Campfire Audio Trifecta, Equinox, Solstice, and Supermoon Impressions
Spend enough time in the in-ear monitor (IEM) market and you’re sure to come across Campfire Audio. Based out of Portland, Oregon, they’ve solidified themselves in the high-end market with the release of the infamous Campfire Andromeda and its countless variants. In the modern IEM landscape of copycat products, Campfire Audio is one of the few remaining brands that still proudly fly the boutique flag. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of some of their more eccentric designs but I do appreciate when a company is willing to ignore market trends in favor of their own artistic vision. It’s what makes this hobby interesting. To that end, I sought a demo session of their latest Campfire Audio Trifecta and custom IEM offerings. These are my impressions.
Shoutout to Bay Bloor Radio in Toronto for the opportunity to demo these IEMs and more.
Note that this is an impressions article, not a full review. An expanded “first look” rather than an in-depth analysis conducted over multiple days and dozens of listening hours. It will give you a good idea of my initial thoughts on these products but these may be subject to change with further ear time.
Campfire Audio Trifecta
Of all the IEMs released in recent memory, the Trifecta best exemplifies the boutique mindset. Limited to 333 sets worldwide, the Trifecta boasts a triple dynamic driver design (3 DD) and a $3,375 price tag. And that right there is its first mistake. Why is it not $3,333?
Jokes aside, the Trifecta has a striking design: three dynamic drivers arranged in a triangular shape all firing towards each other. Its clear resin shell and large bulbous shape is unlike anything I’ve seen before. More familiar is its cable, looking and feeling like a modern KZ cable with its flat silver 2-core design. It’s rather unwieldy. On the upside, despite its strange shape, I found the Trifecta to be reasonably comfortable in ear. Its nozzle is long enough that the shell sits just a little outside the ear. There is however a lot of dynamic driver flex when inserting into the ear. This is a common phenomenon with Campfire Audio IEMs and is no exception with the Trifecta. If you’re sensitive to that crinkling noise, stay away.
Frequency response of the Campfire Audio Trifecta. Measurement taken with an IEC-711 clone microphone. Comparisons can only be made relative to other measurements taken by this specific microphone. A peak at about 8 – 10 kHz is likely an artifact of the measurement rig and may not exist as depicted here. Measurements above 8 kHz are not accurate. If possible, reference multiple measurements.
The graph tells a pretty straightforward story. Lots and lots of bass, a sharp 2 kHz pinna gain followed by a large dip at 3 kHz, and finished off with several treble peaks. As you might expect, the tonal balance is not great: warm and extremely bassy. However, the bass doesn’t hit particularly hard; it’s volume rather than true impact. There seems to be a clashing effect in the bass, almost as if the drivers are out-of-phase with each other and inadvertently canceling out some of the Trifecta’s transient response. Bass notes have an unusual sort of bluntness. That said, the Trifecta has decent texture and physicality, but not to the level I’d expect from a flagship product boasting triple DDs.
Vocals are forward but the timbre is unfortunately quite poor. The 2 kHz peak is nasally while the 3 kHz valley destroys the natural upper harmonics and midrange of vocals and many other instruments. Interestingly, there is an echo-y, reverb-like effect on the Trifecta. If I had to guess, the 3 kHz dip allows for the excessive lower mids to come through, unmasking vocal effects that are dominant in that region.
Despite the seemingly hard treble peaks, I didn’t find the Trifecta to be too fatiguing. It was sparkly, particularly with instruments like chimes or the glockenspiel, and somewhat reminiscent of the Andromeda in that regard. However, hats and cymbal notes were distinctly incomplete, with many notes simply missing altogether.
Where the Trifecta partially redeems itself is in its technical performance. Its soundstage and imaging are reasonably good. Imaging is sharp while the soundstage has width, depth, and height. Not a standout performance by any means but credit where it’s due. Its resolving ability is suspect: some notes sound like they’re missing altogether. However, the highly colored nature of its tuning causes me to unwittingly focus on different parts of the familiar tracks and look at old instruments with a new light. Unfortunately, I expect this phenomenon will quickly fade with repeated listens like it did on the 64 Audio Duo.
Should You Buy It?
3 DD IEMs are a rarity in the market and almost exclusively found in low-end IEMs looking to sell driver count as a marketing tactic. While I don’t think that is the case here, Campfire Audio’s attempt at this driver set-up is a clear reminder why we don’t see it all that often. At best, this is a collector’s IEM for its esoteric nature. But you’d need to be a diehard fan to justify that $3,375 asking price. If you want an endgame basshead IEM, try the 64 Audio Nio or the top-of-the-line Empire Ears Odin.
Regular price From $1,699
Sale price From $1,699 Regular priceUnit price / per
Regular price $3,399
Sale price $3,399 Regular priceUnit price / per
Campfire Audio Custom IEMs
Interestingly all three of the Campfire Audio’s CIEMs cost $1,500. It’s not common to see this practice in the IEM industry but I quite like the concept as it equalizes price as a consideration between the different models. The demo units I’ve heard here are the universal models and are not representative of what the custom will sound like. Generally speaking, customs tend to have attenuated treble compared to the universal models due to the molding of the nozzle rather than a straight tube. The frequency responses here should thus be taken with a bigger grain of salt in the treble.
