Verum One MKII 5 month review and journey
Aug 16, 2021 at 4:21 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 146


Aug 11, 2021

Verum One in 3 sentences:​

The Verum One offers a very distinct sonic signature from most headphones on the market that sounds more like a speaker than a headphone. The Verum One is easy to drive on most any device, but you won't know what you're missing until you put it onto an amp with real driving power at 8 ohms. These headphones scale well and noticeably with everything in the gear chain.

Why did I purchase the Verum One?​

Last year I purchased a Schiit Hel for my 1996 Grado SR60. The Hel totally transformed my impression of the SR60. But alas, the HelSR60 just didn't compare to any of my hifi systems. No issues with the Hel that I could tell, but clear limitations on the SR60. So I spent probably 6 months researching headphone options. I was looking for something special, unique, and most importantly with SQ above its price point. I spent a lot of time looking at the ~$200 price bracket, but nothing was jumping out at me as a headphone that could dance on par with my main hifi gear.

And then I stumbled onto a Verum One review from Currawong (now deleted - don't ask). Eventually I came across one of the original threads of announcement and first reviews of the Verum One. Massive thread with lots of controversy. But there was a post by the maker himself in which he said that he designed the Verum One using the speaker outs of an Exposure speaker amp and that he was aiming for more of a speaker sound rather than a headphone sound. My main system is an all Exposure system, that I love and never intend on replacing. So that was that. I had to own these. They were above my price point, but nothing else shy of ~$500 was interesting to me.

The purchasing experience:​

Okay, it's a bit sketchy? Sort of... The Verum website is a bit barren and the buy button takes you to a transaction company (WayForPay) I'm not familiar with that handles currency exchange from dollars to I guess hyrvnia? I got a verification of transaction but still had to wait for it to be approved? Weird...

Then the waiting begins. But because I had read basically every single forum post on every forum about the Verum One experience I knew that this was going to be par for the course. Shut up and wait. Deal with it. Don't complain. They ship when they ship. Multiple years of development and feedback, and hand built. Forget all of your big and pro company expectations in exchange for a very unique headphone. And please don't even begin to talk about the shipping box and packaging. It is what it is and extremely well documented on the forums and review videos. It arrives in an unmarked box wrapped in some packing stuff. This is not a piece of Schiit or Apple product with ingeniously clever box design. This is a hand built headphone by a guy in the Ukraine who figured he might be able to do something special in the planar magnetic market space. Of course, none of this would be even remotely acceptable in the mainstream consumer headphone space if these didn't sound like they do.

Initial Impressions (week 0 - 6):​

When I received these, they had been well burned in as I had these shipped to my brother first who had them for about a month and himself did a burn in process.

Given the physical size of these headphones I was shocked by how light they were in hand and on head. Once you get your fit correct, they can be worn multiple hours in a row without significant fatigue. The headband must be adjusted by unscrewing and then rescrewing a post on each side. If this headphone is going to be single use only then this should cause no issues unless your head measurably expands and contracts throughout the week. The stock cable felt unnecessarily stiff (to me) and had quite an odd twist that caused the split below my neck to rise up even closer to me. This was mildly annoying, probably mostly psychologically, because the twisting and proximity never actually interrupted my long-term comfort. This wasn't at Grado annoyance at all but I felt it necessary to highlight this stock cable experience. The ear pads are delicious and neither cause sweating nor odd temperature differences. Superb fit and comfort. If fit and comfort are your thing, then these are pure winners. Looks... well, I think they have a totally cool look and I love the look. A little bit of funk and class. Personal taste. I like the gold and Boobinga wood combination on mine. I'd happily have any of the others as well.

The initial sound is surprising and takes at least a few hours to adjust to. They do not have your typical headphone sound. The Verum One has a very even handed way of dealing with the frequency spectrum that just doesn't single out any part for exaggeration. It's surprisingly smooth sounding, especially on the stock cable. And, on the stock cable, it has quite a bit of detail, but doesn't scream out and say that it's the last word in resolution (more on this in a later post). I think you'll hear more resolution than say what you would hear on a 58X. They've got a beautiful presentation to them almost as revealing and light touch as a Stax, but then they know how to get loud and dynamic. Distortion wise I found these to be very clean right away and 5 months in I haven't heard a convincing and reproducible case of the headphone itself distorting. I do listen loud, louder than what many would consider acceptable.

Verum One are full range headphones. Sure lots of headphones are also full range. These will do full range in a way that doesn't perceivably alter how you might hear live music. They will present very close to the recording and you'll have the opportunity to hear that recording more closely to how it was mastered. On the stock cable and on most amplifiers (that don't play well at 8ohms) bass is quick and meaningful. As these first 6 weeks went on, however, I kept feeling like I wanted more bass in play. This eventually led me on an amazing DIY journey. Mid-bass and mids are I think superb on the Verum One. Voices and instruments that perform in these bands have a very accurate and gorgeous tone. I feel comfortable saying that the mid-bass and mids are the real highlight of the Verum One. As you get into treble, it feels like there could be a slight rise in frequency response, but the top end has a smooth as butter quality. On stock cable, and very dependent on upstream gear, detail and air are good but not last word. But Verum One is a headphone that scales. And as you place better and better gear upstream, the Verum One pass that information through. They do not bottleneck what is sent to them.

