Campfire Audio Dorado review - expatinjapan

Campfire Audio Dorado review

`Dorado pairs Dual High-Frequency BA Drivers with the Dynamic Driver to produce sparkling highs and spectacular bass.`

I received the Dorado from Ken Ball at the Fujiya Avic headphone show in Tokyo in October, 2016 for review. I had a chance to listen to all new models at the time and listed my short impressions as thus: 

(Short time at the show impressions):
 `The Vega, Dorado and Lyra II
The Vega is deep and full sounding. It has excellent clarity and sound stage. The bass hits but is also clean, tight and fast.
The Dorado is deeper, and has a medium v shaped signature. Bouncy and energetic. It has a good weight to the sound. Fun but still CA smooth.
The Lyra II is more a sense, it has more mids, warm, even and with great instrument separation. Full with an excellent low end.

In terms of sound signature to my ears (And Ken confirmed I was pretty much on the Ball - excuse my pun).
Vega = XXX
Dorado = XxX
Lyra = XXx`

Of course short impressions at a show or in store can give a hint of what is to come, more is revealed with concentrated and analytical listening and more layers and nuances are discovered.
I also did not ask how many hours they had on them. They had stock foam tips fitted.

Many a forum thread and item has been over hyped or buried due to over enthusiastic short impressions of the positive or negative variety.

These CA Dynamic Drivers do need a decent amount of hours on them to tighten and tame up the bass etc

On with the show.....

Whats in the box?

As usual the Dorado is sealed for freshness in a vacuumed sealed pack.
I do like the small footprint of the box as I have mentioned in the Jupiter, Nova and Andromeda reviews and Vega and Lyra II unboxings. Its a nice change from some of the over bloated packaging we see these days.

As usual Campfire Audio provides a luxurious leather carry case

The earphones each come safely clothed in a small red velvet bag

These photos show the color of the Dorado quite well, a kind of bronzed gold color

Sturdy and solid MMCX connectors as on all Campfire Audio earphones

Each Campfire Audio earphone comes with the brilliant Litz cable, no real need for a cable upgrade.

They come with foam tips attached, Campfire Audio recommends foam tips with their new line up, I myself veer more towards the silicone variety.
Although a while after writing this I did end preferring foam tips, not the stock tips but the Comply tips which came with the Campfire Audio Andromeda/Nova IEMs.

A size comparison .between the Dorado and the Andromeda.
Shells for the DD and BA series are virtually identical in size.

Included are a wide variety of S/M/L tips, stock foam, stock silicone (with a cleaning brush), Spinfit, a Campfire Audio pin and a warranty card.

(from the Campfire Audio site)

Dorado is a hybrid driver design;  Our 8.5mm beryllium PVD dynamic driver is paired with Dual BA drivers + TAEC and captured in a unique liquid metal alloy housing.
– 8.5mm Beryllium PVD Dynamic Driver
– Dual High-Frequency Balanced Armature Drivers
– Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber™ (TAEC)
– World’s First Liquid Alloy Metal Earphone Housing
– Premium Litz Wire cable; Silver-plated-Copper conductors
Frequency Response: 5Hz-27kHz
Sensitivity:  107 dB SPL/mW
Impedance: 15 Ohms @ 1kHz

The bass for the Dorado hits at around 116.0, the Vega at about 118.5 and the Lyra II at 110.0. 
(Left side of the chart).


You will note the longer nozzle (and three drivers One DD and two BA) that sets the Dorado apart from the Vega (one 8.5mm DD and various other details and tweakings) and the Lyra II (one 8.5mm DD) models.

As mentioned in the unboxing section the Dorado comes with sturdy and strong MMCX connectors, the MMCX connectors on my older Campfire Audio products have withstood the last six months with no issues, including various cable swapping from single to balanced out Campfire Audio  and ALO cables.

The shell is a liquid alloy metal enclosure.

