Tag Archives: Meze

Campfire Audio Dorado 2020 Review – Changes

Pros –

Excellent build and cable, Ergonomic and compact design, Hugely dynamic yet controlled bass, Natural voicing, Focused detail presentation, Good coherence

Cons –

Full and high-energy sound won’t suit all, Coloured midrange

Verdict –

The Dorado fills an interesting niche but does so with excellent execution. Very few fun-themed earphones strike with such poise and delicacy as the Dorado 2020.

Introduction –

Campfire Audio began life in Oregon, USA as cable manufacturer ALO Audio. They soon branched into IEMs, utilising their former experience to kickstart what has now become a long and successful career. Of the myriad models they’ve launch since, the Dorado was the company’s first hybrid that existed at a time where hybrids were not so commonplace. The same cannot be said for the modern market and here, quite admirably, CFA once again demonstrate their trend-setting prowess. For the new Dorado 2020 serves as a simplification of its progenitor, exchanging the 3-driver setup for a more refined crossover-less single DD + BA design. It combines elements from their past releases into a more coherent whole whilst staying true to the ethos behind the original Dorado. Once more, the 2020 variant seeks to bridge the gap between their more balanced high-end BA line-up and Solaris, and their bassier Vega and Polaris II.

The new Dorado is available for $1099 USD. You can read all about it and treat yourself to one on Campfire Audio.

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Caleb from Campfire Audio very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the Dorado 2020 for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

Contents –

Specifications –

  • Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 22 kHz
  • Impedance: 10 Ohms @ 1kHz
  • Sensitivity: 94 dB @ 1kHz
  • Black Ceramic Shell
  • Single Custom BA (High)
  • 10mm A.D.L.C Diaphragm DD (Mid + Low)
  • Oversized Neodymium Rare Earth Magnet
  • Custom Be/Cu MMCX connectors
  • Brass Spout w/Midnight Grey PVD Finish
  • Campfire Audio SPC Litz Cable

Behind The Design –

“No Complication” Acoustic Design

The Dorado 2020 takes the company’s hybrid designs back to their roots with a single DD + single BA driver setup sans crossover. The company reasons this provides improved resolution and cohesion. Indeed, crossover-less designs have become popularised recently for their phase coherence yet at the cost of more sophisticated acoustic design. Campfire Audio have proven themselves masters of such design, their Andromeda Gold and Ara being the pudding of proof.

Custom Drivers  

Campfire Audio work with OEMs to develop their own DD and customised BA drivers for their desired sound signature – especially imperative given the crossover-less design. Campfire Audio custom design their dynamic drivers and also own these designs, which permits stricter QC and means their performance is not replicable by other brands despite the increasing trend towards single-DD flagships with similar diaphragm constructions.

They implement an oversized Neodymium magnet to increase flux density, permitting higher efficiency and lower distortion that have been subjectively associated with increased dynamics. The dense ceramic shell and brass spout on the Dorado 2020 should also translate to decreased vibrations and resonances leading to shorter decay and a more defined sound. It may appear simple, but it’s clear that serious thought went into refining and distilling this design.

Unboxing –

Campfire Audio always do a great job with their unboxing experience, reinforcing the premium status of their products. The Dorado 2020 is no different, emplying the same colourful foiled box that folds open to reveal a protective hard box. CFA show support local business and their environment with their locally printed and sourced packaging in addition to upcycling marine plastics for their accessories.

Inside is the canvas zippered carrying case that exudes a classic and dapper vibe with metal CFA tag and pastel orange colour scheme. In the accessory box are two mesh IEM bags, one containing 3 pairs of foam tips and 3 pairs of CFA silicone tips and the other 5 pairs of Final Audio E-tips. The earphones themselves also come in an additional mesh bag, these are quite brilliant due to their compact size and separate compartments that separate each earpiece, preventing scratches whilst maximising portability.

