Cable Upgrade for ZMF Auteur

Please share your thoughts on 3rd party/non-ZMF cable upgrades for the Auteur. Can’t find much on existing topics here or on the internet.

Want a cable that (1)retains the weight, neutrality, slight warmth and basic signature of the Auteur, but also (2)improves the overall sound quality as much as possible.

I’ll be using the Auteur mainly for “critical” listening, and mostly for classical music. (Have an Aeolus with a Forza Noir HPC Mk2 cable that I use for “fun listening” and “musicality.”)

Appreciate any help you can give me.

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I’ve used the Lektrik from ZMF on an Aeolus and recently switch to the Auteur as the Auteur pads were my preference, so I did things backwards, I matched the headphone to my pad preference for comfort. I also used with the Aeolus the Meze Empyrean Silver Upgrade Cable. I didn’t see any sound coloring difference when using either the Lektrik or the Meze cable. I would think the silver cable from ZMF would be similar to the Meze cable. I really like the Meze cable with the Auteur as it’s very light weight, very flexible but again, I don’t think either the Meze or Lektrik really flavored or changed the music much if at all. The Meze is only in 8.25 feet. ZMF you can change the length and the price reflects that. I’ve used Corpse Cable in the past pretty religiously until I picked up the Lektrik and it was so much lighter and flexible but it was only 4.5 feet which is the ZMF default but again, that can be changed. The Meze choice was because it’s available now choice versus silver or 2k option from ZMF and wait till it’s done but I’m happy with the Meze purchase. If you really like the Auteur sound and don’t want to add any additional color or flavor, any of the above would be good. I hate to discourage Corpse but it’s heavier and not as flexible. Hope that helps some.

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Thanks Roikyou.

Where is a good place to buy the Meze Empyrean cable?

And why would you say their silver wire is better with Auteur than copper?

Per Zach’s words:

“In comparison to the ZMF 2K copper cable, the Vérité Silver has a little more transient zip, with a slightly less present bass presence and ambiance. This cable will liven any headphone with pure smooth neutrality, without adding any stridency.”

I know headphones.com has some Meze cables and headamp was where I purchased the silver version.

I know there are holes in my suggestions as I have the Lentrik S and have never tried the copper or ZMF silver. If you look on the description of ZMF’s site, it will give you details on strand count, signature, etc. Same with Meze.

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I saw your review on Headamp. Other internet reviews very good too. See what you mean re the copper + silver combination being recommended over copper alone. I’m also checking out Norne Audio and Forza AudioWorks. I like that you also have the Aeolus, as I do, and like the Meze with it too. Very helpful, Roikou, thank you. Any other thoughts you might have would likewise be appreciated. Thanks again…Lee

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Here is the zmf cable next to the meze. The zmf is sleeved but i believe it’s 4 wire braid to the amp connection and 2 wire to the headphone. The meze is 4/8 wire braid.

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That’s a good looking cable in addition to sounding so good from everything
I’ve been able to read today.

Another copper + silver cable that gets top reviews is the Forza AudioWorks
Noir Hybraid. Did you by any chance consider it when shopping for your
Auteur rig?

Products from Norne Audio are also highly regarded. Several years ago I
bought one of their cables for my OPPO PM1, and it transformed those
headphones into what is still one of my TOTL favorites–a smooth, clear and
musical ortho that’s like an enhanced HD650 without the veil shortcoming.
Any thoughts on their cables as a good match for the Auteur?

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Unfortunately that’s a new one for me, hopefully someone will chime in that has used them. I think my venturing is done for now, I’ve tried alot over the last year and it’s time for me to reign it in.

What is your budget? And what would you like over and above what the Forza Noire gives you?

The high-end boutique cable makers that seem to get the online recommendations are Double Helix, Arctic, Norne and Forza. I’ve only bought from the first 2, and have the Double Helix Molecule Elite (OCC silver), Complement-C (OCC copper) and Arctic Cuprum (OCC copper).

I don’t have an Auteur but have adapters to allow all those cables to be used on my ZMF Verite/Aeolus, Focal Stellia and RAD-0, and I’ve noticed the same “sound improvements” on all my headphones vs stock.

The Molecule Elite is my personal favorite. It’s very thin and light, and doesn’t appear to change the sound vs the stock cable, other than sounding a little less warm, and a little more detailed, and it also appears to have more treble extension (i.e. it’s clearer and more extended but does not emphasize the treble). Silver cables have a reputation for brightness, but this is not a bright cable. It is less warm than the stock, but I don’t know if the stock cable is adding warmth, or if the Molecule Elite is removing it. I know a couple of forum members use this cable with the Focal Utopia and the bright version of the RAD-0, so I’m making an assumption that this cable is pretty neutral.

The Complement-C is pretty new and I’m still learning about it, so I can’t say much about it yet.

The Arctic Cuprum does not have the treble extension of the Molecule Elite and is slightly warmer than the Molecule Elite. It is less warm than stock and appears to extract more detail than stock. This was my go to cable before I got the Molecule Elite - it’s well made, drapes well and is not microphonic.

I may just be hearing the sonic properties of the underlying wire, i.e. regular copper (warm), OCC copper (more neutral, more detail), OCC silver (more neutral, more treble extension, more detail). I’m afraid I don’t know, but assuming that’s the case, then I’d say pick your favorite cable maker and order pure OCC copper or silver (or a mix, like you did with the Forza). Based on what I’ve read, pure un-plated cables have better sound than silver-plated copper (the Double Helix site has a good article on this) but I have no facts to back that up so YMMV.

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I will just jump in and give a nod to Forza AudioWorks. Although I haven’t bought the specific headphone cable you are asking about I have purchased a few Iem Cables from the. They are great quality cables at a reasonable price. Great company to deal with too. Sorry I can’t be of anymore help to you.

