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ZMF Headphones Omni

Rating:
4.78125/5,
  1. SoundApprentice
    The Omni makes you privy to a sweet, full-bodied powerful performance time and time again.
    Written by SoundApprentice
    Published Oct 1, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Best bass in the business, intimate mids, lush
    Cons - Weight and rolled off treble won't suit everyone
    _DML5453.jpg
     
    Omni. From Latin origin it means something like “all, every, of all things, the whole.” To date, The Omni is the whole of ZMF Headphones. It’s the flagship offering; it’s the pinnacle of what Founder Zach Mehrbach’s constant tweaking and dissecting of a headphone in every way can yield.

    At ZMF Headphones, every headphone is assembled by hand, tweaked, tuned and sent out by Mehrbach, a painstaking process I’ve been privy to see firsthand on several occasions. In full disclosure, I first met fellow Chicago local Mehrbach some years back as a disappoint ZMF x Vibro owner. I had mentioned some complaints on a popular headphone forum, and, in standard ZMF customer service fashion, Mehrbach was quick to personally message me about my issues and offer a solution. He takes his products seriously, he stands behind them, and he is simply a stand up guy. This has led to a true audio acquaintanceship between us. I’ve seen the inner workings of ZMF Headphones. I’ve been invited to demo and critique countless prototypes. And, I’ve been able to see the culmination of Mehrbach’s work result in some truly fine products that headphone enthusiasts around the world enjoy. So when Mehrbach offered me the opportunity to do a long-term review of The Omni, I was happy to welcome them into my home listening room.

    The Omni is the result of years of fiddling, research and design between ZMF Headphones and Vibro Labs. Like the ZMF x Vibro (see my coverage), The Omni is built around the latest generation of Fostex’s T50RP driver and cannibalizes some of its suspension parts. The Omni, however, uses an all-new, semi-open, 100-percent wood cup that’s hand finished in-house. And, true to its name, The Omni aims squarely at doing everything well. ZMF Headphones has always been about customization, so there are eight different woods to choose from—all of which have their own subtle personalities—a couple of headband, slider and emblem options, and various cables to choose from that make each order unique to its prospective owner.

    My review unit uses ZMF Headphones’ own angled leather pads (these fit on many headphones, and I highly recommend them), African Blackwood cups, pilot pad headband, and DHC copper litz balanced cable. The African Blackwood did wonders for the ZMF x Vibro. It’s a beautiful and very dense wood that leans to the dark side while still being fast and resolving, so does it do the same for The Omni?

    First Listen

    Smooth. Powerful. These were the first two words I could think of to describe The Omni when I queued up Moderat’s track “Bad Kingdom” for my first listening test. The sub-bass and overall bass extension is literally some of the best in the business. I’ve owned premium headphones from Audeze, Beyerdynamic, Hifiman, Fostex and Sennheiser, and no other has come close to producing the feeling of the SPLs hitting my ear drums like The Omni. The bass is thick and rich; it oozes like honey, but it’s not slow like molasses. It simply hits hard and fast and leaves its impact on you. If you’re a basshead, The Omni is to die for. The textured bass in “Bad Kingdom” is heavy and complex, it can make or break a headphone for me, and it makes The Omni. 

    Despite the bass being the clear dominator in The Omni’s sound signature, there’s no muddiness, it’s not boomy, and somehow it refrains from sounding closed in. You’d think that The Omni’s mostly closed-back (semi-open) design and emphasis would crush its soundstage, but its atmosphere extends surprisingly well to what seems like a few inches beyond the headphone. I’d say The Omni’s dimensional soundstage is somewhat comparable to that of the Fostex TH-600, which I think extends very well for a closed-back headphone, and the Sennheiser HD650, which has a more intimate soundstage despite its fully open-back design. 

    Intimate is also what you get as The Omni’s oomphy basslines blend into its smooth midrange. The Omni won’t let you Flea the prominent basslines (get it, get it?) in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ album title track “The Getaway” or hit “Dark Necessities,” but Anthony Kiedis remains front and center with his smooth vocal tones. Tom Toms and guitars are projected well with full-bodied resonance and twang. For jazz tracks, like Matthew Halsall & The Gondwana Orchestra’s "Ode to the Big Sea," The Omni sings out with a full, sweet sound that’s smooth on the senses. 

    The one sense you may feel from time to time is that you’ve lost some sizzle in your sound. The Omni is notably dark compared to many hi-fi headphones. While the treble it has extends well and captures enough resolve, it’s the treble that it doesn’t have that you may miss from time to time. As the treble smoothly drops off, The Omni loses some sense of space and instrument separation as well, but at the same time it works wonders for taming the unruly treble that’s become all too common in modern music. The Omni truly offers a reprieve from the loudness war; it’s a savior of ****ty rock recordings that are too sizzle and sibilant happy. 

    Sibilance is something you’ll never have to worry about with The Omni. Its relaxed tonal balancing favors those looking for enveloping bass and mids. What The Omni does, it does well. But how does it stack up to some of the competition?

    Quick Comparisons

    The Omni’s place in the market falls somewhere between the likes of Audeze’s LCD line and the ever-popular Sennheiser HD650. In comparison to the Audeze LCD-X, which has been my reference headphone for quite a while now, The Omni makes the LCD-X sound bright. This was a startling surprise for me. In general, Audeze LCD headphones are lush and dark, even the more balanced X. While The Omni and LCD-X share similar traits in being bass and midrange masters, I feel that The Omni has far greater bass emphasis. It hits harder and deeper, but feels less controlled. Throughout the mids, the X seems to pull out more details and textures, especially on jazz tracks where it easily bests The Omni in instrument separation, placement and clarity. The highs are where these two headphones diverge even further. Both have notably rolled off treble, but The Omni sounds even more rolled back because of its strong bass emphasis, as if it completely glances over the treble. Here the X pulls ahead again, offering better detail retrieval and more edginess on cymbals, strings and horns. It’s important to note that these are observations while switching back and forth on single tracks. While listening to one or the other for an extended time, your ears become accustomed to the sonic signature, so the differences become less apparent and you can simply enjoy the music. And I assure you that both of these recreate music very well. While both are heavy headphones, I’d say they’re about equal in comfort. I think the ZMF pads are actually plusher than Audeze’s, but I don’t get the same hotspot on the top of my head while wearing the X. Your results may vary. Both share the same cable terminations, so if you have an LCD model, you can use your cable on The Omni, which is nice if you have custom cables. 

    I feel like Sennheiser HD650 or Fostex TH-600 owners may look to The Omni as their next step in the pursuit of Audio Nirvana. The biggest consideration among these three is the sonic signature that you favor. The HD650 is a classic—it has a very analog and intimate sound with an enhanced upper bass and midrange that is often described as being “romantic.” The HD650 and The Omni flat out sound very different. The Omni across the board is far smoother, exhibiting none of the grain or edge that the HD650 has. The Omni’s bass is deeper, smoother and more impactful. Like the HD650, The Omni offers rich mids, but they are tonally different. Here again, The Omni is smooth and effortless whereas the HD650 pushes vocalists right into your face. As for the treble, the HD650 has some grit to it, it can be sibilant at times, and it doesn’t tame poor recordings. Well, The Omni, as you know, is the opposite of all of that. With either headphone you will experience an intimate and enjoyable performance. The Omni does everything better to my ears, but the presentation is also very different. The HD650 is supremely comfortable and is easier to amp in my experience. But if you have an amp that will drive The Omni well, it’s definitely worth giving your Sennheisers a run for their money.

    I mention the Fostex TH-600 because it’s a staple for bassheads and Massdrop’s collaboration models have expanded its popularity. Without question, The Omni hits harder, deeper, cleaner and more controlled. The TH-600 is very U-shaped in its sonic signature, meaning there’s bass and treble and the mids get left behind. The Omni excels at transitioning from bass to mids and delivering all of their lushness to your ears. You’ll gain a lot of musical body by upgrading to The Omni without sacrificing the bass you love. You’ll simply get better bass, better mids and, oh yeah, better treble. The TH-600 has sibilant and grainy treble. The Omni knows better. I listen to a lot of electronic, downtempo and EDM music; the TH-600 was a fav of mine here, but The Omni takes the cake now. Again the TH-600 is a very comfortable and lightweight headphone compared to The Omni, but the sonic improvements are worth experiencing. The Omni and TH-600 have similar reach and dimensionality in the soundstage to my ears, but still The Omni edges out the TH-600 in the end. 

    The Caveats

    Power and pleasure. What I mean by that is that The Omni craves power and, depending on your penchant for heavy headphones, may or may not be a pleasure to wear. 

    The Omni isn’t quite as current-craving as the notable Hifiman HE-6, but it most definitely needs power to perform best. On my Eddie Current Balancing Act, I typically listen to my Audeze LCD-X and Sennheiser HD650 around the 10 o’clock mark on the volume dial; The Omni had me cranking it up to about Noon-thirty or one o’clock to make them sing. I also have the powerful Hifiman EF-6 class-A solid state headphone amp, and The Omni required the dial to reach about 11 o’clock for comfortable listening. In my experience, both The Omni and ZMF x Vibro mate best with tube amps. There’s just something about the synergy there that takes the performance to a more holographic level. 

    About that pleasure factor. The Omni and its plush leather pads wrap your ears and smother them like a warm blanket—in other words, very comfy. They do a great job at supporting these beauties that weigh in at 568 grams. In comparison, the HD650 weighs a mere 263 grams and the clunky LCD-X weighs 618 grams. My one issue is really with the headband; even with the pilot pad I get a large hotspot on the top of my head. It’s worth mentioning that my small head may not be best for weight distribution, and the headband can be bent into different positions (carefully), but I simply made due. Of course, the leather suspension strapped headband is also an option to consider. 

    These two caveats aside, The Omni has little else to detract from it.

    Final Word

    It goes without saying that The Omni in African Blackwood is a dark headphone, and dark is beautiful to my ears. The Omni delivers on its promise to be dense and resolving. The bass is tight and powerful. The mids are smooth, lush and intimate. The treble, while relaxed remains resolving to a hi-fi degree. The Omni will not be all things to all people as its namesake implies. But, in all, The Omni makes you privy to a sweet, full-bodied powerful performance time and time again. Figure that one out.
    1. jinxy245
      Nice review, mate. The comparisons put it in good perspective.
      jinxy245, Oct 17, 2016
    2. SoundApprentice
      SoundApprentice, Oct 17, 2016
  2. WhiskeyJacks
    Best headphone I have experienced in the 1k market.
    Written by WhiskeyJacks
    Published May 16, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Tonality, space, separation, resolution, details, engaging, well balanced, accurate, comfortable.
    Cons - Heavy, expensive( but good value in comparison), hard to hear around me(semi open not open)
    So,  I have been waiting in anticipation to write and  produce  this review on the TOTL semi open planar magnetic headphone  from ZMF Headphones. Now, to be straight-forward and to avoid at times annoying and aggravating suspense for those just wondering if the headphones are worth the marketed price and or if they are a value… To these ears? Most definitely, absolutely, and resounding Yes. I have owned many entry level to mid tier headphones the most expensive being the He-560(grill/pad/cable modded), but the ZMF Omni is my personal favorite in terms of quality, signature, and frequency response. For those that just this information matters you do not need to read further, and for those who like the know the details, experiences, and time that led to this opinion I hope you get something of value from this review.
     
    Some info before we start… Zach started messing around with the modding of T50rp drivers around 2010, and originally had started for his own private listening and wasn’t until 2011 where selling them had begun. He has been passionate about music for a long time prior and even was involved with building acoustic guitars and the like before ZMF was established. I do know he tunes this headphone to his own preferences to sound musical, natural, with a good tonality, and aspiring to bring that music home for him(These are my words from what i gathered from talking with Zach via email, so don’t quote me, heh.). As a fellow music lover and another who wants that natural feel to the music as much as possible this lead me through a series of corresponses with Zach, who has been an exceptional person to talk with, get to know, and buy from. I first found out about them via head-fi and the ZMF Vibro Mk1 which was based on Zach’s tuning and teaming up with Vibro Labs in regards to the wood design and craft. Now the wood is crafted and finished at Vibro Labs as to make sure everything is as perfect as it can be and then delivered to Zach for installation, assembly, along with tuning.

    Picture30.jpg Picture29.jpg
     
     
     
    We will start with build, comfort, and form/function. The ZMF Omni, as much as I would LOVE it is most definitely a not a portable headphone. It is a full size, semi open, wired headphone. For those who did not know or have not yet researched much on this headphone it is using custom made wooden ear cups along with Zach’s own tuning of the modded t50rp mk2 drivers. Which From what i have read the two T50rp mk2 is in itself a better version of the original T50rp(which both are a planar magnetic driver). It is a solid headphone with the wooden earcups(different variety to choose from) replacement pads from ZMF( which are angled and come in lambskin leather, cowhide, and protein pads. Better depth, comfort, and width than original pads.) Also, the option other either a aftermarket pilot pad for extra padding and comfort can be added or what I used being a leather strap to disburse weight more evenly and increase comfort. An issues for some with these headphones may be weight, now I have strong neck and shoulder muscles but someone who didn’t or were use to light headphones may have a problem with the weight for longer sitting periods. This isn’t to say the headphone is uncomfortable to me, because it is very comfortable just shy as comfortable as my HE-560 which is saying a lot for a heavier headphone.  Now one of the most notable things about this headphone line up with the different pads and bands, and the different wood types and finishes is that it is one of the most aesthetically pleasing headphones to own. I mean from my point of of view here, the wood is done with care care and assembled again by Zach with attention to detail because he is a lover both music and headphones.
     
