ZMF Headphones - Official Thread

Very true, and it’s much more than I’d be in position to spend on it anyway. :sunglasses:

Doesn’t mean I’d wouldn’t want one nonetheless :wink: I would!

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Hahaha! I love it! Not something I’d expect to see on headphone thread.

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I just got this pun, 2 weeks later. DUH!!

(terrific pun)


10 posts were merged into an existing topic: ZMF Caldera Discussion

Which ZMF is considered the warmest?

Atticus/closed; Aeolus/open (using the same driver)

I had a new Atticus and sold it (very amp picky, plus I do better w/open backs in general). Bought a new Aeolus and kept it for the wonderfully musical sound.

Warm, yes, but that can easily be moderated by pad choices.


how warm is it compared to the VC or Atrium? and how much less technical?

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I had another A***** ZMF in mind, but can’t disagree with @Pharmaboy 's reply. I believe that pads have a significant impact on the sound of ZMF headphones. (My Atrium is my warmest ZMF, but that may very well come down to the pads I have on them. And I haven’t done a bunch of A/B testing to map out all of the variables :).) Bottom line: If you are ZMF curious (just speculating from the question), decide what you want - open/closed, other attributes based on reviews and other descriptions - and then play with pads.

My thought is that the VC is most technical, Atrium next. Between Atticus and Aeolus, Aeolus is probably my preference for overall listening pleasure (agreeing again, I know).

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Now it gets harder to answer. There is much more to these headphones than tonality/how they are voiced.

I own a silkwood Verite Open – my favorite headphone ever. I had a stock wood VO & VC here on loan for a couple weeks 3+ yrs ago. So I’ve heard the VC at length IMS, but not recently. Also, I will confine my comments to the Aeolus, which I am so familiar with (far less so the Attticus).

The Aeolus is warmer than the VO/VC. But the warmth gets dialed back when one moves from the stock Universal performated pads to the Universe perforated suedes, and even more when one moves to the Verite pads (perforated lambskin). My preference is the Universe perforated suedes, which IMO maintain the perfect balance.

No matter which pads one uses, the Aeolus has a midbass hump that is either noticeable (stock Universe pads) or nearly unnoticeable (Verite pads). But at least some midbass bump is always there, and this puts a natural weight in the lower registers. The VC and Atrium do not have this.

The Aeolus is a more resolving headphone than one first thinks (w/stock pads) as soon as one starts pad swapping. But it doesn’t approach what the VC can do in terms of speed and detail. The VC itself is slightly warm, but has great musicality due to the realistic tone and timbre of every instrument and voice. The special sauce of the VC is how realistic and natural musical instruments and voices sound. It’s very fast but not edgy or bright (a neat trick).

The Aeolus and the VC both image very well, very pleasingly with large soundstages and plenty of depth. The sound from both is spacious, perhaps a bit more so with the Aeolus.

The Atrium is another species altogether. I reviewed the Atrium, bought it, sold it to a friend, then recently borrowed it back and got reacquainted with it. Tonally the Atrium strikes me at the “Golden Mean” of all the ZMFs. It’s right down the middle, not edgy or bright at all, but also not conspicuously warm. I suppose people who like treble cannons would call it “warm,” but to me it’s “slightly warm” at best.

But the trick up the Atrium’s sleeve is the ADS, the new damping system, which is remarkably successful–this headphone images like crazy. The soundstage seems to be all around you. Some call it “psychedelic,” and that’s not far off. Listening to the Atrium really means (for me, at least) savoring the way it portrays space in an eerily detailed, three dimensional way. Indeed, the greatest feat of detail by the Atrium is spatial, not tonal. All I can say is, you should try to get an audition with one because the sound is seriously different from other ZMFs (other headphones, period).

Frankly I was very relieved to go back to my VO after my first immersive weeks of listening to the Atrium, and realize I still loved that VO sound. The Atrium really affected my point-of-view for a time, though in the long run the VO remains TOTL for me.

For classic technicalities/“plankton,” it’s the VC. For dynamics, it’s the VC going away (that headphone can really pound). For a big, spacious, natural representation of every kind of music, it’s the Aeolus. And for imaging/soundstaging, it’s the Atrium by a country mile, though the VC and Aeolus have very pleasing (albeit more conventional) soundstaging.


I generally quite agree with @Pharmaboy’s descriptions of Aeolus and VO, but I do feel the Atrium is a “warmer” sound than he describes perhaps?

I absolutely love its midrange presentation, it has perhaps some of the sweetest though balanced mids I’ve heard. How it voices acoustical instruments and things like classical violin, cello, or piano are just beautiful. It also does slam pretty hard in the bass when you’re rocking out! :smile: I am using U perf lambskin pads on mine.

Regarding Aeolus, it also depends on your chain, what else you have in headphones, and what you’re looking for it to do for you…

I’ve tried it with the Univ perf lamb (stock pads), Aeolus pads (very very warm, punchy bass, but to me too much of everything), and Univ perf suede.

