The Freemason’s IEM of Choice
Pros: Great bass
Cons: A small amount of bass bloat/reverb – bass can overwhelm mids on occasion
Up for review today are the MUCH debated Campfire Audio Trifecta. Some people love these for their organic and almost retro sound. Some people hate them for their pronounced highs and slightly decreased bass compared to true basshead headphones. Spoiler alert: I really like these, but they do have some issues that I’ll talk about below as well. The real question is where will these come in amongst my ranking along with some of the best IEMs out there? Will they beat the current champs, the Noble Ronin, and the Multiverse Mentor? Let’s find out.
The Trifecta is one of the most unique IEMs on the market and the “333 Launch Edition” is limited to only 333 of them, all of which have sold out already. You can pick up the “Astral Plains” edition, which is…bluer and doesn’t have the gold-coated driver. I have no idea if it sounds different since Campfire won’t send me one to find out. It’s not a limited edition though, but still the same price. And has gold connections instead of the 333’s silver connections – I worry a bit about how the gold connectors will hold up – not my problem, both look good, but the 333 stands out more.
The Trifecta is named as such because of the 3 DDs situated throughout the shell in a triangle (Freemasons) pattern (Kidding, it’s not a conspiracy (it is)). There’s REALLY nothing else like this design on the market.
Fantastic. Everyone has probably seen the hand of the Freemasons already (again, kidding…right?), but what doesn’t get enough attention is the fact that there are three (!) Time Stream cables, three (!) carrying cases, a bunch of ear tips of different types, and an IEM carrying pouch. Pretty sick. The tips you can choose from are foam or silicone and they’re about as good of quality as you can get without going aftermarket. The soft case is the dark blue one and it holds the two cables you’re not using (3.5mm and 2.5mm for me). The soft leather case is a bifold and it’s designed to carry your Trifecta in their own little mesh carrying case along with your cables and possibly even a DAP of choice if it’s slim enough, all while preventing damage.
The box itself is all wood with a paper sleeve and there is even a tiny little folder that looks like a passport with…a trading card…and a birth certificate? (It’s a certificate of authenticity – mine are 116, but it looks like a birth certificate.) Again, they put some serious effort into the packaging here and it’s easily up there with the Ronin, Elysium, and Mezzo LE, and quite possibly #1 for packaging. And yes, the Trifecta packaging smells amazing – leather and wood haha. 10/10 points here (I’d give more if I could). As always, I’m using my Spinfit W1 tips since they’re the best I’ve found (You can buy them here if you want a set: https://amzn.to/3WDrNIk.)
I honestly don’t need 3 of the same Time Stream cables, each with a different connector. Campfire probably could have saved some cash and only included the 4.4mm with a 2.5mm adapter and they’d have been fine. No one that spends this much on an IEM is using a 3.5mm jack with the Trifecta and 2.5mm-only DAPs/amps are basically non-existent. Or do what Kinera, Thieaudio, and DUNU are doing and include an adapter set. But really, a 4.4mm would have been all you need. Still, they’re nice 4-wire cables with gold plating, polished metal accents, and silver-plated copper wires. Yes, this is a flat ribbon cable, something I didn’t realize until I got it – and something I’ve never seen before. It bothers my OCD because it almost never lays perfectly flat – and that hurts my brain. Still, the sound from it is really good and after playing with some cheaper cables that have MMXC connectors, I gave up and stuck with the stock cable as the best-sounding option I have.
The cheaper ones are the Kinera Magic Rope and Linsoul Tripowin Zonie – both very more flexible, and cut down on the sibilance from the Trifecta, but ruined what made it sound special also. You may be able to cable roll with these and find the perfect solution – I have no reason to get more MMCX cables since only two companies really use them. So yeah, the Time Stream cables aren’t that flexible and they bug me a little, but they sound good at least and you have to give Campfire props for including three – that’s unique, but maybe one less cable would have let them sell this for $3,330.00 instead of $3,375.00 (which makes no sense considering the 333 theme). Still, great sound, no microphonics worth complaining about, and decent flexibility – and three of them are included – 9/10 points.