    As far as I am concerned for a semi open headphone in the sub 1k range I do not feel like this headphone has any real weaknesses, I find it to be very balanced, and one of the most detailed headphones using the T50rp drivers. There is fantastic tone and signature that i have truly come to love and I will break that down a bit more in the descriptions and some comparisons below:

     
    The Omni is Zach’s latest headphone creation, and as such it is also his highest end model in terms of both sonic quality and pricing. From being a previous owner of the Vibros that were released I would agree that the Omni out performs and with diminishing returns in mind is a better overall headphone as far sound quality.
     
    Where some other headphones that have been released in the past may focus in one or two particular areas where they truly shine and out perform others at the expense or trade off of the other qualities of the headphone, the Omni is extremely well balanced across the frequencies, both depth and width of staging and separation, tonality and or timbre, it is very detailed but not specifically focus on details where it perhaps sounds a little forced or loses a naturalness that some headphones are lacking.   It exceeds in a natural detail that is present and defined, along with a separation and space that is truly impressive for only semi open. I instantly took a liking to the headphones when first trying them but had been using the Hifiman He-560’s for a long while up until this point and was not sure which headphone I would consider ideal(for me) in the long haul. So best way I can talk about the different frequencies would be to go over certain tracks and critical listening I did with the Omnis, and hopefully this will lead those who are interested in experiencing these headphones to a better consensus if this is suited to your tastes. I will not put every track and or album I listened to down with contrasts and experiences only because that be overly long and in some cases redundant. Instead i will put perhaps the tracks and artists that had the biggest effect on me while listening to these headphones.
     
     
    Picture28.jpg
     
     
    Rush 2112-Farewell to Kings-Moving pictures
     
    I will be frank I got into a pretty big prog rock trip for the past 6 months, now I was listening to these albums mastered in 32 bit 192khz format, and they sounded insanely awesome. Like totally just dazed and sucked into the music with the Audio GD-28 paired with my modded He-560s.. And though I know there are other more expensive and technically better headphones out there I didn’t think I would really enjoy it more than I was. Then came the ZMF Omni’s with a feast of musical deliciousness that just sucked me into all albums whether classic favorites or delving into new material. Space and definition for a semi open headphone, around the same asking price as the new He-560, was just truly addicting on tracks classic’s like Tom Sawyer the intro would give me goosebumps from how well everything is spaced, placed and detailed. It is done so with a natural approach where I get lost into the music and know the details are there and they are definitely audible, but I am no longer focused on them. Lowend has good prat and weight, perhaps not as much as my vibros(being a closed headphone) but I can not promise that since it has been a long while since i listened to them. But it does extend further than the vibros and I feel it sounds more realistic than the He-560s due to having some more weight with the notes if that makes sense.  Mid range is  usually my favorite area for music, I listened on and found that the clarity to be at the very least on par with the 560s but with more presence and emotion(  I know not a real term but this is anything but objective so deal) I felt more like I was listening to a live singer and performer with the Omni’s. The guitar lines in Red Barchetta were so captivating I would relisten to the track multiple times to just see if it was perhaps just hype on my end. Each of these three albums have never sounded so complete to me between the hi-res format and the Omni to lay it all out for me... I was in truly content.
     
    Adele 25
     
    First and foremost Water under the Bridge and River Lea are probably my favorite and most listened to tracks while using the Omnis. Adele has a fantastic voice and well written lyrics, and so with that it is easy for me to enjoy the majority of the songs she has come out with the past few years. I am very happy to say the Omni performs beautifully with this album. Every instrument is so well placed where it envelopes you with her vocals up front and center it was the closest I have come to a live performance with a headphone.
    The thing i found most amusing is I prefer open headphones from all my previous experiences but when listening to music by Adele I never felt like I prefer the openness of the He-560 over the Omni. The He-560 being a fully open headphone with the grill mod included is more spacious and ethereal than the Omni’s but the resolution and depth along with the separation never made me reach for the 560’s with Adele.
     
    Florence + the Machine
     
    Scottish heartthrob of mine, don’t tell the wife, is a fantastic enchantress of vocalist… she mesmerizes me and I have never been happier listening to her from at home than with these headphones. I feel like the more I listened to her albums from her earlier Lungs album to her more recent How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful the impact her music had on me was something kind of gives me goosebumps. With  the low end of songs like Rabbit Heart with just enough slam and extension to hit the lower notes made the song for me. The piano and vocals throughout the refrain is where the goosebumps set in.
     
    Ramin Djawadi- Game of Thrones: Season 3
     
    I wanted to add this into the review as one of the ones I talked about because it is instrumental and the soundtrack for game of thrones.  Normally for instrumental I have come to prefer and enjoy open headphones usually for the width and separation they can provide. Now this is where the He-560 and Omni come closer together in comparison as far as my tastes and musical preferences are concerned. Both give good width and clarity, and though the He-560 sounds less surround than the Omnis it has an ethereal quality about them that makes listening to these soundtracks and scores a fantastic thing. Overall though, I would say the Omni is preferred in the long haul for the depth and surround staging it brings to the album. It does very well at not sound claustrophobic for not being a fully open headphone.  Also the slam the drums in Dracarys delivered makes the song feel  more natural as I imagined it was suppose to be portrayed.  
     
    There a dozens of albums I could add in if I had more to write about but I do not feel it would add much more to the discussion and I have only so many words I can use to describe what I hear and feel when listening to a headphone when writing. Some of the others I used in my experiencing, rating, and then loving the Omni’s are such:
    Ben Folds Discography
    Hans Zimmer soundtracks
    Aesop Rock Discography
    At the Drive-In
    Sufjan Stevens Discography
    Jeremy Soule
    Mars Volta
    Iron and Wine
    Howard Shore
    Gorillaz
    Gnarls Barkley
    Yes
    Fleetwood Mac
    Smashing Pumpkins
    My Bloody Valentine
    David Bowie
    The Cure
    Coldplay
    Radiohead Discography
    Counting Crows- August and Everything After
    Coheed and Cambria
    Metallica
    Queen
    And others...
     
    For those of you interested in the frequency response measurements this was provided by Listeninc sourced by Zach.
    ZMFOmniLISTENFR.jpg
    Picture31.jpg
     
     
    I will say that is something I absolutely love out this headphone is that it brought excitement back into my listening. Before I listened to them the He-560 had been my go to headphone for a long time and I had no interest to buy anything new without dropping 2 -3 times the price of the He-560. Well, I was wrong because the amount of time I have put trying old and new albums with the Omni’s should be a testament to the impact it has had on my audio life. I mean that with all the sincerity I can muster, I am not saying this jumps better than the HE-560 because it isn’t in terms of sound quality. It is mostly set with a different aspect and signature. I would say if you want one of the most enjoyable well balanced headphones out there right now I don’t feel like many would be disappointed by the Omnis. I know I have not been in the slightest, I feel reawakened to my music and the listening experiencing. Not critiquing and breaking apart the music the whole time, but truly listening and finding meaning with each artist, each album, each track, and each chorus.
     
    On the Omni page there is a line written "a true heirloom built just for you.", to be as short about it as I can. That is exactly what this headphone is to me, and heirloom from sonic quality, build, and aesthetics...something I would want to pass down.
      volly likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Wyd4
      @BloodyPenguin ... Well played sir.  Well played.

      Thanks for the review, it is exactly what I was expecting from a sonic pov.  These are definitely on my "when I am no longer poor" list.
       
      Can't wait to try them,
      Wyd4, May 19, 2016
    3. Girlfrombrasil
      "A true heirloom built just for you."-yes they are!I own a Zmf in Bocote wood and it's simply stunning!
      Girlfrombrasil, Jun 16, 2016
    4. BunnyNamedCraig
      very enjoyable read. do to how you articulate your thoughts and our similar music taste helps me fully understand where you are coming from. I can relate to your thoughts on the 560 versus the Omni... I own the AKG K712 and recently got to demo the 560, which feels like a smart upgrade choice to those who like to analyze... but I am beyond tired of analyzing music and want to start enjoying it! Listening to the Vibro was a breath of fresh air for me, and wanted to know how much better and different the Omni could be. The review helps a lot.
      BunnyNamedCraig, Jun 20, 2016
  3. grizzlybeast
    the Omni from the Ortho Docs
    Written by grizzlybeast
    Published May 1, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Bass, mids, soundstage, durable and comfortable pads, pad rolling, can be retuned, customizable, high fidelity, detailed,tonality, balance
    Cons - not competitively dynamic but still engaging.

    ZMF  OMNI - REVIEW

    Zach and Luke are Ortho Docs
    Disclaimer:
    No mercy… though the Omni is merciful I really think the Omni can hold up to scrutiny very well. While I have been a long time customer of ZMF, I really don’t see the need to be dishonest and am confident that my opinion will be void of bias.  
     
    I may have given my opinion on a prototype but this Omni is a lot different than what I heard and I can’t really consider myself a contributor to its tuning. I ordered another pair after selling my blackwood Omni but Zach allowed me to use a pair for review while my pair was being made hence the pics of two different models through out the review. 
     
     
    Gear/ Software Used  w/ Omni and a description of each:
    iMac 27 inch late 2015 model 5k retina - “better to hear you with my dear”, “better to see you with my dear” usually I never have to use cd’s etc to use my DAC’s and even the headphone out is better than some audio gear out there. I have used the optical out and usb for different DACs below and choose to use what sounds best to me. 
     
    Cables - 
    20awg-Solid-Silver-RCA-Interconnect-Cable-litz-braided-cotton-connector-2ft
    Solid Silver Pailiccs XLR Interconnect Cables
    Single ended peptide fusion cable with Audeze connectors
    Makes me want to get into cables because I can hear a difference. My TH2 was sounding less transparent than the Cayin IHA6 loaner all because of a cable. At first I thought it was because of the balanced configuration until I got the RCA cables in the same solid silver. Those emotiva RCA cables do the job but better is …better. 
     
    Tidal - Great streaming of CD quality music that while not as clear as High Res may eliminate the need for all of my MP3 files
     
    Audirvana Plus - a little glitchy and I have no plug ins for a good EQ but sounds great!!!
     
    Amarra SQ2 - doesn’t work with Audirvana Plus but provides usable eq for Tidal
     
    GEEK Pulse Infinity 1.0 chassis (means not the new chip that is in the 2.0 chassis and this is now gone) - I used this balanced with the Omni and while it did get enough headroom it was missing that natural sound and made the Omni bass slam less desirable than some of the below. Kind of bland for me. 
     
    MHDT Stockholm V2 (gone) -

    Nice and natural sounding NOS R2R DAC that almost eliminates that digital wall you get with most DACS. Bass is not the tightest but the warm mids, spacious soundstage, and transparently fleshed out sound is everything natural. The stockholm feeding the Cayin Iha-6 is my preference over the Cayin IDAC -6. The Stockholm V2 feeding the TH2 is borderline too musical, if there is a such thing and the bass control suffers slightly but realism and natural timbre and body is about as musical as it gets. 
     
    Metrum Acoustics Musette (not here yet or used during this review) - Another NOS R2R DAC to replace the Stockholm V2. when it comes in I will update this review. 
     
    Nuprime HPA-9 (450mW into 50 ohms but very much a different design that gives a lot of headroom with the Omni) -

    Warm, and controlled sounding amplifier with good space, mellow and relaxed mids, very good body and punchiness, and smooth highs. Surprisingly more than enough power to drive the Omni’s because it has more current than the usual amp. I only need to go slightly past 12 o’clock for it to play the Omni’s really loud, all while never really taking away from the soundstage. I do think that other solid state amps would make a better pairing though for those seeking a faster sound but body, tonality, transparency,  and dynamics are all there. This is a very dynamic sounding amp that is not bright or airy or fast with a slight warmth down low.  
     
    JDS LABS Element  (gone) - Not here during the review period but memory recalls it being a very musical pairing with enough power to make the Omni sing. Punchiness, musicality, and balance were all there even if it lacked some of the technical performance of the other gear mentioned. 
     
    Trafomatic HEAD 2 (2W into 50 ohms) 

    A little overpriced and maybe not the best pairing with the Omni because I prefer solid state with the Omni to help it pick up in speed, but some may really like this pairing. I probably need some better tubes to help the Omni’s bass sound a little tighter and it pairs better with the LCD2 and HD800 (with which the bass actually does sound controlled) but its still the best amp I have had/heard. Very good space and dimension on all axis’. Neutral tonality with a touch of tube warmth yet not overly lush or dark and not particularly airy. Good body and easily the best dynamics of the amps I have used for the Omni.
     
    Cayin IDAC-6 ( on loan from Cayin for an up coming meet and review) -

    Very good and balanced DAC with tuning filters such as sharp for which I used with my gear to help the musical pairing of the Omni and Nuprime, or Trafomatic HEAD 2 have the slightest increase in its perception of crispness. Clean, nuetral with good soundstage and similar to the infinity from memory but more to my liking.
     