I found the stock pads “just right”. To me, the Univ suede pads pushed it to a more “technical” sound more towards a Verite, or a Focal Clear OG. This was using a Burson Soloist GT. Aeolus will “scale” with better amplification too. Prior to getting the Burson I was using a Schiit Lyr 3, which is a fine amp. But the Burson really took them to the next level with clarity and resolution, detail retrieval, and imaging.

But I found I preferred the more balanced but fun sound of the stock pads. I have other headphones for high level resolving of detail and razor sharp clarity.

They also love tubes! (like all ZMF dynamics do)


I should’ve mentioned that I owned an aged cherry Atrium and olive VC in the past :slight_smile:
Thank you all for the commentary its very helpful


Good insight.

I was actually looking at updating to universe suede perforated or BE2 perforated suede.

I actually wouldn’t mind getting closer to balanced midrange and exciting treble.

I’m going to AXPONA next week so guess I’ll just ask lol.

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A couple months ago I borrowed my old Atrium back from the friend I sold it to. Hadn’t heard it in quite awhile. Have to agree that it’s a big warmer than I remembered, a bit closer to the Aeolus in that way. The midrange is beyond lovely, as you say–and the spectacular soundstaging only heightens its impact. It’s a fantastic, “goldilocks” headphone, for sure.


Sorry, if this is too random. Are ZMF headphones smooth/non-fatiguing?

Been using Aurisionics ASG 2,5 the past 5 years and that’s pretty much the extent of my experience with audio. Tried a few other iems, but I craved the bass from my Aurisonics. I guesss I might be a basshead.

Ordered my first cans a few days ago. Fostex TH-900. I’m sure I’ll love it for the bass, but a lot of people call it fatiguing. That it’s nearly impossible to enjoy it for hours on end.

Can I get a pair of non-fatiguing and bass-heavy cans from ZMF? It will be impossible for me to audition any of their cans.


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The non-random answer is “yes,” though the specifics really depend on which ZMF headphone we’re talking about. There are a number of dynamic driver headphones; and the most recent model launch has a planar driver.

A few details, please:

  • Budget? What’s your top spend for the next headphone?

  • Amp? What amp to you plan to use with the Fostex?

  • DAC? What will you be using?

  • Sonic preferences: it seems you seek smooth & non-fatiguing. But beyond that, do you like sound that is highly detailed? Sound that is musical (sounds like real music)? “Warm” sound OK? Lots & lots of bass vs quality of bass? (and so on)

  • Music preferences: do any particular genres of music matter most to you?


PS: I own 3 ZMFs at present; owned & sold 3 others; and have a loaner (the planar) that I fully intend to buy. So you might say I’m a ZMF fan. That either makes my advice “authoritative” … or “highly suspect.”


I would say both, and your characterization fits me as well! :laughing: (Verite, Atrium, & Aeolus)

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Hi @dan26, welcome to our forum!

A @Pharmaboy said, the short answer is “yes”, and we need more details like he described.

It will also depend on what you want out of your ZMF, as Atrium has certain strengths which make it really enjoyable, while Verite has others. They are different, but share a lineage and sound/tuning preference.

Both are excellent, it just depends what you want an emphasis on.


Non-fatiguing can mean different things to different people. For me, fatigue can come from being very detailed and listening for a long time. It can also happen easily when I’m tired.

The most bass heavy is going to be the Atrium Closed coming out later this months. Early impressions are very positive as they are for the open version which came out a year ago. The Atrium is to me a less fatiguing option than the Verite models because they’re slightly less detailed. I find tons of detail kind of forces my brain to pay attention to it all, while much of my listening is while on my computer doing other things.

The Atticus is another good, and less expensive, option that you don’t have to wait to buy. Plenty of bass, beautiful mids, and an easy listen with plenty of detail, especially for the price. I’ve never found it fatiguing. It’s probably the most colored ZMF but in the best way. While it may not keep up in technicalities with higher end models, it does in overall enjoyment most of the time.


I would also add several things (regarding the Aeolus):

  1. The Aeolus (open-back version of the Atticus) has a well-earned reputation as one of the most musical and “fun” of all the ZMF dynamics. Hard to explain exactly why I smile every single time I hear it…but I do.

  2. All ZMF dynamics have multiple ZMF earpad options that can considerably fine-tune the sound for each listener. That is to say, the basic sound profile doesn’t change: but subtle things like amt of mid-bass punch, upper midrange “bite,” and fine aspects of the soundstage do change. I have personally experienced this with the Aeolus: the stock pads are bassist and most “fun”; the perforated universe suedes bring down the mid-bass a bit and bring up the treble very slightly, for a more level, yet still fun sound. And the Verite pads flatten the sound top-to-bottom, bringing out this headphone’s considerable resolution that few ever seem to mention.

The perforated universe suedes were my favorite from the first listen. Never even thought of taking those off again.

Like the closed back Atticus, Aeolus are still available new for non-outrageous prices, and come up F.S. fairly often.