ZMF Atrium Headphone Review and Measurements

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by purr1n, Mar 20, 2022.

  1. oceanrace

    oceanrace Acquaintance

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    Do yall do custom builds with a certain wood or only limited runs with one wood type? Really want a blackwood or other dark hardwood set. Look and feel so classy, maybe a bit tighter sound, bit faster attack and decay with trademark ZMF timbre and tuning. Sounds like a new best friend! To complement my old trusty LCD-4z (with new style pads). Been looking forward to trying a dynamic driver, other than berellium. Atrium sounds like just that headphone for me.
     
  2. recstar24

    recstar24 Friend

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    IMG_7694.jpeg

    New atrium owner!

    IMG_7693.jpeg



    The Koa is beautiful and Zach was a delight - I’m local so was able to pick up in person last week and he was gracious enough to give me a tour of the shop.

    Build quality is immaculate which was no surprise seeing the level of detail and organization in their operations first hand.

    Feels great! Zach recommended the caldera ultra perf pads and comfort level is excellent, headband design really makes these headphones feel much lighter.

    Finally, the sound is exactly what I’ve been looking for quite a while. Basically a spacious and relatively linear sound signature with good tone and density but wasn’t afraid of bass lol. Tried to find that in the hd800s but never quite connected emotionally. I do have the eslabs R10 which I love but those are pretty colored in comparison lol. These atriums check almost all the boxes I prioritize.

    Thank you Zach!
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2023
  3. jnak00

    jnak00 Friend

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    I bought a pair of the Caldera Ultra perf pads and put them on my Atrium tonight. I hadn’t listened to the Atrium in a couple weeks and was expecting small changes, if any. I was completely wrong. I have no idea how Zach comes up with pad designs that can so drastically alter the sound. Treble response is sharpened up - electric guitars have a nice bite to them and cymbals are more aggressive. This is without impacting the sledgehammer bass, which hits as hard as ever. Staging is different too, more forward and less diffuse than stock pads.

    I will have to listen for a while longer before I decide how much I like them, but for now I am enjoying the change.
     
  4. RestoredSparda

    RestoredSparda Friend

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    Atrium Open (in the softer cherry wood) is still my favorite headphone by leaps and bounds. I've tried with a variety of pads over the last 1.5 years or so, but still prefer leather Auteur pads by a large margin. The overall tone and incredible headstage, imaging and layering makes this headphone near perfect for any genre IMO. They sound more like speakers than headphones to me. Very engaging and fun but never fatiguing.

    Also, if you haven't heard AO on the new Pietus Maximus you owe it to yourself to do so asap. Jaw-dropping synergy is at play here. (High gain w/ internal ESS Dac card).

    20231231_115033.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2023
  5. recstar24

    recstar24 Friend

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    good to know! I had a chance to check out my atrium open on my friends piety and the synergy was pretty startling. I’d safely assume it’s bigger brother would play even better
     
  6. Orbilius

    Orbilius New

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    I've read this whole tread and can't wait to get my Atriums after ordering them a month ago.
     
  7. Orbilius

    Orbilius New

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    [​IMG]
    Well, I have spent a few days with the Atriums and I am still forming my opinions, but I have to say that I am impressed. I have been a fan of the LCD-X (2021) and have enjoyed it with my THX-789 amp for some time. I wanted to set up another amp/headphone that was complimentary to the Audeze. I thought a good contrast to planar magnetic headphones and solid state would be tubes and dynamic drivers. The Eufonika amp was my first purchase and I have rolled the tubes (Apos pre-tube and NOS Svetlana driver). I tried the amp with the 6XX and the DT1990 Pro, both have their merits, but were not at the level of the LCD-X in my opinion.

    The pairing of the OTL tube amp and the Atriums is quite enjoyable. Very dynamic, smooth, and more than enough detail. The most noticeable attribute I have found is how natural the headphones sound. Acoustic instruments and vocals sound realistic. I didn't know this was missing, but when I A:B the LCD-X the Atrium just sounds more real.

    Now, it's not a slam dunk win here for the Atrium. The LCD-X is more engaging and impressive on electronic music and it has better sub-bass and detail retrieval. Both will have their place in my rotation and I will appreciate the different things they can bring to enjoying music.

    I have to say, that the Atriums not needing EQ like the LCD-X is a huge benefit. I watch movies that can't get the benefit of my Roon EQ settings. I think the Atrium will be my go to headphone for video as well.

    I also find the Atrium quite comfortable and lighter on my head than I would have thought. I also love the craftsmanship and it feels like a true luxury to own. However, the stock cables are not my favorite - way too stiff. I am using my Audeze cables at the moment.

    I plan on spending some time with them without EQ, pad rolling, or swapping out the mesh but have played around with some EQ. I may see some benefit to adding a boost in the sub bass and raising the dip in the 10k region, but no firm opinions yet.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2024
  8. Ares5150

    Ares5150 New

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    After reading through all 14 pages I don’t know why my brain wants to compare how these would against the clear og. I saw one comparison which confirmed some of my suspicions but has anyone else compared the two against one another?
    One of nitpicks with the clear og is the bass sounds more boomy than impactful. There is impact but it can sometimes make things appear congested if that makes any sense.
     
