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ZMF AUTEUR - Should I Bite? Update: I chomped!

Rthomas

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#41
Oops I messed up my initial reply. I did it on my ipad, but I fixed it now :)

But yes I know what you mean. I actually don't really care about woods either I'd rather have great sound quality and a durable minimal design. I do think the Auteur has a nice balanced sound and is pleasing whilst detailed, albeit maybe not flagship details but certain respectable.

I was looking into my next headphone and considering the Diana Phi, Focal Clear, LCD-4, and I can't really think of any others that would compliment my collection and be what I'm after. But I just saw some poor reviews/measurements on the Diana headphones from Abyss so now I'm considering the Clear more heavily.

I think I can help you there as I owned the LCD4 and Utopia for a year.

The LCD4 with EQ is absolutely fantastic. I sent them to Austria to be measured and they have very low distortion so they take to EQ very well)

If you want an all rounder for Classical to classic rock I'd choose LCD4.

Currently I use the Utopia (EQed to Harman target) and I sold the LCD4 as the Utopia is just slightly better for ''audiophile'' music like classical, female vocals, jazz etc. It is no match for the bass extension and impact of the LCD4 so this depends on your use case and taste in music.

I would get the LCD4 or the Utopia. Both headphones have transferable warranties and can be found used for $2000 to $2500.

LCD4 was comfortable but it is over 700 grams. I could use it for 45 mins to a 60 mins but then the weight would get to me. Something to keep in mind.

If these are above your budget the two best value options (below $2k) IMHO are the HD800S (needs EQ) and the Focal Clear ( needs only a bit of EQ)
 
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#42
I think I can help you there as I owned the LCD4 and Utopia for a year.

The LCD4 with EQ is absolutely fantastic. I sent them to Austria to be measured and they have very low distortion so they take to EQ very well)

If you want an all rounder for Classical to classic rock I'd choose LCD4.

Currently I use the Utopia (EQed to Harman target) and I sold the LCD4 as the Utopia is just slightly better for ''audiophile'' music like classical, female vocals, jazz etc. It is no match for the bass extension and impact of the LCD4 so this depends on your use case and taste in music.

I would get the LCD4 or the Utopia. Both headphones have transferable warranties and can be found used for $2000 to $2500.

LCD4 was comfortable but it is over 700 grams. I could use it for 45 mins to a 60 mins but then the weight would get to me. Something to keep in mind.

If these are above your budget the two best value options (below $2k) IMHO are the HD800S (needs EQ) and the Focal Clear ( needs only a bit of EQ)
Yeah, I own the LCD2C which is lighter and tolerable for long periods I can imagine the LCD4 being unwieldy like it's flopping your head around.

I was considering the Utopia but heard some actually prefer the Clear so was considering that.

I do love the HD800s but it lacks bass extension and there are a few quirks with the high end. I'd imagine EQ may work well.

I definitely prefer to buy a headphone I enjoy without EQ and then if I decide to EQ to improve it then great.

But thanks for your thoughts. I'll keep doing some research. I'm just looking to up the level of my current headphones with more detail without sacrificing tonality, whilst ticking all the normal boxes of comfort, build, good extension, imaging, etc.
 

Rthomas

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#43
Yeah, I own the LCD2C which is lighter and tolerable for long periods I can imagine the LCD4 being unwieldy like it's flopping your head around.

I was considering the Utopia but heard some actually prefer the Clear so was considering that.

I do love the HD800s but it lacks bass extension and there are a few quirks with the high end. I'd imagine EQ may work well.

I definitely prefer to buy a headphone I enjoy without EQ and then if I decide to EQ to improve it then great.

But thanks for your thoughts. I'll keep doing some research. I'm just looking to up the level of my current headphones with more detail without sacrificing tonality, whilst ticking all the normal boxes of comfort, build, good extension, imaging, etc.
Looks like the Clear may be the one... or one of the ZMFs... I like Zach's tuning although I think his house sound is a bit too dark with a bit too much bass.
 
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#44
Looks like the Clear may be the one... or one of the ZMFs... I like Zach's tuning although I think his house sound is a bit too dark with a bit too much bass.
Yeah I agree with that. I sort of like that sound...dark, well extended, smooth but still detailed.

With this headphone, though I'm really looking for something more detailed/resolving, something state of the art/flagship level - without being harsh or metallic basically, not detailed through frequency response/tonality, but through the actual speed and accuracy of the drivers with a perceived neutral response (not actually neutral but considering psychoacoustics and ear gain and all that). I'll definitely look more into the Clear and Utopia, as well as the LCD-4 and maybe the Verite but not quite sure on that.

