ZMF Atticus Measurements and Review This would not have been possible with @Aleatorius, who graciously sent this headphone to me for measurement (1) Right at beginning of the main lick, played as single notes on electric guitar, on Paul Simon’s Under African Skies: BAM! Ho Lee Fuk! Wow, that drum hit hard (2). That impression has stuck with me over last night and this morning. The Atticus hits hard, very hard, with a ton of slam. While mid-bass emphasis (with a little upper-mid bite) does contribute to the Atticus’ sense slam, the exceptional macro-dynamics are still inherent with headphone (we only need to EQ to a more neutral sound to realize this). The Atticus is lively – it wants to get up and go. It kind of reminds me of the Andromeda IEM in that way. Both transducers happen to be very efficient. Another behavior that surprised me was the Atticus’s lack of congestion. There was never a wall-of-sound or wall-of-mush. The little guitar riff would keep going along with the vocals, the drums, and everything else – all the instruments were distinctly rendered. Finally, the Atticus scales with better gear! Normally I start out with a Schiit Vali or Jotunheim and move up to my custom 45 amp, only to be disappointed usually. Yesterday, I happened to get yet another copy of the Graceland LP (purple vinyl with the RTI sticker) so naturally, I wanted to listen to it. Since I already had the TOTL system set up, it wasn’t much trouble for me to just plug the headphones in. The Atticus is impressive. It scales. Sure the Sony MDR-Z1R or TH-X00 sounded better from this rig than my entry level rigs, but these headphones were never quite as impressive. They didn’t scale like the HD6X0 or HD800. The Atticus certainly scales. Maybe not up to HD800 levels, but at the HD6X0 level more or less. I AM PISSED OFF! No, I am not pissed at Zach. I am pissed off at all the shitty sounding and overpriced headphones around, complete with all the BS audiophile marketing. When I said in my profile post “Atticus in the house. Throw your Sony MDR-Z1Rs away!” I was serious. I almost want to make fake marketing materials for ZMF to mock what the state of the hobby. My materials would entail BS technical interviews, technical diagrams with exploded views of parts, citations to measurement authorities and target curves, shallow DOF photos of Zach proclaiming him as a genius, quotes from Zach on how the Atticus is not merely an upgrade to the Omni or Blackwood, but “perfections” of them. Of course I am not going to do this. What I find appealing about the ZMF brand is its authenticity. No bullshit. Great products. Fair prices. No tweaks or treatment kits necessary. To those not familiar with the ZMF house sound (think Blackwood or Omni), the tonal signature of the Atticus has elements of the HD650 and TH-X00. HD650-like with a mid-bass boost and a touch of upper-mid (yes, the HD650 does have a little bit around 5kHz). X00-like with more overall bass volume and extension, along with a middle midrange emphasis. The Atticus’ treble is smoother than the X00, but not as refined as the HD650. The timbre of the Atticus is spot on – the presentation surprisingly has elements of planar smoothness, as opposed to the more grainy sounding HD6X0 headphones (3). I wonder if the diaphragm material has anything to do with this. Like the Omni and Blackwood, there is some internal cup reverb and decay, which plays off the wood cups and baffle. It’s a nice touch along the lines of the R10, although this is very much Zach’s implementation. I don’t want to fool anyone into thinking the Atticus is a neutral headphone, but I do like its sensibilities. It’s readily apparent that Zach had a vision, an idea of where he wanted to proceed, and he made it happen. This is so refreshing because I honestly get the sense that some other headphone manufacturers just make random sounding stuff without a clue to the sound – it’s like they chase the tech, but they don’t chase the sound. In other less polite words, they are deaf. Zach is definitely not deaf. I am not abandoning the objective approach. Measurements after lunch. I will say that the headphone sounds much better than what the measurements present. Again, measurements don’t explain everything. They “lie” sometimes. (1) This is how it worked at Changstar. We need more people to volunteer their headphones for a few days. The loaner program is nice and all; but it’s still not a substitute for obtaining more objective data (measurements). (2) On EC gear from an LP source. Lesser gear or inferior compressed “hires” digital masters need not apply. (3) The debate on grain between planar and traditional dynamics will go on forever. I tend to prefer a grainer presentation as it makes the difference between digital and vinyl sources more distinct; but I'm not held up on it.