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ZMF Headphones Eikon

Rating:
4.9/5,
  1. SLC1966
    Eik and Atti Sitting on a Tree K I S S I N G!
    Written by SLC1966
    Published Mar 31, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Both Eikon and Atticus provide intimacy.
    Both provide excellent isolation.
    Both provide minimal sound leakage.
    Both have TOTL sound with their own unique sound signature.
    Both have amazing workmanship.
    The woodwork. WOW!
    Extremely comfortable for long sessions.
    Cons - Each one is expensive.
    So enticing to want both.
    They need proper ampage to them.
    Understandably they are not portable
    ZMF Eikon and Atticus Review

    Choosing between two things you love! Loving two things that are the same but different and having to choose which one to keep can be a heart wrenching problem. In the audio world such a problem poses comes to light a little too often. This cognitive dissonance is not paramount to life’s existence but if you are reading this review you know the privileged audio dissonance I am talking about.

    This will be a review of the ZMF Eikon and Atticus. I will in my humble subjective opinion tell you what I see as the similarities and differences. I will also discuss which headphone works best for me with which genre of music and also with which musicians. I have a bias toward the Eikon just because I listen to more music that suits the Eikon better.

    IMG_0056.jpeg


    Who the …. am I?

    I am someone who gets intense areas of focus. Those that know me wonder if I am on some alternate scale of high functioning Autism. I get hyper focused on certain unique things. At age 9 one of my areas of focus was coin collecting. I remember attending coin collection conferences at age 9. Now that is odd. Other areas of hyper focus over the years have been Fountain Pens, watches, roasting and perfecting trying to pull the best shot possible, tennis racquets (I also obsessed on playing tennis and basketball), duck hunting jackets (I do not hunt), languages, and in general how things work and function.

    Audio has always been part of my life. The hyper focus started about four years ago. Starting with updating my two-channel system, then getting into closed back headphones, then open back headphones, then IEMs (still hyper psychotically focused), then back to open and closed headphones.

    I gave up on closed and open back headphones two years ago once I discovered IEMs. I preferred the intimacy and visceral feeling of IEMs. The goose bumps they provide at times when it all comes together is very addicting.

    Well, it turns out I found a few instances when I missed headphones. One was during super long sessions on my main rig. The comfort of headphones during extended sessions was missed. Also, during the night reaching in a drawer to pull out an IEM and setting it all up became cumbersome. Reaching over for a headphone was missed.


    Finding ZMF

    I stumbled upon ZMF through my incessant reading of threads on Head-fi. I purchased the Eikon used (Cherry Wood) in order to get my feet wet. If I didn’t like it then I would turn around and sell it at a loss of shipping cost and PayPal fees. Well I liked it a lot. I sold my other headphones that I was rarely using due to lack of intimacy. I then read everything I could about ZMF and purchased an Atticus headphone, number 30 of 30 special edition Cocobolo wood. I also ended up getting a one off Pheasantwood Auteur for long sessions on my main rig.

    I thought I would compare the Eikon and Atticus and decide which one I prefer and keep that one. Here I am today writing about it in depth in order to help others have a better understanding of the differences.

    I purchased both Headphones. I have no affiliation to ZMF and no incentive to write a positive review. I did have a dream that I showed up at Zach Mehrbach’s home (owner of ZMF) and knocked on the door. We chatted in his back yard around a fire he had built. We sipped brandy and discussed a two-year internship I would start under his tutelage. Yes, there are more exciting dreams to have. But if you are still reading this you understand.

    I have been in contact with Zach and his wife Bevin via email. Usually about some odd thing I was requesting like a longer screw or something odd thought would work better for the swivel movement of the headphone. Or for a different size gasket since they did not match perfectly. They were always responsive and appropriate with my odd requests. They even sent me a shirt. In hopes most likely of me going away.

    The Cherry Eikon came with the original chassis. The one with the sliding silver gimbals (the ones that remind me of Shrek’s ears). I liked the new chassis the Cocobolo Atticus came with so I ordered the newer chassis for the Eikon and installed it myself. The new one is lighter, has better ergonomics, looks better (I think), and has a better weight balance. The new chassis can be purchased for $150.

    IMG_0050.jpeg


    The Peripherals for this review

    For long sessions:
    Schiit Bifrost DAC with 5th generation USB
    Schiit Lyr 2 Amp with Tungsol 2C51 tubes
    I use either a Norne Audio Draug3 cable or a C3 Audio Cardas cable with 1/4th termination.


    For quick A/B testing:
    Schiit Gungnir DAC with 5th generation USB
    Schiit Mjolnir 2 Amp with Tungsol 2C51 Tubes
    I use the Norne Audio Volsund cable with 4 pin balanced termination


    Stock pads were used on both Headphones.

    I almost exclusively used Tidal Red Book music as my source. I switched to Qobuz for a bit but they do not have a family plan yet and my family was drawing up papers to disown me if I did not switch back to Tidal family plan.

    I spent three months intensely listening to the two of them and taking notes as I listened. I prefer long sessions of each headphone for reviews but I also do a some direct A/B comparisons to confirm what I find during long sessions. I do not look at graphs nor do I EQ. Mainly because that would be one more thing I would obsess on. Also, I want to understand the sound of the headphone and IEM without knowing what a frequency graph tells me how it should sound. I want to know the HP and IEM as it was intended to be heard and not how I want to EQ it. I did have a Schiit Loki for a few weeks. I could not stop fiddling with it due to my OCD tendencies. It had to go for personal sanity reasons.

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    More ZMF information

    Prices and a plethora of information can be found at zmfheadphones.com


    Workmanship

    I cannot say enough about the workmanship of these Headphones. Zach makes each one by hand. The woodwork is of the highest quality. I like that you can tell it was done by hand and not a machine punching it out. There are slight variances which make each product unique. Each one feels like a heirloom that you pass down from generation to generation. Each one is a unique piece of art. They are stunning and beautiful!

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    My take on the Eikon

    The Eikon is the long-term relationship that everyone needs in life once they are ready to settle down. It is even keeled across the board with one caveat which I will get to in a bit. The Eikon is about detail and clarity. All the instruments are there as they were intended to be heard. There is almost no added color. The music enters your ears as they were intended. The instruments are the focus more than the music. It is more of an intellectual experience. You can at any moment decide which instrument to focus on and make that what you are listening to. No instrument takes center stage. You can decide what takes center stage. Fatigue with these headphones is nonexistent. It is not the HP for those that want color. It is not for those that want instruments to jump out at them.

    There is one little beautiful blip of color added to the Eikon. That would be the sub bass. I am enamored by sub bass. Eikon has it in a very special way. It is subtly prominent. Not in an annoying way. That long term relationship with a special added perk.

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    My take on the Atticus

    The Atticus could be a long-term relationship but you need to be willing to put up with the emotional ups. The Atticus does have proper treble, mids, and bass. BUT, each one has added color and added life. This is a very rare quality to have added color in the highs, mids, and lows. Usually the mids and up being recessed. This is what makes the Atticus so special. I cannot reiterate enough the mind-boggling specialness of the Atticus. There is a mid-bass thump that can be dominant but in a proper way. Then the mids, especially the vocals, are crisp and intimate. The acoustic guitar plucking is right there in front of you with a timbre I have not experienced before. Throw in the treble that is also a bit forward but is not fatiguing. The timbre of cymbals for example is unique and special. With the Atticus the individual instruments do not need to be searched out. They come looking for you.


    Similarities and Differences between Eikon and Atticus

    I will now try and give you an analogy that in my mind gives the best comparison between the two headphones. Imagine a yardstick which is 36 inches. Imagine the length of the measuring stick to be the Eikon frequency graph. Now imagine a stick that is 36 cm in length. Now that is the frequency graph of the Atticus. Each one has 36 measuring points from the highs to the lows. But the Eikon is 36 inches in length and the Atticus is 36 cm which translates into 14.2 inches i.e. a long frequency graph vs. a short frequency graph with all frequencies entailed within both.

    Neither the Eikon nor Atticus have recessed highs, mids, or lows. The Atticus does have spikes along the way such as mid bass but nothing is recessed. Back to my measuring stick analogy. With the Eikon the instruments/frequencies are spread out more (stretched). The background is blacker. This allows you to pick out each instrument easier due to space and a lack of any spikes (except sub bass).

