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Verum Audio - Exciting high performance DIY planar

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by cskippy, Aug 22, 2018.
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  1. cskippy
    Over a year ago, @Garuspik started a thread in the DIY section with an ambitious project to develop a planar magnetic headphone with the largest diaphragm ever made. He posted all of his progress including fun raw videos showing the first time the driver made sound, even before it was placed in a headphone. I followed his progress with great interest as it seemed @Garuspik came out of nowhere and unlike some other threads I've seen, he didn't just talk the talk, he delivered on his word. For those who haven't seen the thread and want to read the history of Verum 1, you can find the thread here:

    I reached out to @Garuspik when I came across his DIY planar build on Head-Fi. I was really curious to see if someone could pull off good sound for a reasonable price, since the ToTL price wars was making me depressed. A couple weeks later I had a sample in my hands. My work schedule has been hectic and I just haven't had time to do a full review but I did want to share full measurements and answer questions to the best of my abilities.

    Quick impressions on sound and build:
    • Wow, dynamics are very good
    • That bass extends REALLY low!
    • Very speaker like presentation
    • There is a slight haze to the presentation
    • Imaging is good but not excellent
    • Distortion might be causing the haze in the mid range
    • The swivel adjustment is uses a similar screw and bolt system that is very user friendly.
    • The headband adjustment is done using the left and right markers which thread in to the headband.
    • The magnetic pad attachment is very simple yet effective. More companies should use a system like this.
    • Size is large but construction is robust. I don't think they would break if they fell off a desk.
    The sound quality of these headphones is pretty remarkable. As you can see by the very even frequency response, they have no glaring peaks or dips which would color the sound. They seem to sit pretty much dead neutral as changing sources and amps could shift them from dark to bright.

    Tonally they are very agreeable. I find the slight 1kHz push accentuates reverb and creates more of a room feel like listening to speakers. Presentation of the sound is typical planar. For me, it's not as natural as a dynamic headphone but the excellent FR make up for this.

    Channel matching:

    Channel matching is fantastic! Really amazing results here.

    Right channel Impulse Response:

    Very clean impulse response with no errant peaks rising up in the decay.

    Right Channel Distortion:

    Distortion is very good except for the spikes in the midrange. I've communicated with @Garuspik and he already has plans to address the distortion.

    Right Channel CSD

    CSD is clean but has some "cup verb" with the trail at 1.25kHz. This varies by headphone but is common in many planars such as the HE-500 and some Audeze headphones.

    Left Channel Impulse Response:

    Left Channel Distortion:

    Left Channel CSD:

    The stock pads seal so well it actually creates a vacuum with my left ear. It's a little disorienting but you get used to it. I think the Audeze LCD2C did this as well.

    Here is a comparison to LCD2C:

    Ultimate resolution and detail does seem a little behind some ToTL headphones but I think at the price point @Garuspik is targeting these will be an easy recommendation.

    Some notes on build quality:
    • Large headphones. Some might not like the size but for a full size desktop headphone it shouldn't be a problem.
    • As mentioned in the beginning, the gimbals and headband adjustment are unique and sturdy. They will not slip or come loose which is welcome.
    • The magnetic rings that attach the pads to the headphone will make pad swapping easy and are a pad rollers dream.
    Here is a comparison to HE-500:

    Since my review and sample, @Garuspik has sent new and improved samples to various other enthusiasts and reviewers. You can search for those with your Google-Foo skills. I look forward to receiving my own pair!

    I think @Garuspik nailed what he was trying to achieve. Congrats man!
    CoffeeCutie, Zoide, natemact and 10 others like this.
  2. ufospls2
    I think this is a really neat project. The headband mechanism really reminds me of the Abyss, though it does have the bend. I hope there are no patent issues there. The only other thing I don't like is the white stitching on the headband, thats it. The rest looks great! I hope I get to hear these some day.

