Discussion in 'Headphones' started by PacoTaco, Sep 18, 2017.
Zach mentioned that pre-orders will be shipped in January next year.
(this unit is not the final look. The other pictures from the site are probably the finished versions; I don't think it comes in the plain silver and prototype wenge wood pictured in my post)
ZMF AUTEUR - FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Finally have a day off again and here I am with the Auteur and some quick first impressionsAuteur pads:
Balance is a little more zingy in the lower treble
Better clarity than the other pads but less warm and inviting
Sounds open with the Auteur pads and a little more forward in the upper mids
More neutral to me and less dark. I can see people calling them neutral or sometimes bright depending on the gear or even just a shade dark. I'm just going to say neutral for now even though, to my ears the zingyness tips em up a little. But then again I think the d7200 is a little bright and everyone thinks they are dark.
less bass extension than the Eikon pads
Eikon pads (perforated):
Sounds like a semi open back and not as open as I prefer
Very smooth and a little warm but also just a shade dull sounding compared to even the Eikon
Clean and very linear with no peaks or odd spikes to the ears... like butter and less sharp with no zing whatsoever
Still spacious and a little sweet but maybe a little rolled in the last octaves, at least compared to the Auteur pads it seems
Even though I like warm headphones, I actually prefer the leaner and brighter/spicier Auteur pads. When I want warm and semi-open I can switch to the Eikon or Atticus.
Both pads (ZMF AUTEUR itself):
A lot more spacious than the Eikon and Atticus especially when it comes to sound stage width
Less full and rich sounding than the Eikon in the middle mids and the Atticus in the lower-middle mids but still natural without a dip in the upper mids. Perhaps I am not able to tell yet so early but I do not hear any dips in the upper mids or bows in the middle mids. With the Eikon pads they sounds kind of flat to me so far but not in a bad way.
Even bass response that has good control, and although the drums hit hard enough (kick drums) the mid bass is not bloated nor does it sound arched in that area. This is what I call neutral for bass as I never understood calling the 650 bass elevated. Definitely not bass-head level.
Compared to the Eikon it is a little less punchy but the separation is cleaner and it's tighter. My Eikon is 701grams of hard Blackwood so that could also be at play here, making the Eikon sound a little more aggressive and hard than the average one.
Moving my hands around the back of the cups don't affect the sound much and they do attenuate some outside noises just a little.
Switching from the HD800 to the Auteur doesn't have me wanting for clarity, perhaps openness and soundstage but the separation of the Auteur is close to the 800 and it is much more enjoyable.
The Milo is not a bad sounding amp with the Auteur but it is not ideal. It kind of hinders its openness and makes it sound just a little dark and stuffy in the treble. However, the Milo does have good tone quality, layering, and body; especially for a solid state but as was commented before somewheres, it is not that fast. The Pro iCan and Aficionado sound a lot faster with the O2R (excuse me I keep spelling it wrong so I am saying O2R). However the Pro iCan sounds more typical solid state in comparison to the Milo in that it doesn't layer as well and the tones aren't as realistic. The Pro iCan has better clarity though and the O2R sounds more open on it even if the bass is not as firm.
The Auteur sounds at home with the Aficionado. It really plays well with the O2Rs soundstage and the tones have excellent control with the AF. Actually the combination is pretty much ideal with every pluck and strum sounding isolated, taught, defined, but natural. The O2R and the Aficionado have this space and blackness of background that is very enjoyable. I don't think anyone can do their O2R better than the Aficionado without paying the exuberant prices of someones statement tube amp. It is like the Aficionado takes all of the strengths of the O2R and lays em out in a way that is easy to see.
