think to myself, time to make use of those self-assertiveness drills I keep subjecting myself to:

    My reply is that I am hesitant to sign off on receiving a pair of IEMs that I've yet to try out first (never mind that these are going to be sent to me at no cost and that I am fully aware of how shameless it is of me to be making demands at this point), but that I was smitten enough by the Andromeda 2020s that, should anything go awry again (knocking very insistently on my wooden desk) I could happily just send the Solarises back in for Campfire to refurbish and sell at their discretion should they have an Andromeda to toss my way, be it the 2020 variant or earlier; I do also point out that may be somewhat difficult if anyone notices the mismatched vents on the Solaris pair and calls that into question because it only felt fair that they take that into account as well, should they really be running low on newer-style vented Solaris chasses.

    Much to my genuine surprise, Chris says that while it took some wiggling on their part, they managed to secure a pair of pre-owned Andromeda 2020s that they could toss my way and could I please let them know a good address to send them to?

    So, to recap, I was hoping that by way of apology for all the mess to date, Campfire'd allow me to sidegrade to an Andromeda (2020 or otherwise, I wasn't that picky at this point though I was particularly smitten by the darker 2020 variant) without incurring any additional cost. Not only did they let me keep the Solarises instead asking me to trade them in, they'd actually managed to track down a pair of Andromeda 2020s which, it bears noting I think, was not a SKU available for purchase on the Campfire Marketplace.

    This is still a situation very much in progress. The confirmation that they were willing to offer the Andromedas as a token of apology and as insurance against future failure came in just yesterday, and I just earlier got word that they'd be coordinating with Egghead to get the Andromedas here in one piece. That may take some time yet, but it's certainly something to look forward to. More importantly, it's been a whole six days since I got my Solarii back and neither channel has lost bass yet!

    I do still have MiniDSP EARS to generate measurements with, but frankly I'm disinclined to put the Solarises to that because I'm well aware of how seeing even the smallest bit of variability might fuel baseless nervosa or paranoid thoughts that they'd just sent me back the exact same mismatched pair I'd already been using prior to February.

    On the whole, I've been hesitant to document all this because this sorry saga's been chock full of fuel for both Campfire Audio haters and fanboys alike and I didn't think that it was worth generating even more drama around the brand. Still, if there's one takeaway from this that I hope sticks with people, it's that I genuinely think that the folk at Campfire are good and that they stand by their work. Granted, I now am worried that this may give people unreasonable expectations of getting free very-not-bad gear as compensation for what have ultimately been minor inconveniences that just so happen to be protracted to silly degrees, but I doubt that very many people will have luck quite so bad as mine.

    [​IMG]

    Just for right now I'm tempted to look for a nice gift basket that I could send over to Portland.

    2/2
     
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    Last edited: Aug 13, 2023
  3. Gazny

    Gazny Friend

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    They are great. Got to meet them in Seattle.
    Happy to know the saga is over!
     
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  4. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    Tentatively over. I've had the replacement set back less than a week and honestly I'm still nervous using them just cuz I'm afraid of them randomly failing again. No news on when the backup pair might arrive but it stands out as silly to me that I have so much confidence in BA durability when I'd had so many cheapo BA IEMs over the years from the like of Philips etc that eventually failed haha.

    And yeah, haven't yet met anyone in person but frankly, they're grand folk.
     
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  5. k4rstar

    k4rstar Britney fan club president

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    tldr the margins on IEMs and their cables is so high manufacturers can afford to give them out for free to make up for CS issues
     
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  6. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    So it was never established exactly what failed in either case, the driver or the connection/crossover? I would've thought that'd be nice for Campfire to know, but I guess if it's expensive and tedious to investigate and they haven't had many other failures, I can see his point.
    Maybe NW-A306?
    Good to hear this has been (so far) resolved, and kudos to Campfire for their time and the Andros.
     
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  7. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    Pretty much, but at the same time it would have been reassuring to figure out what might have happened because even with the IEMs functioning well to now I can't say that I'm fully at ease yet, nor do I feel I will be for at least a couple months given what had happened previously. Another theory pitched was that it was moisture blocking the nozzle or somesuch, but I feel like subjecting the one malfunctioned piece to an arid hellscape (room temp, to be clear) for MONTHS might have sorted that, no?

    I'd be lying if I said that this wasn't one of my takeaways from this, though I've been adjacent to production side stuff for a little bit now and I'm more aware than ever of how high margins on a lot of nonessentials can be.

    Also, mind the incoming is a pre-owned pair and I have no clue what the condition is yet, but it's not as if they've not already profited off this pair before, yeah? Also, presuming decent unit consistency, hey they'll sound grand all the same (accounting for preferences, of course).
     
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    Last edited: Jul 27, 2023
  8. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    Just as a bit of a quick epilogue, I swung by Egghead to pick the Andromedas up and try some more toys that are well above my pay grade. I remain partial to the original Solaris still which I think is unfortunate given my luck with them so far, but the 2020 Andromedas are more than a slight improvement over the original in terms of voicing and, with larger tips, actually sit more securely in my ear than the Solaris and isolate just about as much external noise using similar tips-- I use Spiral Dot++es on both the Andromedas and the Solarii, just that I size up to account for the shallower fit of the Andromeda.

