Disruptive Forces - Liberators & Destroyers of Worlds

I have, over the last few years, been quite content to gradually add interesting, classic or capable headphones to my collection. While some have been more special-purpose than others (e.g. Sony MDR-Z1R or Fostex TH900 Mk2), all have had their place.

And while there is a large disparity among the listening time many models got, all were used, and rotated, at some point (often with varying moods and/or music).

Three products this year have really upset the apple-cart, as it were. And now, I suppose, there’s a fourth potential - or a replacement for one of the three at least - with the latest arrival - ZMF’s closed-back “Vérité Closed”; however, I’ll come back to that one.

Those three products are, in order of impact, the RAAL-requisite SR1a, ZMF Vérité and Focal Stellia. Depending upon how you look at things, they have either proven to be liberators from the relative tyranny of having/wanting/needing a broad variety of cans to get the best results, or “destroyers of worlds” in their impact on my personal headphone stable and the gear I had/have selected to feed them.

This list shows the overall impact (again limited to stuff I owned/bought as of the start of THIS year):

The struck-out, red, items are ones that have gone by the wayside as a result of the arrival or one, or more, of the afore mentions models. The items in black are items that either were already in place and are, so far, not directly affected (though not necessarily “safe” yet). And the items in green are additions since all this started … though two of those are augmentations to an earlier arrival (the various Vérité …).

More than half my initial collection gone. More still to come … the HD800S are almost certainly on the outs, and the combination, or options, of Stellia + Vérité Closed don’t bode well for the HD820 (a fine headphone, but one wonders when it’ll get used again … and I suspect I am now keeping it more because it’s “cool” and “different” than for listening purposes).

This has had an even bigger impact on the electronics I’ve had around to drive various combinations of cans/use cases.

And all this is a long-winded run up to me wondering what other’s have found to be particularly disruptive in this space?


I’ve really just begun my audio journey (with Headphones), so there hasn’t been much disruption. I’m at a curious place where I want to be at the end point, skipping all of the trial and error purchases, but I’m learning that there’s value in many those entry level purchases.
I started with Koss Porta Pros (which I still love), tried some Grado SR 60’s that I hated (because of the knife in my ear-highs), and ended up with some AKG Q701’s that I was satisfied with for a few years.
Last year I started listening to music more so via headphones and the AKG’s became very fatiguing. After a few months of reading reviews and watching some YouTube videos I decided on the Audeze LCD-X and I Love them. I know there are better, but I’m really satisfied with them. Now that I have a dedicated listening area (basically a mini lounge in my bedroom), I’m looking to build up my office set up (original listening station).
The Grado’s were returned right away. The Q701’s are still here, but they hardly ever get listened to. I don’t think they’re worth much, and I like the fact that I have an Austrian made pair.

I really enjoyed this topic and I’m looking forward to those who’ve actually accumulated collections to post their stories.
Thanks @Torq


@TylersEclectic this is gonna be good with all that typing! :blush:

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Well…I have the Verite C on my head right now…and… I think I’m very happy…=)

Back on topic!


ZMF Verite/Aeolus/VeriteC with the RAAL SR1A combo…and I’m pretty much done…except for some niche use case (gaming via console)

Things removed already:
HE4xx (x2)
Multitude of IEMs

Things to sell ASAP:

Focal Clear (Aeolus for me replaces these, and easily removed them from my primary listening)
Fostex TH-X00 PH (love these but now it’s more for nostalgia and the Purple Heart cups)
ZMF Ziricote Aeolus (to make room for my A.Blackwood Aeolus)

On the chopping block:

HD800(sdr mod) (Verite and SR1A make these extremely redundant, only reason to keep is the amazing synergy with BHC+SB)

Niche things/haven’t received/undecided:

Audeze Mobius (undecided, but I rarely use)
Campfire Cascade (my go to easy to drive Nintendo Switch/iPad, closed back of choice)
Vokyl Erupt(these will be replacing my PC37X for console gaming)
Audeze LCD-GX (have not received yet, but will be my planar of choice, I really enjoyed it at CanJam SoCal, May replace Mobius, but the Mobius is unique enough with the headtracking to keep for now)
Focal Elegia (these are my go to for at work listening, but depending on how I feel about taking the Verite C to work, will make or break these, with the Verite C on my head right now…it isn’t looking so good for the Elegia)


