ZMFheadphones Eikon

General Information

"The ZMF Eikon is our flagship closed back. It features our proprietary headphone design, and the ZMF Biocellulose driver which utilizes the highest quality materials and design to create a linear, powerful, dynamic and super resolving sound centered around the drivers ultra low distortion. The Eikon is the ultimate headphone chameleon, it works great with all genre's with a punchy sound that is close to neutral, and fully musical."

Latest reviews

WaveTheory

New Head-Fier
ZMF Eikon Review - By WaveTheory
Pros: Lush, natural midrange timbre. Good high and low extension. Excels at jazz, vocal harmonies, and small-scale acoustic music. Excellent build quality and exquisite craftsmanship and artistry in the construction.
Cons: Less dynamics/punch than some other options in price range. Midrange resolution and separation decreases when music gets busy and aggressive. Arguably less graceful outside of its music-genre-wheelhouse than similarly priced competition. Weight may bother some.
NOTE: This review was originally published on HiFiGuides Forum on 27 November, 2020. https://forum.hifiguides.com/t/zmf-eikon/45/177


SAVOR THE SOUND

INTRODUCTION

I’ve had the exciting opportunity to spend a couple weeks with the ZMF Eikon. This set was loaned to me by another HFGF member. A special thank you to that person who may or may not choose to reveal themselves in the comments that follow this post. Beyond that and in this season of giving thanks (I write this on Black Friday 2020), I’m grateful to this community for supporting my reviewing. A heartfelt ‘thank you’ to you all 😊. With that sappiness out of the way, let’s get back to the Eikon…

The ZMF Eikon is a closed-back, biodynamic-driver (biocellulose), over-the-ear ear headphone with a rated driver impedance of 300 ohms and rated sensitivity of 98dB/mW. The headphone cups are made of wood and the stock wood type (and the type used in this review) is camphor. The starting price is 1499.99USD. https://shop.zmfheadphones.com/collections/stock-headphones/products/zmf-eikon

I’ve been wanting to check out ZMF headphones for awhile. I went into this review with great excitement. I learned some cool things and now I share them with you. Here goes…

KNOW YOUR REVIEWER

My preferred genres are rock/metal and classical/orchestral music. I’m getting to know jazz more and enjoying quite a bit. I also listen to some EDM and hip-hop. More and more I’m learning that I prefer ‘fun’ sound signatures over neutral for most of my music listening. Since I’m a rocker/metalhead, fun – in this case meaning elevated bass and tastefully elevated treble – is my preference. For acoustic-oriented music I prefer a more neutral signature. My hearing quirks include a high sensitivity to midrange frequencies from just under 1KHz to around 3Khz, give or take. My ears are thus quick to perceive “shoutiness” in headphones in particular. I describe “shoutiness” as an emphasis on the ‘ou’ sound of ‘shout.’ It’s a forwardness in the neighborhood of 1KHz and/or on the first one or two harmonics above it (when I make the sound ‘ooooowwwww’ into a spectrum analyzer the dominant frequency on the vowel sound is around 930Hz, which also means harmonic spikes occur again at around 1860Hz and 2790Hz). In the extreme, it can have the tonal effect of sounding like a vocalist is speaking or singing through a toilet paper tube or cupping their hands over their mouth. It can also give instruments like piano, but especially brass instruments, an added ‘honk’ to their sound. I also get distracted by sibilance, or sharp ‘s’ and ‘t’ sounds that can make ssssingers sssssound like their forssssssing esssss ssssssounds aggresssssssively. Sibilance does not physically hurt my ears nearly as quickly as shout, though. It’s distracting because it’s annoying and unnatural. Readers should keep these hearing quirks in mind as they read my descriptions of sound.

Feel free to stalk my HFGF profile summary. I have a big gear list in there if you’re curious about what gear I have experience with.

BUILD

There is a lot of praise all around for ZMF’s craftsmanship and the overall quality feel of their products. My opinion is no different. These are well made headphones that exude quality and craftsmanship. They are a bit heavy, mostly due to the wood cups, but I don’t find them uncomfortable. The weight becomes an issue only when I look down at my desktop while writing something by hand or if I keep hitting the wrong button on the keyboard and have to lower my eyes to find that elusive button. Moments like that inertia takes over: a heavy headphone at rest wants to stay at rest, a heavy headphone in motion wants to stay in motion. However, the weight is not crazy. If you have experience with the Audeze LCD series or a Lawton modded Fostex headphone, the weight and inertia is similar in feel. This review set has the stock Eikon pads and they are big enough to completely surround my average-size ears. They are soft but can tend towards warm – not a sound description but a temperature description in this case.