Verum One (stock cable and mid-tier amp) of course can do left and right no problem. And they are open back, so combined with their even handed frequency response, they have a good field of sound, but I want to be careful about saying they have soundstage. Music feels open, airy, and has an almost gentle presentation without missing any of the key elements of the music you are listening to. Great recordings sound killer. Good recordings sound better than good. And bad recordings sound somewhat flat and anemic. But who cares about bad recordings (masterings)? Well... I later learned that the Verum One have the capacity to turn crap into gold. But I did need to use some silver to make this happen. And I'm not talking about silver plated OCC.

Musical genres on Verum One on stock cable and with mid-tier amplifier:
  • Classical music is endlessly enjoyable with the Verum One. You'll fall in love with your collection all over again with this setup. When the sections of the orchestra start up and close down, you hear it. When the organ or piano is played as accompaniment rather than concerto form, you hear them stand out much like you would in a symphony hall. Orchestras are no longer a blur of sound, but instead a composition. In stock form, classical music really hits it out of the park.
  • Jazz music has an inherit liveliness to it that feels infectious. If you've got some Pat Methany or Keith Jarrett, just buckle up for the ride. Instruments are going to sound excellent, timing - excellent, timbre on the level of stand alone speakers. I like jazz for sure, but these headphones are an extra special treat for jazz music.
  • Electronic music has a fantastic even response, but on the stock cables and mid-tier amp, I kept wanting more bass, more bass, more bass. Sure, it is true that I'm the type of guy who went to raves and had a sealed 12" in my car for 20 years. So, sure, I am looking for a bit of hit, but I'm also the type of guy who refuses to integrate a sub into my main system, and have zero intention of doing so in the future. So it's not like I don't understand low frequency. In stock form, I just wanted more hit from the Verum One.
  • Popular music was a mixed bag. I largely enjoyed listening to my rock/pop/hip-hop/rap collection. But the final mastering quality really seemed to affect the final output on the Verum One. Great recordings sounded excellent, mid to poor quality recordings however, were not enjoyable in stock form. And it was in this mixed bag of "popular" music that I came to believe there could even be something wrong with the headphone cable. I noticed lots of smooth detail, but the detail was "too" smooth. Like I wasn't getting something, even on the really good recordings. Nothing was particularly bad, but I was familiar with how good these albums could sound, and sometimes felt they didn't live up to my expectations on Verum One playback. Maybe there was a way to get more.
By week 6, I felt elated with my purchase and felt that the $350 I spent on the MKII was well worth the money. My biggest reservations at this point were definitely the stock cable and the overly clean bass response. But when considered with the absolutely superb mid-bass and mids, how they sound like a speaker rather than a headphone, how they handled any type of live music, I felt at that time that these were a wonderful deal for only $350. As an overall package, from fit to finish, and across the musical playback, I felt that the Verum One offered a very unique in the market space and price point offering and wouldn't want to own any other headphone shy of $700.

However, the Journey Continues:​

Around the 5 week mark, something began creeping into my mind. Could the headphone cable be holding back my experience with this headphone? What was the gauge of the cable? How pure was the copper inside the cable? What if I had a cable that went straight to 6.3mm instead of 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter? Hmmm. I knew that the creator of Verum One did much of his designing on an Exposure amp speaker outs. Yeah, that is strange, but it is Ukraine (not USA culture) after all. What if I played these directly on my Exposure speaker outs. Would it be worth it to have someone make a custom cable to do this or should I have a custom cable made by Anti-Cables? Yeah??? So I contacted Anti-Cables to make this happen, but very fortunately for me, they didn't even respond to me. So I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Since this point in time, I've been on an incredible audiophile journey that has completely uprooted much of my lifetime's experience in audiophilia. I'll be posting continuations to this post to share each step along the way and how it has completely changed how the Verum One perform. What I feel comfortable saying now is that I have no doubt that my Verum One headphone is now sounding absolutely incredible. They are at endgame levels of satisfaction for me and I look forward to enjoying my Verum One for the rest of my life. If they were destroyed in a natural disaster, I'd buy them again without thinking.
Aug 16, 2021 at 11:03 PM Post #2 of 146
...Should we tell him?
Aug 17, 2021 at 9:48 AM Post #4 of 146
...Should we tell him?
Okay okay… uncle. Tell me.

I am new to this forum. I know that there is a boat load of controversy around this guy and that he got banned pretty much everywhere. Past this, though, I don’t know.
Aug 17, 2021 at 11:14 AM Post #5 of 146
The creator of the Verum One is openly and strongly racist, antisemitic, and transphobic.
Aug 17, 2021 at 12:09 PM Post #6 of 146
The creator of the Verum One is openly and strongly racist, antisemitic, and transphobic.
Thank you dstarr3. I didn’t want to address it directly since it seems to polarize threads on other forums and I’m mostly just wanting to talk headphones. Wasn’t quite sure how to handle the situation since I rarely find myself on forums or on social media.
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Aug 17, 2021 at 3:44 PM Post #7 of 146

Going Off The Deep End (Or Building a Janky DIY cable):​

So at around the 5 week mark, as I mentioned in my last review post. I began to believe that the cable might be holding this headphone back. I reached out to AntiCable to build me a custom headphone cable, and received no response. Well... a few months prior I had randomly come across Tempo Electric and purchased pure silver 12 gauge wire to act as jumpers on my 19 year old speakers. I went this route because the cost was the same as buying silver plated OCC jumpers and there was potentially some great physics theory behind this (I did graduate studies in physics and actually remember running a calculation where we learned that almost all of the current flow happens on the surface of the conductor. This happens because the electrons want to be separated from each other - like charges repel.) So I connected these solid silver jumpers to my dual binding posts and What!! it was like I turned up the tweeter volume on the first speaker. Did it for the second, and for the first time in 19 years I was blown away by how much clearer my highs were coming across.

