Starting with the Andromeda, externally it is virtually unchanged save for a revised nozzle that falls in line with the slatted design that has been common to the lineup since the Comet/Atlas. Inside is where the major changes have taken place. The Andromeda now incorporates Campfire’s new Solid-Body design feature, a 3D-printed insert that houses the drivers, improves acoustical properties, and reduces individual components to improve long term reliability.
In terms of sound the Andromeda 2020 doesn’t veer far from it’s 2019 counterpart. It still has the same amazing sound stage, technical qualities, and sturdy low end response. What has changed is a slight rise in the midrange that results in a noticeable boost in overall clarity, something I never felt the 2019 model was lacking. Still, listen to them side-by-side and the improvements are subtle but clearly apparent and serve to make an already outstanding earphone just that much more impressive. If you haven’t yet tried this legendary earphone, now is a very good time to get on board.
The Solaris 2020 directly addresses one of the largest complaints many levied at the 2019 model; size. The original sounded amazing but the over-sized, heavy, and somewhat awkward shape meant ergonomics were something you had to work around. I also found the memory wire equipped cable an issue, but that seemed to be more a me-problem than a universal complaint. The new Solaris is 20% smaller which may not sound like much, but put them side-by-side and it’s impressive to know that the new version contains the familiar quad-driver setup squeezed inside thanks to the efficient packaging of the same Solid-Body tech found in the Andromeda. The new size shouldn’t get all the credit for improving on comfort though. I also attribute it to the new nozzle angle which, at least for me, has resulted in a more natural and stable fit.
In terms of sound the new Solaris is clearly cut from the same cloth, but cleaner and more refined. I’m finding the low end to be about the same in terms of emphasis, but a hint more punchy and better controlled. The midrange also feels slightly more forward and clear with better articulation of vocals. Treble sounds more evenly balanced between presence and brilliance regions with some added speed and clarity. Nothing too drastic overall, just little shifts here and there that result in a cleaner, more consistent presentation. It’s a welcome update on all fronts, though not something that should make existing Solaris owners regret their purchase, unless of course that aforementioned size issue is a problem for them.
And now we come to what I feel is the most desirable of the three models, the Ara. Seven balanced armatures per side with titanium housings in the shape first introduced on the Jupiter and made infamous by the Andromeda. Oft copied but never truly replicated. In my opinion the Ara’s take is currently the pinnacle of this design. There is a heft and solidity to it that feels very satisfying to behold. I also find the ergonomics ever so slightly improved over the Andromeda thanks to the longer nozzle. I’m usually a shallow fit, wide tip kinda guy, but this shell design with a longer nozzle really does feel good.
When it comes to sound, the Ara follows the popular neutral-bright style sound that is so very satisfying when it comes to pulling detail and clarity out of a track. And boy, does the Ara ever succeed at this. When I first took this earphone for a spin, the speed, control, and tightness of the presentation was immediately apparent. This has got to be the most precise and razor-sharp earphone I’ve heard. Don’t take that to mean it’s painfully bright or so analytic it’s boring, because that isn’t the case at all. The Solaris 2020 actually shares a lot of qualities with the Ara through the mids and treble, but with a slower and more robust low end thanks to the use of a dynamic driver instead of the dual woofer armatures in use in the Ara. Also don’t take this to mean the low end here is lacking. While not heavily emphasized, the extension is very impressive providing a level of physical feedback atypical to armatures.
The Ara so far is my favourite of the bunch with the Polaris 2020 pulling up in second place. Given the Andromeda is the most familiar of the three, and my 2019 version probably has hundreds of hours on it by now, it makes sense that I wouldn’t be as super into it. It’s like revisiting an old friend, though one that recently decided to take up yoga to better themselves both physically and mentally.
I can’t wait to spend more time with these in the coming weeks, and look forward to posting the full reviews when they’re ready. They’ll be heading out to a few trusted peers afterwards for additional coverage, so keep your eyes peeled!
Thanks for reading!
- 10Hz–28 kHz Frequency Response
- 94 dB SPL @ 1kHz: 7.094 mVrms
- 8.5 Ohms @ 1kHz Impedance
Solaris 2020 Specifications
- 5Hz–20 kHz Frequency Response
- 94 dB SPL @ 1kHz: 6.54 mVrms
- 15.5 Ohms @ 1kHz Impedance
- Less than 1% Total Harmonic Distortion
Andromeda 2020 Specifications
- 10Hz–28 kHz Frequency Response
- 94 dB SPL @ 1kHz: 7.01 mVrms
- 12.8 Ohms @ 1kHz Impedance