Now back to the Auteur and where I think it fits... The Utopia is going to be faster and more resolving however I feel that the O2R bass sounds a little more naturally integrated into the whole picture of the O2R sound. The Utopia bass after a while became a distraction to me, not because it was too much but because it didn't seem to be as good as the rest of the headphone. With the Eikon pads they seem different enough to have both...Not really sure because the Aficionado is a game changer and I would love to hear the Utopia on it one day to be sure of these assumptions. I am not going to use the words 'Super HD650' or say it fills the void of a high tier, natural open back that we have all been waiting for but this definitely will be a headphone people are going to recommend on this forum here. I already know it.
I still like the Atticus better for some songs ( a rare few that play well with bass heavy tracks) and the timbre is still there on the Atticus for me, even compared to the O2R but the focus and cleaner sound of Zach's latest, one ups the Atticus to me making it the better headphone without question. As an aside, I don't recall my Eikon sounding this hard and punchy with the Padauk wood so I don't know which one is my favorite between the Atticus and Blackwood Eikon now but time will tell.
So far though if I only had one of the three it would be the O2R as it is clearer, cleaner, more spacious, and more controlled than the other two and still punchy enough for me. Honestly I could be happy with the O2R as my only HP were I not so into trying new things out of curiosity. I really got to kick back and enjoy my music for a while without any gripes or real wants. I think a lot of people will be satisfied with the AUTUER.
I don't have much time nowadays so I am posting as I can, which in this case means the same day I hear them. I have been listening for a few hours but not critically most of the time. Just rediscovering my fav songs.
Awww yeah man! Sounds like it's RIGHT up my ally. I'll have mine next week for review/measurements.
"Sounds open with the Auteur pads and a little more forward in the upper mids"
That's a boner inducing quote right there. Sounds like Zach is onto something, and nailed it with the pads...
I have read that the Auteur is an upgrade to the HD600. Is that right?
I absolute love the look of the ZMF headphones as well as the handcrafted nature. If this one really is like an upgraded HD600, it will be near the top of my need to audition list.
So, my question is that is there any significant sound difference between LTD version and normal Auteur?
To be honest I have too many black-colored headphones, and Teak looks far better than Blackwood version...
The only one to say something meaningful about the difference at the moment is Zach himself, as most pre-reviewers got different woods*.
He answered a similar question as yours on HF recently: quote:
I find the Blackwood and harder wood a little faster and more robust sounding, it very slightly noticeable in the transients, the difference is less than in the Eikon but still noticeable. It's not better or worse than Teak just different really as teak is generally fast, smooth and coherent.
Blackwood is one of the most dense woods, most janka scales put it in the wrong place. You can find useful and more correct information here.
This means the blackwood version is considerably heavier as the teak one. Zach has added the weights on his homepage a few days ago after I asked him about it.
Just ordered a blackwood Auteur, by the way...
* gbeast has a blackwood Eikon, and commented a few posts back in this thread a liitle on the wood´s sound characteristics.
I like smoother sound and went with the softer wood, so teak for me. Too bad all preview are either blackwood or some other wood, and not teak.
Well guys, here's the moment I've been waiting for: My Auteur review. (Also, as a note, I do get a “reviewer” discount. And I am good friends with Zach, so keep this in mind.)
As you guys already know, the Auteur is Zach’s new open-back flagship that uses the same 300 ohm biocellulose drivers. It is built, more or less, with the same structure as the Atticus and Eikon, but with some changes to the pads and the wood cups. The pads come in two sits: One is the Auteur pads with a larger “earhole” and the Eikon perforated pads (don’t use these with the Eikon though) that impart a darker-tilt to the sound. The cups have been reformed to allow for an open grill behind the driver that also cuts down the weight of the can by a noticeable amount (compared to the Camphor Eikon and the Cherry Eikon I reviewed a year ago.)
All my listening was done on various amounts of gear: The Mimby/Magni 3, Amethyst/Kenzie, and Amethyst/Magni 3. Zach actually loaned me the Amethyst and the Kenzie to review as well (and…honestly, I like the Amethyst and don’t like the Kenzie. Take that as will.)