Build Quality/Comfort (9/10):
I mean amazing. Seriously. The build quality of everything is insane. The only IEM I’ve ever seen with quality issues from Campfire is the old-school Andromeda. On those, the anno/paint would rub off leaving looking like someone put them through a washing machine – no matter how hard you tried to keep them nice looking. My Dorado and Vega both look fantastic still and they’re the 2020 versions. So, unsurprisingly, the Trifecta has fantastic build quality. People have said they look like a piece of jewelry, and while I don’t think they’re that fancy (or I probably wouldn’t wear them), they do look excellent. They’re made out of a really strong Nylon, which I can only see tiny micro-scratches on if you REALLY closely in the correct light – otherwise, they stay much nicer looking that Acrylic IEMs. But seriously, these are impeccably built and I’m not worried about them breaking, though they’re not quite as durable as the Ceramic IEMs they used to make.
OK, comfort. I’m sure some people complained about a $3k+ IEM being made out of Nylon, just like people complained about the $4k+ Jewel being made from Acrylic, just like people complained about the $6k+ Traillii being made from acrylic. But guess what? I’ve tried several of the recent TOTL IEMs made from acrylic and they are HEAVY. The Trifecta is the most comfortable flagship I’ve worn…possibly ever. It’s smaller and lighter than a LOT of the other TOTL IEMs like the Ronin, Mezzo LE, Mentor, Kublai Khan, Thunder, etc. My biggest complaint with the Ronin was the weight, and a little bit the size. I can wear the Trifecta for hours without comfort issues. They sit in my ears easily and don’t constantly fall out because they’re too heavy. Awesome comfort. 9/10 points for the build and the comfort – the only point I’m taking off here is for the visible seams on the shells – they detract from the feel of quality you get otherwise. I’m not sure why they’re there since it looks like the nylon was poured after everything was assembled – there are tiny bubbles throughout the shells implying such, but maybe that’s glue.
Check out the wolfhawk.squig.link/ below. I’m comparing the Trifecta to the Ronin and Mentor from memory, so bear with me – I can’t afford to own all three at once since IEM companies haven’t felt like sending me $3k+ IEMs to keep yet (and likely never will). Looking at the Frequency Response Graph, obviously, the Trifecta has more sub and mid-bass. It also has more low-mids, with recessed Mentor-level of High-mids, and easily some of the most pronounced highs I’ve heard…ever. Also, the Trifecta has the most unique highs tuning I’ve ever seen with what I’d call a curtain effect with 3 almost identical peaks and valleys in the highs. Very odd, but pretty cool as well.
I am powering these from my HiBy RS8 with the A/B amp on medium gain at around ~30/100 volume – super efficient and easy to drive, most IEMs are at 40+. I’m using Tidal Hi-Fi with MQA enabled and a playlist specifically designed to test each aspect of a headphone.
I’m starting off with the Mid-bass/Sub-bass test I’m using David Guetta’s “I’m Good (Blue).” The bass drums in the intro have a ton of impact but have some bass bloat – similar to the Aroma Audio Thunder. The sub-bass is epic – and I mean that. It feels like it’s going to blow your hair into 80’s cartoon spikes with smoke curling to the ceiling. It has that take-your-breath-away feeling and that’s great. The only downside here to the bass quantity is that the mids fall to the back a little too much. Still, that’s what the next song is for, so the only points here taken off are from the extra distortion on the mid-bass. 8/10 points – tons of quantity, missing a little quality.
Up next is Demon Hunter’s “I Am A Stone,” which I use to test whether the bass is too strong and overwhelms the mids as that is just as important as how strong/good the bass is. Yeah, unfortunately, the bass really overwhelms the mids here in a way I haven’t heard in a long time – partly because I haven’t been listening to super bassy IEMs. These are really close to super bassy IEMs, but they don’t quite reach the levels of Fat Freq or some of the bassier FiRs. 7/10 points here since the mids still have some excellent detail and all it takes is turning the DAP up a notch to bring the mids to the front again, with the bass bellowing away on the sides.
