ZMF Compendium

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by ChaChaRealSmooth, Mar 7, 2020.

  1. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    Zach,

    Thank you so-very-much for taking the time to explain everything and being very awesome at the same time! Much love and respect for what you do.

    I can't wait to see some of the new shop and some of the equipment. Your improvements HAVE NOT gone unnoticed. Every headphone of yours that I've experienced has gotten better each time, and not just sound. The headband, wood finish, ear pads. Trust me, your efforts are appreciated.

    Cheers - stay safe and healthy, my dude!
     
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  2. Ruined

    Ruined HD700 ruined my ear holes

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    Am considering the ZMF Aeolus LE.

    On most headphones I use 2nd to last band setting (big head)

    On order page it mentions lambskin strap vs padded suede, and says padded suede might be an issue for big heads. But this headphone weighs 500g. Anyone have experience on lambskin vs padded suede comfort on the more heavy ZMFs?
     
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  3. ogodei

    ogodei Headphone Heaven Gatekeeper

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    Both are very good and acceptable for longer periods of usage, and I'm a lightweight.

    Padded suede is 'more good', but honestly both work.
     
  4. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    Sweaty suede is :( though.

    To me the choice is between leather strap and a co-pilot pad.

    YMMV, my Ae Ltd is light enough that just the strap is plenty comfortable, but it also has the lighter (magnesium?) baffle from a VO.
     
  5. Ruined

    Ruined HD700 ruined my ear holes

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    Yeh thats the other question whether magnesium is worth $250.
     
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  6. perogie

    perogie Facebook Friend

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    The Mg chassis reduces the weight by less than 10%. Headband padding and adjustments would be much more important, or even different pads. I’d put money towards those accessories rather than upgrading to Mg. That’s just me, I’m a bigger guy with a big head so...
     
  7. dncnexus

    dncnexus Friend

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    I have had to replace the lambskin for the suede due to comfort on my cocobolo Auteurs. I have a big head and went from the second to last notch to the very last notch and it's close to being too small. I am happy to hear the Verite has longer rods so when I get that it should be fine. For reference, on HD 6XX I use 10 clicks on each side.
     
  8. Ruined

    Ruined HD700 ruined my ear holes

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    Sounds like the smart thing would be to try the suede and hope for the best.

    also having probs deciding stainless vs brass, lots o choices! Leaning brass though seems to be better match for cocobolo.
     
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  9. perogie

    perogie Facebook Friend

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    If you are worried about weight the grill choices can effect it as well, but just go for aesthetics.
     
  10. dncnexus

    dncnexus Friend

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    If it makes a difference I got the brass with my cocobolo and it's a very nice combo. I would highly recommend it.
     
  11. loadexfa

    loadexfa Friend

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    I found the reduced weight worth it for my Aeolus and Atticus. I'm also a fan of the suede strap but I think head shape is a big factor so take it with a grain of salt.
     
  12. dasman66

    dasman66 Self proclaimed lazy ass - friend

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    I've a pretty big head (or so I'm told), and use the Pilot on my Cocbolo Auteur and the Co-pilot on my Cherry Eikon. I find both headphones more comfortable with the co-pilot, but I ended up putting it on the heavier Eikons. I'm probably going to get another co-pilot for the Auteur at some point (maybe with my next pad purchase). Both are lambskin.

    For me... Co-pilot >> Pilot >>> Leather Strap
     
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  13. DEATHxMACHINE

    DEATHxMACHINE Friend

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    @Ruined I would not recommend padded suede for large heads. It is also slightly smaller than the leather strap so you may have issues with adjustment. I have the suede strap on my Atticus and have it adjust to the max. Luckily that it ends up being perfect. I also have he suede strap on my Ironwood Verite Closed (the heaviest headphone zmf has made at 640 grams) and I wish I would have got the leather strap because it has a couple hot spots. So I ended up wrapping the suede strap with a pilot pad and it is probably my most comfortable ZMF now. I played with a Sapele Aeolus for a short time with a leather pad and had no trouble at all.
     
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  14. Butane

    Butane Rando

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    This, this right here is why I'm going to give up and spend the money that I've been hesitating to spend.

    On that note, has anyone here heard the Atticus on Schiit gear? (specifically Bifrost multibit and an Asgard of some sort) Currently listening to Aeon closed and was recommended the Atticus for the metal and hard rock that I usually listen to. I don't have anywhere within a reasonable drive where I could hear any of the ZMF offerings even if times were something they aren't.

