4 New Campfire iem’s Impressions - Holocene, Mammoth, Satsuma, Honeydew

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by rhythmdevils, Jul 27, 2021.

  1. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    4 New Campfire iem’s Impressions -
    Holocene, Mammoth, Satsuma, Honeydew

    iem loaners courtesy of @Bloom Audio
    bloom audio

    [​IMG]


    GEAR

    Gungnir A1 -> Drop 789 with Sigma 11 LPS (Loki set to bypass)


    Halocene - 3 BA

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    Stupid glow in the dark BS is annoying and doesn’t even work. Also annoying cases that look like they were designed for toddlers

    • This iem is the only reason I decided to write a brief review of these iems. It’s a really great BA iem. It is a baby Andromeda, sounding surprisingly close to the Andromeda 2020 for 500$ less, albeit with some weaknesses.
    • Very neutral except for a dip in the midrange to upper midrange that makes guitars and vocals recessed and a roll off of lower bass
    • Treble is very neutral with no EQ from zero impedance source! I hope CA keeps going in this direction with future Solaris and Andromeda updates.
    • Typical for CA - best tone for BA iems on the market. No plastic-y timbre
    • Very close to the same soundstage as the Andromeda 2020

    VS Andromeda 2020:

    • Andromeda has more bass- neutral, and extension all the way down
    • Bigger soundstage with more separation between notes
    • More resolving
    • More dynamic
    • Better tone
    • Less recessed midrange and upper midrange, more neutral from bottom to top.
    But the Holocene has all the same traits of the Andromeda, just some weaknesses that are pretty fair for the price difference



    Mammoth - 1 DD, 2 BA

    [​IMG]

    Stupid glow in the dark BS is annoying and doesn’t even work. Also annoying cases that look like they were designed for toddlers.

    • Pretty good bass with good extension but lacks the control of the og Solaris, a bit loose and muddy
    • Recessed, cloudy, hazy vocals
    • Very recessed treble to the point that it’s hardly there. There is not enough treble extension to portray any shimmer at all with cymbals, they are very dull
    • Great soundstage, similar to the Holocene. Not as good as Andromeda or og Solaris
    TL;DR: Save up a bit and buy a used og Solaris this isn’t worth it.


    Satsuma - 1 BA

    [​IMG]

    Annoyingly skinny nozzle that doesn’t fit most tips. I had to use tips with a smaller stem that are more bass than most and probably did not do these iems any favors (Azla Sedna Earfit Light regular). Tip rolling could help with some of the bass emphasis

    • A lot of muddy bass, quit a bit north of neutral and overwhelms the whole spectrum, bleeding Ito the midrange
    • Pretty good treble extension, but not all the way there, a bit recessed, but with good tone and a kind of pleasing warmth
    • Vocals are muddy and hazy and just a bit recessed not not bad as far as neutrality. Just lacking in resolution and clarity
    • Upper mods are recessed. Guitars lack any bite whatsoever and are back in the mix

    Honeydew - 1 DD

    [​IMG]

    Annoyingly skinny nozzle that doesn’t fit most tips.

    I like this iem for what it is and I think others will too. It’s got no peaky nasties which from what I gather might be a first with a single DD iem?

    • Pretty damn neutral with good tone. No upper midrange or lower treble nastiness. Just a slight treble emphasis.
    • Slightly bass light, but tight, controlled detailed bass
    • Lacks ultimate bass extension
    • Vocals are neutral, not recessed, but sound a bit lean and have some sibilance at times from the treble emphasis
    • Upper midrange is just ever so slightly recessed taking the edge off any harshness
    • Pretty good soundstage but not great, behind all the others here. Sounds in my head, and doesn’t reach out outside the ears like most CA iems.
    • Not very resolving
    Overall, they are pretty even and lack harsh peaks but are lean across the board, with an FR that is upward tilting. I’m using warm sounding tips too. I want more body and weight to the sound and more warmth.

