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ZMF Headphones Omni

Rating:
4.78125/5,
  1. Hisoundfi
    An "Omni-potent" headphone! The ZMF Omni planar magnetic flagship headphone
    Written by Hisoundfi
    Published Nov 27, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Relaxed yet resolving signature that is a joy to listen to, Heirloom build quality, Top notch customer service, Lots of build and sound options
    Cons - Heavier than average (not excessively), Pads can get hot during long listening sessions (especially cowhide pads)
    At the time this was written, the ZMF Omni could be purchased directly from the ZMF website. Here is a link to the site for purchase:
     
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    http://www.zmfheadphones.com/order-the-zmf/zmf-omni
     
    Introduction
    When I first met Zach it was last spring at the 2015 Chicago Axpona audio convention. At the event, there was a dedicated headphone room full of  booths the likes of Astell & Kern, Sennheiser, Oppo and many other of the big names in the audiophile world.
     
    To be honest, Zach and his ZMF booth was different from the rest. In a room full of company representatives from all over the world, many of them wearing their suit jackets and handing out neatly printed pamphlets and trying to secure sales, here was this very normal looking guy I could have mistaken for a attendee had he not been behind a table, exhibiting some rather unique looking headphones in front of him.
     
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    Mr. ZMF and me at Axpona 2015
     
    I had heard about ZMF headphones before bumping into Zach, but never really thought it would be something for me. I had a chance to sample the Vibro and Blackwood that day, and also talked about his soon to be released Omni. At the time I was really into “bang for your buck” products and the asking price on Zach’s stuff was a little bit too rich for my blood.
     
    After listening to his Headphones I thought for sure he was going to hand me a bunch of sales flyers and ask me if I would be interested in purchasing something. Instead, the first thing out of his mouth was “So, what do you think?” It was like we were a couple buddies and I was checking out his new headphones he just got in. I gave him my stamp of approval and was on my way.
     
    That day I had a chance to try several top of the line headphones like the HE-1000, LCD-X, HD800, several  Beyerdynamics and many other models. Up to that point I had always thought that top tier headphones would all sound relatively the same. By the end of the day what I realized is that they all have their own unique approach, and the sound alters differently between models, sometimes radically. Headphones are designed and catered to appeal to different tastes. I think the most intriguing thing I learned that day is that there is no right or wrong in this hobby, it’s all a matter of preference, and what we are willing to pay to achieve our own level of audio nirvana.
     
    Since the 2015 Axpona, I’ve had a chance to attend a few more Chicago Head-Fi meets and sample more top tier headphones, including the Omni Zach and I discussed. Upon first listen I found them to be PHENOMENAL. Truth be told, all his headphones sound great but there was something about the Omni I especially liked. Zach and I chatted about the headphones and what the differences there are between the Omni and older models. We chatted about baseball, our wives, our careers and life in general. What I soon realized is that Zach is a really good guy, and his biggest priority with ZMF is to connect with enthusiasts and please his customers. I was also able to secure a review sample for me and a couple of my Head-Fi friends who were interested in reviewing them.
     
    I would like it to be known that upon receiving the Omni review sample, I have committed to purchasing them. The pair Zach has provided is incredible and I don’t want to send them back at the conclusion of the tour.
     
    What is the ZMF?
     
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    A few years ago, a very popular hobby on Head-Fi was modding the Fostex T50rp. Modifications of all sorts were done and some members got really good at it. It was pretty cool to read about how people would take a reasonably priced planar magnetic headphone and tune it to their personal preferences. Personally, I hardly ever modify headphones out of fear that I’d ruin them and be out the money I spent.
     
    If modifying the T50rp is an artform, I consider Zach to be the Pablo Picasso of doing so.
     
    He takes a T50rp like this…
     
    download_20151123_120013.jpg
     
    ...and turns it into a work of art like this…
     
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    And trust me friends, it’s an incredible sounding headphone!
     
    I asked Zach how this whole thing came about. He says that a few years ago he made a modified T50rp for a relative, and they liked it so much that several others wanted a pair made. Between that and being mildly successful recabling pairs of Sony MH1 (if you’ve been on Head-Fi long enough I’m sure you remember that craze) ZMF was born. Zach later joined forces with Luke from Vibro Labs and the ZMF wood cups became a staple of the ZMF headphone. ZMF continues to grow as more people have an opportunity to hear them. Hearing is believing, and ZMF has made believers out of many.
     
    You might be thinking to yourself “Wait, so the ZMF headphone is just a modified T50rp?”
     
