ZMFheadphones Vérité

General Information

Vérité is a term often used in film and television as a style that emphasizes reality, naturalism, and a sense of truth. With the Vérité, ZMF has created a headphone that brings the ultimate truth to audio. With the utmost speed, accuracy, and heightened dynamic range, the Vérité will immerse the listener in a truly revealing audio Eden. Employing an all new Beryllium coated PEN driver unique to ZMF, a featherweight magnesium chassis, and our most complex acoustic design yet, the Vérité gives you everything you’ve ever wanted from an open, full sized headphone.

Enjoy your own personal audio Vérité.

Product Specifications:
  • Wood: Silk-Wood (albizia) OR LTD Pheasantwood (50 sets)

  • Frequency Response: Approximately 10 Hz to 25 KHZ

  • Impedance: 300 Ohms

  • Sensitivity: 99 dB/mW

  • Warranty: Lifetime for Driver, 3 years parts and mechanical

  • Weight (est.): 430g (silk wood)

  • Pads: Verite and Universe Pads

  • Case: ZMF LTD Mahogany

Latest reviews

ufospls2

1000+ Head-Fier
Pros: Seriously good tuning
Pretty Well Built
Pads
Cons: Tiny bit heavy, at times.
The slider rods.
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Hanging out!

Hi All,

Today we are talking about an absolutely phenomenal pair of headphones. The ZMF Headphones Verite. These are the easiest types of reviews to write, where you really don’t have much in the way of negative news to report. They are comfortable (perhaps a bit heavy, but not overly so) look great, and sound even better.

ZMF Headphones is a small headphone company based out of Chicago Illinois. The owner of ZMF headphones, Zach Mehrbach, is…a really nice guy. Really. Although I have only had correspondence with him via email, he comes across as incredibly helpful, supportive, and proud of his work. I can’t thank him enough for the opportunity to hear two (Verite, and Eikon) of his headphones for a couple months, and review them. To quote Bert Reviews on youtube (if you haven’t seen Bert Reviews, go search it up now, it is worth it, trust me) “Zach is AWESOME!”

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A bit closer up

The Verite is ZMF’s latest flagship model. There have been a few different wood choices available so far, but Zach was kind enough to send me a pair of the limited “Ziricote” wood Verite. I have not personally heard a pair of Verite in another wood choice, so I can’t say if they sound any different. Supposedly there are subtle differences between the wood type, but I would guess you would see more difference changing the pads, than purchasing a different wood.

Speaking of pads, this is actually one of the neatest, and for me, most unexpected parts of reviewing ZMF headphones. Zach has many different earpads for you to choose from, in both leather and suede materials. I did not expect to hear such marked differences between the different pad choices, but the differences were huge. It is like owning one pair of headphones, with three or more different sound signatures, immediately available via a simple ear pad change. More on this later.

Right, so lets talk about how the Verite sound. I’ll talk about their overall sound signature, then the differences the pads make afterwards.

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The Eikon and Verite together. Both Rock!

Bass:
The bass on the Verite is full and robust sounding. I tend to enjoy a bass response level that is a bit north of strictly neutral so this suits me just fine. I didn’t really find myself needing to EQ up the bass level a few decibels, as I do with some other headphones that have a bit less bass than the Verite in their stock tuning. The bass on the Verite doesn’t slam as hard, with as much impact, as the Abyss AB-1266, but it is a very punchy headphone. If you do EQ up the bass a bit, you will feel it, no doubt about it. The Verite’s bass response was pretty much perfect, for my ears, in terms of level. I really, really enjoyed it. Great texture, great punch, great sub bass. The Verites bass is quite a visceral experience. Whats not to like really.

Mids: The Mids on the Verite are a bit different than I am used to with my usual headphones. A bit more present, and warm. Not overly so, they are less warm than the LCD-3 I used to own, but certainly more present than a pair of Abyss Headphones. This lends itself very well to certain kinds of music. Jazz on the Verite was absolutely lovely, I found. I wouldn’t say the Verite is a “romantic” sounding headphone, but its certainly heading in that direction. The mids are smooth, and relaxing sounding to my ears. I think the mid range of the Verite might be what make it such an enjoyable headphone for longer listening sessions, it is just “right” sounding.

