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Review: Campfire Audio Trifecta

Closing thoughts

Much has been said and written about Campfire Audio’s bold and unapologetic flagship, very little of which takes the middle road. 

It seems some people simply can’t come to terms with Trifecta, and for whatever reason dismiss it outright, using its hefty price (which is no more than most of today’s flagships, mind you) and unsuitability to some types of music as big sticks to beat it with. 

This is not entirely unexpected, and, based on some of the insight I gained from the man who designed it, almost intentional. Trifecta is the type of IEM that’s going to be divisive – it’s definitely not an IEM for everyone, but depending on which side of the fence you stand on, you’re either going to pick up your pitchfork and join the naysayers, or blissfully ignore the noise and see Trifecta for what it is.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure which way I’d go. Out the box, I enjoyed one of the more transcendent musical sessions I’ve experienced, listening to various tracks for a full five (or was it six, or seven?) hours. So different was the sound, and so massive the bass, that I couldn’t get enough of it. 

But soon enough, I started hitting choppy waters, choppy like Trifecta’s treble graph. Numerous tracks I expected to love on Trifecta I simply didn’t. So I gave it a break, and 200 hours of burn-in, and then slowly re-introduced myself to Trifecta, track by track, getting to understand what it’s doing, trying out different combinations of tips, cables and sources, and comparing it to my favourite IEMs.

And here we are, almost 9,000 words later, and I’m just about confident enough to declare Trifecta as one of the most memorable, engaging and evocative IEMs I’ve had the pleasure of using. 

Trifecta is first and foremost an emotional listen; I can’t help but be swept up in its massive, enveloping bass and smooth, organic midrange. It’s one of the more analogue-sounding IEMs I’ve heard, and is both lifelike and natural when it comes to vocal and instrument timbre.

Trifecta is also a technically competent performer, and other than absolute resolution and speed with superfast and aggressive electronic, hard rock or metal, it’s one of the better technical performers across the board for most other metrics. Its staging, imaging, layering and separation performance is unquestionably world class to my ears.  

But Trifecta can also be hard, edgy and metallic. If you have music that hits on its errant treble peaks or doesn’t play well with its tonal quirks, you’re not going to like what you hear very much. There are ways around this, but not always, which is why I started off by saying Trifecta isn’t or everyone. It’s not meant to be, either. 

Other than sound, this is one of the best made, better looking, most comfortable, and most lavishly packaged IEMs I’ve seen at any price. Whatever its ‘faults’, you can’t argue this is a good value package, at least as far as design, fit and accessories are concerned. I know this is much less important to some, but at this level, I expect the very best in each department, and Campfire once again delivers.  

Is Astral Plane the last Trifecta variant we’ll see? Unlikely, but the design itself is something I’m hoping Ken and his team perseveres with, refines and evolves over time. Encouragingly, this is what he says about the future of Trifecta:

“We received a patent on the design, so yes I am working of course on more of the same basic structure to try and come up with something our customers will want. But it’s difficult to one-up Trifecta, so we’ll see…”

From my perspective, I can’t say I’ve completely tamed this wild stallion – I don’t think that’s actually possible – but I’ve learned how to read its moods, and better understand what I’m likely to get as a result. These past few weeks have been among the most rewarding in the hobby for me, and Trifecta has played a large part in that. 

For all you risk takers and emotional listeners out there, Trifecta gets my highest possible recommendation.    

Bonus section: listening notes…

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Picture of Guy Lerner

Guy Lerner

An avid photographer and writer 'in real life', Guy's passion for music and technology created the perfect storm for his love of portable audio. When he's not playing with the latest and greatest head-fi gear, he prefers to spend time away from the hobby with his two (almost) grown kids and wife in the breathtaking city of Cape Town, and traveling around his native South Africa.

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