  9. knhtcchi

    knhtcchi New

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    Hijacking the thread as "threatened" in my introduction post yesterday. My stabilized Atrium Opens are on their way to my place and I'm still trying to figure out the source gear part of it.

    I'm mostly struggling with synergy and finding a kick-ass combo rather than throwing together something I feel like will work. Before posting my thoughts, my budget is around 5000€ for both the DAC and amp. So, my thoughts:

    I found myself reading quite a bit of contradicting information when researching the past few weeks in regards to pairing source gear with the Atrium in regards to its requirements and tonality. A good few say Atrium isn't very amp picky and doesn't change too much with different kinds of source gear, others say they scale insanely well. Some say Atrium runs off of any source to their full potential easily and don't require too much power (say, a Mojo 2 being perfectly fine), others say it *really* likes a fair bit of juice.

    If going for tubes, do they - depending on their topology - have different power requirements for Atrium? Is 250mw per channel suddenly fine? Again, contradictory information. Again, more confusion.

    Some say Atrium doesn't benefit too much from tubes, others say it does, and yet another group of people say not only are tubes a must, but differentiate between OTL, OTC, hybrids, etc..

    You can pretty much tell by now that I've run myself a bit into a rabbit hole. And we haven't event talked DACs yet!

    My main gripe is I live in Europe, Germany to be exact. Many of the awesome choices are simply not available or very difficult to get / risky to import (e.g. missing CE signs). I've actually had a friend have his imported Bottlehead Mainline kit seized by customs because it wasn't labeled. The audio aftermarkt also isn't as active as the US / Asian one.

    There also comes the issue with availability and brand biases. I haven't read too many great stories about e.g. Cayin amps (say, the 3A or 6A). Stuff like noisy channels, bad life spans, etc.. But they're more readily available than other stuff people tend to recommend. Then there's the Feliks amps that have skyrocketed so much in price I simply outright refuse to buy them brand new. 2000$ for an Elise is insane.

    So, here I am asking the hive mind: You got Atriums on the way and 5000 buckeroos to spend on a source chain that synergizes with Atrium really well and is available to European citizens. What would you pair?

    Will of course update with pictures of the beauty once they have arrived, should be a nice green and cyan lacquered finish.

    Thanks a bunch in advance.
     
  10. RestoredSparda

    RestoredSparda Friend

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    $650 -> Pietus Maximus with ESS card. Insane synergy. Could be endgame for many. Probably could be for me but I'm crazy.

    $2,800 to $3,800 -> Yiggy MIB (or A2) -> Mjolnir 3. Depends on your preferences. Used A2 goes for much less than MIB new, and are somewhat plentiful at the moment in the used market.

    $4,400 -> Yiggy A2 (used for around $1,600) and DNA Stratus v3 (used for around $2,800). My personal end game for Atrium Open. Atrium Open is my main headphone and after a long while of tweaking I've reached the perfect synergy for my ears with this combo.

    Obviously this is not an easy recommendation as DNA amps are hard to find used, but they do pop up. For a larger budget, closer to $6k, you could get a new DNA Stratus v4 with a used Yiggy A2, but need to wait a year for Donald to build one.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2024
  11. Phantaminum

    Phantaminum Friend

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    Get yourself the ZMF Aegis, a Bifrost 2 and call it a day. The Aegis has amazing synergy with the Atrium.
     
  12. joch

    joch Friend

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    ^ what @RestoredSparda said. The Pietus is value.

    The MJ3 is better, and you can pair this with a Soekris 2541 for cheaper because the DAC is made in the EU.

    If you want tubes, I think the Valhalla 2 is good (before they get discontinued) but the SW51+ is what I would go for (if you can get one). Next step up is probably the Woo WA6 SE (which has dealers in Europe), and there’s a big jump in price after that.
     
  13. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    My favorite Atrium amp in your price range is the DSHA-3F. Since the original is hard to come by -- definitely not selling mine -- the Nitsch variant would be worth considering, although you'd have to wait until the next batch is built. These unusual solid-state amps are (for me) the only ones that I could imagine substituting for my tube amps if I lost those somehow.

    That does not include DAC, though. @Phantaminum suggests Bifrost 2, which I second, but Soekris dac2541 could also be a good choice, although I can't recall having run dac2541>3F>Atrium (I own all of these, but not at in the same location).

    Edit: @joch suggests dac2541>MJ3, which is interesting. I own a MJ3, but I use it mostly with Caldera (I bought the MJ3 for that), not the Atrium, with a heavy-duty DAC setup (HQPlayer>May KTE). I can imagine dac2541>MJ3 pairing well, I should organize a reunion of all my far-flung gear so that I can try fresh pairings :D
     
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    Last edited: May 19, 2024
  14. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    Is new Schiit gear readily available in Germany? I enjoy my Holo Cyan 2 > Lyr + (I think that's what the current version is called) > Atrium open chain often, more often then DNA chain in practice as it is more practical. I even run the internal MOSFET circuit (so SS, without a tube) the most. This chain is exceptional for a near budget expense...
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2024
  15. joch

    joch Friend

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    Let me add the Ragnarok 2 at the last call price. Customs will think Schiit fudged the invoice just for the sheer size and weight. ZMFs will take the power and the R2 has that.
     