    Cayin IHA-6 (7W into 32 ohms balanced in the pic above.  On loan from Cayin for an up coming meet and review) 
    GREAT power and pairing with the Omni. Maybe not as dynamic and full bodied in the midrange as the TH2 but it is tight in the bass, opens the Omni up and is never sluggish to further slow down the Omni. I find this an exceptional solid state pairing for the Omni and if I wasn’t curious about what my ordered Black Widow sounds like (hopefully I have the dough when the time finally arrives) I would definitely buy it right away and just for the Omni. Good soundstage, transparency, and tonality albeit on the lighter-brighter side of neutral just a tad. 
     
    AIRIST Audio HERON 5 (5w into 32 ohms, tour unit) -

    For tonality this pairing is quite the treat. It is extremely open sounding for a solid state amp and has tons of power on tap. Once you get past the design issues of the pots volume  and occasional static when turning the knob you have a very balanced amp that can be used with the Omni for tirelessly long listening sessions of smooth and open sound. The Heron is a bit lacking in slam, dynamics and a little lacking in separation. It is not thick or lush sounding either but has exceptional balance, good clarity and it’s power gives the Omni what it needs to open up in the mids to not only compliment the Omnis soundstage but really spread it out. 
     

    ZMF OMNI:

    The Omni is the result of two minds coming together. Zach get’s the wood housing from Luke Pighetti of Vibro labs who uses his expertise to create the ideal housing for the spacious and semi open sound of the ZMF Omni. If Vibro labs didn’t provide the housing to properly support the accoustic qualities of the Omni’s tuning it would no doubt sound a lot different in other cups. I recall having the ZMF Blackwood and sending it in to be revised and with the same driver modifications it still couldn’t come close to the Omnis spaciousness. Inside of the beautiful wooden cups are T50RP drivers that have been heavily tweaked in ways I do not know to create  its unique sonic flavor that is a lightyear beyond its original sound. The headband design, sliders, gimbals are salvaged to keep it in the context of a modified Fostex and can be customized in several different ways. 
     
    The ZMF brand is one that is built around customization which is extremely unique in the realm of Full sized headphones. If you do not like the tuning you can send it back in one time for free to add more bass, tame the highs, make them brighter etc. Upon ordering you can also choose the wood, slider colors, cable configuration, headband type and even choose to eliminate the cost of its case. 
     
    I truly hope that when this brand expands its wings into proprietary drivers and headband components it will maintain its disposition on customizable full sized headphones. No doubt he will find it a struggle to keep up with the labor and demands on his own but for now I really appreciate this aspect. If you don’t like a wood then keep your eyes peeled for what is coming around the corner because  Zach is always obsessing over what he can get away with for his headphones.
     

    Build / Comfort:

    To be blunt right up front… The Omni will most likely have varying opinions on how comfortable it is. I find the ergonomics to be a little hindered by the bulky (yet purposeful) cups and original housing yet in the same breathe I hold them, grab them, stare at them, and wear them with full satisfaction. The weight is quite substantial and to get a good seal on the bottom of most guys heads  the headband is slightly molded by Zach to get the pads to be flush on the bottom of the ears. The first time I took them to a mini meet one of the gentlemen expressed how they sounded phenomenal but the fit was awkward for him. He continued to exclaim “ those *@# ing things sound amazing…wow…I just wish the fit was a little easer….How much do they cost?…well they sound like it!!!” This is coming from a gentleman who prefers treble and doesn’t really care about bass. He also loved the pads as do I. They are extremely soft, plush, and are of exceptional quality.  Once I have a good fit on I am jamming with the ideal clamp force and pressure all around my head. The LCD2.2f w/ Vegan pads do provide even better comfort around my ears and are softer to the touch but the Omnis aren’t far behind. Both are heavy headphones and can’t compare to the comfortable design of my HD800S but I really am not the picky kind when it comes to this kind of stuff.  
     
    The pads I mentioned can be stretched, pulled, and handled without any real worries. I loved the Alpha pads ZMF used to use but they ripped and showed signs of wear in no time. The Lambskin pads are REAL leather and soft with a very deep and open cavity. The alpha pads were nice and soft but I always wanted my earlobe to fit inside like the ZMF pads do. The pilot pad is of the same quality. If you have seen videos of Luke from Vibro slamming the housing down on a table while the Omni’s stay intact you can’t help but be persuaded to trust its built to stand the test of time. I won’t dare do that with these beautiful cups but I definitely have confidence in their durability which is partially due to Fostex’s excellent utilitarian components. 
     
    Isolation:
    This think does leak a copious amount of music and isolation is not the best since it is semi - open. Yet and still playing music into it at loud volumes will be a lot less annoying than an open back would to those around you. Sound does get in a bit as well but it does provide a useful amount of blockage to your surrounding environment. If my wife is talking I have to take them off when music is not playing to really understand her. 
     
    Amping:
    The Omni benefits from gobs of power. It can sound great with under a watt into 50 ohms but it picks up in pace, energy, dynamics, and grace with more power. I believe that the Omni can take tube warmth to some degree without sounding too syrupy as the most important amping specs are to be in impedance, power, and low distortion. Please refer to how I feel the Omni gets along with the few amps I have tested it with above for more gear specific ideas. I will  say that the Omni can be hindered by an amp that has a slower sound to it because it appreciates speed. As an addendum to the above, the reason that the Nuprime HPA9 does well in musicality for the Omni is because it has enough current, is very dynamic and full bodied with great tonal density that takes nothing away from its physicality. However the Nuprime is a little slower than Cayin IHA6 and has less raw power so it’s not as successful in opening it up and “lifting the veil” as they say. 
     

    Sound Signature/Frequency Response summary:

    The short story is that what you get from the Omni is a wonderfully musical sound of rich, dense and pure tones that are never fleeting but ever planted in a robust foundation. There is a rise in the sub bass a slight hump in the mid bass for weighted kick, and an even and smooth midrange that is followed by good presence in the upper mids and neutral/slightly tinted highs. 
     
    The guts: The bass of the Omni is pretty unique in that it anchors every song down to earth but doesn’t really hinder its sound quality by being too intrusive into other frequencies. It is always controlled, a lot of times slams pretty hard, but is never lacking. Whilst the Omni does have a good amount of mid bass it’s closer to the lower end of the mid bass in the spectrum. Upper bass is pretty flat but the Sub bass is elevated. I listen to my music a lot of the times around my family and whenever I play my bass heavy songs (which is becoming less often lately) I crank the music up without ever feeling the need for more or less bass. The Omnis definitely allow me to rock out but if they are underpowered the  macro dynamics that are responsible for producing those hard thumps won’t be as strong. Below are some comparisons for further impressions and as you will see I believe the Omni’s bass presentation is exceptionally well. I have had a pair of Alpha Dogs, Mad Dogs, heard the Nickerfields, tried the Vibros and Blackwoods and not only do the Omni’s pull off more in quantity but quality is better as well. Bass fanatics can rejoice with the Z.O’s for sure! But I won’t trick you into expecting a super fast , clean, and snappy bass. Instead expect a weighted, controlled, and firm foundation that despite not being super fast can still keep up in speed when needed to so you can hear those double drums properly. Is it basshead levels of low end? I am not quite sure. I would be more apt to say its not bass head in level but I doubt anyone can genuinely say it needs more without including “for me” in the same sentence. 
     
    The glory: If the Omni’s didn’t have a good midrange then you can be sure it would have a lot more negative reviews. I am definitely not going to call the midrange perfect but there is a lot of treasure exposed in your recordings by how the Omni does the midrange. There are antonyms that come to mind while describing the Omni in the midrange; thin, dry, and boring would be some of them.  The opposite is true of these headphones. While playing Ben Harper’s “Picture of Jesus” I thoroughly enjoy the African harmonies of the back ground singers with these headphones. There is such a richness and serene wholesomeness that really pulls out the  essence of the song without contention. Positionally I find that sometimes the vocals can be a little more distant than average which materializes the impression of a venue a little more than other headphones in its price range do. The upper midrange is fairly present and a tinge of aggression can come forth but never with any real concern of fatigue. The meat of the recording is “matter of fact” with the ZMF Omni, and while I do hear that one of the headphones below in my comparisons section best it in tonal balance, the Omni is weighted, rich, and has a sweetness to its timbre that is the golden nugget of it’s characteristics; unique to it alone. The separation of these rich and full-midrange notes is a real treat as well. I do get some reverberations from the cups and bit of extra decay compared to my HD800S which is quite dry in comparison (and a little out of context in this review) but even that contributes to the Omni’s articulation of naturalness. Sometimes that adds to the inviting sound of these cans because they not only sound really open and spacious but also intimate and inviting in its own paradox of sonic performance. Open but intimate; precise transients but with a more natural decay; colorfully balanced; smooth but confidently assertive and bold. I will confess though that at times I prefer the non-ortho assortment of headphones for micro and macro dynamics. The Omni sometimes doesn’t sound as nimble or nuanced in the flickerings, clicks, and snaps as is often the case with traditional dynamic drivers. Luckily for these headphones they have a really good weight, texture and body to slot them among the best in musicality. 
    The the grace: The lower treble is a little tough to push into a territory of splashiness and most usually the transients respond consistently clean, fast, and intelligible even on busy passages. The tuning sometimes sounds as if it brushes up on the territory of sibilance encroachment. This may be because I get a little sensitive in that area at times, yet I definitely conclude the Omni’s to be revealing and balanced in the lower treble all while not being really offensive if offensive at all. In fact, it would be better to attribute any problems to the recording itself. I won’t call the textures of the treble soft either, nor really hard and the glare has been tempered into naturalness though there still remains an inkling of flare. The Omni’s, would for some, belong to the darker side of neutral while for me I actually believe them to be closer balanced to a pair of monitors. Subjectively speaking and from personal experiences in studios etc (listening to playbacks of mixes) I often find a lot of audiophile gear to be unnaturally boosted in the treble and sensibly so since most audiophiles crave to be stunned by the most minute details that usually occur higher up in the frequency range. My HD800S has the treble peak tamed to a pleasurable balance but sometimes I still ( again my personal perspective) find it to sound a little thin since the treble for me still keeps it in the bright category of headphones. The Omni is tuned to have a solid amount of precision up with it’s slight peak in the mid treble but would still cater more to the natural and warm crowd who would prefer to hear high definition without excessively boosted treble. The treble extension is decent especially considering most t50 mods struggle in treble extension. Sometimes while listening I hear the treble as cleaner than the midrange even but this could just be a feeling more than an observation during listening. 
     
    Headstage: Soundstage in spades…Call a spade a spade yo… The Omni has you covered here and can cast an image in front of you and around you like few others in it’s price range.  Of course it’s no HD800 and the Dharma sounds more spacious as well but for a semi open back headphone it seems as if I can hear unusually deep into the layers of the recording with separation that is effortlessly discernible. It is more wide than deep and there is only a slightly cavernous effect from the reverberations of the cups. Coming from the ZMF Blackwood, those reverberations in these Omni cups are a lot less pronounced and makes it even easier to hear the instruments in their own space.  Despite the Omni being so robust in nature it is able to be very holographic. Me likes!
     
    Comparisons:(Build will be left out since I find the Omni's more premium  built than all of the below, yet comfort is only bested by the LCD2.2F's for me. Those who don't like weight will prefer some of the below over the Omni)
    VS LCD2.2F (modded):

    The LCD2.2F places the vocalist closer and it sounds more open(less restricted from the housing which is not to be confused with soundstage size). The omni has more of a smooth and silky texture. The LCD2 is slightly less thick. The bass is less solid on the LCD2.2F w/ vegan pads. Resolution is very similar with the LCD2 maybe having slightly more in the mids but a less textured treble. The Omni has way better separation of instruments and imaging. Vocals on the Omni have more space around them as well even if the midrange is a little more even with the LCD cans. Listening to  “John Henry “ by Harry Belafonte you can hear how his voice is more believable as the textures and rasp of his voice is better revealed on the LCD2.2F. However, like mentioned above there is this smooth, dense, and inviting tone on the Omni that the LCD2’s don’t have. Some of the old remastered songs tend to have audible air in  them and the Omni kind of makes it more dismissible because the added depth makes it seem more atmospheric whereas the LCD puts the air/hiss closer to the singer because dimensionally the LCD produces a flatter image. On the Omni male vocals have more weight but never sound flabby. With Amy Winehouse’s  “Back to Black” - both reveal the poor mixing of her vocals on that track. Its a remastered album of 24/96 kHz Stereo  and with that song there definitely is something off with her mic or and how she was recorded or maybe they made the recording to have an old school sound to it. It is nasally even on the Omni but less so than on the 2F. I kind of like to hide this with the Omni when I listen to that song. But also there is less blending of the higher pitched instruments which can sound more of a mess on the LCD2. The Omni helps the recording out a bit and not just because her voice is less annoying but because the separation is better and the instruments keep their boundaries and tonal weight. I give midrange purity slightly to the LCD2.2 but bass cleanliness, texture, and soundstage to the Omni. The Omni has better slam and rumble for EDM when it is called for and also less decay. 
     
