Campfire Audio has recently updated a few of their offerings, the Polaris 2 was one of them. The shell has slightly more rounded edges and a new smooth coating. It was also changed slightly re-tuned versus the original. It uses a 9.2mm dynamic driver for the lows in conjunction with a single balanced armature + T.A.E.C.™ for the upper frequencies.
This unit was lent to me by KS Distribution for review purposes.
In the box
Build quality and accessories
In usual Campfire Audio style, both the build quality and accessories are stellar. Starting from having 3 different sets of tips in all sizes, not only this lets you tune the sound but also makes it easier to find the right fit. The new cable is softer, has better ear-hooks and in general feels better than the older clear cables. The only downside to this is I preferred the old cable silver look. The new case makes it easier to store the IEMs compared to the old model as it’s much roomier. It comes at the expense of being softer and less “protective”.
The Polaris itself is built very well, matching the build quality of the higher-end offerings for campfire, the shell is nicely machined, feels soft and smooth. The finish is mesmerising to look at.
Fit and comfort
Polaris feels like a small incremental upgrade to the comfort from the last generation of Campfire Audio IEMs, it fits just that little bit better than the older one and rounder edges help to prevent hotspots on the inside part of the ear. The new cable is much more comfortable due to both being lighter and not having the metal adjustable hook. Instead, it uses a pre-shaped rubber sleeve which sits very well behind the ear.
Polaris sound can pretty much be described in one word: FUN. The sound is very V shaped with a lot of bass and some treble sparkle.
This is what those IEMs are made to do, shake your eardrums with thumping bass. It’s very present, has a lot of impact, but it can feel overpowering at times. Listening to “Infected Mushroom – Flamingo” just shows how deep that dynamic driver can dig and how much of a sub-bass slam can be achieved in an IEM. This makes them extremely fun for electronic music but comes at some drawbacks in higher frequencies.
Quite recessed and in most cases lacking body. This is where Polaris kinda disappoints, in songs without too much bass the midrange is correct, however, when the bass comes in the midrange gets overpowered more often than not. “Rage Against The Machine – Bulls on Parade” the vocals get lost in the sea of bass. “Fleetwood Mac – The Chain” the instruments and vocals lack musicality and feel too dry and cold. When the bass isn’t present the detail is present but it just gets drowned when the bass comes back in.
I can appreciate what Campfire Audio did with the treble, it’s quite elevated and detailed with good extension. Because of the elevation the Polaris never sounds muddy or congested but for some music like “Justice – Phantom Pt. II” it can get a bit too peaky and sharp but it’s still within the acceptable margin. The cymbal splashes feel quite tinny.
Imaging and Soundstage
The stage feels quite big, more so in-depth and height than in width. Feels a little bit like a big planar stage but scaled down in that sense. However, the imaging is average, because of the midrange dip the instruments and vocals lack the sense of air and space in between them and they seem a bit crammed together. Cymbals and higher-pitched sounds don’t suffer from these issues.
I’m quite torn on the Polaris, it’s definitely not an IEM for everyone. The aggressive V shape signature renders it extremely fun but coming at a price of quite dry and cold midrange. This renders it not well suited to be an all-rounder, instead, you should treat the Polaris as a guilty pleasure, when you want the bass to shake your skull while listening to bass-heavy tracks. Would I pay £499 for Polaris? No, but I do know a lot of people that would. If you are a basshead you will more than likely really like Polaris.