First high-end cans question (ZMF)

Hi guys and gals.

For some time now, I’m saving for a nice pair of cans to replace ye olde K712. I managed to narrow it down to ZMF, but here is where I hit a wall.

I’ve watched every review of Aeolus, Atticus and Eikon. The problem I have is that I can’t go someplace where I can listen to them to figure it out, so here I am.

Can you guys with first-hand experience please drop some knowledge on this soon-to-be-poor MF?

From what I understood the Eikon is sharper, the Atticus more laid back and warm and the Aeolus (front-runner so far) is detailed and intense. Pretty sure I got it wrong somewhere though, hence this post.

My main use-case is mostly for music and then some gaming here and there. Things I care about in headphones in order - detail retrieval - imaging - warmth. I’m not a bass-head but the sweetness of warm cans is just to hard to resist.

Any replies are appreciated :slight_smile:


I foresee this being a long thread lol…


Im just gonna throw this older thread in here for my advice! Lol

I own an Aeolus, an Eikon and a Verite Closed

The only one I wouldn’t buy again is the Aeolus, I’ll come back to that.

There were a couple of youtube reviews that preferred the Aeolus over the other ZMF’s, Z’s being one of them, and obviously it’s an attractive idea that the cheaper headphone is better, and it gets repeated a lot.

It’s simply not true IMO, the Aeolus has a very different signature to the other ZMF’s which I attribute to the plastic driver, but it lacks in fine detail, and Timbre compared the the Biodynamic based ZMF’s as a result. It’s a very layed back headphone, too much for me, it’s the only ZMF I prefer on SS over Valves because it need the extra bite. I will say I found the Aeolus an enjoyable listen from the point I tried them, mine just don’t get used because I prefer the other ZMF’s

The Eikon’s sound open for a closed back headphone, I like them a lot, I have not heard the Auteur. They have strong bass prescence, and decent treble extension, but to me the star of the show is the midrange timbre. I honestly had to listen for an hour or two to adjust to the Eikons, but when they were net to each other in my office I rarely reached for the Aeolus, and when I did, I was always wondering what the track would sound like on the Eikons.

The Verite C’s have similar signiture to the Eikons, just more, they sound more open they are faster, slightly reduced Bass quantity, more natural to me overall tonality. IMO clearly the best of the 3, but at 2x the price you’d expect that.

I said I wouldn’t buy the Aeolus again, my only measure for that is how much I listen to a headphone, the Aeolus was unfortunate enough to arrive the same week as the Eikon’s, and to me it just never competed favorably.


I like where your head is at.

Find what you like, buy once be done. “Buy cheap, buy twice” as the saying goes.

With that being said though, the journey in the middle is actually very important to know what you like. To skip this, I heavily encourage you to find someone that owns a pair of ZMF for you to try for a while first. While they are beautiful and amazing headphones, they may not be what you think and you may walk away disappointed (or even not know this isn’t what you were looking for).

For example, if detail is your highest in priority, ZMF may not be the solution. Some of them have great detail retrieval, but I think it specializes in timbre. While you put sound stage as your #2, ZMF has good sound stage, but it leans towards accurate sound stage. I own a pair of Auteurs now, but it took a lot of analysis to find out what I like.

So again, I definitely recommend to listen to some more headphones critically, whether at a show, borrow them, or buy a pair or two mid range in between. Best of luck.


Can’t add anything more substancial than what’s already been said here. Knowing what you like is the first step in knowing what to get. I’m currently on the Eikon build sheet and patiently waiting for my unit to complete and ship… soon, now. Soon. Sigh.

That being said, email or call Zach and have a discussion with him. He’s one of the few people that will talk to you listen to what your likes and dislikes are and make recommendations based on that. Also, there’s a good handy dandy earpad guide on the ZMF site that will help to “tune” the headphone you ultimately buy. I ordered mine with two different sets of pads.

