General purchase advice: Ask your questions/for advice here!

Focals are fine on OTL as long as they’re rated low enough for impedance. Headphones.com has some bundles for the Clears and Elise. People getting factory tours in France get to try the Utopia through a Euforia as well. Elex is bad on transparent solid states but is fine on everything else including the Jotunheim 2. Honestly thought it wouldn’t pair well there.

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I already have the ZMF Atticus and was considering getting the Eikon until the recent announcement that they are discontinued.

Would the Emu Teak be satisfyingly different to the Atticus? I am looking for something with deeper sub bass and a more forward treble and present, but not too forward, mids. I am not overly concerned with exceptional build quality such as ZMFs.

I was also considering the LCD XC as another sound sig and tech- very different from the Teaks I am sure!

Many thanks in advance!

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What do you currently run the Atticus off of? Depending on your current situation, it might be more worth it to just keep saving for a great OTL.

Good point. I currently run them off an Ifi Zen stack, and I also have the Project Ember II. Was considering an OTL, but with the volatility in the tube market now not sure I will make that move.

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100% keep saving for an amp/dac upgrade then. There are a lot of options for high end tube amps. I’m just kind of a shill for anything Justin makes after hearing his stuff at Canjam. Kenzie is my end game I am saving for. You will notice a gargantuan difference with your ZMFs.

Maybe add the LCD-GX to your list of HPs to look at. It’s similar sound signature, Audeze, and much much lighter than both the LCD-4z and LCD-X.

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Thanks for the insight. Mighty tempting, though my wallet will not be happy with me :smile:

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Thanks, that model also looks intriguing, and quite a bit cheaper than the XC. The FR looks good, but I am really looking for a closed back if possible given the WTF situation. Cheers!

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@SleepyRhythms BIG thank you for the write-up and ideas. Would love to find a pair of Auteurs, but from your description the Aeolus is intriguing. Just reading the ZMF website, looks like the Auteurs are discontinued and the Atrium is coming to market. ZMF also mentioned a new Auteurs classic will reappear but upgraded with a tweaked the driver learned from the Atrium - if I understood correctly.

Holding a concern the Aeolus being too warm or overly warm sounding.

What I found interesting listening to a couple of trusted reviewers like Andrew on headphones.com, they are free of the usual “great headphone, but…” comments.

Your pointing me to ZMF is appreciated as I’m deciding on which model. The launch price of the Atrium at $2300 isn’t out of the question, just having a thought if I want to spend that much cash.

My amp and DAC will drive anything with quality. Holo Spring 3 KTE and Quicksilver HPA.

My other amp/DAC is a PS Audio Gain Cell DAC w/headphone amp. I also built a Pass WHAMMY with the BurrBrown 2134PA chip that 2 friends are fighting over borrowing.

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I don’t find the bass on the Aeolus overwhelming at all. It’s definitely impactful, but not in a way coming off as thick and bombastic. Auteurs are great if you want a more relaxing headphone emphasizing neutrality. Well ZMF neutral anyway ha

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Does anyone know of any decent headphone stores in Miami?

Ok so I am loving the non-speedball OTL Crack amp (with BS650, HD800S and ZMF Atticus). I am thinking of where to go from here. I know some may say ‘if you love it stop’. But I feel there is yet more out there to explore… and since this is my first taste of a warm, spacious holographic sound I want to sample more. This is my thought process.

Cayin HA 300 → Seems to be plagued with issues although proponents of it seem to really like it (@jambaj0e liked it even more than DNA stellaris for its warm euphonic sound).

A+S Kenzie / mogwai → Again seems to have lot of noise issues from my reading and ive read some impressions that mids are actually fairly flat / recessed? But this seems to be a common rec for a euphonic tube sound.

Crackatoa → Seems like a logical next step, still OTL, speedball integrated so maybe not as euphonic? Also will the step up in sonics be worth it over crack otl?

DNA Stratus / stellaris → Seems to be universally praised as a warm but detailed amp… my concern is that it may not be warm enough for me (at least 3 people ive talked to called stellaris neutral and ha300 and wa33 elite warmer and more euphonic).

Custom? Aric audio, radu tarta etc → Fairly pricey and risky (poor resell most likely) if it doesn’t turn out well.

I know at some point I have to just get things and try them (for context again the amps I’ve heard, audio gd he9, elekit tu8600 with mullard and WE clone tubes, ARC ref5se + pass x350.8 and before all that HDV820 and burson conductor SL so I have some level of minimal experience). But it would be nice if there was a clear path just based on recommendations for a warm euphonic but good quality amp. Seems its going to be very hard to find."

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I heard the Kenzie at Canjam with my Cocobolo Aeolus and was floored. Totally fine for noise unless something is going on with your wall outlet.

I’ve wanted to see someone review the Crackatoa - someone that I know from here, including putting it together. So I suggest you embark on that venture immediately, and if it’s good but not for you, I’ll look for a good price in the Buy & Sell section. . .

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Ya I probably will. @pennstac I assume thats a natural upgrade.

@SleepyRhythms Id love to do a shootout of the kenzie with Crack OTL

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I’m really enjoying the Pendant SE tube headphone amp made by Amps and Sound and available from Zach and Bevin at ZMF. It pairs very well with my ZMF Vérité’s and contouring the sound is possible by rolling different tubes. It has a lifetime warranty, also. The original Pendant OG had some noise issues but the new pendant is very quiet. It’s worth considering. Here is the thread for the Pendant.

Have fun and good luck!

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Tyler has both in at the moment if you want to ask him anything

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Definitely install the Speed Ball option. It will provide added life and enjoyment to what you already own. Makes a good 2nd amp or increases resale later.

A very overlooked amp is the Quicksilver Audio HPA. These guys just don’t advertise or provide eval units. Same tube set with 12AX7 input tubes EL84/6BQ5 output tubes of other renowned amps. These are hand made in USA with predominantly USA parts. Price just increased to $1195, but still a bargain. Think ZMF Pendant for $1000 less.

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I wouldn’t disregard DNA amps just yet. There are tube rolls that can get you farther into a warmer signature using Vintage Rca 2a3 tubes as well as certain rectifiers. I keep a set of Rca spring blackplate 2a3’s for that exact reason as I sometimes add them to a Phillips 5r4gys or GEC U52 to really push it into the direction you are looking for. Although maybe that won’t be warm enough as I still haven’t built my Crack yet and can’t compare your personal level of warmth to mine.

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Unless the Stellaris Skews significantly warmer than the stratus, it’s a hell of a lot warmer than the WA33, the knock on the WA33 is it sounds almost solid state at first blush, It’s a sound I like, but I can see people looking for warm and relaxed really not liking it.
The DNA amps aren’t BHC warm/euphonic, but they are more obviously “tubey” than some of it’s contemporaries.
Higher end tube amps generally tend to be less Euphonic (there are exceptions) that the amps a lot of people get into tubes with.
The weakness IMO in the DNA amps if I’m nitpicking is they tend to come across a bit lathargic with the wrong regulator, especially through the high impedance output. And you have to know your going to end up with headphones it will drive.

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