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Magic of a system: VERICTUM

Manufacturer: VERICTUM
Price (in Poland): 178 900 zł

ul. Roździeńskiego 11
41-306 Dąbrowa Górnicza | Polska


Provided for test by: VERICTUM

e all like to read about audio components. Of course, about the music, too, but the products used to reproduce music allowing us to listen to it at home are what interests us most. After all, we are audiophiles. Over the years, we have become accustomed to reading first of all product tests, less frequently columns, reports and interviews. It is something normal for us to test individual products and focus on them.

Testing – a real joy

A well-prepared test requires from a reviewer to have at his/her disposal a well-known reference system (reference devices). He/she knows their performance well both in this particular system and when paired with many other products. It is desirable for him/her to know and understand how these devices work, to have some idea about how certain technical solutions correct the sound and what to expect of them. The test should be a comparison in which one reference point is his/her own product of the type and the other is a live sound.

Based on the comparison he/she creates a description of the performance, which then needs to be interpreted, ie, the reviewer has to try to understand what the established changes to the performance mean, what do they tell us about the tested product, and how these changes should be understood in a broader context. Finally comes an assessment, meaning referring conclusions from the test to the price of the device, competitive products and reviewer's own preferences. The description and its interpretation should be as objective as possible. In turn, the assessment is always “contaminated” with reviewer's own, subjective view.

An honest journalist will indicate his personal preferences so that the readers know how to interpret his/her assessment. Although it should be done at the beginning, at the stage of description and interpretation, in the real world, the boundaries between these elements are blurred, and many readers tend to take shortcuts and just confront their needs with the summary of the test. In extreme cases, some reader only look at number of the stars (if these are given by magazine/reviewer). It's a mistake, but it's so common that it's actually trivial.

Test – what a beautiful illusion…

The test of the product could be compared to taking one piece of the puzzle out and putting another, one that we are interested in, in its place. It is therefore a kind of self-deception. Please look at it this way: if our system is set up to perform well as a system, changing any of its components changes a fragile balance. And on the other hand, there is still a tested product that has to work in a completely alien environment, taken from its own, the one it was designed for.

As I mentioned, we got used to it and we silently approve this way of doing things. We throw the reasoning out and do not take the conclusions into consideration. Otherwise there would be no test. Let me explain why. The reference system is the only constant we know. Even the sound of live instruments is just an approximation of what is captured in the recording. Of course, one can imagine a situation in which one receives a complete system for a test that includes the product of one's interest. This type of listening test would tell us nothing really about this product, maybe something about the whole system. And yet, again, we are interested in the description and evaluation of the performance of a particular device (loudspeakers, cables, etc.).

If we have enough imagination we can of course go further and think about the situation in which we get a complete system and test the device in that system and then also in our reference system. Let's go on - in the next step we try to match the tested product to other systems that could be recommended to the readers. It will only be an exercise for our imagination, nothing like that will actually happen.

Why? Because of the cost that such a test would generate for a manufacturer / distributor, and the cost would be high because firstly it would take a lot of time, and secondly there is a serious downside inscribed in this reasoning – for such a test to be complete, reviewer would have to listen to the product using many systems. What, let's be real, is completely unfeasible.

System: Verictum

But we already learned a few things. First of all: there is no complete description of the sound, only a partial one. The test is just an approximation and a trial, not a fulfillment. And yet we accept such a test as it is and in most cases this approach works.

In order to offer you something more than a theory, I would like to propose to you a test of a complete Verictum system. We prepared it together with Marek Stajndor and Pawel Czubryt. We have been planning it for a long time, but it may be a good thing that it happened only now, because in the meantime Furutech replaced its top plugs with the new I-E50 NCF (R) and FI-50 NCF (R) made of Nano Crystal² Formula (NCF) material. It is one of the most important advancements in the power supply industry in the recent years. The best confirmation of its importance is a list of companies that immediately started to use them includes such names as: Verictum, Siltech, Acoustic Revive and others.

The system included products that “HighFidelity” already reviewed in the past but as separate components:

  • power distributor COGITARI; price: 22 800 PLN/pc,
  • power cables DEMIURG (x 4 ); 34 000 PLN/pc,
  • passive ground conditioner X BULK (x 3); price: 4200 PLN/pc,
  • passive RFI filter X BLOCK (x 3); price: 2500 PLN/pc.

