ZMF ear pads compendium

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by Vtory, May 24, 2019.

  1. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Motivated by discussions in the Auteur thread, I am now starting this thread. Decided a dedicated new thread rather than additions to corresponding headphones, because it seems that doing this way may give more insights and better idea regarding pad gain (effect) to interested parties in a comprehensive way.

    For convenience, let me declare my naming conventions (you can go for other conventions as long as well-specified)
    • From recent experiences, I feel zmf headphones should be viewed as a combination among (1) driver, (2) wood, and (3) pads. Thus, I adhere to specifying wood.
    • Pad short names: {shape letter} + {material letter} + "N" (only if non-perforated; optional)
    • AL = Auteur Lambskin; EL = Eikon Lambskin; AS = Auteur Suede; ES = Eikon Suede; US = Universe Suede
    Feel free to post any objective or subjective findings of zmf pad-relevant things!

    I will first post measurements, then subjective findings later.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2019
  2. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    [​IMG]

    Auteur Lambskin pad (baseline for auteur)

    It's one of two stock pads (AL, EL).

    upload_2019-5-24_23-45-13.png

    upload_2019-5-24_23-45-21.png
     
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  3. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    [​IMG]

    Eikon Lambskin pad

    Another stock pad for auteur.

    upload_2019-5-24_23-46-38.png

    upload_2019-5-24_23-46-49.png

    upload_2019-5-24_23-46-59.png
     
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  4. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    [​IMG]

    Auteur Suede pad

    upload_2019-5-24_23-48-40.png

    upload_2019-5-24_23-48-54.png

    upload_2019-5-24_23-49-10.png
     
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  5. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    [​IMG]

    Eikon Suede pad

    upload_2019-5-24_23-49-59.png

    upload_2019-5-24_23-50-11.png

    upload_2019-5-24_23-50-22.png
     
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  6. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    [​IMG]

    Universe Suede pad

    upload_2019-5-24_23-51-11.png

    upload_2019-5-24_23-51-19.png

    upload_2019-5-24_23-51-30.png
     
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  7. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Five pads overlaid together.

    upload_2019-5-24_23-54-38.png
     
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  8. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    My (brief) subjective take for each pad on Auteur:

    1. Universe Suede (US) : it sounds noticeably different from others as measurements suggest. It's a bit bright to my ears, but overall very neutral. Interestingly while it has the most treble energy, it isn't as aggressive or forwarding as some of other pads. Like I posted in another thread, auteur with this pad reminded me of kinda senn neutrality souped with focal-ish. But without focal's unique top ends, which was a bit showstopper to my taste.

    2. Auteur Suede (AS) : the most forwarding, the harshest, and/or the most sibilant among all. But that's more like a double-edged sword -- very track and mood dependent. With good or treble-generous recordings, perceptibly this pad really sounds crisp and clear. Not recommended for modern female vocal dance pops (perhaps too incisive).

    3. Eikon Suede (ES) : 70-80% AS. Less pleasing and edgy than AS, but barely introduces troubles. Still a bit sharper than stock lambskin pads, But to my taste it mostly feels just right. I like it the best.

    4. Eikon Lambskin (EL) : I still like this pad. Lovely dark and warm tonality. No harshness.

    5. Auteur Lambskin (AL) : Not bad at all. But the least preferred among the bunch. Quite neutral and mostly involving. But for some tracks this pad induces sibilance and zinginess intensively enough to touch my nerve.

    Overall, ES, US, and EL are my current top 3 favorites for auteur.

    More details later..
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2019
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  9. lcmusiclover

    lcmusiclover Almost "Made"

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    Now I’m really confused. Given that I prefer AL to EL,I just don’t know how to translate your impressions from your userspace to mine. There is a solution though: I’m ordering ES and US, and I’ll figure it out for myself :)

    BTW, if there were a way to Like a whole thread, I would use it here.

    Thanks for this extremely useful compendium!
     
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  10. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Sounds good. US will give you definitely different taste. Its more neutral-ish presentation is worth trying, regardless of tastes. I don't exactly know what specifically led you to prefer AL to EL, which is needed to predict your preference. But it's also likely that ES would serve better than EL as it has more AL-ish forwarding trebles. Honestly I like all these five pads and want to switch depending on my mood lol.