     
    VS THX00: 

    (loaned of member Soundsgoodtome)
    The Omni is more revealing of upstream gear than the THX00 which shows less changes to different gear but sounds great out of anything. Without a good DAC in place the TXH00 comes a lot closer to the performance of the Omni that is not as snappy but a little more detailed. Give the Omni a clean background and  it will be  more revealing while the THX00 shows only little improvement. This does mean that the THX00 sounds good out of more gear than the Omni though and actually sounds worse with too much power. The Massdrop champion is brighter and has more roughness and splashiness  in the highs that the Omni doesn’t exhibit which can make it a little more annoying than the Omni when handling sibilants. They seem to trade off qualities and merits and give grounds to each other in a lot of areas. The Fostex seizes the song with a fast and forward (positionally) sounding midrange, that while a little v shaped can still sound nicely clear, clean, and fast. The Omni on the other hand is a lot more seductive. The Omni is similar in balance and portrays a more even-handed mature and developed timbre that is slower but more resolute and full-bodied. The Fostex THX00 has a wide soundstage but is not as close to as wide or deep as the Omni. Even though the TH can do better at engaging the listener with speed and dynamics it has an even flatter image than the LCD2.2F and also is less detailed. The imaging separation differences between them is almost night and day with the Omni being the morning sun. The Omni can still get a little frustrated on busy passages but its better transient response and imaging keep it in check. In comparison the THX00 can quickly get a little messy. Drums snap and kick with more intension on the THX00 and is a very coveted quality of mine when I listen to headphones. The Macro dynamics and bass presence on the Fostex help it slam harder. The THX00 has a more pervasive rumble and while not as focused as the Omni is a bit quicker and rumbles harder. There have been a couple of songs where I felt the Omni gave me a just about the same amount of thump and rumble but it was still consistently the THX00 that proved to hit harder. Extension down low is a toss up. THX00 is more dynamic overall and aggressive but I usually find dynamics to out do orthos here anyway. The Omni is easily the more controlled, articulate, high fidelity,  and textured sounding headphone of the two though. 
     
    VS Beyer DT1770:
    gelocks loaner pair of dt1770's
    COMFORT: TOSS UP (because I have the heavy wood, the other woods beat the dt1770 with a solid win for the OMNI)
    LEAKAGE: DT770 (easy win)
    BASS PRESENCE: TIE
    BASS EXTENSION: ZMF OMNI (only by 1 1/2 db @ 20-30 hz )
    BASS TIGHTNESS / SOLIDITY: ZMF OMNI ( easier to make rumble but distorts quicker )
    MID RANGE: ZMF OMNI (easy win but would be tough for any closed/semi closed back I have heard to date beat)
    LEAST LOWER TREBLE GLARE PROBLEMS: DT1770 ( For some reason, probably the treble peak being boosted as well as the presence region,  the Omni is being outshone here. I have my hand on the volume knob a bit more often then I do with the dt1770, this made my joy of the Omni take a little hit. When bells and things swell in volume through a recording the Omni is more resolving of dynamic range yet also more relentless and penetrating)
    MID TREBLE: ZMF OMNI (solid win for clarity)
    UPPER TREBLE: LOL SORRY CAN'T TELL lollll
    PROBLEMS WITH SPLASHINESS AND KEEPING COMPOSURE WITH BUSY SONGS: DT1770 (solid win)
    SOUNDSTAGE: ZMF OMNI (easy win, mostly wider than the DT770)
    OPENNESS: ZMF OMNI (easy win)
    IMAGING: ZMF OMNI (not so easy)
    INSTRUMENT SEPARATION: slight edge to OMNI
    DETAIL /TEXTURE: ZMF OMNI (solid win)

    VS DX1000:


    (please note that the JVC has more bass in one cup than the other. Below has some speculation based on what I am able to hear with the JVC in this condition)
     
    Both sound similar in speed with the Omni having better texture and precision. The DX1000 is just as organic sounding if not just a tad more so. The JVC also is the only other headphone in this comparison section that has a comparable soundstage. Sometimes when I switch from the JVC to the Omni I hear how the Omni has a tighter and slightly more compact presentation. However, the Omni has better instrument separation. The JVC on the other hand is more dynamic and punch. It's probably more comparable to the THX00 in dynamics yet without the odd balance in the treble and the glare that the THX00 has. While this comparison exhibits yet again the differences in dynamics between orthos and planars I prefer the Omni’s higher resolution. The JVC has even more reverberations than the other two in its soundstage but is larger than all of the others in size, inching out the Omni just a bit. Transparency goes to the Omni as well as bass control. While the JVC is the more fun sounding headphone, The Omni is the more High fidelity listen. I would definitely rank the JVC closer to the Omni’s than the THX00 though and consider the DX1k's easily one of my favorite headphones I have had here. I will probably revise this section with better impressions once the bass is equal in both drivers.   
     

    Value: 

    I am not going to call the Omni’s a bargain or affordable high end sound. They are a little bit expensive but in my opinion fit exactly where they should in price. I have bought and tried so many headphones that I am a little ashamed of my finicky personality but as a consequence I have had the opportunity to really get a grip on price to performance ratios and where the Omnis sit. I would say that at the current price of the HE560, a used HE-6 and a used HE-4, that those have to be the best performing cans for the price. However, the Omni’s are not only tuned more to my liking but are very sensibly priced and especially for not being fully open backs. I have yet to hear a closed back or semi open headphone in its price range perform better and closer to my tastes. I am certain that the price of the Omni has a lot to do with the exotic wooden cups. If we weren’t paying for wooden cups and could get the same sound (not possible) then the Omnis would be a real bargain. Truly the Omni is priced just right and you get what you pay for. 

     

    Conclusion:

    I love to have beautiful exotic wooden cups in my stable. I feel like I have one of the most premium made headphones out there. Luke of Vibro labs @taiden  seems to have designed the perfect enclosure for the T50 driver to sounds its best.  Beware though, you most likely will see another kind of wood pop up that makes you wish you had that wood instead. No worries, the Omni’s have become a popular and coveted headphone with good resale value incase you want to switch. Also, I can send these bad boys in to be tuned to my liking. Some qualities of the t50rp drivers cannot be overcome but some who have become familiar with T50rp headphone modifications have been totally surprised by how good ZMF can make them sound after hearing the Omni’s. What is there to conclude but to only hope that the Omni’s are not the conclusion of ZMF and Vibro labs collaborations. I hope they make even more headphones with their own drivers and gorgeous wood enclosures. 
      jinxy245 likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. spyder1
      Great review of the ZMF Omnis. I especially liked your comparison with other headphones. See you at the Portland, OR Head-Fi Meet.
      spyder1, May 4, 2016
    3. grizzlybeast
      Thx! See you there
      grizzlybeast, May 5, 2016
    4. desik
      Question: what wood type were the Omni under review?
      desik, Jul 20, 2016
  4. ThePianoMan
    The Omni - Nothing Quite Like It
    Written by ThePianoMan
    Published Oct 29, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Intensely, Uniquely Musical. Each one is a completely handmade, one-of-a-kind product.
    Cons - Heavy, a little power-hungry
          
    Before digging into the meat of the review, I'd like to offer a little background about myself, and present some information on how I do reviews that might be a little unconventional.
     
    My background: I grew up with a fairly nice two-channel system, in a household with that placed a lot of value on a wide assortment of genres and music in general. Since I was young I've participated in dance and music making quite extensively. I currently attend Oberlin Conservatory, where I study variously Conducting, Classical Singing, Jazz Piano, French Horn, Studio Recording, etc. I also have rigorous classes in music history, theory, listening skills, etc. I participate actively in the social dance scenes on my campus (Tango and Blues most notably). I listen to a fairly wide variety of music, from Classical and Jazz, to Michael Jackson, Ukrainian techno-pop, Australian ska/jazz jam bands, Beninese Pop, Gregorian Chant, Ancient Greek music, Country Acid House Rock, Soundtracks, etc. You name it and chances are I'll probably listen to it. I haven't traditionally had a ton of rap or dubstep in my library, but there is some. I'd say 99.99% of my collection is CD rips, 16/48. I have some high-res tracks, but mostly just free tracks and binaural samplers.
    I have a decent working knowledge of electrical engineering, as well as some sample theory, and psychoascoustics, and experience in multiple recording studios, and attend dozens of concerts and recitals every month. I have the good fortune to be able to use recordings I have played on or tracked/mixed myself as reference tracks.
    Despite having a fair amount of experience with music for many years, and being fairly familiar with two-channel for some time, I am still fairly new to the headphone hobby. I received a pair of skull candy's about 4 years ago. After they broke, I had a pair of B&W P5's before discovering head-fi and innerfidelity, etc. and moving on to a pair of grado 325is about two years ago, a pair of Beyerdynamic DT880s last year which I currently own, and no the OMNIs which I have had for a few weeks. My approach to listening is generally a fairly subjective one early on: I will sit down to listen and simply attempt to enjoy the music of some of my reference tracks, and over the course of several listening sessions attempt to break down why or why not a piece has moved me. What musical details do I notice? Am I engaged in certain parts of the performance, and why? Do certain moments or things stick out to me? After this I will break these down into further parts: Does the headphone sound particularly dynamic? Are the micro-details very noticeable? How is extension?
    What I am looking for is a sonic picture (so-to-speak) that defines this headphone for me. I have fairly open ears, and find most reputable gear by well-known or respected manufacturers generally sounds good though drastically different to my ears. What I look for most is not one particular frequency response for a certain genre, but rather a headphone that is capable of handling any and all genres of music, and that can function both as an enjoyable listening tool and is uncolored or balanced enough to be a reasonably efficient studio tool. This subjective to objective approach is my take on a deductive approach to headphone listening. I approach the sound purely from an enjoyment perspective. I then move into filling in gaps in what I'm hearing until I'm able to assess the headphone and ultimately decide if it is one I would be able to live with for a long time. I would happy to elaborate why I think this system is particularly useful, but on to the review!
     
    The Headphones
     
    I can't speak to everyone's experience with unpacking, but my headphones came with a seahorse case that contained and protect the headphones very nicely. ​I actually did not think I would need the case, but I would highly recommend it to anyone considering travelling anywhere with the headphones.
    My OMNI is in cherry, and has a particularly beautiful darker finish with straight grain and some side-ribboning. The coins are the etched version. My headband is the pilot pad, and I have settled on the lambskin pads as my pads of choice after extensive comparisons between Cowhide, Protein, and Lambskin.
     
    I find comfort to be excellent on these. Not perhaps as weightless as many the HD800, or the new HiFiMan planars, but I don’t experience any neck pain, head hotspots, or ear rubbing with these. That’s more than I can say for any other headphone I’ve tried with the exception of the HD800 and ETHER. I’d say the comfort is on par though different than the ETHER for me. The HD800 feels totally different on the head, and is still perhaps the most comfortable headphone I’ve ever listened to. In the hope of being somewhat objective I will say that these are a little on the heavier side of things, especially in relation to dynamics. Not as heavy as Audeze headphones, and with much better padding. I would say if weight is a big thing for you, get the leather strap, it adds some weightlessness. If you had issues with hotspots, the pilot pad will serve you really well. You can also get both, which is tremendously comfortable and is a best of both worlds solution. The OMNI I have is just the pilot pad and I find it plenty comfortable to wear for many hours.
     
    I find the headphones build excellent, different than what you might expect from larger ccompanies, the headband and sliders are the metal/rubber parts from fostex (all badging removed) with the rest of the headphone being wood, or different leathers. It looks and feels much more like a handmade, crafted piece than a factory-finished product. There is some frontal damping that can be seen in the through the silkscreens in front of the driver, but it doesn’t really make a difference on comfort, and obviously isn’t visible most of the time. The small pewter coins are a nice, fairly subtle badging. The headphones feel tremendously sturdy, especially the wooden cups and metal sliders.
     
    The Sound
     
    The really important part of this review!
    I’ve tested these headphones on my own Magni/Modi 2 Uber stack, a Lyr 1, Asgard 2 and Bifrost Uber, Ragnarok/Yggdrasil stack, Violectric V281, and Zach’s own Master 11 and Decware Taboo tube amp.
     
    I would describe the defining feature of these headphones as naturalness and musicality. This is not however at the cost of detail or tonal balance. These headphones certainly lean a little on the warmer side, but are not at all dull or overly warm unless paired with a soupy tube amp. I think the fact that the Omni is semi-open is something unique especially at the approximately $1000 price and under category. The bass has some of reinforcement of closed cans, while also being less colored and having open, airier, more spacious mids and treble than a closed can. I think this makes the Omni distinct in a very positive way. Will it please purists looking for the absolute most open, most detailed headphones possible? Probably not. However, it isolates surprisingly well, and is highly resolving and transparent without being hyper detailed. The Omni has many tools in the toolbox, so-to-speak. What I mean by that is that the Omni has microdetail, yes, but the microdetail is not thrown forward in the presentation. The Omni has macro-detail and dynamics, an adaptable tonal balance, and a soundstage that isolates well enough to create a little of it’s own headstage, but is open enough to give the sound space to sound realistic. The Omni draws your attention to macro-detail and dynamics on recordings with wide dynamic range, such as orchestra and movie scores. It draws your attention to micro-detail on recordings with plankton, such as close-miked acoustic folk music, things like piano, guitar, and vocals. If the recordings have a lot of deep bass energy, or slam as in electronic music, they have rhythm and pace. The Omni will rock on rocking tunes. It will chill out on relaxing tunes. It will groove and peel back layers on subtle musical cues without loudly announcing its activities to you. I feel the Omni presents music not only with a natural tone, but with a balance in all aspects that attempts to bring out the best in recordings, whether poor or excellent in quality. The Omni plays music, and does one of the best disappearing acts I’ve heard in the headphone world.
     