Treble: When I first tried on the Verite I was surprised by the treble, and thought it sounded a bit recessed and hidden. This is definitely not the case however, and I think it was just a case of my ears needing time to adjust after listening to headphones with more treble energy for the last 6 months (or however long it has been!) The Verite’s treble has a bit sheen and sparkle to it in the upper treble regions, but not too much. I never found myself wincing, or noticing extreme sibilance problems, which is a very good thing. The treble isn’t crunchy in the lower treble, like the Eikon can be, and doesn’t “Show off” like the Focal Utopia. The treble tuning of the Verite just seems to compliment the rest of the sonic signature well, isn’t offensive and grating on the ears, but is still present enough to bring a very healthy amount of detail to the table. Really good stuff.

Technicalities: Now, I don’t want this next section to come off as a negative, as the Verite is a $2500ish headphone, not $6000, and is also a completely different driver type than my regular headphones. However, for my ears, and this is just me, it lags behind in terms of raw technical performance vs my Susvara and Abyss headphones. The soundstage isn’t as wide, spacious, and airy sounding as the Susvara and Abyss. It isn’t as detailed, and as competent in terms of dynamic capability as my regular headphones. It just isn’t…

HOWEVER…

The Verite

A) Makes up for lagging behind in terms of technical performance by being supremely listenable and pleasant sounding. The tuning is very well done.

B) Is, again, a much more affordable headphone!!!

Now this isn’t to say that the soundstage sucks, its way wider than some other headphones, and it isn’t to say the detail levels are horrible. That just isn’t true.

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Current

Comparisons:

Focal Utopia: The Verite garnered a lot of comparisons with the Focal Utopia when it was released, probably due to the mention of Beryllium with regards to its drivers coating vs. The Utopias pure Beryllium driver. Now, the Verite, for my personal preferences, is the better headphone. Again, it is slightly behind in terms of detail and most of its technical performance, but it does have a wider soundstage. The Verite simply has a much more enjoyable tuning! This is for my personal preferences of course, and its always good to hear a headphone prior to purchasing it, but the Verite is just the better, more enjoyable headphone to listen to.

Hifiman Susvara: The Susvara has a more “airy” and ethereal presentation. The Verite has a bit more bass presence, and a slightly smaller soundstage. The Susvara drags more detail out of the recordings, but the Verite is more of a standout performer with certain genres of music, Jazz in particular.

Abyss: The Verite is less bright, and has a better treble response than the Abyss AB-1266 Phi or Diana Phi in my opinion. Much more present mids, with a similar level of bass response. Again, the Verite is outdone in terms of raw technicalities by the Abyss, but the Verite also has a tuning that offsets what the Abyss is good at nicely. The Abyss is still my favourite headphone, but the Verite would make for an awesome accompaniment in any collection.

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The Verite make a great pairing with the iFi iDSD BL

Pads:
Lets talk about Pads! The pads that Zach sent with my review pair of Verite were the Universal Leather (perforated), the Universal Suede (perforated) and the Verite pads (again, perforated.) The Universal Leather were a bit more “fun” to listen to. A bit more bass, and a bit more treble, whilst having the best impact of the bunch. The Universal suede had a bit wider soundstage I found, snare drums sounded a bit more crisp, but from the mids on down things seemed a bit warmer and “rounder.” The Verite pads were the most linear sounding out of all the pads and actually ended up being my go to choice. Each pair of pads brought something interesting and special to the table, and I would recommend picking these three sets up if you purchase the Verite. At $50ishUSD, the pads and whole concept of multiple pads is an affordable way to get different, but complimentary sounds out of your headphones. The only thing I would like to see Zach explore in the future is a magnetic attachment system, similar to the Abyss or Meze Empyrean. This might raise costs to prohibitive levels however? I’m not sure.

Build quality: The build quality of the Verite is great, but I would like to get one nit pick out of the way. The sliders! Argh! I slowly got better at using these over time, but they are still fiddly, and could be better. Apart from that, the build quality seemed rock solid. I didn’t have any problems with squeaking, creaking, and nothing fell apart. I know that Zach offers a lifetime warranty on his headphones drivers, to the original owner, which is comforting. This is something to consider should you be looking at purchasing a pair of ZMFs on the used market, the warranty is non-transferable, which is a shame. However, I remember reading a figure for repair costs on Head-Fi (which I can’t find now of course) and it was reasonable. Again, Zach really seems to care about his customers and his product, and I would guess that he will take care of you very well should something go wrong with any of his headphones you purchase.

