ZMF Atrium Review: Corgifall's Take

While I’m not a full size headphone person and personally prefer IEMs, I’ve been fortunate enough to check out some truly wonderful TOTL full size cans in my few years of reviewing. I’ve always been a fan of Zach’s work but I’ve only heard his headphones in small bursts here and there. When the Atrium came out, I was instantly attracted to the new design and loved the video review from Tylerelectic. I never thought I would have a chance to check out the Atrium but to my surprise, a local audio friend had a review unit that Zach said I could borrow to review. The Atrium is an open back using their Biocellulose N52 custom tuned driver. The Atrium starts at $2499.99.

Quick shoutout to Zach from ZMF for letting me borrow the Atrium so I could check out and review it. While I always appreciate the chance to test and review products sent in from manufacturers and dealers, it never affects the rating of my reviews.

The Atrium can be picked up from ZMF at their site below.

Looks and fit

This Atrium is a work of art and looks and feels special. Even though this is a demo unit, it looks good after being in many reviewers hands and it hasn’t shown any real wear which is impressive. The build quality is very much the best of the best and I’m impressed given its price is very much up there. I like the new suspension strap and it keeps what would be a hotspot(for me) better controlled for longer sessions. I do find the clamp force isn’t very strong but I have this issue with other full size cans so this will be a per person thing. The Atrium is heavier so if you have a loose fitment, expect to have it slide around or possibly fall off if you tilt your head down. There might be a way to add more clamp force. I just didn’t attempt anything as this isn’t my set of headphones. I didn’t go into the super detail here but my demo unit when configured is $2949.99 and I would personally buy the stock version for my personal preference.  

Isolation and sound leakage

This Atrium leaks a good amount of sound which is no surprise for an open back. It doesn’t let as much sound in overall though. Which is a little different vs other open back designs. Putting my hands over the side openings doesn’t make a noticeable difference to the sound so the ports along the side of the cup are probably used more than the side. 

Packaging and accessories

The Atrium comes with a big but nice hard case that looks and feels like it could survive most damage. Looks very much like a quality Pelican case. Inside we get the headphones, stock cable(second cable/pads for consumer unit) and a little envelope with a QA card(on wood!) and serial number card along with a mini book of their product line. For the price of the Atrium, I think this is a good chunk of accessories.


These final impressions were done off a mix of the Topping G5 and the SMSL SU-9 connected to the SMSL SP400. This was using the perforated lambskin leather pads that came with my review unit. Things like ear pad selection and DAC/amp selection will produce different results and impressions vs what my ears hear on my specific gear.

I personally don’t like mid(more upper mids) focused headphones and I was rather displeased when I reviewed the Audeze LCD-5 a while back. That was a bit over the top for my tastes and I couldn’t listen for very long without EQ. The Atrium still has an upper mid focus but it comes in warmer sounding overall and the mids, while intense, don’t get super sibilant. Starting with the bass, it hits decently well for an open back and while it lacks true impact/slam, I find it very good when compared to other open back designs. The bass also has very good detail and it can reach down low so it still provides a feeling of fullness. The mids are warmer yet I found instruments still sounded very detailed. Vocals do come in clear with a bit of sibilance at times but it's not bad enough that I feel I need to lower the volume below my preference or EQ. The treble is a little strange and on first listen I thought it was lacking sparkle and bite but after listening for a bit it feels like a dip exists somewhere that keeps it from really shining in the treble. I do feel the Atrium can pull in good detail up top but I believe maybe some EQ might be able to balance whatever is missing to give it a stronger treble presence. This tuning very much reminds me of the Audeze LCD-5 I had for a bit. The only difference is that I find this tuning completely acceptable(and more tolerable) for the price and I found the LCD-5 to be way overpriced with the amount of EQ required to make it shine. While I don’t personally like this type of tuning, I did enjoy it for what it was capable of out of the box and didn’t have to mess around with EQ which was nice.


Staging is wider and deeper but it doesn’t feel like a true open back of how much it leaks sound. I can hear the outside world but it’s much more muted than something like my Sennhieser headphones. This is a good compromise IMO since I hate having to make sure everything is quiet in my room to really enjoy open backs. I found imaging perfectly fine but I felt I had to focus a little more when tracks got busy due to that upper mid focus.


To no one's surprise, this is a little harder to drive at 300 ohm. Using the single ended cable provided, I was sitting around 62 ish out of 99 on my SMSL desktop stack which provides 3W peak single ended. I also used it on the new Topping G5 and even with the 1.2w output, I could get the Atrium powered to my preference at 55% ish volume on high gain. So it is possible to use the Atrium portable in a sense but the best performance comes from desktop gear IMO.

Stock cable

The stock cable I received is the standard OFC zmf cable. Keep in mind that according to their website, it comes with a braided cable and this OFC cable as well. I didn’t see pictures on their site but for the price I’m guessing it’s one of their nicer braided Lektrik cables. I really don’t like the stock OFC cables as they’re very stiff and look on the basic side. I personally like a light and thick cable so depending on the type of braided cable they include, I would say leave the cable be.

IEM comparisons

NONE!!!! I simply don’t have any full size cans around the same price or even over a grand that I can compare at the time of this writing. As an “IEM” guy I just simply don’t have much use for full size when I can use my TOTL IEMs or mid-fi speakers. I would like to get into more full size if I could but maybe down the road.

Amping Combinations

Topping G5

The G5 is able to get the Atrium to loud volumes easily on high gain and I thought the pairing sounded fairly good assuming portability was important. The bass does lack just a bit of meat and it sounds good still but with just less fullness and impact. The mids stay pretty warm and detailed but with just a little more brightness vs the desktop setup I use. Vocals are pretty strong and details aren’t lost. The treble is pretty lean sounding off this pairing and while it wasn’t bright at all, it just sounded thinner and lean overall up top. The staging still sounded average, nothing special. I think the thinner sound comes from a mix of the brighter/sharper DAC and less power output from the G5. The G5 sounds wonderful with less demanding gear but I do believe this is a good pairing if you plan to take the Atrium on the go or maybe on a trip/meet. 

SMSL SU-9/SP400(with CMA Fifteen)

The sound impressions section above is always based on this SMSL stack. The CMA Fifteen did add a bit more clarity and just a bit wider sound but the amp in the Fifteen has a lot of options and a full class A amp mode.  I think the Atrium is easily one of those headphones that can make good use of a good quality desktop amp for power and a good quality DAC to deliver the best sound quality to the Atrium. It can be powered off portable sources just fine but it scales the best with desktop gear.

Overall thoughts

So what are my final thoughts on the Atrium? Well, I love the way it looks and I appreciate the tuning effort and sound quality overall. I think the Atrium is worth the cost alone for the amazing build quality and design. I think those who like a more warm sounding signature with a focus on upper mids will really enjoy the Atrium’s tuning. I’ve had the Atrium for a few months now and I appreciate it more and more as time passes. As such, I fully recommend the Atrium! Just like most TOTL headphones, this is a genre focused headphone so I wouldn’t call it an all rounder that will sound good with everything. I’ve always loved the looks of ZMF headphones and I look forward to checking out their future releases. Thanks for reading!!

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