    With the Atticus the 36 inch frequency graph was pushed in to make 36 cm (14.2 inches). Everything is there but by pushing it in hills (treble), plateaus (mids), and mountains (mid bass) were created. But when pushing it in no valleys were created. Nothing was pushed below the measuring stick.

    Is one headphone overall better than the other? Not really but there are the differences. The Eikon is more analytical. The Atticus is warmer but seems to have better detail than Eikon. I find the mids the be the most similar of anything. The Eikon has faster transients hence less warmth. The Eikon has better imaging and as mentioned before more space between the instruments (1 inch vs 1 cm). Atticus has more defined contrast between the instruments. The instruments come to you rather than with the Eikon you need to go to the instruments. The Eikon is more “real” vs. the Atticus being more “exciting.”

    For IEM people the Eikon reminds me of the Noble Katana. Linear, clear, spatial, real, with an added special sub bass. The Atticus reminds me of the Rhapsodio Solar. Mid bass, cm vs. inches, spikes of bass and treble, and special timbre of certain instruments. The Solar and Atticus find your hippocampus before you find them.


    Genres of music I prefer with Eikon

    Classical
    Jazz

    Genres of music I prefer with Atticus


    All Alternative e.g. punk, grunge, hard rock, progressive rock
    EDM
    Electronic
    Hip-Hop/Rap
    Reggae

    Genres of music I prefer with both Headphones


    Blues
    Latin
    Pop
    Rock
    Folk
    Bluegrass
    World


    I wanted to include different artists I prefer with each headphone so that the reader can have even a
    better feel based on their preferences:


    My favorite artists I prefer listening to with Eikon

    Alexi Murdoch

    Bill Evans
    Brian Eno
    Charles Lloyd
    Damien Jurado
    David Gilmour
    Eivind Aarset
    Elephant Revival
    Enrico Rava
    Paolo Fresu
    Gram Parsons
    Jack DeJohnette
    Jacob Young
    Jakob Bro
    Luca Aquino
    Manu Katche
    Mathias Eick
    Miles Davis (mid career)
    Nick Drake
    Paco de Lucia
    Paul Motian
    Sarah Jarosz
    Tore Brunborg

    My favorite artists I prefer listening to with Atticus


    Big Head Todd and The Monsters
    Bob Moses
    Car Seat Headrest
    Charlotte Gainsbourg
    Daft Punk
    Eels
    InterStatic
    Jeff Beck
    Joe Satriani
    Manu Chao
    Morrissey
    No-Man
    Porcupine Tree
    Radiohead
    Steven Wilson
    The Pineapple Thief
    The War On Drugs
    The xx
    Tom Misch

    My favorite artists I vacillate listening to with Eikon and Atticus


    Beck
    Ben Howard
    Bob Dylan
    Buckethead
    City and Colour
    Courtney Barnett
    Dire Straits
    Esbjorn Svensson Trio
    Jay Farrar
    Jeff Tweedy
    John Martyn
    John McLaughlin
    John Scofield
    Jose Gonzalez
    Junip
    Mandolin Orange
    Michael Wollny
    Miles Davis (early and late career)
    Neil Young
    Pink Floyd
    Roy Hargrove
    Ryan Adams
    Son Volt
    Steely Dan
    Stu Larsen
    Uncle Tupelo
    Whiskeytown
    Wilco

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    Conclusion


    If you want a long-term relationship without ups and downs then the Eikon is your choice. If you want a relationship that is high on the fun scale then Atticus is your choice. If you cannot have both then chose based on the genre of music you listen to most. If your wallet permits have both. A long-term relationship with Eikon and a fun on the side with Atticus when you need a pick me up. This could be a rare moment in life when it is allowed to have two relationships at the same time. Everyone is in agreement with it and both headphones can be perched by your bedside ready for listening sessions depending on your mood!
  2. mysticstryk
    A Tale of Two ZMFs: Atticus and Eikon
    Written by mysticstryk
    Published Mar 15, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Linear response with a tasteful sub bass boost
    Resolving and open (especially for a closed back)
    Excellent craftsmanship and build quality
    Cons - Heavy for some users
    Not as technically proficient as some of the best open backs (HD800, ZMF Auteur)
      cspersel and jinxy245 like this.
  3. Aornic
    ZMF's Masterpiece
    Written by Aornic
    Published Mar 23, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Detailed and resolving sound, sub-bass extension, easily driven, great isolation, superb tonality, indicative of gear (many interesting pairings)
    Cons - Might be too bulky for some, wait time once ordered, 5k treble peak discomfort depending on sensitivities
    [​IMG]
     
    It’s been a year since I started writing/filming reviews, and it all began with the ZMF Vibro Mk. I in cornflower blue. I found the sound very fun, found the bass ports interesting and thought they looked splendid and unique for headphones – my first wooden ones. However, I did take issue with the sound a bit, finding the treble too rolled off for my taste and pairing with my Schiit Asgard 2 too stuffy, necessitating that I buy the less warm Magni 2.
     
    However, unbeknownst to me and most others, ZMF CEO Zach Mehrbach was already working on fully in-house headphone designs that would not rely on the Fostex T50RP drivers – and the faults that come with them. Announced in the fall of 2016, the ZMF Atticus and Eikon immediately caught my attention as I was curious where Zach was taking the house sound that I’d liked in the past – free from having to modify others’ constructions.
     
    February 2017, I receive a ZMF Eikon in Padauk wood – the current top-of-the-line/flagship model that ZMF has to offer. Armed with knowledge of previously having the Vibro Mk. I, a ZMF Ori in cherry and another in cocobolo – I unboxed the headphone with anticipation of where it goes from there.
     
    Build Quality, Features & Comfort
     
    At this point, I don’t see a wooden-cup ZMF headphone ever being an effortlessly feather-light affair – my cocobolo Ori was especially quite heavy. That being said, the weight of the Eikon was a surprise to me as it only felt slightly heavier than my Focal Elear. I have worn it for long, long listening sessions and have not felt fatigued by the weight at all – and I am someone who felt encumbered by the likes of the Hifiman HE-500. Weight distribution is also quite excellent, and I have come to realize that the buffalo strap on the Eikon performs better than having a ZMF Pilot Pad would have on this specific headband.
     
    The new Eikon pads adorn this headphone, which are quite a bit leaner than the old ZMF lambskin, cowhide and protein pads that I had on my Ori. Not only that, but these provide an excellent seal – which was one of my complaints about the Ori and the old pads. Because of the seal, there is no leakage and isolation is actually quite excellent. It is almost too good, for I have not heard the doorbell ring with this headphone on before – leading me to not adorn it until I get the day’s expected mail at least. Despite the isolation and seal being quite stellar, the clamp is not immense but just where it should be to prevent the headphones from falling off your head. Only if you lean very far back will this budge, otherwise it will stay in place quite well without applying immense pressure on your cranium.
     
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    And despite it being so well isolated, this is not a headphone that I would recommend that you wear in public. Reasons for this go beyond its price or the equipment needed to drive it (a portable amplifier) – but for aesthetic reasons as it is a very wide headphone when worn. While I am saying that they look a little goofy when worn, I would not change a single thing aesthetically because this is the nicest looking wooden headphone that I have ever seen. Opting for the Padauk version, its pores and reddish colour come alive in good lighting to make the Eikon seem like it has two large strawberries attached to each side. I am not a wood enthusiast, which Zach just might be (read the blog on the ZMF site about wood), but I would not have it any other way. A plastic or aluminium Eikon? No thank you. If I had to wager a guess, I would say that other wood Eikons will be made in the future – other than the cherry ($1300) and the padauk ($1400) available now, but we will have to wait and see.
     
    And, due to the wood and sturdy materials, the Eikon just feels like it is built to last. My only complaint with the build is that the sliders are, while being much more to my liking than the T50RP ones, tough to adjust – but I can see why they need to be in order to prevent moving from where they are set. There are no incremental adjustments either, so you will have to eyeball it or adjust by feel. Just in case it wasn’t obvious, these are not foldable headphones that can collapse to fit a small bag.
     
    300 ohms is a big number, the same as the Sennheiser HD600/650/800 which aren’t easily driven headphones – with the HD800’s bass impedance being especially high and thus needing more juice to bring out. However, the Eikon drives both easily and more evenly – sounding quite good out of my portable amp setup. These don’t require a lot to get loud, but you definitely should not under-power them for obvious reasons. Utilising bio-cellulose drivers, the Eikon is the first headphone I know of, that is high-impedance, that do so.
     