Here we see the three models, Dorado in a bronzed gold, Vega in silver metallic color and the Lyra II in a deep reddish brown black color.


As I was writing this article I had already amassed my usual array of notes from which to draw from, this being a Dynamic Driver with two Balanced Armatures earphone I was curious how it stood up to changes in output impedance which DDs are usually free from but multi BA drivers are sensitive to (usually 1ohm OI is best for Multi driver BAs).

This I tested with the CEntrance Hifi-M8( which has an output impedance switch of 11, 2 and 1ohms OI).
Using 1 and 2 there was virtually no difference, 11 the bass was less tight and the sound lost a tad of the dynamism which is to be expected. But overall nothing too serious. Most Dap and Dac/amps have between 1-5ohms anyway these days.

As of this time I got a shocking 180 hours burn in time (including actual listening time) on the Dorados.

I used a variety of Tips from the stock supplied foam and silicone to some aftermarket tips (JVC Spiral Tips and Ortofon).

The Daps and Dac/ Amps used were Opus#1, ipod touch 6G, Shozy Alien Gold, Hifiman MegaMini, CEntrance DacPortable, CEntrance Hifi-Skyn, CEntrance Mini-M8, CEntrance Hifi-M8 briefly for impedance testing.

I used FLAC tracks mainly 16/44.

It took a long time to get a handle on the Dorado whilst various tip rolling and Dap changing, 
Lets check the journey of discovery.....

I decided to follow more of a storyboard style with this review, starting from the earlier first impressions at the show at the start of this review, to the time when I first started to listen them the Dorado, the middle analytical stage and the final end where I got more in the particulars and various tweaks with tips and changes of sources etc

At 23 hours burn in using foam tips and the Opus#1 (3.5mm 2 Ohm)
Definitely has a V shape or XxX.
Deep bass, but crisp and clear, not boomy and with a fast decay.
Vocals are a bit forward or could be the lesser mids.
Volume set at slightly less than the Andromeda.Clear, crisp highs, not sibilant. Good like the Campfire Audio BA models.
Sometimes a bit smeared or blurred between freqs. Need more burn in?
Can be dull on some tracks, rock? recording?earphones, lack of strong mids? comply tips?

Bass is good, full. Not a fake basshead style either. It is sufficient and more than sufficient, the Dorado has good deep bass.
It is hard to describe the highs as I am on foam tips. But they do sound good, clear, sparkly at times and not overly bright.
Soundstage mid to large.
Great detail, nice timbre and body.
It can be a lazy amble on some tracks.
Nice cymbals: light and fast.

The Litz cable I gave a good listen to.
Iggy and the Stooges came on `Penetration` and I had to touch the Dorado housing to see If they were vibrating or rumbling from the bass.

It`s not that the mids are absent, they are present and full of life, just not as forward as vocals/bass/treble/mids in that order.

Decided to mix it up prematurely and play with the new ALO Reference 8 cable.

More full and with body overall.
More of a put in and forget, just listen to the music, seems more linear at times and ?
Not sure If the tops of the ends of the V shape have been pruned down, or If the mids have come up.
Also at 1 Ohm now.
Seems more even, Slightly lighter and organic at times.
Vocals are more at the level of the music and less forward.

At 42 hours.

Dorado, Opus#1, Litz cable, silicone stock tips.

I changed to the stock silicone tips, it leads to a bit more of a flatter V shape.
Bass is tamed, yet still present.
Highs tamed.
Smaller soundstage?
A little bit less musical.

Spiral Tips.
Lighter, airy, space.
Approaching that reference sound.
Tips not a good fit for the Dorado nozzle.

**Interlude as I got seduced by the Vega, Andromeda and Lyra II for a few days.......

Dorado, Opus Dap again (ED:Not really sure about these mysterious notes).
Flattened V.
Easy listening.
bass not as strong as the Vegas.

*Vega takes over ...again.

