ZMFheadphones Auteur

General Information

"For years ZMF Headphones has been known to produce some of the best closed back headphones in the world. Now with the Auteur, we have created an open back flagship headphone, which takes the signature ZMF musicality and combines it with the resolve and spaciousness that comes from an open design."
  • S3 6500 Airtight Case or Presentation Wood Case (only available as an option with LTD Editions)
  • Wood Owners and Warranty Card, numbered and signed by ZMF.
  • Stock Cable (OFC Available for $60 when purchased with headphone)
  • Perforated Auteur or Eikon pads
  • ZMF Biocellulose driver, 98dB/mW
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Latest reviews


1000+ Head-Fier
Pros: Very even and musical. Good dynamics and impact. Good articulation and separation of acoustic instruments.
Cons: Could seem lifeless if you're used to V- and U-shaped curves. Some report weight, but that didn't bother me.
1. Disclaimer: I am not an employee of ZMF. I purchased the head phones I listened to on the used market because I was interested in hearing them. Hear them I did.

2. Introduction: I’ve been using a pair of HifiMAN HE-500 head phones for several years. I recently became interested in hearing more bass impact, primarily when I listen to rock. Note that I don’t mean deeper or louder bass, but bass with more slam, more aggression, than what I typically hear with my HE-500s.

3. Design: The Auteur is a “mostly closed back” dynamic head phone. Quite a different design from my HE-500s, which is the point for me. The outer cups of the pair I have are teak and very handsome. The metallic medallion in the center of each ear cup is black. ZMF also offer gold-tone medalions and ear cup posts for their Blackwood editions. I wish gold-tone had been an option for the teak Auteur. I think that would have looked good. The Auteur are shipped with two different ear pads: “Eikon” and “Auteur”. Both have lamb skin covers, both sets of pads that came with my Auteur were perforated. The ear opening in the Auteur pad is 6mm wider than that of the Eikon pad. I know some of you will say the review is incomplete, but I didn’t try the Eikon pads. To me, they’re a pain to switch out, I was generally happy with the sound of the Auteur with the Auteur pads. ZMF also ship two cables: the standard flat cable with a single-ended ¼” TRS plug, and a round cable with a balanced 4-pin XLR. Since my amp is balanced only, I only used the balanced cable. There’s also a small card with the original purchaser’s name on it.

4. Packaging: The head phones are shipped in a plastic suit case, similar to a Pelican case.
Auteur package.JPG

5. What’s in the box? I received a Pelican-esque suit case with a pair of teak Auteur, Eikon and Auteur pads, single-ended and balanced cables, and the previous owner’s card.

6. RTFM: Well, OK, these are head phones. There was no manual.

7. Physicals:

7.1. Connector: The connector on the single ended cable is a ¼” TRS plug. It’s not gold plated. The connector on the balanced cable is a 4-pin XLR (non-locking). The pins in this connector are not gold plated, either.

7.2. Cable: The single ended cable is flat (with the four conductors side-by-side, not braided together or spiraled in the same jacket). It didn’t have any microphonics when I used it. Of course, when I use my home system, I’m pretty sedentary. People on a subway getting jostled might have a different experience. The balanced cable has the conductors in a single round jacket. Again, no microphonics when I used it. The flat cable is more flexible than the round cable, not that the round cable is unuseably stiff.
Auteur bal cable.JPG

7.3. Cable connector: ZMF uses mini-XLRs to connect to their ear cups. I like that. I do wonder why 4-pin connectors are used; perhaps 3-pin connectors aren’t available? The mini-XLRs are not gold plated.
Auteur connectors.JPG

Granted, I'll never make a living as a photographer. Luckily, ZMF hired somebody who does and you can see really good photos of these head phones at the ZMF website.

7.4. Pads: My Auteur arrived with two pair of pads: Eikon and Auteur, both had perforated lamb skin covering. I believe the Eikon pads were installed on my pair when I got them (I think the ear opening was smaller), and I left them in place. ZMF pads are held in place by a “skirt” that fits into a dado around the circumference of the ear cup. It’s pretty elegant once the pad is installed: no fasteners and the pad is secure and rotatable. However, there’s a trick to getting them installed and I’m not good at it yet.