SOUND

Test Gear

I used a variety of electronics to test Eikon. I tried just about every combination of amp and dac I have on hand right now (see my gear list in my profile). However, I most frequently used the Schiit Bifrost 2 DAC and about a 50/40/10 split between Liquid Platinum, Eddie Current ZDT Jr, and Lake People G111 as the amps for this review. The Bifrost and Liquid Plat was my preferred combo but the other two amps were not far behind. The Eikon did not change a whole lot between solid state and the tube/hybrid amps, but there was some noticeable difference. For the most part it sounded very clean on a pure solid state like the G111 and more stereotypically wet “tubey” on the ZDT Jr and in between those – though closer to clean – on the Liquid Plat. Technicalities such as detail varied some with the amp that I was using but there wasn’t a huge change in overall character or sound signature between solid state and tube like there is with the Sennheiser HD6?? Series. In other words, the Eikon did a good job of being the Eikon while taking on a bit of the flavor of whatever amp was driving it. I don’t currently have an OTL tube amp so I won’t be able to comment on how Eikon responds to that amp design. The 300-ohm impedance does pique my curiosity here, though. Note: I say ‘stereotypically wet tubey’ here to try to communicate the difference in sound. The ZDT Jr is known as a ‘wetter’ sounding tube amp – i.e. it’s smoother and comes with a bit of ‘gooeyness.’ But not all tube amps are ‘wet.’ Some are very clean and detail-oriented making them sound much more like the common understanding of what solid state amps sound like. OK, end of PSA ;p

Sound Signature


My subjective description of the Eikon’s signature is that it’s mostly neutral with a ‘hint of fun’ and has very good high and low extension. By ‘hint of fun’ I mean that it sounds like there could be just a slight emphasis on bass and treble but that could also be a psychoacoustic effect based on the excellent high and low frequency extension. To my ear, the 1 KHz range has a slight emphasis at times, but I’m going to credit (blame?) my own hearing quirks on that and say that I don’t think Eikon has an actual elevation there. I haven’t looked at a FR graph before writing this, though, and don’t really plan to look at one either.

The bass is tight and controlled and extends quite deep. In a somewhat cliché description, the Eikon can do punchy bass when it really needs to, but it’s not a bass cannon. Headphones I have that are similar in this regard would be Elegia and DT-880; neither are bass cannons that will satisfy bassheads, but they can dig deep and provide some punch when the music asks for it. I was pleasantly surprised how much bass oomph it can have when the first bit of the Crosby, Stills & Nash track entitled “Long Time Gone.” I was using the track immediately before it – “Helplessly Hoping” – to test vocal harmonies and then that track came on with really impressive bass response. I probably should have put Long Time Gone in our Bass Gods Approved thread, but I’ll let someone else take care of that if they agree it belongs there. In a final comment on the bass response, on the Eikon I detect no bloat into the midrange.

The treble is airy and extended. I only notice sibilance when the recording is sibilant. Detail is present without being overwhelming. The treble is also the area where the timbre has a relative struggle – more on this in the timbre section to come.

The midrange also strikes a good balance between being detailed and natural sounding. Vocals and instruments are well separated – to a point. In extreme cases the midrange reproduction could get a bit overwhelmed and the instrument and vocal separation and soundstaging could fall apart some, especially in the midrange. I have to emphasize that these are in the extreme cases, though. The two examples that first come to mind are the 1812 Overture by Erich Kunzel & the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and The Poet and the Pendulum by Nightwish. The former, in the closing 5ish minute celebration overture, has a full symphony, a full vocal choir, a bell choir, and real cannon fire going off all at the same time. The recording is also a bit bass heavy. It’s a torture test. The Eikon held it together pretty well but it was also noticeably straining to do so. Some of the instruments and voices blended together and the soundstage flattened and smeared a touch. The Nightwish song has a passage starting at about 7:30 that has dueling electric guitar and violin solos overlaying a full orchestra with strings and horns AND a full metal band with drums, bass, and rhythm guitars, and then throws in both growled male vocals and clean female vocals on top of all that chaos – it’s not the greatest recording to boot either. Where the 1812 Overture track falls into what I would describe as “busy midrange” this Nightwish track falls into not just busy but also “aggressive midrange energy.” It’s not Eikon’s wheelhouse. It wasn’t bad, but it fell apart quicker than some of the large planars I have on hand that aren’t markedly different in price from Eikon (HiFiMan Edition X V2 for example, which was originally $1600).

