ZMF Aeolus - Open-Back Dynamic Headphone - Official Thread

ZMF’s Aeolus is Zach Merhbach’s answer to those who wanted an open-back version of the popular Atticus, with both models being based on ZMF’s proprietary TPE driver.

From the ZMF site itself:

Aeolus, known as the “divine keeper of the winds” in Greek mythology, is our answer to those wanting an “open version of the Atticus.” The Atticus, since its release in late 2016, has been known as a rare audiophile headphone that provides an impactful mid-bass experience while still leaving the mid range forward, lush, detailed and beautiful. The Aeolus, keeps with this tradition and furthers the vision of the Atticus by providing a smoother, more linear response, with better extension on the bottom and top end.

Aeolus is currently offered in the above-pictures “standard” Sapele wood, chosen both for its sound (fast) and its machining/finishing properties. A “LTD” version is also offered, currently in a gorgeous Camphor Burl wood.


  • Impedance: 300 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 99 dB SPL/mw
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz – 25kHz
  • THD: 0.1% @ 1 kHz / 100dB SPL
  • Driver: ZMF Proprietary TPE.
  • Weight: 445g (0.98lb) in Sapele

Power/Drive Requirements

This is the spot to discuss the Aeolus …


This one is among the top in my “to demo” list for this year, and I hope I can do so in CanJam Socal. Based on everything I’ve heard and read, I am extremely intrigued.


I just purchased a new Aeolus Bubinga at ZMF November. Beautiful look, beautiful sound.


I’m simple… when I just want to enjoy and experience music the Aeolus and LCD-3 are my go-to headphones.

Some Prince, Bob Marley, or anything I want to feel like I’m at concert == Aeolus
Some Jazz/R&B or anything I want to feel like I’m in a jazz club == LCD-3


I’m deep into my 3rd long-term loan of my friend’s sapele Aeolus. Over the last year+ I’ve heard it on 7-8 amps IMS, also on a number of big-league tube amps at CanJam. I’ve heard it with stock pads, Verite pads, and perforated suede universe pads (listed in order of ascending personal preference).

IMO, the Aeolus is an extremely pleasing & flexible headphone. I reach for it more than any of my headphones. In fact, it bested all of them in direct comparison (something I didn’t often do until the Aeolus came along). It scales quite readily with better sources, but sounds quite good on every amp I’ve tried it on (a rarity).

I’m scheming to get my own exotic hardwood Aeolus.


I received my Aeolus (African Blackwood) set back in late December, and only had a couple of days ahead of vacation to listen to them. I’ve done quite a bit with them since getting back, but haven’t really posted about them on the basis I’ve not been able to get pictures of them that really show off the wood and finish (and I’ve tried so many techniques and tools and so on it’s just silly … and I still haven’t got a shot that matches how they look in the hand).

The finish is very dark and rich, with a deep, intricate, grain that almost shifts like a sand sculpture when you turn them in your hand. This is much easier to see in real-time. You can see a hint of it here … but it’s much more vivid, despite being black to the eye at first glance, in person:

They’re an extremely engaging listen. I’d describe them as “fun”, but not meaning in the often-implied “heavy V-shaped signature” that that particular moniker tends to employ. They’re just unfailingly enjoyable, no matter my mood or the music.

They dig deep enough to allow intense focus on individual musical elements, while being easy to just relax into even with marginal material that, with something like the Vérité or Utopia, might wind up feeling “on edge”. I’m reminded of a familiar smoking jacket, my favorite wing-back chair in an opulent, well-stocked, library, with a fine tawny port to hand.

The tone and temper imparted by the African Blackwood is sonorous, rich and luscious.

I’ll say more when I get to reviewing them properly (I have a couple to finish ahead of these), but they’re an absolutely wonderful listen.


I’ve seen these in person… I’m jealous, as this is what I was expecting my Blackwood Aeolus to look like!!! They are gorgeous in person and almost have an obsidian meets wood look to them… just a beautiful set… real art here… especially with the rose gold (I think rose gold) just pops and matches the look to how they sound… warm and inviting!!

For comparison sake here is an image of my blackwoods


How good of a complement are these to the VC (should be receiving soon)? I would eventually like to have a second set that does something significantly different to the VC, and the Aeolus seems like an interesting option (as is the HEDDPhone…).

1 Like

“They’re an extremely engaging listen. I’d describe them as “fun”, but not meaning in the often-implied “heavy V-shaped signature” that that particular moniker tends to employ. They’re just unfailingly enjoyable, no matter my mood or the music.”

Bingo. Exactly. And the blackwood Aeolus is the very one I’m currently scheming to acquire.

I’ve seen various ZMF dynamics in blackwood, and its beauty is a weird combination of inscrutable (you really have to look closely & in different lights to see it) and astounding (once you see it, you can’t unsee it). This wood is about as close to noir marble as a naturally grown material gets.

I’ve had a borrowed sapele Aeolus on & off for months (thanks to @Jinxy245). One of the changes it wrought in my world was competitive displacement: ie, before the Aeolus, I wasn’t really into comparing my various headphones. It wasn’t a sonic beauty contest. But the Aeolus upended that: sooner or later I’m tempted to compare it to this or that other headphone, and the Aeolus invariably prevails, even over headphones with better “technicalities.” One reason I sold the Empyrean is that the Aeolus & my own HEX v2 were simply more fun & engaging to listen to (and yes, the Aeolus easily bests the fun HEX v2).

Nice to see one of our best headphone audio reviewers/commentators weighing in on this deeply enjoyable headphone…


If we’re staying in ZMF-land, then I think it’s a toss up between the Aeolus and the Auteur, depending on your musical and rendering preferences.

The HEDDphone is an entirely different proposition (I am confident in that statement even with only half an hour with the HEDDphone so far).


That only makes it more intriguing as a complement then, since I would like to reduce overlap as much as possible. Looking forward to demoing that sometime this year …


I’m hoping to hear the HEDDphone at CanJam NYC next month.

I’ve heard all of the ZMF dynamics, most at some length. For me it’s the Aeolus going away w/VO not far behind. Still love my Ori, but that’s a whole other bag.


Stunning and rose gold is my favourite bit of bling.


When I was seeking my next headphone, I wanted a true upgrade to the 58x that would “sound good with everything” and also keep me satisfied for years to come. I could not be happier with the Aeolus. Every genre I throw at the Aeolus sounds fantastic (even poor recordings as Torq mentioned). It’s technically impressive enough that you can get lost in the details of great recordings when focused during critical listening. It’s smooth enough you can listen for hours as background enjoyment without getting too distracted from whatever else you’re focused on. It’s the only headphone I use now and I can honestly say the “upgrade itch” has left… for now, at least until I can afford a VC :slight_smile: .

I started with the JDS Labs Atom amp and while it sounded good enough, the Bottlehead Crack opens doors to new worlds of sonic enjoyment. Between tube and pad rolling, it never gets old.


What a beautiful setup. I bet it sounds wonderful too. Enjoy.


congratulations! this dream setup is something to aspire to.
have good times with it!


The Blackwood + copper looks beautiful! And for you of all people to say you can’t get a proper photo, that is saying something :slight_smile: Looking forward to your full review. What pads have you tried?

1 Like

Like my friend @raindownthunda, this is what my Aeolus are plugged into.


Hey there fellas! Happy to join this forum! I have had my Aeolus for almost a year now, and I am still on the Honeymoon. :grinning:

Here are my Babies.


welcome to the forum Wesley!

you both have a great taste!

feel free to say hello here: New Here? This Is The Spot To Introduce Yourself

you can use the search functions for topics that are of interest to you

1 Like