8. Fit, Comfort, Isolation: Fit is pretty customizable: you can bend the head band to suit your own head. ZMF even has a YouTube video about how to do it. The ear cups swivel 360o on their supporting posts. The pads are squishy and form a good seal on my head without transmitting an inordinate amount of clamping force. I didn’t take my Auteur on the road, and my house is pretty quiet, so I didn’t give them a true isolation test. However, my family has a harder time interrupting me when I’m wearing my IEMs that when I’m wearing my Auteur.

9. What I Listened to: My home equipment consists of the Astell&Kern AK70 Mk II and a Schiit Mjolnir I. I did not try the Auteur directly out of my AK 70 or my phone. I bought them to try for home listening. All listening was done with the ZMF balanced cable.

10. Soundstage: I’m not a big soundstage aficionado when it comes to head phones. I hear almost everything within my head, and sometimes inside the ear cups. That said, within my head, the Auteur placed instruments neatly around the soundstage, when there was one (so for acoustic jazz and classical). Separation between performers, especially with small-group jazz, was better with the Auteur than with my HE-500. I noticed this especially with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers “Moanin’”. I have to admit, when I listened to classical music, symphonies, I was listening more for the grand wall of sound than whether I could identify which cellist was hitting the notes correctly.

11. Highs: To my ears, the Auteur and the HE-500 are quite similar in the treble and midrange. I noticed differences of presentation more than differences in tonality, timbre, extension, et cetera. For example, Pat Metheny “It’s For You” (As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls) I noticed the electric guitar in the last third of the song had good pace/ rhythm/ and timing (PRAT) and almost sounded soaring when I had the Auteur on. However, I noticed the acoustic guitar in the first third of the song was well articulated and sharp; and that cymbals were comparatively brighter and had more sparkle when listening to my HE-500. In contrast, when I listened to Charles Mingus’ “Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting”, I took hardly any notes, because the presentation was so similar. “Saeta” from Miles Davis’ “Sketches of Spain” highlighted what the HE-500 can do. The fanfare that begins the piece was brighter through my HE-500s, but didn’t have as much glare as through my Auteur. Similarly, the finger cymbals were lighter and more present with my HifiMAN head phones. Finally, Miles’ trumpet was more forward and more present through my reference phones.

12. Mids: I really like the mids with both head phones. The two major differences I heard were my Auteur brought vocals more forward and made them clearer and more intelligible, and my HE-500s got more congested when the music got busy. Two key test tracks for me were “Whiplash” by Hank Levy (US Army Field Band Jazz Ambassadors, everyone should have these recordings) and “Moanin’” by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Both of these tracks were clear winners for my pair of Auteur. On “Whiplash”, Auteur did a better job with the initial brass assault that opens the song. There was actual impact from all those horns that was palpable. Auteur also did a better job of separating the rhythm section (guitar, electric bass and drums) from the rest of the mix. That, oddly, also had the effect of making the lead instruments seem a little recessed comparted to my planars. I even cheated and did an A-B-A so I could give my HE-500s another shot at a slightly higher volume to see if it would sort out the various layers better. Some improvement as bass got a bit louder, but not much.

13. Lows: Down low is where I heard the biggest difference between my HE-500 and Auteur. Again, I perceived more a difference in presentation than tonality. My HE-500 were looser and more “rumbly”, while my pair of Auteur were tighter and drier. Neither head phone did a particularly good job with Steve Rodby’s electric bass on “It’s For You”: the notes were almost MIA. A really good example of the difference was Earth Wind & Fire’s “Dirty”. The synthesizer thump was deep, fat and rumbly through my HifiMANs. Conversely, my Auteur presented the same notes in a drier, tighter way that allowed the mids to shine through. The bass in Cowboy Junkies’ “I Don’t Get It” and “Working on a Building” was really smooth and mellow with both head phones, just the way it should be. Granted, on each of these tracks, it was “just bass”, not subterranean bass. That said, the tonality was spot on and enjoyable.