Design –

It’s very easy to appreciate the delightful combination of colour and texture offered by CFA IEMs and the new Dorado is certainly no different. The gold PVD shell of its predecessor makes way for an otherworldly black ceramic with tinted brass nozzle. It’s a svelte package that doesn’t scream for attention but still manages to be visually distinct. As with the new Vega, the construction is a dense ceramic formed through an 8-day process. The results are superlative with immaculate hyper-gloss finish and perfectly even seams throughout their 3-piece construction. The look and feel is dense, sturdy and ultra-premium as we’ve come to expect from Campfire Audio.

The cable too impresses, coming paired with CFA’s Smokey Litz unit with SPC wires. The Dorado 2020 and cable both use custom Beryllium connectors that are harder-wearing that regular MMCX. Indeed, this has been my experience, I haven’t experienced issues with CFA’s connectors and I find them to offer tighter tolerances and a more affirmative engagement too. The cable itself is of pleasing construction with excellent strain relief on the right-angle 3.5mm plug and comfortable pre-moulded ear guides. The wires themselves are very supple with minimal memory and are, thereby, easy to coil for storage. The insulation also doesn’t appear to harden over time and carries minimal microphonic noise. Altogether, a reliable and easy cable to live with.

Fit & Isolation –

Those familiar with CFA’s older Vega or Lyra II will find a very familiar experience here with regards to overall shape and size. That means, they are superbly comfortable as they are compact enough not to contact much, if any, of the outer ear, thereby mitigating hotspot formation. In terms of nozzle design, the new Dorado also addresses the uncharacteristically long and wide nozzles that could impede a comfortable fit and seal on the original. With its sleeker, more aptly angled and tapered nozzles, fit and seal are worlds apart; the wearing experience on the new Dorado is much more conventional even with standard silicone tips, it fits deeper and is more stable during wear.

The seal is strong and the fit very stable when combined with the over-ear cable design. I was able to skip and jog without the earphones jostling loose, of course, they aren’t weather sealed in any way so this is not advised for consumers. Driver flex is apparent as on the new Vega and a lot of CFA’s DD earphones. As always, it doesn’t affect the listening experience nor did I find it to cause failure or performance degradation during my weeks of testing. In terms of isolation, the Dorado 2020 isolates slightly less than the new Vega but well above average for a hybrid earphone. They are easily suitable for public transport and general commute, especially with their robust, punchy low-end tuning. They would suffice in a pinch for air travel with foam tips, but I would still recommend a fully-sealed or CIEM for frequent flyers.

Next Page: Measurements & Sound Breakdown

The post Campfire Audio Dorado 2020 Review – Changes first appeared on The Headphone List.

Original Resource is The Headphone List

Sivga Phoenix Review – The Charmer

Pros –

Excellent bass weight and extension, Clear and natural vocals, Rich and lush presentation, Good soundstage expansion and layering, Gorgeous build and design, Great carrying case

Cons –

Separation suffers from its fullness, Average technical performance in-class, Reasonably limited range of headband adjustment, Thin earpads can affect long-term comfort

Verdict –

Though its unique combination of qualities and thoughtful execution, the Phoenix is able to carve out a reasonably uncontested niche in the audio market for bass lovers who still value clear vocals and a spacious soundstage.

Introduction –

SIVGA are a Chinese audio company founded in 2016 who focus on stunning wooden designs and competitive pricing. They work hand-in-hand with Sendy Audio, their premium division, who recently achieved renown for their well-received Aiva planar magnetic headphone. The Phoenix is their latest creation, an open-back over-ear headphone featuring a huge 50mm dynamic driver. Signature to Sivga, the Phoenix features a premium bill of materials with special mention going to its gorgeous zebra wood cups. Sivga promise a rich and natural sound from its custom dynamic driver with moderate pricing placing it in direct comparison to some of the most acclaimed planar magnetic options on the market such as the Hifiman Sundara. Still, this is a unique approach and one that does feel well executed to boot.

The Phoenix sits just below the planar P-II in Sivga’s line-up at $299 USD. You can read all about it and treat yourself to a set on Sivga’s website. See also Sendy’s website for their premium planar offerings here.