    This Eikon’s gimbals and frame are gunmetal, while the Atticus’ are black. At two points, underneath and on one of the sides, on the headband is the ZMF logo embossed. The other side of the headband features the letters E and A embossed for the Eikon and Atticus respectively.
     
    Finally, the Eikon uses the same connectors as all other ZMF headphones – 4pin mini-XLR that are also used by Audeze.
     
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    Sound
     ​
    I would not classify the Fostex T50RP drivers that Zach built his company on, and continues to do so as they are still modified and sold, as massively flawed or redundant compared to his in-house dynamic-driver productions. But, as Dan Clark from MrSpeakers (who also started by modifying T50RPs for sale before venturing off into his own from-scratch designs) told me at the 2016 London Can Jam – there’s only so much you can expand onto someone else’s architecture. From the first few songs that I listened to with the Eikon, it was abundantly clear that at least one flaw with the T50RP based Vibro and Ori had been addressed – if not several.
     
    First of all, some context must be given so that it can be understood why the Eikon is such a departure from ZMF’s previous offerings. The ZMF Vibro is a warm and mid-bassy headphone, even with all bass-reducing ports inserted, and the Ori was quite warm despite being a much more nuanced experience than the Vibro. However, it lacked micro-detail and treble extension – which wasn’t choked or especially lacking to me but still sounded hard and rough. What I really liked was the luscious midrange and its sub-bass extension – injecting music with a fun sound full of character. When I compared a cherry Ori and one having cocobolo cups, I found that the former had more “magic” in its lower mids - making acoustic guitars sound especially rich and lifelike. It also had a wider soundstage and a more resonant sound than the cocobolo – which basically dove deeper in sub-bass and had a more linear sound throughout. However, it had lost that supreme pairing with acoustic guitars – something I didn’t quite understand could be possible based merely on wood type. Looking back, I realized that because I purchased both used and as Zach did custom tuning for some customers – I may have ended up with a cherry Ori with more lower mid presence but lighter in the bass performance, tuned to the needs of the original buyer.
     
    I am very, very glad that Zach does not do that anymore. The ZMF dynamic flagships are both standardized drivers and the only changes you will hear will be because of the wooden earcup type – which should be quite minor all things considered. Anyways, the reason I am glad such customization is no longer offered is because it gives ZMF the ability to produce all units with as closely-matched sound quality and performance as possible. I feel that Zach foresaw the need to offer two options in doing this, hence the Eikon and Atticus being quite distinct, as each headphone will appeal more to certain listeners than the other.
     
    The soundstage of the Eikon does not feel lacking to me, despite being the closed headphone that it is. It is slightly wider sounding, to my ears, than the Sennheiser HD650 and Focal Elear – and especially wider than the Focal Utopia. Vocal harmonies and percussion especially fill out a listening experience well, with separation being quite stellar with both clarity and the ability to produce nuanced instrumentals.
     
    The bass of the Eikon is strong in the sub-bass region, and most importantly – it is clean and textured too. While the low frequencies of the Fostex TH-X00 impressed me, the headphone felt bloated at times (understandably, as it is a bass-head can) while the Eikon is simply disciplined – but able to be pushed with the right song/genre pairing to be an awesome experience for those who enjoy their bass.
     
    The textured and clean sub-bass makes way to a similar mid-bass region, but one that is almost muted compared to other ZMF headphones that I have heard before. This is definitely intentional, as the Atticus is quite the opposite (more on that later), and it reminds me a bit of the Hifiman HE-500’s transition from the bass to the midrange – being well extended down low but transitioning cleanly without any sense of bloat.
     
    The lower-midrange has strong presence and body, excellent for acoustic guitars (Zach’s favourite instrument evident from how he tunes his headphones) and male vocals. Like the mid-bass, the lower-midrange is just so remarkably clean and pronounced. However, I would not call the experience especially “lush” (that’s more akin to the Atticus’ tuning), as it maintains a level of restraint and emphasis on texture instead of being overly warm or liquid.
     
    The midrange itself is joyous. Once again, it is not attempting an especially warm and forwarded sound, but it is a rich and enjoyable experience for a different reason than the previous ZMF headphones (and the Atticus) are. This has to do with the texture and detail in the mids, very apparent with all manners of instruments that utilize that frequency region. Listening to The Battle of Evermore by Led Zeppelin especially highlights the abundance of detail and accurate tonality in the midrange. Jimmy Page’s mandolin sounds incredibly live, as does the acoustic guitar on the other track. The listening experience is not overwhelmed by any perceived lack of space in the mix or presentation, with instruments and vocals sitting where they should in harmonious but well-separated manner.
     
    The upper-midrange of the Eikon distinguishes it from other headphones that I have in my collection currently (Sennheiser HD800, Focal Elear and ZMF Atticus). Female vocals soar on this headphone, with strength and body that show the emphasis in tuning. If I had to choose a frequency where the Eikon was slightly tilted, in the midrange as a whole, I would actually say it is the upper realm on this headphone. Both acoustic guitar twangs and shrieking guitar solos sound lifelike and impactful, cutting through the mix as a whole to announce the Eikon’s ability to dig out the detail in a region that sometimes is buried underneath others in hectic songs and mixes. There is no sense of congestion, once again, and both vocals and instruments in this region are especially able to breathe.
    Treble is a frequency that I had an on/off relationship with in ZMF headphones of the past. The Vibro Mk. I felt too rolled off to my ears, and the Ori extended further but still felt kneecapped by certain warmly mixed genres that needed more air. Without the snap of a strong treble presence, snare drums and cymbals alike did not feel as impactful as they should have. Not only that, but the T50RP drivers have a scratchy treble profile with all the mods that I have heard based on it – a slightly unnaturally hard sense.
     
    Going in-house, ZMF were able to add both resolving treble extension and impact – as well as giving the headphone a speedy and dynamic character. Far from being laid back, the Eikon’s treble is actually a bit peaked in the 5k region and will probably feel bright to some paired with certain gear – with certain genres. In the quest to make the EIkon a musical-reference hybrid, Zach gave the headphone the ability to reproduce treble in a manner simply not heard before in ZMF headphones (the Atticus shares some characteristics, but is far more relaxed) – it sounds natural and not artificial. The ability of cymbals to ring out so clearly in mixes that have so much going on attests to this, but also the feeling that there is just so much more impact in each instrument’s recorded second. It honestly rivals the Focal Utopia in how “awake” it sounds, with dynamics galore.
     
    However, there is a downside to this for some. If you are attracted to the laid back nature of the Audeze LCD-2 or the smooth buttery sound of the Hifiman HE-1000, the ZMF Eikon will sound far too active for your tastes. Foreseeing this, Zach gave the fans of such headphones the ZMF Atticus instead – for the Eikon was going to be a statement and a stark departure from his earlier work. Keeping with the goal of being more of a reference headphone than others in the line-up, the overall sound of the Eikon is not especially lush, but rather drier than the aforementioned headphones (except the HD800). It is quick, very much so in the transients, and there is no romantic lingering or decay that gives some headphones a sense of soft reverb that blankets the audio. Rather, the Eikon is energetic and punchy reference done right – but its sound is more modifiable than you’d think.
     
    Pairings
     ​
    The ZMF Eikon is quite revealing of both source gear and mixing quality. I am fortunate that I was able to pair it with several DACs and amplifiers to get a sense of what it was able to do. It was quite apparent that the ZMF flagship was not as forgiving as the Focal Elear and Utopia – headphones that blanket source gear quite well.
     
    This is not to say that it is a picky headphone necessarily. It does not mimic the Sennheiser HD800’s ability to just sound plain awful, to my ears, from some amplifiers. However, these are the pairings that I have been able to listen to at length:
     
    Schiit Gungnir Multibit DAC (connected via SPDIF) > Audio-GD NFB-28
     
    Out of the gear that I own currently, this is probably my favourite pairing. The effortlessly organic/natural manner of the Gungnir Multibit/Gumby’s of pushing detail is a fine pairing for the Eikon as it adds such strengths to its own. The choosing of the Audio-GD NFB-28 amp section is because I feel that, while it is not incredibly impressive or jaw-dropping in its own right – it is remarkably neutral and a good canvas for the DAC and headphone to paint a sonic impression on. It also has tight control of the punchy Eikon bass.
     