    I also have to ask as a machinist, "it will help us "work against gravity" some form of 5th axis machine?
     
  15. zach915m

    zach915m MOT: ZMF Headphones

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    Ha - yes I definitely should clarify what I meant since to a machinist that definitely will make no sense.

    We were using a 3 axis machine before with 6 - 15 jigs to hold the cup in place, all the side slots on the cup needed their own jig. With all the use the machine got the tools wouldn't always be zero'd out correctly or fall out of tolerance from general use, and with all those factors we ended up with more wasted wood and parts than we'd like. It also didn't always allow us to cut in the direction of the wood grain as we'd like.

    Now that were getting our 5 axis machine up and running, we can be more efficient and run up against the issues of a 3 axis machine much less, as there will be less jigs and all that and less human error hopefully.
     
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  16. insidious meme

    insidious meme Ambivalent Kumquat

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    ZMF tour of their new workarea and the plans for ZMF November, among other things:

     
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  17. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Poopsmith

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    Amp Pairings (Work-In-Progress)

    As we're fond of saying on SBAF, system synergy is king. You can throw the most expensive gear together that we have recommended in our Golden Schlong list, and if you just throw random gear together in a system I guarantee the odds of it synergizing well to give you maximum performance relative to your preferences and overall synergy is quite low. I might love ZMFs and wish that you can plug your headphone that @zach915m and his staff has tirelessly worked on into some amp and have magic happen, but it isn't that simple.

    There are two main ways to have system synergy: there's covering weaknesses and then emphasizing strengths (not necessarily mutually exclusive). With ZMF, this generally means that the options are amps that are more about clean, straight lines (to minimize that "ZMFness" I alluded to earlier) or to go with tubes to maximize nuance, plankton and texture and even enhance the ZMFness. Yes, ZMFness is a sin of commission and some really love this (those who hate it generally go elsewhere). No amp will get rid of this character, but different amps will bring more or less of it out.

    While specific ZMFs might have some amps that work better for them, this list will serve as a general guide. This list, just like the HD800 list, is neither comprehensive nor exhaustive (as much as some might wish otherwise, I have not and cannot hear every amp known to man). Keep in mind individual ZMFs might have oddities that prevent it from having maximum synergy with certain amps mentioned here; think of this list as a general guideline and do your due diligence before any purchasing decision. And again, for now, no OOP amps (conceivably I could add some of these in the future but I kind of feel like this is being an asshole for the same reason stated in the 2021 HD800 amp thread).

    Another note: I am well-aware that some people have had success with some tube amps after a tube roll. While these may have merit, I also feel like an asshole saying "oh this amp is great but you need to buy these NOS tubes that you may or may not be able to find." So those will be thrown out (sorry Feliks Euforia).