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Collin from Sivga and Mark from Capisco Ltd very much for their quick communication and for providing me with the Phoenix and Upgrade Pads for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the headphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

Contents –

Specifications –

  • Driver: 50mm Dynamic Driver
  • Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 103dB
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Weight: 296g

Behind the Design –

Special Film

The Phoenix’s dynamic driver features a uniquely developed polycarbonate film and independently developed diaphragm structure. The company specifies a clear focus on rigidity in order to reduce modal breakup at high frequencies. Meanwhile, a lightweight construction with copper-clad aluminium voice coil promise an agile transient response for a detailed, extended and low-distortion sound. This is enhanced by the adoption of a 3mm thick rubidium iron boron magnet that provides strong driver control and low-end drive. A 32-ohm impedance makes the Phoenix easy to drive.

Unboxing –

Sivga create a premium unboxing experience for the Phoenix with a gorgeous wood-grain and carbon-fibre textured hard box that slides open to reveal a zippered hard case. The case is excellent, moulded specifically for the Phoenix to provide a perfect, extra-secure fit during storage. It has a faux-leather texture and feels very well-constructed, four feet on its base enable the case to stand upright as well. Inside are the headphones and cable within a drawstring hessian pouch. Sivga also provide a 1/4″ adaptor for use with desktop amplifiers. Altogether, a well-considered and high-quality experience!

Design –

Immediately, it’s hard not to appreciate the gorgeous painted stainless steel and zebra wood build that stands out as a defining feature of this headphone. The Phoenix appears premium in materials and provides a timeless retro aesthetic with adjacent chrome and woodgrain drawing the eye. The metal hangers and headband are reasonably lightweight but feel sturdy in the hand, reinforced by well-weighted and smoothly articulating hinges. Due to its compact dimensions, the Phoenix also is far from a heavy headphone at just under 300g despite its construction mostly employing robust metal parts.

This experience is complemented by a slide-to-adjust suspension headband with a wide, padded goat leather strap. It feels super soft and, being authentic leather, should also hold up better over time than faux so long as it is appropriately maintained. The pads are super soft with memory foam interior that conforms well to the individual’s head shape. The sides are pleather, and the face made from a soft suede that provides a comfortable and slightly more breathable experience.

The cable attaches via 2.5mm mono plugs which is a less popular choice these days but still commonly available on aftermarket cables. Unfortunately, I am not so enthusiastic about the Phoenix’s stock cable which is thin and flimsy, barely thick enough to be an IEM cable. Albeit, the cable is very light and unobtrusive, it is also very compliant and doesn’t irk during listening. The connectors are metal and terminations have a nice strain-relief, the 3.5mm plug, in particular, employing a robust spring loaded one. Still, the thinness is a concern for longevity to me, I would like to have seen a more robust cable that better complements the build of the headphones themselves.

Fit & Isolation –

Looking over the design, I was expecting a very comfortable fit, however, the Phoenix’s compact dimensions means there are some concessions for all-day at-home listening. The headband has fairly limited adjustment relative to most competitors. I personally felt I required slightly more length as I was just able to fit the headphones with the setting maxed out. Otherwise, the headband is comfortable and didn’t form any hotspots for me over time. Though do keep in mind, that If you find yourself maxing out the slider on most headphones, the Phoenix may not fit.

In addition, while the earpads are soft and compliant, they are also very shallow. The opening is large enough to engulf my ears by a hair, however, the lack of width means the drivers are constantly pressed against them, causing soreness after an hour or two of listening. The discomfort was mild and I was able to listen for longer, though the Phoenix does feel more to me like a portable headphone than a full-size open-back as a result. The lightweight build and slim pads to me seem contradictory for an open-back design that is not ideal for portable use, and yet it almost appears geared towards it.

This may be the intention of the design as it does isolate considerably more than most open-back headphones, albeit not nearly to the extent of a closed-back model yet alone the stronger ANC performers out there around this price. This does mean they do in a pinch for basic commute. Still, they do leak sound which is not ideal for public transport. I feel the pad design is intentional to deliver the best sound, that said.

