ZMF Compendium

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by ChaChaRealSmooth, Mar 7, 2020.

  1. loadexfa

    loadexfa Friend

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    While I mentioned the Atticus and Aeolus are both less picky than the Auteur, I still found that all three scale well with a better amp. Better amp meaning Stratus in my case and whatever Zach had available when I demoed them.

    I imagine the same would be true for the Eikon considering it's the same driver as the Auteur, can't say about the Verite, wasn't my cup of tea when I tried at a meet.
     
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  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Verite scales slightly more than the rest. The thing with Verite is that it depends upon pads, woods, amplification, and personal preferences. I like neutral or brighter amps with Verite. I know many others prefer bloomier and warmer amps with Verite.
     
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  3. tranq

    tranq Facebook Friend

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    Curiosity mostly. Ive got two friends who love their Hifiman and Audeze cans.... After reading about the Verum stuff...hard no...

    I dont own any US made headphones, so im looking into stateside stuff first. Its not a deal breaker, I just try to keep it local.

    ZMF seems like good product, people seem to like the guy, and it looks cool, so here I am noobing it up.

    Thanks for all the suggestions and ideas.
     
  4. perogie

    perogie Facebook Friend

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    I’ve got a decent amp with the Starlett. I’m just wondering what the ceiling is with the ZMFs. I was pretty impressed with what I managed with the Auteur and I have a VO coming so I’m just curious about performance ratios. It’s probably not worth worrying about. I am concerned the Verite may be a bit too warm/resonant but I have a Utopia to balance it out. Thanks for the replies.
     
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  5. loadexfa

    loadexfa Friend

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    Ahh, yeah, the curiosity factor is part of the fun, it's how I ended up with the ESP/95X and various planars. Gotta hear how different driver tech sounds!

    Extended listening (perhaps a meet) is best to satisfy curiosity but of course that depends on having sufficient other enthusiasts nearby or be willing to spend money on travel. And now we have Covid messing that up. Some stores (once we're allowed back in) are also good about this. A couple years ago, I spent over 2 hours in the San Francisco Sennheiser store comparing the 3 HD 800 variations (the original was still being sold) and made sure I knew which was the right one. Really appreciated their patience, there was no pressure or anything.

    If you ever get the chance to meet Zach and Bevin in person at a meet, you'll see what the hype is about. :) If Sennheiser HD 6-- matches your taste, I think there is a good chance you'll like ZMF.
     
  6. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    Put it this way; the Verite belongs up there with names like the Utopia in scaling/resolving ability (probably slightly behind the Utopia), which puts the Verite above the Auteur in terms of scalability. My experience is that all of the ZMFs showed very good scaling with better gear; at worst I find them even with the HD6x0 in terms of total resolve (which is actually really good).

    If that still doesn't mean anything to you, just know that big boy amps will scale them further, and the combination of the big boy amp + ZMF will be revealing of source (obviously through the "ZMFness"; some may find it hard to hear past).

    Just swap the pads out. I prefer Verite pads with the Starlett for sure. With things like the 3F or EC Ultralinear, Universe pads are the better option. Although this depends a lot on preference; I know @YMO prefers using Universe pads despite a Starlett and a Bifrost 2.

    If you're just curious, try to get something cheap. The Drop x Hifiman HE-4XX ain't bad and it will give you a decent idea of what a Hifiman will sound like. Or if your friends are really nice, ask if you can borrow their headphones for a bit.

    I see now that you mentioned your amps are Rag 2 and Asgard 2, with some interest in tube gear later. This brings me to my next question: is your Rag 2 being used as a speaker amp? That amp would have plenty of juice for even the thirstiest of planars; it's really more of a speaker amp. The Asgard 2 is going to struggle with some of the harder to run planars if you go down that route. This also goes for tube gear; if you want SET designs later, you'd want to look to pair with dynamics.

    F***, this is partly why having meets is both very fun and potentially educational. Some of the folks here have put together truly spectacular rigs in both the planar and dynamic directions; getting ears on those would tell you a lot.
     
  7. tranq

    tranq Facebook Friend

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    Rag 2 is getting dual usage. Family stuff means my Zu are stuffed back into the corners right now. Great for family and ambient listening, sub optimal for "me time" HPs getting used with Rag for 1-4 hours a day right now.

    Also, Rag will be relocated upstairs in a few months which will mean continued HP listening.
     
  8. perogie

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    Oh definitely, I even ordered the BE2 pads for a middle of the road option, seems like a bit of a waste as I'll probably end up using one type of pad only but its a drop in the bucket comparatively speaking and if it helps me dial in the sound I like then I'll accept it.