    Amps Under $500
    • Shiit Asgard 3: Not the most slamming and dynamic, but nuanced and decently resolving. A bit mid-centric and can potentially be a bit thick with some ZMFs, but cheap and depending on system/preferences can work really well. Not a bad starting point, although I still think Magni 3+ is potentially the safer bet unless you really want the thick mids.
    • Schiit Jotunheim 2: Nuanced and resolving, yet very powerful. More like Aegir than Asgard 3 is. Great mid-level amp.
    • Schiit Lyr 3: Somewhat laid-back, more like a Cavalli, but doesn't go to that extent. Nuanced, and has crisp, clean treble. Not really that tubey; probably not for Auteur and Eikon unless you like the gentle, relaxing presentation.
    • Schiit Magni 3+: Along the lines of being clean with straight lines. Even without considering its price, really not bad. I wouldn't complain using this with any ZMF.
    • SW51: This amp is hyped up for a reason. Legitimately very good; clean presentation and plenty of drive. Honestly, I like this amp more than some of the more expensive amps on this list. If you can wait for the Russian post, definitely worth it. This amp I would have no issues using any ZMF. Do not be afraid of its ASR-unapproved measurements.
    No Man's Land:
    • Bryston BHA-1: Good staging, not quite as grippy as something like 3F, but worth considering if you can find it used for around $1k. Anything above $1.4k is a ripoff.
    • Woo WA6-SE: A great entry point into the big tube amps with very good output transformers. Does require a little bit of tube wrangling to get the best sound. Probably just use a good vintage or semi-vintage 5U4G instead of the Mickey Mouse eared stuff from Woo.
    Amps That Are Expensive:
    • DNA Starlett: Needs no introduction. So, so very close to the big boy tube amps in performance. Legitimately 90% of the still very good Stratus. Very good stage, super resolving, great layering, good microdynamics and macrodynamics. Not too much tube bloom, some wetness/harmonic richness, and ultra-refined highs. Any ZMF should pair well; I recommend using the more neutral pads.
    • DNA Stratus/Stellaris: Like the Starlett but better. Stellaris is much more expensive than Stratus, but corresponding better performance (it really is that good). These are true big boy tube amps and perform like them.
    • EC Studio B: A Studio Jr in a Balancing Act chassis. If that doesn't tell you much, just know it's an Eddie Current big boy tube amp and is extremely good.
    • ECP DSHA-3F: A fantastic amp that also needs no introduction. Clean, straight lines, and very good timbre. What every SS amp wishes it could be; hardly any sins of commission or omission.
    • Elekit TU-8800: Requires DIY work, but when upgraded with Lundahl transformers and run in ultralinear operation, very clean sounding and powerful. Similar to DSHA-3F with the clean, straight lines and not tubey at all in ultralinear mode.
    • ZMF/Ampsandsound Pendant *needs confirmation*: An ultralinear tube amp, which means it will sound more like a SS amp. Clean, straight lines with lots of power. Resolve won't be able to touch the SET-based DNA stuff, but a worthy alternative.
    Not Recommend Amps (some of these may be really good in other applications):
    • Feliks Euforia: Really good for Focals and Sennheiser HD600/650. Too tubey and bloomy for ZMFs. Potentially could be tuned with a tube roll, but come on, it's expensive AF and if you're going to try to tube roll an OTL that limits your headphone options to make it work with your ZMF you might as well just save the trouble and get a DNA Starlett, which is more resolving anyhow. And I don't think sky-high output impedance is the way to go with ZMFs.
    • Topping: If you subscribe to the ASR way, why are you here on SBAF?
    ****note: this is still a work-in-progress as put in the top of this post. As stuff comes in and I can work on the list more I'll add more stuff.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021
  18. dematted

    dematted Almost "Made"

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    Here's a short list of amps I've heard have synergized well with ZMF's that aren't mentioned in the post above. I'm including them here just because I think they're worth looking into based on stuff I've read both here and on other sites, but I haven't heard any of these myself. Think of it as a list of amps that aren't on the official list but that have piqued my personal curiosity - I'd love to hear feedback from others on how they synergize (or don't really work) with ZMF's. Maybe if the consensus is overwhelmingly positive on how one of these pair with ZMF's they can eventually be added to Chacha's list.

    Expensive Amps:

    ZMF Pendant: Supposedly has excellent transients, very good bass control and impact, and more of a "Clean lines" sound. Maybe a good pairing with Auteur/Eikon as a sort of complimentary amp? Recall @Jinxy245 really enjoying how it paired with the Aeolus!

    ECP T4: Much of what I've read about this amp has been positive, and from what I've heard it sits somewhere between the "Clean Lines" presentation of the DSHA-3F and the more rounded, textured sound of DNA stuff. I think I recall some individuals saying this pairs well with ZMF stuff. Kind of hard to obtain, though...

    Cheap(er) Amps:

    Feliks Audio Echo: OTL, more of a classic "tubey", smooth sound. I recall Zach has recommended this as a budget amplifier with the Auteur/Aeolus. Still, I know the Feliks pricing on a lot of their stuff has gotten a little too high...

    Jotunheim 2: Of course, very few impressions on this right now, but from what I've read it might be a complimentary sort of amp for many ZMF's. Verdict still very much out on this one, of course, but I think it would be interesting to hear with ZMF's.

    Gilmore lite Mk2: I've heard @Vtory really likes how this pairs with the Verite. Not sure how well it pairs with other ZMF's, though, or if there's more of a popular consensus around this amp's pairing with ZMF's.
     
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    Last edited: Dec 20, 2020
  19. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    I like the T4 with the Vs.

    Depends on the tube, Brimar is good, Mullard are too soft.

    I don't like it much with the others, mostly - Atticus is pretty good, strangely - I listen to those from the Af, which kinda fails at the Vs.

    But I daily the Vs so eh! It works for me.
    :bird:

    (Af tyoobs are a bit expensive to game and youtube with)
     
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  20. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Poopsmith

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    I haven't heard this myself, but may get an opportunity to do so sometime in the future. Impressions looks good but want to confirm myself.

    ^this would have made the list no contest if it weren't for Tom having troubles sourcing the transformers for it. The company that supplied them previously went under. This is also why it was left off the HD800 list.
     
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