    LC.png
     
    Schiit Gungnir Multibit DAC (connected via SPDIF) > Cavalli Liquid Carbon (First Run)
     
    This felt a little tricky to me at first, with the Liquid Carbon’s warmth and syrupy nature (my favourite pairing for the HD800 among my gear) feeling like it was holding back the capabilities of the Eikon. That was an exaggerated first impression, however, and the pairing actually adds its own flavour for what the Eikon is capable of. The Liquid Carbon brings the sound characteristics more in line with ZMF headphones of the past, except retaining quite a bit of the Eikon’s own flair.
     
    It is a wetter and warmer experience, but a nice pairing for many genres of music that would benefit from such – the sort that may sound too bright or shrill as they are mixed in an unbalanced fashion. However, I can’t say that I prefer it over the NFB-28’s more transparent amp – but I definitely turn to it if I want to soften the edge for a while.
     
     Schiit Gungnir Multibit DAC (connected via SPDIF) > iFi Pro iCan
     
    While I did not own the Pro iCan, I had it in my possession for almost a month as a review unit. I spent ample time using the Eikon with it, and found that solid state mode was comparable to the NFB-28’s own powerful amplifier. The tube mode, while not starkly different, gave a slightly wetter sound to the Eikon without adding any discernible warmth – so I preferred that. Also, the XBASS hardware bass boost function was able to be cranked on the Eikon, making the powerful sub-bass reproduction remain clean while making the headphone rumble on my head. Really interesting pairing.
     
    28.png
     
    Audio-GD NFB-28 DAC/Amp Combo
     
    While I do like this all-in-one as a pairing for the ZMF Atticus, with the Eikon it felt too dry to me – with too much emphasis in the upper range for my liking. I enjoy the dynamics and impact of the Eikon, and how much it “breathes” as a headphone without reaching excessive sibilance – but I did not much like how the SABRE DAC implementation of the NFB-28 pushes it too far in this regard.
    This is, however, a matter of personal taste. If you want to experience the full dynamic and snappy nature of the Eikon – the Audio-GD DAC/amplifier combination will give you that…but to me it is too much of a good thing and treads over the delicate balance that I prefer personally.
     
    By comparison, the Gumby is able to present a superb amount of detail without trying to push the Eikon too far into brighter territory.
     
    Thoughts on Pairing Overall
     
    The Eikon is a great headphone to take to meets and events where there are lots of audio chains to sample as it will undoubtedly be changed in some manner from any strong options present. It is also the first headphone that has made me desire an OTL tube amplifier, something that even the HD800 did not make me want as I was satisfied with how the Liquid Carbon brought its sound to where I wanted it. Zach, when he is at meets, brings along a selection of OTL amps for others to sample the ZMF headphones.
     
    The slightly dry nature of the Eikon makes me want to seek out something with a more romantic sound presentation, without losing any of the headphones detail and resolve.
     
    Genre Pairing
     ​
    In my review of the ZMF Vibro Mk. I, I found that it didn’t play nice with my Schiit Asgard 2 (itself a bit of a warm and hazy amplifier) and even when I found a more neutral solution – it didn’t gel with certain genres of music. These genres were generally too warmly mixed, old Led Zeppelin records come to mind, so dynamics became especially muted and the presentation became a bit muddy. Over time, as I tried two ZMF Oris, I found myself reaching for the HD800 whenever I wanted to listen to classic rock – not because they were as treble-rolled as the Vibro Mk. I (they weren’t) but rather because they were still not the most ideal pairings compared to Sennheiser’s brighter and more resolving headphone.
     
    Now that I have the Eikon, I still have to give the edge in such genres to the HD800 but the gap has become quite slim indeed. In fact, if the guitars used in the classic rock tracks are acoustic, then the Eikon firmly wins the trade as its tonality with such instruments is simply incredible. I only prefer the HD800 for the genre now if the entire experience is driven by classic-electric instruments, as the Sennheiser is able to present those quite excellently. Strings benefit immensely from the Eikon’s presentation of air, which despite not being immense in amount is still quite textured.
     
    Pop genres, specifically upbeat electro-pop music, have the tendency to be mixed a little bright – with vocals being filtered so that they sit cleanly above the beat. The NFB-28 and Eikon especially did not appeal to me with this genre, which I would much rather listen to with the Gumby + Liquid Carbon – owing to the headphone’s ability to morph with gear into a smoother experience.
     
    The Atticus, HE-500 and other headphones with a smooth and liquid midrange may inject so much body into the vocals in songs – which the Eikon holds off slightly on doing to maintain a level of overall balance. However, the Eikon excels at vocal texture, making this a premier choice for those who enjoy unorthodox voices and singing styles. Every rasp, yelp, hiccup, growl and scream has lifelike grit and impact well represented – while on these other headphones they would lose some of their edge.
     
    [​IMG]
     ​
    Headphone Comparisons
     
    Sennheiser HD800
     
    Sennheiser’s former flagship is a listening experience that boasts extremely wide soundstage, precise imaging and the abundance of air. However, it is hard (to my ears) to pair with several pieces of gear due to its treble spike, which even when tamed by a Superdupont Resonator mod can be too harsh with some pairings. This is why the Gumby + Liquid Carbon combination has been my go-to for this headphone.
     
    As mentioned before, I do believe that the HD800 edges out the Eikon in some aspects. It is slightly more resolving, for one, and has better synergy with orchestral music – as well as warmer classic rock. It also, because of its soundstage and imaging, wins in binaural recordings.
     
    What the Eikon, however, bests the HD800 at is pretty much anything else – to my ears. The tonality of the ZMF headphone oozes with texture and has a live sound, particularly in the midrange – where the HD800 is a bit more recessed. I much prefer listening to vocals on the Eikon, as they have more presence than on the Sennheiser while maintaining texture and body. The Eikon is also more adept at reproducing female vocals than the HD800 too, which is slightly dipped in the upper-midrange and can sound thin or distant at times.
     
    P1000339.jpg P1000380.jpg
     
    Most headphones I try have at least one instrument that they excel at, and keeping with the ZMF tradition – the Eikon excels with acoustic guitars. However, instead of just being good with strummed guitar tracks – it presents the glisteningly sharp nature of a plucked acoustic guitar string in far more realistic fashion than the HD800. Because of this excellent pairing, even a binaural recording like Ottmar Liebert & Luna Negra’s acoustic guitar-driven Up Close album fares far better on the Eikon than on the HD800.
     
    The Eikon also has the sub-bass reach that, while the HD800 is technically no slouch in this regard, can be audibly heard due to Zach’s tuning – while the Sennheiser is a bit muted by comparison. This makes the ZMF can excellent, along with its other strengths, for hip-hop music – a genre that the HD800 can barely touch in my opinion. You have the deep sub-bass rumble, the clear and present midrange for the rapping itself and the treble extension for any synths and cymbal patterns in the beat – making this the best headphone I have owned yet for the genre. Even the Fostex TH-X00, which I enjoyed previously with hip-hop, can’t match the discipline of the Eikon’s reproduction – with its bass feeling bloated and sluggish by comparison.
     
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    Focal Elear
     
    Right off the bat, the Elear loses in soundstage width to the Eikon – albeit slightly. The Eikon is also able to retain its clarity at high volumes, unlike the Elear which is more suitable for moderate to moderately-loud listening and falls apart a bit when cranked.
     
    However, the Elear is able to retain especially great synergy with two instruments: pianos and distorted guitars. Due to its shouty midrange, the Focal headphone presents guitar distortion very realistically – not at all smoothed and rather as jagged and aggressive as it should be. Pianos, also, sound like they have more realistic depth to them than any other headphone I have heard – besides the Utopia which do both these instruments even better.
     
    While the Elear certainly has some good bass extension, it is more mid-bass focused while the Eikon is quite restricted in that specific area – letting its rumble transition cleanly to the lower-midrange. Needless to say, the Eikon is supreme in the isolation department, as the Elear is very much an open headphone. The Eikon also has the upper-midrange presence that the Elear is quite dipped in, making female vocals perform better on it. However, due to the aggressive midrange and 10k treble leap of the Elear – it simply chugs and crashes well in hard rock and metal music and is my go-to headphone for such genres. Both headphones are very dynamic sounding, but the presentation of the Eikon is far more refined while the Elear manages to do so by being a bit bombastic – which I can see as a disadvantage for some enthusiasts.
     