14. Gestalt, Zeitgeist, Fahrvergnugen (and other German words meaning “the whole enchilada”): I had kind of a hard time comparing these two head phones. To me, they are more similar than different. From the bottom up: when pushed a bit, each had enough bass to be satisfying for me (electronica, dance and rap fans may need to look somewhere else, I don’t think the Auteur is for you). Mids and highs were detailed a musical through both pair of phones. I caught myself more than once just listening rather than trying to pick apart the sound so I could describe it here. Something I didn’t address in the high/mid/bass paragraphs above is detail retrieval. There were times when the Auteur beat out HE-500. One example is with “Moanin’”: the short piano solo that opens the track is more strings and less wood through my HE-500. Howerver, my pair of Auteur brought out the fullness of the wood and the room decay the HE-500 missed. Conversely, I noticed harps right away in my recording of DeBussey’s “La Mer” when listening to my HE-500, I missed those instruments when listening to my Auteur. Sure, it was likely a lapse in concentration, but…

15. Conclusion: I’m not a head phone collector. Note that I didn't give the Auteur five stars. Since I haven't even heard statement head phones like the LCD-4, Utopia, SR-009, et cetera, I'll reserve the five star rating. I try to keep one pair that I listen to all the time. For the past several years it’s been my HifiMAN HE-500. It could just as easily be a pair of ZMF Auteur. I found Auteur to be balanced and even, easy to immerse myself in. They would make outstanding “daily drivers” for a head-fi-phile who listens to all but the most bass-heavy of music, or likes really sharp, analytical head phones.
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Not to nitpick here, but in your design section you describe the Auteur as "mostly closed" which really isn't true. The Auteur isn't completely open like something from Focal or Sennheiser, but Zach himself describes them as "80% open".

I think the better description would been "mostly open" not "mostly closed" maybe this is a typo on your part.
You're right. I suppose it was more a "brain fart" than a typo. "Mostly open"/ "Mostly closed", tomato/ to-mah-to. [:)
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Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: An incredible musical take on neutral
Fantastic looks
A dynamic headphone with sub bass!
Cons: Weight
I first got into the headphone hobby for school since I was enrolled in a music recording and production class and needed a pair of headphones to use. My dad had a old pair of Sony MDR V600 and used them for the first week but felt they didn't meet my needs so I went to Guitar Center and bought my first pair of headphones, which I still own, Beyerdynamic DT800 Pro 250Ohm. I found out about Head-Fi and my wallet has never been the same.

Some notes about my listening preferences:

I listen at relatively low volumes, roughly 70dB SPL, keep this in mind as our perception of frequencies is dependent on listening level.

I prefer a sound signature that let's me hear the lowest bass notes, a smooth clear midrange and a non fatiguing treble without coloration.

Comfort is a big priority for me as I usually wear headphones for 4+ hours at a time. Weight isn't usually an issue but clamp and uneven weight distribution are deal breakers for me. Audeze headphones and surprisingly the Utopia are uncomfortable for me to wear.

Gear used for review: Schiit Eitr>Gumby>Freya>Eddie Current Aficionado/Black Widow
(Pangea Audio interconnects)


My first impressions of the Auteur went something like this:
  • Wow, there is weight and solidity to the sound, a dynamic headphone with sub bass!
  • Vocals are so clear and placed right in front of me, not slightly above me.
  • I don't hear any obvious faults like boomy bass, sucked out mids, or crazy treble spikes.
  • These are kind of big and a little heavy.
  • The stock cable is just okay.
  • I don't care for the 360° adjustable gimbals as the cups move too freely and can shift when set down.
The Auteur is the closest headphone to meet my preferred sound signature. I find them to be a warm take on neutral with a slight emphasis at 6kHz like the HD800 but at a lower amplitude giving just enough coloration to add a sense of detail or engagement. I can hear an emphasis with snares and cymbals especially in this area so I decided to switch to the perforated Eikon pads. They do a better job of smoothing out the treble but add about 3dB below 800Hz. At first I thought the pads made the Auteur sound too dark and muddy but that slight treble coloration was all but gone. Unless I specifically say, my impressions will be using the perforated Eikon pads.

