Thicc, Warm, Detail – Verum 1 (One) Planar Magnetic Headphones Review
Verum One are the last headphones in the entry-level Planar Magnetic Headphones review series available on the market at this moment, the other two having been HIFIMAN Sundara and Brainwavz Alara. Even so, Verum One stands their ground nicely even against headphones much much more expensive, like Audeze LCD-2C, as we’ll see today in the review of Verum One, a headphone priced at 350 USD.
Verum Audio sounds like a total newcomer to the audio industry, and for the most part, they seem like it, having been around only since 2016, making them one of the newest companies I had the honor to review a product from, but it also looks like in this very short while they managed not only to produce some really excellent headphones, but also catch the eyes and ears of both other reviewers and fans from all over the world, their Verum One being often referenced as the top of the entry-level Planar Magnetic Headphones series (Which is composed from the Brainwavz Alara, HIFIMAN Sundara and Verum One). One thing to keep in mind when planning to purchase Verum One, is that they are fully serviceable, and that the company will stand behind their products, despite the affordable price, you can expect service as good as you’d expect out of some big players, from this newcomer.
It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Verum Audio, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by Verum Audio or anyone else. I’d like to thank Verum Audio for providing the sample for this review. This review reflects my personal experience with Verum 1 (One). Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in Verum One find their next music companion.
First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:
Okay, so this time, there’s nothing here. They come in a cardboard box, and my pair came wrapped in protection, but there was no actual package. As far as I understand, newer pairs will have some kind of package, but what you get is the headphone, and the cable. That’s it. And for 350 USD, the price of Verum One, I’m not disappointed at all, you do have everything you need for using Verum One.
What to look for when purchasing a Midrange Headphone
82 mm membrane made from 8 um mylar film
96 db sensitivity
Before we talk about their build qualities, I want to catch your attention with the impedance of Verum One, they are one of the lowest impedance headphones in the world, and they have a low sensitivity as well. This means that they require you to turn up the volume quite a bit, but many Amplifiers are not designed to handle such low impedances, and may enter current clipping. This is very important, because you may think that the headphones have something, but they’re working perfect, it is usually the amplifier that has a bit of trouble handling them. This being said, even most smartphones should be able to drive Verum One just fine.
Now, back to our usual, the build quality is a tank. Those really are made with tons of metal, very resilient-looking components, and generally feel like they can take any beating you’d throw at them. Not only this, but the adjusting mechanism, while a bit barbaric in appearance, is very secure. The earpads are of very high quality, soft, the leather / pleather feels very nice while you’re wearing them, and the entire headphone feels like a true gem in terms of build quality.
Now the aesthetics are something else entirely. As I pointed out in my Youtube Video, they are one unique headphone in terms of aesthetics, and they add something like “cat ears”, or little horns, or whatever you’d like to call those. The point there was that the headphone is a touch heavy, so Verum went with a design where the only part touching the top of your head is a very soft headband instead of the metallic frame. In practice, this feels very comfortable, even a bit more comfortable than Sundara’s, but you can also tell that Verum One is heavier still. I’m the kind of person who goes to Comic Conventions and such, but I am not sure if I’d consider Verum One everyday outdoors headphones, so I’ll be considering them desktop headphones instead.
The fit is absolutely beautiful. Although the cups are not the largest, my ears fit inside very well, the earpads are super soft, and the headband is soft and has a thick padding, making the headphones sit very comfortably on anyone’s head. Furthermore, they also seem to give a few dBs of isolation, and at least compared to Sundara, they leak a bit less, making Verum One quite an interesting Open Back headphone.
The cables are detachable, but they are based on 2.5mm connectors rather than 3.5mm jacks, so aftermarket cables need to be designed either for Verum One, or need to be designed in this size. This means that the cables from Sundara won’t work, and neither will cables for Alara, or other headphones that use the 3.5mm jack for their plug.
The default cables are very soft, very flexible and they do not present microphonic noise.