    I ran some test tones and tracks I use during studio recording with the Omnis to see how they perform.
     
    The treble sounds well resolving, pretty much absent are the treble peaks of the T50rp, and though the dynamics of the upper ranges are tremendous when called for, they are never piercing or harsh even when the volume is turned up. Treble extends all the way up to 18khz+ on this headphone, and is smooth and even without sounding hyper-extended.
     
    The Mids are transparent and full, and have the ZMF house sound refined to another level over the Blackwoods and Vibro headphones. They are not overly warm or soupy, but manage to convey a richness that is nearly unparalleled in other headphones I have heard. I believe this is due to the nature of the Bass on ZMF headphones. In classical and plenty of jazz and folk music, the bass instruments are the foundation of the sound, while quite a bit of vocal and instrumental “midrange information” lies in the 200-1000hz range. The low-mid/high-bass range sits between the 80-200hz range and often has quite a bit of carrying power and resonance both to the ear, and in musical information. Many headphones have some emphasis or lack of emphasis here however, which to my ears can be almost as fatiguing 2-3khz peaks, Think first generation beats, or the bass resonance in many speaker setups. The Omni transition nicely and a little lean even in this region, while retaining the brighter richness of the upper midrange. This creates a balance that is neither too thick/blaoted, nor too brightly tipped-up in the higher midrange/low-treble. It’s a difficult balance to get right, but I think the Omni does well. Some might find the Cherry Omnis particularly a little mid-forward, or the Blackwoods ever so slightly v-shaped, but in general I think most will find the midrange on the Omni very strong.
     
    By this point it’s probably obvious I quite like the Omni. There are perhaps some quibbles, as with anything. The imaging, though excellent and wonderfully tactile on the Omni, does have the quality that all planars and electrostats seem to: the left and right channel sounds that are panned tend to sound as though they are panned harder left and right than they do with dynamic driver headphones. This can make the headstage seem like a large, surrounding sort of space from which sounds emerge, a bit different from dynamic drivers, which seem to act more as point sources. I enjoy both presentations and feel the Omni has exceptionally strong imaging even for a planar, but for those who have strong preferences this is a consideration.
     
    The tonal balance is perhaps a bit bass-heavy with the cowhide and protein pads for me. I prefer the lambskin pads. The lambskin pads seem to work well with every version of the Omni. I found the midrange a bit too low-mid heavy with these two pads as well, whereas the lambskin pads sounded much more even-handed to me. This is not so much a negative as it is a consideration.
     
    These cans are a bit heavy. The stock cable is a bit squirrely in the 10ft configuration, so you might want to provide a Y-splitter of your own. I find the balance to be somewhat amp-dependent, and the cans themselves seem a bit on the power-hungry side. These are also no small cans, though I doubt many folks are using them as portables. I think some may prefer the absolute purity of open cans, or the absolute isolation of closed cans. Perhaps a leaner tonal balance is the preference of some as well, but I find these to be very even-handed despite leaning ever so slightly on the warm side of things.
     
    A note on the Omnis and amp selection. I find these cans, and all ZMF cans to be rather amp dependent, and even a little on the more power hungry side of things. Certainly a magni or O2 can drive them wonderfully, but they really sing with more wattage. Zach really likes a softer wound, as with his Decware or violectric setups. These setups are wonderful, but my tonal preferences are on the slightly leaner side of things, and I happen to think the Omni pairs particularly well with Lyr 2, Ragnarok and Asgard 2. The Omni is a tremendously versatile headphone in that it will provide fantastic musicality from all of these amps, but it will give a quite noticeably different character from all of these amps. For example, I found Lyr 1 a little dull with the Omnis, but thought Lyr 2 was a better match for my preferences. Both nice presentations, but quite different. I would categorize the Omni as amp-sensitive, but not amp-picky. Like the way it presents music, it seems to incorporate the most noticeable pleasant features of amps into its sound, yet does not highlight their shortcomings as much as some dynamic headphones (impedance of course has an effect on this)
     
    Conclusions
     
    Several months into owning my own Omni, and a few more months since first extensively testing the Omnis at multiple meets and Zach’s house, I feel that new-toy syndrome has mostly worn-off. While pride-of-ownership still exists, I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about how to characterize the Omni. What stands out most to me is the attention to music in its design. Zach himself is a musician, with wide-ranging and excellent taste, and I believe the design of his headphones shows a distinct awareness and care for making headphones that sound not just accurate or technically capable, but are as enjoyable as possible. I have heard many headphones that were fantastically well-designed that did not have the soul and smile-inducing personality of the Omni. This of course is the difference between larger companies and ZMF. The character of this headphone is in design and the sound. It reminds me a lot of many speaker manufacturers who craft enclosures and tune crossovers and ports, etc. while sourcing drivers from other manufacturers. Certainly, there is very little about the Omni that resembles, sonically or physically the original Fostex headphone.
    Here’s my final take away. Perhaps you prefer a finely manufactured piece of gear of the more industrial variety. The Omni might not be your holy grail. But if you really like headphones that engage you in the music, and don’t mind or even appreciate a unique touch and customized/handmade touch in your headphones there really isn’t anything quite like the Omni out there.
     
     
     
    As always, I encourage you to try before you buy, and if you do get the Omni I hope you like them! YMMV, and happy listening.
      Vanheim likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. MLegend
      He has the cherry version. Third sentence under The Headphones.
      MLegend, Feb 12, 2016
    3. WhiskeyJacks
      Thank you MLegend for that
      WhiskeyJacks, Feb 12, 2016
    4. Vanheim
      I'm so exited for my Omni cherry now! Thanks for the amazing review! I enjoyed reading through it.
      Vanheim, Aug 13, 2016
  5. cleg
    Really competitive model from all points of view
    Written by cleg
    Published Oct 21, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - bass, treble, design, comfort, customization options
    Cons - mids are a bit recessed (should be improved in newer versions)
    1MainPic.jpg

    Well, it was a really long journey, but at last I've got my new Omnis. It's hard to believe, but it took 3 attempts to get at least one of Zach's wooden Fostex. First attempt was made at the beginning of the year, it was ZMF x Vibro, sent by USPS. And they were stolen somewhere in between. Ukrainian post told that they got box damaged and empty, USPS said nothing particular. And here comes the best thing in ZMF's — it's Zachary himself. He agreed to send me another pair for the price of cups, and even upgraded them to Blackwood, which he've released in that time.

    Second attempt was made with DHL in summer, but now headphones struck in Ukrainian customs office. They've decided that it's a good idea to get about $400 as a tax. It was ridiculous, but I was travelling, and my wife wasn't strong enough to negotiate with customs officers, so Blackwood went back to USA. And you know what? Zach was kind enough to repeat this third time, and now headphones became freshly released Omnis.

    2Overview.jpg

    Third attempt was made by my sister. She was in Canada, so she received Omnis and brought them to Ukraine, and from there headphones made their way to Montenegro (btw, are there at least one more head-fier in Monty?). So, at last I've got this masterpiece, as well as new NuPrime's DAC-10H, and I'm ready to share my impressions.

    I won't spend a lot of time, describing build quality, which is outstanding, so nothing to discuss there, and accessories set (cable, two pairs of earpads and certificate). Just small advice — get a case, it's really worth it.

    3WithCertificate.jpg

    Omnis are highly customizable. You can select 2 pairs out of 3 different earpads (cowhide, lambskin and pleather), 3 versions of wood for cups (cherry, walnut and blackwood), 2 different headband styles and even color of guides. Also, you can ask any wiring options, almost everything is doable (but not everything for free, of course).

    10WithCayinN6.jpg

    Headphones are really comfortable, earpads and pilot pad on headband does their job of weight distribution well, so they are comfortable to wear. Sound isolation is really good. Omnis are semi-open, so they leak some sound both outside and inside, but it's really small amount. I'm using them in office, and don't got any objections from colleagues.

    4Cable.jpg

    So, let's move onto sound. Please note, that different wood and earpads material will give you different sound signature. After reading description on ZMF's site I've decided to got cherry cups and listen them with lambskin earpads.

    9SideofCup.jpg

    After sending headphones to me, Zach told that he've made some minor changes in sound tuning to make mids even better. I've decided not to send Omnis back (risk of not getting them back is to high), so he've sent me modification kit, so I'll be able to do mod myself. It haven't arrived yet, when I'll get it, I'll add a note to this review.

    5SpareEarpads.jpg

    Overall signature of Omnis are a bit on darker side. It's not completely dark, just a small hint of bass emphasis, but headphones keeps really great speed and resolution. By overall signature they are close to Audeze and definitely can compete with them.

    Bass is deep, fast and have good texture. Of course, it's not a bassehead model, but accent on lows is audible. Compared with LCD-3, Omnis are lacking a bit of force in slow bass punches, Audeze's driver is a way larger then Omni's, but on faster notes there is no any issues. On tracks with good drum recording, you can feel like you are right near the bass drum.

    6Coin.jpg

    Mids are a bit withdrawn, or, even more precisely, they seems withdrawn compared with highs and lows. I can't say that it's a big issue (and looks like it's improved in newer versions), as such FR tuning is a feature of this model. This gives them "tasty" sounding, very solid and musical. This isn't a headphones for analytical sound lowers, Omnis aren't for this. Nevertheless, headphones plays all mid details nicely, preserving emotions and instruments nature. Soundstage is narrower then in open headphones, but much, much better then in closed models. Stage depth is really nice.

    7BottomView.jpg

    Highs are, probably, strongest part of this model (at least for me), they are close to my ideal tuning. I don't know how, but Omnis combine excellent presence of treble and non-fatiguing sounding. Usually, headphones either have recessed highs that rustle somewhere in background, or plays as is, that is harsh for many listeners. Omni have perfect balance that allows them to play even small nuances of tunes. Often you can't even pinpoint those minor treble sparks in melody, but without them sound became dull and lacking air. But, as I've said before, Omnis are great in treble.

    8StylishLook.jpg

    I didn't heard much top-end headphones, so I can't make lot of comparisons, but I've placed Omnis somewhere between Audeze LCD-2 and LCD-3. To my taste they overcome LCD-2 (non-fazor version) and are a bit behind LCD-3 (but price tag is 2 times less).

    So, as you could understand, I liked Omnis very much. They combine nice soundstage (for closed headphones), punchy bass, nice details, great highs and stylish look.

    As usual, first impression video.

      saidentary and Wildcatsare1 like this.
    1. zach915m
      Just a note, this version had the final Pre-Production tuning, I am working on getting Cleg the instructions to turn it into the production tuning now!
      zach915m, Oct 21, 2015
    2. saidentary
      Zach's headphones impressed me a LOT at a recent headphone meet in Chicago.  His phenomenal customer service doesn't surprise me either.  I don't remember the exact model, but I was surprised at how great they sounded.  It wasn't that I expected them to sound bad, it's just that I didn't realize how good they were.  Here's what I posted to the impressions thread for that meet:
       
      "ZMF headphones are the real deal.  Wow.  Very impressive, even sound with great detail, not harsh, nicely full yet still seemingly fast and absolutely GORGEOUS--another example where the photos look "nice" but don't do justice to the beauty of these gems.  And the sound--these aren't just eye candy.  I had no idea they would be as good as they are.  Personally, I now regard Zach more as a manufacturer of headphones rather than just a modifier of headphones.  Although he doesn't make his own drivers, neither do a lot of high end loudspeaker companies.  Yet nobody calls them "modders."  Just my opinion.
      saidentary, Oct 22, 2015
  6. PacoTaco
    The Best T50RP Mod Period, As Well As The Best Sub-1000$ Planar On The Market
    Written by PacoTaco
    Published Oct 6, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - The bass is superbly deep and full of impact; the mid-range is thick and detailed; overall the most enjoyable planar I've owned
    Cons - Not as detailed as some headphones; slightly unforgiving
    The Introduction
     
    Well, lovely citizens of head-fi, I am finally ready to bring you the review of the new T50RP mod by ZMF Headphones, known as the ZMF Omni. It is a semi-open headphone that uses wooden cups and driver modifications to make a headphone that does not resemble the original all that much. If you want to see pictures, here is my impressions thread from reddit.
     
    I have, in my mind, owned the headphones long enough that the initial hype has worn off and I can bring you a mostly level headed opinion of this headphone. Also, so that I can give you the most detailed review I could, I have listened to, at home for a couple days at a time, each wood you can choose for the Omni.
     
    The Build
     
    Since this is a T50RP mod, the headphone uses the T50RP's frame/body as the base to build off of. That aside, everything on this headphone has been upgraded/customized with the exception of the flexible/sturdy headband. The cups are wood (which, from what I've seen, do not crack and are really durable,) the sliders are given different paint jobs, there's three ear pad materials to choose from, and you can get a comfort strap (or pilot bad...or both.)
     
    The overall feel is damn sturdy, and the look is pretty awesome (as well as customizable to a degree.)
     
