Campfire Audio Mammoth: Awaken The Giant

Greetings!

Today we’re checking out one of Campfire Audio’s newer mid-fi entries in the versatile Mammoth.

With a v-shaped tune, the Mammoth is not alone among it’s family of Campfire Audio hybrids. What sets it apart and makes it one of the best they’ve released to date (in my opinion of course) is the relative restraint they took when tuning bass quantity, and the newfound emphasis on mids. It is certainly more even and versatile than other hybrids in the lineup, without making any drastic sacrifices to detail, clarity, aggression, etc.

I’ve spent nearly six months with this beast and it has worked it’s way into my personal listening lineup, something that is quite rare given the literal hundreds of products I’ve listened to and reviewed over the last decade. Given this, you would expect me to enjoy it quite a bit, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Let’s take a closer look at why, shall we?

What I Hear While the Mammoth is another v-shaped hybrid entry into Campfire’s lineup, I find it to be the best tuned of the bunch. It’s considerably less skewed at the extremes than models like the Polaris II and Dorado 2020, with a stronger emphasis on timbre quality and vocals. As a result, this is one of my favourite Campfire models. It is versatile and technically capable without any glaring flaws.

Bass is boosted but not massively so. While the low end is slightly skewed towards sub-bass, mid-bass still has a decent amount of kick and adds a solid amount of warmth and density to the presentation. It is a visceral presentation, just not an aggressive one since notes linger a bit after the initial punch. The dynamic used here is relatively quick and does a fine job with rapid bass notes like those found in metal tracks, such as Havok’s “D.O.A.”. Texturing is on the smoother side. It works great with sleek tracks like GUNSHIP’s “Fly For Your Life”, but leaves me wanting slightly on grungier tracks like Black Tiger Sex Machine x Apashe’s “The Grave (feat. Gabriella Hook)”.

The mids are where I was most surprised by the Mammoth, and where is separates itself from its stablemates. Lifted around 2.5k, it bring vocals into a position to play alongside bass and treble regions, without being overshadowed. Notes are well weighted with just the right amount of warmth to suit both male and female vocalists. I can enjoy Celine Dion just as much as Aesop Rock. Speaking of the latter, the Mammoth is one of a select handful of products that can tame the intensely siblilant (and awesome) album ‘Spirit World Field Guide’. The recording is still aggressive, but it is significantly more listenable through the Mammoth that the vast majority of headphones/earphones/earbuds I’ve tried. Since the Mammoth is quite forgiving, I can handily recommend it to those who experience discomfort due to sibilant vocals.

Treble quality was another satisfying surprise. Notes are clean and tight with a a fairly linear move from presence to brilliance regions. With small peaks around 5k and 8k, the Mammoth finds itself outputting a solid balance of detail and sparkle. It’s smooth and non-fatiguing with a lack of splash or looseness, to the point where it can make The Crystal Method’s “Grace (featuring LeAnn Rimes)” with it’s horrendous screeching affects a fairly enjoyable listen. Notes have solid air and space between them too, with decent transparency only coloured a hint by that mid-bass warmth. I don’t find it harsh or fatiguing, even at higher volumes than I normally listen. In general just a very capable and technically positive performance here.

When it comes to sound stage the Mammoth is a bit more average. I found it to be well-rounded with neither width nor depth being obviously more prominent. Vocals have a reasonably close default positioning leaving effects to trail off reasonably far into the distance. It worked well with gaming immersion, such as in World of Tanks when shells bounce of your armour and whistle away. The Mammoth’s imaging quality also helped with immersion thanks to smooth and decently nuanced channel-to-channel transitions. Tossing on the final few minutes of King Crimson’s “Starless and Bible Black” shows off the Mammoth’s ability to effectively separate and layer individual instruments in a busy, congested, purely chaotic track. Other iems do this better, sure, but the Mammoth is an all-rounder and it handles this without congestion, muddying, or compression.