Another thing I wonder is what companies are putting R&D into the effect the inner cup, pads and angling drivers has on things and if it's optimized based on actual research. I always wonder to what level companies do research that for the effect on stage, imaging, and perceived FR. I can't imagine Zach does much R&D there as it pretty much looks like the driver is just screwed to the housing and then he plays with pads by ear to dial it in.
 
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Celty

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Thread Starter #45
Hello!

No worries :D

I agree that the Auteur is an upgrade from the HD650.

I just find it slightly annoying that the ZMF fan base is obsessed with the different woods, patterns, limited editions while ignoring the fact that in terms of sound quality these headphones are simply not worth $1000 to $2500.

Zach is a great guy (I used to own a ZMF Blackwood) though and his headphones sound pretty good.

I just feel that there are much better ''upgrade paths'' from the 650 if you ignore the aesthetics of the ZMFs.

Take the ZMF Verite, disguise the fancy wood cups and give the headphone a Chi-Fi sounding name and send it to a ''reviewer'' and tell them it costs $299.

I think there is zero chance they would say - Wow this $299 headphone is competitive with the Focal Clear, Utopia, LCD4 etc etc.

It would be a fun experiment.
Oops I messed up my initial reply. I did it on my ipad, but I fixed it now :)

But yes I know what you mean. I actually don't really care about woods either I'd rather have great sound quality and a durable minimal design. I do think the Auteur has a nice balanced sound and is pleasing whilst detailed, albeit maybe not flagship details but certain respectable.

I was looking into my next headphone and considering the Diana Phi, Focal Clear, LCD-4, and I can't really think of any others that would compliment my collection and be what I'm after. But I just saw some poor reviews/measurements on the Diana headphones from Abyss so now I'm considering the Clear more heavily.
I'm just curious, have either of you owned the Auteur or Verite? If not, how much experience do you have listening to them? I have debated with myself on getting the Verite closed back, though I probably will stick with the Auteur. It is tempting though, based on all the listening reviews I have read from credible folk.

As to the aesthetics issue, I confess that I do like headphones that look great. It does not outweigh the importance of the actual sound for me, of course, but it is a factor. Others may not care about that at all. For me, it is sort of like food. Taste is critical, but how it looks is a factor as well and affects my enjoyment :p ...
 
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#46
I'm just curious, have either of you owned the Auteur or Verite? If not, how much experience do you have listening to them? I have debated with myself on getting the Verite closed back, though I probably will stick with the Auteur. It is tempting though, based on all the listening reviews I have read from credible folk.

As to the aesthetics issue, I confess that I do like headphones that look great. It does not outweigh the importance of the actual sound for me, of course, but it is a factor. Others may not care about that at all. For me, it is sort of like food. Taste is critical, but how it looks is a factor as well and affects my enjoyment :p ...
Only the Auteur. I too am considering the Verite (open) but looking at other flagships as well.
 

zach915m

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#47
Heyheyhey you guys realize if you say my name enough times I'm going to show up right!? :p:cool::cool::cool:

Anyways - I want to clarify a couple things since it seems like there may be some confusion as to what our brand is about and how we make headphones.

Take the ZMF Verite, disguise the fancy wood cups and give the headphone a Chi-Fi sounding name and send it to a ''reviewer'' and tell them it costs $299.

I think there is zero chance they would say - Wow this $299 headphone is competitive with the Focal Clear, Utopia, LCD4 etc etc.

We have plenty of owners (its about 50/50) who could care less about the wood and buy our headphones because of how they sound. We never pay for reviews and we never figure out ways to get owners to write about our headphones. We don't do mass market advertising or have a team dedicated to it. All our parts including the drivers are 100% proprietary and designed by us for better or worse.

I can't imagine Zach does much R&D there as it pretty much looks like the driver is just screwed to the housing and then he plays with pads by ear to dial it in.

I spend countless months designing each headphone and have a path that enables me and my team ample time to make sure a headphone "done" before it's released. We have two AECM206 (same as gras45CA) systems and just acquired a HATS unit. I run subjective and objective tests to make sure were hitting our target curves.

I can totally understand the inclination to think that ZMF is me sitting in a basement futzing around, but I started modding headphone almost 15 years ago now and ZMF just hit the 10 year mark as a business. Things have just changed a lot as we've grown.