Soundstage & Imaging

In my opinion good soundstage and imaging are vital in making music sound natural and realistic and are therefore things that I tend to pay a lot of attention to in my listening. What I noticed with Eikon is that I didn’t pay as much attention to them as I normally do. That’s either a compliment or criticism. Both features were good enough that I didn’t notice them being bad. Neither feature is so good that it stands out to me as excellent. For the price range, it seems to strike a good balance of adding to the experience without being a distraction for good or ill. I suppose I’ve written myself into thinking that’s a compliment. The Eikon sounds wide without sounding expansive. Its horizontal imaging is solid enough that I could more or less place instruments in the soundfield and there was decent separation between sonic images. Most of that imaging was lateral and soundstage/imaging depth was only hinted at more than delivered, but that seems pretty standard in this price range; true 3rd dimension imaging (front to back) seems to be reserved for more top-of-the-line gear.

Timbre

Here’s where the Eikon really shines. The timbre, especially in the midrange when the music isn’t too busy, is some of the most natural I’ve heard from a headphone. Voices sound like voices. Pianos sound like pianos. Trumpets sound like trumpets, and on and on and moreso than just about anything I’ve had on my head so far. There is a very organic, natural quality to most midrange sounds. This is especially true on more intimate acoustic music that emphasize voices and just a few instruments. And jazz. Oohhh jazz. Jazz sounds wonderful on these cans. There’s a very rich and lifelike quality going on here. Now, I mentioned above that the timbre can struggle a bit in the treble. Every now and then the treble can sound a bit thin and metallic. I had this same complaint about my Lawton-modded Fostex headphone. I’m hypothesizing that this might be a limitation of the biocellulose driver material, which the Eikon and modded Fostex have in common. No driver material is perfect and tradeoffs have to be made. I did not find this metallic treble distracting very often, and it was less frequent on the Eikon than the Lawton (I think mostly because the Lawton emphasizes treble more than Eikon), but it’s there and at times could pull me out of the moment.

Let’s Talk About Music Genres & Eikon

By and large I found the Eikon to sound at least good on pretty much everything I threw at it. There is a range of musical styles on which they sound utterly fantastic, though, and I let the cat out of the bag some with comments above. Music that is acoustic and vocal oriented sounds GREAT on this headphone. I want to use the adjective “intimate” here too, but that’s not always true. There is some music that most would not categorize as intimate – like some energetic jazz, for example – that sounds wonderful. Some form of qualifier on “acoustic” is needed though because full symphonies that tend toward the epic and bombastic – the 1812 Overture mentioned above, Beethoven’s 5th, as examples – or pipe organ music which are acoustic are good on the Eikon, but not its strength. So, let’s call it “non-epic acoustic and vocal music.” Think jazz (omigosh jazz, did I mention how good jazz sounds on these cans yet?), mild folk rock, or even some pop-rock such Eagles or Fleetwood Mac or Crosby, Stills & Nash as mentioned earlier (yep, that vocal harmony was terrific) can sound stellar on Eikon. On the other hand, for me there wasn’t enough low-end energy for harder rock, metal, EDM, hip-hop, and there wasn’t the sense of grand scale that I like for the bigger, epic classical music or movie soundtracks. As I mentioned in the Signature section, the Eikon hints at fun, but doesn’t quite deliver enough on the fun aspect for my tastes on rock, metal, etc. The Eikon is not bad for these genres, it just doesn’t quite reach the level to which some of my other headphones have reached for these genres. However, if you’re an acoustic music listener, the Eikon could be your closed-back-high-end-but-not-quite-top-of-the-line jam.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I put Savor the Sound at the very beginning as a bit of a spoiler. It was somewhat fortuitous that my listening time with Eikon happened in November insofar as a holiday that is so connected with food helped crystallize my thinking about it. My experience with Eikon varied a lot with music genre. For most of the music I listened to the Eikon was solid but nothing extraordinary. But then there would come some tracks in a shuffle that sounded heavenly. And then I put on a Jazz Classics playlist from Qobuz (if you have Qobuz, check this playlist out, seriously) and it sounded so lifelike and engaging. What was the common thread? Then I was making devilled eggs for Thanksgiving dinner and taste tested the filling and thought it needs to be a little more savory. Then it hit me: savory. The Eikon excels on music that is to be savored. What it does at the price point for the human voice, for stringed instruments, for pianos, etc. is something special. Intimate, acoustic music where not just the patterns of notes and chords but the sounds of the voices and instruments themselves speak in a touching way is where the Eikon is most at home. The Eikon is competent for rock and metal and the like, but it’s not as fun or engaging for those genres as my HexV2, Audeze LCD-2 prefazor, or my Lawton modded Fostex X00. Unfortunately for me, those rock and metal genres are the ones I listen to the most and for me personally I would struggle to justify spending this much to listen to genres that take up something like 20% of my listening time, especially when I have other headphones that perform admirably with these off-genres already. Still, the Eikon’s strengths are such that I am now more keenly interested in finding a ZMF that works for me than I was previously. If ZMF has a headphone currently or will have one soon that punches in the bass and holds lots of energetic midrange energy together like my HexV2 yet maintains the midrange timbral splendor the Eikon has…on top of the beautiful aesthetic and exquisite craftsmanship…I would start scraping together and saving my pennies to get there. However, I know there are numerous music lovers out there whose tastes are the reverse of mine and if that’s you then you owe it to yourself to check out the Eikon and presumably the rest of ZMF’s line.