Campfire Audio Equinox
Unlike the Trifecta, the Campfire Audio Equinox opts for a straightforward single DD set-up. It is not an IEM I enjoy. Excessive bass and insufficient upper mids give it that classic underwater type of sound. The tonal balance is muddy, plodded, tired, and drowned. Bass notes do not land with any sort of weight and impact. There’s a pillowy softness to it. More so than the Trifecta, the only quality here is volume.
Vocals are relaxed and veiled, though distinct from the other instruments. Midrange timbre is poor and instruments blend together in a turbid manner. Clarity is sorely lacking. This is exacerbated by the fact that there is no treble brilliance in the Equinox. Hats and cymbals are practically faded out. Trumpets and horns sound almost scared, like a child trying to play without waking up their parents. Guitars are lazy and muted, without the requisite sharpness to provide note definition. There is a sliver of a treble peak that can occasionally be heard, a little prick of treble that vainly attempts to add a splash of brightness to the sound.
On a technical level, the soundstage and imaging are on par with that of the Trifecta. That is to say, decent but nothing special. There’s surprisingly good resolution for peripheral notes but anything of central focus is dim. As a whole, I prefer the Trifecta.
Campfire Audio Solstice
The Campfire Audio Solstice draws inspiration from the classic Andromeda with a similar 5 balanced armature set-up. In the grand scheme of things, this is a fairly average IEM. Bass is decent, with an almost dynamic driver-like decay. It’s not particularly tight but there’s a good oomph to the kick and toms. In terms of technical performance, it’s in-line with the Equinox and possesses similar qualities in its staging and resolution.
The midrange of the Solstice is thick and saturated with excess lower mids. Vocals are warm but the timbre isn’t too bad. There’s a surprising amount of forwardness but more upper mids would still be appreciated. Vocals and electric guitars lack energy and consequently sound flattened. Looking at the frequency response graph, the imbalance of the lower-to-upper mids ratio explains the saturated, thick sound that the Solstice oozes. That 3 kHz pinna peak is likely what gives the Solstice a bit of forwardness but is immediately dampened by the adjacent 4 kHz valley.
The treble of the Solstice is confused. Hats and cymbals clash against each other and are all over the place in rock tracks. The multiple mid-treble peaks reflect the conflicting emphasis of various transient attacks. The steep roll-off of the upper treble leads to a lack of upper harmonics and air necessary to complete treble notes. Together, it causes the Solstice to come off as aimless in its treble. I would stick with the original Andromeda if you want a similar but coherent sound signature.
Campfire Audio Supermoon
Saving the best for last, the Supermoon is the CIEM to buy if you were to choose something from Campfire Audio’s lineup. It’s also probably the only CIEM on the market today that sports a single planar magnetic driver. Speaking of which, I suspect it might be using a similar driver to the crop of planar IEMs that’s taken over the entry-midrange market. Perhaps that explains how much more power-hungry it is compared to its siblings. Without further ado, let’s take a look at its frequency response graph.
Finally, a normal looking graph in this article! If you know your frequency response graphs, you’ll note that this is reminiscent of the 7Hz Timeless, albeit with a deeper V-shape. If you’re a normal person and don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of measurements, here they are for reference:
Starting from the bass, we get a nicely physical response. It’s hard hitting and impactful but not bloated. Notes are clean and defined, with tight transients and controlled decay. There's good quality bass here and plenty of it. The Supermoon is a bassy IEM, but not one defined by it.
The midrange of the Supermoon is alright. The significant 2 kHz peak for vocals is non-ideal but the timbre isn’t overly poor thanks to some energy in the 3 - 4 kHz range. This manifests in a shouty yet oddly hollow-sounding midrange. There’s a bit of the classic scooped mids feel to it. Instruments other than the vocals fare better.
What is a defining characteristic of the Supermoon is its treble. It’s bright and sizzly. Transients are frontloaded and I hear every little vibration and click of the hats and cymbals. Decay is de-emphasized leading to a somewhat thin, light-sounding treble response. At times, there is also an overexaggerated upper-treble airiness. All of this is in-line with the frequency response graph where we can see a notable amount of mid-treble and a large upper-treble peak. Keep in mind that given the Supermoon is meant to be a custom IEM, this treble will likely be significantly tamed in the non-universal models.
In terms of technical performance, it’s better than all the other Campfire Audio IEMs I’ve heard today. Soundstage and imaging are about the same. Resolution has a clarity boost thanks to better tuning. In general, the Supermoon is a lively sounding IEM, one that is colored, exciting, and engaging. If you’re looking for a pair of boutique high end custom IEMs, the Supermoon is one that’s worth auditioning.
Campfire Audio is an old name in the industry, perhaps one that has been forgotten as of late. Still, it’s always fun to check out what eccentric ideas are floating around out there outside of the race-to-the-bottom world that the IEM landscape has found itself in lately. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I enjoyed most of the Campfire Audio’s designs this time around save for the Supermoon. Hopefully this article will give you a good idea of what you might expect if you were interested in taking a look at these products. And as always, the best ear is your own.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://headphones.com/blogs/reviews/campfire-audio-trifecta-equinox-solstice-and-supermoon-impressions