    I was just surprised about how much I liked how the Utopia sounded that I am wondering about how I may find the Verite. Granted I am also one of those guys who runs a BF2 with the Starlett so my setup is probably better suited to control some of the Utopia tonality issues. Im sure I'll find reasons to use all my cans.


    I would dearly love and would find a lot of value in a meet, but, for those of us stuck in nowheresville these communities are kinda all we have so thanks for contributing. Does make for perhaps some annoying questions from folks who simply havent heard much but its still helpful once you gain some context from your own gear. I wonder how odd it would be to move simply to be closer to audio gear?? Thanks.
     
  9. zach915m

    zach915m MOT: ZMF Headphones

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    We're not selling the t50 mods anymore - sorry for the confusion by leaving them on the site. I do have parts for some and if/when I find time I'll make a few and sell them on the site. We ofcourse will repair any if it's needed.

    As soon as all the covid business is over I'll come out to California and we can have an Sbaf meet, it'll be a great excuse to travel again and you guys can hear all the zmfs in person.
     
  10. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    Zach,

    I'm sorry if this has been asked previously, but have you attempted building an anti-rotation system into your gimbal systems as a test? I absolutely hate headphones that spin 360 degrees. That is my personal pet peeve based on the way I use headphone and the possible damage that can occur with the full rotational swivel.

    My only other two small nit-picks are the hardware that affixes the cups to the gimbal system do not seem to match the rest of the aesthetic and seem to be possible "weak-points" - I've seen a thread backed out at a meet and I believe I saw loctite, so it was possible you (ZMF) or the end user attempted to fix it.

    The last issue is the bookmatching on the wood. I see you as a hobbyist with full-control of your end-outcome and I personally believe that book matched cups should be offered if not standard at the premium price we are paying.

    Your headband system is so modern and beautiful mixed with the cup system. It could be really killer if it looked a tiny bit more commercial in small ways. Some of the older (Eikon / Atticus) samples I've seen had rough cut-outs in the cup " vents" and that was really an early turn-off for me considering the Clear / Elex offers similar (but different) levels of performance at similar prices.

    I want to bat for the home team and I hope to officially own one of your products in the future. The Aeolus is my current favorite presentation that you offer. A great balance without pushing any one boundary too far. I just need a little extra refinement to help me press that buy button at the current asking price. (I am in no way questioning your pricing - you are a true artisan and from all accounts a fine gentleman)

    I hope to not offend, because I truly believe in what you are doing and your vision. Thank you very much for being part of our community Zach!

    Cheer,
    M3NTAL
     
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  11. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    More than once, usually when changing pads which is good because I am there to catch it, cups have rotated right off on me. A functional change in this area would be welcome. As to the rest I admit I am stubbornly dull when it comes to aesthetics - I had to look up "bookmatching" ;)
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2020
  12. perogie

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    Not a woodworker but I imagine bookmatching may create a lot of wasted stock and maybe increase production time, increasing costs. It’s an interesting aesthetic idea. I’d be a bit surprised if Zach hadn’t considered it given his attention to detail with his woods.
     
  13. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    Yeah, I don't want to get into the semantics or debate of wood / woodworking / waste, etc. I believe woodworking artisan's have no problem offering bookmatching on premium products. I believe the ZMF headphones are at that level of bespoke, one-off, hand produced luxury items that happen to have very good function as-well. I would not be willing to pay more currently, because I feel the price is already at premium for the craftsmanship and sound.

    Please do not ask "well what else sounds this good and looks this good at this price" - I'd probably say - "I don't know", but my own beliefs on the monetary value of something is different than others people, so please don't take this as an insult. I'm in here just sharing my thoughts to someone (Zach) who I believe is very open and receptive to critique.

    Great product - just things I'd like different for *MY* money to come out of *MY* pocket.

    Sorry to derail - critiquing a great dude is not fun, but I want to be honest and the hobby to flourish. Communication is the only way for people to know what you are thinking.
     
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  14. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    Book matching wood is easy until you deviate depth by about 1/8" or more, then it's not book matched, it's just similar. With as deep as the cups are, you would never be able to get truly matched cups.

    Further, you need to cut a board in half and hope the middle of the board looks good enough to even use as a matched set. It's basically luck and educated guesswork to get a beautiful quality book matched set out of anything. It also means you have to buy wood twice as thick as you need to make a single cup, and you can't see what the "face" or presentable sides are going to look like before you resaw it. Availability is another issue. Can you find 3 to 4 inch thick ziricote boards where the internal presentation quality is up to snuff? Good luck.

    I can understand wanting somewhat closely matched cups, but a true book matched set is just not feasible for round or odd surfaces like this.
     
  15. fraggler

    fraggler A Happy & Busy Life

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    You said it better than I could and explained why most book matching is done on flat surfaces, most often time with veneers.
     