So... sitting around pondering the stock cable of the Verum One, having been rejected by AntiCable, I reached out to Joseph at Tempo and told him I was thinking of doing something bizarre. Initially I was going to go for 20ga silver wire, but he suggested 24ga silver wire instead because he felt it would be more flexible. Well I went with the 24ga 4N silver wire with a loose fitting Teflon jacket. I searched online and found a 6.3mm rhodium plated plug from Eidolic. I chose rhodium since I knew I would be plugging and unplugging often and I also couldn't find a 6.3mm silver plated plug. I also found some 3.5mm rhodium plated plugs on AliExpress (because I couldn't find any reasonably priced alternatives elsewhere). And I chose rhodium for the 3.5mm since I knew that I would be disconnecting my cable from the Verum One after each use and rhodium has high durability and better than nickel conductivity (but less than gold - pros and cons). I bought some Cardas silver solder and pulled out my old soldering iron. This was probably the first time I had used the soldering iron in at least a decade.

Let me be clear, up until this point I hated anything DIY in audiophile. I figured, how the heck can DIY outperform anything that has been well engineered. Well, maybe more on that later, maybe not. We are now entering the "cable debate" and I fully expect that everything that follows will be read with great skepticism. Yep. Totally get it, and I lived in that world for 19 years since I became an audiophile. My friends out in STL owned a hifi shop and after store hours we would do listening. And I've sat through A/B of cables upwards of $40k just for interconnects and I was never blown away. As a former hifi salesperson, I've demoed and been demoed silver plated OCC wire, and pretty much don't like how that sounds, period. So no hard feelings from me if you believe that cables don't matter that much, I get it, and frankly had I not heard the difference on the Verum One, I might not have believed it either. So the debate is the debate and I have no intention of resolving that cable debate. The real purpose, of trying DIY out (for the first time ever) and for having this discussion was to see if I could make an improvement on my Verum One with an all in $65 investment. I figured that I already loved them and would buy them again, could I make them even better like what happened on my 19 year old speakers. Moving forward I will refer to the general theory of using solid core wires for optimal sound quality as just "solid core."

Immediate Listening Impression:​

Yes. The answer is yes. There was a difference. Admittedly not a massive difference, but there was a clearly audible and significant difference. And it changed the way I looked at the Verum One headphone. One of the first albums I wanted to hear up front was my original mastering CD of Star Wars. I had listened to this same album about a week prior pre solid core. When I put it on, I started to cry when I got to Leia's theme. Something was uniquely different and much better than before. What was going on? The instruments actually sounded... different, better, more tonally accurate with better timbre. I was hearing more detail in the orchestra. Many regard this original recording to be inferior to the remaster of the 90s (which I also own). But using the solid core headphone cable from the Schiit Hel to the Verum One. It sounded lots better in all ways. There was zero downside. And then I started noticing that the bass was both a little bit tighter and fuller sounding. Very very weird for a person who fundamentally didn't believe in DIY and silver wire. Put on another album to see if I was imagining things and I heard the exact same sonic effects:
  • slightly tighter and punchier bass
  • more tonally correct mid-bass and mids
  • gentler yet more detailed highs

After an hour and on into the next 2 weeks:​

I decided to let this burn in for a couple of hours but noticed that after an hour things had already gotten better. So I started rolling albums. This cable replacement for sure made the Verum One sound better on every genre. Classical became even more enjoyable as the solid core cable seems to remove top end sibilance yet provide more detail. Instruments sounded more and more real. Jazz music was incredible. It was already excellent on the Verum One, but oh yeah baby... So I started putting on some of the more difficult genres. I decided to give everything a real run for the money. Run the Jewels 3. Where this album had some top end harshness on the stock cable, now that was mostly gone, and bass was tighter and more impactful. Vocals had a sort of "correction" to them that sounded more real to me rather than sounding a bit processed.

The next album to really open my eyes was an album of Franck organ works. Okay, let me restate something from the first review. The Verum One is a full range headphone. BUT... how full range depends on everything upstream. With the solid core cable, holy cow, the organ was sounding sublime. I was hearing the beginning and end of the organ. At one point I kept thinking someone was hitting the floor or the table I was working at, and I kept looking around to find the cause. After about 10 minutes of being disturbed by this odd sound, I finally realized it was the Verum One. I was hearing the footwork!! Oh my. Bass was dramatically improved over solid core. And this is every album I played. Same thing over and over again.

One of my all time favorite popular albums is Sting's Soul Cages. I had to hear this. When I played it, yes all the same things held true. But more importantly I was hearing things in the album that I had not previously heard before. And this is an album I have played hundreds of times over on multiple hifi systems. It isn't the best recorded album, but I treat it as a reference because I just love the music. So for me to hear things on this album I've never heard before, instruments in the background that I didn't even know about? Well thank you Verum One headphone.

