So here’s the thing, being completely honest I’ve never even heard about Verum 1 until the brand founder Igor contacted me asking if I would be interested to take a listen. A quick search revealed very interesting-looking headphones, designed and made by a small manufacturer in Ukraine some two years ago. But this is a second iteration carrying the same name, so to avoid confusion I used MKII to distinguish this version from the older one. Now, if you’re familiar with iiWi reviews’ at all, you probably know that I like discovering new things and great deals more than listening to yet another mass-produced product by a proven and big brand – with pricing that follows the reputation. Igor was very expedient so Verum 1 arrived quickly after our initial contact.
Build and Comfort
Verum 1 is not a small and lightweight headphone. There is a lot of metal used in their build so they can’t be. On the positive side of that is that they feel very reassuringly hefty. Also, the size is well used and earpads are big and elongated so they perfectly encapsulate even my big, almost elvish, earlobes. Earpads are also very soft which makes for great comfort overall, at least as far as my head goes. I definitely used them for few hours at a time, without any sort of discomfort. Worth mentioning is that ear pads are removable and very easily so. You just need to pull them off the headphone shell, since they’re attached to it magnetically. It’s a simple and elegant solution that makes me wonder why we haven’t seen this anywhere else before.
The headband is made of peace of genuine leather with stitching. It both looks great and feels very soft and comfortable. The headband height is adjustable by unscrewing the knobs that are holding it attached to the metal rails. This is easy enough but it’s not something that you can do quickly on the go. I don’t find this problematic since headphones are usually a personal item, serving one master, but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless. On a positive note, this means that there is no way for your adjustment to get loosen accidentally, which can happen with most designs.
The cable is also detachable and 3.5 mm jacks are used for that purpose. There’s one on each side, so you can easily use balanced cables if you wish so. With more and more head-amps having a balanced output option, I find this feature very important.
Verum 1 is a fast and precise sounding model. Starting with the bassline, it is really quick and nimble. But don’t get me wrong here, this doesn’t mean it won’t go as deep as you need it to when asked. Try playing Fading Sun by Terje Isungset for example and you’ll witness the glory of the deep and pulsating sub-bass that Verum 1 is capable of. The mentioned quickness actually comes from a very tidy and well-controlled midbass that never exhibits signs of bloom or spills into the midrange. There is a hidden warning here too – if you like your bassline overemphasized and spilling a little into the mids, making them warm and fuzzy, these will probably not be your cup of tea. That said, the midrange is well-balanced, rich, and revealing. Its revealing nature starts with crisp edges and transients but continues with the rich tone texture. Both vocals and instruments sound natural and immediate while brimming with details. The highest spectrum is well extended, recreating the air around the instruments and atmosphere from the recording with ease.
All that said, Verum 1 still manages not to sound overly analytical or bright. I’m very sensitive to sibilance in vocals, but there is no trace of it here, proving that open and revealing sound doesn’t have to come with such nasties if tuning is done right, and in this case it is.
Moving to the soundstage and things are good. These are not particularly wide-sounding, with the presentation being more immediate than spacious. That said, layering is still great and the separation of instruments is done masterfully, with each one being clearly etched in its own position. Finally, dynamics are great too, and Verum 1 sounds very agile and lively, with great punch and energy.
At first, I hooked Verum 1 to a price-appropriate DAC/AMP combo consisting of Loxjie D30 (used as a DAC only) and Topping L30 head-amp. Together, these two cost just a touch above 300 US dollars. This proved to be a very reasonable combination with plenty of drive and a respectable amount of details and layering. Then for the sake of testing, I turned to a very affordable E1DA Power DAC V2 and that was again a surprisingly good sounding combination, proving that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a really good sound from these headphones. Finally, I hooked them to a Topping D30 pro and A30 pro combination to test how far would Verum 1 scale, and to my surprise, it scaled exceptionally well. Already impressive bassline started to pulsate with even more energy and speed. The same goes for edges and transients that became even crisper and more energetic.
So if you pair them with a lower-end DAC/AMP you’ll get very decent results, but bear in mind that going with more up-market sources and amplification, Verum 1 will know to reward it. With pricier Topping combination, even the last bit of softness was removed allowing for outstanding clarity and speed.
Comparison with Hifiman Sundara
Hifiman Sundara, which I borrowed just for the sake of this comparison, is based on a similar planar magnetic concept. Moreover, they’re also priced exactly the same at $349, making them a very direct competitor. All that said, I found Verum 1 to be superior when it comes to the bassline rendition. It digs deeper and it’s better controlled at the same time, making for quicker and more resolving bass notes. Sundara is similarly resolving in the upper parts of the spectrum but exhibiting a bit thinner upper midrange, while Verum 1 offers a more natural balance to my ears. There is no significant difference in terms of the highest spectrum so both offer airy and open sound.
Last but not least, I find Verum 1 to sit more comfortably on my head. And if you happen to have big earlobes the same way I do, you’ll probably prefer their elliptical pad design over Sundara’s circular. All said and done, I preferred Verum 1 and so did my friend who loaned me the Sundara.
I didn’t really know what to expect from a small, first-time manufacturer and its product, but Verum 1 exceeded my expectations. Yes, some design details are not as refined as with mass-produced products, but there’s a real sense of quality and dedication to details here. Now add a class-leading sound fidelity that can in many aspects rival models that are twice the price and you’ll get what Verum 1 is all about.
You can’t buy Verum 1 in a local store, instead, they are shipped worldwide directly by the manufacturer. This means that depending on the country, you have to account for some additional costs of import taxes too. But even with those expenses included, I still struggle to find any real competition that’s not costing at least a couple of hundreds more. With that said, Verum 1 gets my highest recommendation.
|VERUM 1 – CHARACTERISTICS
Driver: 82 mm membrane