Overall, Verum 1 are excellent headphones, both in terms of comfort, fit, and build quality. The aesthetics will be a bit personal, so I’m not going to complain about those much, but this is a headphone that feels really nice and is built really well.
Most of the sonic impressions have been taken with pretty high-end DAC/AMPs, and this is because, although Verum 1 can be driven from very low powered sources, at least in theory, it really really scales well with high-end sources, like the McIntosh Amplifier you keep seeing in my photos, which made a really sweet pair with them. This being said, that AMP is about 50.000 USD, so I’m not going to go too deep into my pairing part, since Verum 1 is a 350 USD Headphone.
The overall sound of Verum 1 can be described as super sweet, thick-ish, warm, musical, playful, Zero-Grain, smooth, yet well extended, with good instrument separation, excellent control, zero distortions in the bass, and pretty natural overall. The soundstage size isn’t the largest, but the good instrument separation and overall imaging makes a really good slightly intimate experience. Since sound is a bit relative to your reference point, if Sundara would be perfectly neutral, Verum One is a tad dark-ish.
The bass is very full and deep-reaching, and is one of those very well controlled bass, but which has good body and extension. It reminds me quite a lot of LCD-2C’s bass, but somehow it feels a bit more natural, and places a more natural body to music, where LCD-2C places a bit too much emphasis on the body of the music. Verum 1’s bass is the kind of bass that reaches so low you forget this is a 350 USD Headphone, and makes you go “wow”. Indeed, this is a properly tuned Planar magnetic headphone bass, but the beautiful part here is that it isn’t too far forward, or too much in your face, so the bass doesn’t drown out the rest of the music.
The midrange is pretty interesting, although my understanding has been that Verum One had some things in common with LCD-2C, especially in terms of tuning, there are some large differences in the midrange. The most evident one is that the midrange of Verum One is more even, with the peak in the upper midrange / treble being tuned in such a way that Verum 1 sounds more open, more airy and more extended than LCD-2C, which was sometimes criticized for being too lush, too laid back, and too dark. Here, I can’t quite critique Verum 1 in any way, they have just the proper amount of both upper midrange, lower treble, and treble, to sound natural.
The treble of Verum One is mostly smooth, a grain-free experience, with just enough sparkle to be interesting, but with enough smoothness to stay clean and relaxing. They are mostly laid back, so you can’t expect a bright tuning, like Sundara, the treble relative to the bass and midrange is not enough to give me a permit to call Verum One bright, but it is enough for me to not call Verum One Rolled Off. The peak of the treble for Verum One is in the 8-10 kHz area, which makes them prone to being splashy, but the treble doesn’t get splashy either (I consider splashy treble slightly desirable), and it could be said that Verum One has a bit too little body in the treble, but the grain-free experience sure is sweet.
Overall, Verum 1 makes an excellent demonstration of how a sweet, lush, slightly dark-ish, clean, open and controlled headphone should sound like.
Given their weight, shape and size, and also their aesthetic design, you’re most probably going to be using Verum One indoors, and especially since they’re open back, you’re most probably not likely to take them on a walk. This being said, if you decided to do so, they’d be quite excellent for that.
Now the overall desktop usage is pretty much excellent. We have a headphone that is comfortable, has good build quality, and is easy to drive. Even so, it grows with your source, so you can connect it to high-end sources (DAC/AMPs), and you’ll hear a better sound, making them quite excellent for desktop usage, where you have the best of your equipment available.
Verum One tends to prefer high-end sources as well, sounding much better if properly amped, and if we think about it, this makes sense, since they are 8 OHM in impedance, which is a difficult load for most amplifiers, and they are also low efficiency, making them rather power-needy.
Otherwise, they don’t leak quite as much as most open-back headphones, so you could use them in more situations than an open-back headphone that leaks more, they isolate a bit from the outside noise, making them quite nice to use even when there is some noise around you, like random chatter, or an air conditioner running in the background, or a computer rendering a video. The only aspect of them that would make them slightly uncomfortable is the weight, which is a bit high, but in light of this, the headband is pretty thick-ish padded, and you won’t have to worry about this much.