CA Andromeda (go to IEM, one of the only ones I can stand in my ears for extended listening)
CA Andromeda Gold (looking forward to these as either a replacement or compliment to the Andromeda’s. I really enjoyed listening to them at the recent Seattle meetup)
BGVP DMG (my workout IEM attached to a mmcx Bluetooth cable)

We shall see how things progress =)


Ha, using my iPad and Apple Pencil…so taking 20min to write a 5min at most post :laughing:


Vérité C that good, huh? I have find a pair to listen to! Those ZMF’s are popular here. :thinking:


Honestly, I would recommend the Aeolus as the best all arounder! It would be an excellent counterpart to your LCD-X…

Then move up to Either the Verite or Verite C, no need for both unless you have a specific need for both, or are ridiculous like myself :crazy_face:. I think @Torq is correct in his assessment, of these being the closest to its open back sibling, than even the Elegia or Stellia to the Clear/Utopia respectively.

So if I had to pick one I would pick based on aesthetics, and if I needed closed backs more…but I don’t have to pick just one…and I’m already collaborating with ZMF on my particular set of Verite C =)


Those Blackwood Ltd’s are pretty sexy… :thinking:

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Yes, yes they are! I’m still up in the 20+ range on the in the making ZMF list for my A.Blackwood Aeolus…the wait is real :wink:

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my Elegia purchase
made me cancel the april preorder for the DT 177x Go - planned shipment was end of september
the DT 770s stay packed away now and I would love the Cascades as “fun” closed back - far away…
DT 770s killed these Kingston Hyper X Cloud Gaming HS - this stays somehow for best isolation if needed - but somehow never needed :slight_smile:
Edit: a cheap headphone cable from Amazon destroyed the original stiff Elegia cable
yesterday ordered for 120 pounds at oidio sound uk a nice “Mongrel Series” braided(black/dark grey/petrol) cable with XLR source connector and an adpter from female XLR > 3.5 TRRS male(ifi xDSD headphone out)

after my DT 1990s arrived, the 660s and AKG K701 stayed packed away most of the time
the 58x is more my wifes

after listening to the Ananda
I planned on selling the 660s and keep the 1990s-not sure about keeping now because an around 1K or even higher priced open back is at the moment my highest priority - meanwhile I enjoy the DT 1990s far less and only listen to the Elegia(honeymoon period?)

now have to save up a few months and also give the ZMF Aeolus(and other ZMFs) a try - for that I have to travel to Heidelberg(3,5 hours away) - my wife loves this beautiful small student city - so maybe we can go there in autumn for a weekend. At the moment have no dealer in munich with ZMFs

my stationary home-office DAC/Amp - the SMSL M6 will be gifted, after I decided for a DAC
at the moment it can somehow ok drive single ended headphones and is more in use from my wife to feed as pre-amp the old surround reciever under the desk, driving a 2.1 speaker setup -maybe there will be a sprout replacing the reciever - not on high priority

the ifi xDSD destroyed the M6 and Fiio Q1 II(got it used for 50 bucks - will also be gifted) + Chord Hugo was sold after comparing with xDSD - more because of flexibilty and features
my THX 789 AAA (may drop) should ship finally end of september - first will use the xDSD as DAC and plan to get the Airist R-2R + SMSL SU-8 to compare both - high priority after the new open back

my Tin Hifi T3 destroyed Tin T2 Pros and other old IEMs - plan to get the Moondrop KXXs or Kanas Pro - not on high priority

The Earstudio ES100 and Fiio BTR3 destroyed my wifes Marshall MID BT on Ears and some BT IEMs


Thanks for the constructive discussion guys. This is very appreciated!!! I was originally contemplating my next purchase between the Mese Empyrean or the Focal Stellia. With the advise from community members here that have heard the Empyrean, I was able to cross it off my list although it broke my heart. Then the Verite C showed up and now I’m now focused on either a Verite open or closed or the Stellia.

I’ve come to the conclusion that my Aeolus’ tamber just sets it apart from everything else, and I think my money will probably be best spent continuing to expand my ZMF collection. I really would love to grab one of the Verite C’s on Sept 20th to save the 300 bucks but I usually always prefer the sound of open backs more.

