The Auteur is the open equivalent of the Eikon. It uses the same chassis as other dynamic ZMF headphones, and the biocellulose drivers from the Eikon. The Verite is the open flagship model, while the Aeolus is a bit cheaper and using TPE drivers.
Many woods have been used to make the Auteur, including some limited editions (Cocobolo, Blackwood, etc). My pair has teak cups. The weight will change depending on the wood used, as well as some slight difference in sound. Like any other ZMF, built is top-tier and comfort pretty nice considering the heavy weight.
○ Release : 2017
○ Current status : In production
○ Type : Over-ear / Open-back
○ Measured weight : 525g
○ Impedance : 300 Ohms
○ Sensitivity : ~98 db/mW
○ Average used price : $1000-1300
The Auteur has probably one of the best tonalities I have found in a high-end pair of headphones, with the Aeolus (with suede pads) and Focal Clear. The Sennheiser HE60 has probably my all-time favorite midrange of any headphone.
The bass is precise, and definitely not emphasized, but with great extension. I still prefer the bass on the Focal Elex, as it sounds tighter and punchier. The Auteur can reach well 35-40 Hz but falls apart below that, like any dynamic open-back.
The midrange is extremely pleasant and chill-out, similar to the Aeolus, but a bit more forward around 3-4 kHz. The treble is a noticeable step-up over the Aeolus, with better clarity, presence and sense of air. It’s however a bit more elevated, especially around 6-7 kHz, but not as much as an Elex or (of course) HD800.
Resolution, dynamics and staging are all pretty solid. While the Auteur does not have the level of micro-detail as lower priced models like the HD800, Hifiman HE6 or Stax L700, it’s still pretty capable and much more resolving than everything below $500. A well amped HD600 can however come very close to the detail of the Auteur.
The staging, in particular, is quite nice and wide, noticeably larger than the Aeolus, Elex or most open headphones I’ve heard below $1500. The macro-dynamics depend a lot on the pads used, and are the best with the stock Auteur pads. I would say it is a slightly laid-back sounding headphone with decent punch (more than most modern Hifimans but less than the high-end Focals).
I enjoy a lot the Auteur, and these impressions have been done with the stock pads, simply called Auteur perforated lambskin pads. Eikon perforated lambskin pads are also quite good, but they sound a bit more annoying to me in the mid-treble, and we loose some staging width.
I also like the Universe Lambskin pads : treble is a bit more hazy with these pads, but the stage is “echoey”, with some reverb effect (that we may like or not), and a bit more impact. The Universe Suede pads are pretty good too ; more linear than the Lambskin pads, but they smooth out the low-treble peak compared to Auteur/Eikon pads.
The Auteur simply replaced the Aeolus as my favorite relaxing headphones, as they are very natural sounding without particular flaw in sound, build and comfort.
Measurements & Resources