They sound more neutral than those elements of the plot might outwardly suggest.
There’s a definite element of added warmth with the “Universe” pads compared to the “Vérité”, and there’s a hint more vocal presence with the “Universe” pads as well. But these are really nudges in favor of either neutral or slightly warm signatures, and otherwise the raw technicalities of these cans are preserved with either set of pads.
If I was using Vérité as my transducer while doing critical, review-style, listening, to a DAC or amp I would go with the “Vérité” pads. But when just sitting down to enjoy some music with these cans, it is the “Universe” pads that are getting the bulk of my listening time.
These are the first, non-specialty, headphones I’ve heard, since getting the Utopia, that have really presented a genuine challenge to the flagship Focal’s for my system and preferences as a “reference headphone”. And, while I find the Abyss AB-1266 Phi CC, LCD-4 and HD800S unbeatable in various, if different, areas - over time they’ve become a something I use more for specific moods or music than as “reference” cans (not that they aren’t all excellent, they just have different strengths and quirks).