Vega and the Hifiman MegaMini (not earwax in the Vega, just a result of the photo filter I choose).

Dorado and Opus#1.
I tried various tips, Stock tips, Spinfits sound good but I found that day the hard cores were hurting my inner ear canal (later they were fine, probably just too much listening).
Stock silicone not a good fit for me or the nozzles.
Stock foam seemed to fit well, bass increased.
Silicone was more balanced over all.
JVC Spiral Tips too big for the Dorado nozzles.
Ortofon is my choice for silicone tips for the Dorado.

Stock foam vs Silicone
Forward vocals, wide sound stage, medium height.

Sound stage large with the silicone, medium with foam.
Vocals forward with foam.
Great strings.
Fast, clean response overall.

Chemical Brothers `Born in the echoes`
-The signature of the Dorado starts to become more clear.
Hard hitting bass, forward clear vocals, sparkly highs, minimal mids, good speed.

Strong, medium or Flattened V shape?
Excellent instrument separation.

A firm decent tip seal is definitely required.

I then changed back to the Ortofon tips.
Soft center, very comfortable.
Evens out the sound somewhat.
less separation in a way, but still defined.
Softer bass, more air, space and highs.

Fit: Because of the long nozzles I dont like to use tips with solid cores as it widens the end.

Try Sony hybrid tips?
Ah it loses some of that dynamic V, flattens and dulls to an extent on some tracks.
Also doesnt really fit the nozzle.

CEntrance DACPortable, Gain 1, ipod touch 6G, Ortofon tips.

Gain 1.
The music rests on a bed of bass.
More body overall.
A bit murky in the low end at times, long, slow decay.

Gain 2.
Solves all the above issues, treble is still great.
More separation between instruments.
Bass is now fast and tight.

It seems the Dorado needs a decent amount of power/amping to really shine.

The V shape becomes more apparent.
Active bass, a shiny guitar, snare drums and cymbals at the other end and vocals somewhere in the middle (ED:I dont what I was writing about).

Gain 1 is fine with The Pixies, go figure.
Definitely a bit sharper on Gain 2.

I can go to full volume on Gain 1 with the Dorado on the DACPortable, I suspect this is part of the design to have a really low Gain 1 to prevent multi drivers from hiss.
So Gain 2 for the Dorados!

Good deep bass on some Kruder and Dorfmeister.
great separation and vocals with Feist. I can really notice that V.
Ramones! Cretin Hop.

One nights notes on a commute home...

It is hard to fault the Dorado. They do everything right it seems.
I dont feel a pull to swap them out for another earphone.

They are comfortable once the right tips and seal have been found.
Fairly non-fatiguing for extended periods of listening.

Dorado with ALO Reference 8 cable (for science!).

I once again tried a few tips...with the Opus Dap.. Ortofon, Sony Hybrids (L size fits the nozzle stems but is not perfect), I wrote a bit more about the hybrids but as they arent such a good fit i will omit it.

Having found some stray Complys around my house I decided to try them out, they are the same size as the stock tips, but with a larger bore and a protective screen.

Less adjusting for fit as with the silicone tips.
Vocals seem more forward with the foams.

The (Comply) foams seem to bring back some of that full bodiedness I experienced with the CEntrance DACPortable on Gain 2.

Source and tip rolling can provide a different listening experience with the Dorados.

Warm dap: silicones are a good balance.
Neutral dap: Foam of silicone for personal preference.

The low end with the foams is as defined as with the Ortofon tips.

Foam can still have a bit of air and separation on the more lighter tracks. Sometimes darken other tracks.

Vocals generally forward of the music.

I have gone off the silicone, the Dorado is really more made for foam tips.

Though the Dorado is a V shaped earphone...
You can think of the Dorado (with foams) as a V shape, but with vocals forward.
So in that sense there is a type of evenness though not exactly due to low to medium level (but not messy) mids.

It takes a while to unlock what some earphones are doing and the Dorado is one of them.