As the next 2 weeks went on, I was blown away by album after album. Classical was even better. Jazz was exquisite. Much more of my popular rock etc music sounded better. And last but certainly not least, electronic music was elevated. Perhaps one of the more annoying aspects of electronic music is the top end. And frankly, this is one of the major reasons I don't like most headphones, because the top end is usually a bit high and that exaggerates a lot of the ear piercing aspects of electronica. As I mentioned the Verum One already has an excellently smooth top end response. But solid core via the Verum One, really cut back that top end glare even more, adding a gentleness and higher degree of clarity than with the stock cable. It was near unbelievable. How could a shoddily assembled DIY be doing this? It made no sense.

Going solid core creates more "problems":​

Wrestling with my disbelief on what I was hearing and getting blown away by nearly every album was starting to make me thing of doing something else. I wondered... what if I made myself a cheap $25 24ga solid core silver RCA for my main system? There's no way that it would sound better than my $400 Chord interconnects. No way... So I made it on a whim, and yeah... I heard soundstage for the first time ever on my speakers. So this then leads to the next upgrade. I was already using a multibit Panasonic portable CD player from 1991 with line out for my headphone setup. And it was a 1V 3.5mm out going into the Hel 3.5mm input. So I made myself a solid core 3.5mm to 3.5mm interconnect.

Okay, the solid core headphone cable to the Verum One was an audible but not massive upgrade. But good enough to get me going on this journey. Swapping in the solid core 3.5mm to 3.5mm, however, was indeed a massive upgrade on the Verum One. And doing some A/B with the stock cable I was able to convince myself that the solid core 3.5mm to 3.5mm was actually more important than the solid core headphone cable.

Full Solid Core:​

So now I'm what I'd consider fully solid core. All the signal wire that was stranded was now replaced with solid 24ga silver wire in a loose (air gapped) Teflon jacket. I was impressed with the Verum One before, but on full solid core, the Verum One began showing it's true potential. This is a very very good headphone. And frankly, the guy making it is selling it for too little money. But in a way, the price is appropriate since he isn't a massive company. So let me say this, if this headphone were to be made by Audeze or Dan Clark, I don't see how it could be sold for $350. But that's the headphone selling business, and I'm not in that, so let me not say anymore on that topic.

Below are some of the impressions I have with a fully solid core setup driving the Verum One:
  • The sound has to be some of the most accurate tonally and timbrelly I've ever heard short of some very expensive speakers. Having been to hundreds of symphony concerts, maybe a hundred jazz performances, I feel very comfortable saying this.
  • The top end has incredible detail and nuance which can often shock you as you will hear details at a level you've never heard before.
  • And probably most importantly, the bass suddenly arrived. Electronic music was very enjoyable. So clearly the cheap 3.5mm to 3.5mm I was using was cheap garbage compared to the $15 DIY cable I had assembled.
On one recording of a quartet, I kept hearing weird sounds that I had never before heard. I listened closely and realized that I was hearing the occasional foot stomp of one of the players, the occasional out breath of another, and I could hear slight paper movement. It was a real head shaker. This level of awakening was album after album after album. I hear effectively zero sibilance at this stage. Playing through my electronica collection at random was joy after joy now. I now had the bass I was looking for.

And this is where I have to claim that this headphone turns crap into gold. I wanted to push the limits, so I began grabbing some of my most offensive recordings. Recordings that are either very poorly done and/or that have annoying things happening elsewhere in the mix. Example, I dropped some Aphex Twin Ventolin EP, which I love, but must admit has a number of "ear murder" tracks. Wow, wow, wow. Crap turned to gold. I put on a janky jazz album from Duke Ellington, and it suddenly sounded amazing. I put on some NIN and Soundgarden (more ear murder) and there was no ear murdering happening. What the heck?? I can't even think of an album that sounded poorly on this solid core backed Verum One.

Verum One scale hard:​

I haven't done this kind of scaling exercise with other headphones, but the Verum One headphone have the capacity to pass through an absurd amount of detail. All of my niggles with this headphone, ranging from wanting more bass and a slightly annoying cable, were now gone. This is a headphone that can and will rise to the occasion. It is a headphone that responds to nuance across the frequency spectrum, playing every sound from the faintest to the minute. It is a audiophile headphone on a budget. It is a headphone that you can "upgrade" by focusing on the upstream gear. The better the upstream, the better this headphone sounds. To date, no distortion.

In the pre solid core days I had actually ordered myself a Schiit Vali 2+ because I wanted to spice things up on the Verum One. After solid coring everything upstream from the Verum One, I canceled my Vali 2+ backorder and started looking at a headphone amp that could really drive at 8ohms. I just wanted to see if there was more for this headphone to give. Answer: yes, there is actually even more that this headphone can do. Like I keep saying, this headphone scales, and it scales hard.
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Aug 18, 2021 at 3:56 PM Post #8 of 146
The creator of the Verum One is openly and strongly racist, antisemitic, and transphobic.
And you left out the customer response part. When customers bugged him online about their repaired or replacement units they were apparently ignored for weeks. And when he did reply it was "I hope you, and your family, get cancer."

Different strokes I guess.
Aug 18, 2021 at 4:00 PM Post #9 of 146
Eeeeeeesh. Yeah, in a world where we vote with our wallets, I most definitely do not want to vote for that.
Aug 18, 2021 at 4:07 PM Post #10 of 146
Eeeeeeesh. Yeah, in a world where we vote with our wallets, I most definitely do not want to vote for that.
I am currently looking into the SASH Tres, which sounds interesting.
Aug 19, 2021 at 4:54 PM Post #11 of 146

Verum One are awesome, but how awesome Depends on the Amp!​

The Verum One are an 8ohm headphone with some people measuring around 6ohms. Either way you slice this headphone it is actually a hungry beast. But how hungry are they?