    The Elear is easier to drive than the Eikon, but the sensitive nature of the ZMFs do not make this a huge victory for the Focal Headphone. Overall, the Elear was my favourite headphone that I bought in 2016 and the Eikon is looking to be my favourite in 2017 – and yes it has unseated the Elear in my personal ranking.
     
    P1000284.jpg P1000285.jpg P1000363.jpg P1000083.jpg
     
    ZMF Atticus
     
    The Atticus is the Eikon’s brother who likes to party. Switching between the two takes a small adjustment time for my ears due to how different they are, and both absolutely nail what I imagine Zach was going for. Where the Eikon is a refined experience that blends dynamics, fun and a reference sound – the Atticus is unabashedly warm, bassy and smooth in the midrange.
     
    The bass thump and slam on the Atticus is far more audible than the Eikon, and while the mid-bass is tuned to be louder – the sub-bass extension is not as far-reaching as the latter’s. The midrange of the Atticus has some romantic bloom, resonance and that slight reverb that I enjoyed with my Cherry Ori back in the day – making its midrange a smooth and absorbing experience for listening to vocals. However, the transition between the lower to mid frequencies on the Atticus is not spaced out quite as cleanly as the Eikon’s – making the Atticus a headphone that can sound too warm out of my Cavalli Liquid Carbon. It benefits more from neutral or bright source/amps, but I have heard from Zach that he really likes OTL tube amplifiers paired with it too – something I have yet to try.
     
    The Atticus reminds me actually of the ZMF Vibro, but a far stronger and more refined version that separates itself from issues with the Fostex T50RP driver’s treble issues. It is indeed more laid back than the Eikon, and never sibilant while being slightly rolled off – but it still has plenty of snap for a warmly tuned headphone. While I really like both headphones, I have to give the edge to the Eikon for being a more technically proficient and impressive headphone and a departure from what ZMF have done before. Despite that, the Atticus is a worthy continuation and tightening of their prior sound – and one that I really prefer for electropop as it is quite forgiving of brighter genres of music.
     
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    Focal Utopia
     
    I’ll just announce this first, the Utopia is a headphone that still sits atop the throne of dynamic driver headphones as a whole – but at $4000 it shows how the $1300-1400 Eikon is such an overachiever for its price range.
     
    Both headphones have a dynamic sound, but the Utopia edges out the Eikon a bit in this regard – but not by an amount that you can really be all that picky about. It, like the Elear, is also able to reproduce the sound of pianos and distorted guitars in a more realistic fashion than the Eikon – but both lack the sub-bass extension of the ZMF headphone. The Focals are also not as revealing of source as the Eikon, meaning that you will only go so far with different pairings whereas the price of the Utopia will get you the Eikon + an impressive audio chain that gels with it.
     
    Every sentence that is written in this section speaks for the fact that I am comparing vastly different price-ranges – and that is astounding to me at least. Yes, the Utopia is an incredible piece of technology that has been a game changer for all summit-fi headphones – but the Eikon is a game changer for closed-back headphones. Both, in my opinion, are trailblazers at vastly different price points – and I could easily see both being in the same collection (if one has the means) as they complement each other quite well.  
     
    Conclusion
     
    While I absolutely enjoy writing reviews, I especially appreciate when I come across something that isn’t just merely good but inspiring as well. The ZMF Eikon is, to use a tired term, a summit-fi headphone that rivals others several times its own price – while besting many. It has sound technicalities, oodles detail, maintains the ZMF punchy and fun characteristic while introducing something so new and fresh to the line-up.
     
    On a personal level, it is astounding to me that I was comparing the cherry and cocobolo Ori last summer while Zach was working behind-the-scenes on this headphone – being announced in the fall with pre-orders starting in late 2016. The pre-order was a successful event, and at the time of writing he and his crew are still filling the many orders that were received. I know people who are excited to receive their Eikon, and they damn well should be because this headphone is a game changer for the high-end closed headphone market.
     
    Ultimately, my favourite thing about the Eikon is that it scales so well with your audio chain – taking on characteristics while retaining what makes itself great. I can be in the mood for a dynamic experience and utilise the Audio-GD NFB-28 amplifier, or I can be in the mood for a slightly more laid-back approach and plug it into my Cavalli Liquid Carbon – and both experiences sound exceptional.
     
    For this to be the first in-house flagship for ZMF Headphones is a strong statement about the direction and striving for quality under its roof. If you get the opportunity to sample this at a local meet, if not a Can Jam event, I implore that you do so. It might just be the experience you need to change your opinion of closed headphones, if you are someone who swears by open-aire options.
     
    The Eikon offers a resolving sound that cannot be denied, dynamics that feel alert and alive and plenty of detail presented in a natural manner. If ZMF had any doubters before, this will be the headphone to convert them and introduce new fans to the company’s products.
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    1. View previous replies...
    2. Kavalier
      Great review Aornic, keep up the good work, your video reviews are also very good, been subbed to your channel since last year.
      Kavalier, Mar 23, 2017
    3. Todo Pasa
      Great review.
      Todo Pasa, Mar 24, 2017
    4. George Taylor
      Enjoyed reading that, especially the comparisons.
      George Taylor, Mar 24, 2017
  4. Hisoundfi
    Becoming an Eikon in the world of headphones. The ZMF Eikon flagship dynamic driver headphone with biocellulose drivers
    Written by Hisoundfi
    Published Dec 6, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - ZMF house sound incorporated into an all exclusive design, Lifetime warranty on drivers for original owners, ZMF quality and customer service
    Cons - Bulky design isn't for commuting, Needs more than a smartphone to sound its best
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    At the time of the review, the ZMF Eikon headphones were listed for sale on the ZMF website. Here is a link for information and purchase:
     
    http://www.zmfheadphones.com/zmf-originals/zmf-eikon
     
    Introduction
    The Eikon headphone is the big brother of two dynamic driver headphones recently released by ZMF. Here is a link to its sibling, the Atticus:
     
    http://www.head-fi.org/products/zmf-headphones-atticus-dynamic-tpe-driver-over-ear-full-size-headphone/reviews/17335
     
    As stated in the Atticus review, the recent releases by ZMF are the first all exclusive headphones they have brought to market. Zach has ventured beyond the modded Fostex T50RP models of time’s past. The new headphones each sport an all new design and build, and also their own unique dynamic drivers and diaphragms. The Atticus utilizes TPE, while the Eikon uses a somewhat unique material, biocellulose. If you are not familiar with this material, here is some material on it:
     
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/568694/biocellulose-and-its-use-in-headphones-earphones-referring-the-recent-iem-example-vsonic-gr-07-r07
     
    ZMF is bringing to market two headphones with different tunings. Considering the build quality is pretty much identical aside from drivers and tuning, there will be some sections of this review copied and pasted from the Atticus review. If you already read the Atticus review and would rather not read the same material twice, I encourage you to skip ahead to the sound portion of the Eikon review after the introduction.
     
    The purpose of two different headphones with the same build is in an effort to cater to a broader range of listening preferences. Before we continue with the review I will state for the record that Eikon is more up my alley in terms of preferred signatures. As always, your mileage may vary. Here is a quote from the ZMF website:
     
    “When I started modifying the t50rp years ago, my dream was just to make a headphone out of wood.  I wanted to combine all the principals I had learned from building acoustic guitars to give headphone enthusiasts (including myself) the same feeling I got when I played an amazing guitar for the first time. Finally, with the Atticus and Eikon I have created a set of headphones that not only looks and feels like a well kept vintage instrument, but possesses the sonic capabilities of well worn musical tools.  These headphones are built to last a lifetime, and possess the aural capabilities to make you feel as if you're in the room with the musicians from your favorite recordings.”
     
    With all of this being said, let’s take a look and listen to the new flagship from ZMF.
     
     
    Disclaimer
    I was borrowed a review loaner of the Eikon in exchange for my honest opinion and review. I am in no way affiliated with ZMF. Any time spent with the Atticus and Eikon are a product having interest in seeing how the product performs. I would like to take this time to personally thank Zach for the opportunity to be part of the beta testing and also review process.
     