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They Also Pair Well With The Pro iDSD from iFi

Conclusion


All in all, the ZMF Verite is a very special headphone. It may not be the very last word in technical capability, but its tuning, and overall extremely pleasing listening experience is what make it one of the best headphones I have used. The bass is just at the right levels for my preferences, and hits hard. The mids are warm, but not too warm and “gooey” sounding. The treble is a bit sparkly but never wanders in to being harsh and sibilant. The soundstaging is very realistic sounding, and I would challenge any audiophile to find fault with the levels of details it brings to the table. I mean, yes, the Susvara is a technically better headphone, but it also costs over double what the Verite does!

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Pretty!
The Verite is a very special piece of audio equipment and I absolutely loved the time I got to spend with it. Thank you Zach!
ufospls2
ufospls2
Master 9 and Kinki Ex-M1
Empyah
Empyah
You talk about technicalities - but I noticed you never mentioned micro or macro dynamics?
ufospls2
ufospls2
Very capable in both areas. It does Macro dynamics better than micro, but these are still good headphones pretty much all round.

BunnyNamedCraig

Formerly known as MTMECraig/bunnynamedfrank
Pros: Hand crafted
Cons: Too many choices lol
- ZMF All In the Family-
I may not be able to explain the headphones to Meathead, but Ill try my best explaining them to you! Slowly but surely I will try to point out the differences in sound, and I hope it helps you readers in determining the differences of the new ZMF’s!


I was sent out the Aeolus and Verite on loan from ZMF to give an honest review of them. I thought that since I already owned the Auteur that I would throw that guy into the mix of the review as well! I wanted to share the journey I took through the three newest headphones from ZMF. It was not only surprising but also gave me deeper insight on these three unique headphones.

Disclaimer: Aeolus and Vérité were pre production pieces, and the Verite I received is an unreleased wood. Zach, the owner of ZMF states that even though the woods have changed since then, the internals have remained the same. The performance of each is what production will sound like, give or take the nuances of the wood.

The Aeolus- In sapele wood- “medium density for a nice fast sound”- (ZMF website)


The Auteur- In cocobolo wood- “Cocobolo is a denser wood, not quite as dense as African Blackwood, but harder than most rosewoods. It has a quick speed, but possesses an inviting romance more-so than Blackwood and other dense woods. The utmost of speed, musicality and technicalities are combined for what is one of our favorite tonewoods.” - (ZMF website)


The Vérité- In mahogany wood- finding more information online I found that this wood should share similar sonic characteristics to the stock silk wood Vérité. Silkwood is described as “...ultra light weight, adds nice decay to the super fast Vérité driver, and shows a glowing iridescence that plays with any luminescence bestowed upon it.” - (ZMF website)


What DAC?

The DAC that I used during the time of listening is the M2tech Young DAC. This is the DAC that I use daily and have easily kept the longest. Here is an article about my DAC if you’re interested. https://www.stereophile.com/content...amp-palmer-power-station-battery-power-supply. I find it to be fairly neutral sounding and also the music seems to be more upfront then compared to other R2R dacs that I have owned. Speaking of, here us a link to what I have owned in the past. I feel this might shed insight into my tastes when it comes to headphones and also gear if your curious. https://www.head-fi.org/members/bunnynamedcraig.401250/

What amp?

There's no denying that ZMF headphones mate well with tube amps. Due to their 300 ohm impedance, something like an OTL “Output Transformer-Less” tube amp can really push them in the right direction, with great synergy. The body of my listening was done with the Glenn OTL amp (https://www.head-fi.org/threads/2359glenn-studio.600110/).


Since switching tubes can greatly affect the sonic characteristics of any headphone, I wanted to share what each tube roll was being used at each time of listening. The next section is a general description of each tube, described by my fellow respected headfi’ers. Please feel free to skip the section if you like, but I just felt it necessary to share how each roll can perpetuate the strengths and weaknesses of each headphone. I hope by doing so this can shed light on what I am describing and also be of help to fellow tube enthusiasts!

Cossor 53ku- “Its slightly warmer than the GEC U52, offering a little more bass body and punch and more warmth while maintaining good speed and PRaT. Transparency is very similar, offering liquid silky smooth

Transients”-Dubstep Girl.



“Sultry and romantic sound. Not super airy up top. Bass hits like a truck.”- Hansotek



Chatham 6as7g- These are my favorite power tubes. My pair is dead quiet and just about no microphonic/radio interference. They are smaller in soundstage width compared to my 6336 tubes but that is to be expected.



