Review: ZMF Headphones OMNI Bocote – PM-who?

Disclaimer: Zach loaned the ZMF OMNI and one other ZMF headphone for the purposes of this review. OMNI is a heavy mod of the Fostex TR50P, which starts that 899$ USD. You can find out all about it here: ZMF Omni — ZMF Headphones.

Relevant links:

headfonia: OPPO PM-2 Review
headfonia: Review: MyST OrtoPhones – Uplifting
headfonia: Review: Mycroft IzoPhones-30 and 30S – Kaizen
headfonia: Review: Linnenberg Maestro – Insane

Not Sound

ZMF Headphones have come a long way. They’ve teamed up with talented wood shop, Vibro Labs (http://vibrolabs.com), and have fabricated damn comfy head pads. Coincidentally, the ones that came with my loaner are sheepskin. They don’t stick to your face like protein leather does, and they don’t sweat much. Leather, not synthetics, is the nicest non-porous material for high end headphones. You can also add a leather thong to tweak the head band. 

They’re heavy, though, but thanks to the sturdy TR50P frame, they hardly rattle when taken off and put back on in rapid succession. 

  ZMF OMNI (6 of 9)

Before options, OMNI’s 899 bones fit nicely at the top of the middle-to-top end, and just below entry level high-end products. Price competition is varied, from MyST’s IzoPhones-30, to Oppo’s PM-2, to Audeze EL-8. Owing to its TR50P heritage, it is sturdy. Its ear cups hang on elegant, powerful sliding fulcrums. Those fulcrums are coated in something hard, mottled and ready for abuse. The short is: if you get on with TR50P, OMNI will feel great. If you don’t, you won’t. OMNI is heavy, a bit clampy, and because it is pretty much closed, not typical summer friendly. 




The thing that’s not great about OMNI is the same thing that wasn’t great with the original mods: an uncomfy headband, and crack-prone o-rings guarding the Audeze-compatible jacks, and light wires that sway in the wind. The Novoflex BALPRO T/S camera uses the same sort of o-rings, which last about a year with light use before cracking. The good news is that, unlike a camera whose friction locks depend on rubber stoppers, OMNI’s o-rings are cosmetic. Even if they crack and die OMNI will keep plugging away. Of course, the headband can be replaced. And OMNI’s plugs can be switched for something else. 

ZMF OMNI (9 of 9)

Speaking of plugs, Zach terminated this pair with a 4-pin XLR Neutrik plug. It’s fabric from there on up to the y-split, out of which splits twin, twisted dual strands. The y-split pulls the cable down, and knocks against desks, shirt-mounted pagers, coffee mugs, etc. The textile bit bends easily, retaining almost no memory. It’s an easy to use cable, but frustrating cable design that I would replace with something stiffer. 

Sound and more after the jump:

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Review: ZMF Headphones OMNI Bocote – PM-who?
4.7 (94.55%) 11 vote[s]

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Back before he became the main photographer for bunches of audio magazines and stuff, Nathan was fiddling with pretty cool audio gear all day long at TouchMyApps. He loves Depeche Mode, trance, colonial hip-hop, and raisins. Sometimes, he gets to listening. Sometimes, he gets to shooting. Usually he's got a smile on his face. Always, he's got a whisky in his prehensile grip.

15 Comments

  • Reply June 8, 2016

    Barun C

    Nice article Nathan. I was thinking of getting these at one time as I’ve now sold my mid-high tier ortho’s HE-5. But I’m always skeptical about the highs of Planar Magnetic headphones as the other two I have (Fostex T20 RP original and TDS Echo 16) always lacked the sparkling finish in the highs.

    Anyway, did you get a chance to compare this ZMF Omni with your Mr. Speakers Alpha Dogs?

    • Reply June 9, 2016

      ohm image

      No planar magnetic I’ve heard is bright. OMNI is no different, but it is minimally brighter and more spacious sounding than both the Alpha Dogs and of course the PM series.

      • Reply August 20, 2016

        Adrian

        If you want to hear a bright planar magnetic, try the umodified Fostex T50RP Mk3 with standard Fostex pads.

    • Reply June 11, 2016

      Lieven

      test

      • Reply June 13, 2016

        rob

        Just two cents on two sets of cans from both of these companies: I have the ZMF Masters and the Alpha prime. I like the ZMF’s for their thicker, warmer and slightly more bottom heavy presentation over the Alphas more separated and spacious presentation of sounds – a more reference type sound.
        Nathan – You should pick up the 111 Golden Tech House Tunes on Tronic Soundz – I use it for testing a lot of gear because of the variety of tracks on it.

  • Reply June 8, 2016

    GrizzlybEast

    That’s pretty much how I hear the Omnis. They are very well balanced.

    Also they are a legitimate step up in league from the Alpha Dogs.

    • Reply June 9, 2016

      ohm image

      I agree with that. Both more detail in the upper mids and lower treble, and more space in the bass. OMNI does what it set out to do (or what I believe it set out to do) about perfectly.

      • Reply June 9, 2016

        GrizzlybEast

        I may be in the minority but I would love to hear a similar tuning from an open back dynamic driver. Such a sound (like the Omni) makes me desire the more dynamic and snappy aspects of the traditional voice coils along with the even handed balance of the Omni.

        The Kennerton Vali does this but is less precise and has a cavernous bloom to the midrange with a bit too much reverb. However it is incredibly snappy and organic.

        What do you mean though by more space in the bass?

        • Reply June 9, 2016

          ohm image

          I need to qualify that term, don’t I: spatial separation of bass elements.

  • Reply June 8, 2016

    Theo

    Why didn’t your Omni had the Pilot Pad or Leather Band they usually come with?

    • Reply June 9, 2016

      ohm image

      It comes with the leather thong, but I didn’t install it.

      • Reply June 9, 2016

        Zachary Mehrbach

        Yes – to be comfortable at all the headband does need either the pilot pad or the leather band installed. Typically the headphones come with them installed but in this case I sent both so Nathan could try both.

        • Reply June 9, 2016

          ohm image

          I will follow this and the next review with a post about the various comfort mods available for ZMF phones.

      • Reply June 9, 2016

        GrizzlybEast

        Oh no… You had the most uncomfortable pair of headphones then. They make a big difference.

        • Reply June 10, 2016

          ohm image

          I will need to update this review. I used every pad and band damper. A separate article about comforting up the ZMF phones will make it for a Sunday publish or something like it.

          You can make them much more comfy than stock, I agree. The band pad, while not pretty for photos, is a damn fine addition.

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