ZMF Caldera - New Planar Magnetic from ZMF!
Sep 22, 2023 at 5:22 PM Post #5,161 of 6,594
So, I haven't been checking in on this thread for a while, but this morning I saw this video from Headphones.com:



I was like woah What is going on here? This SJV headphone is pretty clearly ripping off the visual language of the Caldera with the wood / grill / rods / etc. I'm not putting the actual headphone down - I'm sure they sounds nice. They are described as an open back Noire which I can really get behind in theory. I know Zach puts a lot of effort into his design ideas and I was frustrated for him that someone copy him so closely.

After watching the DMS video I saw that Zeos had a review linked as well. I watched that one and he actually mentioned that the tighter grill pattern was his influence. Should headphone influencers be elevating a copy cat design by giving it attention...even if it sounds nice and the price is right? How do you all feel about this?

When is it a riff vs. a rip?

The Caldera is still my favorite headphone in my collection personally.

Personally, I'd never review nor own any headphone that got it's start by ripping off someone elses hard work. Pretty f'n vile.
 
Sep 22, 2023 at 5:23 PM Post #5,162 of 6,594
So, I haven't been checking in on this thread for a while, but this morning I saw this video from Headphones.com:



I was like woah What is going on here? This SJV headphone is pretty clearly ripping off the visual language of the Caldera with the wood / grill / rods / etc. I'm not putting the actual headphone down - I'm sure they sounds nice. They are described as an open back Noire which I can really get behind in theory. I know Zach puts a lot of effort into his design ideas and I was frustrated for him that someone copy him so closely.

After watching the DMS video I saw that Zeos had a review linked as well. I watched that one and he actually mentioned that the tighter grill pattern was his influence. Should headphone influencers be elevating a copy cat design by giving it attention...even if it sounds nice and the price is right? How do you all feel about this?

When is it a riff vs. a rip?

The Caldera is still my favorite headphone in my collection personally.

All I can say, this makes me feel disgusted. A Caldera knockoff? It seems like a pathetic attempt to say the least. ZMF designs are too unique for this to be a conicidence.
 
Sep 22, 2023 at 5:33 PM Post #5,163 of 6,594
Personally, I'd never review nor own any headphone that got it's start by ripping off someone elses hard work. Pretty f'n vile.
It’s a shame because I’m sure this person is doing a lot of hard work on building the interior driver etc. Why invite controversy that steals attention from what really matters? I hope that Zeos and DMS are in touch with Zach to get his side of it as well. Maybe they should make this copycat question a larger part of their discussion in the reviews.
 
Sep 22, 2023 at 5:40 PM Post #5,164 of 6,594
The similarities to the Caldera were definitely my first thought when I started to see coverage of the Moonlight popping up. My feeling was moreso that I think it really just shows how skilled Zach is with his designs. Even though the Caldera grill looks simple on first glance, it's many small touches that elevate it to such a degree. The gentle concavity, the blank space in the middle, how the pattern terminates cleanly around the edges.

There's an older Zeos video where he covered an earlier version of the Moonlight and it had a much more unique grill design that didn't have the repeating pattern that makes this look so similar to the Caldera. Even though this grill still looked on the amateur side it at least had its own personality and let the headphone stand more without inviting such immediate comparisons.

Screenshot 2023-09-22 173803.png
 
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Sep 22, 2023 at 5:53 PM Post #5,165 of 6,594
It’s a shame because I’m sure this person is doing a lot of hard work on building the interior driver etc. Why invite controversy that steals attention from what really matters? I hope that Zeos and DMS are in touch with Zach to get his side of it as well. Maybe they should make this copycat question a larger part of their discussion in the reviews.
And there is a guy in the comments section trying to persuade people that this is an inspired design. How so? If the designer is smart enough to make headphones, then he/she should have known better. Head-fi as a community mostly support young initiatives but this is going beyond inspiration. It's more like utilization.
 
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Sep 22, 2023 at 6:34 PM Post #5,167 of 6,594
So, I haven't been checking in on this thread for a while, but this morning I saw this video from Headphones.com:



I was like woah What is going on here? This SJV headphone is pretty clearly ripping off the visual language of the Caldera with the wood / grill / rods / etc. I'm not putting the actual headphone down - I'm sure they sounds nice. They are described as an open back Noire which I can really get behind in theory. I know Zach puts a lot of effort into his design ideas and I was frustrated for him that someone copy him so closely.