OK, this is not normally one of my test songs, but it came on while I was doing something else, and I have to say that this is probably the sickest I’ve ever heard the bass on Hollywood Undead’s “Hear Me Now.” Absolutely game-changing for me. This is not the only song I’ve had this happen on. I’m adding a bonus point here for making old songs new again! +1!
Weaving The Fate’s “The Fall” is my test song for clean/dirty guitars and vocals with background instruments to see how clearly the vocals can be heard. The soundstage and imaging are the first things that I notice in the intro of this song – fantastic, I can actually hear the guitarist moving slightly across the stage. The clean guitars at the beginning are also gorgeous and you can easily hear the high hats in the background along with the drums. Even the distorted guitars sound excellent with plenty of detail and instrument separation! That’s impressive since it’s been a few reviews for me since an IEM did this song justice. The vocals are a little further away than on the Ronin and Mentor, but they’re still quite pronounced. And seriously, the cymbals are insane on the Trifecta – it’s such an analog sound, and as a drummer, I can really appreciate it. What I appreciate less is the sibilance on the lead singer’s “S” notes, which are pretty pronounced, but that test song comes later. Here, it’s a 6/6 for sounding epic.
Staind’s “Something to Remind You” has clean electric guitars and wonderful vocals – this song tests vocal quality and background noise. Oh man, There’s the soul I’m looking for from this song. That’s always the problem with reviewing lower-end IEMs, no matter how good they are for their price, they just can’t touch something like the Trifecta. There’s so much soul and so much body to this entire song. The vocals have grit and breadth in spades. The bass guitar is pronounced, but not too offensive. The guitar sounds just clean with each note hitting like a hammer. The fingers on the strings are VERY detailed, which can actually be a downside on the Trifecta because it’s pretty forward. So, if you’re looking for some excellent detail here, the Trifecta has that, but it’s a double-edged sword as well. And yes, there are times when the bass guitar overwhelms the vocals and the mid-guitars. Still, 6/7 points here for making this song sound amazing.
To test classical instruments in the mids, I’m using The Piano Guys’ “Code Name Vivaldi.” I have high hopes (ha, one song early) for this song based on how much emotion the previous song had with the Trifecta. Wow, I am not disappointed. There is just something about the way the Trifecta manages to vibrate the lows and low-mids that give them so much soul. The intro bass just sounds fantastic. There is so much going on in this song with each instrument being clearly heard and presented in such a way that you can’t help but fall in love with the Trifecta. I’ve heard these described as very analog sounding, like old-school speakers, but to me, they are the modern interpretation of what emotion should sound like – absolutely sick. 7/7 points here – the Trifecta really hits on what I want from this song.
To test sibilance on headphones I use Panic! At The Disco’s “High Hopes.” Again, the intro has a ton of emotion and sounds great, but the sibilance is so rough that I really can’t listen to this song. This is my greatest complaint about these IEMs right here. Sharp “S” sounds are brutal on the Trifecta for anyone sensitive to Sharpness and sibilance. It’s bad enough to make me skip to the next song. @Rockwell75 has said that EQ’ing 8k down a few Db can help with this. 1/7 points here, which is a massive shame because I know what this means for the next song.
Dream Theater’s “The Alien,” is the highs test song I use to see if the cymbals/high-hats/snare drum can be clearly heard and distinguished from the rest of the music (also good for instrument separation.) If there’s a ton of sibilance on “High Hopes” I know that it means this song will do extremely well. It does. You can hear the cymbals quite clearly and it’s definitely close to or better than the FiR VxV with regards to highs quality. The bass drums can be heard quite clearly as well and the mids are excellent with the guitar solo really sounding like it’s supposed to.