    That’s a tricky question to answer. The answer is yes, but the leap in quality in every aspect will make you say that doesn’t matter. Zach goes beyond making it just better, he radically transforms this into an heirloom quality headphone that sounds amazing. I made sure to try the T50rp, then immediately try a ZMF afterwards. You would never think it was the same headphone. It’s not even relatively close in comparison. The difference is night and day.


     
    Review
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    I could sit here and tell you why butter pecan ice cream is the best ice cream and point out all the reasons why you should run out and buy a half gallon right now. At the end of the day if you like chocolate ice cream, it doesn’t matter what I say. What I hope to do with this review is tell you why I personally love this headphone and hope that my write up gives YOU the opportunity to find out if this is something that appeals to your preferences. I hope this review will give you the information you need to decide whether or not the Omni would be a headphone that appeals you your preferences.
     
    The Omni arrived in a few days from the time of receiving the shipping notification via email. It arrived in a Seahorse case. The case is an aftermarket product, as is just about everything that makes up the ZMF and culminates into one phenomenal package. The exterior of the case has a patented ZMF logo sticker on it. It is very durable Plastic with dual clips that keep the case securely shut. The entire case is about the size of a small shoe box. There is two spots for a lock on each corner of the case (locks are not included). The interior of the case is lined with foam that holds the Omni securely in place while transporting.
     
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    Opening the case revealed the headphones, two cables, and two extra pairs of pads.
     
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    There are three pad options, and all of them make minor changes to the sound. The pad options are Cowhide, Lambskin, and Protein. They are all high quality and very comfortable.
     
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    The Omni came with two stock cables, a 3.5mm cable, and an XLR cable. These stock cables are made of decent material but don’t necessarily match the quality of the headphones themselves. There are several cable upgrade options to choose from, including variances in length and termination. You can get pretty fancy with cable upgrades. There is a chat feature on the ZMF website where I’m sure Zach will be able to assist you in getting the perfect cable for your application if you aren’t seeing the option you’re looking for. The left and right channels connect at the cups via an mini XLR connection, and each channel is marked with rings to identify each channel (red/right, black/left). This configuration makes it convenient for running balanced cables.
     
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    Also included was a velvet material drawstring bag for holding cables or earpads, and a laminated card that is a certificate of authenticity. This card has the date it was made along with Zach’s personalized signature of approval. The certificate has a handwritten list of the customized options installed on the pair of headphones. Zach even noted the owner as “The Lab” which is my thread, and consists of the reviewers that will partake in reviewing this particular pair of headphones. I really like the personalization with the owner’s certificate and consider it to be a nice touch for those who invests in a premium product like this.
     
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    Holding the headphones in my hand, they reek of luxury and quality. From the cups, to the pads, to the headband, everything has been meticulously thought out to give the owner that “WOW” factor. I could hold any other pair of headphones I currently own in my hand and their build quality won’t come close to what ZMF has accomplished with the Omni. It’s solid from top to bottom.
     
    Starting with the cups, the Omni comes in three different woods. The options are Cherry, Walnut, and Blackwood. The wood you choose impacts the sound to a certain extent, with the Cherry being the most linear sounding, and the Blackwood being the bassier of the three. I chose the walnut because it is tuned in the middle of the other two woods and seemed to retain characteristics I appreciated in both the Cherry and Blackwood.
     
    Each pair of cups starts out as a milled pair of wood. They are hand stained by Zach himself. They are all beautifully finished and can have some personal touches added by request. When visiting Zach to have my Omni retuned (more on that in a bit) I saw some pretty radical cups lying around his shop.
     
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    Blackwoods with custom stain... WOW
     
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    Stained cups ready for drivers
     
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    Cups waiting to be stained
     
    The cups of the Omni have a small amount of oscillation where they connect to the slider, helping make the fit of the Omni very comfortable. The slider is made of metal and comes in five different color options (Powder Black, Cast Iron, Architectural Bronze, Cast Aluminum, Natural Bronze). they are solid metal and durable.
     
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    The headband is the original rubber fostex band. My pair comes with an upgraded and detachable aftermarket protein exterior foam filled padding that makes my Omni very comfortable. If you do purchase the Omni I recommend this padding as it covers the Fostex logo and really improves the overall comfort. The band is flexible and durable, and I understand why the band is not replaced from the stock Fostex band. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
     
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    Pad on (super comfortable)
     
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    Headband pad removed
     
    Comfort
    The pads of the Omni are angled to help imaging. They come in three different material options (Cowhide, Lambskin, and Protein). I found the Lambskin to be my personal favorite by far, as they were the most comfortable and breathable of all the pads I tried.
     