Since Demiurg cables are equipped with a passive filter, they should be plugged into the system for a few days before critical listening. So I powered up the entire reference system plugging all components into the Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate power distributor and the latter into the Furutech wall outlet with a dedicated line going to a separate HPC fuse.

The test was conducted as follows. Before replacing cables I listened to several CDs, I repeated it after the cables were plugged into the system, and then a day later. On the day of the actual, three of us listened to HF reference system powered with Demiurg cables. Next we replaced Acoustic Revive power distributor with Cogitari and we listened again to the same recordings, and then we plugged into the distributor a dedicated X Bulk filter. The next step was to connect two more filters - one to the Ancient Audio Lektor AIR V-edition CD player, and the other one to the Ayon Audio Spheris III preamplifier. Finally, we placed X Bulk filters on the preamplifier, its power supply, and the Soulution 710 power amp.

After each stage of the test, we sat down at the table and discussed the changes that had taken place. And they were not small. At the end of the test, we summed it up, and on the next day, I listened to the same tracks (alone) without Verictum products in the system. During the test we also used X Bulks in an unusual way, placing them on CDs. You should try it yourself, the effects are comparable to what what is achieved with the Acoustic Revive RD-3 demagnetizer.

Participants: MAREK STAJNDOR & PAWEŁ CZUBRYT (Verictum), WOJCIECH PACUŁA („High Fidelity”)

WOJCIECH PACUŁA: …where do you manufacture housings for you products, they look really good…
VERICTUM: Our carpenter's workshop has a lot of work with them. They must use a machine that works with extreme precision and very slowly. The merbau wood is very hard and brittle, eg the X block housing is cut out of solid blocks, and after processing the walls are quite thin, and the writing is done on CNC - it's really a really slow process. The search for a suitable workshop looked as it always does - a man came to us claiming he could do the job for us, and that there would be no problem with it. I waited for two weeks and didn't hear again from him. I called and he said he'd already done one part, but he had other orders too and he didn't have time for me at this moment. After a month I phoned again and and the guy said that unfortunately he couldn't do it... That's one of few similar situations with carpenter's we experienced.

How do you achieve the performance you're after?
Our products, in addition to the unique technical aspects and measurement procedures related to the technologies we use, are meticulously “tuned” or “voiced” if you please. During the product development process, we select technical solutions used in the industry and / or developed by collaborating scientists. At this point it should be emphasized that 99% of the technological solutions for the industry, don't work well in audio. These technologies usually degrade sound. That is why only a smart adaptation of these solutions according to specific audio requirements brings desired results. This is a very delicate and difficult process considering the emphasis we put on the painstaking refining of our products.

We also pay attention to the smallest details when creating our products, cables, filters, etc. Every detail of product's design is an important element contributing to the final performance. The complexity and number of phenomena occurring in audio goes far beyond knowledge taken from engineering manuals, so we work together with renown scientists who deal with the phenomena we are interested in and achieved significant accomplishments in this field, including patents.

We must emphasize that the path of industrial, and therefore mass-production prevents refining product at the highest level of detail needed for tuning it at each stage of production. Only manual production allows for applying unique solutions that allow us to achieve targeted sonic properties. That is why our approach is somewhat similar to the way small, renown Japanese companies, such as Mr. Sakuma's or Audio Tekne's, operate.

With regard to the verification and fine-tuning of our products, it takes place in 5-6 different systems. The long-hours listening sessions are performed by several people, including professional musicians who also listen to their own music using our products. Such meetings are fundamental for us as we receive an objective and complete evaluation of the impact that our products have on the sound.

We use only listening systems that have been refined, transparent and tonally balanced, in which the loudspeakers do not limit any particular sections of the band, especially the treble where much is happening. Most of these systems are accompanied by professionally prepared acoustic room treatment, which allows us to hear again as much as possible during the meticulous process of fine tuning of our products. These systems include tube and transistor equipment designed by renown foreign and domestic brands. We want our users to be sure that we have taken care of the smallest detail of the performance, so even if at particular stage of development of their system they are not able to hear the full potential of our products, the will not be disappointed later when their system reaches a new, high level of performance. Higher level in audio.