I also spent some time at @Mystic ‘s place listening to the Kenzie and Black Widow through his Gumby. (As a side note, I left his house really wanting a Black Widow…it’s a very surprising amp. I like it quite a bit over the Kenzie, especially with the Auteur.)
Overall Sound (Mostly with the Auteur Pads)
The big thing that stands out with the Auteur is that it is a suddenly departure from what I’m use to from ZMF cans. Usually, ZMF Cans are warm/bassy, mid-heavy, thick cans. In fact, my favorite closed-back can of Zach’s is the Atticus, which is the epitome of his house sound. The Auteur, however, is not that at all. The Auteur is a surprisingly neutral (if not only slightly tilted towards warm) can that has a smooth presentation. A better label might be “inoffensive.”
The bass of the Auteur is well controlled/tight. It goes down very low (with a small bit of rolloff) and has enough punch that it keeps from sounding like an Orthodynamic. It has enough detail to keep drums entertaining without becoming the “focus” like other biocellulose drivers. The worst thing I can say about the bass is that bass heads and Atticus-lovers will definitely feel like this can doesn’t have enough bass.
Two good examples of tight the bass is that come to mind are the intro of Dire Strait’s “Money for Nothing” and Mastodon’s “The Motherload.” With “Money for Nothing,” the drum beat hits with a good amount of authority, but doesn’t sound boomy, sloppy or overpowering (like it can get with the Atticus.) It sounds distinct, defined, and well textured. “The Motherload” is a good example of the speed and decay of the bass: The drum notes hit hard very fast, and eventually slow down to make way for the bombastic start of the rest of the song. The bass sounds distinct enough that the drums keep a strong presence in the song, but they don’t hit with enough authority to make it supremely exciting.
The treble, like the bass, is very well extended and gives a great sense of air and clarity. The lower treble gets a bit energetic (if not a bit sharp,) but I’ve found that tends to vary on an amp-to-amp basis. I will cover this later in the review, but a tube change on the Kenzie made the lower treble a bit too much. The biggest thing, by far, is that the transition from the mids into the treble is smooth, especially compared to the HD800 (with SDR) and the Eikon. Cymbals crash with a nice sense of detail in just about every rock song I listened to over the weekend, and didn’t leave me wanting anymore. But, there are some instances where, depending on the recording, the highs would be a bit fatiguing (like the Nier Automata song, “Amusement Park.”
The mids were pretty natural, if not somewhat unexciting. The upper-mids were not forward (nor recessed really) and uneven (which helps with the transition into the lower treble,) nor were there any noticeable dips in the lower-mids (something that prevelant in Zach’s T50RP mod line.) This smoother presentation keeps it from sounding super thick (like the Atticus) or thin like the HD800. This keeps music heavy in string instruments (electric guitars and acoustic guitars) sounding very lifelike and correctly toned (like in “Money or Nothing” by Dire Straits or “Epic” by Faith No More.) Piano have a similarly nice, even tone with the Auteurs. That said, they don’t stick out, nor do they ever become the “focus” of the headphone.
The vocals are a bit hard to describe without comparing it to the other headphones, which I will end up doing in the next big section.
Its soundstage goes surprisingly deep and has a good width. It isn’t HD800 or speaker size by any imagination, but the soundstage is above average in size. I found the speed faster than the Eikon and HD800 (though the HD800 isn’t a particularly fast can in the first place,) and the clarity to be pretty damn awesome. The thing that stood out the most was the separation. Instruments weren’t tripping over each other, and everything had its own place. Coupling that with the neutral, but smooth presentation, the Auteur keeps a very nice sense of cohesion that I don’t normally get from other headphones (including the Eikon….which I’ll get into later.)
