ZMF Headphones - Official Thread

Hahaha!! Yes. And I’ll be joined by Howard Stern producer Gary Dell’Abate, who’ll be throwing out the first pitch. It’ll be a festival of mortifying incompetence.

Listen, I got my ampsandsound Kenzie Ovation tube amp today and it took me longer to carefully insert the tubes than I spent on my taxes. Mission accomplished, though!


Or you could go a different path, put some low atonal symphony underneath and call it suspense!

Glad you got such great service from ZMF, and I think at this point the whole forum is rooting for you to have your headphones for the weekend!


FedEx says it’ll be Friday - really can’t wait. Thanks for the support, everyone!


The theme music to PSYCHO is also an excellent choice in the suspense category.


Also in the 5 ZMF club, but with the VO instead of Aeolus and recently got the Pendant so I’ve been rediscovering all of them.


I’ve owned 5 ZMFs: sold the coco Atticus & padauk Eikon; currently have the blackwood Aeolus, silkwood VO, and ormosia henryi Ori. 4 of the 5 (and all 3 current ones) were purchased new from ZMF.

Can’t imagine selling any of the 3 current ones. The VO in particular hits just about every right note possible for me.

The build quality and sound of ZMF headphones are stratospheric IMO…and it certainly doesn’t hurt that Zach & Bevin are easily the friendliest, most genuinely customer-oriented business owners I’ve ever run into (in any field).


Are the reasons to go with the VC or VO the same reasons one would apply to any closed-v-open debate (noise-bleed; size of soundstage), or are there specific qualities about the ZMF open and closed models that need to be taken into consideration?

Yes, the same general reasons apply to VO vs VC as apply to open- vs closed-back headphones. Having heard both VO & VC at length IMS (& currently owning a VO), I found some of the differences to be what one would expect.

  • I remember the VC as being slightly more dynamic than the VO
  • VC’s bass hit a little harder and perhaps went a bit deeper than VO’s
  • The VC could be more exciting & dramatic (not a huge difference, but somewhat)
  • Soundstaging wasn’t too far apart–VC has above average soundstaging for a closed-back, but VO is somewhat better

Having said that, I think the specific trade-off between the VO & VC is a bit more nuanced. The VO has even more of the quality I find most special about the Verite driver: high resolution sound, but presented in a relaxed, enveloping, ear-friendly vibe. The tone & timbre of the VO (what I call “tonal purity”) are easily the best I’ve heard from any headphone. With the VO, I often find myself marveling at the beauty of this or that instrument or voice. Sound through the VO flows in an organic way, whereas sound through the VC hits more (if that makes sense).

Others have said–and I agree–that the Eikon & VC are in many respects “brothers from another mother.” They’re both very dramatic, dynamic headphones. But the VO really has no good comparator in my experience. It is a singular, and singularly musical headphone.


Would my current ownership of the Aeolus suggest I should go with the VC for a more different take? Put another way, is the VO a better Aeolus and would the VC give me more variety?

No. They are totally different sound signatures and many people like the Aeolus and dont like the VC or VO


How about you? Do you have a preference?

For my case (I have VC/Aeolus), I usually go with the VC most of the time. For those times I just want to relax and chill (not analyzing music), I use the Aeolus. Also, VC is a better all-rounder while I often use the Aeolus for mid-range heavy music.


The VO is not a better Aeolus. Nothing is a better Aeolus. But it is in certain ways a better headphone–particularly in terms of resolution, detail, and tonal accuracy/fidelity.

I have them both & wouldn’t want to be without either. But if you put a gun to my head and made me choose, it would be the VO. There is something pretty special about that blend of high resolution with organic, flowing musicality.


This is probably a really bad analogy, but… In a very broad sense:

Aeolus is a much better HD650.
Verite Open is a better HD800.
Verite Closed is a vastly better HD820.


I find this extremely helpful, so easy to relate to! Thank you!!!

How do you think the Auteur would fare from a similar analogy?

I find it extremely hard to put the Auteur into that kind of analogy.

Is that a good sign?

Does that mean it’s more of an excellent all-rounder that has the good qualities from several headphones?

Ok, so my take on Auteur:

It’s my paradox headphone.

It is the most neutral ZMF, but it is not a neutral headphone. It gives you enough flavor that it is definitely NOT sterile sounding. It doesn’t have too much flavor either. Staging is good. Detail is good. Everything is just good.

It is this subtle flavor that makes it kind of a chameleon though - it just blends in. Everything sounds great, but it doesn’t draw attention to anything either. That is Auteur’s perfection and it’s imperfection, all at the same time.

So, with other headphones, we can generally listen to it for a while and say “the sub bass is rolled off” or “the treble is too bright” or “there’s a nasal quality to the mids” or “the staging is borked” or whatever, ya? So if every headphone has some kind of quirk to it, and then you hear Auteur which doesn’t have a quirk that jumps out at you, that’s pretty fantastic, yeah?

But people are fricken strange creatures man. I’m a people, so I feel qualified to say this. If nothing is wrong… you miss that. You start to crave it. What was a super-awesome do-everything headphone is now just… boring.

That’s why I think Auteur is hard to categorize. Nothing else has that kind of quality to it, that I’ve heard.

Auteur is one of my favorite headphones, and I really strongly urge people to try one if they can. With that said, I don’t think it can be my one-and-done headphone. I need something else in the stable to spice things up once in a while. (It’s why I have VC and Aeolus, Empy, et al.) I get audiophile wanderlust. BUT… When I get homesick, I always have Auteur I can go back to and deeply appreciate.

I’ll try to make a point about all of this. It is rather hard for me to catalogue my ZMF journey, because I’m a little fuzzy on when certain things happened or in what order… but it goes something like this:

Bought the Vibro Mk3. Then the Ori. When the Eikon and Atticus were released, I got one of each. Sold the Vibro. Sold the Atticus. Got another Eikon (so I would have one for home and one for work). Sold the Ori. Got the Auteur. Sold an Eikon. Missed the Eikon, bought another. Got the Aeolus, then a VO. Sold the VO, Eikon and Aeolus to fund an emergency K9 surgery. Rebought the same Aeolus from the guy I sold it to. Bought a VC. Sold the VC. Bought another VC.

Reading comprehension test:

  • What’s the one ZMF headphone I’ve never sold?

Auteur. And I probably will never sell it either. It’s my perfectly imperfect not-endgame endgame headphone.


You might be a headphone audiophile if you:

:joy:. Solid description man, I think a lot of us can relate a lot with this.


I’m interested in why you sold each headphone outside of the K9 emergency. Seems most of the time you replenished it soon enough. I also see no VO replenishment yet. Any interesting reason why?

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