Our products are designed to deliver sound as close as possible to what we can hear during philharmonic concerts. That is why go to live concerts at the Silesian Philharmonic in a well-prepared acoustically NOSPR hall, or in the Silesian Opera in Bytom, but not only there. Due to attending such concerts we have a good knowledge of how the different instruments and voices sound, which tonal components are constant regardless of the acoustics of the concert hall, and which are subject to modifications. This gives us an up-to-date reference to how could and should classical music sound when reproduced by an audio system.

Live classical music consists of the voices and instruments in a pure form without any amplification system. Classical repertoire is also the most difficult repertoire to reproduce by an audio system, because the orchestra is a complex and huge instrument with a great diversity, rich in colors and harmonics. And there is also the incredible micro-dynamics and dynamics that accompany concerts. For each audio system, it is a challenge to recreate such a large amount of information that should create a coherent artistic spectacle.

That is why classical music is an “obligatory” repertoire, a core one for any testing and tuning of our products. During the listening sessions we use a well-known to us repertoire on CDs, which is appropriately recorded and released and possibly closest to what we can hear during live concerts in the philharmonic. The music we use has also been verified in many audio systems.

We don't claim that one can hear the symphony orchestra in a 1:1 scale at home, but we can get him very close in terms of tone, micro-dynamics, differentiation, musicians technique, separation, and more importantly, the impression that musicians are present in the room, "talk" to each other through music and induce incredible, unique emotions in listeners while playing a specific repertoire. Of course, we also use another repertoire, but we treat it as an auxiliary rather than the core one we base our decisions on.

This is a short version of how we develop our products. This is a path that requires a lot of knowledge, tenaciousness, patience and time, so creating and tuning a new product takes a long time, but it allows us to be sure that the customer receives an uncompromising product from us!

When we replaced the Acoustic Revive distributor with yours a lot has changed…
Yes. First of all the loudspeakers disappeared from the room and the sound became more pleasant, less mechanical. We know this Japanese power distributor and in our opinion it delivers a very precise, but slightly mechanical, performance. Our distributor added a lot to the midrange presentation. The sound with it was more refined and multi-layered and more resolving, and above all, fluid, "musical", whatever that means. For us the change was significant and unmistakably a positive one. This result was exactly as we intended it to be.

We heard the same thing and I could not disagree with you. It was a refined, perfectly smooth performance that really got free from loudspeakers, even though I have never realized before that such an issue existed... But the distributor offered even more – a true connection with something real, close. But we should not pretend that everything has changed for better, right?
Yes it's true. Compared to the Acoustic Revive strip, ours without the X Bulk creates some emphasis in the midrange, at least in relation to both range extremes. The bass was not so well differentiated. A dynamic accent, pace, extension – that's where the Japanese distributor performed better.

And then we connected the X Bulk Gold to the distributor and…
And everything changed. Which was no surprise for us, because our distributor was designed and assessed/fine-tuned using the Bulk Gold. So it's no coincident.

Everything became richer, fuller, suddenly differentiation and accent became clearer. The bass, which was not too well controlled before, now became disciplined and differentiated. There was still a characteristic sonic signature, a bit soft one, and yet now I didn't miss any element of the sound anymore.
Well, there was more depth and the sound freed itself from loudspeakers. I guess all us sitting here, we do not like sound coming from loudspeakers. With the Bulk we could hear the effect of depth, but without supernatural effects. We pay close attention to the acoustical adaptation of rooms and rooms with proper acoustical treatment are used

And what change when we connected additional Bulks? Let's explain that we connected one to CD Player's ground and the other to preamplifier power supply's chassis.
Again – a much better separation, better tonal balance, a clearer sound. Eliminating distortion and noise results in a more 3D presentation of instruments' bodies and a palpable presence of musicians in the room.

But it's not like the effect of adding Bulks was the same as when we changed the strip, do you agree with me? I mean, when building this system, based on the changes that the distributor introduced first, later we're going in a different direction, as if we were filling the spaces, blanks left out by the distributor. The strip has primarily changed the tone of the sound, made it warmer, and the bodies on the stage were rendered in a more natural, softer way. I was under impression that the addition of the Bulks added more differentiation to this sound.

