Customers have the option of adding in a Cherry Salire headphone stand for $80. Initially I was rather suspect about the aesthetics of the Stellia, but they make more sense in person and in the context of the luxury-market that Focal is targeting. I don’t mean this in the typical terms used to describe the sound of, say, a 300B-based tube amplifier. IIRC he didn't try the Verite pads on Aeolus either even tho he had them on hand, not sure if he tried more than one set on the Verite proper. But it’s important to remember that the far more conventional use of headphones is to make the listening experience private, limiting your music to your ears alone and not inflicting it on people in your immediate surroundings. I first heard the Vérité at Canjam @ RMAF 2018 - oddly enough while Zach was engaging in an impromptu live-tuning session with several other listeners - and it was in the final tuning derived there that I last heard the Vérité and which turned out to be my favorite new headphone of the whole show. Utopia can be a bit lean in the bass and are occasionally excitable in the treble vs. the more even response of the ZMF can. Which means, in real terms, while some other flagship cans may edge ahead in limited individual technicalities (and where that’s the case, it’s really not by much), these are what I consider the best overall flagship for enjoying music - and do so at a more approachable price-point that the most immediate competition. The headphones are craftfully CNC’d, sanded and finished to bring out a natural shine and unblemished outer cup design. While the headphones escape from an overly ‘warm’ or romantic tuning, the Vérité has enough richness in its midrange to really propel it into an affable listening experience. The wire is 24 AWG per conductor and features aluminum and copper shielding for improved microphonics and a super quiet noise floor. The stock ZMF OFC cable has taken months of research to find an affordable but capable sound to add to the ZMF’s tonality. The rich, soft, supple leather pads, especially the “Universe” pads, are quite luxurious, provide an easy and reliable seal, and feel fantastic (other pads are available, will fit many other headphones with a similar, elastic-ring, attachment). Vocals are more upfront and clearly defined. Does not apply to special-order, open-box or sale items. For another perspective, make sure to check out @Resolve's review of the ZMF Vérité (in Silkwood)! The differences between them are more audible than they look in the following frequency-response plots. Materials have also been chosen to keep the weight to what it currently is with the use of featherweight magnesium chassis and wood finish. The following one is using a custom compensation that comes closer to what I personally hear when listening to them: Details on my measurements can be found here. Great review, thanks! But on a technical level, much has been re-engineered to account for the different configuration. It is nice to see (or rather hear) that the bass levels are not unrealistically elevated but instead have such a natural timbre and depth that depict the realism of tracks. With top-tier resolution, sense of pace, detailing, rich tonal timbre and depth – the Vérité are one of my favorite pair of headphones to date. Keeping the driver thin reduces mass and improves responsiveness and acceleration, which leads to better transient response, resolution and dynamics. At this point, I can best describe the ZMF Vérité as “the everyman’s flagship headphone”. Stellia and Vérité Closed are very hard to call. Compared to the closed-back Focal Stellia which also make use of beryllium drivers, the Vérité Closed has more neutral and linear bass whereas the Stellia evokes a slightly more bass-centric sound. Maybe not close enough that these would be what I’d choose to use when assessing an amplifier or DAC’s native tonality, but not that far off, either. In the four months since I received my set, these have received a disproportionate amount of my listening time, and quickly established themselves as not only my favorite of Zach’s creations, but one of my favorite headphones ever. The Elegia is a good, balanced closed back headphone, but it did not meet my expectations in terms of what I was looking for in a reference closed back headphone. The Ether 2 have a bit more impact, slam and better bottom-octave linearity for bass-heavy tracks, but the ZMF offer more texture and improved articulation. I found these did as thoroughly convincing job listening to bass-heavy EDM as they managed with the free-form pizzicato of the double-bass (with all it’s texture and nuance intact). It is quite impressive how they are tuned to avoid harshness while still conveying energy to the upper end to deliver sparkle and attack. The Vérité might not offer the expansive soundstage of the HE-1000 V2 but comes close to the Susvara in width projection with the added benefit of depth. The ZMF Vérité fall very close to the Utopia in terms of overall performance while delivering what is probably a more broadly agreeable tonality. I find ZMF’s flagship to be supremely comfortable. I’ll make comparisons with a few, notable, competitive headphones here. The headphone-end connections are mini 4-pin XLR, and are both physically and electrically compatible with Audeze headphones and cables. You can, perhaps, best liken it to the shifts that occur between different concert halls more than any overt delta in the raw presentation of individual musical elements. The PH are similar to the HD650 in that they seem to run out of space on songs with multiple instruments. Comments and questions should be directed to the appropriate thread on the headphones.com forum (“The HEADPHONE Community”) if you want me to see/respond to them. For those wishing for a relatively more dialled down dynamic presence, the opens more than suffice with vibrant but fatigue-free highs. There might be a tad more “romance” here than in a studio-neutral setting. The Midrange Their coatings are different which not only will affect the sound, but will also affect how they feel. The Vérité offers a unique imaging quality – as well as good projection of sonic cues in the directions of width and height there is also great projection in depth that is unlike any other headphone I have heard before. ZMF Vérité Closed vs. Focal Stellia - Frequency Response. The Sony WMZ 1000v3, Focal Elegia, Mr Speakers C, AKG N90, Sony 1ZR, I was considering the new Focal Stellia. The texture of piano notes, whether played gently, or hammered into discordancy, is portrayed both clearly and realistically; more so than with most cans I’ve found. Didn't Zeos also review the closed ZMF with suede pads rather than the leather ones most people will buy? Voices have a hint more substance, plucked-strings are a hair sweeter, mournful brass notes ring with a little less sparsity. This is one of the more viscerally “3D” headphone experiences I’ve had, and one has to look to more expensive, specialty, units to get a similar portrayal. For my sensibilities and tastes, and I’ll admit I’m a sucker for the combination of exotic woods, polished metal, and leather, they make the most beautiful headphones you can buy today. Focal is modern chic. Tight, punchy and definitive are few of many words that can be used to describe the Vérité’s low-end tuning. The “Universe” pads result in a more spacious and engaging rendering, with a bit more low-frequency presence than is strictly natural. Both models offer superior levels of instrument separation and detailing which allows music to breathe without congestion or smearing. For those not already familiar with ZMF Headphones, they entered the market offering highly-regarded wood-cup modifications to well-known headphones like the Fostex T50RP and have progressed from those modified OEM models to offering a full line-up of in-house developed headphones using drivers, chassis and headbands of their own design and build and, of cou… DAC/Amps: Chord Hugo 2, SMSL SU-8, Soekirs 1421, Valhalla 2, iFi Pro iCAN, iFi iESL Headphones: ZMF Verite Closed stabilized maple burl, Verite Open silk, Auteur cocobolo red special, Atticus purple camphor burl & Eikon camphor (pending), Sennheiser HD 58X, HD 800 SDR, HD 700, HD 820, Audeze Mobius, Stax SR-007 MK2, Koss ESP 95X, Sony WH-1000XM2, B&O H9i, AirPods Pro It is nice to see that ZMF offers in-house cable upgrades with the Vérité Silver and 2K copper cables being the top of their collection which retail from a starting price of $399 each. The quick-fire start-stop introduction to the titular track of the “Die Another Day” soundtrack, establishes a baseline for excellent control, and moving into something faster still, such as “Drum Warfare” (David Felysian, “Elimination”) provides a very direct example of the speed, control and articulation on offer here as well as showcasing the impact and power these cans so readily convey. “Outside the head” and “can easily position in 3-dimensional space” effects are plentiful with this album and the beryllium ZMFs. I will be trying all of the available pad options in the near future, though comments on such will likely be on “The HEADPHONE Community” thread rather than an update to this review. The open Vérité’s tonality lies closer to neutral with a more natural and real to life presence compared to the closed Vérité’s livelier character with its added treble presence and punchier bass. The ZMF Vérité is Zach Mehrbach’s latest open-back dynamic-driver headphone offering, and is the current flagship in ZMF’s range. Sometimes with the “Universe” pads sounds appear to come from beyond the confines of ones head/ears (this was most notable with Holly Cole’s “Train Song”), and while the stage isn’t as deep vs. the HD800S or something like the Abyss AB-1266 Phi CC, it adds a dimensionality that is quite welcome and not especially common with headphones - even at the flagship level. As with the open model, the closed edition expresses treble frequencies which are fully extensive with great levels of clarity and attack. At a starting price of $2499, the Vérité is competitively priced. The ZMF Atticus’ leakage is quite good, I have to turn my Magni 3 to 3 o’clock before it really starts to leak out. I can’t speak for the Verite Closed, but I can for the Atticus. This is a combination that I find seductive, engaging and highly enjoyable. For those not already familiar with ZMF Headphones, they entered the market offering highly-regarded wood-cup modifications to well-known headphones like the Fostex T50RP and have progressed from those modified OEM models to offering a full line-up of in-house developed headphones using drivers, chassis and headbands of their own design and build and, of course, continuing the use of artisanal quality wooden cups. In ‘NICE’ by The Carters, the low-end on the Vérité is represented with no bloom or bloating but bass which stops on the dime with outstanding texturing. These are completely closed. While the Empyreans opt for a smoother and ‘darker’ tonality, the Vérité leans toward a relatively more vibrant character while still maintaining incredibly low levels of fatiguability, sibilance or grain. Getting your product to you as fast as possible is important to us! This pairing is outstanding with both Vérité models. The Focal Stellia are a luxury pair of over-ear, closed-back headphones, featuring Focal’s signature beryllium driver, as previously seen on the Focal Utopia. It is hence exciting to see what this company will offer next. Higher frequencies are fully extended from the midrange frequencies which allow the Vérité headphones to have a sense of air amongst the refinement. There are no two ways about it, the resolution and detail rendered by the Vérité are excellent; easily the best in the ZMF line-up, and competitive with the likes of Focal’s Utopia or Sennheiser’s HD800S. It sounds like Focal tried to make a kind of V-shaped ZMF in terms of tone. While the soundstage is not the widest with this combination there is great level of focus and precision for those that crave the absolute last in detail retrieval and clarity. All comments are moderated before being published. This makes for excellent clarity and delineation, and a very clean presentation that further enhances the ability of the Vérité to render detail. The “Vérité” pads are more true-to-life and more closely approach actual neutrality. -I seem to be able to appreciate the Stellia more out of my mojo (compared to VC out of mojo).-and I give the nod to the VC out of Qutest/GS-X mini. Although the two models are similar in the lower frequencies, the closed edition possesses slightly greater slam and visceral depth in the sub-bass territories. Overall, for losing myself in music, my guilty-pleasure is to listen to the Vérité with the “Universe” pads installed. The highly resolving nature of the Vérité is plainly on display here, with high-nuanced vocal inflections fully exposed and readily audible (something sometimes glossed over by lesser cans, and that is generally more in evidence with very-fast, very-stiff driver-equipped cans). They are not only more neutral than the other ZMF headphones I’ve heard, particularly with the Vérité pads installed, but they are the most resolving and detailed as well, while remaining definitively “ZMF”. Reach out to us through our handy live chat or by e-mail. The Vérité open weighs 410-420 grams while the closed weighs 450 to 475 grams depending on the choice of wood and grill material. Compared to the open model, the midrange region is tiny bit more present and brought slightly more forward in the stage. In short, this is among the best handlings of stage and imaging I’ve heard from a headphone. It is quite palpable and convincing. ZMF’s latest creation, the Vérité C (for “closed”), is Zach Mehrbach’s latest addition to his dynamic headphone collection. Out of Mini, it can get a little sharp. You get both in the box, so making a determination for yourself is easy. The 2K copper is said to offer a non-fatiguing but extensive sound while the Vérité Silver adds some leading-edge transients and more of an analytical but natural sound. This first plot uses HEQ compensation, which attempts to normalize the response against the Harman Target Response. Slightly ahead of neutral, the bass is perfectly done with the right amounts of heft and slam to really make the listening experience a pleasurable one. Since I build my own cables, I did not order an upgrade cable with my Vérité. And this is actually a fabulous pairing - allowing the raw technical performance of the DAVE to shine through while adding just a hint of richness. Side porting on the driver cups further improves the sense of openness and stage. Schiit Yggdrasil 2 & Schiit Ragnarok amplifier. If I had to choose that headphone today, then it would be ZMF’s Vérité accompanying me …. I have never run into issues with hotspots with any ZMF headphone and the Vérité is no exception. Expect more pictures than usual in this review! Closed-back headphones are in many way… The build-quality and solidity of the Vérité is immediately impressive. While I do have a strong preference for soundstage, instrument separation and ethereal portrayal of notes which are strong attributes of HiFiMAN’s HE models, the mid-centricity, dynamism and richness of the ZMF Vérité are equally addictive. But it doesn’t take Chord’s flagship to make these things sing … I’ve spent plenty of time soaking up the “outdoors” on my deck, with other sources/amps, including the Hugo 2, Sony NM-WM1Z and the Cayin N8 … all of which deliver superlative results here. Stage width here falls somewhere between the Focal Stellia and the Sennheiser HD800S, which makes it notably wider than the Utopia, with the “Universe” pads rendering a wider stage vs. “Vérité”, as well as adding a sense of depth and a slightly less up-front positioning. For those not already familiar with ZMF Headphones, they began their journey modifying well-known headphones like the Fostex T50RP and have progressed from those modified OEM mo… Timbre here has a natural “rightness” to it. Vocals sound exquisite and there is slightly more laidback feel which really synergises well with Vérité’s midrange frequencies. Substantial, fast, articulate, well delineated, taut, punchy and present are all words that come to mind even within just a few minutes of putting these headphones on. Please note that these are for the Pheasantwood version of the Vérité and that does affect the sound (and hence the measurements). And to put that in perspective, the only other cans I’ve owned two pairs of at the same time are Focal’s Utopia and Sennheiser’s venerable HD650. Don't worry, we hate spam as much as you do. We’re excited to be giving Headfonia readers our impressions on the Focal Stellia – the $3,000 USD flagship closed-back headphone from the famed French audio manufacturer. “just right”). Where the Utopia can become aggressive or mildly fatiguing with extended listening to music with lots of treble energy and, particularly, higher-pitched/more sibilance-prone female vocals, such as Julia Fordham’s self-titular release, or much of Heart’s mid-life discography, the Vérité tones things down just enough to remain engaging and non-fatiguing, for long sessions. Specifically, their delivery is slightly warm with some extra tonal “richness”, with a very solid bass foundation, clear and present mid-range, and a little extra sparkle on the top-end - all presented with oodles of detail and texture. Join the discussion about the ZMF Vérité on "The HEADPHONE Community". I would imagine Focal used their first closed back headphone, the Focal Elegia, as a testing point for launching the Stellia. The silver cable really helps here to deliver this silky and refined treble extension which complements the rest of frequency spectrum and sonic signature. This review shall be focusing on both the open and more recently released closed version of the Vérité headphones. Also, I’m in the camp that prefers an unmodified HD800S over the original HD800, even if the HD800 in question has the SDR modification. If you specify one of the four upgrade cable options at the time of order, you will get both the upgrade cable and the standard cable. The HD800S pulls ahead in stage/imaging and can deliver a bit more impact (true of it vs. the Utopia too) - probably due to the larger driver, and maybe a hair more resolution, but the ZMF can is simply a more engaging and enjoyable listen. Recently back on the road, and after purchasing the most high-end DAP /AMP I had ever owned the Cayin N8, I searched again for a good closed back sound. Inside the case you’ll find two sets of pads; “Universe”, which are the thicker, more angled, pads pre-installed on the headphones, and a second “Vérité” set of pads which are thinner and intended to give a more neutral response. Large dynamic shifts are handled with aplomb, but micro-dynamic resolution are also well tended to and easily resolved. Only the lambskin pads on the Utopia are softer and more supple. One such company – ZMF headphones have been producing premium wood-crafted heirlooms which have charmed the audiophile community for the best part of five years. And it's free! The Vérité comes in a beautifully designed wooden mahogany case which is real testament to ZMF’s craftsmanship. The look has really grow… The standard cable is a simple, but well-built and finished affair, with good flexibility, a proper molded Y-splitter and a soft, smooth, non-microphonic exterior. Headphones.com, started by Andrew and Taron Lissimore, was founded in 2016 with a strict focus on delivering the best customer service possible. All ZMF headphones include a standard 5.5-foot ZMF OFC cable in your choice of either 1/4” (6.35mm) TRS plug or 4-pin XLR connections. Both micro- and macro-dynamic levels are heightened with incredible resolve, transient attack and pacing that rivals the best. Every track just sounds right which is not an easy feat for headphones to achieve owing to their propensities to exaggerate frequencies here and there. The VCs and Stellia are to my ears, head and shoulders above the closest CB competition as … You can pair these with a tonally neutral amplifier and source and still be enveloped in a rich, musical, experience, without it seeming overtly altered or colored. I won’t opine on “value” - this is a $2,500 headphone after all, and everyone is in a different place in that regard - but I will say that “Those who can, should.”. It is always great to see humble boutique companies produce high-quality artisan products which can compete with those from far larger firms. Based in Chicago and headed by Zach Mehrbach, each headphone is made to order and meticulously crafted to cater for each customer’s personal tastes. Focal Stellia Casque de Musique headphones I have the Focal Stellia (footnote 3) on my current shortlist of superfidelity 'phones because my auditions at CanJam NYC 2020 were extremely positive. Priced at $3,000, the Stellia … I wouldn’t say it’s “faster” in the bass than the two Focals that it most closely resembles, but it is right there with them and can run the gamut from controlled to explosive with a startling immediacy. The fundamental tonality here is slightly warm and rich but otherwise largely neutral. Schiit Audio Yggdrasil 2 DAC and MicroZOTL 2.0 Amp (w/ Linear Power Supply). As a tool for simply enjoying music, I am hard pressed to name any other headphone own, or that I’ve heard, that fits better. Speaking of the mid-range, this is where the Atticus really separates itself from the PH. This shifts with the pads that are installed, and the differences between the “Universe” (fatter, angled, and pre-installed) pads and the namesake-“Vérité” (thinner and flatter) pads is very obvious, with the “Universe” pads offering a more profound bass delivery (impact and presence) and a little more higher-frequency energy. Fit and finish are excellent - there are no creaks, squeaks nor any stickiness anywhere. Stellia is part of these products. Closed-back headphones for home and on-the-go use. I was privileged enough to have the two together for a couple of months. Chesky’s Sensational, Fantastic and Simply Amazing Binarual Sound Show”. The Vérité Closed captures much of the ZMF house sound – a tonally rich midrange with some hint of warmth and incredible levels of resolve. As with the open models, the Vérité closed also possesses taut, punchy and articulate bass which aids in sense of pace and liveliness of music. The head-lining technology with the Vérité is the all-new, proprietary, ultra-thin, vapor-deposed beryllium PEN driver. For orchestral music and tracks which benefit from a large soundstage and TOTL separation of instrumentals, the HE1000 V2 certainly wins but it is incredibly hard to take the ZMF Vérité headphones off for tracks where vocals prevail and therein lies its magic. These days that quality is becoming even more salient, as we live, work and exist ever closer in proximity to one another. While the Stellia’s 40mm Beryllium dome drive unit is heavily based on that used by the older model, the closed design means that Focal’s engineers have had to rework it considerably. Actual tonality seemed very even, but still “dark”. While the Stellia shares technology from both the Utopiaand the Elegia, it is a striking departure in terms of style from the rest of the line up. On on hand, the Stellia’s earpads are coated in super soft leather. Indeed, in the “Right Channel ID Test”, as Dr. Chesky walks down and towards you, you are treated to the very definite audio-imagery of him getting closer, both laterally and in terms of depth. The new FocalStelliais the the French company’s second successive closed-back headphone release, and second in line to the crown title of “flagship” in their audiophile headphone range. Their tuning is such that they address the most commonly lamented facets of other flagships, such as the slightly lean bottom end, and occasionally excitable upper-treble of the Utopia, the slightly elevated bass and V-shaped signature on the Stellia, or the sometimes dry/clinical presentation of the HD800S, without giving up the ghost on other technicalities. As aforementioned, the Vérité models opt for a Beryllium coated PEN driver which has great stiffness and rigidity while also being fast in transient responses. NB: Impressions are done with Vérité Silver cable and stock pads. Vérité rapidly established itself as one of the most enjoyable sets of cans I have had the pleasure of listening to. These look like Stellia pads, just black. And if electronic music is “not your thing” and you really want to get a sense for the low-end delivery, tone and precision the Vérité render in the lowest registers, then you’ll find a more-present-than-the-plot-suggests sub-bass performance with Felix Hell’s “Organ Sensation” or a number of tracks on Jean Guilloui’s “Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition; Stravinksy: Three Dances from Petrouchka”. Perhaps the upper midrange is where the most difference can be heard with the Closed model having more energy in this region giving tracks a brighter feel. The occasional treble-excesses of the Focal Utopia are more pronounced than with these ZMF cans. Stellia vs. ZMF Eikon I bought the ZMF Eikon for myself as something of a decadent ‘treat’, having sampled a whole range of headphones and deciding that they were the ultimate combination of craftsmanship, aesthetics, and a natural, enjoyable yet detailed sound signature. (Which is way too loud to begin with for most songs) As for hearing others, good luck if you have anything playing at … It is almost TOTL IEM-like at times. A nice touch, especially when it comes to changing pads, is that the cups can be rotated a full 360 degrees. Snares and hi-hats are sharp and fast, while the bigger percussive elements, yet the slower reverberative decay of the skin on a kettledrum is also beautifully rendered and easy to follow. And, while not perfectly neutral in its tuning, nor uncolored in its delivery, it scores over most other flagship headphones in that its departures from neutral are almost uncannily towards the desirable. I can, and often do, wear them all day with no issues at all. The closed however may straddle that line for those sensitive to the upper frequency part of the spectrum. Essentially, these are the closed-back version of the Utopias. This will, in many cases, mean being limited to just one pair of headphones and a transportable source/amp. And Vérité is the first ZMF headphone to feature their new magnesium chassis, reducing the weight of the overall headphone by 33 grams and making the standard Vérité the lightest headphone that ZMF currently offers. You can easily pick apart large-scale orchestral works or complex electronic tracking and focus in on a given element. It is rather impressive that the closed model retains a large majority of the characteristics of the open model without the compromises that closed back designs have to face. While planar and electrostatic headphones have been all the recent hype, ZMF have pledged allegiances to dynamic drivers for its flagship models. Rendering of wood-bodied instruments is similarly spot-on in terms of texture, decay, and general “feel”. In “Money For Nothing” by Dire Straits, cymbal crashes are tight with natural shimmer and there is incredible sense of pace from the dynamic drivers which rivals that of HiFiMAN’s HE-1K models. Thick, bassy, and downsloping compared to Utopia, with technicalities a fair bit lacking in direct comparison but still generally impressive. With that mindset, our 365-Day return policy was born and followed up with free, same-day shipping while curating the store to have the best selection possible for our customers. ZMF headphones are, in my opinion, works of art. When I had the pheasantwood verite open and the ironwood verite closed at the same point, I thought the pheasantwood verite open (1,490 janka, 50 lbs/ft^3) had a perceptually longer delay than my ironwood verite closed (3,260 janka, 75 lbs/ft^3), so the whole "verite closed has definitely more cup reverb than verite open etc" absolute … A warranty/ID card, a pair of Allen-wrenches that fit the fasteners on the chassis, and the stock cable, in a termination of your choice, as well as any upgrade cables you have selected. This is where “the music lives”, and the Vérité do it full justice and without overt editorialization. But, first and foremost, music should be enjoyed and not dissected. It is unfailingly engaging, no matter what genre I feed it. High-frequency response is fully extended and allows the Vérité to maintain excellent top-end detail and deliver a vivid sense of space and air as appropriate to the source material. Paired with a classic tube from that of the Mjolnir 2, some harmonic distortion is added which adds greater euphonics, space and a richer character to the Vérité’s tonality. After much research, I have my choices narrowed down to the Focal Stellia, the ZMF Verite Open (or Closed) and the Meze Empyreans. Their trump card is their use of beautiful woods sourced from all over the world which not only help the aesthetics of their portfolio but also their acoustic design. So if you want a more neutral FR, go with the ZMF. But it doesn’t take Chord’s flagship to make these things sing … I’ve spent plenty of time soaking up the “outdoors” on my deck, with other sources/amps, including the. At first glance the leather-covered, foam-padded, metal headband looks a bit odd, with its central peak, but combined with the broad leather suspension strap, it does an excellent job of distributing the weight of the headphones across one’s head. When the basic methodology is questionable, other things are too IMO. Even in the imaging department, the closed captures most of the open’s staging width and holographic effects. Build quality is equally outstanding with the ZMF’s looking particularly stunning with the more exotic wooden ear cup designs. Compared to the closed-back Focal Stellia which also make use of beryllium drivers, the Vérité Closed has more neutral and linear bass whereas the Stellia evokes a slightly more bass-centric sound. The Vérité Closed is Zach Mehrbach’s closed-back variation on ZMF’s extremely well received, and highly-regarded, open-back Vérité model (reviewed here), and their most recent, and perhaps most anxiously anticipated, offering to date. What is more interesting, to me, is that the dips and crests visible in these plots do not result in the presentation that I would expect; in actual listening they’re more even (which could be down to artifacts of my measurement rig). As to which model is the better one – it is hard to answer. I have a slight overall preference for the Vérite Closed, but could easily see that flipping for others. With intentions to compete with today’s modern standards of audiophilia, their latest flagship – the Vérité employs beryllium-coated ultra-thin Polyethylene Naphthalate drivers which yield the speed of planars but also the inherent slam and weight of dynamics. As this is a semi-open design, the Vérité open adopts a concentric grill design where users can choose from a copper, rose gold, brass, black or stainless steel plate. Focal Elegia vs Stellia Sound Signature. The same goes for comfort. But to underline how much I love these headphones, when I saw the Ziricote versions I wound up buying a 2nd pair for the office. I find no build up of heat even after hours of continuous listening. My general experience has been that good dynamic cans are somewhat better at micro-dynamic resolution than even flagship planars, and the ZMF cans were no exception here. It’s more present with the “Universe” pads, if not necessarily higher in level, but I don’t find it at all intrusive and it transitions cleanly into the mid-range (a little more so with the “Vérité” pads, but you have to compare them to notice). Compared to HiFiMAN Susvara and HE-1000 V2, the Vérité Open renders heftier slam and physical presence of bass while the former two headphones have a more agile and intelligible bass line. Decay is natural and not abbreviated nor, I would say, exaggerated. Also included is a ZMF OFC Cable (with the options to upgrade), universe and auteur pads, lifetime warranty and magnesium chassis. Atticus has a bigger soundstage as well. I think of Focal and ZMF as two sides of a beautiful coin. As with the above combination, there is fantastic levels of micro-detailing, sense