    I think these were designed for foam tips. I managed to find some that sort of fit the annoyingly small nozzle

    With Foam Tips:

    • Bass becomes neutral and accurate and punchy
    • Midrange has more body and weight
    • Treble remains a bit exaggerated
    • Resolution is still lacking
    • Soundstage is unchanged
    • Doesn’t seem to loose any transient response like iems usually do with foam tips.
    Foam is definitely the way to go with these iems. I think these are a great choice for the price for those looking for a neutral DD iem. With foam tips. I think size T200 might be right but I’m not sure. I don’t have any T200 Comply tips to try.


    The Holocene and Honeydew are the standouts here and the only ones I can recommend, though with reservations. Less reservation with the Honeydew and foam tips, but the treble exaggeration bothers me. It won’t bother most people though.
     
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    Last edited: Jul 27, 2021
  2. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    How do you think the bass driver of the Mammoth would do in the Solaris mid+high package? It seems that the biodynamic driver might be the star of the show and it is only used in the Mammoth.
     
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  3. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I was excited about the biocellulose driver too, but in doing critical listening to my test tracks I found the og Solaris to have better bass response across the board. The Mammoth is a big screw up in my opinion. Sorry Ken I love you!
     
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  4. DrForBin

    DrForBin Friend

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    hello,

    as per usual, i audition iem's with my portable kit: 7th gen iPod Classic modded to solid state, and JDS Labs C5 (donations of any VorzAmp Pure greatly appreciated. :) .)

    Satsuma:
    bassy, not very well balanced through the frequency range.
    meh.

    Honeydew:
    very nice acoustic percussion on these.
    however... track 2 of Laura Nyro / Labelle Gonna Take a Miracle, "The Bells". at about 00:27, a glockenspiel comes in very low in the mix. i would hazard it is a stand-in for "The Bells" that the narrator will loose the sound of if her lover leaves her. also, at this same point, an electric bass line appears, which completely over-powers the glockenspiel. rendering these, unacceptable.

    Holocene:
    i find these to be vocal forward. there is no issue with Laura as mentioned above. Patricia is singing into your head, background vocals on Patsy's "Crazy", are easily distinguished and nice. they do, however, allow one to distinguish, between masters. "You Go to My Head" from Frankie's Nice & Easy, is vastly better on the EMI/Capitol Frank Sinatra The Capitol Years, 7243 4 96985 2 9, than on the US issue of Nice & Easy, 077777 96827 2 0.
    there seems to be a bit of hiss from my kit. they don't quite disappear for me.

    Mammoth:
    bass is one-note and awful.
    vocals are hollowed out and ... suck?
    did i mention, bass is awful.

    it seems that, for me at least, the top tier CFA's are the only ones i actually enjoy.

    or, to be more precise, the Ara rock my world.

    cheers!
     
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  5. Precogvision

    Precogvision Rando

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    The Solaris (which already sounds more like a BA than it does a DD in the bass) has better bass in my opinion. Mammoth sounds completely smeared over and I almost want to say it has worse texture.

    The only one that I thought was remotely decent out of these four was the Holocene. Fairly technical, but I got the impression it took the Andromeda inspiration too far. Center image on it sounded overly diffused; simultaneously, it didn't have the Andro 2020's layering chops.
     
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  6. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I don’t agree about the Solaris bass. It’s not the best quality bass but it doesn’t sound like a BA driver at all. Completely different timbre that moves all the way up through to the midrange.

    Where did you hear all 4 of these? Just curious.
     
  7. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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  8. Precogvision

    Precogvision Rando

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    Thanks for the heads-up haha. I don't check here often, so I'm not too familiar with protocol. Yes, that's me. I am paid for my reviews as well.
     
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  9. Precogvision

    Precogvision Rando

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    Hmm, I guess it depends on which Solaris we're talking about. It's been a while since I've heard them, but I remember the Solaris 2020's bass sounding distinctly different from the OG. The OG's bass was more coherent and matched the midrange and up more closely. The 2020's bass sounded tighter, but less coherent. Both had quite truncated decay for a dynamic driver and the OG, in particular, didn't really slam (at least to my ears).

    All four of them (and the Solaris/Solaris 2020) were loaner units I received from Headphones.com for review.
     
  10. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    i strongly dislike the Solaris 2020 and agree about the bass being sloppy but it doesn’t have BA timbre in the bass.

    the og Solaris and Solaris SE (abalone inlay) are the best by far. I wrote a comparison review of all of 4 Solaris models here
     
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  11. StandUp713

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    My review of the four Campfire Audio IEM Loaner.

