ZMF Auteur Classic Review

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by purr1n, Sep 1, 2022.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    I wanted to get this out last week, but forum drama, and my kids brought back the flu. Kids were fine but their mommy got knocked out for two days. I'm been hanging in here with some good days and bad days, with good days meaning I'm on Red Bull and Ibuprofen. I didn't want to wait any longer, so I decided to take some basic measurements just to give myself a jump start. This will be one of those stream of consciousness reviews.

    ZMF Auteur Classic
    PXL_20220901_163438928.PORTRAIT.jpg

    @zach915m: Can you clarify what wood and what pads? Or at least what the standard pads are that come with them? Pretty sure with the FR below that I am using Auteur pads.

    ZMF Auteur Classic
    Frequency Response
    upload_2022-9-1_11-39-10.png

    Like the OG Autuer before, the Auteur Classic is the most "neutral" sounding of the ZMF lineup. The Atrium is bassy, the Verite Open is laid-back, the Verite Closed maybe a bit midcentric, but these three are rich and full sounding. The OG Auteur had been said to be somewhat HD800 sounding (well not that bright, but you get the idea). The Auteur Classic is somewhat like the HD600 of the ZMF lineup. Because my JAR600 are out on loan, I've been using the Atrium and RS-1X (Gerod pads) recently, so it took me while to acclimate to the change. I found the timbre in the highs slightly artificial while using DS DACs, but a switch to a multibit DAC fixed this.

    With respect to technicalities and scalability with better upstream components, the Autuer Classic is behind the Atrium and Verite. It's not far off though. This seems appropriate given its about $1k less. Depending upon the recordings one listens to, this may not matter. (I feel a good discussion on source first, amp first, or transducer first is warranted because a lot of this will depend upon the recordings one listens too - and of course one's experience and budget). Now getting back to the HD600 reference? Well the Autuer does share the HD600's small bumps in the presence region and midbass. The lower-mids aren't emphasized so this contributes the clarity aspect. Finally, transient response is somewhere between Atrium and Verite.
     
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  2. wadec22

    wadec22 Almost "Made"

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    Thanks for taking the time Marv. Can you do an overlay with the original auteur? I love a lot of the ZMF line but found the original auteur pretty boring. Sounds like the classic may do just enough different to appeal to a broader audience.
    Again, really appreciate the time commitment, especially when family has been sick.
     
  3. zach915m

    zach915m MOT: ZMF Headphones

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    |\/|

    Looks like I sent you a Bocote set. And yes - auteur pads, on your set and as stock. In leather.
     
  4. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth Damsel in distress, ZMF Whore

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    Marv, do you mean this as in a sense of speed, impact, or both? I feel Atrium is slower but hits harder and Verite is faster but is a bit more rounded.
     
  5. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    ZMF Auteur L
    CSD
    upload_2022-9-2_13-22-45.png

    ZMF Auteur R
    CSD
    upload_2022-9-2_13-24-41.png
     
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Both in that way. Autuer lies in-between.

    Impact - end of attack: Atrium > Auteur > Verite
    Speed: Verite > Auteur > Atrium
    Resolution: Atrium = Verite > Auteur
     
  7. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    ZMF Auteur Classic (BLU/RED) vs OG Auteur (OG)
    Frequency Response
    upload_2022-9-2_13-31-14.png

    Interesting and what I suspected. The OG Auteur is indeed HD800-like with the depression from 1.5-4kHz followed by sudden rise right after. The Auteur Classic is indeed very much a new tuning.

    Also, compared to JAR600 below. Not totally alike, but some similarities.

    ZMF Auteur Classic
    Frequency Response
    [​IMG]

    JAR600
    Frequency Response
    [​IMG]
     
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  8. penguins

    penguins Friend, formerly known as fp627

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    @purr1n - This is probably a borderline nervosa / neurotic offer, but would you by any chance want to borrow my bocote Auteur (OG) to A/B against this pair of bocote classics? I found the wood to make a big enough difference on ZMF headphones that I figure using the same wood for a before / after may make more sense.

    If not I can't blame you. Life and all.
     
  9. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Life. But maybe @zach915m can speak to this with respect to differences with woods
     
  10. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Nice to see the higher mids boosted like that.
    I found my pair of Blackwood Auteur was too polite in that region, and the main reason I sold them.
    It’ll be very interesting to see the comparison with Atrium! This might explain why so many people seemed to prefer the Classic over the Atrium at recent shows where tuning is easier to pick out than technicalities (especially since the Atrium doesn’t shove its technical prowesses in your face like many high end headphones do).
     
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    ZMF Auteur Classic
    Distortion vs Frequency at Various SPL
    upload_2022-9-4_11-33-31.png

    Like other dynamics, distortion rises with volume. The Auteur C has a 2nd order bump in the upper mids (kind of like HD800). I'd like to see second order a bit lower because I do listen loudly. At lower volumes I don't see any issue. The positive takeaways are that the third and fourth orders (more harmonic sonically) are successfully lower than the second. Also third order distortion is well controlled unless one really cranks it.
     
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    ZMF Auteur Classic
    Impedance and Electrical Phase
    YEL = free-air
    GRN = on-ear
    upload_2022-9-4_11-42-9.png
     
  13. wadec22

    wadec22 Almost "Made"

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    Really looks great. Anytime I've done measurements and tried to do some music listening at same/similar volume for context, I'm astonished at just how loud 90db is.

    Great distortion is pretty much expected with ZMF, always nice to see it verified.
     
