Timbers of the Goodly Tree – A Review of the ZMF Headphones Atticus

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Just like the Meze 99 Classics, Atticus exemplifies a balance of frequencies so masterful that you need never worry about source pairing. Do you have a warm source? Great! A bright source? Fantastic! Neutral? Even better! Nothing sounds bad with these headphones. It has enough energy and sparkle to bring life to a dull player. Likewise, there’s an abundance of richness to make a thin, brittle DAP sound robust.

The Audio-GD NFB-28 (around $800) serves as my desktop DAC/Amp, and has done so for a couple of years now. As my DAP collection is never-ending, this device has stood the test of time. It’s so bloody good I’ve never felt the itch to upgrade. NFB-28 is neutral-warm, full, and dynamic. It has a deep, meaty sound, and brings out Atticus’ naturalistic timbre like nothing else. This is also an excellent source to explore the impressive dimensional depth of Atticus.

iBasso’s DX200 with AMP8 Module ($899, Review HERE) is warm, and fierce in the low-end. Clarity is magnificent, dimensionality, remarkable. And let’s not forget the frightful power of the amp. It’s tight, controlled, yet savage and exuberant. Atticus is fed everything a full-size headphone could ever need to meet its potential. This pairing is damn near the equal of my NFB-28.

Astell&Kern developed a serious bad-ass in the A&futura SE100 ($1,599). This DAP renders a clean, clear, satiny tone. Just a touch of warmth to avoid coldness. Incredible resolution. Such vivid details, with a dynamic, punchy sound. Atticus takes on a more reference personality, producing effortless, elegant smoothness, and crystalline clarity. All this, and a wide, open soundscape. It makes you appreciate these cans in a whole new way.

The Cayin N5ii ($370, Review HERE) is my recommendation if you’re tempted by the SE100, but can’t spend more than a fraction of its asking price. Everything I wrote about the AK applies to the N5ii, but on a slightly diminished scale. They sound so very alike. And now that this particular model is discontinued, if you move fast, you may snatch one for a nice discount. Or spent $500 on the N5iiS. Cayin’s player makes a lovely friend for Atticus. You really must hear them together.

If you can’t tell by now, I am in love with the ZMF Atticus. It has a voice which speaks directly to my soul, aesthetics of timeless beauty, and comfort on par with any headphone in existence. Not to mention, runs great out even moderately powerful mobile devices.

I mentioned in my Disclaimer that I bought these at a discount. That’s not entirely accurate. I haven’t bought them… yet. We still need to work out a price. But I intend to own these f**kers, and wish to never, ever part ways.

-~::Pinky_Powers::~-

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About Author

Pinky is an artsy twat. Illustration, graphic design, writing. Yet music escapes him, and always has. He builds his own cables, and likes to explore the craftsmanship of others. He's a stabby one, also. At the first hint of annoyance, out comes the blade. I say he's compensating for something... in a big bad way. If we all try really hard as a collective, maybe we can have him put down.

2 Comments

  1. I’m currently waiting on my Atticus to arrive. I have the dx200 with amp8 but am tempted to return it for the se100. My only concern is whether the se100 balanced out can drive the Atticus as well as the amp8. What is your opinion, and which dap did you prefer most between the two? Is the se100 really worth twice the dx200?

    • Actually, in terms of sound quality, I put them neck and neck for the most part, with a slight edge going to the DX200 AMP8, in fact.

      With the SE100, you are paying for a lot of things behind merely great sound. If you are among those who don’t value those other things, the DX200 AMP8 is unbeatable.

      Also, there’s no doubt in my mind Atticus benefits from the extra power of AMP8.

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