    Chain Droid Pixel/THX Dongle

    Satsuma:
    The bass on these are too much for this IEM. The mids and highs were ok for what was offered, but they could not balance out the bass. None of my test tracks worked with these.

    Honeydew:
    These were the better of the two entry levels. They had more of a balanced frequency response that was acceptable with my test tracks. Tad on the neutral/ boring side. For the price, there are better options on the market.

    Holocene:
    Out of the four, these I liked the most. They have a flatter response without any glaring flaws. The midrange shined the most out of these. Sound stage was decent, and found the treble to be good. Bass was there and extended, but not pronounced.

    Mammoth:
    I found these to be a bit U/V shaped. The bass seemed a bit off with my electronic music. They were enjoyable with my other tracks, with female vocals most appealing. I do not normally care for aesthetics, but the blue color on these was very attractive.

    Big Thanks to the SBAF Equipment Loaner team and Bloom Audio!
     
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  12. Gazny

    Gazny Friend

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    Big thanks to @Bloom Audio Very generous of them

    Chain: Iphone lightning dongle/ Motu M2
    TIPS: Final Audio tips
    This should be enough for these.

    I will refrain from comparing these to my previous IEMS and limit my impressions to these alone.

    I will be writing about these in order of preference

    Satsuma:
    Love these, nearly perfect. Their tone and prescience was superb. Open enough sounding that I didn't get the sensation music was in my head. The shells are bright and colorful and very smooth. The sound was neutralish with some vocal presence, there can be some improvement with male vocals but excellent for female. Not an issue with most music and not really a disqualifier here. Bass felt extended and warm, not very boosted but also not as resolving.
    The single BA is showing its flaws here but at the same time it is kicking butt. I Loved these, slightly forgiving but in a loving way.
    This is for someone who music lover and wants an iem that doesn't suck and wants something good.

    Holocene:
    This one is alot like the Satsuma, full BA. I signed up to hear what CFA can do with some full BA and try out the single and triple setups. These are awesome, you can hear the difference really amazing how CFA is able to do these crossoverless designs and tune with their tech. It was astonishing to me that so much can fit in this portable device. Very similar presentation to the Satsuma with a boosted range somewhere near or past the mids. What it does do is it offers much more air and refinement to the sound. Bass was much more textured and closer to the dynamic driver models.
    All together I can say I loved the Holocene but it left me with a feeling that a even higher up model might be more satisfying, either à la Andromeda or Ara.

    Honeydew:
    This IEM might be the least popular here, demos with family members seemed to prefer the Honeydew for their musical preference. This is probably the most fun IEM I have heard, while not reference quality for every genre of music, it excels in pop, hiphop, and edm. I am just naming a few, I would say these are great when bass quantity is important. and you do gain quite a bit when adding more BAs to the mix. Overall their design is superb, it knows what it is trying to do, and it does it in spades. It gives the goods that will blow your socks off. I got flashbacks to the CFA Solaris. excellent extension and articulation in the sub-bass region some channel systems would be jealous of.
    This is for someone who loves the sonic feeling of being at a concert. This one had the BIGGEST sound. It was breathtaking how small the casing is but the sound was as if it was coming from another dimension.

    Finally the Mammoth:
    Here I will add some of the accessory review to the Mammoth.
    The Mammoth is an amazing looking IEM, the Glow of the CFA logo is something I never thought I needed in my life. Everyone is asleep and looking to hear some tunes, maybe a podcast. Scan the room, and search for that green glow. Reminds me a bit of Uranium Glass. The ere glow has a practical use where it adds a ton of contrast in a dark or even shady room. I really hope CFA keeps this as I love it. If I wanted to pick out and IEM or ever find the 3.5 jack the green glow always guided me. I should have taken pictures :(

    Now for the finish on the Mammoth, this blue is stunning, I had no idea an IEM could look so great from all angles. The bore size is the best I have ever tried same goes for the Holocene.
    As for sound it is everything I liked about the Honeydew and Satsuma, and fixed up a bit, higher quality here but bass might still be a bit much for some people, but it is also just right for others.
    This to me might be the best sounding, and I don't mean highest resolution, but the finest tuned of the 4, it could be my bias towards the Shure sr215 or maybe I drank the graph koolaid and it was nearly indistinguishable. Regardless of how I felt about it, it was the one I used the least. Maybe it needed a bit more energy like the Holocene, or the bass was tuned down a bit from the Honeydew. Maybe something like a Polaris is for me, so I can assume as to why CFA decided to go with their tuning.