    As far as comfort goes...well, it depends on the wood. Cherry is the lightest and Blackwood is the heaviest. However, the pilot pad or buffalo strap included helps distribute the weight of the headphone that allows you to wear it a long time. The ear pads are even more comfortable. Zach spent a very long time going through manufacturers until he found one that made the pads to his standards, and it does show. The foam inside is sturdy and forms to your ears, and the three kinds of material [cowhide, lamb leather, and eggshell protein pleather] to choose from helps find that perfect material you want. I, for example, like the cowhide pads the best, but some people enjoy lambskin the most.
     
    The Sound
     
    Now here's the most important part: How does the Omni sound? Well, it sounds unique and wonderful. It is a mid-heavy, organic headphone that seems oddly balanced/neutral. It has a bit of energy to it, handles bass like a pro, and has a thick (but open) midrange. The closest headphone that I could compare to it accurately is the LCD 3, but I can't honestly do that to this headphone. My favorite headphone, before this one, was the LCD 2 due to the emphasis on enjoyment of the headphone over the technicalities. (As a side-note, I dislike the LCD 3 compared to the LCD 2, as I found it didn't hit that sweet spot the LCD 2 did.) After this listening to the Omni for about a month, this headphone has taken its place.
     
    The headphone comes in three woods: walnut, cherry, and blackwood. Each comes with their own flavor of the sound signature. Here's a nice chart to compare the differences:
     
    1. The Cherry - Has the longest decay in the bass, the most mid-bass, the largest soundstage, but takes a small hit in the detail of higher ranges. It is the most relaxing/enjoyable headphone of the trio.
    2. The Blackwood - Is the most technically proficient headphone of this trio. It has the fastest decay, most emphasis on subbass, and the best detail in the higher ranges. However, it has the smallest soundstage, and the least fun out of the trio.
    3. The Walnut - This one is odd to describe. It is the most ordered of the three woods, and for good reason. It seems like a compromise between the two woods, and it kinda is. It has a soundstage and speed that is in between the Blackwood and Cherry. However, the headphone has something that other two don't: an amazing amount of bass impact. The Cherry focuses on delivering that slow, cinematic boom, while the Blackwood puts out a clean subbass. The Walnut, however, gives an impact that is clean, but methodical. It hits pretty well and surprises at times. Yet, it keeps the detail the Blackwood has.
     
    That said, the Walnut is actually becoming my least favorite of the three. While I would say it's the most popular for a reason, I find myself oddly torn between the Cherry (for its relaxing nature) or the staying power of a more technically proficient headphone (the Blackwood.)
     
    To make this all the more confusing, the pads also make a pretty good impact on the sound. The cowhide is the cleanest sound to the pads. It gives a bit more impact to the bass and provides the most extension. The lamb leather, on the other hand, provides the same benefits as the Cherry wood: a more cinematic sounding bass with a touch more darkness to the sound. The pleather (and least favorite pad) provides the "most" bass quantity, the most darkness, and works best with the Blackwood...oddly enough.
     
    The headphone does well with basically any genre thrown at. Music sounds lively and fun, games are exciting and immersive, and movies are just superb. It also scales well to the sound signature of an amplifier or DAC. I've used it with both the Geek Pulse and the NFB 15.32, and both the amp/dacs brought something different out of the headphone (even if it is just subtle.)
     
    Conclusion
     
    How does this headphone compare to other T50RP mods and sub-1000$ planars? Well...amazingly well. You have a headphone that can be compared to the likes of the LCD 3 in the sub-1000$ quantity. It outdoes the LCD 2 at its own game, outdoes the Alpha Prime, and pretty much outdoes any T50RP mod or sub-1000$ planar out there. This even includes the HE560.
    It is now my favorite headphone. It's not the most detailed headphone with the largest soundstage, but it was never aiming for that. It absolutely nails that relaxing, enjoyable sound that does well with any medium. It is quite the gem.


      Turdski and cs098 like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Law87
      some strong statement, cant wait to test it out vs my AP
      Law87, Oct 7, 2015
    3. jdpark
      What kind of current do you need to drive these, and what kind of impedance to they have? I have a Magni max 1.2w/per channel and a Lehmann BCL, the former having more power, but the latter sounding better overall with max 400mw per channel. 
      jdpark, Oct 7, 2015
    4. saidentary
      What a great review!  Wonderful to read and your satisfaction really comes through.  This is really a company that does an outstanding job in craftsmanship and build quality. And the SOUND!  You describe their beautiful sonic signature in such rich and vivid (yet concise) detail.
      It's great to see ZMF headphones getting some of the credit they so richly deserve.  I heard them at a headphone meet in Chicago.  I had no idea they would sound as good as they did.  If I didn't already own two high end pairs of headphones, these would be on my short list.  ZMF headphones are the real deal.
      saidentary, Oct 7, 2015
  7. jjacq
    ZMF Omni: A Semi-Open Flagship
    Written by jjacq
    Published Aug 5, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Great build feel, highly customizable, wood cups
    Cons - Can be a bit bassheavy for some, not for all genres.
    NOTE: At the time of the review, these were the preproduction Omnis. I have not heard the blackwood version but I am pleased to say that there is quite a good improvement in the post production of the cherrywood. The midrange bleed is not there anymore and while being on a warm side, the tonality is very thorough and smooth. Bass quality is top notch, as it did not have much of the subbassy boom and rumble I remembered from the preproduction model. 
     
    Out of the meet where I have tried the new version, it was definitely one of my favorites. I hope the following review does not fully sway you from considering Zach's creation in any way. They were very very good and surprisingly very open sounding despite the semi-open design.
     
     
    DSC01322.jpg
    The Blackwood and Cherrywood side by side.
     
    DSC01353.jpg
    Overall view of what this review consisted of.
     
    First of all, I’d like to thank Zach for supplying the Omni for this review.
     
    Introduction
     
    I’m quite pleased with the build, especially with how the wood cups feel. For this review, I am using the cowhide pads with the default headbands. The Cherrywood arrived several days earlier than the Omni Blackwood did so I spent more time with it but I felt like I did my best in evaluating these two headphones. In brief descriptions, I would say the Cherrywood is a well-executed v-shaped headphone while the Blackwood is more of a midrange-emphasized closed headphone with a slightly warm signature.
     
    The accessories I received with the headphones are the multiple pads that I couldn’t compare because I had been busy with the things in my job, three possible choices of headbands, a single ended and balanced cable, and a waterproof hardcase. My criticism when it comes to the case is that it could’ve been a bit bigger and foam lined on the inner sides. I’m slightly worried about how the foam is
    compressing the earpads on the drivers.
     
    DSC01363.jpg
    So many pads, so little time!
     
    DSC01362.jpg
    DSC01358.jpg
    DSC01359.jpg
    Audeze case comparison. The opening mechanisms are also very different with an edge to the Audeze. I think the Audeze is the better case if you don't mind the weight as the separate compartment allows you to add extra things like a small DAP, amp, DAC or cables.
     
    Sound quality
     
    DSC01329.jpg
     
    For both headphones, an AdCom GDA700 R2R DAC and a Schiit Asgard 1 were used for the purpose of this review. The GDA700 has given me massive soundstage for any headphone I've tried with it and the Omni's were no exception which is why I can't fully comment on how different they are. Also, all the things I've heard from this review is purely subjective. Please take it with a cup of salt because who knows, I might be deaf. Hearing things that people don't hear and all.
     
    Sound (Cherrywood)
     
    Bass is similar to how closed headphones have bass and I think this is the beauty of the semi-open design. This closed sound is something I’d describe as having quite a good bit of subbass but unlike certain headphones, it does not neglect having the midbass punch entirely. The speed when it comes to the bass is nothing to scoff at while still being able to maintain an adequate amount of subass. It kind of reminds me of the Alpha Dogs which I enjoyed when I had.
     
    The midrange kind of suffer a bit but this is expected with the sound signature. I would say it is a miss when it comes to classical music where the mids almost sound recessed with songs like Chopin’s Nocturne No. 2 or Hungarian Dance No. 5. The Omni is not terrible when it comes to guitar or piano but the bass emphasis can cause these to be overbearing. An example of how the Omni does this would be the guitar notes in Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s Atlas Hands.
     
    When it comes to treble, I think the Omni shines. I think this headphone will be liked by many people because of how the treble is with the addition of the bass which I think is the most emphasized part of this headphone. The treble is characterized as is slightly forward but it does not give any harshness or sibilance. The bass still does overpower it but it’s not unlistenable. You notice it when the Omni intends you to.
     
    I can definitely say that the Omni is good for Hip Hop, Top 40/Pop, EDM and Live Concert recordings. But it can be a bit overbearing when it comes to Folk/Indie Folk/Americana, some alternative rock, Classical, and the likes which mostly have emphasis on the midrange. Overall, I think it’s a fun headphone. I’d pick this over the Alpha Dogs although I don’t know how it fares with the Alpha Prime.
     
    DSC01324.jpg
     
    Sound (Blackwood)
     
    As for the Blackwood Omni, they sound more like closed headphones with some noticeable amount of bass rumble in the lower registers (try Childish Gambino’s Heartbeat). The midbass is not substantial but it’s there, which you notice with songs like Walk the Moon’s Avalance where it can be too hard hitting when it comes to certain headphones. Personally this is not something I’m not super fond with especially since I’m used to how Audeze presents its bass so I lean towards the bass that the LCD-2 or the LCD-X gives. This bass does go well very well with Pop and Hip Hop though.

    With the midrange midrange, it’s definitely more refined than the Cherrywood but it can get ruined with songs that have even only an adequate amount of bass guitar like Temper Trap’s Fader. Piano and guitar sounds are very well handled compared to the Cherrywood so it can work when it comes to Jazz or Indie Pop. Classical instruments are also articulated better as well. My test track for this London Philharmonic Orchestra’s iteration of the Hungarian Dance No. 5. This is probably the best part that I like about the Blackwood.
     
    The treble can be said to be veiled compared to the Cherrywood and I found it slightly dark in certain instances. Breakbot’s Baby I’m Yours shows this veiled characteristic but I can’t say it’s completely unrealistic either; I feel like it’s the treble that closed headphones tend to have. Certain songs might not work well to the Blackwood Omni’s favor, like Sbtrkt’s Hold On which has continuous bass notes all throughout the song.
     
    DSC01343.jpg
     
    Brief comparison of the Omni’s with the LCD-X:
     
    The LCD-X has a different kind of bass than either of the Omni’s and it can be said that it may be catering to a different audience entirely. The Omni’s strength and weakness lies in its bass and this is all thanks to the semi-closed design. It’s a matter of preference at this point though I would personally choose the LCD-X as the better all arounder when it comes to bass centric songs while the two Omni’s can be said as specialists. The Cherrywood for Hip Hop, Pop and the likes while the Blackwood can be for Classical, Acoustic, and Jazz. The midrange of the X is very clean and smooth and I prefer it over either of the Omni. When it comes to the Treble, my X has a peak in the 5k region which makes certain vocalists sound rolled off so YMMV since Audeze does have a notorious history of not having consistent products across the board. The Cherrywood is probably my favorite when it comes to the treble, since it doesn’t sound peaky like the X, or veiled like the Blackwood.
     
    In conclusion, value is definitely found with either of the Omni’s especially when you compare them to headphones like the LCD-X. You do get advantages with the X but there are trade-offs in addition to the price. Both of these Omni’s still do not amount to the LCD-X’s price and you are getting perhaps more or less 75% of what the X can offer in terms of fidelity. Out of the two, I personally like the Cherrywood but the Blackwood caters to those who don’t enjoy their treble too forward with the bass being able to extend substantially deep.
     
    Thanks for taking the time to read this review.
     
    A few extra shots:
     
    DSC01328.jpg
    DSC01319.jpg
    DSC01327.jpg
      ibs63 and Stillhart like this.
    1. Jeff Y
      Looking great. I'm surprised to hear that it's got great treble though. I don't find the Mad Dog's treble characteristic that is usually present in T50RP mods that great. Also I didn't expect to read about the laid back mids you mentioned. But hey, they're cool looking.
      Jeff Y, Aug 5, 2015
    2. zach915m
      Just a note, these had a pre-production tuning that was sent to Jjacq during the ZMF Omni tour.
      zach915m, Oct 22, 2015
  8. Cinder
    Semi Open, All Entertaining
    Written by Cinder
    Published Nov 24, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Warm and exciting sound signature, resolving but not fatiguing treble, excellent build quality, top-notch service from ZMF
    Cons - Heavy, potential comfort issues for people with small heads

    1E973mxztnddMaWnBQjO7vQ.jpg

     

    ZMF Omni Review: Semi Open, All Entertaining

    This is the second ZMF planar headphone I’ve had the pleasure of auditioning. I was blown away with the sheer price-to-performance ratio of ZMF’s more tame headphone, the ZMF x Vibro Mk. II. Designed and hand-built by Zach Melbrach in Chicago, you can rest easy knowing one of the best sets of ears in business is responsible for your investment. However, does the law of diminishing returns hurt the value of the Omni, especially given the fact that the drivers are still from the T50rp Mk. III?
    You can find the Omni here starting at $899.
    Disclaimer: This review is based upon a loaner unit provided to me by ZMF in exchange for my honest opinion and un-edited words. I do not profit in any wayfrom the writing of the review. I would like to thank Zach for giving me this opportunity.
    Preference and Bias: Before reading a review, it is worth mentioning that there is no way for a reviewer to objectively pass judgment on the enjoy-ability of a product: such a thing is inherently subjective. Therefore, I find it necessary for you to read and understand what I take a natural liking to and how that might affect my rating of a product.
    My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, bass. The mids should be slightly less pronounced than the treble, but still ahead of the bass. I prefer a more bright upper range.
    Source: The Omni was powered like so:
    PC Optical out -> HifiMe 9018 SPDIF -> 3.5mm out -> 3.5mm to 1/4in adapter -> headphones
    Hidizs AP100 3.5mm out -> FiiO A5 (high gain) 3.5mm out -> 3.5mm to 1/4inch adapter -> headphones
    Standard 3.5mm out from both my Nexus 6P and HTC One M8 was inadequate to drive the Omni.

