the aeolus is one of the most uncomfortable headphones i’ve ever used, ZMF developed comfort headbands for their headphones for a very good reason, because when you use those headphones for longer sessions chances are you will feel it, i found the focal clear to be much much more comfortable.
you will never know until you try yourself since we all have differently shaped heads, the best you can do is to go on the general concencus on things wether that be comfort or sound, ideally you would know what sound signature you would be in the market of buying, the Clear and the ZMF’s should not be similar from what i can tell from my limited experience and the general concencus, focals are technical and more neutral whilst the ZMF’s are warmer but less technical, that doesn’t mean you would enjoy a clear more nescessarily. im sure someone with more experience can help you out here!
Like Fbizzle mentioned, consider upgrading amp first or you can also buy one and decide on the amp depending on the headphone. Auteur is apparently good on tubes so u might end up with a tube amp if u buy the ZMF. If you buy the focal solid state stuff is good too so u can decide eventually. But point is, the upgrade will probably not be that noticeable or worth it tbh if you don’t upgrade amp
My preference is the Auteur, my Focals are my least comfortable HP’s. I own both, the ZMF gets more use. I like the Focal because I own the Red one, otherwise…Meh. Solid build and SQ but they do nothing for me. The ZMF has more attributes I enjoy to include looks and the fact that I have multiple amplifiers they work well on. Overall provide me a bit more value and enjoyment. The Verite are nice too but not my preferred sound, the Auteur for me a favorite. Good luck and happy listening
atom is probably a little lacking for both of these phones, definitely consider taking some of the budget to upgrade.
The clear will win out in both detail and neutrality, but probably fall behind the auteur in the naturalness department. comfort could go either way, i personally don’t have comfort issues with either set. Auteur will be heavier though but has the more comfortable pads imo.
I recommend both, they are very good headphones. The clear is going to be more dependant on source to sound it’s best though, the auteur will also but a little less picky with what you feed it. With your current system if you wanted to go clear I would just rec going elex instead as you won’t be taking advantage of the added benifit of the clear. Auteur will be more expensive as they hold value better on the used market so you have to factor that in.
With your budget you could get a clear for under 1k used and then spend the rest on a new stack. I would say something like the RNHP + Bifrost 2 would be amazing and give you great synergy and performance with the clear. This combo would also work decent for the auteur but would put you over budget and might be a little power shy for that hp, a different amp that would work really well with the auteur and bf2 (likely your 560s as well) would be a bottlehead crack + speedball if you aren’t against the idea of a tube amplifier.