ZMF Headphones - Official Thread

I pulled this prior writeup from when I first tried the VC. I’ll qualify that for the VC I ended up using the Be2 and Auteur pads more than the Universe (all lambskin). That may have been a function of the pairing with a Mogwai SE amp. I would think that the timbre and lifelike presentation of the Auteur generally carry over to the Eikon, which share the same driver. I can’t really speak to tonality other than that the Eikon’s calling card is its sub bass while the Auteur is described as being “ZMF neutral.”

I’d summarize it as follows:

VC: for technical performance, a more energetic presentation, and your system is not overly warm (unless that is your objective)

Eikon: if timbre is a premium, you value sub bass, don’t mind less treble presence, and your system is already warm.

An argument can be made that choosing one may be genre or mood dependent. VC for classical, jazz, instrumental especially strings, and more technical genres. Eikon for rock, acoustic, vocals, electronic, metal, sub bass in particular. Each are versatile.

VC excels in technical performance across the board, with the Eikon having a captivating natural timbre, visceral sub bass, and being more forgiving of poor recordings. VC isn’t metallic or unnatural, but the biocellulose driver realism of the Eikon is noteworthy. VC has additional energy in the treble region.

I’d compare the Eikon to 6.5 inch floorstanding paper cone driver speakers with 2 separate 15 inch subwoofers, and the VC to 5.25 inch floorstanding beryllium driver speakers with 2 separate 12 inch subwoofers: bigger sound vs precision and incisiveness.

Initially, my favorite pads for the VC were the Auteur lambskin - bigger stage and more even frequency response than the Universe, and more sub bass than the Auteur hybrid. However, now I’m leaning toward the Universe lambskin for its increased impact, imaging, energy, and sub bass. It might be due to me being used to the elevated sub bass of the Eikon.

I can see justification for owning each of these, and it is extremely hard to give up the Eikon. It wasn’t a slam dunk.


Thanks for a very good comparison. From your description of it, the Eikon sounds like a headphone that is a good fit for my preferences.

There is something special with the biocellulose driver that Zach uses.


You’re welcome. I miss the Eikon and that biocellulose driver is indeed special.


I bet your Ori is amazing, man; very much wish I had a pair. I might even be willing to trade both of my Vibros for a set if I ever find one, lol. Can you tell me what other over-the-ears you’d compare the Ori to? Also, do you know if there was any difference at all between the original Omni and the Ori, or was it just a name change? I’m also wondering how it compares to something like the Atticus as well. Thanks!

How are the Be2 pads if I may ask? I’m a big fan of the old lambskin Ori pads, as well as the Suede Auteur pads I’ve got for my LCD-2.2 (they’re so extremely nice that I’m wary about putting them on because of how you have to use the double-sided tape to swap pads on LCD models…which sucks of course) and I’ve wondered about these “hidden” secretive pads for a while…

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With the VC, I used the Be2 most frequently followed by the Auteur, all lambskin. Be2 elevated perceived detail and is brighter, which was an adjustment needed for pairing with the Mogwai SE for my preferences. Auteur pads had the largest stage, but a more uneven frequency response and more reflections. I enjoyed both pads, more than the Universe with the VC, but the Universe is my favorite for the VO. For ZMFs, I generally prefer the less damped sonics of lambskin over hybrid pads, but reach for hybrid pads for comfort and weather purposes (heat/humidity).

I may be in the minority in preferring the Be2 pads, but I’m not alone:


I owned a gorgeous padauk Eikon for 2 or 3 years; and had a Verite Closed here on loan a couple years ago. They are (respectively) the #2 and #1 best closed back headphones I’ve ever heard (the Ori is #3).

I let go of the Eikon, despite really admiring its sound, because like most closed back designs, it can quickly exacerbate my tinnitus & migraine. IMO the Eikon has a thrilling & dynamic sound with excellent soundstaging. I always thought of the Eikon as a “thrill ride” headphone experience.

The VC was rather thrilling it its own right: perhaps not as dynamic as the Eikon, also not having quite as much sub-bass, but close enough on both counts. What the VC did clearly better IMO was speed, detail, and overall resolution. The Eikon hardly lacked in those things, but the VC just had more of them.


Omni to Ori was just a name change, so far as I know. I never heard anyone comment on Omni vs Ori sonic differences.

There was said to be somewhat more sonic distinction between hard woods vs softer woods w/the Ori, but as my Ori (ormosia henryi wood–a medium hardness hardwood) is the only one I heard at any length, I can’t confirm that. I will say that the bass in particular is stand-out wonderful with the Ori. It has the best bass, both quantity & quality, of any planar I’ve heard except the big Abyss & the Final D8000, but it’s not far behind them.

I has opportunities to compare the Ori at some length to the Eikon & Verite Closed–fascinating comparisons, as they are the #3, #2, and #1 best closed backs I ever heard, respectively.

I had an Atticus but it didn’t get along w/any of my amps, so unfortunately I never got that wonderful slamming Atticus sound so many people talk about.

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Still no consistent sun here (in fact, it’s raining like the end of the world)–but a few pictures.

1st: The Norne Audio Drausk (with clear cover) on the VO. Notice how flexible it is & how it “drapes” well.

2nd: Norne Audio Drausk alongside the ForzaAudioWorks HCP Noir (which just about disappears when there’s no sunlight).


Well. I blame all of you for my, eh hem, ZMF problem. But it certainly is a fun one to have.

My brand new (arrived 2 weeks ago) ZMF Ori in sandalwood. And they sound wonderful.

ZMF Blackwood purchased used from head-fi. I like them the least of my ZMF collection.

ZMF Leopardwood VC. I contacted Zack around Christmas 2020 to inquire if he had any leopardwood. He had one set of cups and I hopped on that purchase.

And because I read good reviews (and kinda like planars) here are the Abyss Diana V2.


2 points:

1 - I love my Ori. It’s now the 2nd oldest headphone I have (oldest is the venerable Fidelio X2) and will be last the I sell (correction: my estate will sell it); and

2 - The real “Abyss” here is the pit many of us fall into, having so much headphone gear–and wanting even more


LTD Bocote Atticus and Eikon now up for those interested…


What is peoples favorite SS Amp for their ZMFs?

So far I have almost only used tubes, sounds musically better and more rounded in the sound(Crack, Echo). Just want a nice alternative when I’m not sitting down for long sessions.


Did you have a price range in mind? I liked the Bryston Bha-1 with the Aeolus and Autuer very much. Enough that I rarely bothered to turn on the crack glow bottles.


A little pricey but the Chord Hugo TT2 pairs wonderfully with my Aeolus (and my Focals for that matter). DAC built in so may not be what you’re looking for.


The ECP 3F and Eddy Current Black Widow 2 are my favorites.


Prefer to stay under 1000,- Also fun to hear what people around here prefer.


I picked up a new Burson Audio Soloist 3 that I like a lot.


While on the cheap side, a friend of had the Eikon together with the Beyerdynamic A20 and liked it a lot, probably because of the high impedance output. Seem to be discontinued now, would have been fun to give a try.

That ECP 3Fm what a beautiful amp, if I would have used that much cash on a amp I would have probably gone the tube way for sure.