What's next after Verums - blow my mind

Hello.

After being disappointed at first with how Verums sounded out of Cavalli LCX, I discovered that switching the LCX to high gain made a whole lot of difference and resulted in great listening experience (you can read my comments in this thread: Verum 1 Amp Pairing Help - #60 by MinalanSpellmonger). I have since pimped up my head-fi rig: iFi iPurifier 3 USB on the SMSL SU-8 DAC I use (arguably, it makes more audible difference with Topping D30 which I have in my hi-fi system, but I keep it in anyway), iFi AC Purifier in the socket nearby (sort of housekeeping), XLR interconnects from Sommer Cable, Chi-fi USB cable… hell, I even bought a linear PSU and fancy power cables, also Chi-fi. Periapt headphone cable is on the way.

The setup sounds really, really… I mean really good. A ‘master’ version of L.A. Woman streamed through Tidal is simply amazing, so are records by Billy Idol. Hell, just yesterday I was thoroughly enjoying tracks by Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson. Somehow when I bought the Verums I labeled them ‘electronics’ headphones, to listen to Amon Tobin, Flying Lotus, synthwave and the like… But they perform well with all the music I throw at them.

Well, this was the intro, apologies if a bit long.

So, now that I have everything set up and enjoying the music, of course the thoughts of what next come in. I think I am clear in terms of the gear: first I want to try the new Topping D30 Pro DAC, and then check the Singxer SA-1 amp out. But what about the headphones? I don’t have much of a reference framework, but I guess I am beginning to feel why so many people praise the Verums. What will be the audible step up? I really want that ‘wow’ effect… to be blown away… Not sure if only the step up in class can do it, or if maybe something ‘different’… In terms of budget I am prepared to spend EUR 600, maybe go as far as EUR 700 if the deal is good. I will probably go used to get a better deal, and this is partially why I am raising the question well in advance - so that I could keep an eye on the classifieds in case a good comes up.

Should I go for a pair of Audezes? Some reviewers have mentioned that Verums have an Audeze-like signature, so I suppose it could be a safe bet, but as I mentioned, I am also open do a different sound. LCD 2 Classic can be had for EUR 700 used here in Germany. Dan Clark? Focal?

The other headphones I own are Meze 99 Noir from Drop - these are my go to cans for watching movies, videos on the internet and while on the move. I also got into tubes with Feliks Echo and HD650. Echo+HD650 SE A/B with LCX+Verums XLR from SU-8 was, to my surprise, not in favour of the first. The stock tubes are too clear and the LCX is tubey I suppose, so the sound character was very similar - they sort of meet each other halfways. Bass has more power on Echo+HD650, but it’s more controlled, tight with LCX+Verum. And there’s this… hmm… grain… in Echo+HD650… is this the HD650 ‘veil’ people write about? Mullard tubes arrived yesterday, they are supposed to be more warm/tubey, so I will do a next round of A/B, but so far Echo+HD650 is not what I expected. This is it, this is my reference framework.

Appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.

Fat chance. You’re just doubling the budget vs. one of the best price/performance headphones in the world and expect to be blown away? Not gonna happen. Definitely not with expensive brands like Audeze or Sennheiser (only impressive price/performance devices from Sennheiser have been the Massdrop collabs) and definitely not with LCD-2 models or HD650/6XX which have nearly the same sonic signatures as the Verum.

With that budget you need something radically different in technology (like a cheap second-hand Stax) or in frequency response (like a bright Sundara or old-school Focal Spirit Professional or newer Neumann NDH20 or something) to have any chance at getting “blown away” or at least pleasantly surprised.

yeah, I sort of started suspecting this. if I understand ‘bright’ correctly, I don’t like bright - I was initially running the Verums off Liquid Spark and that sounded bright to me - too shouty and harsh in the high frequencies. I used to get tired after about an hour of listening and was experiencing almost physical discomfort in my ears.

by the way, what about Gold Planar GL2000 double magnet? or are they comparable to Verums?

I am not getting much traction here in this thread, still, I’d like to try. so, after advice from @abm0 I looked around a bit on the forum and got more and more curious about the ‘fun’, V-signature headphones as an alternative to Verum sound I could explore. Drop Fostex TR-X00 Mahogany somehow seem rather appealing. they are, however, hard to come by - they made a brief comeback on Drop few months back, but at 545 USD (if memory serves) plus shipping and tax (I am in Germany) this seems like a lousy deal. there are offerings on eBay of the ‘H’ version (non-detachable cable) for USD 700-800. looks like it turned into a cult item, and I am not sure I am willing to pay for that. on the other hand, I keep seeing used Fostex TH-610 deals here in Europe for under EUR 400. are these comparable? any other closed back options in the same vein? this is becoming more and more urgent as my wife complains about the noise when I am listening late into the night. Verums are like speakers one puts on one’s head - the leakage is really pronounced. less so with HD650, but enough to keep my wife in next room awake. I really need something closed back, interesting, different to what I currently own, and costing under EUR 500 (can go used). also, I think it has to be dynamic - I have SW51+ on the way, and I’d like to be able to listen from Low-Z output. should I be looking at Dennons? E-MUs?

thanks!

th610 the most neutral, thx00 most bassy but depends on which version (PH,Mahogany,…), e-mu teak sweetspot, denon 7200 upper midrange dipped, denon 2k most treble intense, denon 5k still treble intense but bassier and warmer → reduced treble overall, th900 most extreme tuning out of all, denon 5.2k warm, D600 midbass boosted. I think that covers all except for the 9200 (1500,-) and 7100 (not the most popular).