Here's some stuff I posted over on head-fi in talking about measurements and such and our process from the V-Closed thread, but the info is pertinent to any model we make:

I assume you're talking about the slight dip at 3.1 KHz? That dip is placed there because it's a point where most listeners find fatigue anyways and isn't subjectively heard in a negative way (by most) when listening to anything but a sweep. We were able to lessen it in different iterations of the driver, but those iterations with a smoother transition in that area has less transient speed and blurrier sound, a much worse trade-off than a minor oddity in a graph.

Fortunately when listening to a headphone we listen to far more aspects of a headphone than a specific frequency, as we hear all frequencies culminated together, and when running sweeps on any headphone you'll hear peaks and valleys.

All the other aspects I've hear people talk about in the verite can be altered with different pads, like the slight W-shape that the auteur pads give in the v-closed.

What I learned in tuning headphones using top quality equipment like our Audio Precision 515 and 701 system coupled with the AECM206 is that you can't tune a headphone based on how you want a graph to look. It has to be tuned with the subjective listener in mind, since at the end of the day I want to design headphones that sound great, and don't just measure flat or without any oddity.

I can assure you that any oddity you can see in the response I am fully aware of, and I tuned the headphone to the limits and best of my abilities with the driver we designed and that I believe you're getting the best version of my intent in each headphone we make. Trust me these things keep me up at night as I want everyone to hear our headphones in the best light possible!

Our headphones go through measurements at every stage (R/D, Pre-production, Production, QC) and are tested to the utmost standards to ensure the highest quality. We have an anechoic chamber where the headphones are made sure to be seated correctly with a scope (to make sure the headphone is seated properly with L/R being measured at the same time) on our Audio Precision system that is calibrated with every use.

See here for a graph of the three pads most people use on the V Closed - as you can see the response is altered by the pads, especially the bass to mids transition which is subjectively heard differently by many people based on their listening level (in dB) and the shape of their ears. This graph is diffuse field weighted.

Of note - this graph is of the V-Closed, The V-Open has no such bass to mids transition, and I actually worked on proprietary air-flow design in the V-Closed to make sure there's a touch of a transition between bass and mids, because a flat response between bass and mids on a closed headphone can make it sound more claustrophobic

Dotted Line= Universe pads
Red Solid Line = Verite pads
Brown Solid Line = auteur pads


Universe(dotted)_VS_auteur(brown)_VS_verite(RED).PNG


And concerning target curves:

You mentioned Target curves and maybe this is a discussion for the sound science area or not, but an important thing to realize is that any target curve, whether well researched with data or not, is going to be bias unto the way the research was done or by the person making the target curve.

We have our own targets here at ZMF that we don't feel should be or need to be made public, and I think most headphone companies probably have their own targets as how they want their headphones tuned and to sound.

Just like any other target curve it's bias unto my own preferences both subjective and objective. And that's the thing, every user is going to have their own preference in frequency response and measurements, and it's figuring that out and correlating it to real world use that is going to be the difficult task, especially with all the measurement rigs and methods of measurement which may or may not show accurate data.

The good news is that by the end of 2021 we hopefully will be meeting up and able to listen to a bunch of headphones to ease the burden of deciphering measurements!
 
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Rthomas

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#48
Heyheyhey you guys realize if you say my name enough times I'm going to show up right!? :p:cool::cool::cool:

Anyways - I want to clarify a couple things since it seems like there may be some confusion as to what our brand is about and how we make headphones.

Take the ZMF Verite, disguise the fancy wood cups and give the headphone a Chi-Fi sounding name and send it to a ''reviewer'' and tell them it costs $299.

I think there is zero chance they would say - Wow this $299 headphone is competitive with the Focal Clear, Utopia, LCD4 etc etc.

We have plenty of owners (its about 50/50) who could care less about the wood and buy our headphones because of how they sound. We never pay for reviews and we never figure out ways to get owners to write about our headphones. We don't do mass market advertising or have a team dedicated to it. All our parts including the drivers are 100% proprietary and designed by us for better or worse.

I can't imagine Zach does much R&D there as it pretty much looks like the driver is just screwed to the housing and then he plays with pads by ear to dial it in.

I spend countless months designing each headphone and have a path that enables me and my team ample time to make sure a headphone "done" before it's released. We have two AECM206 (same as gras45CA) systems and just acquired a HATS unit. I run subjective and objective tests to make sure were hitting our target curves.