Mullard ecc31- “Very warm and liquid. Big bass and dynamic slam. Lots of depth”- Hansotek



Ken Rad VT231- I found this to be pretty neutral after I adjusted from using the ECC31 for so long. At first I found it to be bright, but that was just because I was used to warmth from the ecc31.



Mullard GZ32- “Transparent, tight-bass, beautiful midrange with a sweet tone, euphonic warmth and tube sound without losing any detail or resolution, vocals are amazing! “- Dubstep Girl



4, 6bx7’s- fast with good punch. Adds nice weight to the sound for some “oomph”.



Haltron 13d1- Tube recommended to me by glenn. Excellent value for the price if your amp can use a 25sn7 tube. This tube doesn’t have any characteristics that jump out at me but that is a good thing sometimes. If I need to chill out and have a less aggressive sound I throw this in.

(GZ32, 2, Chatham 6as7g, Ken Rad VT231)

“Romantic Warrior” by Return to Forever. This is one of my all time favorite test tracks…

So I pretty much couldn't take the Vérité off my head when I started this 11 minute track. I had the intention of directly AB’ing the Vérité to the Auteur but this song was so engaging I just let it ride. After listening the whole time with the Vérité, I put the Auteur on. After four minutes, a couple things stood out to me. The Auteur is more neutral and I noticed this by the piano being less recessed compared to the other instruments. With the Vérité I felt the piano was there but just recessed comparatively.

The big differences to me is that there is an immediacy to every note with the Vérité. The piano strikes feel like strikes… The separation of instruments and their notes are more defined with the Vérité. The Auteur on the flip-side has such a delicacy of the mids and treble that I really ended up appreciating, and finding different about the track. The sound of the piano came off with such elegance, something I did not get from the Vérité. I am defining elegance by smoother overall sound with less separation. Since the transients are slower, the piano segments flowed instead of making me take note of the precision and performers (which are exceptional performers!). I was able to enjoy it on more of an artistic level with the Auteur.

Something that surprised me about the Auteur was the bass. I really expected the Auteur be bass light compared to the Vérité. The bass was totally present and I got feeling out of it , but it did not have the tightness that the Vérité shows off. The bass guitar in particular to this song still had a good separation from the other instruments though. The attack in general of the auteur isn’t as fast, and the decay seems longer. Separation in general is a key proponent of the Vérité while a cohesion of the sounds are what embodies the auteur more. I don't think I am capable of hearing the sound as a whole as easily with the Vérité as I do the Auteur. These are things to consider when thinking about either one. For this track the Auteur truly made it Romantic, while the Vérité showed that behind the elegance and grace there lies top-notch instrumentation.

After this comparison I put the Aeolus on my head for a round three of listening to Romantic warrior in its entirety. First thing comes to mind is “wow”. The Aeolus took me by surprise on this track. I just got enjoyment from the song in two separate times and now I'm getting a third crack at it in a unique way. First things first, the elevated midbass is present, but it’s tastefully done IMO that it never made me feel like it distracted me from the mids and treble. I hate wanting to call this headphone the most fun of the three for romantic warrior, but I will explain how I view it and then you can then decide. I got less separation than the Auteur and the music sounded slightly closer to me. This headphone had me analyzing the sound less, and just moving and grooving with it. Normally fast transients are the bees knees for me to enjoy something (like with the Vérité). Even without the blistering speed,the mid bass bump coupled with the better cohesion of the sound as a whole, the Aeuolus really took me for a ride…. I got to 7:39 of Romantic Warrior and that was the point that I could collect my thoughts and finally say “wait a minute! I see now what you did there…” The realization was that the song was engaging because the Aeolus is constructed in a way to try and stop you from analyzing the music. It just puts the song out there with the right amount of speed, bass boost to get you moving, and enough detail but not to the extent of beating you over the the head with it like “look and focus on me!”. I have listened to enough “bass” headphones that have not/could not achieve what the Aeolus is capable of doing in this regard. Its pretty interesting to me.

In regards to detail retrial though, I believe it is is slightly under the Auteur. But it's just slight enough that I don't notice it immediately. When I listened to the Atticus after owning the auteur for a while it was totally apparent to me that there was a drop in detail. This headphone does not do that to me at all. It's tuning kept the music flowing and you’re just along for the ride. The piano is present with good strikes but it's not too hot or too sharp. With that said I don't feel that it’s rolled off either. Its always impressive to me when a headphone can find that balance with the treble. I feel like the transient response of the Aeolus is faster than the Auteur btw but this might just be my perception of it.

