What wood suits you?
I get asked often about what wood suits future ZMF owners' specific musical tastes. The truth is, all ZMF headphones within each model are tuned to the same frequency response, with the same mechanical parts, with wood being the only major difference within each model. My suggestion is to choose the headphone that appeals to you aesthetically. If you're into the ZMF sound, any headphone you buy from us will be enjoyed for years to come with our heirloom quality headphone builds.
What do I need to know about my wood choices?
It's all about density. The harder the wood, the more immediate the sound.
- Density - the degree of compactness of a substance.
The density of wood will determine the ultimate perceived "speed" of your headphone. ZMF headphones only uses hard-woods that will sound fast, precise and detailed because of their high density. Typically the differences are rather minute unless going from a soft wood to a hard wood, like Cherry wood to African Blackwood.
All you really need to know when deciding on a wood for your ZMF headphone is whether you want a softer wood, which will have more decay and more sense of roundness to notes or if you want a hard wood which will be slightly more precise with harder edges to notes.
Woods ZMF headphones has used that we consider "softer" are Cherry, Black Limba, Walnut, Ash, and Maple. All other woods should be considered "hard woods," and choices can be made primarily based on aesthetics.
See the Janka hardness chart below. The Janka hardness test measures the resistance of a sample of wood to denting and wear. It measures the force required to embed an 11.28 mm (.444 in) steel ball into wood to half the ball's diameter. Typically the higher the Janka rating the heavier the wood, although this is not always the case.
Wood pore size?
Pore size or the "vessels" within wood that help distribute water and sap within a tree, can have a mild effect on the sound attributes of a wood headphone. This won't typically be noticed unless really comparing woods back and forth of similar density and far different pore sizes. A larger pore size will slightly enhance the "space" and "depth" of a headphones sonic attributes.
Shown in the picture is African Padauk, which has some of the largest pores of any wood we've used at ZMF.
Woods we've used at ZMF with smaller pores:
- African Blackwood
- Purple Heart
- Manchurian Ash
Woods we've used with larger pores:
- Black Limba
- Brazilian Rosewood
- Zebra Wood
For more info on the "anatomy of hardwoods," check out wood-databases' page on the subject.
What about other wood elements like finish, do they affect the sound?
The type of finish, coloring of a specific piece of wood, the type of cut, grain and other elements do not have a significant effect on the sound of your ZMF headphone.
Remember, every headphone we produce goes through months or years of testing to get the specific sound we are after. A large part of this is a damping scheme and highly engineered acoustic designs to make sure the frequency response and tonal characteristics showcase what has become known as the "ZMF sound."
So whatever wood you choose, I promise you will get a high quality piece of carefully selected lumber that will be turned into a wonderful heirloom quality ZMF Headphone.
Note: We typically use hand applied varnish or sprayed lacquer on our headphones. The varnish has more of a "handmade" feel while the lacquer feels more "factory fresh." If you prefer one type of feel over the other please let us know when ordering!