Mammoth and Friends

Compared To A Peer (volumes matched with Dayton iMM-6)

Dunu DK-3001 Pro (469.00 USD): The DK-3001 Pro was one of my favourite products of 2020 thanks to its balanced sound and technical competency. Bass quantities between the two are reasonably similar with the Mammoth placing a few dB more emphasis on sub-bass, vs. the Dunu’s more even and linear shift from lower to upper bass. As such, the DK-3001 Pro is less visceral and adds minimal warmth to the overall sound. It also has a thinner, lighter feeling presentation overall. The Dunu also better reacts to rapid notes and transitions, while also offering mildly improved texturing. The Mammoth’s upper mid peak serves to boost its percussive attack and enable vocals to cut through the added mid-bass, but as a result it doesn’t sound quite as natural and realistic as the DK-3001 Pro. Heading into the treble the Mammoth is technically brighter thanks to a more even presence/brilliance region balance and in general more elevated treble region. It also has a mild 7k peak which adds some shimmer, whereas the DK-3001 Pro dips and peaks instead at around 10k, skewing it’s emphasis towards the lower treble. Because the Mammoth’s treble is countered by a more abundant low end, I perceive the DK-3001 Pro to be the more bright-leaning of the two since the mild lower treble elevation sticks out and pretty evenly shares the spotlight with the mids and bass. In terms of speed and detail I find the two to be fairly even. Notes are a hint tighter and better controlled through the DK-3001 Pro, though neither is anywhere close to splashy to my ears. In terms of sound stage these two again go tit for tat. I find the DK-3001 Pro to sound a hint deeper while the Mammoth comes across overall a bit more round and even while drawing sounds a further into the distance. Imaging is sharper and more nuanced on the Dunu, while both do an excellent job of separating instruments. I found the DK-3001 Pro to layer better though. Overall I find these two quite complimentary. The Mammoth is the less serious of the two thanks to it’s thumpier, more visceral signature. I’d use it for rap, EDM, and music they lays into artificial instruments, while the DK-3001 Pro does a better job with actual instruments and more heavily layered material.

Polaris II (499.00 USD): If you go into the Mammoth expecting a Polaris III, you’ll either be disappointed or pleasantly surprised. They are very different beasts. The Polaris II is tailor made for bassheads thanks to its absurd bass quantity and extension which at its most extreme is a good 10dB above what you get out of the Mammoth. This gives it a warmer, somewhat stuffier presentation thanks to some minor bleed into the mids. The Mammoth does not suffer from this and also comes across faster, more detailed, and better textured, though the low end is still no detail champion. Like the Polaris, the presentation goes for smoothness over nuanced clarity. Heading into the mids the Mammoth is quite an improvement. Vocals are more prominent and much clearer with the reduced warmth giving the presentation a more natural and timbre accurate feel. Treble is more enjoyable out of the Mammoth too. Notes and tighter and more defined with a better balance in the presence and brilliance regions. Peaks are less exaggerated on the Mammoth yet it still outputs improved detail and a more satisfying shimmer as it better blends with the overall sound field. One area where the Polaris II outshines the Mammoth is in it’s sound stage. Thanks to the underlying waves of bass and vocals which are set further back, I found the Polaris II to sound quite a bit wider and deeper. It better envelops you in the music, though that’s all it does better. When it comes to technical qualities the Mammoth kinda stomps all over it. Imaging is pretty good out of the Polaris II, but lacks the nuance and fine shifts the Mammoth is capable of. The same can be said for layering and separation. The Polaris II is no slouch, the Mammoth is just straight up better. If you want a bass cannon the Mammoth is no replacement for the Polaris II, but for my listening habits the Mammoth is infinitely more flexible and in general is just a much stronger performer.

Dunu Zen (699.00 USD): Upon first listen comparing these two, it came as a surprise that the Zen was the bassier of the two. Like the Mammoth, it has a sub-bass bias, though it is more prominent on the Zen. As a result it produces and even more visceral experience on extra deep notes. In addition, the Zen’s driver is quite a bit faster with extremely quick attack and decay qualities. As a result those big bass hits really slam, though I can find some enjoying the Mammoth’s lingering decay more enjoyable. The Zen also takes it in the texture camp, better reproducing the dirty bass from groups like The Prodigy and Malibu Ken. Heading into the mids both have a boosted upper-mid region with the Zen taking it a step further. I appreciate how this brings up the Zen’s vocals and aids in it’s aggressive attack qualities, though it does negatively affect timbre leaving the warmer sounding Mammoth feeling somewhat more natural. Where the Mammoth drops emphasis leading into the presence region, the Zen holds strong with another little peak at 4k, then dips. This gives it the edge in terms of clarity and the tightness of individual notes at the expense of sounding a bit more closed in. Vocals sound closer by default than through the Mammoth. Both have a fairly well-rounded staging presence, with the Mammoth coming across wider and deeper overall. Where the Zen pulls back some points is in imaging which is razor sharp and extremely nuanced, and layering which is a hint more apparent than on the Mammoth. I find the Mammoth handles instrument separation is mite better though, which I’ll attest to the multi-driver setup. Overall I find these two to be heated competitors. They go at v-shaped signatures in different ways. For me, I prefer the Zen thanks to it’s sub-bass bias and stronger upper mids. That said, I feel most would enjoy the more mellow, warmer Mammoth more.

