The HarmonicDyne Zeus is a new product from Linsoul house brand HarmonicDyne. Their previous product was the warm-bodied Helios. I was not a big fan of the Helios, and felt that while it had a pleasant tuning, it lacked quality resolution, dynamics, and felt a little too forward and missing depth and imaging capabilities. The Zeus shares a lot of similarities to the Helios, at least on the surface, and comes in at $350, which is nearly double the price of the previous release. This review will take a look at the Zeus and see how it stacks up.
The Zeus was sent to me from Linsoul for review. It’s available from their site directly at linsoul.com.
Build & Accessories
This headphone comes in a large and very well-built custom case that is something I’ve seen come with headphones like ZMF and Audeze. It’s a large Pelican or Seahorse style locking case with metal and plastic exterior and foam cut-outs on the inside to fit the headphone and accessories. This was a bit of a surprise but a nice touch.
The cable that comes with this headphone features standard dual 3.5mm connectors to the headphone and terminates in 3.5mm stereo jack. While the overall look of the cable looks well-built and sturdy, it’s a pain in the arse to actually use. I’ve seen my fair share of bad cables, and this ranks up there with some of my least favorites because of how heavy, bulky, and stiff it is. I guess when you think about it, the competition here is in nice company – Focal, Hifiman, Audeze, and others. They all make rather crappy cables for such premium and nice-sounding products.
The headphone style is almost exactly like the Helios. They share the same headband and cups, with the only difference in the CNC design on the metal plate on each cup. While there aren’t any real rough edges on the faceplate, it can feel a little edgy. There also seems to be a bit of heft to this and the amount of metal on the headphone gives it a more premium feel, but it does feel weighty at times. I’ve also banged the headphone on my noggin’ once taking it off as the cup sprung out and hit me and it hurt actually!
Anyway, the Zeus features new internals however. This time they advertise the driver as a 50mm beryllium dynamic driver. It doesn’t state if its a Be-coated driver like the ZMF Verite or if its a full Be driver like the Focal Utopia. From looking at the actual inside, it does look like some sort of metal film on the diaphragm, but I didn’t take it apart any further to get a better look.
The first impression I had with this was, “hey, this isn’t that bad at all!” The Zeus doesn’t have the forward and in your face sound style that I felt with the Helios. While it still is more on the intimate side of things, there’s adequate instrument separation, and staging, and that’s important to me. The other thing I quickly noticed was that the little details were more discernable that what I remembered on the Helios, and it actually has a decent amount of resolution in general.
The Zeus is still a warm-bodied headphone, with a raised low-end and recessed mid-range and treble that can occasionally be a little metallic and sharp, but in general, I find it pretty pleasing to listen to and I feel its much more on the “romantic” side of sound signatures than it is with the neutral reference sound. Much more.
My immediate headphone listening just prior to the Zeus was spent with a lot of time using the Koss KPH30i, through endless video conferences and quick listening of music in-between meetings, so perhaps my initial impressions were a tad skewed – comparing and going from at $25 on-ear headphone to a $350 over-ear one.
Since this headphone claims to use beryllium drivers, I pulled out my ZMF Verite and did some quick A-B comparisons on a few tracks. It was quickly apparent that the Verite had a supreme advantage on technical performance and its signature midrange timbre. In fact, I noticed how recessed the mid-range was on the Zeus – especially when it comes to the presentation of female vocals – when I did a back-to-back comparison of the two. This is an area where I already felt the Verite hid some vocals a little further back already, but the Zeus pushes it even further away.
But let’s be fair, this is a headphone that is 10 times the cost of the Zeus, and so the Zeus is really in competition with headphones more like the Sennheiser HD600, Hifiman Sundara, and the Fostex TH610/Emu Teak-type headphones which are the ones I think define this price point. And in that regard, I think the Zeus is a small step behind still, but not as far behind as I would have imagined coming in.
It may out-perform the Foster-based headphones in resolution, and it beats the legendary HD600 in bass performance, and while it doesn’t top the Sundara in resolution, or a flat and resolving bass-response, I do think people with a warmer preference may enjoy the Zeus more, though take into account that all of these headphones still have much more natural mid-range tonality and that’s important to a lot of people.
I especially liked watching movies with the Zeus. It’s open back, but has a bass emphasis and also a treble rise that creates some sort of V-ish shape sound signature that works well for action movies and shows. I found myself grabbing the Zeus when putting on The Mandalorian the past three weeks of this awesome Season 2, and enjoyed the action scenes in full quality. Pew! Pew!
The Zeus actually sounds good and passable, which is something I don’t think I’ll say a lot for a Chi-fi brand headphone outside of Hifiman. But, it is something I hope to say more of in the future. While I don’t know if this is my headphone of choice overall in this price range, I do think it has some qualities that make it deserving of the price point as a full package.
I am not a fan of the way it looks, but I appreciate the build quality of it all and the removable generic connectors make it easy to swap out cables. The case is fantastic, and generally it’s a good package overall.
I haven’t had a chance to experiment with pad swapping or other mods, but it’s something I plan on doing in the future, and I’ll make a write-up on my findings as I go, so stay tuned for that!