I'm usually not concerned with sound stage as long as it isn't inside my head or too 3 blob. As a generalization, dynamic headphones tend to place the sound stage further away from you compared to planars although there are always exceptions. The Aeon open had one of the worst sound stages I've heard from a planar being very inside your head like a line through your ears. On the other side of the spectrum are planars like the Code Sex and HE-1000 that have surprisingly vast sound staging. To me, it's a trade off, if you have a really wide sound stage music can sound unrealistic and the stage depth is usually lacking. I like an equally deep sound stage as I'm used to listening to speakers setup in an equilateral triangle to the listener.

The Auteur's sound stage is decently wide, a little wider than HD650, but has better depth. You can place instruments accurately in the mix. Some might find issue with the sound stage but I think it stems from the Auteur being more semi open than truly an open headphone. They don't sound as open as an HD650, or an HE-6 but are more open than a DT880. Placing my hands over the cups has a subtle but noticeable cup effect. There is a loss in clarity, most noticeable with vocal placement as they get blurred a tiny bit.

Here is a quick and dirty comparison of the sound stage between Auteur, HD650, and HE-6 (Code Sex):

Auteur does the best job of pushing the sound stage completely in front of you sounding more like speakers than headphones.

Technical Measurements:

Here are frequency response measurements showing left and right channel matching for the Auteur with Auteur and Eikon pads. ** channel matching is very difficult with certain headphones especially if they have thick leather pads as just a nudge and they measure very differently.

Auteur with Auteur pads:

Auteur with Eikon pads:

The difference in bass response on the Auteur pads seems to be partially caused by the coupler. I have to place the headphones a little differently when measuring right and left. When checking channel matching by ear with sine sweeps I found these to be very sensitive to positioning on my ears. I could hear subtle shifting off center in certain parts of the sweep but it's not a deal breaker by any means.

The impulse response is an interesting area that I think can shed some light on why the Auteur doesn't sound as open as some other headphones. The lack of rear damping and thick leather pads, even perforated, will create reflections that affect the driver and often truncate the initial rebound and add additional movement after the initial response. Shown below is the Auteur with Auteur pads:

Here is the Auteur's impulse response with Eikon pads:

You can see that the Eikon pads create less extraneous movement overall as the impulse response is tighter and resolves faster after 1ms. The CSDs also confirm that the Eikon pads have have better initial decay patterns compared to the Auteur pads.

Auteur with Auteur pads CSD:

Auteur with Eikon pads CSD:

The Auteur has a pretty clean CSD. It's not as clean as the HD800 or HD650 but it's better than the Atticus or Eikon. I certainly find no obvious faults with it. The ringing at 6kHz is on par with the HD800 but is less aggravating in listening. The minor ridge at 1.5kHz is most likely cup reverberation. It is there but not enough to be a distraction.

Distortion measurements are great for a dynamic driver. Unfortunately I didn't have a quiet enough ambient noise level to feel comfortable posting my distortion measurements as they could be misinterpreted taken out of context. I can say that with what I could measure, they averaged about 0.2% distortion above 200Hz and only had one small distortion peak at 1.5kHz that was at 0.35%. They have surprisingly low distortion for a dynamic headphone especially in the low end.


Compared to the HD650 which has the closest tonality, the Auteur is more laid back in the upper mids and lower treble but has the 6kHz bump that creates a little more excitement. I find the HD650 to be just a touch too forward in this region so the Auteur does better here. Although my measurements don't show it, there is no contest with bass response. Autuer has better bass definition and much better sub bass on par with most planars. HD650 is more open sounding, has a better attack, and decays faster so it's clearer overall. If you want an HD650 with sub bass the Auteur is an excellent headphone to consider.


The HE-6 is a unique headphone. It is one of the most visceral and engaging sounding headphones I've heard. However, to get the most out of it you need to give it a TON of power, use a warm amp/DAC, and listen at louder volumes. HE-6 is more open sounding and has better transients with faster attack and decay but has a more diffuse sound stage. Images are slightly clearer and placed better with the Auteur. The Auteur has more bass quantity and hits harder sounding less compressed. Mid range proper is also more coherent and clear on the Auteur. Treble is more linear and less harsh on the Auteur but some might find it boring in direct comparison. The tizz of the HE-6 is no where to be found with the Auteur. These two headphones require polar opposite amps to perform their best. Auteur loves tubes and doesn't need tons of power to shine. A brighter amp or tube is recommended to make the Auteur sound more alive and engaging.