In The Ear Campfire’s iconic design language returns for the Mammoth, with clean angles wrapped around a low profile design. Like other models in the lineup, the shells here are machined aluminum. This time they have been anodized in a lush blue, ‘frozen tundra’ finish. I think it looks fantastic, and is a more attractive shade than used on either of the Polaris models. As is usually the case with Campfire Audio products, fit and finish is class leading. Gaps between the black PVD finished stainless steel nozzle and two shell sections are nonexistent. The black tri-lobe screws holding the shell together are threaded perfectly and provide some contrast to the unique colouring. The inlaid Campfire logo has a party piece this time around, that being glow-in-the-dark paint. Definitely a gimmick, but it’s enjoyable. Buyers at this price range tend to take things a little too seriously, so it’s refreshing to see Campfire Audio let go and have some fun with their gear.

The cable is more-or-less the same one included with a number of other Campfire Audio products, though the glow-in-the-dark motif they’ve gone for for carries over to the hardware. The glowing 90 degree angled jack is smartly designed with an extension to permit compatibility with a wide variety of device cases. While the strain relief is still stiffer than I find ideal, I’ve yet to experience an issue with it on any other Campfire Audio product. These cables are plenty durable. Within the small, reliefless aluminum y-split, the cable divides sending two strands on each side to the ear pieces. Slotting into the top of the split is a small plastic chin cinch. It moves much more smoothly here than on older Campfire cables and as a result is much more useful. They missed an opportunity to make the cinch glow though. Tsk tsk. The same excellent preformed ear guides Campfire has been using for a while now are found on the Mammoth. They are light and flexible, yet they hold the cable securely in place behind the ear. The guides lead into the MMCX plugs which of course now glow in the dark. Left and right markings remain appreciably redundant with recessed L and R markings present on the plug and earphone body. Small blue and red dots round things out.

Since the Mammoth uses Campfire’s iconic angular shell design, those who have had issues with it in the past won’t experience anything new here. For myself, I find it extremely comfortable, though I still prefer the short, stubby nozzles of the 2020 Andromeda to the longer nozzles found here. The shell used here is the refined version we’ve come to expect. While angular, the more aggressive edges have been rounded out making it more pleasant to wear for long periods. This shell design and the shape of my outer ear are very much compatible with each other. When it comes to isolation I found the Mammoth to be below average. On the face plate of each ear piece is a small vent that lets in outside noise, but more offensively, exacerbates the noise of wind rushing by. While not nearly as bad as it was on the original Polaris, it is still quite distracting when walking outside when there is a breeze. If you want to improve isolation pair the Mammoth with tips that give a decent depth of seal, have multiple flanges, or use a thicker silicone wall, like the included Type-E tips. Or better yet, use the included foams.

In The Box The Mammoth’s packaging follows the format set by 2019’s releases with the earphones arriving in a squat, square box, protected by an exterior sheath that is sealed shut by a shiny Campfire Audio seal on the back. While their typical astronomical theme was brought back for the Holocene, the Mammoth sticks with a more abstract theme, this one being “All Seeing Eye”. On the front of the sheath is a large sticker with an image of the earphones along with the usual branding and model info, all set over top of a vibrantly coloured, stylized eye within a triangle design. Another sticker is present around the front edge containing another image of the earphones, some company info, among other details, all set over the same wacky background.