After watching the DMS video I saw that Zeos had a review linked as well. I watched that one and he actually mentioned that the tighter grill pattern was his influence. Should headphone influencers be elevating a copy cat design by giving it attention...even if it sounds nice and the price is right? How do you all feel about this?

When is it a riff vs. a rip?

The Caldera is still my favorite headphone in my collection personally.

That’s just gross. No thanks. HARD PASS.

It’s ok to be inspired by other designers, but you don’t get to just blatantly copy them.
 
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Sep 22, 2023 at 6:40 PM Post #5,168 of 6,594
So, I haven't been checking in on this thread for a while, but this morning I saw this video from Headphones.com:



I was like woah What is going on here? This SJV headphone is pretty clearly ripping off the visual language of the Caldera with the wood / grill / rods / etc. I'm not putting the actual headphone down - I'm sure they sounds nice. They are described as an open back Noire which I can really get behind in theory. I know Zach puts a lot of effort into his design ideas and I was frustrated for him that someone copy him so closely.

After watching the DMS video I saw that Zeos had a review linked as well. I watched that one and he actually mentioned that the tighter grill pattern was his influence. Should headphone influencers be elevating a copy cat design by giving it attention...even if it sounds nice and the price is right? How do you all feel about this?

When is it a riff vs. a rip?

The Caldera is still my favorite headphone in my collection personally.


In my experience, when buildling tech startups there are two things that everyone finds infuriating, but inevitably come with success:
  • Everyone copies you
and later, if you're very, very succesful
  • Everyone tries to sue you
So I'd take this as a complement for success. Copycats are either inspired by you, or lack the innovation to carve their own paths (or both). It's life. Market leaders can look at the vast opportunity ahead and ignore the small players that try to catch a ride on their coattails.
 
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Sep 22, 2023 at 7:16 PM Post #5,169 of 6,594
So, I haven't been checking in on this thread for a while, but this morning I saw this video from Headphones.com:



I was like woah What is going on here? This SJV headphone is pretty clearly ripping off the visual language of the Caldera with the wood / grill / rods / etc. I'm not putting the actual headphone down - I'm sure they sounds nice. They are described as an open back Noire which I can really get behind in theory. I know Zach puts a lot of effort into his design ideas and I was frustrated for him that someone copy him so closely.

After watching the DMS video I saw that Zeos had a review linked as well. I watched that one and he actually mentioned that the tighter grill pattern was his influence. Should headphone influencers be elevating a copy cat design by giving it attention...even if it sounds nice and the price is right? How do you all feel about this?

When is it a riff vs. a rip?

The Caldera is still my favorite headphone in my collection personally.

I'll briefly address this to clarify my stance, but I'd rather not dwell on it. For my own well-being, it's crucial to focus on my work and stay excited about it, rather than letting negativity affect my mindset.

When I started my journey by modding Fostex t50 headphones, my vision was to create headphones with wooden enclosures that resembled vintage instruments, incorporating elements of vintage architectural metal accents. As ZMF grew, my mission was always to make headphones so uniquely "ZMF" that they didn't require logos or branding – the design itself would be instantly recognizable.

Recently, I've become aware of a company on AliExpress that appears to be producing chassis and cups very similar to what we do, and even copying them. While I’m flattered, I also can’t help but worry that all the work I’ve put in to be able to make these designs through our engineers, machinery, wood hunting and more has been reduced to a singular 2 dimensional thought, rather than a complex journey that took many many years, sacrifices that both Bevin and I have made through long days and nights.
I don’t know exactly what parts from Ali Express are being used by any particular business, but I know that this is playing a large role in this.

Modding and entrepreneurship are fantastic, and I support individuals forging their own path. I have great admiration for creators like Ryan of Modhouse. There's a fine line between "inspired by," "paying homage to," and "replicating," While I can't define this for each of us, we all recognize it when we see it.

Creating with a clear vision and respecting the boundary where inspiration becomes too close to the source is crucial. Regarding SJY, they reached out to me in 2020, stating that their design at the time resembled one of ZMFs and was asking if that was ok. I expressed that it’s be worth a conversation, and if the designs were close that we should make an agreement. Unfortunately, despite my attempts at further communication, SJY's headphones have continued to resemble ZMF's more and more since our initial communication.