    The Omni is a pretty bulky pair of headphones. I wouldn’t recommend them for commuting because of the sheer amount of space they take up, nor would I want to take them out of the house to risk damaging them.
     
    Holding them in my hands they feel a bit heavier than the average headphone, but they haven’t gone overboard on weight. Between the thick pads and the way the band rests on my head, I find them to be pretty comfortable.
     
    While the Omni is considered to be a vented earphone, the only thing vented is the sound. The Omni gets as hot on the ears as your average closed headphone. I’m not sure how inspired I would feel to use these on my porch on a hot summer day. Aside from the heat (which honestly isn’t too bad) I give the Omni a thumbs up in terms of comfort.
     
    Sound Review
    Before the sound review is done, we have to cover something special about any pair of ZMF you purchase. As I said earlier, Zach is committed to giving his customers the best experience he can offer. If you are unhappy with the way your ZMF sounds, he will retune your headphone to better cater to your preferences one time FOR FREE. When I first got the Omni I loved it but felt like the soundstage of the Omni was not ideal. Although resolution was great, I was thinking they could have use a few decibel decrease in bass, and a lift somewhere in the upper frequencies. Usually headphones are sent in to be retuned, but because I had chatted with Zach on a few occasions, was doing a review and lived so close, I met him at his home headquarters in Chicago to have my Omni tested and retuned as well as see what goes into the making of the Omni. Here is a graph of what my Omni tuning is like after the adjustment:
     
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    Zach retuned them to what he said is his new “standard tuning” for all of the Omnis he makes. After the retune, I can honestly say that I consider these to be an “end game” type of sound quality.
     
    JDS Labs Element
     
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    While at the shop I asked him what he suggests for a source. While most sources will work as long as they are more powerful than the standard cell phone, and maybe a bit more than the standard DAP, I asked Zach if there is an affordable desktop option he would suggest for the Omni, and without hesitation he recommended the JDS Labs Element. The reason being the one full watt of power, and excellent DAC and amplifier that is installed. All this in combination with a very nice look and simple functionality made this something I was very curious to try out. If Zach says he highly recommends this amplifier for his headphones, I would have to see if there’s a way to get one for the tour. I’m happy to say that as a result of contacting JDS labs and explaining the situation with the Omni review tour, the guys at JDS Labs were kind enough to provide a Element DAC/Amplifier that can be used for the tour. Not only to display the capability of the Omni, but also the Element. I must say that the synergy was great. Before it gets sent back, I will also be doing a review on the Element to give it more exposure. It is a great little desktop DAC/Amp that punches well beyond its asking price.
     
    Other Sources Used
    Another rig I used for desktop use was my Toshiba Satellite Laptop in combination with a HIFIMEDIY Sabre ES9023 USB DAC/Bravo Audio Ocean Tube amplifier with a Mullard 12AU7 tube for higher impedance, and a Fiio E18 USB DAC & Amplifier in both high and low gain. Both were run at 24 bit, 96000 Hz. I also tested them with other DAPs and amplifiers as well. I used Google Music downloaded in its highest download quality (320 KBPS) and I also streamed FLAC via Tidal streaming service. I also used purchased and downloaded tracks in MP3, FLAC, WAV and DSD. I make sure that any gear I test has sufficient playtime before writing a review.
     
    Source Selection Summarized
    One of the beauties of the Omni was its ability to scale with higher bitrate files, but also be forgiving with poorly recorded music. Although it is pretty forgiving and will work with portable amplifiers (preferably on high gain), you won’t unleash the full potential of the omni unless you are streaming some high bit rate recordings through an at least somewhat powerful desktop set up. Do this and you will spend the next few hours simmering in the musicality that is the ZMF Omni.
     
    I used my usual same songs for testing gear:
    “Limit to your love” by James Blake (bass speed, punch, response)
    “Doin’ it Right” by Daft Punk (sub bass)
    “Get lucky” by Daft Punk (bass to midrange transition resolution, male vocals)
    “Madness” by Muse (soundstage, separation)
    “Some nights” by Fun (soundstage and male vocals)
    “The soundmaker” by Rodrigo y Gabriela (texture and imaging)
    “Bassically” by Tei Shi (bass to midrange resolution, female vocals)
    “Skinny Love” performed by Birdie (female vocals, acoustic playback)
    “One” by Ed Sheeran (male vocals, acoustic playback)
    “Outlands” from the Tron Legacy Soundtrack (symphonic presentation, imaging)
    “Sultans of swing” by Dire Straits (detail, separation, balance)
    “And Justic for All” by Metallica (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)
    “Ten thousand fists” by Disturbed (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)
     
    Note: Other tracks were used, but the listed songs were primarily used to asses and break down the gear’s response.
     
