ZMF EIKON & ZMF ATTICUS

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by gbeast, Oct 1, 2016.

  1. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    @mac404 I just noticed that you have a Dragon Inspire IHA-1. Can you write up a bit of a review for us (separate thread)??! This amp looks like it's incredibly well built and the price isn't that offending. It would be great to hear/read about other options than the usual suspects, especially because you had the Mjo2 which is a common reference point for folks around here.
     
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  2. Mshenay

    Mshenay Barred from loaner program. DON'T SEND ME GEAR.

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    I don't believe it's so much of the warmth of the tube/amp but rather the output R, on .1R on my Ember II I get a lot of harshness in the highs and a bloated bass! That 35R seems to be the real secret sauce, as even with my colder Hybrid tube amp, I still get a smoother more extended top end and better bass extension. The romantic mids though are all the Horizon, what wood are you using

    Still happy to hear some one else is enjoying a G1217 with their Eikon,
     
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  3. mac404

    mac404 Acquaintance

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    Sure! Things are a little busy right now, but I should be able to get to this within the next ~ 2 weeks, just need to find some more dedicated weekend listening time. As a bonus, I also recently acquired a Cayin iHA-6 that I can compare (primarily bought for HE-6 duty, since I just don't have the space for a speaker amp on my desk). Will do some direct comparison of the three with at least HD800 and Eikon. I wanted to do this anyway before I sell off one of them, very likely the Mjo2.
     
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  4. MeltyGoblin

    MeltyGoblin Rando

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    Mine is cherry wood. I haven't listened to the Eikon with padauk, so I can't really comment on the differences in wood, but I've been a big fan since the first listen. I listened to the Atticus with padauk, and on that I noticed a bit of ringing in the highs, but I can't really say out if that was due to the Atticus, the wood, or the chain. I only listened to it on the vali 2 with a decently bright tube. Personally though, I much prefer the Eikons to the Atticus.

    And I have to agree with you when it comes to the output impedance. I just tried listening on the lower impedance and the first thing I noticed was the highs were substantially harsher. Higher output resistance seems to be the way to go with the Eikons.

    Speaking to the Horizon 3, I've been very impressed with it ever since I got it. Jeremy was a huge help in the purchasing process, and the tube rolling possibilities are essentially endless with the supercharge. I'm excited to play around with it to see if I can improve the pairing even more!
     
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  5. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Dunning–Kruger effect poster boy

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    Exactly on point with observations..
    XC is nice but also has some shouty issues.

    The slam is true but signature has some issues you will notice over time,
    Namely the shouty peak at certain frequencies maybe resonance.
    Resolution & stage was good in the Ether level, while more dynamic.
    Not at level of Elear or Eikon in my view.
     
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  6. Mshenay

    Mshenay Barred from loaner program. DON'T SEND ME GEAR.

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    Honestly the iFi iCan SE I've got running the XC is super convenient to own, it stays powered on 24/7 never runs to hot either. Really a wonderful amp! Does a better job driving the XC than my Ember II, so naturally I do most of my listening on that rig, as I'm demo'ing it... but listening to Orion on Metallica's Master Of Puppets an I got a nice earful of that shouty and colder nature of the set up, the high note right at 6:24 in what is one of Metallica's best composition... was just too harsh out of the XC/iCan SE,

    here are some additional musings on the Ember II pairing with the Eikon
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2017
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  7. ButtUglyJeff

    ButtUglyJeff Stunningly beautiful IRL

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    A couple questions for people who listened to both the Atticus and Eikon:

    Do any of you feel the mids on the Eikon might be a touch more recessed the the Atticus? I'm a "Mid-aholic" so this is super important to me. It might be just my memory failing me a bit from a couple a months ago. I'm going to start listening to female vocals more now...

    The Atticus' bass glowed, but in a good way. The Eikon's bass seems to be these 2 headphones biggest differentiating factor, at least to me. Its harder hitting and might dig lower by a bit.(...or maybe that's just there's less mid-bass) Do you all feel the same way?
     
  8. a44100Hz

    a44100Hz Friend

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    If you're used to and like the sound of the modded HD650 then IME the Eikon is going to be a better match for you. The Atticus is a "fun" headphone, like a more refined Fidelio X2. The Eikon is a "tonality" headphone like the 650 which for me is even more fun. The Atticus bass hits harder but isn't as deep; and for me that hard bass was the best thing about it, which only gives it the advantage if I wanted to listen to something aggressive like... Rage Against the Machine. But for everything else, every other mood, for female vocals, for complex passages, which is 98% of the time for me personally, the Eikon is the more immersive and correct sounding headphone. Some instruments like piano are a bit higher in the mix than I would expect on the Eikon but it's far from a dealbreaker. So I wouldn't say mids are low, more that some specific frequencies are higher.

    tl;dr I miss the Eikon, in fact have had a hard time enjoying phones as much since it left (using monitors a lot) and never missed the Atticus once. But if you are looking to just bob your head to music at work or something, the Atticus might be better suited to that. I suspect this is why Marvey likes the Atticus -- it isn't trying to compete in the sweetness-of-tonality niche that his vinyl setups already do better. It's more like a summertime vibe headbanger whereas the Eikon is fall leaves and chimneysmoke comfort.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
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  9. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    I ordered both at RMAF 2016, and when they arrived and I listened to them both nonstop. It quickly became apparent to me that the Eikon was just more enjoyable to me.