    My Background
    I AM NOT a numbers and graphs audiophile or sound engineer. Personal audio enthusiast? Absolutely! Headphone junkie? Possibly…
     
    There’s something about quality DAPs, DACs, Amplifiers and Earphones that intrigues me. I want to hear any earphone that looks promising, in hopes that I can share my impressions with  enthusiasts and help them find the audio product they’re looking for. My Head-Fi profile has a list of audio products ranked from favorite to least favorite. For me, this hobby is more about getting great price to performance ratio from a product, and having a variety of different gear to mix and match. With personal audio gear, we tend to pay a lot of money for minor upgrades. One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that just because a headphone has a higher price tag, it doesn’t mean that it has superior build and sound quality.
     
    I’m always looking for great audio at a great price. I’m after headphones and IEMs that give me the “WOW” factor. I can appreciate different builds and sound signatures as long as they are solidly built, with ergonomics and sound that is pleasing to my ears. It’s my pleasure to share my experiences with audio products and make recommendations based on gear I have owned and used.
     
    REVIEW
    The new package for the Eikon will be a slightly larger Seahorse case than previous offerings, providing mores space for for storage and transport. ZMF owners will be getting an upgraded owner’s card as well as an owner’s manual. An improved stock cable will also come in the Atticus and Eikon packages. At the moment I have only the headphones so I can’t provide pictures of these items. However, I’ve asked Zach and confirmed what will be different from the previously mentioned ZMF lineup.  
     
    Specifications and Accessories
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    Eikon features a custom made fifty millimeter biocellulose diaphragm driver. The driver comes in at 300 Ohms, making it about as power hungry as a AKG K7XX or Sennheiser HD600.
     
    The following comes in the Eikon package:
    1X ZMF Eikon Biocellulose Dynamic Driver Headphone
    1X Pair ZMF Omni and Eikon Pads
    1X Lambskin headband padding
    1X Stock Cable
    1X Seahorse SE430 or S3 6500 Case
    1X Owner’s Card and Manual
     
    Overall Build
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    I don’t know about you, but one of the first things I think of when I take a look at these headphones is the legendary Sony R10. These are NOT knockoffs by any means but there are some very apparent similarities when looking at the two:
     
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    Picture of the Sony R10. Picture is borrowed from a Head-Fi review of the Sony R10. This is not my picture. I do wish I had a pair!
     
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    Starting with the headband, a very flexible spring steel band is coated is clothed in a padding lined lambskin sleeve. A leather band will accompany the the spring steel band, giving the headphone an added level of strength and resilience. This leather piece will be the portion of the headband that will make contact with the top of the user’s head. The headband screws onto machined aluminum pieces on each end. These aluminum pieces are hinged to chrome metal bars that also swivel at the connection where the arms connect to the cups.
     
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    The Eikon cups currently come in two different types of wood. Options are African Padauk or Cherry woods. There are options whether or not you would like a hand varnished or factory sprayed finish. From the description, picking the stain will be a matter of deciding what whether you want a handmade appearance or something more uniform in appearance. As with previous ZMF releases we could/should expect to see some more exotic woods offered in the future.
     
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    The Cups and pads are pretty big and bordering on huge. There’s plenty of room for just about any type of ear size and shape with the Eikon pads. The Eikon pads are stiffer than the Omni pads and sport a slimmer profile, leaving less room between the driver and the listener’s ear. The result is a slightly more musical and dynamic response. With the softer and deeper fit of the Omni pads, the Eikon is a touch leaner and analytical sounding. The differences aren’t significant but are definitely noticeable. Considering the fact we are focusing on the new product we will continue the rest of the review (including sound) with the Eikon pads.
     
    Cable, Cable Jacks, Strain Reliefs
    I used the Braided cable that I ordered for my Omni with the review samples. For the record, the Atticus and Eikon use the same cable and connections as the previous ZMF models. I know Zach is currently working on a deal to get the best stock cable he can get for the package. Worst case scenario, we will see the basic stock cable for the Vibro and Omni come in the Atticus/Eikon package. Once this is settled I’ll edit this portion of the review. For now, rest assured a functional cable will ship with the package. The only question to be answered is how nice this cable will be.
     
    Comfort, Isolation, Microphonics
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    Hisoundfi Junior
     
    The flexible spring steel and hinged swivels are extremely secure and work excellent. There is no popping or crackling when contorting and rotating the cups into a secure and comfortable fit. Between the flexible and and various hinging actions, you can literally take each channel and contort them to fit ANY shape or size of head on earth.
     
    There is virtually no microphonics to report, and isolation is that of a good sealing full size closed headphone. Although there are what appears to be vent holes in the Atticus cups, they are essentially a closed headphone in their design. When tuning the Atticus, Zach uses the vents to fine tune them and guarantee channel matching. As always you will not get a pair of ZMFs with channel imbalance. Each side is measured and tweaked to match as close as possible, guaranteeing each ZMF owner to get the music experience as it’s intended to be.
     
    Sound Review
    I did my demo with my usual gear. I used an LG-V10 for smartphone use, and either my Shanling H3 or iBasso DX80 DAP/Bushmaster D14 DAC/Amp for high fidelity portable use. For desktop use, I used my Toshiba Satellite Laptop in combination with a ifi micro iDSD playing at 32/192 kHz. I tested them with several other sources as well. I used Google Music in its highest download quality (320 KBPS), and also streamed FLAC via Tidal streaming service. I also used purchased and downloaded tracks in MP3, FLAC, WAV and DSD. I make sure that any gear I test has sufficient playtime before writing a review.
     
    I used my usual same songs for testing gear:
    “Limit to your love” by James Blake (bass speed, punch, response)
    “Doin’ it Right” by Daft Punk (sub bass)
    “Get lucky” by Daft Punk (bass to midrange transition resolution, male vocals)
    “Madness” by Muse (soundstage, separation)
    “Some nights” by Fun (soundstage and male vocals)
    “The soundmaker” by Rodrigo y Gabriela (texture and imaging)
    “Bassically” by Tei Shi (bass to midrange resolution, female vocals)
    “Skinny Love” performed by Birdie (female vocals, acoustic playback)
    “One” by Ed Sheeran (male vocals, acoustic playback)
    “Outlands” from the Tron Legacy Soundtrack (symphonic presentation, imaging)
    “Sultans of swing” by Dire Straits (detail, separation, balance)
    “And Justic for All” by Metallica (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)
    “Ten thousand fists” by Disturbed (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)
     
    Note: Other tracks were used, but the listed songs were primarily used to assess and break down the gear’s response.
     
    Source Selection
    Coming in at 300 Ohms, the Eikon demands more power than the average smartphone to sound their best. They sounded decent with my Iphone 6 Plus and LG V10 (the V10 recognized the Eikon as a high impedance device and increased its output impedance). Other smartphones I tested them with couldn’t get the same results as the ones I just mentioned. Of all the portables I had on hand, the Eikon sounded best with the Luxury & Precision LP5 ran line out into my uber powerful Cayin C5. Portable rigs with added portable amplifiers help improve the definition and response of the Eikon.
     
    The Eikon seemed to be more universally applicable than it’s sibling, the Atticus. I could enjoy the Eikon with warmer and more colored sources, and equally as much with a more linear device. Both sounded great in their own way. Where I noticed the most difference in terms of source is with output power and impedance. With Eikon, the driver becomes more responsive with more powerful sources. Switching from Eco to Normal, then to Turbo mode with my iFi micro IDSD the sound increased in response and was noticeably more controlled and refined.
     
    Zach says the Eikon (and sibling Atticus) are designed to work best with OTL amplifiers. If you don’t know a whole lot about them (like myself), here is some information for you:
     
    http://www.audiodesignguide.com/otl/otl.html
     
    NOTE: Because I seemed to get best results with the iFi micro IDSD in turbo mode, a majority of my sound review will be based on my impressions from listening to them with this source.
     
    Sound Signature
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    Summarized, I find the Eikon to be a slightly colored spin on neutral with an added bass bump. With the right source, this headphone is for people who want a musical and smooth headphone without breaking too far away from a neutral sound signature. I can’t classify this headphone as either neutral or dark, I feel it sits somewhere in between both.
     
    When asking Zach what headphone he would compare the Eikon to, his response was that it has the “mids like HD650, transients of an HD800 and sub bass response similar to the ZMF Blackwood.” Going off of memory of these headphones, I don’t think I would disagree with this. If I had to say they sound similar to a headphone in my collection, I would say they are like a dynamic version of my re-tuned Ori (formerly known as the ZMF Omni). There’s the usual musical and fun feeling that Zach pulls off when he tunes a headphone. ZMF has once again taken neutral and tilted the line of the frequency response towards the lower registers without losing the upper frequency presence, detail and  sparkle.
     