    Overall Signature
    Writing reviews is bitter sweet. It’s sweet in the sense that I get to try a vast variety of different pieces of gear, but bitter because I’ve subconsciously trained my brain to pick the sound apart and analyze the headphone rather than enjoy my time with whatever I’m listening to. What the Omni does is take away that urge to analyze performance and figure out the signature, and gives me the freedom to kick back in my chair, relax and soak in the combination of resolution and musicality that makes it an incredible headphone. I can’t help spending most of my time listening to them and appreciating all the things they do well.
     
    I would describe my Omni as a warm tilted and non fatiguing headphone with extended and authoritative bass that doesn’t overwhelm or get fatiguing. It retains a great combination of detail and separation through the entire midrange that works well with its warm tilt, making it a great entertainer. There is no type of bleed at any frequency, even at high volumes. Treble is a unique combination of extension and resolution and without any type of spike or harshness whatsoever. I can listen to the Omni for hours without ever getting fatiguing or boring. The tuning works well with everything I threw at it. Vocals sound natural with a slight warm tilt. Nothing seems unnatural to my ears. It is a very complete sound that I can’t fault. While some out there who prefer a more linear sound, or a more aggressive upper frequency range won’t find what they are looking for in the Omni, I am confident that a large majority of those who have a chance to listen to the omni will fall in love with their engaging signature.
     
    Bass
    Although the bass is forward in the mix, it is of impressive response thanks to the speed of the planar magnetic driver. There is more rumble than punch, and their response extends as low as your ears can hear. There is a nice transition from sub bass to midrange that avoids any type of bleed. It is a combination of bass forwardness and resolution that is seldom replicated. While it doesn’t cross into basshead territory, it has an authoritative lift in lower frequencies that is very enjoyable and works with all music. Mid bass frequencies are tuned so that it avoids being intrusive. The best way I could describe it is that it has a nice forward and extended presence like many pairs of closed back headphones, but the speed and texture of a vented design.
     
    Midrange
    Lower midrange is warm tilted without being excessively weighted or sounding unnatural. This gives the Omni a nice sense of timbre and makes vocals very entertaining. A warm tilt carries on through the entire midrange and leads into a smooth yet detailed upper midrange. One of the things to note is the warm tilt, incredible resolution, and no radical spikes or dips, making the Omni incredibly entertaining and musical. I’ve heard other headphones in this price range that have tried to replicate this signature but were unable to achieve the same level of clarity and separation, making them sound sloppy in comparison. Amidst the warmth of the Omni, there’s a level of PRAT that makes them truly addicting.
     
    Treble
    The extension is there, but the spike isn’t. You will hear every treble detail in the track but with a different approach to many higher end headphones. The sense of space is created by the Omni with extension and clarity rather than an artificial boost. What you get is a very complete yet slightly relaxed treble presentation.  
     
    Soundstage and Imaging
    The Omni is a lot of things all at once, which makes it a great headphone capable of doing many things well at the expense of not being the best at one particular aspect of its sound. The Omni does lose a little bit of in terms of soundstage because of its tuning, but still there is a nice sense of space. I would say the soundstage is better than the average pair of headphones but not the best I’ve heard. Imaging is along the same lines, being formidable but not elite.
     
    Comparisons
    Although I don’t currently own a pair of headphones at this price point, I feel the next best thing to do is compare it to my current favorite pair of open back and closed back Headphones that I own.
     
    Sennheiser HD600 ($325--$400 USD on many sites)
    The HD600 has and will continue to be a personal favorite and benchmark when comparing gear. It is a pretty neutral headphone with excellent soundstage and resolution.
     
    First thing i noticed when comparing these two is that the HD600 is thin sounding in comparison. The bass on the Omni is not only more forward, but also more extended and entertaining from what I heard. After my ears adjusted to the Omni, it took a good while for my ears to adjust back to the brighter and leaner sound of the HD600, and vice versa. Despite the more extended sub bass the HD600 and Omni displayed similar characteristics in its mid range, offering a warmer yet still very natural presentation from what I heard. Moving to the upper midrange and treble, the HD600 had a more forward presence with a noticeable lift that made the top end of the HD600 more aggressive to my ears, and potentially more fatiguing during long listening sessions. On the same note, after my ears adjusted to the HD600 treble, going back to the Omni made them seem lacking in upper registers (until my ears adjusted back the the Omni tuning). Overall clarity and resolution was too close to determine a clear cut winner. I give the Omni the advantage in terms of timbre and dynamics.
     