Now, I should note that I’m writing this review with a focus on the Auteur pads. The Perforated Eikon pads smooth a bit of the Auteur’s sound out and add some more mid-bass punch to it. It makes the headphone seem a touch darker when, really, the bass is getting enough of a boost to become a bit more of the focus. Honestly, I preferred the Auteur pads, but I could see quite a few people going for the Eikon pads as it adds some special character to the sound. Everything else is mostly the same, except for the soundstage. As GBeast already said earlier, the Eikon pads do make the stage sound a bit more “semi-open” than “open.” It gets closed in a bit. I got this feeling the most from “The Doomed” by A Perfect Circle.
The Auteur also scaled with equipment ridiculously well. It’s one of the few headphones that makes DAC differences more apparent, and just gets better with gear (similar to how the HD580 scales.) The difference between the Auteur on the Magni 3 (which seemed to not go as deep and take on a slightly steely sound) and the Kenzie (thicker, with a large mid-range emphasis) was actually larger than the HD580 out of the same amps. Funnily enough, I thought the Gumby->Black Widow 2 was actually by far the better combo with the Auteur than the Amethyst/Gumby->Kenzie. I wish I could have experimented a bit more with the different amps, but it has been a fun thing to realize (as long as you don’t stick the Auteur or the HD580 into the Kenzie’s 600 ohm tap.)
The HD580/650/600 are a team of special headphone to me. Despite the many pairs I’ve heard over the years, nothing quite nails the mid-range for rock (guitars and vocals) quite like HD580. Also, considering the price bracket of this headphone, it does microdynamics and microdetail right up there with the best of them. It scales with amps so well that it was become something of a meme-legend for that.
Now, the Auteur doesn’t exactly nail that mid-range crunch and feeling I get from the HD580. Honestly, the only thing that gets close is the Atticus…but the thickness of that can makes more for flavor than anything else. As far as microdetail, the Auteur outdoes it a bit, and inches its way towards the HD800 (though the HD800 still has a healthy lead.) Honestly though, it took me listening on the Amethyst to catch this, as the Mimby just straight up misses details if they’re subtle at times. The more noticeable difference was in microdynamics and macrodynamics, however. Compared to the Auteur, the HD580 had a tendency to shrink the difference between subtle sounds and louder ones. It wasn’t as bad compared to the next headphone on the comparison block, but the Auteur outpaced it handedly. This was very noticeable with one track: “The Doomed” by A Perfect Circle. The song moves through louder, angrier parts to Maynard singing softly into the mic, then back to angry and aggressive. The HD580, compared to the Auteur, lacks the impact to properly articulate the changes, thus everything sounds more like there’s a dull edge when it should be louder and more aggressive like it is on the Auteur. I’m assuming this is mostly because the Auteur digs deeper into the subbass and has more texture in that area overall. The treble being more detailed helps with that as well. The Auteur also transitions through “Money for Nothing”’s slow pickup a lot smoother than the HD580. Besides that, the speed of the Auteur is quite a bit more noticeable, and the soundstage is a lot larger. It wins out in separation and clarity as well, though that doesn’t take away from the HD580 doing unusually regardless.
In my fuck-up review from before, I mentioned that the Eikon was ruined for me by the Auteur. Honestly, that’s still true. The first thing I heard when I put on the Eikon after nine months of not hearing it was the compression it suffered from compared to the Auteur. The Auteur had a lighter, cleaner sound and kept every instrument well-separated so they didn’t impede on each other. The Eikon, however, felt compressed, even in the microdynamics (in comparison.) If any tracks got busy, the Eikon seemed to stumble over itself and sound squashed together. It sounded like a closed headphone…albeit it was the best one if you wanted a more neutral sound. Honestly, the Auteur just outdoes the Eikon handedly in just about every area…except one.
The Eikon excels at Macrodynamics compared to the Auteur. If a song was aggressive and heavy, the Eikon let you know it...whether you wanted it or not. The subbass emphasis put real weight into ever bombastic tune. This was especially noticeable in gaming tracks, like “BIRTH OF A WISH” in Nier Automata and “Last Surprise” in Persona 5. Though, that comes at a cost: The Eikon has a rough transition from the uppermids to the lower treble. There’s a slight emphasis on the upper mids that leads to a spike that causes the lower treble to be rough. So, while the Eikon does well with aggressive tracks, it can get fatiguing in these areas. The Auteur doesn’t suffer from this problem, as the transition is a lot smoother. It’s more unexciting as a result, but you can listen to it a hell of a lot longer.