Yes, exactly – the Bulks always influence sound in the same way, not just with our power strip. X Bulks do not have their own tone, because they are absolutely not an equalizer, they are only a filter, and so they deepen the sonic character they find in the system one connects them to. If we connect Bulk to a system that delivers a dry sound, that lacks richness, that is edgy, then Bulk's influence will go in that direction. Lowering the background noise level brings out characteristic features of the sound. There are systems where this purification of the sound actually reveals their problems, which we consider a very desirable effect in the context of smart, conscious development of the system. If we can hear more we can better use this knowledge, we can take another step forward, right? On the other hand, in systems that are as well-balanced as yours, something completely different happens. Sound gets even deeper, more information about tone appears.

And the sound stops to be sweet, right?
Yes, yes, exactly!

The strip alone caused the system to sound too sweet. There are systems where something has to be done with sound that is too mechanical in nature, and your strip will be perfect to change that, but when used alone, without Bulk. They, having some sort of vividness to their disposal can do something about it; But if there is no proper vividness in the system then nothing will happen.
The Bulks purge the sound of unwanted elements, “intruders”, leaving only the valuable core of the sound. If the system does not sound vivid, it will remain this way. If it is rich and "colorful", Bulks will highlight that. The strip itself improves the sound, but it does not get into uncomfortable details.

That was our goal after all - to free the full potential of the systems from its limitations. Let's be honest, there are not many systems that are so well saturated and rich as this one, with the Harbeths, which deliver also a nicely extended bass, especially with the set of Demiurg cables. Usually we talk about sound that is too dry, too light, not tuneful enough. These types of systems deliver a contoured sound, and the strip adds “physiology”, vividness, color. Without emphasizing the edges of the band, it adds a 3D effect to the sound and it is well perceived.

Blocks something even different – when we placed them on devices the result was…
…a different sound. It happens that placing a Block, which is a filter placed on components, results in a more significant influence on the performance than the one of Bulk, which is a ground conditioner connected to the device.

And that's exactly my impression: adding Bulk to power distributor created a very clear and unequivocal effect. The effect of adding two more Bulks was clear, everything went in the right direction, but the effect was not as spectacular as with the first Bulk. On the other hand Blocks introduced a significant effect. Why?
Because Blocks just complement the X Bulks in the fight against interference. The X Bulks will get rid of the components' ground, but that's not all that should be fixed, because only the X Blocks show how much noise is introduced by power supplies, regardless of what device they work in, as we listened to them, among others, with Kondo, and many top-high-end solid-state amplifiers by Krell, Vitus, Gryphon etc. and the effect is always the same. It depends on the size of the mains transformer, its power, how the devices affect each other, etc. It is important, for example, the distance between Block and power supply - more than 15 cm and it is not able to influence the sound anymore – it's pure physics.

There is a difference when it comes to bigger, more powerful amplifiers. They feature larger, more efficient power supplies, so the level of noise emitted is naturally much higher, and so Block should work even when placed in a larger distance. It collects interference not only in the beam, but more like an antenna. Therefore, the choice of wood for chassis is very important as we can not shield it. Same with the power distributor - its housing is made of wood, not metal, not for aesthetic reasons - wood simply does not affect the filter working inside. We believe that field induced inside devices, including the strip, if they are shielded, is very difficult to suppress.

I remember, years ago, how the "Stereophile" editors started to open components' housings and examining how it affected the sound. It was even studied how the force used to tighten the screws affected the sound – that's what Luxman does nowadays. Back then it seemed pointless to me. As it turned out years later, all that affects the sound and today we are using this knowledge ourselves.

So now: Blocks, as I hear it, „freed” the sound. Despite the fact that in my system sound is not “trapped” in speakers. And yet Blocks freed it even further.
With Blocks the sound came out to us, surrounded us more than it did without them. The position of the listener in relation to performers changed. Even sitting on the side, that is, with incomplete stereo effect, with Blocks we heard more spatial presentation, we were more "in" it than "in front of it".