    [​IMG]

    I concede that I harbour SOME suspicions regarding unit matching given how there are faint but noticeable marks of wear on the one Andromeda piece with the other looking uncannily pristine, but eh they sound good. I am not putting them to the EARS rig for now. EDIT: nope, see the post below.

    Quick aside, turns out I might have already had the AliExpress cable that @rhythmdevils had been recommending from my original purchase of the Solaris, but I'd given it to a friend who was needing another cable. Genius.

    Photographed here are my mismatched Solaris, the Andro 2020s, and the selfsame very early Solaris that I demoed years ago that kicked off this whole mess which they'd lent to me to run measurements on. This is around serial number 250 or so, I believe, but I'll have to confirm with the owner. Definitely under 300 so rather early unit.

    [​IMG]

    Seems they were still working on plating technique at the beginning; the other piece is still quite uniformly gold.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2023
  9. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    Right, last update for now. Yellow and cyan here are averages of fresh measurements of my current Solaris pair with the raw passes in grey. Don't have the foam tips I used to generate the above FR measurements anymore, so all I'll say is that the relative differences between left and right channels seem vaguely familiar; the apology Andros make a bit more sense now.

    [​IMG]


    For fun, here's the very early production Solaris in red and green with a quick comparison immediately below. The same eartip was used between all four pieces, and the same cable besides, just to eliminate variables:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    EDIT okay I ran a quick sweep for the Andromedas. Only single passes per channel cuz it was getting noisy and I was tired, but hey it's better than nothing:

    [​IMG]

    And a left/right average of the Andromeda 2020s vs a left-right of my mismatched Solaris. I actually aligned these by eye because this better reflected how they sounded to me, but with my usual method of playing full-spectrum pink noise and targeting a dB value the bass frequencies lined up nearly exactly, and the Solarises looked absolutely etchy by comparison with that midtreble peak on the Andro 2020s standing out even more; this better reflects what I hear:

    CA Solaris = YELLOW; CA Andromeda 2020 = GREEN.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2023
  10. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    This should be in the public section.

    Haters are gonna hate.
     
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  11. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    Haha if you insist. I was mainly worried about this possibly galvanising unkind asshats to falsify problems to try and get similarly excellent service, ergo the decision to post it in the private section.

    Still, it is A-tier customer service.
     
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  12. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Despite the asshats, they are doing fine. I'm sure CFA does fine in Singapore despite the "Singapore incident" LOLZ. There needs to be drama somewhere. Put it this way: still way less drama than with keyboards.
     
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  13. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    HAHA please don't tell me you had orders with Mech & Co. I'm staunchly not a keyboard nerd (please, I don't need another dumb obsession) but I heard from friends and acquaintances in the community about that mess.
     
  14. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    So on this... I've seen disassembly shots of Solaris before and my guess is that... it's way too tedious to troubleshoot every single small solder joints in there so... it may make more sense to just take a defective one and disassemble it fully to be used for parts instead.

    If you already have replacement fully-assembled units ready to go, it makes little sense trying to troubleshoot a known defective one and then repair. They're already messing up enough as is with fully-assembled ready replacements. I can only imagine the extra mess when they have to track which unit is broken in what manner, how to repair, and who to send all of them back to...
     
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  15. Rockwell

    Rockwell Friend

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    I've had to deal with CFA customer service a few times over the years and they've always been exceptional and very helpful.
     
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  16. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    This is heartening to hear! Just slightly concerned that you've had to interact with CS multiple times over the years, but from memory you've gotten to own a lot of their models no?
     
  17. Rockwell

    Rockwell Friend

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    I've owned many of their IEMs. The first issue I had was cosmetic (nitpick on my part), the second issue was entirely my fault (I blew out one of the ear pieces on my Solaris SE) and only the third was a driver malfunction in my Dorado 2020 after a year of ownership. In all 3 instances they sent me a new replacement unit free of charge after I sent my unit in for insepction.
     
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  18. NightFlight

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    Nice piece. I've been daily driving a set of b-stock original Andromeda's for many many years. Never had an issue. Well, other than a mishap that damaged my right eardrum and now cannot listen to high SPL without "distortion".

    An MRI and couple audiologist appointments have declared me with "nothing wrong" and testing with better than your average bear - hearing wise. If I hit noise above 95db or so - say a concert, or laugh in a car (triggered by my own voice).. my right ear breaks down momentarily. Its very disconcerting, but has not gotten worse, or better. Google has been no help either.

    Point being, the Andromeda's took it in stride and didn't bat an eye at such blaring abuse. I mostly just use them now for podcasts out of my iPhone on my daily 5k walk(s). A waste really. I'm thinking about flipping them for something cheaper, but I just can't seem to part with them despite their history.
     
  19. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    Ahh bother, that's not a fun time. Glad to hear that yours survived (though it does make me wonder what the crud happened with my Solarises). Glad you're still able to enjoy music responsibly, but hey while you could maybe move to a different set that'd be more "sensible", the stories of the things we have matter too, sometimes more than their utility.

    Hope your hearing stays strong and that this is something still remediable, or at the very least won't get worse over time.

    Current Solaris pair still going strong btw. Knocking on wood.
     

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