From Brian Murphy, one of our Vero Beta Testers, who posted about his Vero experience on Head-fi.org:
If you’ve been in the audio scene for a while then you’re most likely familiar with the name MIT Cables. For the more recent additions to this wonderful hobby, MIT has developed audio and video interfaces, AC power conditioners, and noise filtering technologies for more than three decades. In short, they’ve been around the audio block more than a few times.
At the 2014 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, MIT introduced the world to the Vero Revolutionary Headphone Cabling System, the company’s first entry into personal audio. I’m told that the name Vero, meaning “true” in Italian, was chosen because MIT’s latest designs aim to showcase the “truth in music.” With the Vero, MIT has taken their proprietary Multipole Technology, found in many of their audio interfaces and interconnects, and brought it to the world of headphones.
The Vero will be available in two flavors; a replacement cable for headphones with detachable cables or an adapter that connects to the end of permanently attached cables. And while MIT plans to make Vero cables for multiple headphones they won’t be able to produce a cable for every single one out there. Those headphones will be able to utilize the adapter as well. More details about specific configurations will be available when MIT launches their Vero crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo later this year. Currently they're expecting it to go live late in the first quarter.
Now the science and design behind the Vero is great, but when I’m listening to my headphones I don’t really think about the technology that went into it, I focus on the music. So that’s exactly what I’ve been doing with the prototype that MIT has provided. MIT states that the Vero will provide better bass, better mid-range, and smoother high frequencies. To foreshadow a bit, I have to say that I’m very impressed so far.
My setup for testing the Vero included the Geek Pulse, Geek LPS4, and two Lightspeed 1G cables by LH Labs; a pair of Alpha Dogs by MrSpeakers; a 2012 MacBook Pro; and MIT’s own SL Z-Cord 3fp power cable. All audio files came from Spotify streaming at 320 kbps. Listening tests were conducted first using the stock MrSpeakers Alpha Dog cable and then again using the MIT Vero cable followed once more with the stock cable.
In Five Iron Frenzy’s Engine of a Million Plots album I found there was better separation between all of the instruments. The bass sounded tighter and had more body but not to the point that I felt there was too much. And the soundstage sounded larger across all of the songs. The horns had more life to their sound with better clarity and emphasis on the attacks. As a trombone player a natural horn reproduction is incredibly important to me. But there was a minor drawback with the Vero cable and this album. The lead male vocals sounded slightly recessed and began to blend into the music at points. It never made the vocals indistinguishable, but it was noticeable when it happened.
Listening to Gustav Holst’s “The Planets, Op. 32: Mars, the Bringer of War” I once again noticed a larger soundstage with the Vero. The stock cable sounded like the symphony was grouped together by sections and then spread out from the other sections while the Vero made the presentation sound like it was coming from one large group. But the improved separation was still present so I never found it difficult to place the horns, winds, and strings; it was more as though I was there in the concert hall vs listening to a recording off-site. I also notated that the horns’ sense of urgency was better conveyed on the Vero and that their timbre held more of a live presentation rather than a recording.
From Miles Davis’s “So What” I noted that the presentation made me feel as though I were sitting on stage performing with the group, rather than in the audience. I’ve played jazz for many years and this is one of my favorite songs to perform. Feeling as though I’m in the performance doesn’t usually happen on this song but it was nice here. By contrast the stock cable made me feel as though I were sitting in the second row in a nice cozy small venue; still an intimate piece but not so intimate as performing it yourself. I also noted that instrument separation was more accurate within the soundstage, but the soundstage itself wasn’t that different between the two cables.
I was listening to GARNiDELiA’s “One” and I’ve simply written “Whoa bass” here in my notes. The bass had much more body and much better decay than the stock cable. I also noted that the Vero brought more life to the vocals and that the mix was better between vocals and accompaniment, my notes saying “almost perfect.”
During Cee Lo Green’s “I Want You” I found, like with Five Iron Frenzy, that the male vocals were slightly recessed and would slightly blend in with the rest of the music at times. Again it wasn’t impossible to hear him but it was noticeable when it happened. I also noticed that when he had a subtler vibrato it was easier to notice on the Vero than the stock cable. The background music had a bigger sound overall and filled the soundstage more, giving a closer presentation. And I also noted that his reverb was more natural on the Verothanks to the tighter decay.
And finally when listening to Kristen Chenoweth and Idina Menzel’s “For Good” I have some interesting notes, I wrote “Goose bumps. Goose bumps everywhere.” This is one of those songs that will always give me goose bumps and chills when listening to a nice setup. Even with the stock cable I still get them several times throughout the song. But with the Vero they were constant, they never went away as soon as the ladies began singing. Presentation was once again closer and sounded as though they were directly in front of my singing to one another. There was a better mix between the female vocals and the orchestra and the subtle horn parts seemed to stand out a bit.
We don’t have time for me to go through the whole list of notes so hopefully everything above will give you an idea what you can expect from the Vero. With the audio comparisons done there are a few things I’d like to point out about the cable itself. First off, it’s stiff, and I’m sure that’s due mostly to the sleeving used on the cable. But the sleeving also has the negative effect of making the cable more microphonic than the stock cable, which is rubber coated. The splitter is box-like and can sometimes get caught on things such as the edge of a desk. If possible I’d like to see it rounded off a bit before the final release.
In my 16 years of audio experience I’ve not seen a headphone cable make as much of a difference as this. MIT is definitely on to something with the Vero. I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the prototype; I’ll be saddened when it has to go back. And knowing that it’s a prototype I can’t help but wonder what kind of changes, subtle or otherwise, we’ll see implemented before they enter full production later this year. Now that I’ve attached the Vero to my Alpha Dogs I simply don’t want to take it off. I can say with absolute certainty that MIT will have more of my money as soon as the Vero is available; be it via crowdfunding, the MIT Buyer’s Club, or retail. And with MIT planning to launch the Indiegogo campaign just before the southern California CanJam in March, I won't have to wait too long.
Disclosure: MIT provided me with a prototype Vero headphone cable and Vero balanced to SE adapter. The MIT SL Z-Cord 3fp power cable was not provided by MIT and was purchased via the MIT Buyer’s Club. MIT has not paid me for these impressions and the Vero cable and adapter will be returned to MIT upon completion.
I've received word that MIT has a second prototype in development that utilizes a softer, thinner and more flexible cable. Hopefully once they're finished with the new design they'll be sending the revision my way and I can compare it against the original prototype. I haven't heard anything about possible changes to the splitter housing but we'll see what happens down the line.
I also now have some information on pricing for the Vero. MIT Buyer's Club members can opt-in for any updates surrounding the Vero and receive a special perk during the Indiegogo campaign. I've been told that the perk is "substantially lower than the MSRP" but I don't have any specific prices at this time. We'll probably learn about those special prices and the MSRP closer to the start of the campaign in March. If you're not currently signed up for the MIT Buyer's Club I'd encourage doing so. It's free, after all.
And one last update for today, MIT is planning on having the Vero on display at the SoCal CanJam on March 28-29. If you're going to be at the show I'd encourage stopping by the MIT table and checking out the Vero system. I know I'll be visiting for sure.