I like it.


I find the other models an easier fit as I have become accustomed to a more shorter nozzle these days, especially as I have adopted the JVC Spiral Tips as my general go to tip for a decent fit for my ear canal sizes.

I found that the Dorado needed a deeper insertion to match their long nozzles, not for any sound improvement as such, just for a secure fit at all times and I found that I had to go down a tip size for that.

The Spiral Tips didnt have the right size and slid off. *sadface*
 I found the supplied Spin Fits core to be a good fit, the hard core meant they didnt slip up or down, they seemed to retain some of the intended sound signature I felt (I usually dont like spinfits tbh).
 The included stock silicone inside stem was nice and soft, but slid a bitand  I couldnt get a good seal with them myself, others will have a different experience.
I got could get a good seal with the supplied foam tips but found the bass a bit rumbly. The core was a bit small too which tightened up the foam a bit.

I really enjoyed the Ortofon tips with them, not as such a deep bass on some tracks, but very clear, great detail and space.

I found some Comply Tx-400 tips ( later I discovered these were from the Andromeda and Nova) with a protective screen slightly (0.5mm) wider than the stock foam and about the same height and shape, with a larger bore size and found them to work as perhaps intended.
Full bass, decent highs, and vocals at the same level or slightly forward of the music.

Comply Tx-400, then Ortofon/Spinfits for me. And I`m usually not really a foamie fan club member, but science...and what ever works best, right!??!!

Stock foam and the Comply Tx-400

At US$999 the value of the Dorado is balanced and decided by ones wallet and audio enthusiasm.
It is a well built, brilliantly designed piece of audio equipment.
The sound is near faultless and is dependent more on ones taste in sound signature than by any build or performance deficiencies as in some other products.
Whether one chooses the Dorado, Vega or Lyra II they can be satisfied in the fact they have have chosen a superior product with a stellar performance.
The Litz cable is great, If you are even considering that you are going to buy an upgrade cable, why not save the money and just get the Vega then? Its nearly Christmas, deserve it. go on :)
....or why not have both?


The Dorado earphone is a superior piece of kit from the latest line up from Campfire Audio.

The Vega, Dorado and Lyra II all share the same sized dynamic driver (Dorado has another two BA drivers), housing (Dorado has a longer nozzle) and a superb reproduction of sound. Each with their own particular tuning and signature.

The Dorado is the mid price item and exhibits a classic V shaped signature, although not as extreme as other brands have in the past. There are also mids within the middle, mixed in with the vocals which give it a sense of coherency overall, rather than the typical valley surrounded by two towering mountains model we usually get stuck with.

Nothing is excessive and is finely tuned to achieve a balance between the competing frequencies.

V shaped earphones can often be too energetic and then one tires easily and quickly of them.
Campfire Audio seems to achieved that tender tightrope balancing act, by adding in a touch of mids and slightly forward central based vocals to even it out a bit so the sound is easy to digest and sublime.

I have reviewed the BA models in the past, Jupiter, then Andromeda and the Nova. I think Campfire Audio have pulled off something of a miracle here, perhaps even surpassing some of their earlier models with this latest line up of Dynamic drivers.

The Dorado is very coherent overall, nicely balanced, smooth. 
It has a medium sound stage, great width and good height, instrument separation is top notch and clear.
Bass is tight and fast after burn in with the right tip selection, highs are beautiful and clear without sibilance.
I enjoy that I can get a slightly different sound with different tips, generally output impedance doesnt cause much diverging from the intended sound signature.

Although it is a V shaped signature, its isnt an extreme one which means I can listen for extended periods with enjoyment and without fatigue.

I ended up with the Comply Tx-400 tips that came with the Andromeda and Novas as my tip of choice with the Ortofon at a close second for a sound with less bass and more space. up, the Lyra II, then the Vega.

Thank you to Campfire Audio for sending the Dorado to Head pie for review


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