Auteur Blackwood vs Teak

I had the opportunity to hear both versions. My review unit is Wenge wood. It sits roughly in the middle of the other two woods. Blackwood had a darker tilted presentation but had less resonance and sounds were more tangible and emanated from a blacker background. Teak is tilted the other direction. A little less bass and a little more treble. They seemed to have a more immediate and engaging sound, which seemed to be from sympathetic vibrations of the cups that excited and bolstered the sound.

System Synergy

I need to point out that the Auteur will probably be too warm and dark coming form most headphones, even the HD650. I was initially put off by this but instead decided to rework my system to be brighter to suit the Auteur since it did so much right. I changed my interconnects from Blue Jeans Cables to Pangea and the Auteur became much more neutral yet still musical and pleasing plus the sound stage just opened up even more. I plan on getting a silver cable for the Auteur to get the last bit of treble extension and tightness in the bass. If you find yourself wanting a little tighter bass and more treble, give the Pangea or maybe silver interconnects a try with the Auteur.


The Auteur has the frequency response cohesiveness of an open back headphone but the technical abilities of a semi open headphone. It won't sound as open as an HD800 or HE-6 but it's tone is tough to beat at any price point. Size and weight should be a consideration if you are coming from something like a HD650. Choose Teak if you want the most neutral sounding Auteur. Choose Blackwood if you want a slightly darker and smoother sound.

It might seem like I've been pointing out all of the little faults or quirks of this headphone but it's because I love it so much. My issues with it are so small in comparison to just how damn good it sounds. To put it in perspective, I could easily live with just the Auteur and Andromeda as my only two headphones.
Sajid Amit
Sajid Amit
Nice review


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Excellent tonality
Smooth transitions across the FR
Dynamics and plankton galore
Cons: Weight
Soundstage in comparison to HD800
Disclaimer: Zach provided the Auteur to me for free to try out for a couple weeks and I offered to write a review. My sound preferences are neutral with a warm tilt.
My main gear consists of the Schiit Gumby, Eddie Current ZDS, HD600, 650 & 800S.


Intro/Build quality/comfort
The Auteur is the first open back and third in house headphone designed by ZMF and uses the same biocellulose driver design as the Eikon. Impedance is 300ohm, so it will be pretty revealing of what you are feeding it.

If you own an Atticus/Eikon, you can probably skip the rest of this section. For everyone else:
These are handmade artisan headphones made by Zach himself or maybe a couple of helpers. Everything on the outside of the headphone is made up of wood, metal and leather. No plastic parts to see and they feel solid in the hands. Getting a comfortable fit is generally pretty easy as the headband is very flexible and you can bend it to get just the right amount of clamp. These are heavy headphones, but they wear their weight well thanks to the ergonomic headband and suspension strap combo. I could wear these for hours without any discomfort, unlike the Audeze LCD series or old Hifiman models. If you do have an issue with weight, I would recommend buying the Teak model of the Auteur as it is lighter than the Blackwood LTD.

Bass extension is quite good for an open headphone, one of the best I've heard in its class. Low bass notes come through with authority. Still, if your a sub-bass junkie I would recommend taking a look at the Eikon which has a tasteful boost to the sub-bass with even greater extension than the Auteur. Bass extension is great and unlike the HD650 which I compared extensively with the Auteur, distortion in the Auteur is quite low as I hear it. Measurements posted by others show bass distortion levels staying below 1%. This is getting close to HD800 levels of low distortion which is fantastic. More manufacturers need to do this. Mid-bass on the Auteur has a slight boost that seems to be centered around 50hz or so. It sounds like it is a bit smaller than the mid-bass boost on the HD650 by comparison. Upper bass stays linear into the mids with no bass bleed. Speed in the bass is pretty good. Better than HD800 but not quite as good as the Atticus which probably has my favorite bass profile of any headphone.