    The Atticus was good and that bass (omg) was so fun, but there were a few too many songs where the Atticus seemed over emphasized in areas. It was just too thick sounding tonally. (Maybe not the best choice of words, but it's the best one I can think of.) I replaced it with another Eikon. I'd agree with @a44100Hz in that the Eikon is the more correct sounding headphone. I would not suggest the Atticus to someone unless they could hear it first, just because it seems many either love it or they don't. It is very unique in it's sound, and as such won't please everyone. The Eikon, however, seems to be a jack of all trades across all genres and tastes.
     
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  10. AMW1011

    AMW1011 Friend

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    These headphones are very variable depending on positioning and seal. Try to mess with the fitment. The Eikon should have more forward mid range generally, though the Atticus is easier to crank louder due to a recessed low treble.
     
  11. Mystic

    Mystic Mystique's Spiritual Advisor

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    Had the Atticus on loaner, here are a few of my notes. My primary headphones are the 800s, Eikon and 650.

    Bass:
    Oh that glorious bass. I was expecting something a little more bloomy or undefined. What I got was very tight, fast and clean. Mid bass more elevated compared to the Eikon. Running out of my BW, not as much bass as the Ori. I feel like with a bit of EQ, this could be a bassheads delight for the refined basshead.

    Mids:
    Trying to pick a preference between the Eikon and Atticus is hard here. Clarity is really good on both. The Eikon is a bit smoother here but the dips on the Atticus are not really detracting from the listening experience from what I can tell.

    Treble:
    I was expecting something rolled off, but extension is quite good. Not as forward as the Eikon and lacks the extension my 800 has. Seems to have a slight dip in the upper mids/lower treble that may contribute to the slightly larger stage I heard on the Atticus in comparison to my Eikon. The dip is not nearly as noticeable as it was on the Elear, which I did not like much at all.

    I would stay away from overly warm sources with this one. My BW is pretty warm, but still has really good extension at both ends. My Sonett 2 was not the best pairing. Probably due to the more laid back nature of the amp (Vali 2 was also not ideal). On the other hand, my Eikon sounds great out of my Sonett 2.

    After comparing the two, I am seriously considering picking up my own pair and possibly selling my Eikon. It serves a more specific purpose next to my 800. A very refined take on a more "fun" type of headphone. The Atticus I feel is the closest to Zachs older offerings as far as tuning, minus the inherent flaws in the T50 driver.
     
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  12. ButtUglyJeff

    ButtUglyJeff Stunningly beautiful IRL

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    Well I stewed over my describing the differences between the Atticus and Eikon. And while I still scratch my head over it, I feel waiting any longer will hurt more then help.

    Also keep in mind my auditions were 6 weeks apart, and neither headphones were perfectly fitted to me, as I didn't want to wank on either headband too much. I'll stress again, plan on playing heavily with your own ZMF then never share it with anyone (kidding not kidding):

    Treble - Eikon is more resolving and less rolled then the Atticus. The Eikon's treble simply put, goes higher. Could the Eikon be mildly fatiguing on gear super neutral? I say it could be possible. Cymbal crashes and flute really sound lovely on the Eikon

    Mids - I still say the Atticus is slightly more forward then the Eikon. But of course, maybe the mids feel more dominant simply because of its treble and bass characteristics. And yes I agree I could have had one headphone fitting better then the other, which would change things. The Atticus just seems to do so well with sexy voices. And acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo and piano just seem so engaging on the Atticus, not that the Eikon is bad at these. The Atticus just seems to win at mids.

    Bass - The Atticus is warmer and more glowing with an addictive midbass hump (I've already used the 70's hifi analogy). But the Eikon's bass digs deeper, with far more sub bass presence. I prefer tuba on the Atticus, but I think electronic bass is superior on the Eikon.

    Staging - this is a tough one for me. I believe the Eikon presents a bit more space, specifically "front to back" spacing. And if I understand plankton, the Eikon with its less rolled nature seems to have more (but keep in mind the 6 weeks gap between auditions)

    Now the $64 question is "who would like which headphone more"?

