Table of Contents
Welcome to “Crinnotes“, a series where I push out rapid fire opinions of some of the headphones I’ve heard but can’t be bothered to fully review. Thus I won’t get too in-depth, nor will I be too formal and technical. Less analysis, more… from-the-heart if you will.
So… this is a surprise.
Campfire had literally just released two new IEMs a couple of weeks back, and here we are again. Two more new models, this time back in their iconic faceted-with-screws metal shells and spiffy new glow-in-the-dark components (at the cable connectors and also the “CA” logo).
Well no point dragging this introduction any further, let’s just get right into it.
Product page: https://campfireaudio.com/shop/mammoth/
Driver configuration: 2BA + 1DD hybrid
The Mammoth joins the ranks of Campfire’s hybrid lineup alongside the likes of the Polaris (seemingly discontinued, would need confirmation on this) and the Dorado 2020. Though at an MSRP of $550 it seems more like a spiritual successor to the former.
As much as I’ve ragged on the Polaris (V2)… I feel like I preferred that over the Mammoth. The Polaris (V2) is no doubt a basshead’s dream and unapologetically V-shaped, and coloured specifically to fit that kind of listener profile. I’ll quote what I said in my impressions post back in 2019:
“I can at least imagine myself listening to the Polaris V2 in my own personal time, and ultimately I have heard worse. There are numerous other IEMs that attempt the Polaris V2’s hyperboosted bass signature and have failed in much more spectacular ways. That said, in my own personal opinion, the Polaris V2 is nowhere close to a ‘$500 sound’.”
Now, why am I talking about the Polaris so much? Because as far as my own opinion on the Mammoth is concerned… I find it a downgrade in every way.
I ended my listening session almost nostalgic for the Polaris V2 that I panned. In short, the Mammoth has the combo of being both more bloated and less treble-extended than the Polaris, resulting in a far more congested and muffled signature. Where the Polaris sounded extremely V-shaped with the sharp treble somewhat counterbalancing the excessive bass response, the Mammoth leans into a more bombastic mid-bass response that thickens the notes far too much for my own personal enjoyment, and of course causing basslines to bleed heavily into the general melody.
If the Polaris V2 isn’t going to win any IEF awards at $500, the Mammoth wouldn’t either. If you’re asking me, one considering the Mammoth would be better served with the Polaris if one has to be in the Campfire ecosystem.
Product page: https://campfireaudio.com/shop/holocene/
Driver configuration: 3BA
The Holocene is an IEM that is based on the c/2019 Q4, a limited edition model sold exclusively in Japan in… the fourth quarter of 2019. I have not heard the c/2019 Q4 so I cannot confirm nor deny if both it and the Holocene have the same tuning, but at the very least they do have the same driver configuration.
Out of all recent Campfire releases (Dorado + Vega 2020, Satsuma, Honeydew, Mammoth, and Holocene), this would be my favourite. I can at least say it’s not bad, which immediately rockets it up to one of the best Campfire IEMs in my book. The Holocene has a neutral-ish sound signature, though with some caveats to the overall balance of its tonality.
The Holocene seems to attempt what I’d classify as “UERM-neutral”, but with a much more subdued pinna-gain region and some extra spiciness up top in the treble. Is it executed as well? Arguably not; the upper harmonics get a tad too weird for my tastes and the higher-contrast transition between the upper-mids and the treble result in a brightness that just tethers over the edge for me, and so I find myself wincing occasionally at some cymbal strikes.
But as I’ve said, the Holocene is not bad. In fact, I’ll push it and call it decent. Unfortunately the $650 price tag doesn’t too it too much favours in 2021, though I can perhaps see it being somewhat competitive back in 2019. For now, the Holocene is a much-needed optimistic view of Campfire’s future, and I cautiously hope that it’s a sign of tangible improvement amongst the swathes of regressions.
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