Campfire Audio have paid a revisit to the original Dorado IEMs capitalizing on a ‘back-to-basic’ approach with the new Dorado 2020 model. With its single balanced-armature and dynamic driver design, the Portland-based audio brand aims to reduce cross-over ‘noise’ allowing improved cohesion and faithful reproduction of sound. Like the Vega 2020, the Dorado 2020 sports an all-new black ceramic body that gains it strength through a rigorous sintering process. The 2020 model also incorporates a machined brass spout with a ‘gunmetal grey’ PVD finish propelling user comfort and providing further tuning enhancements.
The familiar amorphous diamond-like carbon (A.D.L.C) 10 mm dynamic driver can be seen within the internals of the Dorado 2020 along with a single custom balanced-armature driver. This is a departure from the original Dorado’s beryllium PVD diaphragm dynamic driver and dual BA drivers. With a name hailing from Spanish origins, the Dorado translates to ‘Golden’ and retails for $1099 placing it in between the $899 Vega 2020 and the $1299 Ara.
Campfire Audio have been quite uniform in their packaging of their high-end in-ear monitors with a box that unravels like an origami design. However, each of the products display their own flair with a unique color combination and overall aesthetic. With that said, the Dorado 2020 is not a personal favorite of mine with its relatively industrial grid pattern and khaki green/orange color combination. Though, Campfire Audio standards are still met with its golden logo, accent borders and star-speckled infusion.
Inside, the usual accessories remain the same with: a selection of Final Audio tips, Campfire Audio Earphone tips, Silicone Ear Tips, a lapel pin, cleaning tool, Campfire Audio Litz cable and a orange carrying case. The carrying case here is different to their previous use of cork and is instead made from upcycled marine plastic. While not as premium to the touch, the marine plastic promotes sustainability with its use of raw recycled materials.
Build & Design
The Dorado 2020 employs a dense ceramic material which was first introduced in the Lyra and the more recent Vega 2020. The ceramic eliminates internal driver resonance as well as being scratch-resistant. To obtain the high density, each ceramic piece undergoes a high heat conditioning process before being placed in a tumbler with alumina stones and water to give them their highly polished finish.
With its chamfered edges and seamless outer housing, the Dorado 2020 offers a more polished aesthetic compared to the rather industrial designs of their yester-generation products. The Dorado 2020 is slightly larger than the original Dorado model and feels more high-end with its discrete venting ports and gunmetal grey machined spout. The MMCX connector is also more refined with its concentric outer ring appearance and use of custom beryllium copper material.
Instead of joining in an ‘arms-race’ of packing in as many as drivers into the internals, Campfire Audio have always placed more importance on implementation and tuning. The Dorado 2020 takes this to a new extreme since it is one of the few high-end hybrid models which incorporate a single dynamic and single balance-armature driver. The aim simply being to reduce electronic crossover ‘noise’ and maximize each of the individual components.
The dynamic driver is the familiar 10mm amorphous diamond-like carbon composition (ADLC) which is slightly different to the original Dorado’s 8 mm beryllium driver composition. Both materials have a high stiffness to weight ratio for the purposes of reduced distortion and driver flex. Campfire Audio have decided for a single balanced armature driver which sits closer to the spout than their previous tuned acoustic expansion chamber (TAEC) technology. This is rather similar to the positioning of 64 Audio’s tia drivers in their flagship models.
Campfire Audio have used the same Silver-Plated Copper Litz cable which comes with the Andromeda and Vega 2020. It is a tangle-resistant dual braid design with high quality beryllium/copper MMCX connections and an L-shaped 3.5 mm termination jack. It is a low profile design which its smoke twisted jacket finish and subtle black Y-split. Overall the cable has great handleability and low microphonics.
Fit & Isolation
The Dorado 2020 is one of Campfire Audio’s most comfortable models. The chamfered edges and rounded design pay dividends with long-term comfort and prolonged listening sessions. The nozzle is good length and size to support an ergonomic fit – this is indeed a considerable improvement over the original Solaris and Solaris LE model which uses widened proximal nozzles. The lightweight design coupled with included foam tips also help the overall comfort levels and the Dorado 2020 seals nicely within the ear canal.
Isolation levels are merely average with the Dorado 2020 though the vented Campfire Audio models do not particularly excel in this attribute.
The Dorado 2020 emphasizes a v-shaped tonal profile with its elevated sub-bass and energetic treble and brilliance regions. While it is not a classical v-shaped monitor with midrange recession, the Dorado 2020 subtly boosts certain regions of the midrange spectrum for a more forward sound with upper-midrange clarity. Fans of a high contrast IEM which plentiful of extension in the highs supported by the foundations of a dynamic bass may be aligned towards the Dorado’s tuning.