  16. knhtcchi

    knhtcchi New

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    Thanks a lot for the replies, really helps boil things down!

    I've thought about the Yggdrasil too, especially the GS2 version right now on the last chance sale. It's however the A1 board. I found the comparison charts made by purr1n and thought it might be a tad too bright / forward when paired with Atrium which is already pretty dynamic itself? Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    I've pretty much across the board read that the MJ3 isn't too great of a pairing with the Atrium for some reason. Really strikes me that it is now recommended so much again. What's the deal with that? The MJ3 was on my list for the longest time until I started reading / watching reviews about it not pairing too well with higher impedance loads.

    I would really love to get myself into a DNA amp, but it's pretty much unobtanium in the european second hand market. Buying it new would pose the risk of getting it seized at customs as it lacks certification (same issue with ampsandsound).

    The Aegis looks really promising, thanks a lot for that recommendation!

    I wonder how the Cyan 2 fares against the Soekris. Would you recommend the Cyan 2 if you were only listening to PCM w/o HQPlayer? E.g. straight out of Qobuz or Apple Music. I've heard it might be a tad too soft w/o external OS.
     
  17. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    As a general recommendation, I have to say no, as the Soekris would be a safer general recommendation for 1x (44.1/48) content.

    However, given the $ your putting into hardware, why not spend just a bit more and get a software solution that can upsample 1x PCM to just 2x/4x/8x if your interested in the Holo Cyan? JRiver has the open source Sox upsampling built in, and last I looked was , $100 US (perhaps it is a bit more now). Roon of course is more expensive, but still a relative bargin relative to what you spend on HP's/amps/dac's, and elevates the whole digital experience way way beyond what native Quobuz/Apple/Tidal does. There is always HQPlayer (which will run on modest PC hardware if your upsampling PCM > PCM - DSD is another story), but you need Roon or something in front of it because it is worse than native Qobuz/Apple/etc. Just thoughts...

    edit: Also be sure to try the closed mesh with your atrium. If your dac/amp is a bit too "bright" with the standard (stock middle mesh with the spiraling hole pattern) the fully closed mesh might just be the ticket. It was for me
     
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    Last edited: May 20, 2024
  18. rott

    rott Secretly hates other millenials - Friend

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    My personal experience (and I'm not that experienced with numerous amps as many here) is that MJ3 does exploit the Atrium's 3D-ness/vertical layering capabilities quite well but also lessens some higher frequency details and impact. I've started pairing it with my Lyr 3 again, which brings back the detail and impact, but then I do miss the "holographic" quality of the Atrium with that combo. For cymbals, which are rendered nicely on the Atrium, timbre is improved and sound more accurate with the MJ3 compared to the Lyr, but hi-hats seem to be more buried in the overall presentation.

    This is all with a Gungnir MB A1, and swapping it out for a Bifrost 2 OG didn't really change my impressions. (It takes me a long time to upgrade amp/DAC components.)

    A silver cable brought back the detail but changed the overall presentation to an extent I didn't like, so I guess the next step is to swap out the stock non-solid Atrium mesh for the more open one (which I found to be too intense with the Lyr 3).

    The MJ3 is great with my other ZMFs (Auteur, Verité), so not sure about the higher impedance load statements.
     
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  19. rott

    rott Secretly hates other millenials - Friend

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    I should add that Atrium via MJ3 single-ended connection (as opposed to balanced) is pretty similar to Lyr 3, in terms of bringing back detail and impact at the expense of 3D-ness and more refined presentation (better separation).

    I only started listening to the Atrium + Lyr 3 combo again because the tube does add a little something, so really just for a bit of change and to determine whether it makes sense to still keep the Lyr 3.

    I wonder if that just might be an Atrium characteristic of balanced vs. single-ended, through the Schiit topology; I don't notice the same trade-off with Auteur & Verité Closed. But I also don't have experience with other balanced output amps + ZMF cans.
     
  20. knhtcchi

    knhtcchi New

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    Thanks a lot for your insight! I wouldn't mind going the extra mile if it was possible to incorporate Apple Music with HQPlayer / Roon somehow. Most of my library simply isn't available on Qobuz / TIDAL / Deezer / etc.. I'd say about 60% of it is only available on Apple Music. A lot of eastern music of which the artists have a bias to exclusively publish on Apple Music. Buying the not available albums / singles to have a local/Qobuz hybrid solution going in Roon would quite literally set me back close to a couple thousand bucks. So, unless anyone has an idea to make Apple Music work with HQPlayer / Roon, the Cyan (or any NOS DAC for that matter) is out. When I used to have the May around, I really disliked the softness and lack of incisiveness when running 1x/44.1KHz in NOS.

    Still eyeing the Yggdrasil GS2 a lot, albeit being a bit afraid of the A1 card and its perceived treble f**kery.
     

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