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

AudioKeyK

Member of the Trade: AudioKey Reviews
The Incredible Headphone Hits Keep Coming!
Pros: Musicality, transparency, dynamics, speed, sound staging, imaging, the incredible beauty of the delivery of the music, the Seahorse case.
Cons: None.
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Introduction

The Chinese ‘curse,’ “May you live in interesting times,” is apparently at hand, as we most certainly live in interesting times. And, I imagine, that one holds onto the keys to sanity during these times—by finding some amount of joy, something to be grateful for, someone to help, every single day. Of course, pulling oneself free of the TV (the Boob Tube) may in and of itself bring a much needed balm of ease and quiet and peace.

There is also, of course, music, wherein one can find joy, connection, peace, and memories perhaps, reflective of the times when our lives were a bit less “interesting” and fond memories which live beside our favorite music.

Music has alway been transportive for me. It has taken me often to my very early years—as a five year old sitting on a sofa, affixed to his mom. We listened to jazz greats and sometimes the greats of blues, as my feet dangled high above the carpeted floor. Then there was rock when in Santa Barbara at my cousins’ home, where the Doobie Brothers, Marshall Tucker, Fleetwood Mac, Jefferson Airplane, Cat Stevens, Jim Croce, and others were all the rage, and those memories too bring a release of angst, a peaceful ease and comfort.

The philosophical and heartfelt meanderings above bring me to my review of the ZMF Véríté headphone which I believe is an exceptional component for connecting with those aforementioned times, the music, the memories, and the finding of bliss and connection and peace.

This is my second go round with ZMF. The first was with their entry level headphone— the ZMF Atticus—that was truly an ear-opener! Though its elder sibling—the Véríté—currently under review—is more capable, in, literally, every respect. How much so? Hold on to your seats folks.

REFRAIN: Unlike most reviews, this review will be non-sequential, as it will start with how the equipment actually sounds and not the process of physically “undressing” it and/or laying out its various accoutrements, specifications, etc. Think of this review then, as a non-linear movie—Memento, Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Queen’s Gambit, In the Shadow of the Moon, etc—that, likewise, starts at the end and winds its way to the beginning.

The Sound

Suffice to say, that what the ZMF Atticus did, the ZMF Véríté does a good deal better and in every respect. I will not repeat what I’ve said about the Atticus, but I could with more passion and enthusiasm and it would be true. But then this would not be a review, so much as a facsimile, a simulacrum. So…

The ZMF Véríté appears to be the first iteration of a hybridization of dynamic and planar technologies. Its beryllium coated driver provides the requisite stiffness and speed, sufficient to move at planar magnetic speeds, whilst excavating entire lost civilizations of detail across soundscape after soundscape. The Véríté is fast, fast, fast reminding one, at times, of electrostatic speeds and their energy and aliveness. In truth, after listening to how electrostatics rendered live music, choral arrangements, and symphonies, I simply did not choose to listen to this music via other headphone types. It just wasn’t the same. The Véríté has changed that somewhat and now I venture into that area again, selectively. While the Véríté does not match the electrostatics in every way, there is not another dynamic or planar headphone that I have experienced to date that comes as close.

And then there is the emotion, emotion, emotion. So incredibly immersive, so beguiling that it is as if the sound, the music rendered by the ZMF Véríté moves directly into one’s heart and soul, while keeping the left brained—the technologists/engineers/audiophiles—fully engaged. For those who may not have experienced this sensation with music, or with, perhaps, a headphone attached to an extremely capable system—Accustic Arts Player II, LTA Z10e—a listen is, indeed, in order. And it will not be necessary to access the heights of such component combos to gain an understanding of the prowess of the ZMF Véríté. It will deliver the ‘emotionality’ of a musical experience and all the attendant informational cues via even DAPs and it will be spellbinding.

Like its sibling, the Atticus, I listened to everything I could get my hands on and purchase (CDs) and load into my Qobuz file via ROON. And yes, like its sibling, voices were stunning and yet, there was more there, in terms of copious amounts of detail which followed in the wake of greater resolution and transparency. And the coupled warmth did steal one away from doing or wanting to do anything else or even thinking about doing anything else. And as I mentioned in the review of the Atticus, “…Every single moment with the Atticus was enjoyable! Every. Single. Moment.” This goes double for the Véríté and the choice between them would be an easy one.

Yes, I played the Véríté with the Accustic Arts Player II, the LTA Z10e, as mentioned above, and what it conveyed of its up-line partners was revelatory, defined by one’s mouth being agape more often than not, being entirely lost in the music, being aware of all the spatial cues, and experiencing a sense of joy and astonishment time and time again. Please know that this is a most rare occurrence for a ‘jaded’ music lover.