    Sound Signature

    Initial Impressions:
    The Omni certainly exemplifies the essence of the ZMF house sound: smooth and warm, yet still articulate. The mids are well pronounced, but are behind the mid bass a bit. Treble is balanced well with the mids, and extends pretty far up. Bass extends well into the 20Hz-50Hz range.
    Treble: Songs used: White FlagMidnight CityOutlands
    While many say that the Omni’s best feature sound-wise is the bass, I disagree. I find the treble to be the most impressive and well-tuned part of the sound signature. Allow me to explain. Firstly, the Omni is a warm earphone, through and through. However, Zach managed to maintain treble presence at all times, keep it dynamic and active within the mix, and smoothed it out, making it one of the least fatiguing earphones I’ve heard to date. This really shows itself in Midnight City, a song that makes heavy use of contrasting treble effects and deep bass lines. The treble effects had a hard edge to them without feeling sharp, which is indicative of a very healthy attack and decay in the treble.
    The treble kicked it up a notch in Outlands, becoming very expressive. I was simply blown away by the idea that the headphones I was listening to started out as a pair of plain old T50rps! I could pick out many more details within the violins, hearing the subtle differences in tonality between the various sections of the performers.
    Mids: Songs used: Flagpole SittaJacked UpI Am The HighwayDreams
    For a warm earphone, the Omni does a great job portraying dry instruments like the drums within Flagpole Sitta. Furthermore, the Omni did a great job with instrumental separation and placement. The guitars had an electric crunch to them, the vocals sounded realistic and full-bodied, and the drums had a good “pop” to them.
    The pianos of Jacked Up had a good hardness to them, and sounded quite realistic in presentation, as the Omni managed to capture and display even the internal resonance of each piano within the mix, a feat I consider to be incredibly impressive. Needless to say, these headphones are the first ones I’ve tested that allowed me to hear the details within this song so clearly. There’s so much going on, and it really feels like the Omni is drawing you into the music. The bass guitar, lead guitar, rythm guitar, three vocalists, two pianos, and drums all resolve damn near perfectly. The guitar feedback is what really got me though. As a guitarist myself, I was shocked at how real it sounded through the Omni.
    The vocals of I Am The Highway were truly impressive. While still commanding of the song, they didn’t wash away any of the other instruments that happened to cohabitate their slice of the frequency response. They were clear but not hard on the ears. Most importantly, the vocals had a good timbre and presentation to them. While a bit warmer and thicker than I think is natural, it is charming in its own way.
    Bass: Songs used: Lights(Bassnectar Remix)Gold DustIn For The Kill (Skream Remix)Leave Me
    I won’t lie: while Lights was definitely a fun listen, it really lacked the rumble I was hungry for. All the sound was there, but it just didn’t shake my head the way I generally want. But you know what? That’s fine, because if this is the sacrifice that needs to be made in order to maintain the level of fidelity the Omni currently has, then in my books, it is a sacrifice well worth its weight in gold.
    Speaking of gold, Gold Dust makes use of much more mid-bass than Lights does, and thusly had a decent amount of impact. Bass was tight and well-defined, but again, lacked rumble.
    Bass clarity and mobility is pretty good, allowing for songs like In For The Kill to make use of complex bass and sub-bass lines without muddying up the lower register. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but I did miss the rumble I’d get out of my 99 Classics.
    Clarity: Songs used: ThroneMap of The ProblimatiqueI’m Not Alright
    Clarity is top notch, with no distortion at all across any of my test songs. Throne was presented smoothly, with only a small amount of missing detail in the upper register. I’m Not Alright also performed well, with the Omni being able to render almost all of the song, missing out on only a couple micro-details.

    Packaging / Unboxing

    I did not get any packaging, as this Omni is Zach’s showroom unit. It was shipped to me in a plain seahorse case, which is built like a frigging tank. If you do choose to buy an Omni, get the case. The peace of mind you get with it is well worth the extra charge.

    Build

    Construction Quality
    For a headphone that started out as a paltry T50rp, the Omni is certainly a thing to behold. Even this showroom unit, which has undoubtedly gone through a lot of handling, you can barely notice it’s extensive use. Everything from the head-band to the hand-stained wooden ear-cups of the Omni oozes premium, and you can easily tell that these are things that were built by caring hands.
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    The cables are also pretty nice, and fit snugly into the Omni. They detach quickly and easily, but never by accident.
    Comfort
    The Omni is very heavy but is not uncomfortable on the head due to ZMF’s great headband and earpads. The only point of contention I had was on my first three hour listening session where my neck began to hurt a bit. However, after another day or so I did not notice any more discomfort, no matter the duration of my listening session. People with smaller heads will certainly have issues maintaining a snug fit though. While better than the Vibro Mk. II in terms of clamping power, I still found the Omni quite easy to dislodge from my head with semi-normal movement. Thusly, I find the Omni to be great for still listening-sessions, but less than ideal for any on-the-go listening.

    Summary

    The Omni is an homage to Zach’s dedication to his craft. For $899 you get to customize the Omni to look exactly how you want, with a sound that you are pretty much guaranteed to enjoy. However, I am still a little unsure about spending so much on a modded T50rp, built by Zach or not. The quality of the build is undeniably good, but I can’t help but think that these drivers are certainly holding the Omni back. If Zach could introduce a dynamic headphone at this price-point with similar tuning, I’d recommend it in a heart-beat. Congratulations on building such a great headphone though Zach.
    Once again, I’d like to thank Zach at ZMF for lending a pair the Omni for this review.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Cinder
      @smodtactical "but I did miss the rumble I’d get out of my 99 Classics".

      So in a comparative sense, the rumble of the Omni didn't quite show through. Since my tastes, writing, and critical listening skill have matured and I have greater access to more neutral transducers I would have likely written this review differently today.
      Cinder, Jul 20, 2018
    3. smodtactical
      Ohh meze audio? I see. What do you listen to now
      smodtactical, Jul 20, 2018
    4. Cinder
      Cinder, Jul 20, 2018
  9. Schopenhauer
    ZMF Omni: A Comparative Review
    Written by Schopenhauer
    Published May 10, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Soundstaging and imaging are first-rate for a semi-open/-closed headphone. Top notch bass impact/slam and extension.
    Cons - I have the sense of a slight recession in the mids.
    Following impressions are based on listening with the GO450 as DAC, Leckerton UHA-6S.MkII as amp (high-gain implemented), and Spotify in offline mode as source since I’m currently without internet at my place. Because the UHA-6S.MkII served as my amp, I used the single-ended stock cable that came with the Omni. While the stock balanced cable would’ve worked with my EF-6, I’ve already packed that up so I can list it in the classifieds. The UHA-6S.MkII is my current reference amp for a reason. I prefer it to the EF-6 on several counts. My current reference headphone is the LCD-2.2. I also have an HE-500, HD800, Mad Dog and stock T50RP on hand. My taste in music leans toward the electronic.
     
    Some non-sound related impressions. Weight seems right. I’m used to planars, however, so YMMV. Not too heavy but substantial-feeling, like you’re holding something that’ll last. Heirloom quality if taken care of. And you might want to heirloom them: These things are beautiful. Omnis arrived in lambskin; I switched to leather. Pads are plush but not overly so. I didn’t notice any sonic differences between the sets of pads. My primary interest was comfort. I’ll let others speak about “pad rolling”.
     
    Overall, the comfort on these is outstanding. Easily on a par with the Alpha Dog, Paradox Slant and ZMF x Vibro. There’s a slight issue with getting the left cup to seal on my head. My head could be to blame, though, as I encounter this issue with other headphones. That said, it might be slightly more persistent with the Omni + cowhide pads. The lambskin pads seal perfectly. Strangely, of all the headphones I’ve tried, I think the LCD-2.2 might fit my head the best, with the possible exception of the HD800.
     
    Omni is less isolating than the other T50RP mods I’ve heard. This isn’t surprising given its semi-open construction. Depending on the track playing, I could hold short, to-the-point conversations with a friend while we were listening together; he was wearing the HD800. I’m sure we were moderately yelling at each other. Also, the Omni soaks up a lot of power. I can max out the volume on my iPhone 6 without pain. It’s near or at the limit of comfortable but I can do it. This isn’t the case with, say, the LCD-2.2.
     
    A few remarks on tonality.  While I wouldn’t say the Omni is a basshead headphone, the bass is excellent in quality and extension. When compared with the LCD-2.2, I have the sense of a slight recession in the mids. Voices seem a vaguely farther away. I’m not saying that the Omni has recessed mids; I’m saying that voices seem closer with the LCD-2.2, and perhaps fuller, more textured. An upshot is that the Omni is, from I’ve heard, completely free of glare in the high midrange, viz. in 5k-6k. The T50RP driver is supposed to have a tendency for glare. I could detect it on occasion with the Alpha Dog, though it was hardly enough count against that headphone. If you’re sensitive to glare in the high midrange, you needn’t worry about the Omni. The treble is relaxed without being rolled-off. There’s plenty of definition at 10k.
     
    Some thoughts on technicalities. The HD800 is better at representing vast and distant sounds than is the Omni. That’s an obscure claim. It has to do with what might be termed the delicacy of a headphone. Vast, distant sounds are fragile and rich in information; it’s easy for this information – perhaps in the form of the felt texture of the sound – to get smoothed out, dulled. Of course, excellent treble resolution – e.g., in the “air” frequencies – contributes to this ability to represent vast distances, and the HD800’s treble resolution is unmatched in my experience. Let me give a concrete example. The synths – if that is what they are – that come in at 0:35 on Clark’s “There’s a Distance in You” from his eponymous album. (The significance of the title in the present context isn’t lost on me. This is an excellent track for testing a phone’s ability to render the timbre of vast distances. It’s also the shortest seven minute track I’ve heard.) With the HD800, you can hear how far away those synths really are. They’re not just quiet; they’re way off in the distance. This technicality might come at the cost of tonality: The HD800, while world class in treble resolution, is an almost unbearably bright headphone. I should point out that the low-end aspects of “There’s a Distance in You” sound much better on the Omnis.
     
    Soundstaging and imaging are first-rate for a (semi)closed headphone. Among the headphones I have on hand, I would put the Omni between the LCD-2.2 and the Mad Dog with respect to width. The overall effect isn’t exactly holographic, but I suspect it’s difficult to get holographic imaging with (semi)closed headphones.
     
    Greater bass impact/slam than my LCD-2.2 and HE-500, and greater than my friend’s Mad Dog. Given that I haven’t had the Alpha Dog and the Paradox Slant for several months now, I’ll forego a detailed comparison here. Suffice it to say, I don’t think the Omni is outshone by either. Bass impact/slam is only one aspect of an overall excellent transient response. This is a fast headphone. The transients aren’t as quick as with the HD800, but then, the Omni is a thicker-, fuller-sounding headphone.
     
    Thanks again to Zach for putting this tour together! I’m honored to have been given the chance to listen to ZMF’s new flagship. It’s a solid piece of craftsmanship with a smooth, defined signature. 
  10. Aornic
    The pinnacle of what the T50RP drivers can probably achieve wrapped in artisanship. [Video Included]
    Written by Aornic
    Published Apr 2, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - FUN sound with no qualms of how to achieve it. Deep sub-bass and incredible and lifelike mids. Wide soundstage.
    Cons - Might be too warm for some. Not neutral or analytical, again a preference. A bit on the heavy side. Power hungry.
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    Ask yourself this question, what do you seek from a pair of headphones? Now I know this may seem like a strange question, as most of you probably have multiple pairs for different purposes – but what draws you to your favourite pair?
     
    Is it neutrality? I’d guess you absolutely love the likes of the Sennheiser HD600 then.
     
    Is it accurate imaging, a huge soundstage and an analytical and revealing sound? Well then the Sennheiser HD800S must be what you seek.
     
    You can see where I’m going with this, and I’m only using Sennheiser products as an example because of how well known they are. I’m well aware that there are many factors that go into the enjoyment of your favourite pair of headphones, no matter what they are. But let me tell you about what makes this particular pair of headphones stand out for me, and why they are a good fit for my needs.
     
                                                                             
     
     
    A little background first. ZMF stands for “Zach Modified Fostex,” and was founded a few years ago by Zach Mehrbach, a resident of Chicago who has always had an affinity for the artistic re-purposing of wood. On his blog, found on zmfheadphones.com, he claims that this started with an appreciation for baseball bats – a sport he played a lot of as a kid. Later in life, he fancied himself a bit of a luthier and took to making acoustic guitars with various tonewood. This is important because the concept of tonewood is central to acoustic guitars. I myself have two for their different sound, an all mahogany one for its deeper and richer sound and a spruce one for its brighter tone. Over time and experience, guitarists swear by certain woods – just like how some in this community swear by certain headphones. Some like exotic woods like koa and the ever elusive (and hard to obtain legally) Brazilian rosewood.
     