Honestly, I couldn’t really articulate last year WHY I thought the Atticus was a more special, enjoyable can over the Eikon. The Auteur taught me why: The Eikon sounded stuffed by the closed cups. They sounded closed, they acted closed, and suffered for it. That’s not say to they aren’t one of the best closed-back period, but they always seem to suffer from that dreaded “for a closed can.” The Atticus, on the other hand, doesn’t pretend it isn’t a closed can, and seems to excel because of it (as opposed to the Eikon trying to excel in spite of it.) If it wasn’t a flavor can that I couldn’t keep as only headphone long term, I was actually say the Atticus is just an outright better headphone than the Eikon.
So I owned the HD800 for a couple of months, but had to part with it. I still hold the headphone in high esteem, and it is one of my favorite cans. Listening to the Auteur, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the HD800 when I was listening to it. When I was finally able to compare them side by side, I learned why. To help explain how these two cans compare with one another, I put this in a nice list with “Similarities,” “Stuff the HD800 does better,” and “Stuff the Auteur does better.”
1) Sense of Clarity and Separation: Both the HD800 and the Auteur take very, very good advantage of the DAC they’re given. If the DAC has an inky black background, these headphones make sure you know it. If there’s a grey one, then the Auteur and HD800 don’t make it any worse than it is. This was consistent between the Mimby, Gumby and Amethyst. HD580, and the Eikon to a lesser extent, didn’t seem to do this near as well. Every instrument seems to take its place incredibly well and they don’t have to worry about feeling cramped with anyone else in the song. It’s quite the surprise for the Auteur.
2) Microdynamics: The HD800 and Auteur have similar ways of handling this. Subtle sounds stay subtle (but noticeable,) and little details that ramp up into louder ones (“Money for Nothing”) transition very smoothly. Honestly, I was fighting putting this as a similarity, because the HD800 edges the Auteur out in this one area. But, it’s close enough that you’d have to strain yourself to notice it.
Things the HD800 does better:
1) Microdetail: The HD800 is still the King. The Auteur gets incredibly close, closer than you’d think, but the HD800 is still the king of this hill. This is due to just the unusually large amount of air the HD800 has over the Auteur.
2) Soundstage: Now, I don’t delve into speakers due to my situation, but even I know the HD800 is the closest anyone is going to get to a speaker soundstage (and it still isn’t even close.) As far as headphones go, the Auteur stands in the middle of the HD580 and the HD800. The soundstage isn’t closed enough to be considered intimate, but it is quite large (and airy.) There’s a lot of room to breathe, but it is more focused than the HD800.
Things the Auteur does better:
1) Speed: I hesitate to give the Auteur this one, as the HD800 isn’t really a fast headphone. AT the very least, the Auteur doesn’t waste time and hang onto notes…but it has enough decay that you wouldn’t confuse it with an orthodynamic. This isn’t honestly a big deal to me personally, as I find overly fast headphones (orthos, electrostats) to lose some character because of the speed. That’s just me though.
2) Macrodynamics: The Auteur may have lost in soundstage, but this is where it balances that lose out. The HD800 can sound like a thin headphone without much impact. The Auteur, on the other hand, sounds more aggressive and has more impact. There’s just more high quality bass with the Auteur, as well as the smoother upper-mids to lower treble transition. Where the HD800 has recessed upper-mids, the Auteur keeps it neutral, so it sounds like it has more energy and presence than the HD800. The HD800 is like you’re trying to study the music with a microscope, and each note has about that same effect as a germ hitting you. You know each part has importance, but none of them really make an effort to stick out…even if they’re supposed to.