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Editing my post as I had the most expensive cable they make (it’s still a crazy pricepoint) but this cable @PaisleyUnderground mentioned is in the same ball park as the cables I brought up.

I guess there are some key questions. You already know the performance or results you want. If any of these will achieve that or be the same as what you have, only your ears will know. Next question would be the length you want and then the final question, how much are you willing to spend? The Meze at 500 is the most I’ve spent on cables, so between 100 and 500 from several brands is what I’ve tried and I really couldn’t tell you sound wise which one had any noticeable improvement in sound. If anything, what I achieve with mine, length, flexibility and the ability not to tangle while being equal to or better sound quality.

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Hi Paul,

Good to hear from you and the positive experience you’ve had with their IEM cables.

I’ve been around headphones now for about 15 years and don’t know of anyone who delivers better value. I bought their Noir HPC Mk II for my ZMF Aeolus, paid $264 for it, and am very satisfied with the sound quality, flexibility and appearance.

I’m now in the market for a copper + silver cable for the ZMF Auteur I have on order and am considering Forza’s Noir Hybrid HPC, but cannot find a review of them anywhere–let alone by someone who has used that particular cable with a ZMF headphone.

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Incredible. Almost insulting. I’ve paid $600 for Cardas Clear, twice, as
well as near $500 a couple of times for Moon Audio Dragons, and been very
satisfied with the sound quality I got. But $1600 seems excessive. Maybe
it’s just “what the market will bear.”

and I did revise my post to clarify. I stumbled on they’re most expensive versus what @PaisleyUnderground recommended at a more affordable price. But they’re high end is no joke, 3k option.

@Roikyou originally linked to the wrong cable. Bear in mind that the really expensive cable that he linked to uses a lot of 18.8awg silver, which is what you’re paying for. I haven’t used that particular one, but I do find their cheaper 25awg silver Molecule Elite (less than $500 for 6 feet) to be incredible.

Honestly, my philosophy is to decide what components you want and compare the various highly-rated cable-makers. Then pick the lowest cost or pay a little extra if you like how a particular cable looks or you want to support a particular company or if you want to buy something made in the same country/continent as you (to make repairs or returns easier). Most of these manufacturers are pretty transparent about what components they use.

Forza have a great reputation, have great pricing, and you already like one of their cables. Is there a reason you wouldn’t buy from them again?

Hello Dave,

My budget is up to $500-$600.

What I want over and above the Forza Noir HPC MkII is a bit more detail,
treble extension and sound stage (because I’ll be using the Auteur mostly
for critical listening to classical/orchestral music, and the “fun” or
“musical” Aeolus with the Forza Noir HPC MkII for everything else).

What’s also extremely important for me is retaining the ZMF sound
signature–especially the weight and neutrality (as I already have good
headphones for classical/orchestral that are thin to medium–including
HD800S, Focal Clear, Ether CX, the original Beyer T1, the original HE560 and
Mr Speakers Alpha Prime).

To those ends I’m gravitating toward two cables. First, the $500 Meze
Empyrean Silver Plated, because of Roikyou’s recommendation and a couple of
good reviews on the internet. Second, the $400 Forza Noir Hybrid HPC,
because their reputation is good, I like the Noir HPC MkII I bought from
them for my Aeolus, and (per their website) the Noir Hybrid HPC cable uses
actual silver wire…not plating. The problem is that I can’t find any
internet reviews for that cable, nor does anyone on this forum seem to have
it–let alone use it on a ZMF or specifically the Auteur.

I’m also half way considering getting another $600 Cardas Clear. I use that
cable with my HD800S and HD650 and like them for both for detail/clarity as
well as musicality.

Finally, I’m intrigued by what your email said about having adapters for
your high end cables to use with other headphones. I’d be interested and
appreciative if you could tell me more about this, including where to buy
these adapters.

Overall, I’m not sure what cable to get for my Auteur (which arrives next
Thursday) but am still open minded and hopeful of learning more from people
here to help with the final decision…

Thanks for your thoughts thus far, Dave, and I hope you can tell me more
about those adapters…or others thoughts you might have to otherwise help
me.

Lee

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Hello again Dave,

As mentioned in the earlier email, my only reason for not buying another
Forza (their Hybrid copper + silver) is that I can’t find any reviews of
that cable on the internet, and no one here on this forum seems to have
it–let alone use it on an Auteur.

What can you tell me please about your Molecule Elite?

Lee

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I’m using the verite silver with my verite. Compared to the stock zmf cable, it sounds a bit more lively on the top end and seem to introduce a bit more clarity to the overall sound. With improved clarity, it seems there’s also and improvement in overall stage depth and layering. The stock cable sound a tad darker in comparison with my verite. The silver doesn’t really introduce any sort of coloration to the sound and with the improved clarity comes a cleaner presentation to the verite also transients sound a tad faster and slightly less rounded.

Overall I’m satisfied with this cable. Not really one for cables and this definitely isn’t a must buy for zmf owners but I do find it’s refinement over stock cable a welcome change and a good complement to the verite. Price at the upper limit of what I would pay for a cable upgrade but it does have great construction and it sounds good. Do consider this if you are looking for a cable at the $500 range.

All impressions are relative and in comparison with stock cables.

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Hi @Leemore5745 it’s a real shame you’re unable to find a review of the cable you’re after. Have you tried Headfi or even Reddit. Another option would be to call Forza and chat about your requirements and ask for advice. They are great guy’s there and are always willing to help. I really hope you can come up with a satisfactory solution. Good luck.

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Or just go ahead and buy it and try it. Worse case is if you don’t link it, offload it.

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