The original Dorado launched in 2016 alongside the Vega as part of Campfire Audio’s “Liquid Metal” line. Like Vega 2020, the Dorado 2020 takes the same aesthetic, and upgrades it with the latest drivers and design. So how does it stack up to the current competition?
The Build and Design
Featuring a similar shape as the original Dorado, the Dorado 2020 has a more rounded design than the angular look of the Andromeda or Ara, and despite the round design and glossy black finish, it’s also quite different from the Solaris. The Dorado is a bit smaller than the rest of the Campfire lineup too, probably owing to its more simplified driver complement: one dynamic driver and one balanced armature.
The packaging is classic Campfire Audio, but with a retro look on the outside and an inside that’s a bit of an 80s throwback. The box contains the Smokey Litz cable, a case, and a selection of silicone and foam “marshmallow” eartips, just like you’d expect. The case is made from upcycled marine plastic, and the “Diver Orange” color sticks with the vintage theme.
The Dorado has incredible dynamic response across the full range, along with tight powerful bass. It’s slightly warm and very natural sounding with excellent detail and texture. The tuning has a slow smooth roll in from a somewhat elevated subbass to the mid-bass, some recessions in the midrange, a climb back up from the upper-mids through the treble, and a rolloff at the very top. The response is very fast and dynamic, with a natural attack and decay. The soundstage is fairly large with good imaging and positioning.
Listening to “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” off of Roger Waters’ live Us+Them album, the Dorado demonstrates a great sense of space and transparency, and places you front and center at the concert. The various types of vocals, from Waters himself, to the backup singers, and the children’s choir all sound natural and lifelike. The guitar solo is powerful and emotionally delivered. There’s a good feeling of groove and a solid impact from the rhythm section as well.
On the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of Holst’s “Uranus” from The Planets, you get a sense of the Dorado’s dynamic capabilities, from the powerful brass section that starts the song to the more delicate interplay that follows. The dynamics rise and fall, and the Dorado delivers each subtle change in volume, providing a touch of impact at the low-end of the largest swells. The imaging provides the listener with a good sense of where each instrumentalist in the orchestra sits, which provides a heightened sense of energy in the various call and response sections between the horns, strings, and woodwinds.
Bringing things down a few levels in complexity, The White Stripes “Seven Nation Army” provides an example of how a high quality IEM can provide insight into even the simplest of songs. The recording is dirty and gritty, and the Dorado lets you hear every bit of dirt in the guitar sound, the impact from every almost missed drum beat, and every waiver in Jack White’s voice. With such a high-energy, lo-fi styled track, the Dorado proves to be both fun and revealing all at once.
For a taste of more pop-oriented listening, Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” provided a further taste of the Dorado’s ability to be fun, dynamic, and revealing all at the same time. For a song I heard a few hundred times on the radio when it came out, I had never noticed the richness of the background “oohs” and “ahhs,” nor the depth and emotion in CeeLo Green’s voice. Dorado delivers all the texture of the vocals and all the depth and nuance of the production while laying down a thick groove underneath it all.
For testing, the Astell&Kern SE200 was my go to, but I also spent some time with the KANN Alpha, Chord Hugo 2, and various available devices like my laptop, and phone. The Dorado sounds great with a variety of sources, with no issues regarding sensitivity or hiss, and as always, the ALO Smoky Litz cables are free from interference or microphonics.
Comparison: Campfire Audio’s Lineup
Dorado sits at an interesting place in Campfire Audio’s lineup: it’s the same price as the ever popular Andromeda, less expensive than the Ara or Solaris, and a little more expensive than the new Vega 2020 which it launched alongside. While it may seem like a crowd, each IEM in the lineup has its own unique personality.
Between Dorado and Vega, the Dorado has the clear advantage. Dorado starts with Vega’s single driver design, keeps all the good stuff, and adds a balanced armature driver for the highs. The balanced armature driver provides more detail and clarity while also significantly enhancing the soundstage and imaging capabilities, and it does all this without compromising the low end response and impact.
Compared to Andromeda, Dorado has a stronger low end response, and greater physicality and impact. In our Vega review, we found that while Vega had the advantage in low end response, Andromeda had a clear advantage in terms of detail, clarity, and soundstage, but with Dorado, the additional balanced armature driver provides a clear improvement over the Vega in those categories creating a much tighter race. The Andromeda still has an advantage over the Dorado in terms of the level of detail it provides, but the difference becomes more a matter of tuning preference. The Dorado isn’t lacking for detail, but it favors bass response, where the Andromeda favors detail.
The Ara and Dorado tell a similar story to the Andromeda comparison, but just to a larger degree. The Ara provides an incredible analytical tuning with some of the best speed, response, imaging, and soundstage in its price range, but it’s fairly bass-lite. Whether you want a Dorado or an Ara is going to be 100% dependent on whether you want a more fun, bassy tuning, or a brighter analytical one.
Now the Solaris is another story altogether. At first glance, Solaris and Dorado tell a similar story: a warm, natural sounding IEM with full rich bass. The difference is that Solaris maintains some of the technical advantages of the Andromeda or Ara while also having a sound that’s fully realized from the lowest bass rumble to the airy highs. So while Dorado mixes up the middle of Campfire Audio’s lineup by providing an excellent hybrid design with killer low end as an alternative to the balanced armature designs of Ara and Andromeda, Solaris retains its status as a true flagship with its impeccable balance and technical prowess. For more information about Campfire Audio's complete line of IEMs, check out our Campfire Audio Buyer's Guide.
The Bottom Line
Its design is simple, but the sound is rich and complex, making the Dorado 2020 fit right in with Campfire Audio’s superb lineup. With its technical prowess and accessible tuning, Campfire has created a detailed, natural sounding IEM loaded with impact and energy.