Review and re-trace: ZMF comfyness and Vibro MKII

Vibro MKII

In contrast to OMNI’s smoother, comfier, and perhaps more traditionally audiophile-friendly sound, Vibro MKII, with the same pads is notably brighter. It’s got a gentle, but noticeable u-shaped sound, with similarly warm and smoothly gradated bass. Bass doesn’t hammer, but it warms up the bottom, and can hit rock bottom frequencies when fed the right signal. The Crystal Method’s High Roller pushes loads of pressure into low-voiced frequencies, which causes Vibro MKII to positively throb. High-voiced vocals are a bit more bitey than OMNI, but there’s a bit more bleed on the decaying edge of cymbals. 

ZMF Vibro MKII (13 of 14)

In my opinion, that bite makes Vibro MKII a better trance and EDM headphone. In fact, its take on equal loudness is pretty close to neutral. Of course, low frequency stereo separation and placement middle out, deferring to the midrange when defining placement and space. OMNI’s 3D space is larger with a longer Z-axis and more Y-axis height. Vibro MKII’s 3D space is shaped like a fat banana laid on its side, curving forward and anchoring at the base of the spine. Upper midrange percussion tends to hit around the eyebrows and case forward by 30 centimetres. Bass largely centres within the skull. Upper midrange and low high energy stretches forward, from the eyeballs and curl around the shoulders but can extend far beyond them. Frenetic trance fans may wish for more Y-axis height, but otherwise, should be happy with upper midrange speed, stereo width, and absolute balance of highs to bass. If you plug its bass ports, you can down the bass further, which extends the midrange a bit and, even though just fractionally, opens up the sound.

ZMF Vibro MKII (11 of 14)

I fall squarely into that cohort. And, if it was my money, and I had to do it all over again and choose sound over fit and finish, I’d throw my money into Vibro MKII way before I’d spend up for a PM-2. 

It is a good-sounding headphone that sometimes really trips out with an excellent balance and sense of speed. And, despite the warming sheen of the Lynx HILO’s headphone amp, Vibro’s semi-bright posture, comes through. 

ZMF Vibro MKII (1 of 14)

End words

As is typical of the last few weeks, I’m apt to apologise; this time for being less than clear, and detailing less about fit/modularity functions unique to ZMF phones. There’s nothing you can do to make them Oppo PM-2 comfy. But there is a lot you can do to make them work well. While it’s just one man’s opinion, OMNI is better suited to audiophile staples and Vibro MKII to the stuff stuffy audiophiles often frown on. 

Which, considering that I’m not a good audiophile, makes Vibro MKII totally up my alley.

Well done.

Review and re-trace: ZMF comfyness and Vibro MKII
4.6 (92%) 5 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.

7 Comments

  • Reply June 16, 2016

    Barun C

    Great article Nathan. I don’t know, I seem to like the Vibro based upon your impressions as it seemed my kind of a preference in overall sound signature.

    I guess I also fall in the lesser audiophile club by your definition, aigh?

    So will you say this is the best treble you’ve heard in a planar magnetic in general or is this the best treble in a T50Rp mod you’ve heard and you still consider the MySt Ortophones/30/60 the best in that regard?

    • Reply June 17, 2016

      ohm image

      While I really like the sound of Vibro MKII, I guess I’m less a garage shop guy than I am a Russian Tank project guy. In which case, the MyST headphones excite me more. And, as long as you’re not listening to the S version, you get even more open-sounding mids and treble. The S version and the Vibro might be an interesting mane a mano.

  • Reply June 17, 2016

    Jeffrey Coleman

    About 18 months ago, I went to a headphone meet in the NYC area. I had a blast and had the opportunity to meet Zach at his little table set up. I tried many different (and far more expensive) headphones that day. Many I liked, and some fell below expectations…

    On my long drive home, I really only thought about one headphone. It was Zach’s blackwood Vibro. And I honestly missed it, I mean that’s silly to say that. But I found myself longing for that blackwood headphone. (I think the “Blackwood” is is closed flagship, but its based on the Vibro).

    Now being insanely frugal, and just purchasing a new closed headphone, just a month prior, I talked myself out of giving up food and heat for a couple months to pay for another closed headphone. I just tried to forget….lol

    Then Zach announced the Omni’s. And now I’m out of excuses. That semi-open beauty will be mine, hopefully soon (Bathing suit season is upon us, so a little starvation would do me some good). The only problem with ZMF, is Zach is a sucker for playing around new woods. I’m assuming that has something to do with Zach’s background in building custom guitars. And boy, every new introduction makes me change my mind….

    Thanks for this article Nathan, you re-reminded me that I need to open my wallet. I can finally get past the Thunderpants let down, and move on to another T50RP mod…

    • Reply June 17, 2016

      ohm image

      What a kind comment. So, OMNI is on the brain. If your brain is larger than mine, make sure to splurge for sheepskin pilot pads. Or, if your head is narrow, the leather thong. Great headphone for the person looking for richness and overall non-loudness curve neutrality.

  • Reply June 17, 2016

    Theo

    Thanks for this complemental review.
    The only thing missing now is a review of the Blackwood 😉
    It’s the ZMF headphone I think I will like the best. Although I’m still very happy with my ZMF, one of the first Zach made, before all those variations.

    • Reply June 29, 2016

      digitldlnkwnt

      I bought the ZMF Master and for a long time i didn’t like it. There wasn’t enough bass, it was sibilant – everything i didn’t want to have in a headphone. Then something happened. i paird it with a V100 and whether it was my head breaking into the headphone or the headphone just breaking in, it did a complete 180. There was bass and warmth, and all of the sibilance was gone leaving behind very smooth, shimmering highs. Now i like it so much it’s my go-to headphone and i don’t even want to upgrade to Vibro because i’m scared i’ll loose the sound signature i’ve grown to like. Really the most complicated relationship I have ever had with a headphone.

      • Reply June 30, 2016

        dale thorn

        Use it for as long as you can, then the Vibro or an even better edition will be waiting for you. The warm smooth sound you describe is just the nature of that series – they’ll always be around.

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