  16. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    Thank you for taking the time to explain it better. I'm just thinking of all the wood headphones in the past that I never gave a thought about the wood finish. Not too many really great ones out there, but the R10 / HE90 might be unfair to compare? Does the Klipsch use real wood? They are finished nicely IMO
     
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  17. Inoculator

    Inoculator Friend

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    Zach does a pretty incredible job making sure cups generally match, and otherwise seems to clear it with people first or kick it to b-stock. My purpleheart verite for example was b-stock just because the stain shade was slightly different.
     
  18. perogie

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    Plus it may only really be of aesthetic benefit for his closed headphones, grilles take up a fair of bit of surface area on his other ones.
     
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  19. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    Sure.

    I don't know much about the HE90 construction, honestly. For the money, it better be hand made.

    For the HFM R10, the wood appears to be a very vanilla and uniform wood like a European beechwood, cherry, or the like. I suspect they make enough cups they can visually pair cups fairly easily, and just use an aniline dye to get the more expensive version to look red.
     
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  20. zach915m

    zach915m MOT: ZMF Headphones

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    Hey I appreciate all the feedback on the chassis and wood! Believe me I don't have much going on In my life at this point aside from headphones and these are all things I've thought about at length. I even tried using a screw to go into the gimbal rod and longer threads on the Rods but there's just stuff that comes up that doesn't work, many times because using solid wood cups makes the things more unpredictable than I'd like, especially in the way the chassis are made. But I love working with wood and so I've come to embrace these oddities.

    We recently made the switch to only using vibra-tite on our headphones (instead of loctite) for a thread locker, and the amount of parts that have come undone has really halted to almost zero in the last 6 to 12 months we've been doing it, plus when owners fiddle with things it doesn't always need to be re applied. Admittedly there are a lot of older ZMFs out there which I would urge older owners or second hand owners to just do a quick check on their headphone with a 2 and 3mm hex key and a spin of their Rods to make sure every thing is in place.

    One thing that has happened, mostly because people know my background as a t50 modder, is that our headphones get taken apart a lot and improperly put back together because people want to see the innards of our work. This is totally fine, but then what happens is the headphone inevitably gets passed on to a new owner and they may have an issue and blame it on us and I hear something down the line about ZMF qc being bad. This frustrates me because I literally sit down with every headphone myself at this point and go over a 40 point checklist on all new sets, and owners who keep their sets and don't mess with them typically have very little to no issues. But we help with instructional video that can be found on our site and I'm always available via email to help anyone, new owner or not, make sure their ZMF is in good shape. I definitely want our headphones to last regardless of whose hands they are in, it's the reason I designed the headphone to be extremely modular with premium materials.

    Concerning the wood, we've recently spent a lot of resources to get an even better CNC machine and I'm really excited to start working with it next month, it won't do anything for bookmatching but it will help us "work against gravity" in a way less by having to use less jigs when machining. So even although we sand and polish every corner of the headphone, edges will be even cleaner before we even get to that point so that may help with this who are really staring at our work inside and out very closely to see if we can make something handmade look "almost" machine made.

    For bookmatching, our current method is generally to use adjacent "in a row" pieces of wood down a board. Unfortunately since I like to use exotic and sometimes rare and expensive woods, these trees simply don't grow large enough to get 16/4 wood (4 inches thick needed for a bookmatch on most of our models) kiln dried boards from them. I believe this was explained above well, but bookmatched wood has to be a really uniform and giant piece of tree for us to be able to cut it down the middle and have it look bookmatched. Trees with smaller trunks and even if they could yield 16/4 wood many times wouldn't look bookmatched because the grain would twist along sideways (since trees grow with circular rings) and you would get many of the anomalies of one part of a tree facing north and one part facing sound from weathering. Although we do use pieces of wood that are adjacent to each other those don't always end up being the best match for left and right cups, so we do move wood around the best we can for a good look.

    Many ZMF owners and myself find the non-exactness of the tree and wood part of ZMF alluring and exciting in the non-uniformity that comes with solid wood headphones, but I totally understand the other side of someone wanting an item they're paying a lot for to look an exact way and feel as if it came out of a high tech factory with absolutely zero variance. Unfortunately we are not the brand for that and probably never will be, as the "handmade" aesthetic and variance is what keeps ZMF fun for me, and I don't ever want to change that.

    I will pledge to try to make every headphone better than the last one, and appreciate the feedback. We have a lot of exciting headphones to make and as usual I'm just starting my day and can't wait to get into our shop and help our staff build products that their new owners are looking forward to.

    We just moved into a new shop and I will share it with everyone as I find time, its going to help us be more productive and efficient in many ways.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2020

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