    Soundstage on the HD600 is superior. Its open design and elevated treble presence gives them a great sense of space.
     
    Power requirements are fairly similar (the Omni requires maybe a touch more power).
     
    I would say comfort is a draw. The HD600 is a slightly tighter squeeze on my head, but the Omni cups can get pretty hot on my ears. Other than that they both are a good fitment.
     
    In terms of build quality and accessories, it’s not even close. The Omni is world class and is of heirloom quality. The case that comes with the Omni is a bonus over the caseless HD600.
     
    Soundmagic HP150 ($175-$200 USD on many sites)
    The HP150 is an incredible closed back headphone that makes many people’s top ten list of favorite headphones. They offer a bass forward tuning with good extension on both ends and a huge soundstage.
     
    The Omni has a more resolving bass response, making the HP150 seem slightly boomy in comparison. This translates into a slight bleed on the HP150. Midrange is slightly more full sounding and with more timbre on the Omni, with the HP150 being more thin from what I hear. Treble on the the HP150 has a spike somewhere up top and some will find it harsh at louder volumes, while the Omni retains a smoothness through this range that makes it very fun and easy to listen to. Although I find the soundstage to be superior on the HP150, overall sound quality goes to the Omni.
     
    Again, build quality is no contest, the Omni wins in every aspect.
     
    Conclusion
    The Omni has not cracked to code and constructed a headphone that will appeal to every audiophile in the world. People looking for a very linear and tight sound won’t find what they are looking for in the Omni. It is a headphone that is designed to be engaging, entertaining and fatigue free. It is a bass forward tuning that incorporates a level of resolution and musicality that many will find addicting.
     
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    What Zach has done is taken a pretty average headphone and rebuilt and retuned it to something that many will make their prized audio possession.. They are a unique combination of traits in both build and tuning that makes them one of the best headphones I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.
     
    Thanks for reading and happy listening!
      joeq70, soundfanz, Brooko and 7 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. imac2much
      Great review!  I had the Soundmagic HP100 also (predecessor of the HP150 with the same sound signature but slightly different cups and cable), and I find your experience similar to my own.  There were times when I enjoyed the HP150 more than my 400i due to its emphasized bass, but in comparison to the Omni it sounds boomy and bloated.  I know I definitely did not think this before (especially when compared to Klipsch and Beats) but it's a testament to the Omni's tight yet articulate sub-bass and mid-bass presence.  The Omni excels in all other areas as you said, though this should be expected at the large price gap.  I still feel that the HP100/150 is a great value for the money, but even my wife who regularly wears Apple Earbuds was quite amazed by the Omni in comparison to my 400i, PM-3 and HP100. 
      imac2much, Nov 27, 2015
    3. H20Fidelity
      Excellent review and photos.
      H20Fidelity, Nov 27, 2015
    4. Delayeed
      Wow. What a fantastic review. I'm not even getting these but just kept reading because of the review content. :)
      Delayeed, Feb 26, 2016
  2. 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
  3. Cotnijoe
    ZMF Omni: The Omnipotent Beast
    Written by Cotnijoe
    Published Oct 22, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Beautiful Design and Finish, Solid Build, Plush Earpads, Wonderful Tuning, Great Detail
    Cons - A Bit Heavy, Earpads Can Get Warm, Treble Can be Harsh with Lambskin Earpad
    Introduction:
                I’ve always been curious about Zach’s modded Fostex T50RPs. I almost grabbed myself a set of the ZMF x Vibro from Massdrop a few months back, but decided against it due to many people saying that it’s a richer, darker, LCD-2 sort of sound, which isn’t my personal preference. I’m glad I decided against going with the ZMF x Vibro because a few weeks later, the Omnis were announced! As someone dying to get a taste of Zach’s legendary tuning, I was one of those guys that counted down to the hours and minutes to the pre-order of the Omnis and pre-ordered it as soon as I could. Yea… that happened…
     
                It took Zach many changes and iterations in tuning even after the Omni was announced for him to finally perfect the Omnis, which led to quite a bit of delays, but I can certainly say that the extra month or so was definitely worth it. The Omni is a fantastic work of art – both inside and out.
     ​
    Packaging and Accessories:
                 Because I pre-ordered them, my Walnut Omni came with a seahorse case and an OCC ZMF upgrade cable (which I further upgraded to include a black sleeve and carbon fiber splitter). The Omni therefore came in the seahorse case packaging. Inside the case, you find the Omni and a little pouch with the cable and a card that specifies the contents of your order.
     
