Atticus and Eikon use Camphor wood as the stock wood. We love Camphor here at ZMF, it's a medium density wood that machines and finishes well with the added bonus of smelling great. Acoustically Camphor has the most natural decay of a medium hard wood, with good speed and transient attack. Camphor has a naturally light amber hue with varying streaks of olive, brown, black and red.
The Auteur uses Teak as its stock wood. Teak is famously known for its durability and use in furniture, ships and architecture as a wood that will stand the test of time and not rot under even adverse conditions. We love working with it due to the "smooth" nature making is easy to sand and finish. Teak is medium hard and has good "pop" to its sound. Teak is smooth, fast, resolving and spacious making it the perfect all around choice as the stock wood of the Auteur. Aesthetically Teak is light to medium caramel brown with dark spots. Teak does darken with age.
Our modified t50 headphones use a variety of woods. You can check each product page for current offerings, we will update each specific product page when different woods are being used.
ZMF Limited Editions
On a rolling basis, we will offer limited edition woods for the Atticus, Eikon and Auteur. Check the product page for any current or upcoming limited editions.
What do I need to know about woods and how they are used in headphones?
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 with headphones is that a softer wood will have more decay and more sense of roundness to notes, and a harder wood which will be slightly more precise with harder edges to notes.
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:
- Camphor (medium)
- 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 or airflow 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, we 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. We carefully test different finishes on each type of wood to make sure each species innate beauty is showcased by the finish type used.