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Introduction: The amazing people responsible for Campfire Audios highly acclaimed in-ear monitors have continued to be busy at work since their initial entry into the market a couple of years back, along the way they’ve crafted some of the most well-regarded IEMs in their respective classes, from the airy, resolving Andromeda to the visceral and powerful Vega. In their journey of creating various innovations in how to extract the most out of whatever drivers they had to achieve the target sound they were looking to accomplish and not necessarily just jamming as many drivers as they could. What we have here is the Polaris, combining the familiar; the shell that embodied many of their balanced armature designs, the TEAC technology, the 8.5mm PVD beryllium dynamic driver; with the new, a hybrid dynamic driver and balanced armature design, a new aesthetic design with a two-tone color space, a non SPC cable, and what they’re calling a polarity tuned chamber, also in the vein of maximizing the performance of their dynamic driver. So, what can we make of Campfire Audios “middle child” in their line-up, slated at $599? Check it out after the break, and if you want a summary of my thoughts head on straight to the conclusion of the page.

Disclosure: The Polaris was provided to me by Campfire Audio in exchange for a  comprehensive, and honest review.

20Hz–20kHz Frequency Response
97.5 dB SPL/mW Sensitivity
16.8 Ohms @ 1kHz Impedance
Beryllium / Copper MMCX Connections
Machined Aluminum Shell
Cobalt Cerakote™ Lid
Anodized Blue Body
8.5mm Dynamic Driver with Polarity Tuned Chamber™
Single Balanced Armature High Frequency Driver with Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber™ (T.A.E.C.)
Packaging and Accessories: The Polaris comes in the standard Campfire Audio packaging, a relatively small box, colored blue, decorated with the camping theme and branding with the details and a photo of the model on the outside. Opening the box reveals the Campfire Audio zipper case, and inside the IEMs and the cable are inside. The Polaris comes preinstalled with their marshmallow tips. Removing the case, you will a false bottom revealing the rest of the included accessories. The included accessories are a standard set of black wide bore silicone eartips, a set of Spinfit tips, the remaining marshmallow tips; And then we have a warranty card, a quick start guide, an attractive pin, and an IEM cleaning tool. The zipper case of the Polaris has a pebbled leather outer finish that sports their logo engraved, black zipper with a logo engraving as well, the interior is lined with an almost shearling like fabric to keep the housings free from scuffs or scratches from within; The case is high quality, and seems to be relatively durable, and while the leather outer lining seems on the thin side, the case itself seems to have a lining that that keeps it stiff and hardy. Overall the packaging is simple and not wasteful, and the accessories included are a quality and attractive case, a wide variety of tips to suit almost any need or use case.
Build Quality: The Polaris uses the familiar Campfire shells used in their balanced armature models. The aluminum machining is wonderful, with all the bevels, and edges being precise and smooth. The shell utilizes 3-piece construction, the main housing being the textured blue anodized aluminum, with the textured lines only appearing in the upper half portion of the shell, painted in a metallic blue finish that gives a nice reflection when hit by light in various angles. The faceplate section as again anodized aluminum but this being finished in a Cerakote coating that will increase its durability; also located on the faceplate is an intricately machined Campfire logo, a breathing port for the drivers, and 3 torque screws to secure the housing assembly. The last portion is the 3D printed nozzle, constructed out of some variation of a plastic polymer with 2 ports, 1 for each driver and a nice lip to secure ear tips. The MMCX connectors are their usual beryllium MMCX connectors that add more durability. The construction of the Polaris is just wonderful, with expert machining and assembly, free of gaps, glue, or debris along the seams of the housing. If there’s anything to say the anodized finished combined with the angular housing lead it to be prone to chips in the paint, even when it’s in the case tucked away with care.