  14. wadec22

    wadec22 Almost "Made"

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    What's the 1.5k spike translate to Marv? Anything meaningful or noteworthy?
     
  15. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    I do wonder if there's an internal resonance peak, part of the reverb / woodie effect (see 1.5ish FR an CSD peaks).
     
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  16. Wilewarer

    Wilewarer Facebook Friend

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    I remember Tyll's Eikon measurements having a spike there, corresponding with a dip in the FR. And this has that same spike and dip.

    Speaking of which, does trying to contextualize how this sounds relative to Eikon make any sense? Might be dangerous for me given my lack of references and my surprise at old Auteur being compared to HD800, not that I've heard either. But I guess the upper scoop is something they have in common along with some other headphones I've liked, and something this new Auteur doesn't.
     
  17. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth Damsel in distress, ZMF Whore

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    Intro

    PXL_20220913_214055687.jpg

    I'm going to start by saying this: if you already own an Auteur and you're happy with how it sounds, the Auteur Classic is NOT a straight upgrade. The Auteur Classic really is its own headphone and is very different in many ways from the OG Auteur. That being said, the Auteur Classic is very good and is worthy of consideration over its more expensive stablemates in the Verite and the Atrium once personal preferences are taken into account.

    Sonics

    I posted on my profile that the Auteur Classic reminded me of the HD600 or OG Focal Clear. In fact, I'd argue that it's more like the Clear versus the HD600 because like the Focal, the Auteur Classic has good bass extension. When considering only the frequency response between the two, the differences are that the Clear has that characteristic Focal emphasis at 1k and the Auteur Classic has a broader hump that extends out to 2-3k. This is definitely audible; the Auteur Classic comes off as slightly mid-centric, or mid-forward, when vocals and other instruments in that region are playing; however, it doesn't come off as so emphasized as to being unnatural. In a way, the Auteur Classic is like the ZMF version of the JAR600 that I still have around and love, with better bass extension and ZMF wood cup sound. This makes it the most neutral of all the ZMFs I've heard so far, which is a far cry from the OG Auteur (OG Auteur sounds more like a HD800 but without the face tweeter part).

    Timbre is very different from the OG Clear, OG Auteur (surprise!), and HD600. Obviously the Clear has the metal driver and thus has a sound that some people find offensive. The OG Auteur has a biocellulose driver that had this kind of richness and lushness. The HD600 has a plastic driver and for better or worse has some grain. While I believe the Auteur Classic uses the same driver as the OG Auteur (and the distortion profile isn't even that different IMHO), it somehow doesn't have that midrange "lushness" that the OG Auteur does indeed have. This is neither a good nor bad thing; just something to keep in mind.

    Transient performance, as @purr1n mentioned, kind of lies between the Verite and the Atrium. The Atrium is the slowest of the three, but slams the hardest and has the most impact. The Verite is the fastest of the three, but has rounded attacks and doesn't quite slam that hard. The Auteur Classic lies somewhere in-between these two headphones in transients, and is indeed kind of close to splitting the difference evenly. It might lean more towards Atrium's speed and Verite's slam, but it's not far from being right in the middle and such a descriptor is not inaccurate. This is the area where it really sets itself apart from the OG version (the OG out of the wrong chain is slow and too laid-back in character; the driver just doesn't want to go with the wrong synergy).

    As far as resolve goes, it just can't quite measure up to the Verite and Atrium (this is both in terms of sonic textures and in plankton). In this area, I do feel that it's the same as the OG; I don't think this aspect has changed much (the OG Auteur was quite resolving). That being said, I do feel it's a step ahead of the JAR600.

    Staging either can be looked at as "eh, it's different" or as an overall improvement from the OG Auteur. Auteur Classic has a much more open stage than the OG and has the same quality the Atrium has where the boundaries of the stage aren't clearly defined; more "nebulous" if you will. The size of the stage hasn't changed from the OG (although if you're a headstage ho then buy a JAR800 or a SR1a and GTFO, because I don't know why you're reading this).

    If there's one takeaway from this though, it's that the Auteur Classic is now the most normal sounding and most neutral ZMF. The cup reverb is still present as it is with every ZMF, but the Auteur Classic is more neutral than Aeolus and the OG Auteur. It just doesn't do much wrong.

    Amp Pairings

    The Auteur Classic actually kind of works out of most amps, and at least with my time with it, I didn't feel it to be particularly amp-picky. That being said, the Auteur driver (whether in the Classic or OG) is still resolving as heck and will tell you your upstream sucks if you pair it with a cheap Topping amp.
    • DNA Starlett: Great synergy here. Unlike Atrium, Auteur Classic isn't as power-driven so additional power isn't as needed.
    • OG Liquid Carbon: Actually not too bad. With the OG Auteur it was too sleepy, but this combo works fine.
    • Feliks Euforia: It's an OTL and you need not-shit tubes. But I actually did indeed like Auteur Classic with the Euforia; surprisingly it didn't sound overly phat.
    Conclusion

    I like the Auteur Classic and do indeed recommend it. In a way, this is the ZMF to buy if you cannot for some reason audition first (which I still don't recommend you do; $1500 USD is not a small amount of money to part with) as it is the most neutral and a more subtle introduction to the ZMF house sound.
     
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    Last edited: Sep 14, 2022
  18. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    I know the Auteur Classic loaner is just getting going, but it'd be great to read some impressions pairing them with not-so-big-boy amps.
     
  19. insidious meme

    insidious meme Ambivalent Kumquat

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    In case ppl may get the incorrect impression later, the pictured headphones on @ChaChaRealSmooth post aren't the ones going to tour.
     

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