                I think the seahorse case is a fantastic accessory and a worthy investment. It’s incredibly sturdy and does a great job protecting whatever might be inside it (probably a ZMF Omni?). I have a feeling I’ll be using it for more than just a storage and travel case for the Omni though.
     
                I don’t know what the quality of the stock cable is like, but I can say that the upgraded ZMF OCC litz cable is a great upgrade as well. If you’re looking for an upgrade cable for a ZMF or Audeze headphone, I think it’s a no brainer. You don’t find too many OCC litz cables at 100 dollars. Not only that, but I can tell that Zach has improved his cable craftsmanship quite a bit. I got the upgraded cable not expecting to really care much for it, but I can say that it looks much better than what I saw from videos and pictures. It’s a flexible, comfortable, and nice looking cable. Zach uses Double Helix Cables’ (DHC) high quality material in the wires inside the headphones themselves, and his upgrade cable is also made out of DHC’s Nucleotide V3. He says that his measurements pre and post replacing the wires inside the headphone shows something along the lines of a 2 or 3 dB increase in overall volume, and that he is personally a big fan DHC. Not surprisingly, he also sells DHC cables for his Omnis. I personally use a DHC Complement 2 cable with my Omni.
     
                Zach is also looking to release a headphone stand sometime next year. I look forward to seeing what he comes with!
     
    DSCN0110.jpg
    Omni with ZMF Cable, DHC Complement 2 Cable, and Seahorse Case
     ​
    DSCN0111.jpg
    The Ownership Card
     
    Build, Design, and Comfort:
                The Omni has some gorgeous earcups. The wood is well-finished and the symmetrical vents look really nice. Of course, the ability to customize the earcups as well as the sliders also gives some degree of freedom for customizing the look (and sound) of the Omni. I, of course, chose the walnut earcup and opted for the natural bronze slider and I’m very happy with how my Omni looks. What’s so great about it is that you can tell it wasn’t built in a factory as it doesn’t have that industrial sense of precision to its build. It doesn’t look like any ordinary DIY’ed product though. The Omni gives off the vibe that it was handcrafted with great care and precision.
     
                Besides looking beautiful, the Omni also boasts top-notch build quality. Everything about it feels solid and there’s no imperfection of any kind despite it being modified by hand. The finish of the earcups shows no signs of blemishes or unevenness in the coating. The same goes for the paint of the sliders. When Zach says the Omnis are delayed because he needs a bit more time to make sure each unit is perfect, he gives you no reason to doubt that. The only imperfection I can see is that there are a few little flakes of wood in the vents of the Omni. It doesn’t affect the sound and it certainly doesn’t how the Omni feels or looks. No glue residue, no uneven wood finish, no crooked stitches. Awesome job Zach!
     
    DSCN0109.jpg
    A Closer Look at the Earcup. My Camera Does Not Do It Justice.
     
                By design, the Omni is a semi-open headphone. Thus, it is somewhere in between an open and closed headphone in many aspects. However, the Omni does resemble a closed headphone more so than it does an open headphone. The Omni has a good degree of isolation and doesn’t leak all that much sound. While it doesn’t sound completely open, it does have the benefit of having a more open sound. Not quite the best of both worlds, but the Omni does sneak in a few extra benefits that come from both type of headphones without all that much drawbacks.
     
                The Omni isn’t the heaviest headphone I’ve ever put on my head (the Kennerton Odin takes the prize for that), but it is the heaviest headphone I’ve personally owned. As a relatively skinny and small-headed person, big, heavy headphones aren’t exactly my best friend. Weighing 100 grams more than my HE560, I was a bit worried and skeptical about whether the Omni would be comfortable enough for me. My doubts were quickly proven wrong, as the Omni are fantastically comfortable despite being a bit heavy and bulky on my tiny head. I guess it makes sense… look at those earpads! They’re monstrously large, and they’re good at what they do. There’s also plenty of padding on the headband with ZMF’s pilot pad. While I found the HE560 to be comfortable, I did have a little bit of an issue with the earpads causing discomfort after 2 or 3 hours because it pushes my glasses against the side of my head. With the Omni, that’s not an issue. The earpads are just so massive and so plush that it wasn’t an issue. The lambskin earpad is a little bit softer than the cowhide and I found the lambskin to be a little more comfortable, but at the end of the day, both are very comfortable and I preferred the sound of the cowhide to the lambskin. More on that later.
     
