Buying a headphone for pure listening pleasure presents a different set of questions to the average practice of placing portability and convenience first. Some refer to these decisions as being part of the audiophile world and its attendant norms and practices. Some simply measure features with a different filter to previous purchases. They may seek audio capabilities wider than their existing headsets by choosing something with a HiRes label and/or forgo aspects of portability for access to entirely new categories of headphone.
Either way, there are a wealth of options. Today, with the intersection of technology, science and massive demand, there are headphones for every conceivable purpose and every different listening profile. Pricing and features are pretty confusing, with reasonable options in terms of capability racing all the way from circa $50 to $1,500.
Why to do?
I will attempt to answer part of that question from my personal perspective over a couple of posts. There are three reasons I want to do this. The first is that I have spent a lot of time researching and trying equipment. Perhaps I can help one or two people skip ahead on at least part of this research. The second is that I have finally decided on something very, very unusual, quite to my astonishment. The third reason? The very, very unusual choice has few reviews available, particularly for those casually interested in improved audio, and I would like to expand on that corpus with my personal experience. As with prior research, perhaps this will prove informative to someone out there, and that strikes me as a fun thing to do.
Let’s get the ball rolling.
I have ordered the Verum 1 as a birthday present to myself. This is a treat based on an interest in great sound tempered by an analytical stance and a sprinkling of intent to help a new business find its feet. These are headphones handmade in Ukraine and at the time of this writing they retail for $349 including shipping at the time of writing. You can checkout the company’s barebone website here and their more informative Kickstarter page here. Neither of these pages will be super informative to casual readers but they provide a reference point for what is to come. For more general context, the wealth of choice around headphones is covered by sites like this, and their coverage helps to identify certain types of headphone like open-backed and planer driver as relative common choices for people who want to get greater detail out of their music.
It should be remembered that my writings below are a personal prelude that lead to hitting purchase and can safely be skipped if you have no interest in why a relative newbie ended up making a decision. My next post, around six weeks after this when the headphones arrive, will cover my impressions for use of the Verum 1.
Please note that I also posted versions of this prelude into the Verum 1 threads on Head-Fi and the SuperBestAudioFriends to see how new people are welcomed to online forums with some of the sparse coverage of this particular headphone, and to help out other casual potential purchasers. This may or may not be important to you, but if you want to jump in and chat with fellow seekers of interesting sound it is worth noting that the former site provided a friendly welcome and the latter provided immediate hostility and ad hominem attacks. Sadly some forums on the internet are toxic. It pays to choose well if we are here for a pleasant experience around our hobbies.
The type of owner I am:
- I like great sound.
- I value objectivity.
- I accept my measured biological limits.
- I do not believe in “Golden Ears.”
- Meanwhile, I respect that other people may believe other things.
- In the end, this is about recreational sound.
- The goal is to have fun.
My starting point:
- Analysis shows CD 16 bit 44.1kHz sound is around the upper limit of human hearing fidelity 
- Pushing up the bitrate allows us to include more dynamic range in a recording and that is noticeable to those with good hearing.
- A modern iPhone and similar equipment provides 24 bit 48kHz audio support.
- After this point you are looking at diminishing returns. 
- Access to music that sounds great to most people
- Access to music players that can…play…that music
- Access to headphones that can reproduce that sound
My current audio stuff:
- iPhone X
- Bose QC35
- Yamaha YAS 207 (soundbar)
All of these are excellent. Objective measurements show good sound from everything within our target of 24 bits at 48kHz maximum. Some people, of course, have strong opinions for and against these tools. That’s fine. Each to their own.
Stuff I also have available at the moment:
- Original mint Pioneer PL1200 turntable from early 70s with new Nakaoka 71–331 cartridge.
- Original Yamaha CA-1000 amplifier from early 1970s
- Sony SS-K10ED speakers
The above is fun, warm and shows how average people with a pretty good budget listened to music back in the day. It sounds fine but the nuance, detail and clarity is less than my current systems. I gravitate towards my HomePod and Bose headphones for a mixture of their sound and convenience.
Where we are going next:
- I would like to get more detail in my music and movies for critical listening
- So I want as much detail as possible from 20–20,000Hz
- This lead to a rabbit hole of DACs and headphones 
- And clarity that if you want better sound, you start with the speakers
- Then you consider what you need to drive the speakers
- And this eventually lead to Verum 1
- Objective performance analysis suggests they do very, very well inside their budget range
- They are 8 ohm and can be happily driven by a smartphone, meaning no external DAC is needed, an additional saving
- And there is plenty space to mess around with things like balanced headphone cablesand DACs if I ever wanted…for fun
I found it fascinating that the eventual endpoint of my journey to get a new toy lead me to the Verum 1.
It was not super surprising to end up at headphones, but a left-field first generation hand built product from Ukraine? With a substantial weight and size? And a strange and conspicuous headband that looks like cat ears? That was super surprising. Doubly so when considering that I spend about 30% of my time on the road and therefore normally seek something portable.
So why Verum 1?
It almost was not. The MDR-1A, HD660Sand HD800S were top on my list of consideration. Three very different headphones at three very different price points. I kept coming back to the HD660S due to a mix of how they sounded and their price point. It was this 350~500 USD space that I began to see as my target area for investment in my hobby. Then I spread my wings in this price range and started to really look around to make sure I did not miss anything interesting.
At this point Verum 1 attracted me for two reasons:
- I have been curious about the ability of open planar headphones to drive plenty of detail without becoming too brittle
- The creator is a fan of speakers, tuned these headphones to provide a speaker-like performance, and that is ideal for my small apartment.
I simply did not expect to find something in this price range offering these features. Indeed, I had shuffled this concept off to “perhaps later when I buy a HD800S”, albeit with some reservations about how brittle the HD800S sounds to me. It was so surprising that I was willing to forgo portability, normally a hard line for me.
Hitting purchase did I expect an HD800S killer? No. I expect something that is probably comparable to the HD600 series in audio fidelity with a little more range in the bass. Reviews appear to bear this out. That is pretty exciting, especially given it undercuts the HD660S by about 100 USD where I am based. Even more exciting is the backstory. These headphones are being built using an open process by an enthusiast with some new ideas. It is a gamble but it is also strangely fitting after a lot of wandering around.
And will the truth (for me) show that the Verum 1 is a great solution? Will it make my music sound better? Will I turn on these headphones instead of my HomePod? Will I pick up these headphones when I watch Netflix on my tablet? In preference to my Yamaha YAS 207 when watching a movie on TV? That’s what I will find out in six weeks.
So…we know what we want. We have placed an order. We await the next steps! Updates to follow.
Footnotes below. Meanwhile, if someone who is new to all this stumbles into this article, questions like “why these starting points?” can be answered by spending time around http://archimago.blogspot.com/ and https://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html and similar locations. You can check out objective analysis of items like the QC35 at sites like rtings.com.
 Actually 16 bit 20kHz …but we want double the hz to allow perfect reproduction inside our hearing range of 20–20,000hz because math.
 This is not to say you are wrong to want a higher fidelity recording. If the original master was 24 bits at 96 kHz and you love the album…then why not? It certainly won’t make the music sound worse. I plan to buy a high fidelity copy of Nirvana Nevermind because…well, I just like the album and it will make me happy.
 And amusing articles on high fidelity HDMI and network cables. Wow.