Campfire Audio has had a dominant year, releasing four brand new IEMs for casual listeners and audiophiles to sink their teeth into. The Mammoth and Holocene have been their most recent efforts with more mid-tier price options for those who might not be ready to break out into the high-end field. That doesn’t mean the Mammoth and Holocene can’t offer up some major sound fidelity. There have been plenty of IEMs in the past that have shown their value as both consumer and audiophile products without the extravagant pricing. I’ll be looking at the Holocene specifically, as it’s the pricier of the bunch sitting at $649.
What You Get
- Campfire Audio ‘Epoch’ SEAQUAL® YARN Earphone Case. Made in Portugal.
- Campfire Audio Smoky Glow Litz Cable
- Silver Plated Copper Conductors with Berylium Copper MMCX and 3.5mm Stereo Plug Featuring Glow-in-the-Dark overmolds.
- Final Audio Tips (xs/s/m/l/xl)
- Campfire Audio Earphone Tips(s/m/l)
- Silicon Earphone Tips (s/m/l)
- Campfire Audio Lapel Pin
- Cleaning Tool
Look and Feel
With the Holocene, Campfire has opted to go back to the angular shell design seen on the Andromeda, Ara, and the now-discontinued Polaris. I’m definitely a fan of the return to this particular aesthetic, especially the cosmetic finish used here. The Holocene’s aluminum body and special Umber anodized finish is always a winner, especially when it included the three bolts. For the fit, it’s as comfortable as the past models I mentioned earlier, except it doesn’t have the long nozzle of the Ara. I don’t find any issue with comfort or ear fatigue with any of Campfire’s models, and the Holocene is the same. Lastly, the Holocene advertises glow-in-the-dark features. It’s just a fun feature, but I wish they went all out with the concept. The MMCX, headphone jack covering, and logo inlay are the only parts of the Holocene that illuminate.
Inside of the Holocene’s shell is a 3D-printed acoustical chamber that includes a balanced armature system. It consists of three single custom units, one for highs and two for mid-lows. This is a durable design that holds plenty of potentials.
Normally, Campfire likes to pack their IEMs with a ton of power. Most of their selection has an incomparably strong signal flow, and the Holocene is no different. However, it’s not exactly as chunky of an output as some of their past models but still has a consistently strong amplitude. Even listening through a standard 3.5mm headphone jack on your smartphone or laptop, the Holocene will still feature high levels of volume, so watching your gain control is still recommended.
For this price range, the Holocene presents a very decent soundstage. In terms of how well it stacks up to Campfire’s other models, the imaging is a bit wider than expected. Some sounds leak into a more outward headspace, adding just enough flavor to the soundstage to be immersive. Separation was also noticeably improved here compared to other Campfire models. It may even be one of the best of the bunch in that regard. Layering is super articulate and lets sounds breathe in their respective space. Greater height is also added in order to lift the image from a more linear response. Surprisingly, the Holocene is also able to keep its solidity without going into a muddled territory. The spatial imaging makes certain tracks sound grand while maintaining their composure toward a middle position and sharing a more immersive sense of width.
The bass here may not offer the thumping richness of other Campfire IEMs, but the timbre offered here is still well shaped and detailed. There’s a certain tightness to them that resonates with a controlled response that feels accurate and articulate. You’ll get a punchy mid-bass with a slight emphasis, but nothing with a sub-bass flourish. Its tone is balanced and emits a natural frequency response that makes this type of low-end engrossing.
With the midrange, the Holocene attempts to offer the best at what it can do. Its greatest strength here is texture. Low and high midrange frequencies receive great emphasis, giving sound elements an extra kick in their step. Instrumentations are clean and crisp, with sharp accents and warm intimacy. Vocals are present and produce an engaging level of clarity that defines the timbre in a more prominent way than the lows.
Treble in the Holocene is coated in a smooth brightness that doesn’t sound too sharp or too dull. Its greatest feature is how well high frequencies taper off into a reverberant bliss. Sounds are given a pointed glisten like the track is being given the proper finish to its envelope. The high frequencies are heavily showcased here, not hiding any sibilance, but still straying away from harsh tones. Listening to the Holocene I only felt a comfortable waft of treble shine over the timbre adding great air and height to the sound signature.
For me, the Holocene is one of the best mid-tier IEMs Campfire has to offer. Its sound signature is well balanced and rich in certain bands of frequency. The design is as solid as always, and its soundstage is wide and layered. As for the glow-in-the-dark features, they’re more minimal than I had hoped, but at the end of the day, it is just a fun gimmick that doesn’t add or subtract anything from the listening experience.
Pros and Cons
- Crisp mids
- textured highs
- Classic design
- Improved cable
The Campfire Audio Holocene is available at Audio 46.
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