ZMF Caldera Review and Impressions

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by Vtory, Sep 12, 2022.

  1. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophileâ„¢

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    Zach explains Caldera's acoustic designs (pads, magnet, and damping). Many interesting decisions and thoughts seem to be incorporated.
     
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    This is just me: Stellaris does work pretty good with the D8000P. However I don't think Stellaris works with the Caldera. I don't feel that bloomy amps sound good with the Caldera, especially with busier or bassier music. This isn't any different from what I thought about Caldera and Magni Piety, another amp that has bloomy mids. Caldera I can see as good through the SW51 with the right source. This goes with my thinking that clearer neutral sounding amps (of which SW51 is one of them) goes best. The only downside (forgivable) with the SW51 is that it lacks slam. The Caldera isn't as inherently slammy as other planars and needs the right amp to do so. SW51 would need a suitable DAC which has smooth highs. The SW51 is fairly honest sounding and that all that tubey at all.

    Atrium with Stellaris is fantastic. I haven't found the perfect higher-end amp for me with respect to the Caldera yet. The Asgard 3 with the ESS card works, but it is a darker richer rounder sound. I do have an amp in mind, but it doesn't exist yet.
     
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  3. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    Besides Stellaris, my current amp options are 3F and BW2. @rhythmdevils found the 3F underpowered for his ortho faves. BW2? I suspect not, as it sounds to me pretty rich in the mids and a bit grainy on the highs. I'm curious about Caldera, but not enough to go through the logistics of trying for a "meh" outcome. Especially since both Atrium (as you say) and VO blackwood (which is currently getting the most play time) pair so well with Stellaris.
     
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  4. RestoredSparda

    RestoredSparda Friend

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    Same thoughts here. I won't part with my Stratus, or how well it pairs with Atrium or HD650.

    I also don't have the cash to spring for another Uber buck amp just for Caldera. Look forward to others impressions though and what amps they find pair nicely with it.
     
  5. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Maybe Ferrum Oor or the fancy Bakoon/Enleum amps?
     
  6. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth Damsel in distress, ZMF Whore

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    I present the very best amp to pair with Caldera because I am a huge asshole:

    20200908_230127.jpg

    Old pic with the Code-6 (which I no longer own because it got replaced by the ZMF Atrium).

    Extrapolating from the EC Ultralinear and SW51, I suspect the 3F would actually be very good with the Caldera. The Caldera simply doesn't really need uber high-power amps to sound really good (for reference the SW51 outputs something like 300 mW into 50 ohms); I feel it just needs amps that sound clean and are more straight-lined (think not-tubey).

    I really need to get off my lazy ass and finish writing up impressions. I'm like 75% done and for some reason have a massive mental block on finishing it.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 23, 2022 at 1:35 AM
  7. zach915m

    zach915m MOT: ZMF Headphones

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    My own preferences aside, it seemed like the consensus for favorite amps at Canjam were Ecp 3F, Glenn El3N, Feliks Envy, Wells Milo and the Cayin iha 6. With the 3F and El3N being the ones most often talked about.

    As an aside, we had both transformer versions there and I can't remember which 3f was used more, I think the warmer one...?
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2022 at 8:02 AM
  8. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    Uhoh, you and @ChaChaRealSmooth are generating some real Caldera temptation... That would be the nickel transformer 3F, which I have in location #2. My 3Fs have been getting a lot less use since Stellaris matches Atrium and Verité blackwood so well.
     
  9. insidious meme

    insidious meme Ambivalent Kumquat

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    I can confirm that the Caldera and the SW51 work well together. I've only used the low output. None of us say this is like some event from heaven, but at least you won't go 10 secs into a song and rip that thing off your head.

    Briefly using the BW2 with the Caldera, I didn't have any issues with it. Probably need more time with it, but the SW51 has taken most of that time for now. Lol.

    Just quickly, I get that many of those amps don't get talked about much here (mostly value for the buck friends), but I did enjoy the Atrium thru the Envy, and the Caldera thru the Milo fwiw meet conditions. Thanks @zach915m for having a wide range of amps at your room. I may never have the money for much of them, but at least I get to hear to a point what they're about.
     

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