But that would suggest a rather surprising conclusion that the problem with stereo is not just or even primarily a loudspeakers' problem, but rather of other components, right?
Indeed, we noticed that when designing Blocks. During some listening sessions adding the entire Verictum set into the mix completely changed the acoustics. And the owners of some systems claimed they had a problem with the acoustics of a room they could not solve. For example is some the bass got excited/emphasized. We applied our set and boom, the problem was gone, suddenly it seems that the room acoustics was just fine.

What's next? Which direction a company like yours, already offering an advanced, high-quality system, will take in future? Will you keep improving your products and there will be some leaps forward?
As far as the filtration is concerned, we think our products are already refined and it makes no sense to introduce big changes, at least today. Instead we have made some improvements, for example in X Bulks. We made a correction to the Demiurg power cables because the Furutech introduced new plugs and the cable had to be "re-tuned". We have been working for several months on another uncompromising power cable utilizing our own, proprietary copper conductors. We already offer a high-end Gnosis power strip, but we would like to make one more product of a different type that would fit in the lineup between this model and Cogitari. And we will complete the lineup with power cables made of different materials than Demiurg, which will affect their price.

But you will keep using solutions and technologies already developed for your current products?
Yes, similar ones We will offer cables with filters, but this time we will use other conductor materials, it won't be a silver-gold cable. We use the metallurgy process that we have developed for this conductor and select an optimal cryogenic processing that is essential and a key factors to provide the best possible sound quality. The cable will also feature a filter specially developed for this purpose. We also want to complement the lineup with standard signal cables such as interconnects and speaker cables.

And have you found anything new that caught your attention that you could find a use for? Because, let's be honest, the idea is a key to success, applying it is secondary, although an important stage.
In the field of EMI / RFI we closely work with scientists and researches all the time, but at the moment we do not want to talk about our new projects because they are still in R&D phase.

Since you've mentioned scientist, I would like to ask where the technology used to for noise and interference reduction comes from and how this can even be measured, ie how could you prove that it is based on science and not woo-do?
EMI / RFI interference reduction research is performed both, at universities and by the industry, although industry and science do it differently. They have different goals and consequently different direction of research. We use one and the other, choosing what is best for us. We focus on passive ways of reducing interference, but you have to know that active reduction is also actively researched. However, we believe that for audio applications it is useless, it does more harm than good. Our efforts to use active solutions have confirmed this issue. And yet it is working for the industry applications. Their influence is so strong that instead of improving something it dampens, modulates the sound in such a strong way that it is unacceptable to us.

Is there a chance that what we do in audio could be put into some sort of thought, to come up with a coherent system that explains the phenomena in a scientific, technical way? I only ask because many engineers didn't even try out some solutions, assuming that "they could never work".
This could be done if scientists took up the perfectionist audio. Unfortunately they do not do it, they deal with industry, which means dealing with completely different type of interference, also where is industry there is money, subsidies, etc. What we can do is to transfer this research to the audio, but with significant modifications. Skillful usage of them often surprises even the scientists themselves, especially when they hear effects that can not be described by any measurements. Industrial solutions can not be directly applied in audio, they need to be adapted for this purpose.

Maybe it is necessary to encourage PhD students who are audiophiles to deal with this subject? Maybe we just lack the audio companies that would be able to finance such work?
It's an interesting idea, because this field is interesting, but somehow it's hard for us to imagine. It would require simultaneous participation of specialists from too many remote areas of expertise and who would also need to be all advanced audiophiles.

I don't want to let this go because it's very difficult to explain to the people from the outside our audiophile world why "it" works. We keep spinning within audiophile world while what we need is a “unifying” theory.
This is obviously not magic, in our case it is a simple transformation of two types of energy. But details are quite complex. We miss something like what the Japanese have - they start from the "hard" engineering, combine it with the listening element and thus the sound. They hear and appreciate the potential impact of this type of products on the sound and apply it to their systems, of course. Outside of Japan and parts of Asia things are different. Most people do not understand what is going on in the sound and where it comes from. And even after a preliminary analysis of the available materials, one can conclude that certain actions have to bring positive change.

Plus there is a problem of patents and military secrets. From what we have come to know, all the major noise elimination studies are first implemented in the military and then "leaked" to the civilians, always after many, many years. They are used in submarines painted with special paints, to cover planes, to "suppress and mute" for command centers, data centers and so on. These types of solutions are not published, but there are also many things available that are ignored by engineers. And in these materials one can find a lot of hard knowledge.