    I would consider the Eikon a great option for those who want a big, bold and powerful sound that finishes smooth while adding a solid bass response. That is why the Eikon is right up my alley. They check a lot of boxes in term of what I look for in a headphone.
     
    Bass
    Eikon’s bass is robust and engaging. To my ears there’s a bit more rumble than punch. The source you use will determine the device’s attack and decay. With a less powerful source the headphone’s attack and decay will be more slightly more sluggish and overall these headphones will have a smidge more colorful presentation. With a more powerful source the Atticus bass tightens up and the signature improves in terms of overall resolution and refinement. With the micro IDSD in turbo mode, the Eikon bass is very responsive and dynamic at the same time.
     
    Sub-bass on the Eikon is forward and extends with impressive depth. During Daft Punk’s “Doin it Right” bass lines were handled with visceral depth that maintained consistent and impressive deep tones. If you are planning on picking up the Eikon, know that you won’t have to worry about whether or not they have enough soundstage depth because there’s plenty to be heard.
     
    Midbass is maybe a hair behind sub-bass tones and a step above mid-range/upper mid-range frequencies. As with most of the ZMF headphones I’ve heard, the Eikon follows in the footsteps of previously released headphones. Mid-bass is forward enough to add nice weight and compliment the sub-bass response without being intrusive to midrange instruments and vocals.
     
    Mid-Range
    As with just about any ZMF headphone I’ve heard to this point, the Eikon starts off with a bold bass response, then slowly tapers off as we travel higher up in the frequency range. There is no sharp dip, or radical spikes that I can hear.
     
    Lower mid-range is bold and natural at the same time. I consider vocals to be one the of things the Eikon does best, and it starts here. Male vocals have enough color to sound forward and engaging, and without losing their organic and natural tone. Warm? Yes. Overly warm and bloated? No, at least not to my ears. There is a thick note presence as the dynamic driver does it’s magic with the reverberations of the Eikon wooden cups. If you’re a person who wants linear, airy flat sound with little to no color a la many semi open headphones, these cans probably aren’t for you. If you like the dynamic and textured response of closed cans without sacrificing a big stage and some impressive transients, you have a winner right here.
     
    Upper midrange is somewhat relaxed and puts a smooth finish on vocals. Although the forward nature of the bass seems to jump out in front of this part of the frequency range, the Eikon manages to maintain a nice sense of clarity. The Eikon avoids being overly shouty or aggressive.
     
    NOTE: This is a good time to mention that the Ori pads do a good job of taking a little bit of color away from what I’m explaining here with the Eikon pads attached. If you are finding the Eikon to have a little too much color or resonance from the cups, the Ori pads do an excellent job of taking some of this away. If you get an Eikon, make sure to try them with both the Eikon and Ori pads.
     
     
    Treble
    I find the Eikon treble to be a relatively even tuning and a small step back most of the audible frequencies and about even with upper midrange tones. It is a half step forward of rolled off, and a full step down from emphasized. Something I really appreciate is how balanced the high frequencies are. What I mean by this is that there are no perceived spikes or dips. Pronunciations of the letters S and T come smooth and natural. It does develop a somewhat smooth shimmer as we range higher and higher in tone.
     
    While going through my test tracks I noticed that the Eikon tuning makes cymbals sound just a hair laid back. During Disturbed’s “Ten thousand fists” The forward lower frequency tuning was out in front of the mix. When playing rock, speed metal and some modern genres of music, expect the Eikon treble to be present but not as present as other frequencies (primarily lower frequencies).
     
    Soundstage and Imaging
    Impressive bass, warm tilt and impressive transients give the Eikon a relaxed sound on a big stage. The Eikon has a concert hall feel to its sound. Acoustic music, jazz, live performances, and many modern genres are rendered beautifully. Vocals tend to take center stage with nice supporting bass presence.  Instrument placement is solid (although upper mid-range/treble presence is a half step back of the mix). Combine the tuning with some excellent detail and transients, this is one of the better headphones I’ve heard in terms of imaging.
     
    Comparisons
     
    Sennheiser HD600 ($250 to $400 USD on many sites)
    The HD600 are my reference pair of headphones and a personal favorite. When trying to wrap my mind around how something sounds, I reach for my trusty HD600. I do this to make sense of whatever headphone I’m listening to, and also to help readers understand via a comparison to a more neutral sound.
     
    Comparing the two, the first thing I notice is that the Eikon has considerably more color to its sound, and low end girth that the HD600 can’t come close to. Considering that the ZMF is basically a closed headphone, the Eikon uses the cups to create an impactful quality that will lead you to believe the sound is in a large room rather than the more thin and seemingly endless space of an open headphone design like the HD600. The “meat” of the Eikon carries through the entire sound, giving it the “slightly darker and more colored spin on neutral” I referred to earlier in the review. I was really impressed with how the the HD600 and Eikon were neck and neck in regards to transients and detail. Both are world class in this regard. Treble is more relaxed on the Eikon, while the HD600 treble is more extended and potentially more fatiguing at louder volumes (albeit more natural). In terms of sheer musical enjoyment, the Eikon wins. In terms of Neutrality, HD600 gets the edge. Going from the Eikon to the HD600, the Sennheiser is flatter, harsher and more two dimensional. Going from the HD600 to the Eikon, the ZMF seems bass heavy and overly smooth. Once my ears and brain adjust to what I’m listening to, they are both excellent in their own distinct ways. If you are looking for two headphones that sound different and complement each other well, these are definitely two options to consider.
     
    Design, accessories, build quality and comfort are no contest. The Eikon destroys the HD600 in all of these aspects.
     
     
    ZMF Atticus ($849 to $949 USD on many sites)
    I will copy and past my comparison fromt he Atticus review, but I would also like to add that after further comparisons, I think the key here is going to come down to preferred music genres and sources used. To my ears this is what I came up with:
     
    Eikon: Tuned more for Vocals, Acoustic, Folk, Symphony, Jazz and Live Performances. Still sounds great with the other genres but really nails it in terms of more “mature” genres of music. Pairs well with both colored and neutral sources.  
     
    Atticus: Tuned more for Rock, Metal, Modern genres and still sounds really good with other genres. Although the bassier of the two, they also seem to control complex music passages with lots of bass better. Pairs well with a neutral and more linear (and more powerful) source.
     
    Here is the portion copied and pasted from the Atticus review:
     
    The key thing to note is the reason why Zach is releasing two headphones at the same time. They are designed to cater to what I feel are two types of listening preferences. The Atticus is for those who want a more rich, dynamic, bassy and musical sound signature. The Eikon is for those who want a more balanced and linear sound while still getting a sense of the ZMF signature “house sound.”

    Comparing the two, the Atticus is definitely the more colored, bassy and smooth headphone. Bouncing back and forth makes me appreciate what Zach has done here. Listening to both with the ZOTL, there is an adjustment period when switching between the two. Switching from Atticus to Eikon, the Eikon seems initially crisper and almost shouty in comparison until my ears adjust. Switching from Eikon back to Atticus, the Atticus will seem very bassy and almost dark in comparison until my ears adjust once again. After my ears/brain adjusted, I could appreciate both of them. The difference between the two makes a lot of sense. At the End of the day, it’s a nice variance that prevents listeners from saying neither headphones cater to their listening preference.

    Atticus seems to extend and emphasize sub-bass tones more than Eikon. Eikon seems to extend and emphasize upper midrange and treble tones more than Atticus.

    Bassy+Warm+Good with rock and modern genres= Atticus

    Bold+Responsive+More eclectic with genres and sources= Eikon

    Build quality and accessories are a draw. Aside from drivers and tuning, they are identical.
     
     
     
    Conclusion
    If I could compare it to a real life application it would be like going to a family reunion and seeing an out of state cousin for the first time. Although it may be the first time you see them, you can definitely see a resemblance. Zach incorporated many aspects of the ZMF house sound into the dynamic driver of the Eikon and put it in one of the best built headphones I’ve had the pleasure of wearing.
     