Thanks for reading everyone. Enjoy the music!

Oh, if it matters at all, I put a teaspoon of dill pickle juice and 1/8 teaspoon of mild chili powder in that devilled egg filling and yes, they became oh-so-savory. Had to use the mild chili powder, though. Too many people to feed who don’t like spicy food as much as I do 😊
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ufospls2

1000+ Head-Fier
Pros: Natural Sound
Build Quality
Cons: Crunchy Lower Treble
Hey Guys!

Today we are talking about another great pair of headphones from ZMF, the Eikon. I will copy my blurb about ZMF Headphones from my Verite review, as nothing has changed on that front.

ZMF Headphones is a small headphone company based out of Chicago Illinois. The owner of ZMF headphones, Zach Mehrbach, is…a really nice guy. Really. Although I have only had correspondence with him via email, he comes across as incredibly helpful, supportive, and proud of his work. I can’t thank him enough for the opportunity to hear two (Verite, and Eikon) of his headphones for a couple months, and review them. To quote Bert Reviews on youtube (if you haven’t seen Bert Reviews, go search it up now, it is worth it, trust me) “Zach is AWESOME!”

The ZMF Eikon is one of the pair (the other being the Atticus) of Dynamic Driver headphones ZMF released a few years ago, marking their move into making their own headphones, rather than modifying other companies headphones. Of course, as time has passed there are now other models, but the Eikon and Atticus are the original twosome. The pair of Eikon Zach sent me is done in Camphor wood. Again, as I mentioned in my Verite review, there are supposedly small changes in sound between the difference wood types, but I think you would see more of a difference changing to a different pair of pads, than a different wood type.

Speaking of pads, again ZMF Headphones has a superb system available. There are multiple different pads to choose from, in multiple different materials. For my pair of review Eikons, I had a pair of leather Eikon pads, and suede Eikon pads. Both pads offered a sound signature I enjoyed, and the change was not subtle. I will get into this a little bit more later on.

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So. With all that being said. How do the Eikon sound? Harmonically rich, full, and pleasing to the ear.

Bass: The bass on the Eikon is a bit on the woolier and round sounding side then what I am used to usually. However, I absolutely love level of bass the Eikon provides. It isn’t too much, but it is north of neutral, and really fills out the sound nicely. I did try playing with EQ’ing up the bass a few decibels, and sure, for some music it worked well, but it really wasn’t necessary with the Eikon. With the leather Eikon pads, the bass had a bit more impact than with the suede Eikon pads. The bass on both the Verite and Eikon I spent time with was well done, in my opinion. I think Zach must have similar preferences to me, as it just “worked” for my ears.

Mids: The mids on the Eikon are truly wonderful, seductive even. They are different from the Verite, in that they sound more natural, and are a bit more present. I think the naturalness of the sound signature might come from the Bio-Cellulose driver present in the Eikon. It is unlike anything else I have heard to be honest. My friend Jeff Wells described the Auteur (the open back counterpart to the Eikon) as being harmonically rich, and that is an absolutely excellent way to describe it. I am stealing it! This harmonic richness comes across in the mids more so than the bass and treble regions, which is why I am mentioning it here. I think it is something you have to hear to fully appreciate, as I didn’t “get it” until I heard the Eikon.

Treble: The lower treble on the Eikon is a bit too hot at times for my personal tastes, and comes across as a bit “crunchy” sounding. I noticed this with snare drums for the most part, which could be due to the fact I am a drummer myself, and pay attention to it more closely than others. I didn’t really notice sibilance with the Eikon, or piercing cymbals in the top end of the treble. So, for me, the treble on the Eikon is a bit of a mixed bag. The lower treble isn’t my favourite, but the upper treble is completely listenable and enjoyable.