So for now we should not wait for some huge breakthrough?
Absolutely not! All the more, considering that if someone spends a lot of money on a device, they count on having a finished, final version of the product. However, the reality is different, and it is only a starting point, an element of a larger system.

And why can not these solutions be introduced to audio components?
Of course, that could be done, but we would have to work with such a manufacturer from the very beginning, starting with the chassis design, which must be different from the standard ones. The sound would have to be fine tuned. We met one of the producers, but nothing came of it. That is why we have no choice but to use accessories. We have to put the whole system together.

It is good that you've mentioned it, because after all we've met to see how the full system works, not its individual components. I will not be a surprise if I say that only the whole system has introduced a qualitative leap - the Verictum power system consisting of the Demiurg power cables and the Cogitari power strip, and the passive X Bulk and X Block filters delivered a better sound than my reference system. Each component offers a good performance, brings some change to the system, but it's become obvious only now that each of them is a part of a bigger project.
All elements of this puzzle are tested by the manufacturer and tuned so that together they can offer more than they can individually. And it doesn't work this way only in our system, but in all of them. Classical tests in audio magazines are therefore severely compromised and relative - they present only a small part of this assumption, present especially at the highest quality levels, that excludes any shortcuts and compromises. Sometimes it will work out and show something more, but most often after reading such test we actually know less than before reading it. Taking a component out of context usually causes it to perform worse.

If I were a customer, then I should ask for a complete system and if I can not afford it, remove item after item to establish which one introduces the biggest change, am I right?
Exactly so, you should check which system components are the most effective in your system and focus on them. But knowing in which direction it takes you, where you could get. Unfortunately, customers are not open-minded, they divide their audio needs between particular components and try combine the best of each king they can afford, forgetting that it doesn't work like that, because even best individual components don't have to match to each other. Such approach may have been shaped over years by tests in which we look at one element of the system while pretending that there is nothing else around it. And you should remember that "stars" won't deliver any sound at all.

Nobody pays attention to the fact that adding one new element to the system is an operation still within that system that is not necessarily going to work. The listener often does not even consider how big a variable this new component is and that in order to fully utilize its potential and to develop whole system's performance in the desired direction it would be, for example, necessary to change the placement/setting of loudspeakers, toed them in differently, correct the acoustics of the room, use anti-vibration elements, replace another component that might have a negative and/or limiting influence on system's performance, etc. It happens quite often that in one system the component works very while in another it doesn't.

What should one start building his audio system from?
Theoretically, you should bring home a full system. What is obviously difficult. But you can start by listening to your friends and acquaintances systems. You should also go to concerts, for example philharmonic ones to "imprint" a natural sound in the head - this is a very important matter. These two things should set your preferences. And the truth is that everyone has to go through a trial and error phase. It is also a way to gain knowledge and experience. Once you get a complete system picked up by someone else you won't have a chance to learn your preferences and how you can shape the sound.

So what we miss are sort of audiophile clubs, that would allow its members to do some of that?
Yes, we lack culture of this type, which is well-developed eg in Japan. There are no opportunities to meet and to talk to people who have already passed through the "urgent" phase, when they wasted a lot of money.

So to finalize our meeting we should encourage people to set up such “audiophile clubs”?
We should first of all spend as much time listening to music as possible!

But not individually, rather in groups, with friends?
Yes, exactly: listen to a lot of music and do it with your friends!

What's next?

Do you understand now what I meant by "system"? There is a long way ahead for us, reviewers, so that we could listen to whole systems and then to individual devices in our systems, but it is good to know that this how it should look like. For now keep an eye on what devices accompany reviewed products, and try to imagine how they modify the sound of the device being tested (loudspeakers, cables, etc.). And what the reviewer expects from them. This well allow us to get closer to the truth, ans that's what audio is about.

VERICTUM in “High Fidelity”
  • REVIEW: Verictum COGITARI – power distributor
  • REVIEW: Verictum DEMIURG - power cable AC
  • BEST SOUND 2015: Verictum X Block – passive EMI/RFI filter
  • REVIEW: Verictum X Block – passive EMI/RFI filter
  • REVIEW: Verictum X Bulk – ground filter