    From my understanding, there was a fad of modifying the Fostex T50RP headphone a few years ago – when the likes of ZMF and MrSpeakers started doing so commercially. Zach’s approach went back to his love for wood and tonewood. However, he didn’t start like that. The original ZMF mods had repainted OEM cups at most. It wasn’t until the introduction of the ZMF x Vibro that he decided to add the element of wooden cups to further shape the sound. With cups made of soft cherry wood, the Vibro was the first time the man used something other than the stock earcups.
     
    When I first plugged in my ZMF Vibro Mk. I earlier this year, I was taken aback by the sheer amount of bass – despite having two ports in to tame it somewhat. This was my introduction to the ZMF house sound. The bass was strong but didn’t extend incredibly low, rather it stayed in the mid-bass region where it blended with the strong mids to create a unique sound that I hadn’t heard before in a pair of headphones. It was delightful for some genres but didn’t suit others much at all because of the rolled off treble. It should be noted that ZMF now sells the Vibro Mk. II, which is said to have better bass and treble extension than the Mk. I that I have experience with.
     
    After some time with the Vibro, I began to dream big and turned my attention to the Omni – waiting for an opportunity that would allow me to grab one. Fast forward a while, and I’m listening to one now – in cherry wood just like my Vibro.
     
    Now keep in mind that this is ZMF’s flagship model. This is the culmination of all the effort in tuning and experimentation that Zach has put in since he started his company a few years ago – one in which he seems to do most of the work alone and to order (hence the somewhat long order lead time of 4-6 weeks). This is a personal, boutique touch that is far more customized than factory made headphones, not that there is anything inherently wrong with mass production – it meets demands just fine. However, I’m fairly sure ZMF isn’t even Zach’s main occupation – rather a hobby that grew in popularity and reputation that he must probably devote most of his free time to now. Customer service with Zach is also stellar as he's happy to answer any questions you may have and custom tune your order to suit personal tastes. 
     
    This flagship model on my head right now isn’t even the most expensive or "unique" offering. The Omni Cherry and Walnut are priced $100 under the Blackwood and exotic tonewoods that appear in limited number from time to time. Each wood lends to the overall tonality in subtle ways. I would like to steal ZMF’s own description of the various (and currently available) wood options:
     
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    Blackwood:  Smooth. Quick/fast transients. A dark resolving sound with OOMPH.  Most sub-woofer effect of the three, with great detail retrieval and very "black" background.
     
    Walnut:   Most neutral presentation. Has much of the speed/depth/extension of the Blackwood and the soundstage/openness of the Cherry.  Has good speed but also a touch of decay.
     
    Cherry:  Romantic and resolving presentation. Greater decay than Walnut or Blackwood, but with lifelike instrument timbre, especially for acoustic instruments.  A touch of bloom and warmth for that "je ne sais qois" that you need in your life. Still fast, still deep. LARGEST soundstage due to slightly slower decay.
     
    Cocobolo (limited edition): A touch harder than Walnut, and with much smaller pores, Cocobolo has a great soundstage, smooth extended top end, and the right mixture of decay and impact in the bass. It's also gorgeous!
     
    Bocote (limited edition):  Close to Blackwood with a touch of decay added and beautiful detailed yet easy going mids.  Bocote has a very nice oomph that is super natural because of the added wood pore size over blackwood. Very resolving and musical.
     
    As I waited for the cherry Omni to reach me, a long and arduous process that I’m sure anyone with any sense of anticipation is familiar with, I tried to picture what Zach meant by “lifelike instrument timbre.” I listened to acoustic recordings on my Vibro and felt that its reproduction of instruments was quite accurate – just a bit hampered by the fully closed aspect of it and the rolled off treble preventing the shrill but somehow satisfying squeaks as fingers glide over fretboards. A friend of mine already had the Omni blackwood and sang praises of how incredible, yet heavy, it was. Upon long last, I got mine and plugged it in. These felt lighter than my Vibro, which took me by surprise.
     
    Straight off the bat, I will tell you that ZMF headphones are in no ways bright. Both the Vibro and the Omni share a warm sound signature. The product line is said to be “musically tuned” and doesn’t claim to be the highest resolution or analytical cans around – which they aren’t. However, that isn’t what I wanted from it. What I did obtain, and enjoy, was primarily a deep sub-bass sound that I hadn’t heard any other headphones reach yet. I was surprised just how leaps and bounds beyond the Vibro it was in this regard. For the first time, I was able to hear Cliff Burton’s bass work quite clearly in the mix in Metallica’s legendary Ride The Lightning and Master of Puppets albums. The bass took centre stage of any recording I threw at it in the most satisfying fashion.
     
    The mids sound a lot more natural than my Vibro Mk. I but are in no way neutral. Both headphones have forwarded mids, but on the Omni it sounds very appropriate because of the semi-open design and quite large soundstage – larger than the Vibro (of course) and even my open Hifiman HE-400i. There is a lot of effortless separation in the mids, with vocal layering piling on clearly and majestically. Listening to Michael Jackson’s discography reveals a lot of this attribute as he was a big proponent of layering ad libs jumping from channel to channel. A song like “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” really shows off the capabilities of the Omni in its reproduction of instruments, particularly because all of the percussion instruments. Yes, this is indeed a very accurate reproducer of instrument timbre. I’m constantly amazed by how real it makes acoustic guitars sound in songs, given that they’re well recorded. Hell, it makes my own recordings playing my acoustics sound better than I’ve ever heard them – and I only recorded in my room with a MXL 990 condenser microphone. If you listen to the “Hell Freezes Over” live recording of the Eagles playing Hotel California in 1992 (a bit stereotypical I know) you’ll be amazed by how natural it sounds. The Vibro did a good job here, but the Omni trumps it because of the wider soundstage and more natural mids.
     
    The Omni also has the ability, that I haven't come across before, of dragging the acoustic guitar track in a song to the front so it becomes more noticeable. I had no idea that most songs in Green Day's American Idiot album had an acoustic guitar track mimicking the distorted guitars to lend a percussive sound throughout the recording. It was only with the Omni that I truly noticed this for the first time since I heard the album for the first time in 2004.
     
    A make or break aspect with this headphone for many of you will be how you perceive the treble. Like the Vibro, it's a bit rolled off to avoid any sort of sibilance - but it extends far further. Cymbals have no problem being heard clearly in a mix. Despite this, this makes the Omni slightly unforgiving in the sense that if the source recording isn’t a certain degree of well-mastered and mixed, it will sound quite muddy. The Vibro was even more unforgiving in this regard, while the Omni is actually a very good pair for all the genres that I’ve thrown at it – but bad apples in sound production can dampen its capabilities.
     
    As with all T50RP mods, the Omni is power hungry. Luckily for my wallet, it sounds incredible being amped from my Schiit Asgard 2 or Magni 2 – both delivering 1.0W at 50 ohms. The Vibro would sound way too stuffy with my Asgard 2, itself a warm and slightly coloured amp, but the Omni sounded just fine. However, I prefer the more neutral and transparent sound of the Magni 2 paired with it. This being said, a tinge of “what if?” and upgradetitis is afflicting me slowly as I turn my gaze towards more powerful offerings like the Cavalli Liquid Carbon and the Schiit Lyr 2 to drive these. I have read in many reviews that the T50RP mods, and particularly the Omni, scale very well and I wish to hear it for myself. When that day comes, I will update this section of the review.
     
    The cherry wood Omni (with lambskin and cowhide earpads, more on that later) also don’t seem to be able to compete with my HE400i in terms of speed and punchiness, but that is entirely to be expected. For those seeking those characteristics, look to the blackwood Omni. This is a more laid back headphone that can still punch hard though. I hear absolutely no problems listening to EDM and electronic pop. Quite the opposite really, I feel the sub-bass and the cinematic mid-bass gives me a great listening experience.
     
    For those who think the Omni is too warm, there are options to modify your experience. Zach himself, in the Head-fi thread for the Omni, gives advice to those wishing to do this. Underneath the pads are two dampening materials – a small square foam pad and a thinner round foam sheet pad. They cover the driver and can be removed or changed around (my personal favourite is having the square foam piece diagonally placed on the square driver magnets. Basically, the more that he driver magnets are showing – the more the sound will brighten. However, the trade-off is the strong bass so keep that in mind.
     
    Speaking of earpads, Zach provides two pairs of them in each purchase of the Omni. There are three options: lambskin, cowhide and protein pads.
     
    The cowhide are coarse and tough sons-of-bitches. They require a long time to break in and can get quite hot. They are also the thickest of the three because they contract the least, leading to a larger soundstage and deeper bass. Make no mistake, taming these is a commitment you must make (unless you use a leather conditioner to help you out - Zach recommends products by Blue Magic) if you want to get the perfect seal with them. Also keep in mind how warm these can get, especially in humid summer heat without air conditioning.
     
    The protein pads, on the other hand, utilize a different foam than the lambskin and cowhide and have a linear sound that shares a lot with my HE400i. This is the “fastest” pairing, with more punch and speed and least amount of mid-bass. For this reason, I find this an ideal pairing for metal because, while it lessens the sub-bass a tad, it lets the distorted guitars bite harder and the cymbals appear louder. Those wanting a less overall warm sound can also look into the protein pads to assist this preference. While these advantages exist for a reason, the Omni loses its overall ZMF sound a bit with these and I would only use these situationaly. Thankfully, the earpad switching process is pretty simple.
     
    The middle of the pack option is the lambskin. It is softer than the cowhide and still has a lot of bass the former contains. Best of both worlds really. I find this preferable for most situations.
     
    Made of protein leather, the pilot pad headband covers up the FOSTEX logo present on the rubber headband and gives a clean and premium look to the overall presentation. It’s also very soft and comfortable. I much prefer it to the other option, the buffalo leather strap pictured below.
     
     
                                                            
     
     
    Another reason the soundstage is such a pleasant surprise to me is because these are still semi-closed after all. They provide a really good amount of sound isolation. I currently live in a somewhat noisy flat, depending on whether or not a certain flatmate decides to blast his music on his Harmon Kardon Soundstick III's. It overpowers my HE400i, but the Omni blocks it out - as does the Vibro but the soundstage isn't nearly as wide.
     
    As I said earlier, the Omni is quite customizable depending on what earpads are being used and what dampening material is put on the driver. My current favourite setup is cowhide pads the white square foam piece on the driver - essentially removing the grey circle foam piece.
     
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    The weight of the Omni is something I have read a lot of comments on. As is the case with most planar magnetics, (my HE400i is unique in its lightness) they are quite heavy headphones. However, the cherry omni is quite a bit lighter than the blackwood – according to my friend who compared them to his. This makes sense, blackwood is a hard and heavy wood while the cherry is soft and light. I don’t feel the weight as a bother because of the pilot pad and comfortable earpads causing a good seal on my ears. I’ve worn my Omni for many hours on end and don’t feel any fatigue. However, your mileage may vary regarding this.
     
    If you are a fan of how polished and refined wood can look, you will doubtlessly love the Omni. I was in awe of some of the photos that I managed to take of mine, it had a statuesque beauty that I hadn’t seen in a pair of headphones that I’d owned before. I now know why headphone porn is a thing, and indeed I’ve made my contribution to the phenomenon over on r/headphoneporn. The Omni transcends the looks of a mere pair of headphones, they look like a heirloom you want to buy a good stand for. It isn’t hard to imagine it catching the eye of visitors and becoming a conversation piece. It’s artisan woodworking, plain and simple. Some of the limited edition tonewood options, like cocobolo, are simply breathtaking.
     
    The name of the game for the Omni is fun. I neither know nor care how it measures in graphs as I only know how it sounds to my ears – the most pleasing sound I’ve ever owned. I know they aren’t for everyone, but I’m fairly sure everyone can take some aspect of them to heart in an impressed fashion. The sub-bass is incredible, the soundstage is wide, the mids are natural and lifelike, the treble is never sibilant and it all bundles into a beautiful looking set of headphones you would be glad to own. I applauded Zach earlier for his work with the Vibro when I reviewed it, but now I absolutely and eagerly expect what he comes up with next. I don’t know if he’ll stick to modifying T50RPs, despite the company name, or make his own from-scratch pair. That’s something we’ll all know at a later date.
     
    Or he could just finish up his orders, including the 25 rust-stained zebrawood Vibro Mk. II’s that were sold out in a little over an hour on Massdrop yesterday, and close up shop to work on his next wood-based hobby. Maybe designer birdhouses. Who knows? I bet they’d look wonderful regardless.
     
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    Thanks for stopping by. You can follow me at:
     
    My website: http://aornic.com/
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aornicreviews
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aornic
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/aornic1024
    Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/jesuschristonxtc
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      Stillhart, Taggerung and suziegon like this.
    1. Finky
      Looks good but a little expensive.
      Finky, Jul 20, 2016
    2. suziegon
      I still can't get over how beautiful the different wood types look! I want to collect them :p
      suziegon, Feb 19, 2017