3) Cohesion: Mystic and I actually talked about this when I went to drop off the Auteur with him and get the demo/refresh course of the HD800. The HD800, while having better microdynamics[slightly,] microdetail, and soundstage, lacks a certain amount of cohesion. The Auteur, with a similar level of clarity, separation, and microdynamics, has a surreal sense of cohesion with every song it plays. I suspect this is because the Auteur has enough bass and mid-range linearity to excel quite readily over the HD800 as far macrodynamics is concerned. It’s a more complete package in the timbre and handles rhythmic and aggression changes in the music that make the music sound more natural and enjoyable as a result.
Honestly, I have a hard time preferring one over the other, but I lean towards the Auteur a bit more. It’s just more engaging and pleasing, whereas the HD800, while fantastic, is more detail oriented and commands an analytical approach to music. If this was a fight of MSRPs, I would lean more towards telling you to go out and order the Auteur…but the HD800 does exist on the used market at $600. That isn’t exactly fair to the Auteur, as the HD800 at that price is unusual for the headphone market, but it is a reality. Those that hate the HD800 due to its unique, somewhat dry, nature will actually find the Auteur isn’t a bad place to be. At least, if you don’t want to play for the Utopia.
I’ll end the review with this: The Auteur is a very neutral, yet musical and cohesive package that surprises me with some of its traits. At $1,599 MSRP, I find a decent value compared to the other headphones in this price bracket, with the exception of the HD800. I can’t recommend the LTD woods though, as I think $300 more for an ascetic change isn’t super-fantastic, but that comes down to personal preference at the end of the day (and my preference is to save that difference.)
But, if you’re the kind of guy that likes the HD800 (or already owns it) and wants more than one headphone, I don’t think I can recommend the Auteur as a companion can. The things the Auteur excels in over the HD800 [Macrodynamics and Cohesion] are also areas the Atticus excels in over the Auteur. While the Auteur is more of a complete package and not a flavor-can, the Atticus brings more variety to a headphone collection if paired with a HD800 than the Auteur does with the HD800. That also comes well under the “Open Utopia Box price-range” that the HD800 used + Auteur Teak new pushes itself into.
Note: Original review is here: https://www.reddit.com/r/headphones/comments/7cscjq/review_the_zmf_auteur_metrum_amethyst_amps_and/
What's up with the ZMF hate as of late? I haven't heard the Auteur yet, but the Atticus has definitely been one of my all time favorites, resolving and micro-dynamically engaging, scaling up along with the Sennheisers with uber gear. Heck, almost gave myself first dibs on the loaner unit and would have purchased it myself had I not been spending most of my time with speakers lately.
I couldn't be bothered to nail down the gear you used.
What upstream did you use for HD800 and Auteur comparison?
Have you heard the Eikon as well Marv?
I quickly searched the ZMF Atticus and Eikon thread for your posts but couldn't find your impressions on the Eikon.
Magni 3/Mimby and Amethyst/Kenzie for most of the review process, but @Mystic 's Gumby + Black Widow and Kenzie for the comparison (using Tidal.)
Right, read that thread long time ago, thanks for reminding me!
To add, I mean I would have serious doubts if Zach was still using the T50RP driver, and rolling pleats into the diaphragm, and writing white papers on how this decreases distortion - but he's not.
Sure these don't come cheap, but he's also not selling 2000 of them at once for $400.
Sometimes I put impressions with the measurements. I do this when the air gets too subjective. When the air gets too objective, I will post impressions separately and maybe link to measurements.
Thanks, I read that post a while ago but it'll a be a nice read again now my Atticus just came in.
The main issue with the ZMF bashing is the lack of relativity without comparing them to other closed back headphones. I have yet to see the Eikon or Atticus totally bashed in the context of another Fully closed back can. Where is the point of reference? An HD650 which is an open can? With what and where is all of this being heard. If there were those contexts fully explained then I would better understand their perspective.