    There are two areas in which I do think the Omni can improve upon in terms of overall comfort. One complaint I do have is that the earpads aren’t the most breathable and can get a bit warm over time. I’d love to see Zach come out with an earpad that has a material that would be more user-friendly during the hot summer months! The other place I see potential for improvement is where the connector for the cables are located. I wish they would be located more forward on the headphone’s earcup so that they are angled forward more. At their current location, the semi-bulky connectors coupled with my stiff DHC Complement 2 cable (which is basically the anaconda of headphone cables) means that I can’t lean too far back as the cable and connector will touch my shoulders and possibly shift the headphones on my head a little. Now this isn’t an issue with the ZMF OCC litz cable, and I assume wouldn’t be an issue with the stock cable either, but for those playing around with aftermarket cables that have higher braid counts or thicker wire gauges, it may be something to look out for.
     
    Last bit of business that’s sort of a complaint, but not actually – the Omni has a square material between the diaphragm and earpad in each ear. When I first received the Omni, I felt that something was a little off – I felt that the left side was just a little brighter than the right side. I later asked Zach what the two squares are, and he says that they’re there to reduce a peak at 10 kHz. I decided to play around with the positioning of the squares a little bit, and voila! The two sides sound balanced. I’m not sure if anyone else had any sort of experience, but if you do, see if the positioning of the two squares help balance out the two sides.
     
    Listening Impressions:
    As I briefly mentioned earlier, one of the beauties of the Omni (besides its build and design) is that the sound is customizable to a small degree. Well, actually, if you don’t like the sound of the Omni, you can send it back to Zach and he’ll retune it to your liking. How cool is that?! But, of course, that’s not what I mean when I say the sound is customizable. What I mean is that you can alter the sound a bit with the choice of the wood used in the earcups as well as the material in the earpads. The cherry cups are supposed to have a slightly richer sound, the blackwood is supposed to have a slightly drier sound, while the walnut is supposed to be somewhere in between. As Zach explains, these are subtle differences. The earpads also affect the sound to a degree. The cowhide gave a smoother sound while the lambskin tends to give a brighter and airier sound. I didn’t get a protein pleather pad, but according to Zach it’s also a slightly brighter sound. Once you choose the type of wood, that’s obviously set in stone. But you do get a little bit of flexibility in terms of the earpads as well. For me, my choice was the Omni with walnut cups and cowhide earpad. I tend to like a slightly more energetic treble but I found that the lambskin could get a little hot in the treble.
     
    Listening was done with songs of all genres and quality (with the exception of DSD) running Foobar > Schiit Wyrd > Asus Essence III DAC/Amp > DHC Complement 2 > ZMF Omni.
     
    DSCN0101.jpg
    My Listening Setup with the Omni
     
    The lower end of the Omni is rich, but not as big as I was expecting – which is a great relief to me. I’m not a big fan of an overly bassy sound and I feel that bass of the Omni has good thump and excitement to it without straying too far from the realm of neutrality. True to the reputation of orthodynamic drivers, the Omni has fantastic extension down low. The sub bass starts to take a dive below 40 Hz, but retains good presence down to 23 Hz or so. With great sub bass, of course, comes great sub bass texture and detail. While not the fastest or cleanest sub bass I’ve heard, it’s nonetheless very capable. The mid bass has an extra bit of thump to it, but it’s very tastefully done. Few people will say that the Omni is too bassy for them, and only the truest of bassheads will say that the Omni isn’t bassy enough. The bass is exciting with a great sense of impact and rumble, but retains great control, speed, and detail.
     
    The earlier prototypes as well as the first few units of the Omni supposedly had a more recessed midrange. Zach at the last minute, decided to retune them a little bit, and boy am I glad he did. There are a lot of great things to say about the midrange of the Omni. The midrange has a good sense of balance that isn’t particularly forward or recessed. Vocals hold their ground very well and always has a great sense of presence, instrument separation is incredibly well done on the Omni, and the background is very black. I honestly think that separation is one of the strongest points of the Omni. I find the upper midrange and lower treble of the Omni to be just a tad aggressive, which gives the Omni a sense of flare and crispness that makes instruments pop a bit more and is very enjoyable to listen to. This also brings forth a better sense of the detail in the music, and the Omni is able to deliver plenty of detail.
     
    As I said, the lower treble is crisp and exciting, but I never found it to be sharp or fatiguing at my normal listening levels. Using the lambskin earpad I do find that the treble can get a little hot and fatiguing after some time, but that’s taking into account that the lambskin is brighter. With the cowhide earpad, the Omni is fatigue-free but still exciting. The treble of the Omni is very crisp, detailed, and textured. Decay is also clean and very fast. However complex the music may become, the Omni remains unfazed and every hi-hat or cymbal will always ring with a great sense of clarity and realism. While the Omni doesn’t have the sense of openness and air that truly open headphones have, the Omni does have a good sense of space and a decent sense of air thanks to a pretty good treble extension – going up to 16 kHz without any real issues.
     