Technicalities: Now, in my Verite review I think I came across as a bit negative regarding its technical performance. I didn’t intend this to happen, but at $2500USD for a pair of Verite, I had to compare them to the other top of the line headphones I had with me, and yes, they were better in terms of technicalities.

The Eikon however, at $1400USD, is not only acceptable in terms of technicalities, but very good (especially for a closed back headphone!) The soundstage is completely in the middle ground of everything I have heard, and is actually very open sounding for a closed back headphone. Dare I say it has a more open soundstage than the Utopia? I think it might! The Eikons detail level for the entry price is much more than acceptable, and it is also a very dynamic headphone. Is it as good at the technical stuff as my Susvara? No…but it is also a $1400 headphone!

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Comparisons: I am only going to compare it to the Verite as I don’t feel a true comparison to the Susvara or Abyss is really fair, and they are what I have on hand here.

So.

Verite: The Verite is without a doubt the more open and technically accomplished headphone. They have similar levels of bass, but the Verite does come across with much more clarity and detail. However, the sound signature (minus the lower treble) on a whole with the Eikon is much more seductive and again….harmonically rich. I found myself just enjoying the music with the Eikon, vs thinking about the headphone with the Verite.

Pads: Again, Zach sent along the Eikon with both Suede and Leather versions of the Eikon pads. The Leather brought a much more hard edged and impactful sound, whilst the Suede was a much more mellow, round edged, listen. I would highly recommend both these sets of pads if you purchase a pair of Eikons, as they really do bring different sound signatures to the table from the same pair of headphones, and only cost $50USD! As I mentioned in my Verite review, I’d love to see a magnetic attachment system, similar to the Abyss and Meze system. However, if this would raise the cost of the pads to prohibitive levels, perhaps it is not worth it. Just an idea.

Build Quality: The build quality of the Eikon is super. It has the exact same build quality as the much more expensive Verite. The size adjustment sliders are still my nemesis, although by the end I was much better at using them than I was initially. I didn’t have any squeaking, or creaking problems. Nothing fell apart. They just felt rock solid and well built. A+ in this area.

Conclusion

My time with ZMF Headphones has been absolutely lovely. The Eikon is without a doubt the best closed headphone I have personally heard, and one of the most enjoyable overall. The bass levels are great, the mids - harmonically rich (again..) and the treble, whilst a bit crunchy sounding, is thoroughly enjoyable otherwise.

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Hangin' out with the Verite
The Eikon gets a thorough recommendation from me, especially if you need a closed back headphone :)
Baten
Baten
good review ufospls!
John Massaria
ufospls2
ufospls2
I love bert reviews

SLC1966

500+ Head-Fier
Pros: Both Eikon and Atticus provide intimacy.
Both provide excellent isolation.
Both provide minimal sound leakage.
Both have TOTL sound with their own unique sound signature.
Both have amazing workmanship.
The woodwork. WOW!
Extremely comfortable for long sessions.
Cons: Each one is expensive.
So enticing to want both.
They need proper ampage to them.
Understandably they are not portable
ZMF Eikon and Atticus Review

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

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

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Who the …. am I?

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

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

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

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


Finding ZMF

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

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

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

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

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

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The Peripherals for this review

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


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


Stock pads were used on both Headphones.

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

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

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More ZMF information

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


Workmanship

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

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My take on the Eikon

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

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

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My take on the Atticus

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


Similarities and Differences between Eikon and Atticus

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

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

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

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

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


Genres of music I prefer with Eikon

Classical
Jazz

Genres of music I prefer with Atticus


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

Genres of music I prefer with both Headphones


Blues
Latin
Pop
Rock
Folk
Bluegrass
World


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


My favorite artists I prefer listening to with Eikon

Alexi Murdoch

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

My favorite artists I prefer listening to with Atticus


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

My favorite artists I vacillate listening to with Eikon and Atticus


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

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Conclusion


If you want a long-term relationship without ups and downs then the Eikon is your choice. If you want a relationship that is high on the fun scale then Atticus is your choice. If you cannot have both then chose based on the genre of music you listen to most. If your wallet permits have both. A long-term relationship with Eikon and a fun on the side with Atticus when you need a pick me up. This could be a rare moment in life when it is allowed to have two relationships at the same time. Everyone is in agreement with it and both headphones can be perched by your bedside ready for listening sessions depending on your mood!
John Massaria

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