Impressions: ZMF's Classic

I finally got my hands on another modification of the most prolifically-modified headphone out there: Fostex's T50RP Mk III. After being so impressed with Cascadia Audio's Talos, I'll admit from the get-go that I have very high expectations. Especially with all the work and care that Zach Mehrbach at ZMF puts into all of his products, I've got high hopes.

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I'll start with the comfort: it's top-tier. The lambskin, very premium-feeling pads are absolutely massive. I don't expect anything to (physically) rub the wrong way in my experience with these headphones, but I'll be sure to update on that. The added leather suspension strap, just like with the CA Talos, helps evenly distribute the weight of the relatively heavy headphones across the skull.

I was sent the configuration with custom dual mini-XLR connectors on each earcup. I was thankful for that, as the cable included is very premium feeling, with a lot of weight and not too much length. More importantly though, these are very power-hungry cans, and being able to power them balanced is a benefit for that reason.

Speaking generally to design, it's very industrial. Black all over, with carbon fiber decals on the earcups, it's quite a striking and imposing pair of headphones. Very good looking though, and certainly something that I don't find offensive, in any way. The bottom of the leather suspension strap had a "ZMF" stamp on it, and on each of the adjustment systems on either side is a sticker that simply has "ZMF", again. I'm glad the branding isn't too aggressive, as that almost always come across as tacky.

Now: the sound. Zach calls his house sound-signature, "musical" - certainly seems like what I'd like. With a slight bass-boost, mids stay up-front in the presentation while still allowing a bit more warmth and weight to the sound. Treble extension is slightly less than what I've become accustomed to, but I'm going to let the mental burn-in period pass before I make genuine comments on how that affects my opinion of the headphones. Detail is, on the initial listen, very good, with great texture and a very satisfying general character.

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I'll come back in a few weeks with a much more well-rounded, thought out opinion of these headphones. But, this has been a very good first impression, so we'll see if it holds out over the full review period.

Thanks to Zach for sending these out to me!