ZMF Atrium Headphone Review and Measurements

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by purr1n, Mar 20, 2022.

  1. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    Oh, I thought Atrium was already with titan mesh by default. Maybe I mis-remember what Zach was speaking in the video.. I'm also betting Titan mesh + Atrium would be the sweet spot. Damn, I'm also dying to hear them. lol

    By the way, why does @ChaChaRealSmooth remain calm? It's time to express your thoughts! (nudging him)
     
  2. sp33ls

    sp33ls Facebook Friend

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    I thought the same thing -- will this be an option at checkout, or a separate accessory purchase?
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2022
  3. zach915m

    zach915m MOT: ZMF Headphones

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    There's two values of titan mesh, the Atrium comes with the solid mesh, and then you can switch to the perforated mesh for a little more treble, or take the mesh off completely for even more treble.
     
  4. zach915m

    zach915m MOT: ZMF Headphones

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    OK so - we will probably post these measurements on our website as well to show what the mesh does, because this is an easy and viable option to change the character of the treble.

    Here's Stock Universe pads with Titan mesh and totally without. A little peaky as Marv said. Probably fine if you like that sizzle and are used to something like an HD800. All measurements taken on the same headphone that I took measurements on yesterday so you know all measurements in this thread are of the same unit. B/K 5128 @ 94dB

    ATRIUM_Universe_Stock_Solid_VS_NOTITAN_DOT.jpg

    Here's with stock solid titan mesh and the "perforated" titan mesh that goes on the aeolus currently, either of these are nice place to be IMHO, any time you get on a DF graph the peak going above the 1K area it starts to sound a little sizzly. I think either of these are great options depending on your personal preferences. If any of you guys order an Atrium and prefer the perf titan mesh, leave us a note and we'll install it as stock.
    ATRIUM_Universe_Stock_Solid_VS_Perf_Titan_DOT.jpg

    The other thing I've noticed with the Atrium, is the difficulty in measuring the treble from 8 khz on up. For whatever reason the 7108 coupler on our AECM (Gras 45CA type) rig gets a lot of cancellation in this area, and it measure's very dark, like in Marv's graphs as well. Where-as the 5128 B/K unit measures it more flat, like so. Here's a comparison of the same headphone above measured on each coupler:
    ATRIUM_Universe_Stock_Solid5128 VS 7108.jpg

    So I guess the question is - which one is correct!? And while I could say oh well the more expensive device is more accurate because it shows a more flattering treble response, I think the true answer is probably "somewhere in the middle" to "it doesn't really matter."

    I say that just because we've sent a bunch of these out to people to listen to, and while most people seem to think of the Atrium what I think correlates more with the B/K coupler and enjoyed the headphone settling down some, I've heard from a few people that they have wanted a snappier sound as well. I think this comes down to different HRTF and personal preference and that with pad changes and Titan mesh swaps, there's good ways to go in either direction.

    FWIW the Atrium damping is what allowed the driver to be recessed how it is, AND get the weight to the low end at the same time without messing up the FR. BUT I also think that's what may cause some interactions on some measurement rigs.

    In the end our own ears are each of our best measurement device and as with any ZMF we can help make little adjustments with pad and mesh options to steer each owner out.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 22, 2022
  5. insidious meme

    insidious meme Ambivalent Kumquat

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    Patience friend. While we're waiting, here's another Atrium pic.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I might have missed something, but will you include both mesh types with the Atrium? If that was not currently planned, I might suggest doing so given both the real-world data you have on objective and subjective variability with the Atrium and the premium pricing of the product. I don't think it's much to ask that an accessory you sell for $20 be included in that case, and it broadens the range of the potential customer base.


    I think you are probably right. It is likely a mixture of each person's HRTF and factors like head/ear size, hair, skull lumpiness, i.e. really anything that affects positioning, clamp, and seal, that drive the variability in subjective findings with a lot of headphones. Some headphones are probably going to be more sensitive in this regard than others.

    And, so, the answer is probably that both measurements are, or can be, right. Some will probably hear it as balanced, some will probably hear it as a low-pass filter headphone, and so on.

    To put it simply, the only true answer is, "It depends."

    The question then is how to maximize "success" rates, for both yourself and customers, without incurring disproportionate costs, efforts, or frustrations for either side. You want as many customers as possible to hear the Atrium the way you envision it (and you know it's a very technically competent design and driver under the hood), and customers want to hear both that and something they like.