Mids are linear up until the upper mids/lower treble which has a slight boost (not quite as large a boost as the HD600 though, but almost). This gives the mids excellent clarity, though they don't stand out as a defining feature like it does on the HD600 line. The slight rise at the upper mids gives guitars a satisfying crunch (which my inner metal-head appreciates) and violins sound real and lifelike. Compared to the somewhat thin sounding mids of the HD800, the Auteur is full and dynamic. Excellent tonality just a smidge on the lush side. Micro dynamics are very good and on par with something like the HD650 and HD800. Vocals are neither forward or pushed into the background.

This is not your average ZMF headphone. Past headphones Zach has made always had a rather downward sloping signature with the treble feeling a little sub-dued (The Eikon was his first that broke from this trend, the Auteur is even more so). Treble extension is quite good though maybe not on par with the HD800 (However no need to mod like many do with the HD800). Cymbals crash with lifelike precision, however I still have to hand the overall quality of the highs to the HD800. Aside from the 800s peak at 6k, the treble is just slightly more refined where the Auteur can be a little rough at times. Despite this, the Auteur is never fatiquing except on bright recordings. The Auteur will not hide the ugly details of bad recordings, it just won't highlight them as much as the HD800 does.

Soundstage and imaging on the Auteur is pretty good. Width and depth are better on the Auteur vs the HD650, though it doesn't come close to touching the expansive stage of the HD800. Still, picking out individual instrument placements is not hard to do with the Auteur and the space between the notes are easily heard.

As a quick method of comparison between the Auteur, HD650 and HD800. I rate these on overall quality.
Bass: Auteur > HD800 > HD650
Mids: HD650 > Auteur > HD800
Treble: HD800 > Auteur > HD650

To go more in depth:
Bass: Auteur easily has the best bass response of the three. Goes lower than the Senns and is cleaner with good slam. The HD800 is also clean, but doesn't go as low at the Auteur. The HD650 is the worst of the bunch with higher levels of bass distortion and faster sub-bass rolloff.
Mids: This was actually a close one between the HD650 and Auteur, which says a lot about the Auteur (and probably the 650, seems as it is only a fraction of the price as the other two listed here). Clarity is great on both. Micro dynamics are easily heard on both. The HD800 gets knocked to last mostly because of the gradual dip into the upper mids which messes up some string instruments and some female vocals when they reach that high. They all three have great macro and micro dynamics and have plankton galore.
Treble: HD800 wins here for great extension and air, with the only downside being that peak at 6k (which is mitigated with easy mods). The Auteur and HD650 are close again here as well. The Auteur beats the 650 with treble extension and air, while the 650 beats the Auteur (and HD800) on tonality. The 650 treble is one of the smoothest I've ever heard while not masking any details.


Compared to other ZMF headphones:
I'll stick to comparing the dynamics, as I honestly don't think any of the T50 modded ZMFs can come close to what Zachs dynamics can do. I'm also making this separate from my HD800 and HD650 comparison due to the Atticus and Eikon both being closed headphones.
Bass: Atticus and Auteur both have an emphasis in the mid-bass, the Atticus more so. The Eikon is rather linear in the mid bass with a boost in the sub bass. As for quality, I'd make it a tie between the Atticus and Auteur. The Atticus has some of the best speed and punch I've heard in a dynamic headphone while the Auteur is the cleaner sounding headphone with really low bass distortion. The Eikon is good, just not as good as the other two. Sounds slower in comparison to both. That sub-bass rumble is quite something when listening to low bass notes however.
Mids: Auteur wins here with Atticus snapping at its heals. The Auteur barely wins out for me due to its excellent clarity across the entire midrange. Atticus gets close but is a little more uneven, however it is one of the best headphones I've heard for metal. The Eikon is a bit uneven as well, with a small dip in the upper mids. Not as bad as the Elear, but enough to put it behind the Auteur and Atticus.
Treble: Auteur wins easily. Has the best treble extension and air, probably helped by the fact it's an open back headphone. Atticus is just a bit smoother but doesn't have as good extension. Eikon is smooth for the most part, with a little bit more prescense than the Atticus, but there is a peak I hear in there that can bother me on some brighter recordings.