That is where I begin to get curious of trolling.
Regarding the Auteur, whatevs. I mean it is marketed as an open back so I just think people need to post upstream gear used. I didn't because I post enough that people know I use the Pavane and I shared impressions with the Aficionado, Milo, and Pro iCan
I noticed how the HP3 was said to be unimpressive next to the Auteur BUT after seeing what gear they (not naming names because I like them and don't want to hear MOAR bashing) used and knowing how the Auteur was heard I was immediately able to take their impressions less seriously. That stuff is so important seeing as how this gear scales up.
I will have the HP3 next to the Auteur today when I get home and I will be able to hear how they compare. The HP3 is said to sound open and the Auteur in my first impressions were said to be a little semi-open sounding with the Eikon pads. Yet more open sounding than the Aeon Flow Open. To me these are the two cans I think will compare most directly to each other, bio-cellulose and semi-open/open cans that sound great on tubes. I was told by two people that I may not like the HP3 but after reading @Marvey impressions I am almost certain they are wrong.
The thing about the Auteur is that it really has hardly any glaring issues to me. It cleans up a lot of the reverb in the cups of the Eikon, has a lot more air flow, and has tighter bass with better upper midrange presence, and the sound stage has expanded. The middle mids are less bulbous and overall it is actually pretty neutral. I think Zach did excellent with the Auteur. Personally, I would like an open Atticus instead of an open Eikon but that is just me. I also think the driver may be a little different in the O2R than the Eikon which is the same driver essentially but better. Not 100 on that last part.
I posted this in the other thread the clutter got moved to, but I actually fucked up and got a bit lazy. The original review was a larger one with the Kenzie and Amethyst in it...and I separated them all out and didn't realize that also removed any real indication of what gear I used. I'm going back and adding more detail to my original review, as I, quite honestly, fucked up by being hasty with it. I would say "I'm not a professional" but that doesn't excuse the fact I shit out a review instead of taking the time to write it.
As strange as it sounds, after hearing the Eikon again next to the Auteur, I still prefer the Atticus to the Eikon.
Edit: I don't feel like making a double post, but I wanted to make anyone reading this aware that I redid my review. I don't feel like I should post it as a new post, so I just went ahead and edited the review over, and linked to the subreddit review if anyone wanted to bother themselves with the old review.
No contradictions to any prior postings here—just some extra information geared towards mid-fi (or lo-fi?) guys from somebody with insufficient expertise to be considered authoritative by the regulars, but I nonetheless hope this is helpful to the rest of the world who reads these thing.
Just tried the Auteur with the Woo WA3 and found them to be quite a poor match (DAC was M51). TL;DR: If you’re a rocking the WA3, and considering ZMF cans, I suggest moving on. They need a better amp.
I liked the Eikon on other amps, and even on the WA3 they’re great for a closed headphone. But the Auteurs really didn’t work out. On this amp, the Auteur sounded a bit shrill/resonancy in the treble with piano and boomy in the bass. It acts like a closed headphone with a different profile. I am told, on very good authority, that the Auteur has more sound stage than the HD650 on a better amp, but with this amp my listening partner (more knowledgeable than me) and I agreed that the stock HD650 bested the Auteur (and Eikon) for sound stage too. Same with clarity, HD650 won over both ZMF cans. Perhaps the ZMF cans had more perceived range in macro dynamics, but that may be resonances embellishing the space on busy sections of the music. My friend regards ZMF as good stuff in general, likes the Auteurs on his stack, but said that on the WA3 particularly, they were “unlistenable.”
Special thanks to anonymous friend for sharing these. I would still consider Eikons if I needed a closed can. I have not heard the other ZMF offerings on this amp, so have no views on compatibility there.
Oh, I also much prefer the Eikon’s smooth adjustments to the ratchet adjustments on the Auteur. The ratchet adjustment on the Auteur is kinda of crap to use and silly to look at.
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