I can totally understand the inclination to think that ZMF is me sitting in a basement futzing around, but I started modding headphone almost 15 years ago now and ZMF just hit the 10 year mark as a business. Things have just changed a lot as we've grown.

Here's some stuff I posted over on head-fi in talking about measurements and such and our process from the V-Closed thread, but the info is pertinent to any model we make:

I assume you're talking about the slight dip at 3.1 KHz? That dip is placed there because it's a point where most listeners find fatigue anyways and isn't subjectively heard in a negative way (by most) when listening to anything but a sweep. We were able to lessen it in different iterations of the driver, but those iterations with a smoother transition in that area has less transient speed and blurrier sound, a much worse trade-off than a minor oddity in a graph.

Fortunately when listening to a headphone we listen to far more aspects of a headphone than a specific frequency, as we hear all frequencies culminated together, and when running sweeps on any headphone you'll hear peaks and valleys.

All the other aspects I've hear people talk about in the verite can be altered with different pads, like the slight W-shape that the auteur pads give in the v-closed.

What I learned in tuning headphones using top quality equipment like our Audio Precision 515 and 701 system coupled with the AECM206 is that you can't tune a headphone based on how you want a graph to look. It has to be tuned with the subjective listener in mind, since at the end of the day I want to design headphones that sound great, and don't just measure flat or without any oddity.

I can assure you that any oddity you can see in the response I am fully aware of, and I tuned the headphone to the limits and best of my abilities with the driver we designed and that I believe you're getting the best version of my intent in each headphone we make. Trust me these things keep me up at night as I want everyone to hear our headphones in the best light possible!

Our headphones go through measurements at every stage (R/D, Pre-production, Production, QC) and are tested to the utmost standards to ensure the highest quality. We have an anechoic chamber where the headphones are made sure to be seated correctly with a scope (to make sure the headphone is seated properly with L/R being measured at the same time) on our Audio Precision system that is calibrated with every use.

See here for a graph of the three pads most people use on the V Closed - as you can see the response is altered by the pads, especially the bass to mids transition which is subjectively heard differently by many people based on their listening level (in dB) and the shape of their ears. This graph is diffuse field weighted.

Of note - this graph is of the V-Closed, The V-Open has no such bass to mids transition, and I actually worked on proprietary air-flow design in the V-Closed to make sure there's a touch of a transition between bass and mids, because a flat response between bass and mids on a closed headphone can make it sound more claustrophobic

Dotted Line= Universe pads
Red Solid Line = Verite pads
Brown Solid Line = auteur pads


View attachment 105509

And concerning target curves:

You mentioned Target curves and maybe this is a discussion for the sound science area or not, but an important thing to realize is that any target curve, whether well researched with data or not, is going to be bias unto the way the research was done or by the person making the target curve.

We have our own targets here at ZMF that we don't feel should be or need to be made public, and I think most headphone companies probably have their own targets as how they want their headphones tuned and to sound.

Just like any other target curve it's bias unto my own preferences both subjective and objective. And that's the thing, every user is going to have their own preference in frequency response and measurements, and it's figuring that out and correlating it to real world use that is going to be the difficult task, especially with all the measurement rigs and methods of measurement which may or may not show accurate data.

The good news is that by the end of 2021 we hopefully will be meeting up and able to listen to a bunch of headphones to ease the burden of deciphering measurements!
Hi Zach, thanks for chiming in.

Take the ZMF Verite, disguise the fancy wood cups and give the headphone a Chi-Fi sounding name and send it to a ''reviewer'' and tell them it costs $299.

I think there is zero chance they would say - Wow this $299 headphone is competitive with the Focal Clear, Utopia, LCD4 etc etc.

This was more a comment on the quality of audiophile reviewers than on the quality of the Verite ;)

I think the same thing would happen if you stripped away the fancy aesthetics and multi thousand dollar price tags from many headphones.

Please send in any demo ZMFs (if available) to Amir for review. It would be a nice change from the usual outlets that only seem to do positive reviews gushing with praise for pretty much every expensive thing....
 
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#49
Heyheyhey you guys realize if you say my name enough times I'm going to show up right!? :p:cool::cool::cool:

Anyways - I want to clarify a couple things since it seems like there may be some confusion as to what our brand is about and how we make headphones.

Take the ZMF Verite, disguise the fancy wood cups and give the headphone a Chi-Fi sounding name and send it to a ''reviewer'' and tell them it costs $299.