My many years of selling hifi and doing off-the-books installation for customers (sorry Good Guys) taught me a very important lesson. You've got to make sure the impedance of the speaker is suitable for the amplifier you own. For example, I own Exposure gear from the late 90s. Back then many speakers were still being made at 8ohms and the low impedance speaker phenomena hadn't yet taken off fully. This puts important limits on speaker selection for me. And I have found it to hold very well that impedance matching is often more important than how a speaker does anything else. The last thing you are going to want to hear in an audiophile system is either compression or worse, distortion.

Verum One escapes this low impedance trap by having high sensitivity. So they are easy to drive with only a little bit of current. They can be played reasonably well from just a normal headphone jack to well beyond. This is a nice feature to have.

Schiit Hel (1)​

Everything I've written about the Verum One sound in my two longer posts in this thread were garnered on the Hel. It is a great combination, that I feel I can easily recommend for its smooth and even-handed performance. That the Schiit Hel can perform so well in reproducing the natural tone and timbre of acoustical instruments with just some DIY silver wire is a tribute both to the Hel and really the flexibility of the Verum One. I mean, this headphone plays well on pretty much everything I've bothered to try it with.

Schiit Asgard 3​

My brother owns an Asgard 3 and brought it over for some listening comparisons to the Schiit Hel (1). Comments on the sound and differences:
  • For some reason It really seemed that the Hel was clearer than the Asgard 3, most especially so when comparing on high gain. But even on low gain I found that the Asgard 3 just felt just enough less clear to be noticed, more in the highs. I was careful to make this judgement by referencing particular minute details in several well heard reference albums I use. I felt that I could notice more mid-bass and mid information on The Ass relative to the Hel. Bass information seemed more revealing on The Ass. But the psychological impression I kept getting was that the Hel just presented with slightly more clarity, perhaps it was the top end swaying me?
  • Whereas the Hel has an edge on clarity, The Ass has the edge on PRAT. Apologies for those who don't believe in this. After many years doing this I've learned that people legitimately hear things differently. I play this album or that album, my body is moving more, my feet are tapping more, my head is bobbing more. I'd generally say that the Hel doesn't have significant PRAT on anything that I own. (It's still a great all-in-one!!)
  • The Ass had a fuller sound, more presence, at times I'd even consider it too much presence. I found the mid-bass to come in quite strongly and have a slightly more proper tonal and timbrel voicing than the Hel. Highs seemed ever so rolled off relative to the Hel. Bass was better (more information) but not really hitting harder.
  • The Ass and the Hel have comparable soundstaging. Which is to say, not all that much. I like to describe it as more imaging. I felt that instruments and effects were placed quite accurately and comparably on both amps, but I wasn't really getting much of soundstage, where you have a sense of space. And sure, we are talking about space in your head, so I know I'm splitting hairs here. But I wanted to lay this out as I was feeling it. I listen a lot to my different systems and have recently gotten into soundstaging (actually because of the solid core has allowed my speakers to have this). But alas, solid core wasn't delivering soundstage on either of these Schiits.
There is a reasonable and measured performance differential between The Ass and the Hel that got me really focused on the possibility of doing even more with the Verum One. I like tapping my feet so I was really down with the sound of The Ass. But there was one particular experience with The Ass that kept my mind working on this problem and not buying an Ass for myself. It was that I was easily topping out the volume of The Ass in low gain. And since I refuse to use high gain for any Schiit product (bad SQ) this was a mental deal breaker. After looking more closely at The Ass' specs on their site, I saw that it was only rated down to 16 ohms. Now sure, it could easily be true that they designed The Ass to perform totally awesome at 8ohms and just didn't want to brag about it on their site. But considering that I was handily topping off that volume I needed to find another solution.

A Ghost of a Ghost (the Naim Headline clone)​

In aiming for a better headphone amplifier for the Verum One, I set out two specific design goals that would ideally be met:
  • The amp should ideally have a toroidal transformer.
  • The amp should definitely be rated for 8ohms.
This proved too difficult for me to find from mainstream manufacturers so I decided to look closely at the options available on AliExpress. I've purchased chip amps off of AliExpress with some great success, so I felt comfortable doing this. Typically one may need to wait 3-5 weeks to receive many orders from AliExpress. There were almost no options that clearly fit both of my goals, except for some Naim Headline clones that were for 220V. I searched the internet for Naim Headline reviews and found two reviews of this amplifier, one on a Naim forum (which I completely ignored) and I found one in Polish that I was able to translate with Google Translate. Not really enough information to make a confident choice, but because I couldn't find other amplifiers that clearly fit my goals I contacted multiple Naim clone makers and requested 110V for US market. One of the sellers said they could do it, so I did it. I waited about 4 weeks to receive my Naim clone and continued to love my Verum One via the Hel.

Funnily, the packaging and shipping experience for these chip amps and clones available on AliExpress are identical to the Verum One. They take a while to receive and arrive in a brown unmarked box. You open the box and there are wrapping materials surrounding the amp. That's it. No branding, no special packaging. It is what it is and that's that.