“Burn the Witch” by Radiohead. With the Aeolus this track let me detect how the mid bass affects the mids and treble, compared to the Auteur. The Auteur presents sounds more neutral and almost a sense of “cleaner” to my ears. In other words, this track can breathe a little freer and I could make out every sound easier. Listening to different Radiohead tracks off of the album “heart shaped Pool”, I have to give male vocals to the Auteur. They are the most clear to me, where as the Aeolus mid bass stops me from being able to focus on what he is saying. This is the first time that I found that the mid bass might overshadow the mids depending on how the song was mixed. The Vérité once again pulls me into what sounds like violins in the beginning. To me they sound like they have better depth then the auteur and Aeolus and definitely makes them stand out!

(GZ 32, 4 6bx7’s, Haltron 13d1)

“Salt Shaker” by the Yin Yang Twins. Due to this songs excellent use of alliteration and gerunds, if not only keeps the listener affixed but also deeply seized by every word… OK I just made that all up. But seriously I think this is one of the greatest club songs of all time!! HA

Aeolus- I put this on first, because I was curious how much difference in detail I would hear when switching to the Vérité and the Auteur. That thought went straight out of my head close to when the beat dropped HA! The added sub bass mixing with the quick pick up of the treble made me get into this song really quickly. Once again the Aeolus takes me for a ride and doesn't want me to pick the song apart, but instead enjoy it as a whole. Putting the Vérité on revealed separation of everything a lot more and really great definition to the electronic drum “cracks” in the beginning. The sub bass rumble that happens at .03 seconds sounds sharper treble wise and definitely sounds faster from the Vérité. The Aeolus in comparison sounds warmer and looser. The sound of the Aeolus from direct A/B as well lets me realize the sub bass fills in the gaps of the treble and mids creating a fuller sound. This is not to be confused with saying the Vérité is thin sounding. Neither Vérité or Auteur ever come off as thin to me really (maybe in part by owning the HD800 for years?). Speaking of the Auteur- when I put them on I hear the bass come down some dB’s and everything is more neutral sounding. The mids are easier to discern, as if to bring them into focus. It takes me a minute to stop thinking about it and at that point I was engaged in the music again. It amazes me how all three once again have their perceived strengths and weaknesses. What is too much bass for one person will be perfect to another. A headphone thats too warm to one person is just right to someone else…

“Cloud Busting” by Kate Bush. So other than the fact that I have a real emotional connection to this track, I chose it because I was curious to hear how Kate Bush's voice came across an all three cans. I was also curious to find out if the added bass would be too much from Aulous.

Vérité- I am immediately impressed by the detail of her voice. I am able to make out her mouth noises with the “s”’s lol. By curiosity’s sake the Aeulous is capable of showing this detail as well, but not to the point of the Vérité. I was happy to find out that the Aeolus was not too warm or bassy to be able to flesh out that detail.

In regards to the cello, the Vérité lets me define the instrument a lot better in the track, where as the bass of the Aeolus almost pushes it back in the soundstage, rendering it a little more difficult to make out. The bass of this song through the Aeolus is definitely meatier and more present, almost to the point of punch! I never heard the song sound like this and it almost deters my focus from her vocals. With this said it adds drama to the track which I didn't get with the other two cans, but this is one instance where the Aeolus doesn’t make me view the song as a whole. I found this to be really interesting given that my other listening periods with it showed otherwise. Listening to this track with the Auteur gave it a different feel then with the Vérité or Aeolus. It sounds like it “flows” more between her vocals and also the instrumentation, developing a very engrossing emotional connection with her lyrics and the sound.

