Comfort: ZMF Auteur or Focal Clear

I’ve recently picked up a pair of Anandas and they arrived a few days ago. Put them on my head, adjusted the bands and I immediately felt a sharp pressure on both sides of my jaw. I initially brushed that off as a “new set of cans” thing and proceeded to wear them for a couple of hours.

However I noticed that I tend to readjust them every 10 mins or so, and definitely due to the pressure on my jaw. I figured this will not fare well for me long term, and are going to sell them off, hopefully to someone who’d appreciate them more.

Now I’m eyeing both the Auteurs and Clears as possible upgrades, as now’s a good time as any. Do any of you fine people have experience with one or both of these cans at the same time? I’m too poor to be looking at Verites/Utopias, so I’ll be settling in the <$2000 range.

Gear wise I’m running a Topping E30 to a Schiit Heresy, and of the 2 sets of cans, I’ll be picking up the one which would be most comfortable long term.

1 Like

Both cans are great choices, I have an elex and an ZMF Auteur. So build wise they’re extremely similar to the cans you’re looking at. The focal and elex build is good comfort more comfortable than beyer dynamic cans I’ve you’ve tried some and they have good comfort well above average with no weird pressure spots.

ZMF though has the crown for comfort. They do weight more but their headband design is superb. If you get the suede comfort strap and swede pads it’s is an actual pillow on your head. It’s just incredible.

The elex/Clears have most of their weight like the zmf on the ear cups but don’t manage the weight as well.

Please keep in mind the order of most comfy focal is definitely next inline for the comfort king.

Mr Speakers
Sennheiser / fostex

Appreciate the insight, thanks!

1 Like

Maybe a head shape thing but I don’t actually like the focal comfort over the beyer. ZMF has it figured out and sennheiser is always just meh fit for me outside of their gaming headsets like the pc37/38x.


I certainly agree that focal is head shape dependent. And especially sennheiser too. Its just okay like the 6XX Series is for some is too clampy but its what give it that signature sound. But those pads are passable but damn wish the foam felt better

I recommend against a ZMF headphone with your current gear. Get a tube amp (even the Vali 2+) if you’re looking at the ZMF. I can’t argue against the Clears at all and tends to be a personal favorite of many.

Most comfortable headphone I own to date is the Ether CX. My Eikons can’t compare in comfort to the Ether CX (but Eikons do sound better).

1 Like

I love my Ether CX. My first one wasn’t as good as the second I have now.

I will say the Ether CX is specific in its purpose I personally don’t reach for it for any fun kind of listening. The top head strap could be softer aiding in comfort in regards to weight it’s incredibly light and overall making it very comfy.

What strap and pad combo do you have on those eikons??

1 Like

I have the basic headband and nothing special. Currently using the leather pads. I should try the suede pads again.

1 Like

Suede pads with the suede Comfort strap it’s out of this world comfort. I can listen to it forever. Head doesn’t get too hot. Soft like a pillow it’s amazing. Definitely give it a try

I would but I find the stock comfort perfect for me. Guess my head is just the right size.

1 Like

Yeah it’s good, I definitely will be doing more pad rolling of my Ether CX’s and my aeolus

I sold my Ether CX to a friend for $150… he wanted his money back 2 weeks later. I don’t blame him.

1 Like

Yes it’s not for everyone. If you had to pick and you could only have one, Ether or eikon?

With the Eikon, it’s amazing but honestly needs a tube (even hybrid). Ether CX is the most comfortable and also my most regrettable headphone I’ve purchased. Main reason why I don’t like the Ether CX is that it does not perform well at the volumes I listen too (which is more lower volume listening). If you need the DB’s… Ether CX all the way. If you want to turn your headphone amp into a Sonos speaker, Ether CX.

But as the subject of the thread is. Eikon is more comfortable but the Focal Clear is lighter and still no slouch. I’d recommend the Focal Clear as it’s less amp picky and if someone doesn’t have a headphone that resolves at that level given the competition, it’s a solid front runner.

1 Like

they are both on the more comfortable side of the headphones i’ve owned, I would however say that I find the Auteur more comfy despite it being the heavier of the two. I think this partly has to do with the excellent design of the ZMF headband and strap system and the ability to adjust/bend the band to better suit your head shape. The focals on the other hand will either work for you or not on the comfort, some people have really negative things to say about the focal headband and pressure due to the spring loaded cups and i think it just comes down to head shape so YMMV.

I know you didn’t ask specifically but i have to mention that neither of these headphones will come close to reaching their full potential with your current stack, I would seriously consider moving up to something a little higher end preferbly with one of these phones in mind for a synergistic pairing first if i were you.


I have thought about upgrading the entire chain when I was shopping around the Ananda’s price range, mainly the Topping 90 stack but since I’m looking at more expensive cans now I don’t mind putting off source upgrades until I decide on the headphones first, if I land on one.

Where I’m from it’s a little hard to sell off higher end audio gear(most gear are in the m50x range), so I’d rather not pay the “depreciation” tax for holding on to them for a period of time.

Here’s what I’ve surmised:

+Modular strap system
+Swivelling cups
+Lifetime driver warranty
+Retains value better
-Looks quite a bit bulkier than the Clears
-International shipping + potential maintenance fees

+Metal build
+$1.4K new from a local dealer
+Both pairs look great to me, but the clears look more modern and I appreciate that
-Non swivelling ear ups
-Fixed headband, potential comfort issues
-Irreplaceable(?) headband padding
-Relatively lower resale value (compounded by local hifi gear scene)

Honestly don’t upgrade the whole chain do yourself a favour and get tubes like a darkvoice or a Shortest way 50 for either and call it a day pretty much. All Zmf’s on tubes really don’t shine without one.

I’d spend the extra money on the Auteur. If you really want a better dac a Soekris R2R 1321 would more than do the job + a tube amp and that’s a hell of an experience that no solid state focal will provide.

I find personally if you go focal Clears tubes are good but not as much of a change as a HD 6XX or ZMF

1 Like

I have both the Clears and Auteurs. I find both to me to be very comfortable. I also, have the suede comfort strap. I can wear the Clears all day with no issues but the Auteur is much heavier so I can wear it for a few hours at max. My Auteur sounds great on a tube amp but it also sounds amazing on Class A amps. The Liquid Gold X and the Dethonray Honey sound amazing with the Auteurs. These two headphones are my favorite headphones right now.


Oh man, and here I thought I’d just be a simple choice of the Auteur and a tube amp. I’m aware that the Maple Ambrosia Auteur is ~470g, while the clears are ~450g, but is the weight difference really that apparent? Having worn the Ananda for a few hours, I found that it was jaw clamp that was causing the most discomfort, the weight not so much. How’s the clamp on both of the cans?

As a side note, have you ever thought of just selling both and getting something like a Diana V2? I have this voice inside my head that’s telling me to save up and get a $3000 set of cans instead, just in case “upgraditis” comes knocking.

1 Like