I cherish this community and what fellow builders achieve, often starting as I did. I encourage collaboration rather than competition. Building a successful business is incredibly challenging, and I'm always willing to help in any way I can.

I’m so SO excited about I’m doing right now! A giant challenge has always been trying to find the time in the day to get everything done. I have so many talented people in our shop, measurement gear I never thought I’d have, CNC machines and wood tools that I never knew existed years ago, it’s just amazing and I’m so excited about it and to continue learning and working on headphones. Things are going to be really fun moving forward regardless of any of this, and I’m so thankful for that.
 
ZMFheadphones ZMF headphones hand-crafts wood headphones in Chicago, USA with special attention to exceptional sound and craftsmanship. Stay updated on ZMFheadphones at their sponsor profile on Head-Fi.
 
https://www.facebook.com/ZMFheadphones https://twitter.com/ZMFheadphones https://www.instagram.com/zmfheadphones/?hl=en http://www.zmfheadphones.com/zmf-originals/ contactzmf@gmail.com
Sep 22, 2023 at 7:22 PM Post #5,170 of 6,594
The similarities to the Caldera were definitely my first thought when I started to see coverage of the Moonlight popping up. My feeling was moreso that I think it really just shows how skilled Zach is with his designs. Even though the Caldera grill looks simple on first glance, it's many small touches that elevate it to such a degree. The gentle concavity, the blank space in the middle, how the pattern terminates cleanly around the edges.

There's an older Zeos video where he covered an earlier version of the Moonlight and it had a much more unique grill design that didn't have the repeating pattern that makes this look so similar to the Caldera. Even though this grill still looked on the amateur side it at least had its own personality and let the headphone stand more without inviting such immediate comparisons.

Screenshot 2023-09-22 173803.png
Yeah that doesn't seem like visual plagiarism. Also, this one copies the Fostex headband instead of ZMF rods. There is room to play in the same sandbox without stepping on feet.
 
Sep 22, 2023 at 7:29 PM Post #5,171 of 6,594
I'll briefly address this to clarify my stance, but I'd rather not dwell on it. For my own well-being, it's crucial to focus on my work and stay excited about it, rather than letting negativity affect my mindset.

When I started my journey by modding Fostex t50 headphones, my vision was to create headphones with wooden enclosures that resembled vintage instruments, incorporating elements of vintage architectural metal accents. As ZMF grew, my mission was always to make headphones so uniquely "ZMF" that they didn't require logos or branding – the design itself would be instantly recognizable.

Recently, I've become aware of a company on AliExpress that appears to be producing chassis and cups very similar to what we do, and even copying them. While I’m flattered, I also can’t help but worry that all the work I’ve put in to be able to make these designs through our engineers, machinery, wood hunting and more has been reduced to a singular 2 dimensional thought, rather than a complex journey that took many many years, sacrifices that both Bevin and I have made through long days and nights.
I don’t know exactly what parts from Ali Express are being used by any particular business, but I know that this is playing a large role in this.

Modding and entrepreneurship are fantastic, and I support individuals forging their own path. I have great admiration for creators like Ryan of Modhouse. There's a fine line between "inspired by," "paying homage to," and "replicating," While I can't define this for each of us, we all recognize it when we see it.

Creating with a clear vision and respecting the boundary where inspiration becomes too close to the source is crucial. Regarding SJY, they reached out to me in 2020, stating that their design at the time resembled one of ZMFs and was asking if that was ok. I expressed that it’s be worth a conversation, and if the designs were close that we should make an agreement. Unfortunately, despite my attempts at further communication, SJY's headphones have continued to resemble ZMF's more and more since our initial communication.

I cherish this community and what fellow builders achieve, often starting as I did. I encourage collaboration rather than competition. Building a successful business is incredibly challenging, and I'm always willing to help in any way I can.

I’m so SO excited about I’m doing right now! A giant challenge has always been trying to find the time in the day to get everything done. I have so many talented people in our shop, measurement gear I never thought I’d have, CNC machines and wood tools that I never knew existed years ago, it’s just amazing and I’m so excited about it and to continue learning and working on headphones. Things are going to be really fun moving forward regardless of any of this, and I’m so thankful for that.
Shasta Cola comes in a 2 liter, but it isn't Coke. So much respect for all the hard work and sacrifice you, Bevin and the ZMF crew have put into your headphones and defining the ZMF visual language.
 