-To sum it up / random last take aways-

Vérité

  • Very fast… The speed is definitely reminiscent of electrostatic speed.
  • Treble to die for.Hyper detail with realism. Sparkle where there needs to be, without being sharp. I found this to be such a stand out area of the headphone.
  • Tone seems to be warm and slightly dark to my ears.
  • I love how it responds to tubes… Tubes can really manipulate how this headphone sounds. It can either make it punchy and bassy as hell or dial that way back and make it a more causal listen. The other headphones were less responsive by comparatives sake.
  • Mids are slightly recessed and becomes apparent when you listen to the quality of the bass and treble. With tubes I am trying to do a “natural” EQ of sorts to try and pull them forward a bit for my own tastes.
  • Great depth of the soundstage! The width of the stage is narrow by comparisons sake to the other two.
  • One genre of music that it’s superb with- Electronica

Aeolus

  • Impressive mix of “fun” and “analytical” sound.
  • Transients seem faster then the Auteur but below the Vérité.
  • Less separation then the Auteur and Vérité but the Aeolus shows thats nots always a bad thing…
  • Most mid bass quantity of all three. Bass raised over the treble and mids.
  • One genre of music that it’s superb with - Rock

Auteur

  • Capable of being the most neutral of the three but still engaging.
  • Separation is below the Vérité and above the Aeolus.
  • Truly a jack of all trades music wise, making it the easiest to mate to any genre you throw at it.
  • Smoothness to it that I didn’t get from the other two. Beautiful mids because of it.
  • One genre of music that its superb with- Jazz

That’s a wrap, my brain needs a break!

I want to thank ZMF for giving me an opportunity to spend ample time with the Aeolus and Vérité. After going round and round with all three, Its apparent to me that all were engaging in unique ways. I was able to listen to the same song three separate times in a row and enjoy it for very different reasons. Due to their unique characteristics, I found that they can compliment each other very well… Since everyone has different tastes (even at different times of the day!) I cannot recommend one as “the best”. It truly comes down to what is important to you. I hope that I shed some light on their key characteristics without confusing you more!

If I were to try and describe ZMF house sound I would say that no matter which of their headphones it is, I am always engaged in the sound. I never feel like I am just analyzing the gear/sound instead of listening to the music. In the end thats what I think keeps all three of these headphones "all in the family" :).

(If anyone reading would like more info about my review or even my opinion on the tubes I used, feel free to hit me up in a PM!)

Thanks,
-BNC
PeteSTRADAMUS
PeteSTRADAMUS
Nice review Craig!
BunnyNamedCraig
BunnyNamedCraig
Thanks for all the kind words friends :)
luvmusik
luvmusik
Wonderful review Craig ! Great comparison, enjoyed reading this, plus RTF - Romantic Warrior my #1 fave album, super choice for demo.

mysticstryk

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Build Quality
Speed
Detail
Technicalities
Cons: Price
Disclaimer: Zach temporarily loaned me a review pair of the Verite with no stipulation I write a review. My preferences lean just slightly warmer than neutral. My reference chain of gear consists of: Arcam CD Player -> Yggdrasil A2 -> ZDS -> Auteur / Atticus / HD800S / HD6x0 family.

ZMF Verite Review



Intro


ZMF Headphones is a small shop, boutique headphone manufacturer. Every headphone is made by hand by Zach himself and a few associates under his employ. The ZMF Verite is the 5th design created entirely in house (his earlier planar designs were extensive modifications using the Fostex T50rp driver). It is released alongside the ZMF Aeolus, the much rumored open back version of the ZMF Atticus. The Verite uses an entirely new driver made from beryllium, not seen in any of Zachs past headphones. Unlike some other headphones that uses a beryllium design, the Verite uses a beryllium coated PEN driver. He felt this made for more natural tonality over a pure beryllium design. At $2,500, this is ZMF's most expensive headphone to date. Lets see if it can live up to its lofty price.

Build/Comfort

Every one of Zachs dynamic headphones from the $999 Atticus to the $2,500 Verite exudes quality. From the all metal and leather frame to the plush leather earpads to the exotic wood cups. You know that a considerable amount of the money spent is going towards a genuinely well made and beautiful product. While in the end it is the sound that matters most, it is nice to be able to have the brains and beauty we should expect at these price ranges. Specific to the Verite, it comes in a magnesium chassis to help save on weight (It seems this can be an option on the Aeolus for an extra cost). It also looks nicer than what I assume is aluminum on the other models. The stock wood is Silk Wood, while the current limited edition wood on offer is Pheasantwood for an extra cost (these limited woods cycle out as Zach gets special wood stock in). The Verite I have for review is made of Mahogany, which I am told sounds almost indistinguishable from the stock Silk Wood.

Comfort is excellent. At 430g the Verite is the lightest ZMF to date. While 430g can still be heavy compared to lightweight headphones like the HD800 (330g), it wears its weight very well thanks to the suspension headband design. I can wear these for hours without discomfort or hotspots.