    Hence my argument that it would make sense to include both front filters (an otherwise inexpensive, but separate, accessory), with clear instructions on when and how the customer might want to change them out. I believe that's just a small enough increase in material cost (for you) and possible time/effort for customers to preemptively get ahead of such issues in an easy manner. Go much further, and you probably just run the risk of overcomplicating things and creating other problems. So, I'm not suggesting you toss in other pads or more than two front damping options.
     
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  7. zach915m

    zach915m MOT: ZMF Headphones

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    It really doesn't come down to cost at all - you'd be shocked at how many people would have trouble taking a few screws in and out of the headphone, and then dust, debris, magnet shards etc etc end up getting on the driver and the headphones have to be sent back and we have to QC them and even change out the drivers some times. The drivers are incredibly fragile to any material on them because of the magnet strength, so any chance to minimize that we take.

    This is a very similar thing to what we've dealt with in the past with the Aeolus, and what we end up doing and will continue to do in the case of the Atrium - is send it out in the form the owner prefers off the bat (stock if they didn't leave notes), and then if they find they want the headphone brighter or darker offer them options. In this case with the damping, if they didn't get the configuration off the bat that they wanted, we would send it to them for the cost of shipping ($5 in the USA or $20 international to most places).

    I will say though, if anyone from SBAF or anywhere else orders and wants both materials, we will happily ship with them for no cost, I'm just not going to open it up as THE stock option, because when you end up with headphones at dealers and everywhere else across the world, I'd be asking for a world of pain.

    And really, this entire infrastructure is what makes ZMF different in a good and bad way, which is to say that since we have options, the headphones can be amended slightly to different tastes without losing their innate character, but it can make a typical consumer of high end headphones have to put in a touch more effort to meet their particular tastes and goals (which they may not be used to).

    BUT I think one thing to realize is that SBAF'ers like us, is that we really examine everything, 97+ percent of people who buy ZMFs are not like us, they just want to get the headphone in stock form and will enjoy it without doing much.

    Here's the install video for the titan mesh:
     
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    Last edited: Mar 22, 2022
  8. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    I believe it. Too bad there isn't some kind of snap-in/slide-into-place mechanism to hold that filter instead of screws. You know, something even a caveman can use.

    Hmmm...
     
  9. zach915m

    zach915m MOT: ZMF Headphones

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    I'm sure there's a way to do it, but we want the final user to do this kind of thing once or twice over the life of the headphone to find their own "sweet spot." A mechanical attachment like with screws is both easy for us to laser cut in the attachment holes and permanent with no fiddling needed ever after you get the filter on.
     
  10. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    Now I see. The correct way to call them was 'non-perforated (solid) titan mesh' and 'perforated titan mesh'. Blame my illiteracy. lol. Then I kinda recall titan meant titanium.


    This reminded me of the Verite days. I ended up with somewhere in between uni lamb and be2 lamb (converged to 40-60 ratio of head time). Curious if I feel the same way with Atrium meshes. I may opt out removing mesh entirely .. just by extrapolating my own experience of removing mesh in Auteur. I'm under the impression that zmf biodana eventually needs some front damping.
     
  11. BenjaminBore

    BenjaminBore Friend

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    Doing anything at scale, or dealing with the general public, is going to have a lot of unexpected consequences. Which I bet can quickly become a nightmare. Zach915's offer to go further given the headphone design is above and beyond. I like your idea @Elnrik and would definitely want that myself. Though I suspect most users may want things simple, and to avoid complexity or nervosa. Does anyone know if DCA still offer multiple filters with their headphones?

    @zach915m
    I'm sure you've amassed a lot of hard earned experience by now, which I feel the above reflects. If you ever feel the urge to share those stories, perhaps in a "ZMF Happened" style, I'd be eager to read about your experiences and the challenges you overcame in making ZMF a sustainable business.

    Can you share some details on the new driver? IIRC the Auteur driver could only tolerate N45 magnets, even with a layer of another material to help stabilise it. How have you improved the diaphragm on the Atrium to tolerate the N52's? New bio formula, new stabiliser, new shape?

    In your video you speak about maintaining a tactile and full sound, in what is a more open headphone. I've been chasing that since I got started with headphones, but tactile and full appear to be anathema to open backs. With dynamics in particular, presumably due to diaphragm size. What do you put this down to? Is it displacement, related to magnet strength, surface area, and the throw of a driver? Which more closed designs always concentrate or maintain in some way.