The cable is a 4-core Litz copper affair, with a 3.5mm single ended termination. The plug portion is reinforced plastic with nice strain relief, the Y splitter is made out of black aluminum, and the cinch is constructed out of plastic. The cable itself is “braided” in a twist configuration, and the black plastic sheathing seems soft and pliable. The MMCX connector portion is made out of hard plastic with shrink wrapped ear guides complete with the moldable metal wire. All told the cable is a simple but premium affair, with minimized microphonics and while I personally am not a fan of metal guides, it does do its job, though if it could hold memory better I think that would provide for a better wearing experience.
 Fit: The fit experience with this will be mostly similar to the other Campfire IEMs with similar housings, where those with a smaller or shallower concha may have some difficulty wearing them, due to the somewhat unconventional shape, larger housing, and somewhat harder edges. However, the introduction of the new nozzle alleviates some of the older issues and may introduce some new ones. Firstly, because the nozzle is longer this means that the large shape and sharp edges are less likely to cause discomfort for those wearing them as they sit farther away from your ear, however that might also introduce the fact that it will sit more outside the ear vs the Orion, or Andromeda for example. For the most part they fit me seamlessly and should fit most people comfortably if they were able to comfortably fit the other Campfire IEMs. A unique fit to be sure, but one that works well for the most part.
Sound: The Polaris was tested across various devices, from the stock output of an Alienware 17 R3, an LG G6 with and without the Hi-Fi Quad DAC, an ifi xDSD, a FiiO Q1 Mk II, and the Hiby R6 with and without an IEMatch as well to be able to test it across various output impedance levels. Listening comparisons were done volume matched to ensure accurate impressions relative to volume. The tuning of the Polaris seems to have taken some influence from the “Japanese” style, meaning there’s a boost in the mids around the point where higher pitched vocals start to enter. This is complemented by good sub bass, an attenuated mid bass, and smooth but well extended treble, the full breakdown of the sound will be found below.
Bass: The bass reproduction on the Polaris is a tale of two parts, the first part is the sub bass and lower half of the bass, up until I’d say 200Hz or so. The sub bass extension is quite good; bass drums from “Love” by Lana Del Rey, “Way Down Deep” by Jennifer Warnes, “Down”, and “Deep” by Marian Hill, have a fullness, that while stopping short of authoritative, definitely is a focal point. The texture on the bass drum is nice with the natural timbre you expect from a dynamic driver, every hit can be felt and not just heard. The sub bass decay is moderate, with a little linger that makes it sound “organic”. The rest of the lower bass is also a little elevated, but not to the same degree as the sub bass, the presentation is a little less detailed texture, but still pleasant and it does not linger like the sub bass. 
The other side of the coin, the mid bass is a little more attenuated as it approaches the mids. This approach gives nice spacing between the bass and the mids avoiding any bloat or overlap, on the other hand this slightly reduces the thickness and forwardness of instruments on the lower pitches as well as really deep vocals. While I wouldn’t consider them thin, they are a little bit drier, especially juxtaposed with the mids (that we will discuss further later). The dynamic between the upper and lower halves of the bass is interesting because the lower half is definitely more prominent and are intentionally not on even footing, this can be exemplified in “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz where the bass guitar overtones looms over the guitar and some of the vocal work that usually is the focus of the songs, especially in the intro. Overall the bass reproduction is boosted but well controlled in relation of the other frequencies, something especially for those looking for the “natural” bass that is more “felt”. I can definitely appreciate the Polarity chamber here.
Mids:  The mids on the Polaris is another two headed beast, and again with a lower half, and an upper half. The lower half something we slightly touched on earlier, usually reserved for lower spectrum vocals, usually male, and full range instruments is affected the by the recess that bottoms out somewhere between 500Hz and 1kHz. In this lower half range the reproduction have a little less body, and just take a step behind when presented, probably a consequence of taming the bass. This is exemplified in the chorus of “Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran especially with the rolling bass drum line that runs throughout the song, the vocals and guitar just lose a bit of resolution and definition and blends in together a bit more. 

The upper half on the other hand is just a polar(is) opposite, there seems to be a crescendo towards 2k Hz. “Valerie” by the late, wonderful Amy Winehouse has her voice forward, almost enveloping you, and when she does mini runs during the outro the feeling gets even more enhanced. There’s a sense of “emotion” in the way it reproduces vocals, where getting the grit and texture of the voice is imperative, the Polaris nails this. A great song that really showcases the midrange response is “Hello” or “Turnin’ Tables” by Adele, in the verse she sings slightly lower notes, and when she gets to the chorus the run she makes gradual increases in the note, and the top of those runs there’s some extra “oomph” that brings it a little higher, a little more forward, it helps encapsulate the emotive sense I mentioned before. The instruments in this range follow the same formula, as the pitch increases they get better definition, and fuller rendering, think of it like the Polaris is more an Adele IEM vs a John Mayer IEM, though it still does both well.
Treble: The top end of the spectrum for the Polaris is the most straightforward. It is well extended, linear, and free of harsh peaks or sibilance in my testing with cymbal crashes not even close to wince inducing. The TEAC module allows the balanced armature to introduce a moderate amount of air, just enough to “space out” the sound and add a good dose of sparkle that really gets to shine when violins, saxophones, or pianos get some focus. Treble response is clear and open, not sounding or muffled at all, and the detail retrieval in this spectrum is quite good, not exceptional but good. In “Feels So Good” by Chuck Mangione the saxophone delivers notes pleasantly even when it works up the scales, and the solo has good definition even once it gets busy. Daniel Jung’s rendition of “Titanium” sounds nice and resolving and is not shrill, however it reveals that the top end is a little soft and could use some more bite or crispness, evident in drum solos cymbals sounding good, but feel like it needs a little bit extra. Overall the treble reproduction is pleasant, giving a good amount of air and sparkle without being too hot that it could turn some people away or be too fatiguing. While I could personally do with some more sharpness, the overall tone is well defined and lends nicely to the overall signature of the Polaris.
Presentation: The emphasis on the sub bass and upper mids, work together in creating a more intimate presentation, somewhere along a Lounge feel, where most of the vocals lightly surround you, lending in a more intimate feel. The staging width wise is not particularly expansive with cymbals and other complementary sounds appearing just outside the ear, however there is nice depth to it, helping to give a sense of good layering, and everything not just being shoved at the same time. Separation for the most part is good, detail retrieval is good as well and except for the lower mid, mid bass section where they can be slightly lost in the mix when busy, there’s good technical proficiency here that you definitely don’t feel you’re sacrificing detail for the fun sound.
Conclusion: The Polaris is an intriguing entry, and a specimen that encapsulates things being greater than the sum of its parts. It has elements in the bass and midrange that when viewed in a vacuum would seem to indicate a lack of cohesion, but when you put it all together it paints a beautiful sonic image, that in fact does work hand in hand. Campfire Audio has combined their signature design and build quality, integrated their staple technology, and added upon it some touches we haven’t seen before in their product range, and have a take on their tuning that is emotionally captivating and engaging, while still more than enough resolution to remind you that this a premium IEM. Powerful sub bass that then tapers off in the transition, then full emotive vocals with a slant towards the upper register, and smooth but well extended highs with nice sparkle all of which with a slightly intimate delivery. Something to consider if you’re looking for more “fun” and engaging tuning at this tier, Campfire Audio has another winner with the Polaris and one at $599 is, in my opinion one of the better value propositions to be had. Simply a well rounded IEM that is both immensely enjoyable in sound and exceptional in quality.

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