The Auteur has a very cohesive sound. What I mean by that is everything comes together as a whole, with smooth transitions as you go along the FR. So many headphones drop the ball here. The HD800? Great, cohesive sound until you get to the upper mids/lower treble and it goes off a cliff (or rather, up a mountain?). The HD650/600/580 has this nailed down. The Atticus almost has this. The Auteur does. Smooth transitions across the board. A bit of roughness in the treble compared to the best of them, but nothing that makes it sound disjointed.


Teak vs Blackwood
I have a blackwood and mahogany Auteur sitting here in front of me. Zach told me the mahogany will be similar to the Teak in regards to sound. There are some differences in the sound, but only slight. If I didn't have them both to A/B at the same time, I likely wouldn't of ever noticed the difference. The blackwood has a little bit faster decay, treble is a touch smoother. The blackwood is however noticeably heavier. Mine has the brass grill and rods instead of the black aluminum. If you like blackwood but are worried about weight, I would get the black aluminum over the brass. The weight difference isn't huge, but easily noticed when trying them both. I'm going to say what I always say in regards to woods, get the one you like the best.

Auteur vs Eikon earpads
All Auteurs purchased in the pre-order window come with both the perforated Auteur and perforated Eikon pads. The sonic differences are rather subtle. The Eikon pads smooth out that tiny bit of roughness I hear in the treble and give the impression of more bass quantity. This does however come at a cost of some air and the soundstage suffers a small amount for it. With the Auteur pads the soundstage is a bit wider and deeper than the HD650 on a good amp. With the Eikon they are about equal.


Gear Pairing
Tubes. There are some really good SS options (Black Widow and Ragnarok for example, Magni 3 if your on a budget) and if all you have is a SS amp don't fret, the Auteur sounds really good out of just about anything. If you ever upgrade though, give tubes a good long look. Not the gooey, syrupy stuff (Woo, LittleDot), but the highly resolving, nuanced tube amps from the likes of Schiit, DNA, EddieCurrent, Decware, AmpandSound, etc. The Auteur will not pair well with overly warm sources. An example of a bad pairing would be the Metrum Amethyst and the AmpandSound Kenzie. On their own when paired with a better complimentary amp/dac, this gear could work. However, together they are rolled off at both ends with soft, limp bass. The Auteur is transparant enough to show a weak link in your chain. Moving up to my own Gumby and ZDS, the Auteur opened up considerably, with much tighter bass control and air. A better match for the Kenzie would be something like the Gumby or Yggy, while the Amethyst would pair well with an EddieCurrent or Schiit amp. The Auteur will scale up with better gear much like the other ZMF dynamics, HD6x0 series and HD800.

Value/Who is this for?
These are $1,600 headphones ($1,400 right now on pre-order). They have a LTD edition Blackwood available for $300 more (Unless Blackwood is one of your favorite types of wood, I'd go for the Teak. $300 cheaper and is lighter on the head.) In a world in which used HD800 can be found for $600, almost anything looks like a poor value. However, the HD800 is mass produced by a large manufacturer and has been on the market for about 8 years. Of course the Auteur can't compete with that, being a handcrafted headphone built by 1 or 2 people and having just come out to market. A more fair comparison would be to other newish headphones in the $1k+ territory. These headphones include the likes of the Ether Flow ($1.8k), LCD-X ($1.7), LCD-3 ($2k), HE-1k ($3k) and even as much as the $4k Utopia and LCD-4 (almost forgot about the banana split sundae $6k). Considering many of these don't hold a candle to the Auteur with only a couple meeting or exceeding, I'd say in the current headphone climate the Auter at $1.6k is a decent value.

Who is this headphone for. HD800 lovers who wouldn't change a thing can give this one a hard pass (Check out the Atticus, provides an EXCELLENT contrast to the HD800). People who are neutral heads and love the 800 but want an alternative neutral leaning headphone that plays better with music the 800 doesn't do so well, this may be for you. People who do NOT like the 800 due to issues with the FR, tonality, etc, definitely take a look at the Auteur.


The Auteur has become one of my favorites along with th Senn HD600, 650, 800S and the ZMF Atticus. The excellent sound and top notch build quality make it a competitive option for those looking for headphones in the $1-2k price bracket.
one of the best reviews i have ever seen for any headphone. no one ever focuses on pairings or recommends stuff, and its the most important part imo