I think there is zero chance they would say - Wow this $299 headphone is competitive with the Focal Clear, Utopia, LCD4 etc etc.

We have plenty of owners (its about 50/50) who could care less about the wood and buy our headphones because of how they sound. We never pay for reviews and we never figure out ways to get owners to write about our headphones. We don't do mass market advertising or have a team dedicated to it. All our parts including the drivers are 100% proprietary and designed by us for better or worse.

I can't imagine Zach does much R&D there as it pretty much looks like the driver is just screwed to the housing and then he plays with pads by ear to dial it in.

I spend countless months designing each headphone and have a path that enables me and my team ample time to make sure a headphone "done" before it's released. We have two AECM206 (same as gras45CA) systems and just acquired a HATS unit. I run subjective and objective tests to make sure were hitting our target curves.

I can totally understand the inclination to think that ZMF is me sitting in a basement futzing around, but I started modding headphone almost 15 years ago now and ZMF just hit the 10 year mark as a business. Things have just changed a lot as we've grown.

Here's some stuff I posted over on head-fi in talking about measurements and such and our process from the V-Closed thread, but the info is pertinent to any model we make:

I assume you're talking about the slight dip at 3.1 KHz? That dip is placed there because it's a point where most listeners find fatigue anyways and isn't subjectively heard in a negative way (by most) when listening to anything but a sweep. We were able to lessen it in different iterations of the driver, but those iterations with a smoother transition in that area has less transient speed and blurrier sound, a much worse trade-off than a minor oddity in a graph.

Fortunately when listening to a headphone we listen to far more aspects of a headphone than a specific frequency, as we hear all frequencies culminated together, and when running sweeps on any headphone you'll hear peaks and valleys.

All the other aspects I've hear people talk about in the verite can be altered with different pads, like the slight W-shape that the auteur pads give in the v-closed.

What I learned in tuning headphones using top quality equipment like our Audio Precision 515 and 701 system coupled with the AECM206 is that you can't tune a headphone based on how you want a graph to look. It has to be tuned with the subjective listener in mind, since at the end of the day I want to design headphones that sound great, and don't just measure flat or without any oddity.

I can assure you that any oddity you can see in the response I am fully aware of, and I tuned the headphone to the limits and best of my abilities with the driver we designed and that I believe you're getting the best version of my intent in each headphone we make. Trust me these things keep me up at night as I want everyone to hear our headphones in the best light possible!

Our headphones go through measurements at every stage (R/D, Pre-production, Production, QC) and are tested to the utmost standards to ensure the highest quality. We have an anechoic chamber where the headphones are made sure to be seated correctly with a scope (to make sure the headphone is seated properly with L/R being measured at the same time) on our Audio Precision system that is calibrated with every use.

See here for a graph of the three pads most people use on the V Closed - as you can see the response is altered by the pads, especially the bass to mids transition which is subjectively heard differently by many people based on their listening level (in dB) and the shape of their ears. This graph is diffuse field weighted.

Of note - this graph is of the V-Closed, The V-Open has no such bass to mids transition, and I actually worked on proprietary air-flow design in the V-Closed to make sure there's a touch of a transition between bass and mids, because a flat response between bass and mids on a closed headphone can make it sound more claustrophobic

Dotted Line= Universe pads
Red Solid Line = Verite pads
Brown Solid Line = auteur pads


View attachment 105509

And concerning target curves:

You mentioned Target curves and maybe this is a discussion for the sound science area or not, but an important thing to realize is that any target curve, whether well researched with data or not, is going to be bias unto the way the research was done or by the person making the target curve.

We have our own targets here at ZMF that we don't feel should be or need to be made public, and I think most headphone companies probably have their own targets as how they want their headphones tuned and to sound.

Just like any other target curve it's bias unto my own preferences both subjective and objective. And that's the thing, every user is going to have their own preference in frequency response and measurements, and it's figuring that out and correlating it to real world use that is going to be the difficult task, especially with all the measurement rigs and methods of measurement which may or may not show accurate data.