Sound

The overall tonality of the Verite leans on the warmer side. It has a very slight W shaped response. Close enough to warmish/neutral that I think most will find agreeable. While this is definitely a colored headphone, do not mistake that for a lack of detail. This is clearly a reference headphone. It can easily compete with the HD800S and even the Utopia. It is a well rounded headphone, usable for a multitude of different genres. Below I go into more detail as well as include some comparisons to other headphones.

Bass

Deep, powerful and well controlled. Sub bass on the Verite extends quite a bit for an open headphone. I have heard closed back headphones that had bass rolloff before the Verite. The bass as a whole is fast and tight, not unlike a planar. It is slightly elevated from the upper mids and peaks in the lower mid bass/upper sub bass. Usable bass response down to 20hz. The bass drops in Doin it Right by Daft Punk hits with authority. Very little to no bass bleed into the lower mids.

VS

Compared to the Auteur, the Verite is faster, deeper and better controlled. Quantity is about the same. I can say almost the same compared to the HD800S (much faster, deeper, about the same with control). The Verite also has noticeably more in overall bass quantity than the HD800S.

Mids

Linear and revealing up until the upper mids, which is slightly recessed. I must emphasize slightly. This is nothing like the deep crevice that is the Focal Elear or many Audeze LCD models. I think this may actually give the soundstage just a bit more depth than it would otherwise. It does take away a small amount of guitar crunch for you metal heads like myself. Not enough that makes this a poor choice for metal, but it is noticeable when comparing to something like the Aeolus or Atticus (the definitive headphones for metal imo). Mids overall have excellent clarity just slightly on the lush side. Full and dynamic. Vocals sound natural, neither forward or recessed.

VS

Compared to the Auteur, the Verite mids as a whole are slightly less lush, but more revealing with better micro dynamics and more noticeable changes in volume rises and falls in the music. The Auteur is a bit more lively in the upper mids. Compared to the HD800S, the Verite is fuller, less lean and more engaging. Micro dynamics are about equal, the slight graduations in volume easily heard on both. These are two very highly competent headphones on a technical level.

Treble

Treble extension is impressive to say the least. The Verite manages to capture air while simultaneously staving off fatigue. The highs are more present than any of Zachs previous headphones, which is quite a departure, even more so than the Auteur which I considered a departure when it released last year. There is a slight peak around the mid treble but it is masked well, especially with the Universe Pads. Treble is smooth, despite it having a little more quantity than previous ZMFs. Some people may find it to be too much, but this will come down to preferences. The Verite is NOT a bright headphone by any means. Unlike some other beryllium headphones I have heard, there is no metallic sheen to the treble. Likely due to Zachs use of using a PEN driver coated in beryllium, rather than using pure beryllium.

VS

Compared to the Auteur, the Verite has more quantity, but is smoother overall. The Auteur could sound just a smidge rough depending on gear. Treble extension is superior on the Verite. Compared to the HD800S, the Verite is also smoother, with quantity being about on par. The peak at 6k on the HD800S is still quite noticeable. Combined with the thin sounding mids which play a contributing factor, the HD800S on a whole just sounds brighter.

Soundstage/Imaging

For a headphone, the soundstage is good. About as good as it can get before you get to ultra wide, defuse soundstages like those seen in the HD800S. So while the HD800S may be wider and deeper, the Verite sounds a bit more natural for a headphone, which I think the wood may play a factor in. About on par with the Auteur, maybe just a little wider. Imaging is precise and pin-point on all three of these headphones.

Utopia

I know many (including myself) were curious to know how these compared to the Utopia. Both are statement products and the top of their respective lineups. I didn't include the Utopia in the main comparisons because I didn't have one on hand at the time I had the Verite to do direct A/B comparisons (so take the following with a grain of salt). I still wanted to say a little something though since I did have a Utopia for an extended loan awhile back. In short, I prefer the Verite. I don't think it is an overall better headphone, but is an overall better headphone for me. They are about equal when it comes to technicalities and micro dynamics, which is an impressive feat considering the price difference. The main difference being in the tonality of the two headphones. While the Verite leans a little to the warm side, the Utopia leans just a smidge to the brighter side. The Utopia also has a slight metallic sheen to it that some (including myself) find annoying. I think this is a huge advantage to Zach using a PEN driver coated in beryllium vs a pure beryllium design. Preferring one over the other is going to be a personal decision based on each individual listener.