Breaking the seal allows the sheath to unfold in four segments revealing the main box within. Lifting it out reveals the same uplifting interior to the sheath we’ve seen before; the CA logo dead centre with rays exploding outwards in a dramatic fashion. Looking back at the main box we see Campfire’s familiar mountainous scene along with more CA branding. Lift the lid and you’re greeted to “Nicely Done” printed on the front flap and their now standard half-moon carrying case, though this time it is made from upcycled marine plastics with glow-in-the-dark accents; the zipper and Campfire Audio logo. You also find a smaller cardboard box containing the main suite of accessories. Tucked beneath it all is a warranty card and manual. In all you get:

  • Mammoth earphones
  • All-Seeing Eye Carrying case
  • Smoky Glow Silver Plated Copper Litz Cable
  • Final Audio tips (xs/s/m/l/xl)
  • Campfire Audio Marshmallow tips (s/m/l)
  • Medium bore single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
  • Campfire Audio lapel pin
  • Cleaning tool
  • Mesh accessory case (x3)

Overall a pretty fantastic unboxing experience, as I have come to expect from the brand. Their use of recyclable, sustainable materials is a brand standard and a welcome departure from the needlessly complicated (though fun to disassemble) and less environmentally friendly packaging of the competition. The accessory kit is right up there with the best I’ve experience thanks to the inclusion of a wide variety of tips and styles. Final Audio’s Type E tips are durable and provide a fantastic seal, giving most earphones you pair them with a slight low end boost thanks to the small bore. The included wide bore tips are fairly standard but they too provide a good seal and are a more balanced sounding option. Campfire’s Marshmallow tips have shown themselves to be fairly resilient for a foam tip and do a great job of boosting isolation and softening treble peaks. The inclusion of a number of mesh bags to store everything in is awesome too.

Final Thoughts I’ve certainly enjoyed Campfire Audio hybrids over the years, and 100% appreciate their style of tuning, even if I don’t always enjoy it. They don’t usually tune for the status quo, instead injecting a wide variety of sounds into their lineup, each tailored to a specific type of listener. The Mammoth somewhat takes step back from this, and I think that was a wise decision.

As a mid-tier product, it has a jack-of-all-trades quality to it. While still v-shaped, it is less so than their other hybrids and as a result you get improved timbre, more forward and natural vocals, and less fatigue over long listening sessions since there isn’t ear drum shattering bass, shouty mids, nor aggressive treble. The Mammoth is a wonderful all-rounder that gives you a taste of the various tuning styles within Campfire Audio’s lineup. If you want more bass, move up to the Dorado 2020. If you like the detail and clarity on offer and want more of that, try the reference tuned Holocene or step straight up to the Ara. If you like the silky mids, go with the tried and true Andromeda 2020. It really is a well-tuned and extremely versatile, genuinely enjoyable earphone that deserves more attention.

In addition to being well-tuned, you get the same awesome accessory kit we’ve come to love and expect from the brand. Campfire’s iconic shell is part of the deal too, and it looks outstanding in the dark blue selected this time around. I can’t argue against the glow-in-the-dark aspect either. It looks neat and is a fun, welcome addition, even if it is a bit gimmicky.

Overall a stellar piece of equipment that should satisfy buyers for a long time. Nicely done Campfire Audio. Nicely done.

Thanks for reading!

– B9

Disclaimer A big thank you to Caleb with Campfire Audio for reaching out to see if I would be interested in reviewing the Mammoth, and for arranging a sample. The thoughts within this review are my own subjective opinions based on almost 6 months of use. They do not represent Campfire Audio or any other entity, and do not detract from the opinions of others who may or may not have listened to the Mammoth before posting their opinions. At the time of writing the Mammoth was retailing for 549.00 USD: https://campfireaudio.com/shop/mammoth/

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 5Hz-20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 94 dB SPL@1kHz: 18.16 mVrms
  • Impedance: 8.1ohms @ 1kHz

Gear Used For Testing Huawei P40, DDHiFi TC35 Pro (Mountain), Earstudio HUD100, Earmen TR-Amp, Asus FX53V, TEAC HA-501

Some Test Tunes

Supertramp – Crime of the Century

Slipknot – Vol 3 (The Subliminal Verses)

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid

King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic

King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black

Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma

The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy

Steely Dan – The Royal Scam

Porcupine Tree – Stupid Dreams

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