The cables are not microphonic, and Verum 1 doesn’t have any issues in terms of usage, making them a really nice headphones to use regardless of what you’re doing, and if you can put up with their weight and aesthetics, you could easily take them out for a walk.
The main competitors I’m comparing Verum One to are HIFIMAN Sundara, Brainwavz Alara, and Audeze LCD-2C, as all of them are reference headphones, and either relevant to this review, or in a similar price point to Verum One.
Verum One vs Brainwavz Alara – Brainwavz Alara is a sweet, dark-ish, lush and natural sounding headphone, just like Verum One. In fact, let’s start with the build quality and comfort, because this will make things simpler. So, the build quality is very similar, although Verum One feels like they could take a fall better than Alara. Verum One will work much better for a small head, than Alara, which is known to not work very well for small heads. The overall comfort is similar, Verum one is a tighter fit in general, and a bit heavier, but also has thicker and softer padding and earpads. Alara is much easier to drive and doesn’t scale as much as Verum One. The sound is similar between the two, and if you’d like one, you’d most probably like the other as well. The largest differences are in scaling each, because when connecting both to a really good source, Verum One tends to reveal more detail, be more controlled, more impactful, and more musical, but with an entry-level source both sound quite similar, although in general Verum One tends to sound a bit thicker and more lush, where Alara tends to be a touch more neutral.
Verum One vs HIFIMAN Sundara – Sundara is a delight to talk about, now that I know it so well and understand it so well. Starting with the comfort, Sundara is quite a bit lighter. But Verum One is softer in general, and sits more like a heavy pillow on your head. The actual sound is much brighter and more neutral on Sundara, and much more lush, deep, natural and thick on Verum One. Both are rather excellent headphones, and I’d say that if you like Metal, Sundara in general makes an interesting offer, although if you like low-reaching bass, impact, depth and a lush signature in general, Verum One should probably be your choice.
Verum One vs Audeze LCD-2C – Audeze LCD-2C is the kind of headphone you always wanted but never really knew, or at least the kind of headphone you always liked after you first heard. Now, Verum one tends to have a similar sound, and the main reason most people take a liking to LCD-2C easily is that they are really laid back, and easy to listen to, so regardless whether you put on some metal, or some classical, music sounds fun and romantic. This being said, LCD-2C is also a bit too textury, or too dry, thing which can be corrected by using Roon and the Audeze EQ profiles you can find in Roon. Otherwise, LCD-2C is the kind of headphone I could easily recommend often without worrying that the person won’t like them, as long as that person likes a dark and full signature. Verum One takes things, and makes them even better. Although they scale, Verum One is easier to drive. Although they are heavy, the headband is more soft on Verum One. Although they are both dark and lush headphones, Verum One is even safer, being so natural that where LCD-2C has received criticism from people who found them maybe a bit too dark or too lush, Verum One never received such critique, simply put Verum One took the best from LCD-2C and implemented them in a sound that’s not only easy to listen to, but also very clean and clear, and, most important, for about ⅓ of the price. Overall, I’d say to test Verum One and to give them a chance, I can’t guarantee that they’ll necessarily be more to your liking than LCD-2C, but if they are, you’re at ⅓ of the price and with a sound that’s really sweet in a similar fashion.
For the pairings part of this review, I have chosen Mytek Brooklyn DAC+, Wells Milo, and iBasso DX220 (AMP7). All of those are flagship grade sources, but Verum One is best paired with a very high-quality source for the best results. They are similar to Sundara in this aspect, as Sundara is also really hard to squeeze the best from and sundara also scales incredibly much with the source.
