Disclaimer: ZMF loaned me both OMNI and Vibro MKII for the purposes of this review. Vibro MKII goes for: 479,99$ USD. You can find out all about it here: ZMF X Vibro MKII.
It’s totally improper to compare a modular camera to a modular headphone, but considering the number of things you can do to your ZMF headphones, the comparison is apt. Zach has graciously loaned me two pair of his latest, his flagship, OMNI, and Vibro MK II.
There are few things that stay put in the Linhof M679cs. Those are: the front standard, the rear standard, the optical bench, and the geared tripod head. You alternate between wide angle and standard bellows depending on the lenses you’re using. Lens plates can be manufactured for any lens under the sun, but they come pre-built for mechanical copal-style manual and/or for Rollei electronic shutters. Into either you can screw any lens. Then you can use sliding backs, live view backs, or even adapt non-modular system cameras to the camera.
All ZMF headphones are TR50P modifications. That means that like the Linhof’s optical bench and standards, the basic thing you get is a headband, ear cups, and cables. If you’ve got strong hands and love the feel of semi-raw leather thongs, you can screw in a leather band. If you’re not, you can velcro on Pilot Pads. These, by the way, come in sheepskin or synthetic leather. The ear pads come in sheep, cow, and synthetic skins. Cable varieties multiply, terminating in 4-pin XLR, or TRS. You can powder coat the sliding fulcrums, add metal decals, and thanks to the basic TR50P headphone, a screw driver is basically all you’ll need to do or undo anything tricky.
In terms of modularity, ZMF headphones trump the Linhof. In terms of polish, the Linhof trumps anything on the market in almost any category. In which case, ZMF and the Sinar P3 might have been a better comparision.
Last week, I lamented that OMNI’s TR50P underpinnings held back its comfort. I stand by that. But I didn’t go into enough detail. An elegant fix to OMNI’s hard headband is the leather thong. It is the most unobtrusive, and in my opinion, most aesthetic comfort modification. A quicker and less intrusive method is velcroing on the Pilot pads. If you’ve got a greasy head, the leather Pilot Pads are best. If not, the synthetic ones are just as soft.
Which leads me to ear pads. Personally, the sheep skin pads isolate better than cowhide. The synthetic pads isolate about as well, but get greasy and hot. Leather FTW. Putting it all together considerably softens the headphones. I can stand about two comfortable hours of listening from a dolled-up set, which stretches to four if I’ve got some serious listening in front of me. Naked, an hour or so does it. Of course, the mods bulk up the headphones, and no matter what you do, you won’t get Oppo PM-2 levels of comfort.
A bit about the Vibro MKII after the jump: