ZMF Vérité - Open-Back Dynamic Headphone - Official Thread

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#1

ZMF’s Vérité is Zach Mehrbach’s new, flagship, open-backed dynamic headphone - and they were my favorite new headphone at Canjam @ RMAF 2018.

They feature a proprietary ultra-light PEN driver with a 20% beryllium vapor-deposed coating for combined speed and stiffness, resulting in excellent punch and dynamics, and which is mounted at an angle to the ear and with a side-porting scheme to improve stage. And thanks to a new magnesium chassis they’re actually the lightest headphone ZMF now sells.

Initially offered in two woods (a limited edition run of 50 units in Pheasantwood, shown above, or Silk-Wood) and with several choices for the hardware, including polished silver (as shown), black and brass and black and grey options for the chassis, they’re a unique and beautiful piece.

They ship with two different pads, the Vérité pads - for a more neutral tuning, and the “Universe” pads for some added warmth.

Pre-orders went live in November and customer’s have been receiving their units starting a couple of weeks ago … and this is the spot to discuss them …

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What's in the box!
#2

While it’s too early to start detailed discussions of the sound of these things, as I’ve only got about 16 hours on them so far (more than half of which was just running them on a stand), I can say that they’re as close to how I remember them from CanJam @ RMAF 2018 as I could want.

Zach was still playing with some fine-tuning at the show, which was interesting to see and to hear the differences coming from his real-time tweaks, so there were a couple of possible outcomes there, but so far I’m finding that the production tuning is lovely.

At 300 ohms and 99 dB/mW sensitivity, they’re not particularly current-hungry (~20ma at 120 dB), but you will need more voltage swing than you’re likely to get out directly out of most phones or basic dongle-DACs (e.g. the Dragonfly Black runs out of juice here very quickly, the Red is more convincing, but still could do with more oomph especially for very dynamic compositions).

Out of the single-ended outputs from the A&K SR15 and SP1000M they sound great at moderate volume, but they are noticeably more dynamic and convincing from the balanced outputs of those DAPs and, of course, you can run them up to the limits of safe-listening there too without running into issues.

Most desktop amps, including things like the JDS Labs Atom, Schiit Magni 3/Vali 2 and Liquid Spark can swing more than enough voltage, to do the job. And it is already obvious that the Vérité deserves the most resolving (detail and micro-dynamics) chain you can give them.

So far I’m liking them best out of a beastly tube-amp, where they sound effortless and are something of an iron fist in a velvet glove … subtle, smooth, and rich, yet able to punch and slam hard when appropriate.

Very enjoyable first few hours …

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#3

These appeal to my desire for unique things…they are beautiful! I must refrain from spending $2500 on a single pair of headphones…but damn do I want to!

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#4

It’s one of those things that … once you’ve done it once … becomes progressively easier - conceptually at least. Which, depending on circumstances and personal proclivities, is not necessarily a good thing …

I’m finding that I want to see a set of the Silk-Wood in person now (I really only paid attention to sound at the show). Which is purely about the looks (even though they’re supposed to have a slightly different presentation), and is yet another slippery slope.

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#5

Oh how I know this slippery slope… it started with I would never spend more than $500 on anything audio…now I’m eyeballing things pushing into the $1500-2k range lol

These are all just self-imposed limitations… I think the key thing is making sure your hobbies don’t put you into debt… I do my best to never use credit. Unless it is no interest type deal where it is easy to pay off in big chunks over a year… and even then that can be a slippery slope. I much prefer the paid in full, and if you can’t do that then don’t do a credit/loan of any sort. (houses and cars aside lol, but even then I would prefer to pay off as soon as possible/have enough money on reserve to pay off if needed).

Edit: and I also realize that I am fortunate to have this “problem” but I enjoy this hobby and that is where I spend my money… well I spend my money in a lot of hobbies… but never you mind =)

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#6

Definitely a smart approach.

It’s still surprising to me, after years watching the Head-Fi (and a couple of other sites) trade forums how many people buy into seriously expensive rigs … and within a couple or three months, and one unexpected bill later, they’re having to sell it all off, for a significant loss.

What I found even more surprising is that, when we bought my wife’s current car, the dealership refused to take either cash or a check. Clearly they’re getting kick-backs on the financing there while also lying about the interest rates she would have qualified for if she hadn’t told them to get stabbed.

Needless to say we bought it somewhere else …

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#7

When I heard the sapele Aeolus at RMAF, I was thinking great headphone, great price, but I don’t really need them. Then Zach came out with the limited edition ziricote, and I had to have them. Amazing how that works.

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#8

Only one thing worse than a car salesman…The car financing guy/gal… :wink: No offense to car folks in the forum… there are exceptions to every rule :grin:

Also I’ve added and removed these Headphones multiple times over the past two days lol…but I have a lot of other toys I want :wink:

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#9

That Pheasantwood sure looks like a million dollars.

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#10

This post should be pinned and should be disclaimer for anyone on these hi-fi audio sites.

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#11

my chain is the yggdrasil a2 or the convert-2 to the ec aficionado (300b) to the vérité and i’m totally captivated. smooth, deep, rich, resolving… powerful.

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#12

Today marks the end of my first week with the Vérité. They’re well past the 100 hour mark of having music played through them now - most of which sadly has not been with them sat upon my head.

I am more enamored with them now than I was that first day.

And given the stable of headphones that these are keeping company in, I consider that extremely high praise.

Every time I put them on, start something playing, and try and get something done … I just wind up sitting back and listening, properly. I’ve lost two whole days that way this week. Which is doing nothing for me catching up on my review backlog …

If you’re at CanJam NYC this weekend, definitely try and get some time with these …

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#13

Today marks the 14-day milestone in owning these … and of having had a full week’s listening post a solid 150 hours of “burn in”.

I loved them at CanJam @ RMAF 2018; indeed, they were my favorite headphone of the show.

I loved them upon my first listen to my own pair, two weeks ago.

And I still love them after a week of burn-in and then a week of listening to nothing else.

I don’t get the sense that many here got to visit the NYC CanJam this past weekend. Which is a shame, as it looks like it’ll be a little while before there are enough Vérité in the wild to make them a feature at local meets. Art takes time, I guess.

I’ve been this immediately, and then consistently, enamored with a headphone just a couple of times before. The Focal Utopia was one of those times. The Abyss AB-1266 was the other. Which is pretty rarified company.

I like them enough that I may just pick up a 2nd pair, if/when they’re shipping in other woods - “just because”. Though I think the pair I received is gorgeous (and while I can’t say I’m not biased, I like the look of mine more than any of the other pictures I’ve seen … maybe excepting one specific pair on the ZMF site … which are in a different wood entirely).

Though the following “mood” shot has some odd artifacts in it that are not actually from the headphone itself (low-lighting/highlights are always weird that way):

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#14

I’m currently trying to figure out how to get my hands on a Glenn OTL to drive mine. What are you using?

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#15

Amp-wise, I am running them out of my Woo Audio WA234 MONO Mk2. Which is currently running a pair of Takatsuki 274B rectifiers and either a pair of NOS Western Electric 300B* or NOS RCA 2A3 monoplates (depending on my mood).

I have the WA234 configured for Cathode-output, High-Z for the Vérité.

And that’s being fed with a Chord Hugo M-Scaler -> Chord DAVE.

It would be most interesting to hear the Vérité with a solid OTL 300B like the Glenn.

Congrats on scoring a pair!

What are you driving them with currently?


*For photographs I usually swap in both Sophia Electric 274B and 300B tubes, in punched-plate form, as they are MUCH prettier/glowier in low-light.

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#16

haha no I’m still waiting on the shipment. Should be soon! But that’s also why I’m looking for a Glenn OTL in the meantime haha.

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#17

couldn’t agree more with you, @Torq

i’ve been listening to my vérité off an ec aficionado (300b) from either the convert-2 or the yggdrasil a2, and it’s simply wonderful.

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#18

As someone who not only loves listening to headphones, but also enjoys them as works of art, the Vérité are in my opinion the most stunning looking pair of headphones that have ever been made.

The beauty of that intricate grille pulls you straight in, and the grain and color of the wood serve as a perfect compliment to the grilles complexity.

I personally love the lighter silk wood version, and I would have a hard time choosing between a black or polished steel grille:

I refuse to buy a headphone this expensive blindly though, and ZMF’s return policy definitely is one of the most…lacking…out there. I understand being a shop as small as they are that returns would be hard to accommodate, especially since each pair is essentially being custom made for each customer.

To my understanding the only places you can try ZMF are at The Source AV outside of Los Angeles, or any of the popular audio shows. I wasn’t able to make the recent CanJam NYC, so it seems like my next opportunity isn’t going to be until CanJam Socal or RMAF which is quite a ways away. Definitely looking forward to it though!

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#19

I do think that particular set of silk wood, with that grain and stain is prettier than the pheasant wood. And if I could just buy that pair there (with polished steel hardware), I would do it right now to have along side my pheasantwood set.

The first priority was sound, though, which is why I did my pre-order in pheasantwood, and for me they’re the prettiest pheasantwood set I’ve seen.

Now that I have those, adding a second pair in a different wood, with the changes that brings to the presentation, and with more aesthetic focus becomes an option.

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#20

Regarding sound, I assume you chose pheasantwood because it is much more commonly used in acoustic wood instruments but was it also because it is a harder wood and as such has a faster decay rendering a faster more impactful sound? On the ZMF website it is stated that silk-wood was chosen because of its slower decay, which matches nicely with the very fast beryllium coated drivers. I am curious how you feel those drivers would play with an even harder wood?

After posting I looked into this a bit and found that harder wood, while rendering a faster sound also has more damping qualities, so less decay and as such it also renders a smoother sound.

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