I did maybe 4 hours of burn-in prior to my first listen using my Grado SR60. Switched them out for my Verum One and was blown away. The Verum One sounded brand new. The bass performance difference was way way better than even on The Ass. The mids and mid-bass had an urgency to them and also a bit of edge (but the kind of edge particular to equipment not yet burned in). The highs also had a bit of edge on them as well, but the Verum One has a naturally smooth top end so it was well behaved on the top end. I followed this up with several more hours of burn-in and then sat down that evening for a fuller listen. There was really no comparison to the Hel or The Ass. This Naim clone created an entirely different experience on the Verum One. Finally this combination provided more of a sense of soundstage, which was basically non-existent on the Schiits. PRAT maxed out, as I would expect from any Naim product. And because the Verum One sound more like a speaker, this combination has a very similar sound to how a Naim amp sounds on speakers. (I've spent a good number of hours listening to different Naim setups so I feel comfortable making this claim.) Naim has a sort of "right now" sound quality.

As I've continued to burn-in this Naim clone, its edginess that I first encountered has settled down and what remains is a headphone amplifier and headphone combination that leaves little to be desired. Finally driving the Verum One comfortably at 8ohms I find that despite having only the same 1V source as I did on the Hel and Asgard 3 that the Naim clone delivers on every count that I hoped for on the Verum One. On most albums I top out around at 60% of the volume dial, and have yet to top out the volume pot since I don't feel like damaging my hearing. Bass performance is now at a level that is both clearly defined, yet provides strong compression on my ear drums much like I might experience on a good 2-channel setup. Mids and mid-bass are sublime on this combination and have a just right presentation. I do feel that I hear a bit of elevation in the upper mids, lower treble, which was always present on the Verum One, and remain such on this amplifier. Highs are smooth yet crazily revealing. Regarding bass... prior to hearing this combination and prior to purchasing the Verum One, I was looking for a headphone that could go this deep, so accurately, but always considered that I wouldn't be able to pull this kind of performance at my lower price range. Well, the Verum One are a very very special headphone, that (once more) scales hard. Every single thing I've place upstream I've been able to hear clear gains and losses. The better my upstream equipment the better the Verum One get.

The Naim Headline clone that I purchased on AliExpress is far superior to The Ass on the Verum One. I believe that this can be attributed to how Naim designed this circuit. They've clearly rated its performance at 8ohms and claim to have developed this headphone amplifier for lower impedance planar magnetics. Yeah. This makes sense listening to this combination.

Verum One Wake Up On Power​

I've seen a bunch of reviews (prior to being removed or pulled) in which people claim that the Verum One can be played well on mostly everything. Yes, they are correct. I've also seen another good handful claiming that a good match up for them is the latest Ass. If I hadn't heard these on an amp rated and designed for 8ohms, then I'd concur. The Ass was a good combo for the Verum One. But I can assure you that the differential between the Naim clone and The Ass is easily discernible and as the Naim clone burns in that differential has further widened. If you already own a Verum One, and you feel like taking a moderate chance, being unimpressed with packaging, and waiting for upwards of 1.5 months, then go for a Naim clone. It takes this headphone to a much much higher level. Short of building a custom cable to bananas, as the Verum creator did, I suspect that many reviewers aren't fully aware of the full potential of this headphone. Don't sleep on this headphone for a minute. Give it everything you've got and you will be rewarded.
Aug 20, 2021 at 1:30 PM Post #12 of 146

Should you buy a Verum One?​

For many headphones I think this could be a complicated question. The answer typically depends on lots of factors. Looks, usability, usage cases, upstream gear, etc. The design basics for this headphone I think can be wrapped up as follows:
  • Create a truly audiophile level headphone that doesn't break the bank.
  • Create a headphone that can easily be played on most devices.
  • Create an extremely comfortable headphone.
The final product is a built to order headphone by a guy in the Ukraine. He doesn't waste money on flashy marketing (HifiMan, iFi...). He doesn't have giant building overhead and management to pay for (Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic, etc...). He doesn't waste money on special cardboard boxes and styrofoam (everyone). He gets an order and then builds a headphone and ships to anyone in the world who wants it. He doesn't have shareholders that dictate maximal profit pathways. He doesn't use slave labor to build his products (uh...). He doesn't design the headphone in the Ukraine and have it manufactured by other people in another country, while he sits in a chair and collects a check (hmmph). There are some other companies (Decware comes to mind) that do this sort of thing in Western countries. They are boutique manufacturers. And typically their prices are fairly high, usually $1k and up. Look at Audeze - it's taken that boutique company nearly a decade to produce a competitive use case headphone in the ~400ish price range. This single person in Ukraine has decided to create a world-beater headphone on a budget and to pass all of those savings on to his customers. There just isn't enough of this kind of person and business man in the world today. That these headphones are as good as they are, that they have ridiculous scaling capacity for the upstream, just belies how unique these headphones really are. I have no idea what his profit margins are, but at this price point I know, sitting comfortably in the USA, that these headphones are an absolute steal. I don't even know why he is selling them for this price, but there are people all over the world who are thanking him. Perhaps the closest competitors could be Audeze or Dan Clark, but you will spend more money.