    If I had to pick between the Eikon and Atticus, I would personally go for the Eikon. The selling points for me are the way they make my favorite genres of music sound, how they work with the gear that I have, and how they lean more towards neutral than the Atticus. That DOES NOT mean that it’s a better headphone than Atticus. I’ve had several people come over to listen to them, and it’s about a 50/50 split between the two in terms of preference.
     
    The Eikon is a phenomenally built headphone that sounds damn good. It caters to those who like a headphone that is dynamic and bold without venturing too far from neutral. While I don’t think the Eikon is tailored to everyone’s listening preference, it will hit a sweet spot for many.

    This is going to be a hard product to rate because I feel it falls into a category aimed to please a particular demographic of audiophiles. The Eikon gets five and a half or six stars for build quality (yes, it’s that good). As far as sound, if what I’ve described in the review is what you prefer, give it four and a half of five stars. If it’s not what you prefer, lower it by a half of a star. I’ll leave the final star rating up to you. Just make sure to check into the ZMF booth and try them out yourself the next time a Head-Fi meet is coming to your area.
     
    Upon the conclusion of this review, I am lowering the Atticus review by half a star. Not because it isn't an excellent headphone, but more to show that my personal listening preference leans towards the Eikon. I try to be very selective in what I purchase these days because the gear is starting to pile up. I plan on purchasing a pair of Eikon. Between the build and sound quality, they will have a place in my collection for a long time to come.
     
    20161125_192625.jpg
    Thanks for reading and happy listening!
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Hisoundfi
      You're correct about some portables jinxy, this review was written using the iDSD
      Hisoundfi, Dec 8, 2016
    3. luvmusik
      Thank you !
      luvmusik, Dec 30, 2016
    4. rgs9200m
      That was some great writing in your review. Very useful information. 'enjoyed reading it a lot. Thanks.
      rgs9200m, Jan 13, 2017
  5. PacoTaco
    The Beautiful and Smooth
    Written by PacoTaco
    Published Nov 21, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Smooth sound, fantastic and textured bass, linear mids, great speed and imagery
    Cons - Very heavy

    Introduction

    Well guys...it is time. Time for the review a lot of you have been waiting for: The ZMF Eikon. This beauty is made with a biocellulose dynamic driver covered by Cherry wood housing. The best part? It doesn't have weird tuning choices! For this review, I used a NFB-11 and a Decware OTL. Also, as a fun note, I'm keeping all Atticus vs. Eikon stuff for the end.

    Build Quality and Comfort

    [Word of warning: You can skip this if you've read my Atticus review. It is the same paragraph, as they use the same kind of frame to build off of.]

    Much like the Omni, Vibro and Blackwood before it, the Eikon uses wood cups that provide a gorgeous aesthetic while keeping the handmade feel one comes to expect form the ZMF brand. However, the Eikon is a step up above all three of those in build quality. Since this headphone is entirely designed by ZMF, it no longer uses the stock Fostex head-band. Instead, Zach uses heavy-duty sliders connected to a headband that keeps the entire headphone sturdy and feeling solid. Zach uses a combination of a pad wrapped around the headband and a strip of leather for comfort, which keeps the weight distributed nicely on your head. The pads also nice and thick with foam that keeps the headphone from feeling like it has a large clamp around your ears.

    Sound

    Honestly, this is the first biocellulose tuning I've ever heard that leaned neutral and not completely weird in some way (like the TH900's...everything but bass, or the Nighthawks weird "we don't want to fatigue you...but you don't get to hear anything else either.) Let's just jump straight into the nitty gritty.

    Bass

    Ah, the bass. The bass of the Eikon is best described (and I'm stealing this from a friend) as "integrated." It is deep, powerful, and detailed. However, it doesn't try to stand out. It just is. Much like the HE-6, in fact.

    There is a bit of subbass over midbass emphasis. This leads to a powerful sound that doesn't really make itself known until it absolutely needs to. And when it does make itself known, it has a distortion free and well-texture quality to it. Unlike other dynamics, it also has a speed to it that is normally not matched by other headphones.

    Because there is only a touch of warmth, the Eikon doesn't become over-bloated from a warm OTL amp either. In fact, it matches quite well with a neutral solid-state or a fun tube amp.

    If I can be honest, this is the hardest part of the review. Unlike most headphones, the bass of the Eikon doesn't stand out aside from the subbass emphasis. Because of that, the Eikon is hard to describe in detail other than "what is there is excellent."

    Mids

    The lower mids of the Eikon are a pretty special thing. The seemless transition from the mid-bass into the lower mids adds quite a bit clarity to the bass notes, which helps establish the non-intrusive (but powerful) bass of the Eikon.

    Unlike most of Zach's other headphones, the rest of the mid-range is not thick at all. They are, however, incredibly fast and shine with complex pieces of music. Vocals also stand out as particularly natural sounding. Due to this clarity, the imaging is quite spectacular.

    The upper mid-range, much like the rest of the headphone, is an incredibly smooth transition. Combine that with the speed of the driver, the Eikon gains an incredibly sense of attack to the end of each note.

    Despite that neutrality, the mids of the Eikon have a very unique situation applied to them: The timbre is very similar to headphones like the HD6x0. I actually had to borrow someone's HD600 to confirm that it was in fact similar to the HD6x0 series (and indeed it is.)

    Treble

    The best things I can say about the treble is that it is well extended, incredibly clear, smooth, and has a bit of energy. In fact, the air of this headphone shattered my expectations of a closed headphone. I would throw in more of description, but, like the bass, it is just well-integrated. The low distortion and extension lead to something that is quite...neutral and unexpected from both Zach and a biocellulose driver.

    Overall Sound and Technicalities

    The soundstage, overall, is bigger than the majority of closed-back headphones (including the TH900.) It is now, however, anywhere near a headphone like the T1 or even the HE560. That said, the detail and imagery alone make up for this difference. To top it off, the transients of this headphone are among the fastest I've ever heard out of any headphone out there.

    Overall, this headphone is a smooth, powerful, detailed, quick, revealing black-backgrounded son of a bitch. There's nothing really much to this headphone: It is just fantastic.

    Final notes on Atticus vs. the Eikon

    You know, at first...this was an obvious choice preference and technicalities wise. My preference leaned heavily towards the Atticus, while I knew that the Eikon was just better technically. However, as time went on, the differences between the two became less obvious over time.

    • The Speed: While doing critical listening, the Eikon is always faster, if just barely. Surprisingly, the Atticus could keep up in most things, with the exception of the midbass area at times. However, during casual listening, the difference was drastically harder to notice. This TPE driver is big surprise, and the Atticus may be quite underrated in this area.
    • The resolve is a weird one. In all honestly, one is not really outdoing the other. However, the more neutral and linear sound of the Eikon, especially in the treble, allows it to exceed in making the microdetail more apparent. The Atticus, however, is too thick at times and you can miss the smaller details if you aren't paying attention for them.
    • The treble extension of both well exceeds what is usually in a closed headphone. However, the Eikon is slightly better extended in this area, while the Atticus recesses it a bit to keep the overall sound leaning towards an overall dark sound (but not overly so.)
    • The Atticus aims for a huge presence. It is big and bombastic in everything it does. The Eikon, on the other hand, is smoother and leans more towards the neutral side, giving you the music as it should be while adding only a drop of color into it.
    • Surprisingly, their tonality actually follow the same lines: a bass emphasis, into linear but amazing mids, followed by smooth treble. The difference lies in how far they go with it. The Atticus goes all the way and boosts the bass and lowers the treble, making more a downward slope. The Eikon, however, tries to keep it as even as it can.

    Honestly, they're both just as good as the other. The main difference comes down to this: what is your perference? Because, as everything else in this hobby, everything comes down to what you want to hear, not what others want you to. Personally, I'm getting a Paduak Atticus, as I'd rather have a colored sound with almost all the technicalities of the Eikon. I know a lot of people who are thinking the opposite, however.
    1. Pharmaboy
      GREAT review! In fact, I had to duct-tape my arms to the chair so I won't pre-order based on the headphone lust I'm experiencing after reading it...
       
      Seriously, I agree with your personal choice of padauk Atticus (my choice also). For various reasons, I'll probably wait out the pre-order, hoping other woods come on line in 1st or 2nd quarter of 2017. My dream choice would be an Atticus w/ormisia henryi earcups (wow).
       
      Thanks again for an excellent review.
      Pharmaboy, Nov 22, 2016
    2. luvmusik
      Thank you !
      luvmusik, Dec 30, 2016