of pace and attack. None of this detracts from mid-range coherence or realism. There can be, here and there, a little extra “zing” than is strictly natural, but it is very modest and instead of being distracting or annoying or “bright”, it just seems to add more depth/range to the presentation. Looking for recommendations on where to spend the hard earned $$$! The Universe pads offer a slightly more laidback sound with a greater holographic sound whereas the Vérité pads add a bit more treble energy, linearity and slightly smaller soundstage dimensions. Instead, vocals have great body with a slight warm tilt while maintaining high levels of resolve and liveliness. PRICE MATCH GUARANTEE || We will price match any better price you find during the Holidays. As with the cable options, users can fine-tune sonic preferences with the pads offered with the Vérité. In general, I think the highest praise a reviewer can give any product is to actually buy the unit under review. Rapid, staccato, elements, especially with percussion, demonstrates excellent transient performance with the leading edges of notes and strikes being both ultra-fast and precise, with no sense of overshoot. The Stellia unit featured in this review was kindly loaned to us by Focal’s local Australian distributor, Busisoft AV, and will be heading back to them afterwards – our sincere thanks for the opportunity. The tops of the rods have been made flat to give the headphones a chicer look as opposed to a more antenna-like feel from previous iterations. Despite all the wood, metal, and leather design, both of the Vérité models are the lightest in the ZMF line, weighing in at 430 grams (open) and 455 grams (closed) with their stock woods. As standard, the Vérité package starts with your choice of either a locking, water-proof Seahorse hard-sided, carry case (which is ridiculously solid) or ZMF’s own “LTD Mahogany” presentation/storage box. I liked what I heard at CanJam so much that I joined the pre-order for the limited-edition Vérité (50 units in Pheasantwood), as soon as it went live, and it is my personal pair, bought at full (pre-order) pricing as a normal retail customer, that I am reviewing here. As the Vérité ship with both “Universe” and “Vérité” pads, I measured both. Be it wavering shifts in pressure holding a string, the emotion-stirred low level tremor or reverberation in a performer’s voice, or subtle shifts in the decay of a drum-skin, all are audible in a way that adds depth and realism to the overall performance and helps these cans deliver a very engaging and emotional connection to a piece. The Focal’s have a very slight edge in their ability to resolve micro-dynamic nuances. I agree with zach, wood density/hardness matters. To further explore the dimensionality of the Vérité, I spent some time with “Dr. Running the Vérité directly form the headphone output on a Chord DAVE, and comparing to other headphones with state-of-the-art resolution, shows no acts of omission being committed here. Tracks sound engaging without ever resorting to over-blooming or exaggerating bass lines. At no point has this been distracting, which is something I could not say with, for example, the Sony MDR-Z1R (yes, I know they’re closed back). Tracks sound lively without resorting to thin or unnatural leading edge transients which some headphones implement to artificially boost clarity levels. The Vérité possess some traits that are typical of Zach’s headphones, and which are, I believe, a major factor in why people gravitate towards them so strongly. But when it comes to strict technical performance (resolution capabilities), the Stellia is the clear winner. The ear-cups themselves are fully rotatable in both vertical and horizontal plane allowing the listener to achieve an optimal fit. The closed model features a complete wooden outer shell which comes in a stock Monkeypod wood finish. At some point in the not-so-distant future, we’ll be heading off on a grand tour of the world, living in a dozen or more countries, and making extended says in many more until we can no longer manage the travel. Brass retains its bite without being emphasized and more enthusiastic cymbal strikes remain brassy and don’t stray into steeliness. A few years back, these prices would certainly have raised eyebrows but with the invention of the Focal Utopia and HiFiMAN’s Susvara, the upward trend for stratospheric pricing has made the sub $3K territory comparatively more reasonable. Resolution/detail is pretty much identical, with the ZMF can having a more neutral, if slightly richer, overall signature. 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