Upgrade Pads

For those concerned about the earpads, Sivga do offer OEM protein leather replacements that offer an additional half-centimetre of width for only $15. The pads are held in place by a twist lock like most competitors making pad swapping easy – though of note, they do rotate clockwise rather than anticlockwise to disengage so take care to twist in the right direction during removal. The company was kind enough to send over a pair for evaluation. Though they aren’t as breathable as the stock pads with an entirely faux leather construction without the velour of the stock pads, but do successfully provide more of an over-ear fit. For my ears, they were noticeably more comfortable for longer listening sessions as they reduced contact between the driver and my ears. I think this is a fine option and a reasonably priced extra, though do note that they will change the sound quite noticeably as I will touch on in the sound analysis below.

Next Page: Sound Breakdown

The post Sivga Phoenix Review – The Charmer first appeared on The Headphone List.

Original Resource is The Headphone List

Deal Alert: Meze Sale At Apos Audio!

We’ve reviewed quite a few Meze Audio products on THL and we’ve had a great experience with the Romanian company’s headphones and IEMs. A standout was surely the Rai Penta which we found to offer a highly natural sound and superb build and comfort. This model was promptly followed by the Rai Solo, a single dynamic driver model that shrinks the Penta experience into a vastly more accessible price point.

Apos Audio are delighted to announce ongoing promotion on these models with a $50 discount on the Rai Solo, bringing the price down to $149 USD. In addition, all Rai Penta orders will now include a complimentary balanced silver-plated upgrade cable worth $149.

You can treat yourself to a discounted Rai Solo here and score the Rai Penta bundle here. See here for all of our Meze reviews on THL!

The post Deal Alert: Meze Sale At Apos Audio! first appeared on The Headphone List.

Original Resource is The Headphone List

Deal Alert: New Meze Bundles and Limited Ed Release!

Romanian audio manufacturer, Meze audio has stormed the market in recent years with their immensely impressive portable 99-series headphones and flagship Empyrean. They’ve also had numerous successful IEM launches, the Rai Penta being especially coveted for its superbly natural and balanced sound, we took a look at the latter here and came away very impressed.

Rai Penta Bundle

Starting this week, customers who purchase a Rai Penta IEM will receive a free balanced SPC upgrade cable worth $149 USD in their choice of 4.4mm or 2.5mm connector. As with the stock 3.5mm cable, the Meze balanced cable employs a high 160 strand count for an ergonomic and pure sonic experience, in addition to hard-wearing and corrosion-resistant Rhodium plugs.

The Rai Penta retails for $1099 USD. You can read more about Meze’s upgrade cable here and purchase the bundle with Rai Penta here (affiliate).

Limited Edition 99 Classics

Anyone interested in portable headphones would surely have heard of the 99 Classics. If you’ve been on the fence, now may be the time to buy as Meze have just released a new limited-edition Maple Silver model. These portable headphones were designed to balance all-day comfort with a portable and isolating design. Furthermore, it features gorgeous aesthetics with genuine wooden cups and a completely modular construction that makes them easy to maintain and repair. This is an impressive sounding headphone intended to last a life-time.

First LE units will ship on Dec 11th (may be subject to change). You can read our full review here and secure a unit for yourself on Apos Audio (affiliate).

The post Deal Alert: New Meze Bundles and Limited Ed Release! first appeared on The Headphone List.

Original Resource is The Headphone List

LSA HP-2 Ultra Headphone | REVIEW

One of the great things about high performance headphone audio is that there is such a diverse selection of great sounding gear now. Back in the day (oh, 30 years or so) there were far fewer options on the table. Now, one would have to listen every day of the year to make it through all the variety in headphones that promise high fidelity within a personal space. This review of the LSA HP-2 ($799) covers one of that market’s newest entries. It’s not perhaps the most widely known option out there, but it definitely has its place among the enthusiasts’ high expectations for headphones in the $500+ category.  The headphone itself is sourced from the Russian-based manufacturer Kennerton. Under the LSA moniker, Underwood HiFi now offers their own take on the headphone line via three options. The HP-2 sits in the middle of the lineup and is based around Kennerton’s Gjallarhorn model. The website describes it as containing “a superb new horn-loaded 50mm driver with a bio-cellulose and paper membrane with a graphene coating”. It is a closed-back design with ear cups that appear completely made of wood, with a small vent hole located near the center of a [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile