ZMF Auteur Thread
Oct 15, 2017 at 10:27 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 8,271


500+ Head-Fier
Oct 22, 2014
Saint Louis, MO
Looks like Zach is at it again. He's coming out with a new headphone with preorders starting in November. He's some impressions I've read already


"Yesterday, I got to meet Zach at the Chicago head-fi meet. He brought his entire collection including 2 versions (different pads) of his new open back headphone, the ZMF Auteur. This was my first time hearing any of his headphones and I have to say I quite liked both Atticus and Eikon. If you are a fan of his work, you will like the Auteur. Zach said it is "about 80% open". I only briefly heard it and have little experience with Atticus/Eikon, but I can say it does sound like a more open Eikon. He said it uses the Eikon's biocellulose drivers. The build on it, like everything he does, is top notch and premium. Pre-ordering starts in November and will have a discount like the Atticus/Eikon did.

Another head-fi member that heard them also reported these notes in his impressions:

  • Auteur is the most neutral/balanced ZMF headphone - still warm of neutral overall (I'd say it runs a just a bit warmer than the Utopia and has a meatier bass presence for sure).

  • Very resolving. It's super detailed and micro-detailed - lots of data in the music - all delivered in a very natural and musical way. Still very "music first" with excellent timbre, like all the ZMFs.

  • The stage is very open sounding - Zach says it's about 80% open - but I heard several folks at the meet comment that they were impressed with the size of the stage. I listened to it with some good recordings and found it very impressive.

  • It's absolutely gorgeous to look at, in person. The blackwood and brass version looked classy as hell.
" -/u/I_Want_All_The_Tacos

Personally, I think it would fix the little I had to complain about with the Eikon (the soundstage and microdetail.)

He's doing preorders the November 10th. Preorder prices are $1,399 for the Teak, and $1,699 for the limited edition Blackwood cups. He's also sending me a pair here soon (along with a Metrum Amethyst, ampsandsound Kenzie, and an Eikon [for comparison].) I should have a review out for them sometime early November or late October.

Here's some more impressions from various places:

So, I got to have a good listen to the Auteur today. Show conditions caveat applies. Amps were a Feliks Elise (loose bass) and a Jotunheim. DAC was Gumby.

I really like these. Frequency response wise, to me they sound kind of like an HD800 without the 6khz peak and with more bass. Not as wide stage of course, but pretty airy none the less. Bass is accentuated over the Eikon, similar extension but more mid bass, though not as much as Atticus. Nicely tuned midrange, makes the Eikon sound distinctly forward in the upper mids. More treble extension, though not bright at all.

Auteur will ship with two sets of pads. My impressions are with the "detailed pads" . The other set give it a darker slant, not a subtle difference.

There must be a ton of damping in front of the grills as putting your hands over them makes very little difference.

Show conditions didn't allow for much more, but yeah this is really competitive at the price point imho. Good to see Zac tuning beyond his obvious personal preference sound." -PedalHead

"Zach's new Auteur. I've gotten the opportunity to hear a lot of this headphone, and It's my favorite headphone of his yet. It has punch, resolution and clarity that's addicting. It's still ever so slightly dark for my tastes, but from the right SS amp it's phenomenal for my tastes. If you're an HD650 lover this should be on your shortlist. The Midbass quality is particularly excellent. Also the new wood and design are gorgeous IMO. Zach just keeps outdoing himself on the finishes and pad/headband quality and comfort." -ThePianoMan

"ZMF: I loved the Eikon when I had them on the loaner tour. They are a very fun headphone with excellent timbre and a relaxing sound that lets you listen for hours without fatigue. My main critique is the slightly recessed upper mids and treble for my personal tastes. Well, if you're like me it seems the Auteur addresses these issues while still retaining the ZMF house sound. They had an effortless quality to the sound thanks to the open back nature. This is a headphone I need to try in the future. Impressive work Zack! Also, Zack is a world class dude who is down to earth and just a nice guy to talk too. " - Anonymous

"ZMF Auteur - Definitely a show highlight. Zach did a great job with these. I found the two pad variations left a little bit of emphasis either in the upper-mid or lower-treble, but they sounded kind of like an HD600/HD650 hybrid with less mid-bass and more bass extension. Yes, I do think they are better than the Eikon and Atticus so far." - Anonymous

"ZMF Auteur : Wow. They just look like home-made headphones, but in positive way. The sound of this headphone is a bit warm yet very clean enough." - @wnmnkh

"ZMF. @zach915m Zach, geez. Really. You're amazing in person. I've been LOVING my Eikon, but meeting you made it even better. What a super down to earth, true audiophile. It was a pleasure getting to meet you, Bevin, and Ren. Thanks again for all you do! The new Auteur is phenomenal. Definitely more neutral than the Eikon, plus add air and space. For my ears, it was a little drier than preferred on the solid state amp you had (wow, Milo!), but the tube amp really made it sing. You're going to make a lot of open-backed fans very very very happy. Plus, the new wood cups I saw were drool-worthy. Can't say enough about how great it was to see the booth!" - @verbositynow

* ZMF - Zach (@zach915m) and Bevin are so great, and I am grateful I can call them my friends! Repeating my comment about Dan above - definitely among the very nicest people around :)
Auteur vs. Atticus - Auteur is great! Atticus is great! Sound signature is close (to my ears), which is great for anyone who likes Zach’s house sound. So how do they differ?
Auteur is a little more detailed and closer to neutral.
Atticus is smoother and warmer.
Both are very highly recommended!" - @Zachik

"The Auteur
It was really great meeting Zach at last year's show and I enjoyed both chatting with him and trying out his in-house designs of the Atticus and the Eikon at that time. When I saw him announce the newest addition to ZMF's lineup, The Auteur, I was immediately intrigued. I've really enjoyed the time I've spent with both the Atticus and Eikon in the past, probably preferring the Eikon a bit more overall, but even the Atticus in it's own way as well, and was planning on trying them both again at this year's show, so I was excited to see the Auteurs at the last minute. Let me first start by saying how much I've enjoyed ZMF's table both last year and this year. Zach, Bevin, and Ren are always so great and welcoming each time I've visited them, including last year. They are all generally interested in what you think of the sound and are so welcoming to those who pass by. The great thing about their table is, just like last year, I found many albums off the playlists that are actually some of my favs, so it never feels to me somewhat like a chore listening at their table, while it just allowed me to simply sit back and enjoy, without searching for something or finally giving in to what they gave me. I actually ended up talking with Zach about music and live shows in-between listening sessions as we have some similar tastes in music as well. This is probably why I also really like the sound signature of his headphones so much, it sounded just right with music I'm familiar with. I have to add, Zach and the team over at ZMF are the type of people you feel you really want to support after meeting them and trying their headphones; humble and down to earth, just out there trying to catch that perfect sound like the rest of us.

The Auteurs appeared to me to deliver quite nicely. First, I found them to be comfy; they were big enough for what seemed like even larger ears, they didn't put unneeded headband pressure on my head, and they weren't crazy heavy or awkward feeling. I like the design, but they are not tight fitting, so you would only want to use them in certain ways, but overall it just felt more ergonomic off the bat than with many others. I believe Zach said that the limited edition blackwood were heavier than the planned normal Teak, but I do not know the specifics. At first I actually thought they were a bit too heavy, like some LCDs can be, but realized that the cable was just massive, so lifting it up a little and getting a sense for just the headphones, it was much better. I would say that where you feel the weight with a LCD after a bit, especially when you are not use to it, you don't really here with the Auteur, even with the heavier limited edition wood, they weren't crazy heavy as some wooden designs tend to be. Not that they feel really light, compared to plastic, etc., but it didn't seem to detract at all like others can at times. I also really like the way they fold down, onto the pads, so you can lay them flat and not worry about the wood getting scratched.

As far as sound, I tried them at one table, with a JDS Labs Element DAC/Amp stack, and also on all three amplifiers at ZMF's table. This was also over the course of the three days, listening each day. These included ones which had different pads installed, as well as cables that I can't really comment much on though. The first time I heard them it was unfortunately quickly out of the Element stack, but I remember thinking nice resolution, a bit warmer and thicker in areas than completely neutral, but close. Unfortunately, it was really just too quick of a listen to get a good picture in the end. Nice and smooth to say the least and with what appeared to be really good resolution, as far as I could tell on the stack, which was the first time I had heard it as well. It definitely got me intrigued though and wanting to hear more of it. At ZMF's table, I first tried them out of the Cavalli CTH - Compact Tube Hybrid amp and with this chain and with some music I was more familiar with, right away I was thinking, wow, this is different than before. I found them to have great speed and impact, actually giving some of the best impact on certain notes and songs that I've heard in a while, really good punch as well. At that time, I was thinking that this would be a great combo for drums or even just rock in general. The bass didn't seem to go down as far with this amp/source though, but it was still quite low even compared to the others at the table. I found that the high end was nicely extended, not crazy bright, but sharp and with good energy. However, I found this setup a bit fatiguing a times and with certain tracks, so I switched over to the Decware amplifier next, the model of which I do not know. I remember thinking right away, okay, I'm not crazy, this is at least similar as before with the Element stack, different but closer than the Cavalli in signature, and what I heard of the other two headphones last year. The Decware model they had there in my opinion really complemented the Auteurs in many positive ways and was my favorite amplifier to try them on at the show. I found the sound to be both full and lush, but with what seemed like a more neutral signature overall, as opposed to other headphones whom are definitely warm, bright, or curved. They were still a bit on the warmer side if I had to place them, but not by a large amount. They also seemed more balanced and neutral than I remember the other two newer offerings to be last year. Hard to tell as I was so occupied by the Auteurs at the time, that I didn't take the required effort to properly compare them to the Atticus/Eikon and I unfortunately don't own a pair of either for reference. However, they also had a nice amount of air and felt not only well extended, but at the same time smooth, open, and with clarity out of this Decware amplifier, with what seemed like just the right amount of detail, yet still having a nice fun factor and pop to them that the Cavarlli gave me, albeit in greater amounts than the Decware. When I came back later I also tried them on the Wells Audio Milo, but unfortunately it was towards the end of the show, so it wasn't for long. Right away I felt the place of the Milo was somewhere between that of the Decware and Cavalli. There was more attack and air, as I heard in the Cavalli, but with elements of the nice and smooth sound of the Decware mixed in, especially around the edges of notes. Probably more towards the Decware, but I think I still preferred the Decware overall.

Although I'd have to spend more time with the Auteurs in general to really get a good sense, the biggest takeaway for me was just how responsive I found them to be on the various amplifiers and audio chains at their table, which is both great and often what I look for in a headphone. Although I didn't compare them directly, even the pads seemed to impart a different sense of the sound and appeared simple enough to replace for preference. To me this is a great sign and I was seriously interested in pair as I got the impression that they would not only be great with multiple genres in general, but could also be another option to really help me when tube rolling and the such as well. One thing is for sure, I'll be keeping my eyes on these and are anticipating more proper impressions from others down the road. I've been wanting a new open pair for quite some time and the Auteurs left me with the sense of wanting to not only hear more of them, but just more music just in general, which is never a bad thing." - @Effusion

Also grabbed some pictures from @Effusion 's RMAF photos:





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Oct 16, 2017 at 3:01 AM Post #5 of 8,271
I'm wondering if anyone has images which clearly differentiates the 'Blackwood' version from the 'Teak' version, and whether it is possible to choose between black/brass grille/rods in either version (or is brass only available with the Blackwood?

I decided on Teak based on a couple sets of Eikon's I made using the wood. We get Teak in this week for the Auteur and will have pics on the site shortly and clear differentiation etc. Sorry for the confusion.

For the LTD Blackwood you'll be able to choose Brass or Black Aluminum for the grille and rods. For teak it will be Black aluminum.
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Oct 16, 2017 at 7:01 AM Post #6 of 8,271
Woukd it be possible for you to make a limited Ed. Auteur using Bloodwood down the line?
Oct 16, 2017 at 7:57 AM Post #7 of 8,271
Is there likely to be much weight difference between the Blackwood and the Teak? I mean I'm not expecting anything exactly featherweight but I'd prefer to lean towards slightly lighter if that's an option.
Oct 16, 2017 at 11:23 AM Post #10 of 8,271
no need to say sorry. I have been combing different sites for impressions about the Auteur as well, and it is great to see them here summerized! Especially for those thinking of pre-ordering the Auteur (e.g. me!) every bit of information is welcome.
Oct 16, 2017 at 5:16 PM Post #12 of 8,271
I decided on Teak based on a couple sets of Eikon's I made using the wood. We get Teak in this week for the Auteur and will have pics on the site shortly and clear differentiation etc. Sorry for the confusion.

For the LTD Blackwood you'll be able to choose Brass or Black Aluminum for the grille and rods. For teak it will be Black aluminum.

Edit. Stupid question, I need to read more carefully.
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Oct 16, 2017 at 5:35 PM Post #13 of 8,271
Got the Suede pads. They're very comfy. Would be very interesting to see how they work with the Auteur or even the Eikons. Might be just the right combo for those who want a leaner Eikon with a its technicalities.

Any measurements on the Auteur? Loving the choice of teak. Was it hard to work with? Teak can be a real bitch to mill since depending on the species it can be quite oily and extremely tough.
Oct 16, 2017 at 5:50 PM Post #14 of 8,271
Have to hear these gorgeous headphones! Teak with black aluminum grill!!

So the Eikon, beyond sounding amazing all on its own, now serves as the new product development platform for other models.

Makes perfect sense. Sometimes things really come together when the basic ideas are solid & the designer puts music 1st, always.

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