For you guys that own the Verite and have heard the Verite C, if you could have only one, would it be the C or the open and why?

And for the record, I’m keeping my Elegia no matter what. :slight_smile:


After listening to the Verite C for longer than I should last night… regarding open or closed version, it really comes down to your use case… honestly you could go either way and know you are not missing out in a major or even minor way. I think so far with out proper a/b that the Verite C is just a tad warmer…but overall I’m very impressed with it. The Stellia is a headphone that after listening to it, I always walk away wanting my own set…but I’m not particularly into the color scheme…which is dumb, but is probably one of the main reasons I haven’t picked one up…


ARGH! So there really is no clear decision/choice. Thanks Darthpool!


@PapaEmeritus, @MartinTransporter,

The Elegia gets most of my head time, just plain fact, I use it at work so I have the most opportunity to use it there. Depending on how much I want to transport around the Verite C, will impact the sale of my Elegia…but honestly probably not… the aesthetics, sound quality and low power requirements, really make it a keeper.

I think the only thing that would have me move it along is the purchase of the Stellia, as that is an obvious upgrade across the board for the Elegia, but it has a premium price tag and build that I would feel bad throwing around during transport or travel. Where as the Elegia isn’t so bad in that regard.


Exactly my thoughts on the Elegia. It’s a fantastic closed back headphone for an office environment and not too expensive that you don’t mind transporting it around. It’s comfortable for long listening periods and durable that it shouldn’t be damaged from normal wear & tear. The Verite C on the other hand i would hate to drop even a foot, or ding into something by mistake. I’m also not a fan of the aesthetic of the Stellia, but I’m afraid its tonal balance is probably pretty perfect for my tastes.

The Elegia for me is a keeper.


forget the … sound… I can say this, cause the moment I have the budget for Verité C or Stellia, there is a few new Focal and ZMF generations out

the Elegia is ok to drag around + if you sit outside, for yourself it is not screaming anything to strangers
the plastic cups take a beating…

the Stellia is like a purple Elefant - may be ok for in office use for me - Me, I give a sh… on peoples opinions about me - don´t get me wrong :slight_smile:
I said it before elsewhere - this thing belongs in a Masters Home with big fat old brown leather sofas and cigars…whiskey…
I don´t get warm with the design of the Stellia

The Verité C design is what I would love - would go everywhere with it. Would even use public transport to show off


HD800S work really well for me. I place a premium on a wide and deep soundstage and sure, the phones have their faults but they are very lightweight, with the velour pads I can wear them all day with no fatigue or sweaty ears like I get with leather pads. I built my system around them and have gotten my money’s worth of musical enjoyment from them. I could live with them for a few more years no problem.

The only phones that are tempting me away are the SR1a’s. No rush to buy as I want to see if Schiit puts the Weldenheim in production. Plus it never hurts to hold off on an expensive purchase until the phones have been around for awhile to get any new production updates.


For me it depends on if you mean “could only have one headphone that had to cover as many bases as possible” or “can have other headphones, but only one of the two Vérité open/closed options”.

If it’s the former, then the Vérité Closed would likely be my choice - since I do need isolation from time to time. If it’s the latter then the Vérité (open) would be how I’d go.

The Vérité open and closed sound far more alike than they do different. The closed has a bit more tonal weight and a bit more sub-bass energy (depending on pads), which results in a slightly warmer overall sound and a bit more perceived punch, but doesn’t sound “closed” at all, and actually seems to present a more vividly dimensional, and expansive, stage.

Now, Vérité Closed vs. Stellia is going to take more listening to finalize a decision on, and may simply come down to which pads are on the Vérité - but what I can say already is that those are the two headphones in contention for my personal choice for “best closed back headphone, period”.

I posted a frequency response comparison between these two here.


Thank you @Torq I was trying to come up with a way to say this more or less but my brain no play nice. You said it way more eloquently than I would have in neanderthal :wink:

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OK! Now we’re talking. Thank you so much for your insights Torq! Per your description, you are directing me into a Verite C with my personal preferences…

This is ticking all my personal check marks I want to hear. As for your insights into the Verite vs the Stellia, I will be impatiently waiting. :slight_smile:

Thanks again!