    That's a funny one because I'd say most SBAFer prefer the Eikon, but I believe @Marvey and @Hands favor the Atticus (I might be there too). But I think I might have figured it out. I'm tending to think people who are used to, and like, the HD800 should try the Eikon. As the Atticus might feel way too warm going back and forth. And people who love their HD650 should audition an Atticus as the mids are equally as engaging with more bass oomph... But I guess that's a bit speculative.

    I think I will be happy with either...
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2017
  13. JoeBinx

    JoeBinx Rando

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    Your sentiments are spot on, I preferred the Eikon for it's leaner presentation and very deep sense of front/rear spacing honestly, that an it's resolve. I've got a SET Tube I intend to start modding to see how the Eikon will respond to that over my current Hybrid Option, the Atticus was wider left to right, and didn't have as much of that depth, though the slightly more forward mid range gave it a similar sense of space.

    Also
    This need's to be posted with every impression of the Eikon/Atticus, the fit very MUCH changes the sound! @zach915m posted an excellent video about the angle that the gimbals/cups should be at, setting your Eikon or Atticus at that angle and adjusting it to fit YOU changes the sound. If the fit is off, the sound is sometimes lacking resolve and the imaging can suffer
     
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  14. JoeBinx

    JoeBinx Rando

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    A heads up guys and gals, make sure your headphone stands aren't too wide if you like some tension on your band.

    I picked up a new stand and I noticed over the last few days the bass on the Eikon wasn't as heavy as I was used to... sure enough my wider headphone stand actually made a small adjustment to the angle of the gimbals and reduced the tension I had on the band... also make sure your checking your headbands/gimbals for a proper angle
     
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  15. MuppetFace

    MuppetFace Sultana of Seafoam Green - Moderator

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    I, too, preferred the Atticus slightly during an audition of the two.
    Both are definitely some of the overall best full sized dynamics I've heard in a while, tho.

    Have one coming in Camphor wood.
     
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  16. TwoEars

    TwoEars Friend

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    Spent the afternoon doing some Eikon loaner impressions.

    Comfort: These are big and heavy but I actually found them very comfortable. The weight didn't bother me and I found that the headphones "disappeared" much better off the head than some Audeze and heavy Hifimans do. If you've been staying away from these out of concern for the weight I'd say they feel closer to 400g headphones when you actually wear them, pretty good ergonomics. They do get a little hot after a while but not much worse than other closed headphones. Personally I could wear them for hours and still find them comfortable. More comfortable than either Audeze's or "round HiFimans" IMO.

    Bass: Plenty of bass with good drive deep down. The bass of the Eikon is just on the edge of going "full basshead". Bassheads should like this headphone but I don't think most people who like electronica, rock or pop will mind it. However - if you're one of those who like a "neutral tuning" and the "Sennheiser sound" you might find the bass a bit too much. AMP/DAC matching will matter a lot here and going for a leaner AMP/DAC combo will tone down the bass of the Eikon a bit. The bass is not flabby, but neither is it super tight or crisp, not like in the HD800 or some top of the line orthos. Personally I would have preferred a little bit less bass and that it was a little "tighter" and more "layered". It's definitely not "one-note" but neither is it anywhere close to the best I've heard. For a closed dynamic headphone it's however very good. Let's say Quality 7/10 with Quantity 8/10 to give you some idea.

    Midrange: I wouldn't call it recessed but neither is it as present, glowing or liquid as the midrange of say a HD6X0. The bass volume on this headphone can overwhelm the midrange a bit on some songs. As it stands what there is of midrange is good but it's not a headphone for midrange freaks who want a superbly glowing and present midrange. There is also a bit of suck-out in the upper midrange which means that some female singers can lose some of their air and magic, goes for high-pitched males too for that matter. The lower midrange has good bite and drive which lends a nice heft to drums and guitar riffs. 7/10 to 8/10 depending on music. It's a lot better with heavy rock than with female vocals IMO.

    Treble: With an SS amp reasonably extended but also smooth and non-grating. Pretty good balance between "shimmer" and listening fatigue. Some people have also said that these are "fast" sounding but I'd beg to disagree. They're reasonably fast but far from the fastest I've heard. If all you want to do is listen to guitar solos all day I think you can do better. With a tube amp a bit lifeless and woolly. If you're a treble freak these headphones aren't for you but on the other hand if you want a headphone you can listen to for an entire day without fatigue they might be exactly what you need. A bit laid back for my tastes but a solid 7/10.

    Soundstage: Very impressive for a closed headphone, I think it might be my favorite part of the Eikon. Fairly big left-to-right, good imaging and somehow it just "feels right". I'm pretty particular about soundstage and I think the Eikon might be the best closed headphone I've heard. 9/10 and very listenable.

    What does the Eikon sound like in one sentence: Think Audeze LCD-2 with less layered bass but better soundstage.