The ZMF’s Véríté volumetric cube—soundstage—is more vast and encompassing still than its little brother’s—the Atticus. It brings intimacy on the level of planars and, dare I say, at moments, on that of electrostatic headphones as well. And this I would never have thought. Imaging, separation and layering are truly superb and again far beyond the Atticus. And where the Atticus peeked in or touched down for microseconds on the world of electrostatics, the Véríté stares into that world and lingers a bit longer. I cannot think of a dynamic or planar headphone that combines its talents or its electrostatic-like delivery. Nor has the whole-cloth coherency of an electrostatic ever been so close at hand with a dynamic headphone. I have listened mouth agape on many an occasion to the Véríté and I relish continued listening after a review piece.

The ZMF Véríté was partnered with the Accustic Arts Player II CDP (review coming), ROON Nucleus Plus, the Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC as both DAC and balanced headphone amplifier, the Bricasti M1 DAC, the LTA Z10e HPA/integrated, MEZE Empyrean, MEZE LIRIC, Rosson Audio RAD-0, ZMF Atticus, ZMF Atrium (review coming). Cabling was Audience Front Row and power conditioning was handled by the RSX Power8 and the TORUS RM20.Bass

Tumultuous. Propulsive. Eiji Oue’s V. Infernal Dance of King Kashchey (Stravinsky, Reference Recording) opens and there is the portent of power in the low rumblings of the orchestra, where often there is not. The stage is deep and wide, the layering and positioning superb. Tone and timbre are rich and natural. Enters the assault of Infernal Dance of King Kashchey and via the massed tympani it is tumultuous, propulsive, beautifully resolved, and fast! Interestingly, its streamed version does not carry at all the same weight as the CD via the Accustic Arts Player II, nor the resolution! The CD brings tremendous bass weight and easily reaches to sub-bass depth and on to the Holy-Bass-Head-Grail with the Véríté. Further, no detail is missed or obscured right across the frequency range, so refined, nuanced, and capable is the Véríté. And when power is called for the Véríté summons it easily. It is impossible to stop listening to the entirety of this CD and the next.

Midrange

Spacious. Resolving. Natural. Immersive. If the ZMF Véríté’s midrange were a wine, it’d be a 2018 Harbison Estate ‘The Trail’ Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville. In other words, it would be “full-bodied, opulent, and sexy.” Olafur Arnalds’ “Árbakkinn” (Island Songs, Mercury (Universal France)) is given perhaps the most moving rendition via the ZMF Véríté and the Accustic Art Player II (not available for the STAX SR-X9000 review) and the LTA Z10e that I have ever heard. Poet Einar Georg Einarsson recites his poem with warmth and richness, and yet there is exacting resolution and detail that place him or, perhaps, me in Iceland, listening but a few feet away. Voces8 “Prayer to a Guardian Angel” (Lux, Decca) follows via CD and it too is compelling and induces an eyes-closed, peaceful, momentary catatonia. It is hard to rouse oneself from this playing. The Lux album plays through and then the Voces8 Enchanted Isle album plays through, and, though contemplated, the hour is late, and an overlong day holds off play of the Eventide album. Again this is an area where dynamic and planar headphones often fear to tread—choral—so accomplished are electrostatics here, but the Véríté shows no fear.

The ZMF Véríté is faster than its immediate brethren—dynamic headphones—faster even than planar headphones, and as fast, at times, as electrostatics, and it brings a weight and palpability and a richness that electrostatics themselves, save the STAX SR-X9000, cannot match. Shocking! The ZMF Atticus was exceptional. The Véríté is better still and in every respect. Truly shocking!

Treble+

Fast. Extended. Transparent. Air-infused. Across the treble region the Véríté’s transients and its handling of dynamic swings are fast, fast, fast as though lightning flashes, which make the Atticus seem slow in comparison. Few headphones could, however, keep pace. Its transparency, its ability to bring finely resolved focus and thus detail to track after track brought discovery and a newness to the very familiar. This, coupled to its analog richness, made each experience immersive and captivating. And the Véríté’s ability to infuse air into live performances and choral pieces and symphonies once again posed a challenge even to electrostatics! Though the air that the Top-Of-the-Line (TOTL) STAX SR-X9000 provides on choral arrangements, live performances and symphonies goes, to date, very much unmatched.

Vilda Frang’s “Allegro Molto” (Veress: String Trio - Bartók: Piano Quintet, Alpha) and its rapid, transient pulses—knuckle raps, plucks, drumming upon violin or cello, and bowing—and dynamic shifts are handled with aplomb. And again there is weight and detail and resolution—as though sunlight crossing over and exposing a dark intricate mosaic. The Véríté’s rendering is also visceral and startling. Far too many headphones, regardless of modality, do not appear to curate these various combined traits. Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” (Time Out, Columbia-Legacy) saunters in with air-infused drum cymbals that are alive, well, and pulsing. Paul Desmond’s sax weaves texture, tone, timbre in an entrancing dance that, via the Véríté, the Player II, and Z10e, is, no doubt, the envy of snake charmers the world over. Meanwhile, Brubeck and Wright, spotlit and layered, provide gravitas and drive. Bravo!