                In terms of soundstage and imaging, the Omni really delivers. The soundstage has a great sense of width for a planar driver and the Omni also has a really good sense of depth, allowing for some really really fantastic layering. Imaging is incredibly precise – I would perhaps dare to say one of the best I’ve experienced in a headphone below 1000 dollars. The Omni really delivers a wonderfully clean and precise presentation of the music with plenty of headroom to go with it.
     
    Summary of Sound
                The Omni really delivers a wonderfully fun experience and I finally understand why Zach’s headphones are so popular. He doesn’t tune his headphones for any other purpose but for them to sound good to him – it just so happens that he has pretty good taste! The Omni is a dynamic and exciting headphone to listen to that doesn’t leave you feeling that it’s too aggressive or thick sounding.
     
    Comparisons:
     
    ZMF Omni and HIFIMAN HE560 (Unmodded)
                I love my HE560. It’s light, it’s comfortable, and it has a neutral and detailed sound. Being priced at very similar prices, the two are naturally seen as potential competitors – and competitive they are.
     
                The HE560 has a very flat bass response that is able to extend very deep despite not being particularly emphasized in the low end. On the other hand, the Omni does have a more impactful and weighty bass. Honestly, both headphones have very good extension but the Omni is just a teeny tiny bit better to my ears. However, I do find overall sub bass texture to be cleaner and faster on the HE560. Neither headphone has any sort of issue keeping up with low end textures, but the HE560 does tend have a clearer texture as it has less of a bass bloom compared to the Omni.
     
                The midrange of the Omni feels fuller than that of the HE560, which can feel a little thin in comparison. The midrange of the HE560 is also a little more distant in presentation. I find the presentation of the Omni to be more natural while also being a little better in texture. Instrument separation is also just a tad better with the Omni to me.
     
                Treble comparison is a little more interesting. While Zach says that the difference between the lambskin and cowhide pads is fairly subtle, I would say it can be pretty significant. As someone who enjoys more treble energy, I chose to try out the lambskin first. However, I found the lower treble of the Omni to be sharper than that of the HE560. So for those that find the HE560 treble to be harsh (I’m not one of those people), go straight to the cowhide. With the cowhide pads, the treble is smoother than the HE560’s treble but remains very well textured.
     
                As a semi-open headphone, the Omni naturally doesn’t’ have the sense of openness that the HE560 is capable of. However, the Omni has a larger soundstage as well as better imaging. Again, the imaging and sense of depth the Omni is capable of is really spectacular – especially when you factor in price.
     
                To sum it up, I certainly wouldn’t say one is superior to the other. Without a doubt, the Omni has the more exciting and punchy sound that people will love, but it also has no problem competing with the HE560 in terms of sonic capabilities. The HE560 has a drier and more analytical signature that certainly has its own merits as well. I never thought I’d be saying goodbye to my HE560 so soon, but I do prefer the Omni to the HE560.
     
    DSCN0108.jpg
    The Omni and HE560
     
    Ending Thoughts:
                 So I really like the Omni and I’m very happy I preordered it. Zach has really done a wonderful job tuning this headphone. It’s able to present a fantastic level of detail and texture while sounding really fun and enjoyable. Better yet, the Omni performs very well on all levels and fronts. While I love the sound of the LCD-3 and can see why people find the two similar, I will never be able to upgrade to the LCD-3 from the Omni. The Omni is much more comfortable for me in comparison to Audeze headphones, and I’m not quite willing to give up the comfort of the Omni for the upgrade in sound.
     
                There’s really not a whole lot to dislike in the Omni. For anyone on the fence or giving it a consideration, I can feel very comfortable in suggesting the Omni to you. Even if the sound signature of the Omni isn’t “to your liking,” there won’t be many people out there that legitimately dislike how the Omni sounds. There’s really no glaring weakness to how it’s tuned. Congratulations to Zach and ZMF for creating a fantastic flagship headphone
    1. WhiskeyJacks
      So, you sold the HE-560's in exchange for keeping the Omni's? Are you still happy with that decision? I believe the walnut omni are the one's I will be reviewing
      WhiskeyJacks, Feb 11, 2016
    2. Cotnijoe
      @WhiskeyJacks Yup! I do think it was a good decision. The walnut Omni had a sense of precision and punch that the HE560 couldnt match. It certainly doesnt sound as open as the HE560, but it also have a more expansive soundstage.
      Cotnijoe, Feb 11, 2016
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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