Verum One highlights:​

  • They are open back and have that great open back sound and feel.
  • They can easily be worn for hours on end.
  • They are true to the recording with only a slight elevation in the upper-mids, lower treble region.
  • They are phenomenal, superb, totally killer on acoustic instruments (if you like Classical or Jazz, do yourself a favor and buy these).
  • They don't distort or compress (if you hear it, I can almost assure you its your upstream gear doing that).
  • They've got stellar clarity that goes on for days and days.
  • They are a headphone that you can upgrade by upgrading your upstream (this will save you money in the long run :))
  • AND when you fix your upstream you will get these killer benefits:
    • PRAT
    • Excellent bass response. (I'm a raver/clubber, sealed sub in car kind of guy. Had some Audion Suckfish on yesterday, got nice ear compression, heck yeah.)
    • As much detail as your upstream gear can deliver.
    • And actually some sense of soundstage rather than just imaging. (I've got some Bach/Harnoncourt/Teldec playing and the sound seems to be bigger than the headphones.)
  • Last but not least, most people think these headphones look super cool.
While I had some niggles when I first got these (less bass than what I wanted, cable) they have all been eliminated with upstream fixes. The main reason for this is that these headphones are 8ohms, and most headphone amps aren't designed to play nice below 16, some below 32. For example, I'd never bother putting a 4ohm speaker onto my Exposure gear, I know I'll get both compression and distortion at higher volumes. So why would I put an 8ohm headphone on a tube amp that has it's lowest rating at 32ohms? Sure, they'll play just fine on pretty much anything, but you won't know what they can really do until you give them a proper amp. The secondary reason, actually speaks to the way that the designer clearly made these, he clearly had detail and resolution in mind, and I've found that these easily pass along any improvements in resolution. Still listening to the Teldec Bach, and as usual I thought I was hearing some strange sounds, so I paused the music, and all those sounds went away. Pushed play again and they immediately came back. I'm hearing slight foot movements from players, exhaling from someone on the right, and slight paper movements now and then. All par for the course if I was in a live concert, but to hear this on any hifi system... it is a truly special thing.

My Advice (based on experience):​

  • Buy these and wait however long you have to wait to get them. You will get them.
  • Don't discount the quality of these headphones until you've explored a reasonable and wide enough range of amplifiers and sources (DACs, CD players, etc.).
  • Don't bother with silver plated OCC cables (I've never enjoyed their sound). Go with these choices:
    • Litz pure silver
    • Litz pure copper
    • DIY solid core silver
    • pure silver or pure copper
  • Worry about every item upstream including how they are connected. The further upstream I went, the more improvements I heard. Minimally, this headphone was capable of resolving every bad choice or improvement I threw at it. Not a lot of headphones in this price range can really do this well.
  • Buy a nice case or headphone stand for these.
  • Ship them to a loved one or friend first and let them hear it before you. (This way when you start acting crazy about these they won't think your crazy.)
If you've made it this far in the thread... buy these and you might have just purchased your last headphone. Let your friends drop $2k on an Audeze or Stax and watch as they power $2k of headphone with $500 amps. You'll have spent $350 on the Verum One, and spend the rest of your money of acquiring killer upstream action, or on a vacation. Take care and rock out.
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Aug 20, 2021 at 2:31 PM Post #13 of 146

Addendum: My interactions with the maker of Verum One​

After purchasing the headphone I sent him a note on his website asking about how he made a cable that plugged straight into his banana jacks. He responded within 24 hours. I had a follow up question regarding the plug wiring to which he also responded within 24 hours.

About 4 weeks after purchasing the headphone I sent a note requesting an update on the progress of the build, but noticed that he had updated his website stating that wait times had increased, so I sent another note saying never mind.

After receiving the headphone I sent him a personal thank you note because I was truly floored by how good they were. He replied thanking me for the feedback saying that he truly loves when people get joy from music on his headphones.

The Boutique Experience​

Some companies (like Decware or Tekton) might take upwards of 6 months to ship a paid for product. Having run a small business myself for 5 years and grossing $1.8M I get how this happens. I worked hard to mitigate issues at my company but it wasn't until I hired more people to help me that I was able to successfully do this. There were times I felt that I could never get ahead and there were times that I genuinely let down customers due to my own behavior or my business partner's behavior or just simply due to the reality of being a small business. Small companies are always dealing with major issues like time management, personnel management, and (most importantly) cash flow management. It is par for the course. When I order custom built products from China or Taiwan I typically have a big language barrier that could easily go awry but I've yet to be screwed. And of course the wait time can get frustrating too. Right now I'm waiting on 80micron silver plated RCA jacks to upgrade some equipment. I can't find this anywhere else, so I'll wait. Finally arrived at US customs yesterday, a month after purchasing. When it comes to hifi and rare music collecting, I've learned patience and to strongly consider cultural and language differences. Without patience and understanding... "NO SOUP FOR YOU!"

For sure, these are Underpriced​

I'm not going to pretend to have knowledge of the headphone business. But I spent many hours learning entrepreneurship first hand. The Verum One are underpriced for the market place. They are hand built to order. His company aren't a bunch of middle men collecting a nice phat slice of the final retail price, it's this one guy and maybe a couple of helpers, maybe not. Why is he underselling his headphone? I used to undersell my products too when I started. I was priced about 40% of what the market could handle. I did it because I loved what I was doing and for whom I was doing it for. I think it's safe to say, so does this guy. If the world was only a bunch of HifiMan... well actually it mostly already is.
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Aug 23, 2021 at 3:09 PM Post #14 of 146

Response to claims of distortion:​

A recent review of the Verum One by No Theme Reviews spends a lot of time discussing distortion on the Verum One. I've never heard distortion on any Schiit amp or on my Naim clone. I've driven these loud and listen loud, no distortion. I've likewise not heard distortion on the Verum One on either the Arcam MusicBoost, headphone out on iPad (2nd gen), headphone out MacBook Pro, or Apple lightning to 3.5mm.

