The ZPEX Rewire: In Depth Q & A

A Metallic Red ZMF Master Model with Aluminum Sliders and the Cardas "Golden Ratio" ZPEX rewire.

NOTE:  All ZMF Headphones are now rewired with Double Helix Cables OCC Litz Copper. This wire is recommended by DHC as the most neutral and organic sounding wire. For the most accurate information on what is currently included with each specific headphone, see the description on each headphones product page.

One of the most oft asked questions I get is, “Which ZPEX internal rewire should I get in my ZMF?” 

I know much of the rewire confusion is my fault, as by offering different options, with sound descriptions of each listed on my website, it could create the illusion that each will change the response of the headphone, which isn’t the case.  So here’s a Q and A about the ZPEX.

What is the ZPEX rewire?

It is a replacement of the wire that goes from each cups headphone input jack, to the driver plus and minus inputs.  So for the ZMF Master Model and ZMF x Vibro, it means using high quality wire to go from the mini xlr jack straight into the driver’s power input.

Can I get the same wire the ZPEX uses in the headphone cable that comes with the ZMF’s?

The standard ZMF comes with a Canare cable, which is not the same cable as used in the ZPEX rewire, but, if you order the ZMF braided cable you can request in the notes section of your order to use the same OCC wire for the ZPEX section of your headphone.  Then you will have the same cable from the driver all the way to your amp.

What’s the point?  The stock internal cable is good enough right?

When I first had the idea to do the ZPEX rewire, I asked my retired physicist father if he thought it would make a difference.  He stated that there would be enough power to run the driver even with a very thin cable, and that he didn’t know audio gear well enough to know if audibly it would carry enough of a change.  I’d have to give it a go!

After trying it out, and using numerous wires I found that not only was the headphone more efficient, but that the timbre or tonality of the frequency range was also increased.

So each wire makes the headphone louder and sound different?

The headphone IS louder and more efficient with high quality wire, but the sound is NOT different with each different wire.

Firstly, there is a measurable 4-6 db increase in volume over the stock t50rp with the new wire.  Not only is the driver much more efficient, but it sounds better, clearer, and an increase in sound-stage, dynamics, and fluidity is present. I often get asked what I do to the headphones to make them play louder than other t50rp mods people have heard, the answer is the ZPEX rewire!

Secondly, I don’t call the sound different with each wire because the rewire does NOT change the frequency response.  The ZMF are tuned to spec no matter what wire is used.  What does change is the attack and decay of the headphone, which is really hard to hear unless you are demoing two identical ZMF’s (same model) back to back, with two different ZPEX wires.  The simplest way to describe the ZPEX tones in general terms is that the silver or silver plated cables are sharper and brighter, and the copper cables are smoother.  This does not correlate to how the headphone sounds though, ONLY to the attack and decay provided by the change in wire.  Confusing I know, but what that really means, is that you can’t make a wrong choice, because you won’t notice the difference unless you buy two ZMF’s!

 

So which wire should I get?

The good news is that just having the ZPEX is vastly more important than what wire you get.  Yes I like to provide choices so everyone’s headphone is a little unique, but as long as the wire is high quality, the benefits of just having that wire far outweigh the change in tone you get from different types of wire. 

Can I request special wire to have used?

Yes!  If you provide a link to the wire you want, and it’s 22 awg or thinner, I’d be happy to use it in your headphone at the cost of acquiring the cable.

What is your favorite ZPEX wire?

I tend to like the copper wires more than the silver wires, only because it tends to give more of a “broken in” sound to the headphone.  There’s a slight ease of note presentation that just sits well with me. 

Is there really a difference between Silver and Copper wires?

Here’s a great article that examines this very question:

DECO AUDIO: Myth?  Silver wire sounds bright.

 

Well…I think that about does it.  If you have a ZPEX related question that I missed here please contact me and let me know.  The ZPEX rewire will continue to be used on all the top of the line ZMF models as it has proven to be a great success!

Zach Mehrbach