    PS. Aliases
    US = Universe Suede pad
    AL = Auteur Lambskin pad
    EL = Eikon Lambskin pad
    ES = Eikon Suede pad
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2019
  11. lcmusiclover

    lcmusiclover Almost "Made"

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    Maybe because I don’t have any 3F pixie dust to sprinkle on them :)

    Yet ;)
    .
    .
    .
    (Ordered 3F today)
     
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  12. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Regarding head-staging and imaging, these pads also differ in how things are rendered.
    ---
    Aliases

    US = Universe Suede pad
    AL = Auteur Lambskin pad
    AS = Auteur Suede pad
    EL = Eikon Lambskin pad
    ES = Eikon Suede pad
    ---
    EL and ES excel here. These pads let drivers sing with being the most distant from ears. This, I believe, is associated with quite spacious feeling, and angled shapes add good amount of sharpness and edginess to reproduced images. Among the two, I prefer ES to EL because of its less diffusing presentation, possibly from suede's absorption of low-order reflections. Btw EL isn't annoyingly diffusing by any means.

    With AL and AS, stages become relatively smaller. Instead, images get more texture and crispness due to higher angles. To me AL is a bit more diffusing but not as much as EL. This was one area where I liked AL over EL. And AS is on a whole another level. As I posted previously, this pad isn't for every track. But if vocals and strings don't reach to the tolerance threshold, AS conveys the best image quality that Auteur can reproduce. Again, ES vs AS must be a matter of preference and taste.

    Stage becomes a bit narrower with US but depth remains more or less similar. Imaging accuracy and clearness is a tick behind ES and AS. Still very good -- preferred to any senns and any focals I've heard to date (this means he90 and he1 excluded..).

    If any autuer owner thought it a bit blurred or diffused, then suede pads are worth trying. I start to think auteur's true BC potential is completed by suede pads (internal reflections better controlled) and hard woods (acoustic characters improved). When everything around auteur is spot on, I really think this headphone deserves to be considered with any other totl cans.

    PS. To rule out amp-attributable effect, all my impressions were double checked with dx3 pro hp out. It's still worth mentioning that dsha-3f amplified every good point to dramatic extent.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2019
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  13. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    Please don't interpret that the first early adopter to put every pad combo possible on Auteur Blackwood as 100% truth.
    having a 3F, my preferences are different after 1 week with the AS and US. maybe because an YggyA2 is better than DAC-X26 or maybe because my ears are older or maybe because Vtory has elf child ears that actually fit inside the reduced Eikon ear holes. no one interpretation is perfect.

    why do I currently prefer AL over AS?
    familiarity after months of AL. air exists along with staging, maybe some zing fatigue but I don't listen 3+ hours at a time?

    why did I like AS on ABW Auteur?
    comfortable, better clamp. (denser foam?) warm and engaging. didn't feel forward aggression. need to revisit and probably the next pad to purchase.

    why did I not like US on ABW at first on Aueteur?
    um, maybe neutral but the energy and slam seemed limited. stage seemed loose and wonky.
    clearly need to spend more time with these to get a sanity check.

    if "one pad isn't (perfect) for every track" I completely agree in practice.
    yet care less in reality, refusing to swap pads tonight for "classical session" and different pad tomorrow night for "psych rock out madness".

    It's also complete bunk to say that a pad change reveals more "true potential" of a headphone than it is ready to scale with upstream gear. put ES pads on Auteur connected to a laptop or crappy chi fi FIIO amp to see what bad can reveal.
    Auteur sounds better on the 3F than it does on iFi xDSD. real simple. it scales.

    TL;DR
    pad choices are a great option for each person to dial in what their ear and gear chain delivers to the brain.
    doesn't matter at all if it meets anyone else's "preference" or recommendation.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2019
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  14. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Lots of good points taken.

    And I agree with the quoted statement, too. I put it in a very sloppy way. My bad.

    That said, I would like to explain what I intended.

    As a baseline, everyone has its own taste and preference. Pads are good ways to tune in inducing major changes. At least I believe so compared to the rest part of chain. I really care pads as much as I do rooms for speakers. Thus, if there are choices, I think optimizing pads (among possible alternatives) should be prioritized. In this regard, please consider "potential" as plausible maximum of one's satisfaction. With pads optimized to my liking, I feel more confident to tell the difference and its attributable factors in the upstream. Also, I am a follower of "headphone > amp > dac" philosophy (in terms of both impact and order). All these points were vaguely put into the word "ready".

    As an aside, I always thought I had a big head and big ears. Sennheiser 6x0 stock pads always let my ears touch the inner sponge -- and I didn't like it.

    PS. Speaking of big head, I am wondering why nobody raised issues of limited adjustments for big heads.. Due to thickness of both ES and EL I had to have head-adjustment fully extended. Hope my head is not the outlier biggest.
     
  15. tommytakis

    tommytakis Friend

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    @Vtory wow this is awesome. Thank you for the comparison write-up. I would love to see a similar run down of pads comparison with Verite and Aeolus as well. I think it would help a lot of the owners in choosing what pads to try other than the stock ones based on their sonic preferences. It would also be a pretty cool little experiment to see if the sonic changes given by each pad are similar with different headphones.

    Overall, I deeply appreciate this as a new ZMF owner :)
     

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