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The Wrappings and Accessories

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The ZMF Véríté, like its brother, comes in a substantial, black, hardened Seahorse SE 430 case, provided, no doubt, to make sure that the heirloom component contained within finds its way intact to one’s heirs and their heirs and so on.

The case opens to reveal a snug, foam-lined enclosure that provides further assurance of safety to the ZMF Véríté seated within. The sight of the Véríté is truly captivating. Here sits a beautifully designed SAPELE wood headphone with an aged copper grill, that vents sound into the world, and a high grade leather employed for both the earpads and head band (a vegan suede option is also available for both). Included within the case are:

SAPELE Vérité Headphones
ZMF Stock Braided Cable and OFC Cable
ZMF Universe Perforated Pads and 1 choice set
ZMF Owner's Card
Lifetime Driver Warranty
Seahorse Case

The wrappings and accessories, and, indeed, the headphones, speak to a customer focused integrity, an attention to detail, masterful craftsmanship, technological knowhow, and a desire to bring value, music, and enjoyment to each of its customers.


Design—Look and Feel

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Gorgeous. Yes, the word “gorgeous” keeps coming up because that is truly what the ZMF Véríté is and there is not a better descriptor. The Véríté is functional, heirloom art as though Mid-Century Modern, my favorite design style. Again, this “Mom&Pop” headphone concern—ZMF—has brought exceptional style, class, technological prowess, and old-school integrity that stand it above the fray of headphones, regardless of their technological underpinnings. Again, bravo!
The Specifications

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ZMF Véríté

Type: Open-back headphones w/PEN Driver Vapor-Deposed w/20% Beryllium
Wood type: Sapele
Impedance: 300 Ohms
Sensitivity: 97dB SPL / 1mW @ 1kHz
THD: 0.1% @ 1kHz / 100 dB SPL
Frequency response: 10Hz–25kHz
Weight: 430g
Cables provided: 1 x ZMF Stock
Carrying case: Seahorse SE 430
Warranty: Lifetime for Drivers/2 Years Parts and Mechanical

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Conclusion

Gorgeous. Incredibly transparent, resolving, detail rich, fast, fast, fast, and astonishingly musical. The sum of the Véríté’s talents speak to something other than a dynamic headphone, something imbued with a good measure of the planar magnetic tribe, and, at times, the electrostatic tribe as well. An exceptionally talented chameleon able to meet the task at hand with all its best skill forward!

The Véríté is a TOTL headphone that will sound marvelous with a DAP, but it will be at its very best with top-flight, read, TOTL components of uncompromising abilities— Accustic Arts Player II, Mola Mola Tambaqui, Bricasti Design M1, Enleum AMP-23R, LTA Z10e, etc.

The ZMF Véríté is, undoubtedly, a step above its sibling in every respect—transparency, resolution, transient speed, detail retrieval—whilst not for a nanosecond being anything less than extraordinarily musical. This then is another salute to ZMF with regard to its ability to produce gorgeous, heirloom quality headphones that happen to sound even better than they look! And that is no small feat. Without further ado, we award the ZMF Véríté our highest honor—the DIAMOND AWARD for all that it embodies. And a heads up, its recently debuted big brother—the Atrium—listened to side by side with the Véríté is, well…!!! You’ll have to wait for that review.

AudioKeyReviews.com and AudioKeyREVIEWS! Interactive Magazine

The Systems

1.
ROON NUCLEUS PLUS
Accustic Arts Player II
Bricasti Design M1 DAC
STAX SR-009S
Dan Clark VOCE
MEZE Empyrean
MEZE LIRIC
Rosson Audio RAD-0
ZMF Atrium
ZMF Véríté
ZMF Atticus
LTA Z10e
Audience Front Row Cables/Wires
AntiCables
TORUS RM20
RSX Power8

2.
ROON NUCLEUS PLUS
MEZE Empyrean
MEZE LIRIC
Rosson Audio RAD-0
ZMF Atrium
ZMF Véríté
ZMF Atticus
Mola Mola Tambaqui (as HPA)
Audience Front Row Cables/Wires
AntiCables
TORUS RM20
RSX Power8

3.
Astell&Kern SE180
The Company


ZMF

ZMF Véríté ($2499.99)

www.zmfheadphones.com
contactZMF@gmail.com

AudioKeyReviews.com and AudioKeyREVIEWS! Interactive Magazine

Attachments

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ufospls2

Headphoneus Supremus
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.

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