Where is the distortion coming from:​

To see how this happens, let's take a look at the specs for the Liquid Spark pulled from the Monoprice spec sheet. Max output (read: high gain) at 56ohms is 1.531W. Max output at 33ohms is 2.4W. Right here we can see the start of the problem. Ideally the Spark should have 56/33 = 1.7x the power at 33 than it does at 56, which would be 2.6W. But the Liquid Spark is not able to sustain that level of output without greater than 1% distortion and so we already begin to see it's effective power output drop to 2.4W even at the high impedance of 33ohms. This means that even though the Spark can establish a higher voltage on that load, its current capacity is not able perform well at that voltage. We can do a rough calculation of the max output current capacity which would be sqrt(2.4/33ohms) = 0.27A with notable distortion. If we then use this to calculate power at 8ohms (Verum) we get (0.073)^2*8 = 582mW. This would be on the higher gain setting and at least 1% distortion. If we drop down to low gain, then we should expect a maximum tolerable output somewhere in the 292mW give or take some decent amount of distortion. This is close to the Schiit Hel performance I calculated, where I was easily topping out the volume, but in which I didn't hear a lick of distortion. Schiit spends a lot of time on their power supply section, and they have very clean input stages on low gain settings.

But there seems to another problem, which is the input level. It looks, from what has been written that the Spark is set for a 1V input source and has a 3dB (twice as loud) gain on that input. So depending on the source level, there could easily arise issues with distortion and compression if the source is too hot (>1Vrms).

Now let me be very clear, I'm not trashing the Spark. It looks pretty decent for the price and specs it does have and I'd guess it's a great performer for anything 50ohms and up. We can also note that Monoprice has a general 1.3W at 50ohms rating. I don't think it's a coincidence that they do their official power rating at this impedance. Makes total sense based on the spec sheet.

But the Spark is not an appropriate pairing with the Verum One for two reasons: not going to play loud enough without audible distortion, and you may not have enough headroom if you like it loud.

Same look at the Schiit Magni:​

Max power at 32ohms is 2.4W and at 16ohms is 2.8W. You can see that current output at 32ohms is sqrt(2.4/32) = 0.27A, and for 16ohms sqrt(2.8/16) = 0.42A. So if we take the 0.42A as the max comfortable output current then we can get a rough power output of (0.42)^2*8 = 1.4W on max gain on the Schiit. Way more headroom on any Magni you choose. So even in low gain, you should be absolutely fine with the power output and you should hear zero distortion. High gain, yeah you'll probably hear distortion somewhere along the way. But we also have to remember that Schiit is made for 2Vrms input sources which means it will give it much more flexibility running high quality sources without worrying about compression or distortion (in low gain).

Having used the Hel for much of my time with the Verum One, I have no doubt that any Magni would sound as good on the Verum One. The op-amps on the original Hel were the same as the op-amps on the Magni Heresy.

8ohms is a difficult load when played loud. So get an amp that has more low-end capability.​

Stop reviewing this headphone with entry level amplifiers that can't possibly begin to wake it up. Especially so for any reviewer who has access to a better amp, why would you not put this onto a better amp? Like I said earlier, if you are hearing distortion on these, then it means some item or combination of items upstream is causing the problem. It's not the Verum One.
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Aug 29, 2021 at 11:26 AM Post #15 of 146

This Happened: Baby Got Bass​

In a recent listen I had on John Tejada's Four Inch Faders and Little Green Lights. Bass on tracks were deeply impressive. No hints of distortion. Superb ear drum compression. So I decided to see how far I can take the Verum One. Cranked the volume on track 4. Bass was hitting hard and deep, quality ear drum compression, and yes, the headphone was vibrating very slightly on bass hits. This immediately concerned me because vibration could lead to audible changes in frequency response. I held the headphone to see if bass performance would be effected. No change. The Verum had no distortion that I could hear and there were zero audible artifacts that I could discern in any way with the vibration being muted by my hand or not being muted by my hand. Incredible performance.

Once more, I have to say, the Verum One have been sorely mistreated in reviews, with multiple reviews claiming it just doesn't have bass performance. Totally wrong. Not only do they have bass performance, they have to be some of the most ridiculously awesome bass performance I've ever heard on my head. Frankly, I didn't know that this kind of performance was available on anything short of $1k.

Things that I think have led to this outrageous performance level:
  • toroidal transformer
  • solid core wiring (internal and external)
  • real current capacity at 8ohms
Not to say that amplifiers without a toroidal transformer couldn't do this, but I am saying that I typically prefer solid state equipment to be powered by toroidal transformers, as I have found them to create a low end that has a bit of "extra" on it. Your mileage will vary depending on circuit design etc. Solid core wiring, and ensuring that signal has the fewest number of metal-metal junctions and variations, seems to my ears to provide real performance gains that are consistently and readily audible in A/B testing I've done with myself (extensively) and with friends and family. I also believe that stranded wire seems to not only create a diminishment of high frequency response, but also plays an equally important role in lower frequency performance (more on this in later posts). Having enough current capacity at 8ohms is very important for the Verum One. Remember: they were designed on speaker outs of an Exposure amplifier, a device specifically designed to have optimal current capacity at 8ohms.

If you already own Verum One and you aren't getting the kind of performance that I'm getting and describing, please DM me. I am happy to help you realize the Verum One's full potential.

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