Sep 22, 2023 at 7:54 PM Post #5,172 of 6,594
My three thoughts on the matter as I got to meet the kid behind SJY and he is just a college student doing this as a hobby.

1) Hopefully as he gets older and more confident he embraces his own design language. I am not sure what his motivation is for the similarity. Perhaps its because he likes that design and felt it was the best. Perhaps those parts were available to him. Perhaps he wanted to ride the coat tails. Whatever it is I hope its just inexperience in design development.

2) His headphones are very nice for their price point but they definitely highlight the difference in craftsmanship let alone tuning preferences.

3) Kudos to Zach for embracing being positive :). Im excited for the fall special releases esp of the Caldera!
 
Sep 22, 2023 at 8:02 PM Post #5,173 of 6,594
My three thoughts on the matter as I got to meet the kid behind SJY and he is just a college student doing this as a hobby.

1) Hopefully as he gets older and more confident he embraces his own design language. I am not sure what his motivation is for the similarity. Perhaps its because he likes that design and felt it was the best. Perhaps those parts were available to him. Perhaps he wanted to ride the coat tails. Whatever it is I hope its just inexperience in design development.

2) His headphones are very nice for their price point but they definitely highlight the difference in craftsmanship let alone tuning preferences.

3) Kudos to Zach for embracing being positive :). Im excited for the fall special releases esp of the Caldera!
That is interesting. Quite a side hustle making headphones and being in college! I respect his story and want him to succeed ultimately. Relating his headphone to Shasta Cola was probably too harsh without hearing it lol. Hopefully he branches out and away from ZMF in his designs. I love what Zach said about the idea of the design itself being the calling card rather than a logo. I think this wouldn't even be a conversation if ZMF hadn't established that bespoke identity.
 
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Sep 22, 2023 at 8:39 PM Post #5,174 of 6,594
My three thoughts on the matter as I got to meet the kid behind SJY and he is just a college student doing this as a hobby.

1) Hopefully as he gets older and more confident he embraces his own design language. I am not sure what his motivation is for the similarity. Perhaps its because he likes that design and felt it was the best. Perhaps those parts were available to him. Perhaps he wanted to ride the coat tails. Whatever it is I hope it’s just inexperience in design development.
I honestly admire and understand your point and your sensibility but I can’t accept to let go these kind of attempts because even if later on he switches to his original style in all aspects, these things on which he builds this originality will always remain controversial since his brand is piggybacking off ZMF. Also the fact that him continuing to furthering this mimicry for a bit of time in spite of Zach’s communication efforts, implies that this doesn’t seem to be an honest mistake that can be condoned and chalked up to immaturity. I maybe coming across as harsh on this matter but there was a certain time period elapsed and opportunity here for this young man to come to his senses which was not valued and I just can’t tolerate cunning.
 
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Sep 23, 2023 at 2:43 AM Post #5,175 of 6,594
So, I haven't been checking in on this thread for a while, but this morning I saw this video from Headphones.com:



I was like woah What is going on here? This SJV headphone is pretty clearly ripping off the visual language of the Caldera with the wood / grill / rods / etc. I'm not putting the actual headphone down - I'm sure they sounds nice. They are described as an open back Noire which I can really get behind in theory. I know Zach puts a lot of effort into his design ideas and I was frustrated for him that someone would copy him so closely.

After watching the DMS video I saw that Zeos had a review linked as well. I watched that one and he actually mentioned that the tighter grill pattern was his influence. Should headphone influencers be elevating a copycat design by giving it attention...even if it sounds nice and the price is right? How do you all feel about this?

When is it a riff vs. a rip?

The Caldera is still my favorite headphone in my collection personally.

I have seen pictures a few days ago and my first thought was 'that is a weird looking ZMF'.
Apparently at certain points of Asia people take this copying (stealing design) less seriously. For a few weeks/months there was a Meze Advar clone circling online and the designer didn't quite understand why the resemblance is bad, when his product is a lot cheaper but still good value when it comes to sound. I immediately stop caring about a company who can't even come up with their own design.
What SJY did, is a frustrating design rip off. The fact that they stopped communicating with Zach, makes things a lot worse.
I don't understand how 'reviewers' can support this.
The headphones might even sound nice for the price, and perhaps he will change the design language and this was to gain initial attention. Either way, not a decent move.
(That said, the build is not quite on ZMF level even by looking at the pictures.)
 

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