Campfire Audio has been busy. They’ve released no less than four new earphones in the last month. After launching the more budget-friendly Honeydew and Satsuma to start off the summer, they followed up with Mammoth and Holocene, which are priced in between their recent summer offerings and the rest of the lineup. While Holocene appears to be the more balanced and neutral of the pair, Mammoth seems ready to follow in the footsteps of Polaris 2 as the big bass monster on campus.
The Look and Feel
Mammoth uses the same signature, angular Campfire Audio design as iconic earphones like the Campfire Andromeda, and with its blue aluminum shell and black spout, it evokes the recently discontinued Polaris 2. Mammoth has a new twist on the old design though: glow in the dark accents on each IEM and the new “Smoky Glow” cable that’s included. Mammoth includes all the expected accoutrements: the cable, a case, a selection of foam and silicone ear tips, and some little bags for protection and carrying convenience. The case is made from upcycled marine plastic, and features a design with a somewhat tropical motif.
The overall feel and comfort is very much “Campfire.” They’re generally lightweight, with moderately sized nozzles. The IEMs themselves are average sized, and will provide a fairly easy fit for most listeners. The cable and other accessories are all quite nice. The glow in the dark bits hasn’t really stood out in the office, but – other than the fun aesthetic – I could see them actually being useful if you’re frequently using Mammoth in lower light environments or at night in bed.
Let’s be straight from the start: this is an IEM built for bassheads and fans of hip hop, EDM, alternative rock, and the like. If you don’t want your head shaking at 8.0 on the Richter scale, then these are probably not the IEMs you’re looking for. Maybe move on to reading our Holocene review.
Mammoth is tuned with a strong emphasis on bass that leans more heavily to the sub than mid, creating a massive pummeling rumble that still retains a good amount of punch. The bass is massive, but retains coherency and detail. Even when it’s hitting with its deepest, most powerful rumble, it doesn’t feel loose or flabby, but remains tight in the midbass and powerful in the subbass.
The mids are pulled back but well sculpted. The performance varied from song to song based on the mix and the specifics of the instruments. Male baritone and tenor are crisp and clear, and while higher female voices demonstrate good separation in the mix, they sometimes come off a little more airy than weighty. The timbre on acoustic instruments is a little bit mixed, with guitars or cellos generally sounding good, while violins can get a touch metallic.
The treble is clear and smooth. There’s a touch of sparkle, but not really a lot of air. There’s a definite sense of a strong rolloff for the upper treble. Altogether, the mids and treble are well crafted to present the core of the music in a satisfying way. In comparison to its predecessor, Polaris 2, Mammoth has stronger performance here that let’s the rest of the sound pave the way for you to really enjoy the main event: the bass.
Mammoth has a moderate to large soundstage that combines with the deep bass to deliver an immensity of sound befitting its name. Mammoth’s imaging does a good job of providing a concrete position inside of this space, and a well crafted 3D image.
M83’s “Midnight City” provides an example of this massive sound. Layers of synths weave together, covering the full sound spectrum in a tapestry of electronic harmony. The high stabs pierce through the mix without piercing your eardrums. The somewhat spacey vocals are clear, but just sort of float above the rest of the music.
“Stressed Out” by twenty one pilots gives a sparser take on electronic music that’s more grounded in acoustic instruments. In the drums, the hi-hats are crisp and the snare drum has a good snap. The vocals feel natural and personal. The bass drum impact is sort of washed out in the rumble of the bass, giving a broader impact that’s more like a car crash than a bass drum hit.
On “Is She With You” by Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL, the drums hit with an eardrum rumbling depth and impact, giving this song the feeling that it might be a better wake-up than a strong cup of coffee. While nothing can quite compete with the drums in the mix, the strings have a smooth, sweet timbre, and there’s good separation and placement in the ensemble. The guitars have a searing tone that cuts through the percussion a little stronger than the strings. What Mammoth most strongly highlights though is the force and tension coming from the deep syncopated rhythm.
If you want to relive that feeling of blasting classic rock in your car with the bass turned up – without, you know, just going out to your car right now – plug in Mammoth and turn on a track like “Back in Black” by AC/DC. There’s a tight impact to the bass drum, and the bass has a strong presence, but even a bass machine like Mammoth knows that the guitars are the real highlight here, and they’ve got an incendiary energy. The whole band is well positioned and organized in the 3d image as well, demonstrating that Mammoth has some versatility.
Comparison: Campfire Audio Vega
If you’re in the market for a fun, bass heavy IEM, Campfire Audio now has two options for you under $1000: Vega and Mammoth. Vega uses a single ADLC dynamic driver to deliver a punchy v-shape with a generally natural timbre. Mammoth has a biocellulose dynamic driver paired with two BAs which deliver a more obviously bass centric tuning.
In terms of look and feel, Vega and Mammoth represent the two different ends of Campfire Audio’s design. Vega has a smaller, rounded shell with a ceramic white finish, while Mammoth has the more angular shell with a metallic blue finish. Despite Vega being smaller and lighter, I find Mammoth fits better in my ears, but that will be largely a matter of personal preference.
While the basic idea of the sound is somewhat similar, the actual execution is quite different. Vega is more of the classic v-shape with heavy bass, scooped mids, and a treble peak to match the bass. Mammoth has a towering mountain of bass that the treble can’t match, as well as slightly more of a bump in upper mids, and a stronger rolloff at the top of the treble.
Practically speaking, this means that Vega has a little bit more of a natural, familiar sound, and overall more balance between bass and treble. The bass is also tighter with less rumble and more punch. Vocals also have a bit more weight on Vega. Mammoth has a more exaggerated feel, more rumble, less balance, and more of an extreme sounding tuning.
On the technical side, Vega is a little tighter in general, with a faster response and better articulation and definition. Mammoth still feels bigger on a lot of songs and has a little more space and stronger layering with electronic instruments.
Between the two, Vega seems to be the stronger pick for versatile earphones with a more of a classic tuning. Mammoth is just a little bit extreme – a little bit out there. If you just know that you need more bass than most IEM manufacturers are willing to give you, Mammoth is going to give you that bass.
The Bottom Line
Mammoth is a love letter to bassheads. If you want the deepest, most powerful bass you can imagine in an IEM, but you don’t want to lose the music for the sake of the bass, Mammoth is here to let you know that you can have all of those things.