The good news is that by the end of 2021 we hopefully will be meeting up and able to listen to a bunch of headphones to ease the burden of deciphering measurements!
Hi Zach,

Thanks for your reply and all of the background information. Just to set the record straight I own and love one of your headphones. And I'm considering the Verite open. I only said I wonder who does R&D in that area of acoustics. I figured you used a nice measurement rig and did plenty of testing. I know you've been stepping your game up all the way along and especially when you set out to make your own driver. However, I'm not really talking about normal measurement rigs, I was talking more about how acoustics are affected inside of the cup, not just FR, but different things like perhaps timing and sound stage and all that. I know this type of testing would literally take hundreds of thousands of dollars and a legitimate acoustics engineer and whatever else. I don't suspect most companies are doing this, maybe only the likes of JBL, Sony, Beyer have the resources to do something like that, maybe Focal...it wasn't a knock on you, I was just saying I don't think you'd be doing that sort of testing among many others but I'm wondering who does if at all.

Anyway, I appreciate your response and I really like what you're doing. Again, I'm considering the Verite among some other flagships, we'll see where I end up. It would be excellent to be able to hear a pair!
 

zach915m

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#50
However, I'm not really talking about normal measurement rigs, I was talking more about how acoustics are affected inside of the cup, not just FR, but different things like perhaps timing and sound stage and all that. I know this type of testing would literally take hundreds of thousands of dollars and a legitimate acoustics engineer and whatever else. I don't suspect most companies are doing this, maybe only the likes of JBL, Sony, Beyer have the resources to do something like that, maybe Focal...it wasn't a knock on you, I was just saying I don't think you'd be doing that sort of testing among many others but I'm wondering who does if at all.

We actually have three full setups with audio precision systems, two with aecm206 units and one with the new B and K Hats unit. These are world class setups and the same setup that any giant company would use. I've spent the last 15 years making/modding headphones and learning the ins and outs of acoustic engineering as it pertains to headphones. We can do any measurement with our system that any company that is larger could do aside from companies that focus on noise cancellation and gaming mics. We've invested in these systems in order to put out a top quality product made from proprietary parts which is consistent in build and sound.
 
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Frank Dernie

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#51
I have ZMF Eikons.
I like the voicing better than other 'phones I have tried. They were worth every penny for the quality of design and manufacture as well as SQ IMO.
Nothing as beautifully made as these from top quality materials is going to be inexpensive.
 

Rthomas

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#55
I have ZMF Eikons.
I like the voicing better than other 'phones I have tried. They were worth every penny for the quality of design and manufacture as well as SQ IMO.
Nothing as beautifully made as these from top quality materials is going to be inexpensive.
The Eikons have a pleasant tonal balance no doubt.

Any interest in sending them to Amir for measurement? I think there is a lack of measurements of ZMF cans which is understandable since they are a smaller operation without the ability or inclination to send dozens of loaner units out....

I'm curious to see some objective reviews purely centred on the sound quality. No doubt that they are beautifully made and will probably last decades.
 
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Celty

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Thread Starter #56
Heyheyhey you guys realize if you say my name enough times I'm going to show up right!? :p:cool::cool::cool:

Anyways - I want to clarify a couple things since it seems like there may be some confusion as to what our brand is about and how we make headphones.

Take the ZMF Verite, disguise the fancy wood cups and give the headphone a Chi-Fi sounding name and send it to a ''reviewer'' and tell them it costs $299.

I think there is zero chance they would say - Wow this $299 headphone is competitive with the Focal Clear, Utopia, LCD4 etc etc.

We have plenty of owners (its about 50/50) who could care less about the wood and buy our headphones because of how they sound. We never pay for reviews and we never figure out ways to get owners to write about our headphones. We don't do mass market advertising or have a team dedicated to it. All our parts including the drivers are 100% proprietary and designed by us for better or worse.

I can't imagine Zach does much R&D there as it pretty much looks like the driver is just screwed to the housing and then he plays with pads by ear to dial it in.

I spend countless months designing each headphone and have a path that enables me and my team ample time to make sure a headphone "done" before it's released. We have two AECM206 (same as gras45CA) systems and just acquired a HATS unit. I run subjective and objective tests to make sure were hitting our target curves.

I can totally understand the inclination to think that ZMF is me sitting in a basement futzing around, but I started modding headphone almost 15 years ago now and ZMF just hit the 10 year mark as a business. Things have just changed a lot as we've grown.

Here's some stuff I posted over on head-fi in talking about measurements and such and our process from the V-Closed thread, but the info is pertinent to any model we make:

I assume you're talking about the slight dip at 3.1 KHz? That dip is placed there because it's a point where most listeners find fatigue anyways and isn't subjectively heard in a negative way (by most) when listening to anything but a sweep. We were able to lessen it in different iterations of the driver, but those iterations with a smoother transition in that area has less transient speed and blurrier sound, a much worse trade-off than a minor oddity in a graph.