    TLDR: I like peanut butter.
  3. FireLion
    There was 1 left for $299 so I went for it!
  4. heavyharmonies
    Somebody must have given up their slot. Lucky you. I missed the first tier.
  5. once
    Just to temper enthusasism over the latest hype train, let's keep several things in mind here:

    • Kickstarter - nuff said
    • Distortion issues. "He has a plan to fix" is much different than he has successfully manufactured a proof of concept without distortion issues
    • Manufacturing a single hand made example that happens to measure well (in some areas, distortion notwithstanding) is different than having a repeatable manufacturing process that can repeat those criteria in a systematic predictable way
    Planar drivers are notoriously deceptively simple to manufacture in a DIY manner. Between electrostatics, and dynamic drivers, planar drivers can be made very cheaply. Here is another DIY planar experiment which documents the process, by a 2nd year acoustic engineering student.

    While anyone with a garage and access to materials can theoretically make a planar driver, manufacturing them in bulk is notoriously difficult. Just take a look at all the struggles that Hifiman & Audeze have had developing their products. There is a reason their first attempts like the HE-5 and the LCD-1 are no longer manufactured. It's taken Audeze almost 10 years to figure out how to get their failure rates down (maintaining excellent customer service along the way) and Audeze raised a hell of a lot more money than this kickstarter. Some say Hifiman is still trying to figure things out.

    Make no mistake I am hoping for this guy to succeed, we all love a David vs. Goliath story, I just feel these caveats need to be somewhere in this thread to bring the hype train down to earth about what is really going on and setting expectations here. The prudent approach to this new product is to wait and see.
  6. FireLion
    Supposedly the finished product will be 12 ohm not the 8 it is right now. Mmmm i am re-thinking this now you have planted the seed of doubt. :triportsad:
  7. Hifiearspeakers
    Good post.
  8. FireLion
    Yep some valid points, he is almost at $120,000 lot's of interest.
  9. Hifiearspeakers
    I hope he succeeds. Competition always helps the consumer and brings prices down.
    omniweltall and cskippy like this.
  10. heavyharmonies
    It's always a gamble, especially anything crowdfunded. Even an established industry leader can get tripped up (See Audeze Mobius).

    I figuring I'm gambling in the event he succeeds, and the reviews thus far are positive.

    Worst case scenario: I'm ripped off for $349. Oh well, life sucks. First world problems. If you can't afford to lose it, you should never crowdfund.

    More likely scenario: They're "meh". Sigh, try and recoup some of the money spent by flipping. It was worth a shot.

    The scenario we all hope for is that they're the cat's meow. Possible? Yes. Likely? No.

    But if you sit on the sidelines, while you know you won't lose, you're also guaranteed not to win.

    Also, color me simple, but I like the notion of contributing to a DIY-er rather than a nameless, faceless corporation.

    Bottom line, we won't know anything one way or the other for quite a few months.
  11. khojberg
    With R3, I decided it was my last crowdfunded project, and now I am here again :dt880smile:
  12. trellus
    I guess I don’t think of Audeze as a nameless, faceless corporation, though. :)

    But, still pulling for this DIY guy!
  13. once
    Yeah I don't get the not-so-subtle denigration of companies larger than one guy in this thread. Audio companies tend to be small. A company like Audeze which has a couple hundred employees is chock full of passionate audiophiles who love to make products people love to use and are passionate about sound. Even Sennheiser is essentially a family run company, that allows employees like Axel Grell to go off and deliver passion projects like the HE-1090.

    We can support this guy and welcome a new entrant in the marketplace without pretending that the only other option is a shadowy multinational soulless conglomerate. It's all about the music people.

    Nonetheless I am hoping for a strong product here and wish this guy all the best.
    trellus and PaganDL like this.
  14. K.Gabor
    "contributing to a DIY-er rather than a nameless, faceless corporation."
    Exactly the nameless faceless part is my big problem about this kickstarter. He didn't upload any personal info and it makes me really uneasy.
  15. heavyharmonies
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