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Because I test only 36 headphones and earphones a year for SoundStage! Solo, our review slots are usually filled with old-school brands like AKG and Sennheiser, and the companies that regularly show up at US headphone shows, such as HiFiMan and Dan Clark Audio. That means many lesser-known brands usually don’t attract my attention. But if you’re reading this site, and you’re on Facebook, then Facebook has surely tagged you as a headphone enthusiast, and routinely serves you ads for earphones with unfamiliar brands at too-low-to-believe prices.

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Campfire Audio makes so many different earphones it was hard to figure out which ones I should review, so last time I talked with company founder Ken Ball, I just asked him. He was pretty excited about two then-new earphone models, the Holocene and the Mammoth. Asked what the difference was, he said that the Holocenes have a more “reference” response, and that the Mammoths have more bottom end, with a response closer to the Harman curve. This left me thinking I’d prefer the Mammoths, but just in case, I asked Ball if he wouldn’t mind sending a test sample of the Holocenes, too.

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Sound: ******1/2
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Why are the Evos the first Etymotic earphones I’ve ever reviewed on SoundStage! Solo? After all, the company practically invented the in-ear monitor, and it was the first to use balanced armature drivers in consumer earphones. But I still remember the first time I tried Etymotics, way back in the early 1990s, and while the highs sounded clean, I was put off by the lack of bass response, which, as a musician, I knew was not realistic. I respected the brand, but only because it was respected by people I respected.

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Reviewers' ChoiceThere’s only one inherent reason why true wireless earphones struggle to sound as good as high-end passive earphones. It’s because most high-end passive earphones use a cable-over-ear design that fits snugly and seals tightly in the ears, as exemplified by numerous models from Shure, JH Audio, 64 Audio, Westone, and other companies. I expect it would be quite a design challenge to squeeze the circuitry and batteries needed for true wireless operation into such a design, but for the Aonic 215 Gen 2 earphones, Shure came up with an alternative: packing the electronics into a separate module that snaps onto each earphone and sits behind the ear.

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Reviewers' ChoiceWhy did I get so excited when I heard 64 Audio was introducing the Duo earphones? Because they’re one of only a very small number of open-back earphones. I have a long history of disagreeing with many of the principles commonly espoused by audio enthusiasts, but when it comes to open-back headphones, enthusiasts are absolutely right: open-back models simply sound better. They have a more spacious sound, and because the driver’s back wave isn’t captured by a resonant enclosure, they have a negligible amount of bass resonance—and thus flatter, more natural-sounding bass. I guess I shouldn’t generalize, but I can’t think of many exceptions to this rule.

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Unless manufacturers tell me otherwise, I assume that all the headphones and earphones I review are intended for mainstream listeners and/or audiophiles. Not the Campfire Audio Honeydew earphones, though. They’re marketed as being an “excellent choice for drummers, bassists, DJs, and electronic beat makers.” Their webpage says they have “a reference level bass response that is fast and detailed.”

Latest Comments

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Brent Butterworth 12 days ago Are There Valid Objections to the Harman Curve?
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Brent Butterworth 12 days ago Are There Valid Objections to the Harman Curve?
@Napier LopezThanks! Great to hear from you.
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