Campfire Audio Trifecta Review: The Dynamic Dimension
The renowned IEM workshop from Portland USA, Campfire Audio has brought a major change to its flagship line-ups. The announced are the three new flagship IEMs which are Solaris: Stellar Horizon, Andromeda: Emerald Sea, and Trifecta: Astral Plane. In this review, we’ll be reviewing Trifecta: Astral Plane. The Trifecta Astral Plane is an all-new flagship product that represents Campfire Audio’s most high-end, summit-fi IEM.
Trifecta has one of the most unconventional and unusual features, which isn’t for gimmicks but for strong charms and performance. Let’s see what makes Trifecta so unusual yet appealing to the audiophile community. We’ll also be comparing Trifecta with other summit-fi competitors. The Trifecta: Astral Plane is priced at $3375.
New Wood Packaging and Displays
Campfire Audio has gone through a complete revamp with their packaging and things got a whole lot better now. With an eye-catching cover sleeve that displays an image of the earphones, The packaging is made of natural wood that also serves as storage and a display box. Once opened, the lid locks up perpendicular to the wooden box. The lid has an iconic earphone holder that resembles a hand, hence you could nicely hang the earphones on it. Each model has different hand shapes and colors which gives uniqueness to each of them.
The accessories have changed entirely. Trifecta: Astral Plane comes with a Dimensional Leather Folding Case, 3 Timestream Cables (2.5mm, 3.5mm, 4.4mm), Ripstop Cable Pouch, 3 pairs of Campfire Marshmellow foam tips, 3 pairs of silicone tips, a cleaning tool, a CA Lapel pin, a pair of mesh bag, and a documentation folder with some paperwork.
Earpieces: The Dynamic Trinity
As the name may give you a hint, Trifecta uses three dynamic drivers. Not placed like any other multi-DD IEMs such as coaxial or push-pull, however – but instead as a triangular, trinity shape. Trifecta sports three full-range 10mm ADLC dynamic drivers with gold-plated diaphragms. Solderings are done with high-purity copper and silver conductors. The transparent nylon IEM chassis has a blue tint with nozzles, MMCX ports, and the CA logo on the faceplates touched with gold accents.
It’s such an unusual shape that wonder how they actually look and feel in terms of fit. Campfire Audio’s legacy IEMs were known to cause trouble for some users to get a proper fit and their IEMs have been continuously improving in comfort. Trifecta is in fact very comfortable to wear. No edges or humps that hinder getting a proper fit. It’s also important to mention that the IEMs look even better with the eyes than the images. Trifecta gives you the looks of a shiny, pure gemstone.
Cable: The Three Time Streams
Campfire has also introduced a new stock cable called the Time Stream(s). Trifecta: Astral Plane comes with three Time Stream cables, which are all MMCX terminated but with different audio plugs – 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and 4.4mm. The silver-plated copper wires are insulated individually which gives a flat look like some old electric cables we’ve seen back then. However, Time Stream cables are soft enough that it doesn’t cause microphonics or stiffness.
It’s truly commendable that Campfire has included three identical cables with different cable terminations. Some may say “Why not just use a modular plug?” From a technical aspect, avoiding modular plugs and sticking with the classic one-termination cable is better for audio quality. From a realistic standpoint, it could’ve been that it’s easier to just offer cables in every single termination than designing a modular plug that is reliable and convenient. Anyhow, from a user’s perspective, I’m happier with three cables than one. Kudos to Campfire Audio for not abandoning the 2.5mm termination.
Sound impression: Lows
The 3DD setup is concerned in many ways. Using multiple dynamic drivers, especially if the IEM only consists of dynamic drivers, I’ve seen many shortcomings in overall performance and tuning. Most of these unfortunate IEMs were made of 2DD, and Campfire Audio went even more unusual and used 3DD. So how does this unusual IEM perform?
Trifecta has a powerful W-shaped sound signature with a bit more emphasis on the low ends. The presence of three large dynamic drivers may give you an idea that the bass of these sounds like thunderstorms, though Trifecta’s bass is in fact very well controlled. Trifecta portrays its incredible power bass performance without overdoing or tipping the sound balance. Top-notch bass extension is achieved through its clear, clean ultra-low details. The bass slams with speed, followed by clean and accurate decay. The bass has the right crispness and tightness, bringing out both smoothness and analyticity. The timbre is neutral, neither sounding dry nor soggy.
Trifecta’s bass quantity is similar to those that are V-shaped but with a noticeable difference – the bass doesn’t get as boomy and messy as many basshead IEMs may sound. The sub-bass dynamics are very controlled, pulling out strong bass rumbles and slams. However, Trifecta minutely reserves a clean room for mids and highs to do their singing. Trifecta redefines basshead IEMs as muscular, bombastic bass that could also sound clean and not overwhelming to listen to. Even if you aren’t a basshead, Trifecta is capable of persuading you to tune in through its smooth yet powerful bass dynamics.
Sound impression: Mids
My first concern with Trifecta’s 3DD setup was the timbre, my next concern was the vocals. How couldn’t mids sound wonky with an almost bizarre driver setup like this? Surprisingly, enough it doesn’t sound wonky at all. In fact, the vocals sound wonderful. They’re clear and prominent. In terms of positioning, mids are placed similarly to the lows – or should I say it feels to be on top of the bass rather than stepping in closer to the ears. Timbre is lively, natural, and realistic. Vocals exude pleasant airiness throughout the range and have a consistent tone and texture. However, I do find the upper mids to get a bit shouty on certain tracks or eartip selections – which are avoidable if you pair the right eartips. Wide bore eartips are prone to this for Trifecta. JVC Spiral Dots is still safe though I suggest smaller bore eartips if you feel otherwise. The texture is crisp but not dry, and the tone is sweet and natural.
From mids, there are no obvious clues to be found that Trifecta uses multiple dynamic drivers, and that’s a very good thing. It tells how well the three drivers work together to create a coherent, natural tuning. However, the major characteristics of Trifecta’s vocals perfectly resemble a typical dynamic driver but with a subtle yet significant twist, that the vocals are a nice mixture of neutrality and a unique 3D presentation. These fine tweaks of tuning allow Trifecta to have the “one driver-ish” naturality while having the richness of a multi-driver IEM. Vocals are large and full-bodied enough that it could match along with its grand-scaled bass.
Sound impression: Highs, etc.
As for the sound stage, Trifecta is vast and massive. The impact of the sound feels large and powerful, yet not getting bombastic or exaggerated. The separation is also up to the standards of summit-fi, yet the feeling of it is different from conventional multi-BA, multi-driver IEMs. The separation performance differs a bit depending on what tracks you listen as some feel pleasing while some feel mediocre. This possible inconsistency, however, could be noticeably resolved by matching a good upgrade cable.
Highs show fine details within the music. They are slightly lesser in quantity than mids but very clear and pronounced. Trifecta achieves great treble presence without powering up the quantity, offering great details with no fatigue to the ears. There’s also good spacing between mids and highs, hence the trebles don’t sound congested but rather have an open-ended field. That also means good airiness could be found as the vocals do.
Trebles flow to their natural dynamics yet being crisp and tight in control makes Trifecta’s treble to be both natural and analytical. Although Trifecta is purely made of dynamic drivers, highs possess some of the BA driver-ish characteristics which make Trifecta further exciting to listen to. Such an impression derives from its tight, crisp texture. Needless to say, the treble timbre is natural and aligns well with the rest of the sounds.