Auteur

I want to single out the Auteur for a brief moment. Many are asking if the Verite replaces or is better than the Auteur, which only came out a year ago. Zachs official stance is that it does not. I was a bit skeptical of his answer until I heard the Verite myself, which I now agree with. To expand on the comparisons I made earlier in this review, the Auteur, while not as technically proficient does lend itself to a more linear sound. It is still a warm headphone (probably even more so than the Verite even) but rather than a slight W shaped FR, it is a bit more linear throughout. It also has a bit more addictive, lush sound that some may prefer. Personally, I will not be selling my Auteur. It is one of my favorite headphones I've owned and the Verite doesn't change that. I am seriously considering buying a Verite to add to my collection, rather than replace any one headphone (if it does replace anything, it will be my HD800S).

Universe VS Verite earpads

Up until now, all my impressions are with using the Universe Pads, which Zach prefers and may be even shipping as the stock pads. The Verite pad tips the overall FR balance and elevates the treble. The mild mid treble peak becomes not so mild and the headphone overall is a bit brighter and forward sounding. I did not care too much for the Verite pads. I think people coming from the HD800 and Utopia may enjoy it a little more. I've become acclimated to the warmer sounding Auteur over the last year and prefer the Universe Pads. Bass and mids remain largely the same except the very mild upper mids recession is a little less recessed.

Gear Pairing

More than any other ZMF headphone, the Verite scales like mad with higher end gear. Do not take this to mean you need to spend big bucks on gear to get a good sound. The Verite sounds great, even from the $99 Fulla 2 or my Vali 2/Modi 2 stack. Moving up to my Yggdrasil and Eddie Current ZDS is a noticeable change though. Increased dynamics, clarity and plankton across the board. The Verite is a headphone you can buy for your entry level gear and get great enjoyment from it, then have some fun building your dream system around it. ALWAYS buy the headphone you want first. Don't worry too much about the gear you have at this exact moment.

Personally I have always preferred tube gear. I think they provide better dynamics, micro detail and more realistic sounding highs. However the Verite will of course sound great from solid state gear as well. I'd just urge those who are curious, if you are going to buy a new amp, look at some tube gear. I particularly like Schiit on the cheap end (Vali 2 is ridiculous value at $150 and pairs great with the Verite), and Eddie Current and Donald North Audio on the higher end. I have also heard a couple Amp and Sound amps with Zachs dynamics and liked the pairing as well. I know Zach now has his own Amp and Sound collaboration amp called the Pendant that may be worth checking out. As always with these super expensive amps (and headphones for that matter), try making it to a local meet to hear these for yourself if you can, I know that may not always be possible for some depending on your location though.



Value

I think at this point, value as in price/performance is out the window. Normally I would balk at a headphone breaking the $2k mark. I was disappointed in the new HD820 pricing and Hifiman continues to dupe its customers into buying headphones made of $100 in materials for thousands of dollars. The later headphones I mentioned however are mass produced in a factory. Some using cheap plastic parts even. ZMF headphones are boutique, hand crafted headphones using very high quality (and sometimes exotic) materials. These are not mass produced on an assembly line. ZMF is a small business run by Zach and his wife Bevin along with a few helpers. From a financial standpoint, these headphones cost so much likely because they HAVE to cost this much. A bunch of shareholders didn't just slap a random price on there to get as much as they think someone would pay for them. The Verite is an excellent headphone that matches and sometimes exceeds headphones in its price range and above. Zach also has many cheaper headphones. His ZMF Classic is an excellent price/performance value at $299 for example. The Verite is expensive, an understandable reality of economy of scale.

Conclusion

The Verite marks a milestone for ZMF as a brand and is a worthy statement product. I think fans of ZMFs house sound and newcomers alike will be in for a pleasant surprise. It uses a new driver tech for the ZMF lineup, offering a new take on the ZMF sound. Well rounded sound for just about any genre. Priced at $2,500 it is expensive, but it does really feel like we are getting a great product for our money. Just don't sell your car or go into credit card debt to buy one, some things are more important than headphones (blasphemous I know).

ZMF Verite Information Page: http://www.zmfheadphones.com/verite/

Admiral Kolchak
Admiral Kolchak
Very informative and balanced review. I especially enjoyed the description of ZMF's company setup. I personally love to support smaller enterprises run by passionate individuals. Many thanks for putting the time in this.

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