The 10 mm ADLC dynamic driver of the Dorado 2020 delivers plenty of low-end bloom promoting a signature that is indeed ‘north of neutral’. With that said, the driver does not possess the best texture, macro-dynamic slam or control. There is good sustain, however, with a sub-bass bias that lends itself towards a more ‘musical’ sound. While not as lengthy in decay as the 64 Audio Nio, the Dorado 2020 does lack some physicality compared to the former in-ear monitor. Perhaps, the Dorado 2020 could benefit here from ‘physical’ moving mass to increase its overall level of engagements and dynamism. Next to the Ara, the Dorado 2020 also falls short of absolute levels of detail retrieval and technicality.
The midrange is an interesting area of frequency arrangement within the Dorado 2020. There are subtle bumps elevating the 1K, 3K and 5K regions which invoke a more forward placement of instruments, vocals and upper midrange gleam. As a result, this is not the most natural sound but does demonstrate good levels of resolve, contrast and clarity. While there is no strict u-shaped imposition from lower to upper midrange, there is also a decent amount of headroom allowing notes their own space to breathe within tracks. Tonally, the Dorado 2020 has some degree of incoherence when comparing the ‘speedier’ and more resolute BA driver to the slower and bodied dynamic driver. While some contrast is apparent here, the timbre may not be the best for those looking for a more natural sound.
The treble of the Dorado 2020 is further boosted relative to both the bass and midrange. As a result, notes here possess plenty of zing and shimmer. The downside, however, is that the Dorado 2020 can be prone to some degree of sibilance when playing compressed sounds or ‘s’ sounds in mastered tracks. This is somewhat alleviated by the stock foam fits but exacerbated by the included final E-tips. Owing to the placement of the BA driver near the nozzle, higher frequency notes do demonstrate increased clarity and articulacy. There is good air and separation which helps to uplift the overall sound signature.
Soundstage & Imaging
Owing to the snappier and relatively leaner upper mid-treble presence, the Dorado 2020 keeps a clean signature up top with good amount of nuanced separation of elements within tracks. Here, there is good height and instrument separation which prevents things from ever sounding too cloying or congested. Despite the somewhat forward midrange presence, the Dorado 2020 does not come across as particularly intimate sounding. There is decent projection of sonic cues in the elements of width and depth and an overall well-balanced headroom and center staging.
Campfire Audio Vega 2020
Like the Dorado 2020, the Vega 2020 also incorporates an ADLC 10 mm dynamic driver. However, the Vega 2020 notably conveys slightly more bass emphasis in a more relaxed and warmer sound. The Dorado 2020, by contrast, retains more decisive leading-edge transients, forward instrumentation and short sustain in the higher frequencies tilting towards a brighter sound. While the Vega 2020 sounds the more natural of the two in-ear monitors, the Dorado 2020 revels in its detail retrieval and micro-dynamic performance.
Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020
The Andromeda 2020 is a penta-driver full BA driver which is an update to the original well-lauded Andromeda. When comparing against the Dorado 2020, the Andromeda 2020 is the decisively more cohesive monitor with a better holographic prowess. However, the Dorado 2020 digs deeper with its dynamic driver providing more heft in the lower frequencies. This makes it quite an engaging monitor with modern tracks with huge bass presence and plentiful hi-hats and instrumental snares. In the higher frequencies, the Andromeda 2020 is smoother whereas the Dorado 2020 comes across as more energetic and more ‘perceived’ clarity.
The Campfire Audio Dorado 2020 is certainly a unique creation with its resolving energetic highs and dynamic bass. Its signature may not be for everyone but it certainly does do well in modern tracks which capitalize on bass, synths and tenor instruments. The build quality is excellent and the Dorado 2020 are one of their most comfortable high-end monitors to date. The choice to go with two drivers is debatable and while there is more room for each individual component, the Dorado 2020 does lose some points when it comes to overall coherence. One thing is for sure and that is the Dorado 2020 does not play it safe with its tuning and it does stand out even amongst Campfire Audio’s very own line-up.
Campfire Audio Dorado 2020 Specifications:
- 5 Hz – 22 kHz Frequency Response
- 94 dB SPL @ 1kHz: 18.52 mVrs
- Single Custom Balanced Armature (High)
- 10mm A.D.L.C. Diaphragm Dynamic Driver (Mid+Low)
- 10 Ohm @ 1kHz Impedance