    Synergy with Theta Gen Va DAC & DNA Sonett: This is my modded HD800 setup and it's a superb match for that headphone. The Theta Gen Va has tons of drive, bass and midrange presence. However with the Eikon the Theta adds even more bass to what I already consider to be a pretty bass heavy headphone, not ideal. Then the Sonett tube amp helps tame the HD800 treble a bit, but again.. not what the Eikon needs since the Eikon treble is already pretty laid back and forgiving. This was not a good synergy match for the Eikon. You could almost say that the Eikon needs the opposite of what the HD800 needs.

    Synergy with Metrum Amethyst: This is much better. The Amethyst has a pretty vivid midrange and this is a good match for the Eikon. The SS amp in the Amethyst is exactly what the Eikon needs to add a bit of snap and treble extension. Good synergy match. Amethyst + Eikon makes a pretty neat and compact little system.

    Bottom Line: The Eikon is one of the best closed headphones I've heard, especially the soundstage is very impressive for a closed headphone. It has a fairly bottom heavy sound and is bordering on the edge of being a "basshead headphone". The bass, lower midrange and midrange are dynamic and fun to listen to but the upper midrange and treble are relatively laid back. As such I don't think it's going to win over neither midrange lovers or treble freaks but if you want a closed headphone you can listen to for an entire day without fatigue the Eikon might be your ticket. Especially if you have a lot of old recording of poor quality the forgiving nature of the Eikon will be very good for that. I also don't think the Eikon is resolving enough to need a TOTL DAC/AMP, you should be able to use it with mid-tier equipment and not lose any sleep. The perfect buyer for the Eikon is a "neutral kind of guy" who's a closet basshead, who has a lot of shitty recordings and wants to listen to them all day. Makes sense?

    Future Headphone Tuning Recommendation: I'd like to see the bass volume dialed back a notch or two, and the bass made a bit tighter and more layered if possible. We might be at the limit of what this driver can do but maybe playing a bit more with dampening and pads could help a bit. I'd like to try the Eikon with a pair of perforated leather pads like the Utopia has, or maybe a pair of velour pads. If the bass could be dialed back a bit I also think this will highlight the midrange a bit more and for someone who's used to the "Sennheiser sound" this is what I would like. If the upper midrange suck-out can be improved it would be welcome.

    Synergy Recommendation: DAC and Solid State amp with "snap" and good midrange and treble, don't match with anything bass heavy unless you're a basshead. There are going to be exceptions but in general don't use a tube amp unless you want a very, very laid back presentation.

    Specific Music Recommendation: Old School Depeche Mode like "Sister of Night", "Stripped" or "Policy of Truth". These old school Depeche Mode tracks have a lot of nasty treble and the fairly laid back presentation of the Eikon is perfect for that. The extra bass drive of the Eikon is welcome with this type of music, and the upper midrange suck-out of the Eikon isn't noticeable with David Gahan's deep voice. In general I find that the Eikon does "heavy" music like rock, metal and hard hitting electronica a lot better than classical, jazz or female vocals.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2017
  17. TwoEars

    TwoEars Friend

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    Small Update: While being careful (of course) I improvised fitting a pair of Brainwavz velour pads to the Eikon: https://www.amazon.com/Brainwavz-An...-spons&keywords=brainwavz+angled+velour&psc=1

    This was not a good fit but there is definitely some potential here. Between the velour, and probably some leakage, the bass is significantly less than before and the headphone has a very different character. Still some upper midrange suck-out but definitely less bloomy bass and more towards the Sennheiser sound. There is some potential here to tune the Eikons a bit to your preference in terms of bass. I wonder if the Audeze vegan pads will fit? I don't have any handy but that would be interesting I think.
     
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  18. MattRG

    MattRG Facebook Friend

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    @TwoEars that is a great review of the Eikon and probably explains why I like them so well. Like you I am picky about sound stage and about having a non-fatiguing sound and that is two areas in which the Eikon excels. Since I got them in May they have become my de-facto daily driver's because I know I can throw them on and do or listen to just about anything and they will be comfortable and sound good in the process. My current setup includes a Vali 2 amp paired with a Metrum Menuet so I believe the Vali 2, in particular, helps to soften the bass somewhat while still being very musical and maintaining the excellent staging.
     
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  19. captkirk

    captkirk Khan's BFF

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  20. sacredgates

    sacredgates Audio-Technica's high priest

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    @TwoEars
    Thanks for your review. I agree on many points.
    Regarding treble:
    That might be a bit too generalizing as you yourself are indicating later on in the review with the sound signature of your DNA Sonett...

    Reading your remarks I was thinking: exactly (I owned the Eikon), and again and again the new Auteur came in mind. From early impressions and reviews it seems to improve on most points you were not entirely happy with. Of course Auteur is an open headphone, but still... Enough for me that I did let go of the Eikon and just ordered an Auteur.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017

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