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ZMF Bokeh Headphone Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 12 7.7%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 55 35.3%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 73 46.8%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 16 10.3%

  • Total voters
    156
Closed back for bokeh?

I'll have to ask him, but I suspect Bokeh ties back to Zach's love of photography/videography (he was a film student). In fact, before ZMF was a headphone company, it's the name Zach used for his films when he was in school (Zach Merhbach Films).
 
And, FWIW, removing the front mesh does reduce the upper mid and high frequency damping. If anybody is interested, I can take some measurements and post a comparison graph.
 
Subjectively it's really good for a closed back and takes EQ like a champ, confirmed by Amir's review
 
Seems nice enough, does very well with EQ, and looks like something that would merit an "A+" in shop class. Still wish the distortion was lower at 114 db. As a closed back, not as good as the E3 or even the LCD-XC, and the Audeze is better looking, IMHO. It's fine.
 
Seems like an expensive & nutty headphone that is almost as nutty as a Q9 +8dB filter at 2500Hz! :p But I'm sure this headphone can be fixed mostly with EQ but not a fantastically sensible buy!
 
Are they a gift or a loan? Will these headphones be returned?
It is being returned today or tomorrow. Expensive gear shipped from US is almost always returned.
 
ZMF Bokeh fixed.jpg


I know, we all thought the same...
 
Seems like an expensive & nutty headphone that is almost as nutty as a Q9 +8dB filter at 2500Hz! :p But I'm sure this headphone can be fixed mostly with EQ but not a fantastically sensible buy!
If you're not buying into the price bias kool-aid and know your proper microeconomics, you start seeing ZMF for it's real qualities: a small artisan company that offers gorgeous, luxurious and well built headphones for the ones that are willing to pay the premium. I've never spoken with Zach but from all I've seen from him from inside the community (including the feedback with amirm on this very review) makes me admire what he's doing, very much like DC Audio.
 
Nice review and congrats Zach!

For anyone reading and on the fence I can also confirm that I met Zach one time, and ZMF is run by a cool guy who is positively engaged with the community, not just ASR.

If you read the previous review thread, you would know he and Amir don't totally see eye to eye, so it speaks to his good faith and character, and confidence in his designs that he would voluntarily come back for more. Contrast that with a certain someone who threatened to sue certain people over what I would call better reviews than Zach got the first time around, and you can see why ZMF is a brand worth supporting, aside from the gear itself.
 
Seems like an expensive & nutty headphone that is almost as nutty as a Q9 +8dB filter at 2500Hz! :p
That filter is there as much to shape the response of the filter before it than filling that hole.
 
Yes, but quality is very questionable.
I had three akg k371 for some time. One unit had big imbalance in second one driver died after 2 months (? or something) in my 3rd unit pads started to tear after like 5-6 months of medium usage....
Of course everything was covered by warranty but I was left without headphones for long time considering all three units.

As much as I like AKG k371 (sound wise) their build quality is something to be desired.
Not to mention that there is problem with buying OG pads - I don't want to use Dekoni as I dont want to change FR

I'm sure you won't have any of those issues with ZMF headphones ;)

So sometimes, paying more could be actually a good thing

FWIW, ZMF does have a lifetime driver warranty for the original owner and we offer and maintain parts that can be swapped in if there's wear on the rest of the headphone. We don't view our products as disposable. Let's face it, a $1099 headphone is a considered purchase for most people, so it should last. If well taken care of, our hope is that you can hand them down to your children.
 
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akg k371 for some time. One unit had big imbalance in second one driver died after 2 months (? or something) in my 3rd unit pads started to tear after like 5-6 months of medium usage
Mine K361 earpads fell apart within a year and the feel was not very pleasing from the very first days. Sweaty cheap faux leather:confused:

Now I don't recommend K3x1 to anyone, ridicilously bad quality.
 
If you're not buying into the price bias kool-aid and know your proper microeconomics, you start seeing ZMF for it's real qualities: a small artisan company that offers gorgeous, luxurious and well built headphones for the ones that are willing to pay the premium. I've never spoken with Zach but from all I've seen from him from inside the community (including the feedback with amirm on this very review) makes me admire what he's doing, very much like DC Audio.
To be honest I'm not familiar with all his other headphones, so I can't comment on that, but as long as they are quite nice smooth frequency responses and if distortion is in check then you can fix it with EQ - so as long as that is the case for his other headphones then I could buy into what you're saying, but I don't know if that is the case.
 
That filter is there as much to shape the response of the filter before it than filling that hole.
Given that you've measured the unit makes it a bit more valid than if that had been included in for example an Oratory EQ, because the unit to unit variation is removed, but still that's an extremely sharp rise in the Total EQ Curve, so it might be susceptible to "ringing". I've not experimented with "ringing" and don't fully understand it, but large dB sharp positive filters are supposedly the cause of "ringing" - it's generally poor EQ practice as my understanding goes. Furthermore it does highlight a weakness in the headphone that there is such a large sharp dip in that area in the first place.
 
Exactly. The photographer's term for a particular out-of-focus lens quality seems like an unfortunate name for what is supposed to be a high-resolution, high-cost pair of headphones.
Maybe, maybe not... A picture with nice bokeh is razor sharp where it matters and only that what is not supposed to be sharp is rendered in a certain way so it does not distract from the intended picture. Nice bokeh usually is considered to deliver a more pleasant to look at picture.
Given that it is a bit subdued in clarity and treble but not totally 'dark' sounding (3kHz region where the ear-canal peaks) is at a desirable level.
Some (not me) may prefer that (not EQ'ed) over a more forward and lively sound.

Given the fact that Zach came from video/photo and nice bokeh is kind of a holy grail there, the pinnacle of photography is a sharp picture where it matters and beautiful 'soft' rendering of the not important background. Some photographers select lenses and use specific apertures to achieve just that, the best possible picture.

A subjective thing though (beauty is in the eye of the beholder) just as ZMF buyers usually do just that, but in audio.
So... the name may be well chosen to some people and others may find that it does not seem to be well chosen. Such is life.
 
that's an extremely sharp rise in the Total EQ Curve

Yep, one should not (and can not) EQ sharp nulls.
When sharp nulls are accompanied with an overall drop over a larger frequency band in that range then that wide-band drop should be addressed.

A sharp null on a sweep may not actually be a deep null (but often is a resonance) and may just be a little 'late'.
Below a CSD of the Bokeh (could be different pads) made by Marv (SBAF)
index.php

Here one can see that the deep null at 2.5kHz is not as deep as it appears but just a about 1ms delayed and is a resonance.
This delay is also visible in the GD:
index.php


High Q peaks usually are (somewhat) detrimental to sound and could be EQ'ed.
 
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The Caldera reviewed here earlier was US $3.500. This is $1.100. That is a rather huge price difference. Maybe the Caldera perhaps was a bit more polished, but still - why this big difference in price?
 
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