Michelle McLaughlin’s “Across The Burren” is another of my favorite highs/sharpness test songs as it can easily sound painful on some headphones. This song can honestly go one of two ways, either very sharp or no sharpness at all depending on the tuning. I’m really not getting any sharpness here at all. Each note is represented beautifully. The high notes sound different from what I’m used to on most hybrids with ESTs and the like, but it still comes across fantastically. I didn’t know what to expect here given the sibilance on “High Hopes,” but the Trifecta really impressed me here. 7/7 points.
Soundstage/Instrument Separation/Imaging (9/10):
I use MGMT’s “Time to Pretend” to test soundstage, instrument separation, and imaging. Geez, how to they do this with only 3 drivers? The soundstage is huge, the instrument separation is fantastic and the imaging is so cool. Is it Multiverse Mentor level across the board? No, but it’s really close and possibly a tad above the Ronin. 3 points for each category, but it doesn’t quite earn the Mentor’s extra “wow” point.
Well, there’s really nothing that compares to the Trifecta directly since it’s about as unique as it gets. Most TOTL IEMs are a hybrid of some kind whereas the Trifecta is straight-up dynamic drivers only. Yes, it’s an absolutely unique design and it has the dynamic bass people love along with some excellent mids and highs that I admittedly was expecting since usually the mids are driven by BAs and the highs are EST or something along those lines. Obviously, the Trifecta has the most sub-bass and mid-bass, which is pretty impressive because I wouldn’t list the Unique Melody Multiverse Mentor or Noble Ronin as low on bass. Both the Ronin and the Mentor have cleaner bass though, with the Ronin’s as the cleanest, but the least quantity. So if you want that wub wub, you should go with the Trifecta, but it will overwhelm the mids on some songs. Less wub wub? Mentor, but it can still overwhelm the mids on some songs, and lastly the Ronin won’t overwhelm, but it won’t have quite as much bass quantity as the other two.
For the mids, I’ll still put the Ronin in 1st place, but the Trifecta is a close second with the Mentor falling into a close 3rd. The Ronin easily has the most forward mids with some excellent quality. The Trifecta manages to just sound so musical and with so much body and soul that it takes a close second place, despite the mids being a bit further back in the soundstage. I kept finding myself turning the RS8 up so I could bring the mids forward more, which made the bass louder, but I just kind of rolled with it because of how good it sounded. The Mentor is no slouch in the mids department, but it still takes a close 3rd place in mids.
The Trifecta takes #1 in highs with the Mentor as a relatively close 2nd place and the Ronin as a somewhat distant 3rd. Yes, there’s some pretty bad sibilance on the Trifecta, but if you can get past that, you’ll get the best highs presentation I’ve heard, certainly in the TOTL segment. The Mentor still does a good job here with still a bit of sharpness and sibilance, but a good highs presentation as well. The Ronin is the most balanced, but it has less highs presence than the others, so if you want more forward mids, less bass, and less highs presence, the Ronin is the IEM for you.
The Mentor is for the people that want impeccable balance with a touch more bass. It has the best soundstage/instrument separation/imaging on any IEM I’ve heard. The Trifecta is a close 2nd though. If you want some VERY impactful and strong bass, with excellent mids and some of the most pronounced highs available, the Trifecta is truly excellent.
The Campfire Audio Trifecta is EASILY the MOST interesting IEMs I’ve ever listened to. I recommend everyone give it at least a week of listening if you can (also, I hear burn-in makes these sound better). The Trifecta has forward DD bass response, some high-quality, soulful mids, and top-tier highs. If you can get over the sibilance from the highs, and a little bass bloat, these are amazing IEMs at a price cheaper than most of the TOTL IEMs out there right now. Now I just need to get my hands on the new Solaris and Andromeda…
|Headphone Scoring (v3):|
|Accessories / Earpads / Eartips (10 pts):||10|
|Cable (10 pts):||9|
|Build Quality/ Design / Comfort (10 pts):||9|
|Lows (20 pts):||16|
|Mids (20 pts):||19|
|Highs (20 pts):||15|
|Soundstage / Instrument Separation / Imaging (10 pts):||9|