Got some chewing to do, some sound advice from different sides.

Tough call, I’ll probably start by contacting Zach and if that won’t pan out then i’m jumping head first into Eikons probably, we’ll see.

Thanks gents, the water is a bit clearer.

Speaking Eikons, I’m starting week 14. I did have a modification so covid + anything custom… you have been warned of the weight.

It’s soon now. What I noticed is that they’re worked in batches. I’m near the top of the list but for the last two weeks my progress in relativity to the top has been from new orders coming in, not for progress. This coming Monday I’ll be at the six week mark but it’s been listed in build status for the last two so fingers crossed.

I’ve been in QC for 3 weeks and at the top of the list.

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Here’s a question thats been overlooked. What is your source gear (amp and dac)? While a ZMF will more than likely sound good enough even off of a phone, they are well known for loving tube amps and such. Also they simply deserve decent gear.

Like others have mentioned, may be start with some mid tier ($400-$800 range) headphones and while you do that get some good source gear.

I would recomend based off of your stated preferences that you maybe consider the Grado Hemp LTD Edition headphone for $420 (yes, it’s the real price). It has smooth and detailed treble, a full warm mid range, and we’ll extended bass that’s full but not overbearing. The sound stage is average but imaging is very natural/accurate and has a great sense of depth to it. If these don’t catch your interest then check out that thread that was linked earlier and look for a good mid tier headphone there.

You’re number 1! But yeah, I see, custom AF.

Since ZMFs can take several weeks, are you gonna try anything in between or do you have uber patience :stuck_out_tongue: lol

Waiting for my Eikons ended up with my getting something to adjust to the potential sound (lame but I has bio drivers) and prepare for some high end headphones… The things purchased while waiting are:

  1. Klipsch HP-3
  2. Headamp GS-X Mini
  3. Abyss Diana Phi

The wait has been… Expensive. This all started when M0N was describing the Eikons and had me strongly considering a tube amp.


Hi from Pending!

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In regards to the amplification. Topping d50s and an a90 will be driving those. Considered the D90 but the d50s seems to be fine as it is.

i’ll talke a look at mid-fi as many have suggested, but that is a wiiide gap to cross. RIP wallet :smiley:

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If you have considered the D90, you’ll get a much better experience with Bifrost 2.

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Source gear for me is some options. Favorite DACs are the Airist R-2R or the Schiit Bifrost 2. Airist makes me feel like I’m listening to vinyl as it’s layering and image separation are fantastic along with erection inducing bass. Bifrost 2… natural and smooth, honestly it’s an all around can’t do anything wrong but somethings do better for certain stuff DAC.


  • Schiit Heresy (love this little bastard so much)
  • THX 887 (requires Schiit Modius as a DAC to actually sound GOOD)
  • RNHP (LCD X + Bifrost 2 here just makes well recorded music sing)
  • Headamp GS X mini

I’ll let people know what my experience is when the Eikons eventually land but I have a good feeling the RNHP and GS X Mini will be the ideal choices with the Eikons. My cents on source gear in the $300 to $800 range if you want an all in one unit its:

  • Asgard 3 + Modius
  • Monoprice DAC/headphone amp (DUAL AKM 4493 + dual THX AAA 788)
  • Lyr 3 + Modius

The monoprice should probably is more pleasing and better powered amp over the D50s + has Dirac Sensaround II which puts it into a class of it’s own. However, for sound signatures if you’re not looking to use a tube I would strongly suggest amps that are class A or class A/B based on what I have heard from some other owners.

The A90 is a great amp from what I’ve heard. It should be all you need in terms is solid state amplification and more than enough for any sub $1000 headphone.

You really don’t have to buy a lot of mid tier headphones to get the experience we have mentioned. You just need to check the forums and reviews to see if it’s worth your timeand money first. Also you can sell anything that you don’t like or no longer feel the need to keep.

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You had me at “erection inducing bass” now that’s marketing