    Without giving away all your secrets can you speak more about how you achieved that balance with Atrium.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2022
  12. zach915m

    zach915m MOT: ZMF Headphones

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    Yeah I had a lot of issues with the original auteur driver being the first driver I designed, and increasing the magnet strength seemed to make the "hash" get a little worse, and some owners were sensitive to that.

    I found that changing the material to have less poly in it, while increasing the rubber surround thickness and size and amending the voice coil and adhesive type a little bit did much of the work. The membrane is also thinner, and what all this has led to is a much higher "burn rate" where not as many drivers pass our pre-production QC and get used in the final headphones, making the overall cost of the drivers end up at about 4x as much. (this is also due to the much higher cost of the drivers due to materials and inflation) EDIT - I should also add here - this driver is much more "nodal" than the original driver, meaning not as stiff more excursion, which plays into the rest of the design etc.

    For the "full and tactile stuff" and all that the best thing to do for now is refer to the Atrium Damping Patent Pending page here: https://www.zmfheadphones.com/atrium-patent

    I am going to make a full video about the patent-pending damping system as well. But in short, these methods/ideas are what creates the layered/staged sound while being punchy and full without making an Atticus like crazy bass cannon.

    And ha - yes I would LOVE to share more ZMF stories, but my co-owner/wife/business partner would have to approve! I'll work on that...!
     
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    Last edited: Mar 22, 2022
  13. BenjaminBore

    BenjaminBore Friend

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    Thanks for the explanation.
    If you need to pitch it then the "Schiit Happened" thread on HF is a great example of an effective marketing tool that will get people invested in the ZMF story, and talking about its products. That thread started in 2014 and is almost 6000 pages long.
     
  14. insidious meme

    insidious meme Ambivalent Kumquat

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    I think pad rolling wiped out a good number of that crowd. Any more manual labor would consist of having a techie of some sort do it for them.

    Tell her that you'll put it in the "How to Win Friends and.." erm.. a carved out ZMF Industry Sub forum area. I'm sure she'll approve.
     
  15. GoldenOne

    GoldenOne Friend

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  16. Mystic

    Mystic Mystique's Spiritual Advisor

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    Sharing a similar lineage to the Auteur is great way to sell me a new headphone. My Autuer has been my most used and favorite headphone since 2017.
     
  17. sp33ls

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    This. I've read complaints on HF about the "hassle" of changing pads. I spose many just aren't as interested/willing to experiment.
    I appreciate Zach using screws as opposed to some type of clip-based design, as it enhances durability and serviceability. And, I've come to appreciate the latter even more when playing with vintage audio gear; proprietary components are a threat to operational lifespan. I wish the best of luck to anyone who tries to source [genuine] Sony/Yamaha VFETs hah.
     
  18. Pancakes

    Pancakes Friend

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    They're out there...for a price.
     
  19. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    I'll put this on my list. For now, I'm holding off on any more subjective impressions and measurements until I receive the semi-open mesh. I am pretty sure that 90% of SBAF folks will prefer the semi-open Titan mesh over the full mesh. This also from informal polling and discussions with others who have the Atrium. I'm super geeked so far, massive potential meeting my specific tastes, but don't want to arrive at any conclusions just yet.
     
  20. zach915m

    zach915m MOT: ZMF Headphones

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    Treble is definitely one of those areas where it's impossible to come up with ONE solution for everyone, there's even possibly a place where we can make a middle middle ground between the current perforated one and solid one if need be, but at the end of the day less options is always better ofc. But I would be happy to accommodate one more titan mesh config if necessary.

    As a small note, the Titan mesh is acoustex paper mixed with titanium acoustex mesh, you can only get the titanium mesh in certain values, and the acoustex mesh in certain values. We tested them all and couldn't find what we wanted, so we had to do a custom run of the mesh to get what we found to be the value that also had the solidity to work in the manner that would attach to the headphones easily. SO anyways, we had to buy 100 meters of the stuff as an MOQ which after all costs was a little over 20K for the roll. It was a major purchase for us, but for something that is so integral to the sound of the Atrium I found it to be worth it, I'm sure we'll use it for years to come on other models as well at some point. But this specific iteration of the material is proprietary to ZMF anyways.
     

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