    Overall I would say yes I do love CFA for IEMS, these 4 have continued to show me the light. Maybe they do just about everything I could need from a closed back headphone while being pocket able and skipping the big amps needed to get the most out of them. while not everyone is perfect, they do have their strengths and I believe no matter what flavor you enjoy a CFA product might be right for you. :punk:
     
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    Last edited: Sep 12, 2021
  13. philipmorgan

    philipmorgan Member of the month

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    I joined this loaner because I'm looking for a great-sounding but inexpensive IEM I don't have to EQ. My JVC HA-FD01's are almost there except they need a significant bass boost via EQ, even with max physical modding. I'm a basshead, but as we all know, bass ain't shit without real LIFE in the midrange.

    That's where 3 out of 4 of these CA IEMs fall down BAD. Massive sins of omission in the midrange for the Honeydew, Satsuma, and Holocene. All 3 combine a dead midrange with a little tizz that can make snare drums sound like they're 8" in diameter and hybridized with a cymbal.

    To fully cop to my bassheadness: My daily drivers are a pair of Elex with the lowest knob on my Loki set at 3 o'clock and the second lowest knob set at 11am. So yeah, I like some TILT towards the bass.

    The Honeydew has too much bass for even me. Satsuma and Holocene are better in this regard, but the dead lifeless midrange makes you think the bass is over-accentuated, but really there's just nobody home in the midrange area so you go next door to the bass and start scrutinizing that.

    The Mammoth is the only one that I would say is even close to worth the sticker price, and because headphone people seem to think that having something living in their gross, earwaxey, oiley, skin-flakey earhole _doesn't_ reduce the value of the headphone by 50% the second you list it for sale, then I doubt a used Mammoth would be a better value than something like a new FD01/FX01.

    I did want to listen to the Mammoth for more than 1 song, but I'd characterize all of these IEMs as good for "inoffensive all-day background music" listening. And that could be a real strength! If, ya know, that's what you want. The Mammoth's hybrid nature was apparent, BTW.

    I wanted to like the creative use of plastics in the Honeydew and Satsuma, but it felt more suited to the <$99 category rather than the >$200 category these two live in. The plastic shells had a seam that inspired distrust, and while I don't know that the nozzles are plastic, they look like fake-chrome-plastic from an 80's toy store item. The Holocene and Mammoth have price-appropriate construction. On all of these IEMS, the cables seemed quite nice, but I didn't use 'em so I can't comment more.

    Thanks for the loaner @Bloom / SBAF!

    ---

    - Chain: USB Audio Player on Android tablet FLACs and LDAC -> Sony MUC-M2BT1 -> Loaner IEMs with Spiral Dot tips.
    - The "Fake Empire" test: Should not sound like the The National's "Fake Empire" is being sung inside an oaken barrel (https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/meze-99-classic.1469/page-3#post-57103)
    - The "Trouble" test: "Trouble" by Ryan Adams should hurt in the first bar when played at volume because the guitar is that aggressive.
    - The "Down By The River" test: Roy Buchanan's version ("Sweet Dreams Anthology") of "Down By The River" should hurt so good during the guitar solo when played at loud-ish volume.
    - The "Simple Song" test: Once the song really gets going, it should be BRISTLING with detail and life. Not that it's an audiophile recording or anything, but despite whatever limitations the recording has, you should feel detail and LIFE exuding from the song. When Mercer hits the high parts, it should sound like his voice is sparkling with cocaine and unicorn glitter.
    - The "I Want To Break Free" test: You should want to sing along with this, even if the setting is inappropriate for singing out loud. If the IEMs you are listening to are not very good, you should want to break free of owning them.
     
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