Verum One + iBasso DX220 (AMP7) – DX220 with its AMP7 is the least I’d recommend to fully understand Verum One portably. Of course, not only Verum Audio recommends, but I have managed to enjoy them out of one of the lowest cost, most simple sources in the world, my Xiaomi Mi Max 3 smartphone, but man, does having a better source improve the sound of Verum One. The trick here is that Verum One requires quite a bit of power to sound their best, having a very low efficiency, and DX220 with its AMP7 has one of the highest power ratings for a portable, being able to offer not only control, but also depth, extension and impact to Verum One, and also being able to make them go really loud, being one of my favorite pairings for Verum One. AMP7 tends to be very wide, which compliments the average size of Verum One’s soundstage quite well, making them much larger and more open sounding than with more intimate sources, which works really well for any musical style.
Verum One + Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ – Now, the Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ pairing is one that I’m writing after the one I wrote below, about Milo, and I gotta say, for me personally, I think that Brooklyn is a bit more neutral, overall Milo is the more musical one, while Brooklyn DAC+ is the wider, more analytical one, although it is also more light and snappy. Verum One tends to shed away some of their thickness and weight and replace them with more speed and resolution, the Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ works really really well for Metal Music, and for more aggressive music, like faster EDM and such.
Verum One + Wells Milo – Wells Milo is a very interesting Amplifier for desktop, and I have to admit, in this instance it was being fed the DAC signal from Mytek Brooklyn DAC+, so this is a very expensive setup, but man, I love the way it can control verum One, and the most important aspect of this pairing is how sweet and musical Verum One can get. Milo is also able to extract a degree of transparency you won’t hear often out of Verum One, the kind you usually see from properly AMPed 2K USD headphones. The pairing sounds musical, deep, controlled, clean, crisp, airy, wide, clear, and very dynamic / punchy. Overall, this is a sound that really doesn’t shy away from what a flagship setup tends to sound like. Of course, the fact that Verum One has a low efficiency is a good indicator that this setup was going to sound very nice. Pop, slower music, dance, electronic, pretty much everything that’s musical, including classical and large orchestral, is a true delight with this pairing.
Value and Conclusion
It has been a real treat reviewing and talking about Verum One, but so has been listening to them and enjoying them. This is a headphone easily worth their 350 USD asking price, if not twice that, relative to what other headphones cost for their performance. This being said, I love seeing better and better quality at more affordable prices, as this makes the overall music listening experience better for absolutely everyone. The thing to remember about Verum One is that they are easily worth their asking price, and relative to both Sundara and Alara, they are quite excellent and make good competition to the other two really good Budget Planar Magnetic headphones.
Starting with the build quality, we’re looking at a tank, a headphone made almost with parts from cars and tanks, and although this means that there are no chances of them ever breaking, this also means that they are quite heavy, so in terms of comfort, you have to keep in mind that they are the heaviest of the Sundara – Alara – Verum series, although their headband and earpads are probably the most comfortable of the series as well.
The sound is a sweet and lush one, slightly dark-ish, but with excellent low reach, excellent control, average soundstage size, but good instrument separation and pretty good stereo imaging, with pretty airy treble, and natural overall midrange, and with a very grain-free overall presentation. This is the kind of sound that I could also call musical, for 350 USD being one of the most musical headphones I heard to date.
Verum One also makes it to Audiophile-Heaven’s Hall Of Fame for being such an excellent champ, and will probably stay there for a good while, as Verum have impressed me with their build quality and nice sound, and for a very affordable price. Let’s keep in mind that having a Hall Of Fame is both about having excellent products, but also about having products that deliver such amazing price / performance ratios that you’ll want to keep listening to them, and to forget what you paid for, Verum One being one of those headphones where you won’t even remember that they were just 350 USD after you will really get them paired with a good source.
At the end of this review, if you’re looking for a lush, natural, deep, airy, zero-grain, fun headphone that will be pretty darn musical, which is comfortable, and which scales very well with a good source, you should totally check out Verum 1 (one) from Verum Audio, as they may very well make your daily headphone for a long while to come.
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Full Playlist used for this review
While we listened to considerably more songs than those named in this playlist, those are excellent for identifying certain aspects of the sound, like PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new most, most of them being rather catchy.
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