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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
The Eikon gets a thorough recommendation from me, especially if you need a closed back headphone 🙂