Campfire Audio Vega 2020 ($899): TheVega 2020 is the Dorado’s more sedated sibling. It is less balanced overall due to its greater bass-bias and smoother higher-frequency tuning. The Dorado has a more balanced bass, the Vega being warmer and more mid-bass focused. The Dorado 2020 has more power and is more controlled with higher definition and less bloat while the Vega benefits from greater warmth and fullness. The midrange is more laid-back on the Vega 2020 while the Dorado 2020 has a bit more balance. The Dorado also has a much cleaner tone, the Vega being more obviously coloured with greater warmth and body.
The Vega is smoother and has higher coherence at the cost of being quite laid-back. Both are naturally voiced so it depends what which style of presentation you prefer. Treble is noticeably more detailed on the Dorado 2020 while the Vega offers a slightly warmer treble with a bit more body. Both are crisp and clean, the Dorado 2020 has more micro-detail and extension in addition to greater headroom. It has a slightly more rounded stage but similar dimensions. The Dorado 2020 has appreciably sharper imaging and much better separation especially.
Hyla CE-5 ($940): The CE-5 pursues a similar kind of engaging/pseudo balanced tuning but with more of an upper-midrange focus. It has less bass emphasis but similar tuning with a sub and mid-bass focus and large lower-mid dip. The Dorado 2020 has more pressure and power, the CE-5’s sub-bass is slightly tighter and quicker. The Dorado 2020 has larger notes and a more textured mid-bass. The CE-5 is quicker with higher definition, it is more articulate but also slightly less powerful and dynamic. The midrange is much thinner on the CE-5 and cooler in tone.
The Dorado 2020 has a slightly more natural and coherent voicing where the CE-5 has more clarity and openness but with a rather diminished vocal size. The lower-treble is crisper on the CE-5 and delivers better fine detail retrieval. The Dorado 2020 has more foreground/background contrast, while the CE-5 has more sparkle but at the cost of being generally brighter. The CE-5 has a slightly wider stage while the Dorado is more rounded. The CE-5 has sharper imaging and better layering and separation.
Meze Rai Penta ($1099): The Rai Penta is also somewhat W-shaped but overall a more linear and balanced sound. It has a lot less bass emphasis and a more even tuning delivering a more natural timbre. The Dorado 2020 extends deeper and delivers a lot more power and slam. The Dorado 2020 also has higher control and speed, it has more definition and texture while the Rai Penta is smoother in its delivery with slightly higher separation due to its tuning. The midrange is more forward on the Rai Penta. The voicing is sligthly more natural on the Rai Penta, it sounds a bit more linear and coherent.
It is similarly a bit full-bodied and lightly warm but slightly cleaner and more coherent than the Dorado 2020 due to its less contrasty tuning. The Dorado 2020 has higher definition and energy on the flipside, it is more engaging at the cost of timbre. The Rai Penta has a smoother treble and articulation. The Dorado 2020 has noticeably better fine detail retrieval and is also more forward in its presentation. The Rai Penta has a bit more air and similar headroom but less sparkle and energy at the very top, being a generally mellower sound. The Rai Penta has a slightly narrower soundstage, its imaging is similar in its acuity and its separation is similar too.
Campfire Audio Solaris 2020 ($1499): The Solaris 2020 is a more balanced and linear style of tuning with a less boisterous bass especially. Bass digs deep on both, the Dorado 2020 has noticeably more emphasis, sub and mid-bass especially, while the Solaris 2020 sounds more natural and balanced. The Dorado has more power and sub-bass pressure, it has much higher dynamics and similar control. The Solaris 2020 has stronger definition and separation due to its more linear tuning, the Dorado having thicker notes with less space between. The midrange is more forward on the Solaris 2020 and similarly full-bodied but also more linear.
The Solaris 2020 has more midrange clarity and extension, sounding more open and layered. Both are naturally voiced, but the Dorado 2020 is a bit more coherent, with slightly more density and smoothness, in addition to being a bit more laid-back here. The top-end tells a similar story, the Dorado 2020 has slightly more focused foreground detail presentation while the Solaris 2020 has more focus in the middle and upper-treble. The Solaris 2020 has notably more sparkle and headroom in addition to greater micro-detail. The Dorado 2020 sounds a bit more stable. The Solaris 2020 has better separation and a clearly larger soundstage, its imaging is also more holographic.
The Dorado fills an interesting niche but does so with excellent execution. The beauty in Campfire Audio’s line-up has always been choice; if you want balance, go for one of their BA earphones or the Solaris, want bass? The Vega and Polaris II have you covered. The Dorado 2020 then occupies the space in between, yet carves out an identity just as focused. Similarly, it honours the legacy of the original whilst avoiding a simple reiteration upon it. This is a big, bold sound yet one that also upholds decent balance and good separation. The Dorado 2020 masterfully combines engagement and versatility, providing a hugely fun and controlled low-end yet also a natural and defined vocal image. Furthermore, the top-end benefits from a clean and focused detail presentation and good foreground/background contrast with a little extra energy and sparkle in its top octave. While it may not have the huge sparkle and headroom fans of CFA have come to enjoy, nor the best timbre relative to competitors, very few fun-themed earphones strike with such poise and delicacy as the Dorado 2020.
The Dorado 2020 is available from Campfire Audio (International) for $1099 USD at the time of writing. I am not affiliated with Campfire Audio and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.
Track List –
Arcade Fire – Funeral
Childish Gambino – Kauai EP
Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel
Dirty Loops – Next To You
John Legend – Get Lifted
H.E.R – I Used To Know Her
Kehlani – While We Wait
Lee Suhyun – Alien
Mac DeMarco – This Old Dog
MAMAMOO – TRAVEL
Missy Higgins – The Sound of White
Nature TV – Emotion Sickness EP
Nirvana – Nevermind
Radiohead – Pablo honey
Steely Dan – Aja
The Cranberries – No Need To Argue
Tori Kelly – Solitude
Weezer – Weezer
Vaundy – strobo
ZICO – THINKING Part.2