The Auteur is ZMF's most neutral and spacious headphone yet, showcasing fantastic depth projection and layering, sharp imaging, a sweet midrange and a punchy bass response. It's a headphone that leaves very little to be desired, and paired with a good tube amp, it's pretty tough to top. Be sure to check out our review of the ZMF Auter.
The Cascade bears a strong sonic resemblance to the Campfire Vega in-ears ($1,299), which is to say I liked them A LOT. The sound veered on the warm side with a little sparkle up top and a ton of bass slam. The drivers sound pretty speedy and resolving, and the headphones themselves offer very good isolation. Neutrality seekers will probably want to look elsewhere, but for genres like heavy metal and EDM, this headphone is going to be a lot of fun.
HiFiMAN also brought the finished version of the Sundara ($499), and while I wasn't blown away by the prototype, the production version was actually very, very good. The sound was pretty balanced overall and managed to avoid any glaring issues in the frequency response. Bass was fast and brought some pretty good impact when I demo'ed some electronic music with it. I definitely felt it had the potential to be a great all-rounder.
Their planar flagship, the Susvara ($5,999) was also available in abundance at high-end amplifiers across the show, and showcased some really incredible scalability with a few systems. More on that later in the report.
It was an interesting comparison between the two, which I found to be surprisingly complimentary of one another. The Stax had a razor-sharp transient edge, while the MrSpeakers was a little bit more laid back. The MrSpeakers Voce had a good bit more bass and a harder dynamic thrust than the SR-009. It was a nice 1-2 punch, and the Voce is clearly a good bit more dynamically satisfying than the standard alternative, the Stax SR-007.
I have to say, the Legend X absolutely blew me away with one of the best midrange presentations I've ever heard. The mids were silky and sweet without being over-inflated – they were just naturally beautiful and musical without obscuring the truth of the music. The sound overall was super engaging and the Legend X added some nice bass punch and clear, sparkly treble for good measure. I look forward to hearing more of this one, because I think it is going to be special.
The Triple Driver Over-Ear, which they debuted last year, has finally hit the market, and the final version is very good for the humble price of $249. The bass radiator is not only fun and powerful, but also gives the headphone really crystal clear bass separation – particularly for a headphone of this price.
I also got a chance to demo the $149 Spearhead gaming headphone. The Spearhead connects directly to your computer's USB port, and provides 7.1 surround sound along with a number of DSP options. It also uses some interesting technology with a 50mm magnetically-levitated graphene driver, which resulted in incredibly physical bass impact, without skewing the frequency response.
Thror had an interesting fit mechanism, with locking screws that let you adjust it to the precise angle, height and width of your ears – locking in a perfect fit. While I haven't heard their current flagship, Odin, recently enough to make a nuanced comparison, Thror shared many if it's same traits: huge dynamics, lots of fine detail and a slightly warm sound overall.
No word yet on a release date for this headphone, but it seemed to be a pretty promising flagship entry, as I tried it back-to-back-to-back with the HiFiMAN Susvara and Focal Utopia, and Thror held its own pretty well.