Fortunately when listening to a headphone we listen to far more aspects of a headphone than a specific frequency, as we hear all frequencies culminated together, and when running sweeps on any headphone you'll hear peaks and valleys.

All the other aspects I've hear people talk about in the verite can be altered with different pads, like the slight W-shape that the auteur pads give in the v-closed.

What I learned in tuning headphones using top quality equipment like our Audio Precision 515 and 701 system coupled with the AECM206 is that you can't tune a headphone based on how you want a graph to look. It has to be tuned with the subjective listener in mind, since at the end of the day I want to design headphones that sound great, and don't just measure flat or without any oddity.

I can assure you that any oddity you can see in the response I am fully aware of, and I tuned the headphone to the limits and best of my abilities with the driver we designed and that I believe you're getting the best version of my intent in each headphone we make. Trust me these things keep me up at night as I want everyone to hear our headphones in the best light possible!

Our headphones go through measurements at every stage (R/D, Pre-production, Production, QC) and are tested to the utmost standards to ensure the highest quality. We have an anechoic chamber where the headphones are made sure to be seated correctly with a scope (to make sure the headphone is seated properly with L/R being measured at the same time) on our Audio Precision system that is calibrated with every use.

See here for a graph of the three pads most people use on the V Closed - as you can see the response is altered by the pads, especially the bass to mids transition which is subjectively heard differently by many people based on their listening level (in dB) and the shape of their ears. This graph is diffuse field weighted.

Of note - this graph is of the V-Closed, The V-Open has no such bass to mids transition, and I actually worked on proprietary air-flow design in the V-Closed to make sure there's a touch of a transition between bass and mids, because a flat response between bass and mids on a closed headphone can make it sound more claustrophobic

Dotted Line= Universe pads
Red Solid Line = Verite pads
Brown Solid Line = auteur pads


View attachment 105509

And concerning target curves:

You mentioned Target curves and maybe this is a discussion for the sound science area or not, but an important thing to realize is that any target curve, whether well researched with data or not, is going to be bias unto the way the research was done or by the person making the target curve.

We have our own targets here at ZMF that we don't feel should be or need to be made public, and I think most headphone companies probably have their own targets as how they want their headphones tuned and to sound.

Just like any other target curve it's bias unto my own preferences both subjective and objective. And that's the thing, every user is going to have their own preference in frequency response and measurements, and it's figuring that out and correlating it to real world use that is going to be the difficult task, especially with all the measurement rigs and methods of measurement which may or may not show accurate data.

The good news is that by the end of 2021 we hopefully will be meeting up and able to listen to a bunch of headphones to ease the burden of deciphering measurements!
However, I'm not really talking about normal measurement rigs, I was talking more about how acoustics are affected inside of the cup, not just FR, but different things like perhaps timing and sound stage and all that. I know this type of testing would literally take hundreds of thousands of dollars and a legitimate acoustics engineer and whatever else. I don't suspect most companies are doing this, maybe only the likes of JBL, Sony, Beyer have the resources to do something like that, maybe Focal...it wasn't a knock on you, I was just saying I don't think you'd be doing that sort of testing among many others but I'm wondering who does if at all.

We actually have three full setups with audio precision systems, two with aecm206 units and one with the new B and K Hats unit. These are world class setups and the same setup that any giant company would use. I've spent the last 15 years making/modding headphones and learning the ins and outs of acoustic engineering as it pertains to headphones. We can do any measurement with our system that any company that is larger could do aside from companies that focus on noise cancellation and gaming mics. We've invested in these systems in order to put out a top quality product made from proprietary parts which is consistent in build and sound.
Hey there Zach, good to see you contributing information on your company and products. Great to see a company owner following this forum and chiming in. It's good for your customers, headphone aficionados, and the forum.

Tries to start figuring out how to afford those closed back Verites :)
 

Frank Dernie

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#57
The Eikons have a pleasant tonal balance no doubt.

Any interest in sending them to Amir for measurement? I think there is a lack of measurements of ZMF cans which is understandable since they are a smaller operation without the ability or inclination to send dozens of loaner units out....

I'm curious to see some objective reviews purely centred on the sound quality. No doubt that they are beautifully made and will probably last decades.
No.
I am in the UK, Amir is half a world away!
 
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