Vertere Acoustics has built its reputation around high-end analogue sources for the most demanding enthusiasts. With this new DG-1 Dynamic Groove Record Player, the brand wishes to democratize “very high fidelity” to open it to a public wishing to have a system that is simple to set up and at a contained cost. It is thanks to a complete overhaul of its technological approaches that Vertere has succeeded in drastically lowering the price of its turntable while remaining uncompromising on quality.
I can’t speak for you, dear readers, but for my part I have always been sensitive to beautiful human stories. So I’m going to tell you one that originated in the UK, at the time of the foundations of British hi-fi. Once upon a time, there were three men of character, passionate about sound and dissatisfied with the production of their time. At that time, hi-fi was at a paradigm shift, at the heart of a major turning point in its evolution: the end of the sixties and the advent of modern audio. The first, named Ivor, committed the sacrilege of questioning the established order by affirming that the most important link in a hi-fi system was the source. The second, Julian, had a clear disdain for complicated circuits and wanted to make simplicity and efficiency the norm, especially in power supplies, thus going against the grain. The third, obviously more discreet but no less charismatic, has observed the first two a lot to follow in their footsteps and thus confirm his visceral attachment to precision mechanics, like the first and to the systemic approach, like the second. Our third partner, a certain Touraj, created the Roksan brand, which quickly became just as mythical as its prestigious companions, Linn and Naim. We were on the borderline between the 70s and 80s, and British hi-fi was laying the foundations of a punk movement within the burgeoning global hi-fi industry. Solidly backed by Hi-fi Review magazine, these three brands, and a few others (Arcam, Rega, Royd, Exposure, Nytech, Ion Systems, Mission, Cyrus…..) were a total dream to me.
40 years later, I’m still convinced that they were incredible pioneers. Ivor gave way to his son Gilad as head of Linn, which fortunately remained an independent company. Julian passed away prematurely, most certainly changing the course of Naim’s history. As for Roksan, after having grown, it was bought out. And Touraj created a new, smaller, more flexible company dedicated exclusively to the development, design and manufacture of exceptional turntables and the ecosystem necessary to make them work: tone arms, phono cells, power supplies, cabling and phono preamps. This small company called Vertere Acoustics is making a radical return to its roots! It started its activity with the launch of a superb flagship, the RG (for Reference Groove), which it has since declined regularly and in a more democratic way, to end up today with the DG-1 which is in front of me.
How to bring down the production cost of a turntable while giving it features that can compete with the best on the market? This was the challenge that Vertere Acoustics engineers faced in designing and producing their newest turntable, the DG-1. It became clear that cutting corners in the quality of the materials used was not the answer. The only way to achieve the desired result was to rethink every basic element of the turntable, optimizing them while eliminating all non-essential components. Thus, from the base to the arm, including the bearings, each component was rethought. This total redesign makes the DG-1 look like no other turntable and asserts its personality from the first glance. It nevertheless benefits from all the know-how implemented by the brand on its reference models. Special attention has been paid to the engine. This is the key element of any turntable. It must ensure a precise and stable platter rotation speed while limiting as much as possible the appearance of vibrations that could propagate to the stylus of the pickup. Vertere Acoustics has therefore designed a motor derived from its reference model, the RG-1. This new motor is of the synchronous type. With 24 poles, it works at low voltage, which limits the emission of electromagnetic interference near the pickup. It is powered from an external box. It is managed by a specific microprocessor. Note that this choice opens the door to possible updates.
A silicon-based belt ensures the transmission of the movement to the platter. The motor shaft is equipped with a single aluminum alloy pulley, as the speed is changed from the control electronics. The platter is also made of aluminum alloy, machined to very close tolerances. It is fitted with a mat produced from a combination of cork, neoprene, and nitrile (a substance similar to latex) which has the task of eliminating the appearance of undesirable resonances. Finally, the main bearing of the central pivot uses a tungsten carbide ball.
Another key element is the arm. Here again Vertere Acoustics has rethought the very concept of the arm. Gone are the traditional tubular arms. On the DG-1 the engineers have chosen a flat profile arm. This element, which also contributes to give the DG-1 an outstanding design, is not affected by certain resonance phenomena that can occur with a tubular arm. This flat structure also offers the possibility of fundamentally redesigning the wiring. On the DG-1, a flexible printed circuit board replaces the traditional shielded wire. Finally, the ball bearings in the arm rest are replaced by bundles of twisted nylon wire. These are made up of hundreds of strands of nylon 3 micrometers in diameter twisted together. This technological choice has the advantage of guaranteeing ultra-quiet arm movements while damping the arm’s movements.
Finally, Vertere Acoustics has chosen to offer this turntable its latest high-end Sabre cartridge. Unlike the turntable, it is based on proven concepts and is designed around conventional solutions. Vertere Acoustics has opted for a moving magnet (MM) type. The reason for this choice is that, although moving coil (MC) cartridges are renowned for their fine reproduction, they are tricky to set up and, above all, it is not easy to have a quality preamplifier. Thanks to their higher output level, MM are easier to operate and require less expensive equipment. What’s more, Vertere Acoustics’ mastery of cartridge design has resulted in a new cartridge that behaves more like an MC cartridge. Its stylus, based on an elliptical diamond, offers a particularly wide frequency response, from 15 Hz to 25 kH, and extracts each micro-information in the groove with impeccable precision. Optimizations to both the DG-1 and the Sabre cartridge were made possible by Vertere Acoustics’ close relationship with the recording industry. The creation of the Vertere Records label is an illustration of this symbiosis that the brand has taken care to cultivate within these two worlds.
THE SET UP
Setting up the Vertere DG-1 is a simple operation because the manufacturer has had the good idea to design a small, illustrated booklet that will guide you step by step in the installation of your new turntable. All the tools are provided, so no need to rack your brains. The most inexperienced of you will only need 20 minutes at the most. What is important to know is that, as with any turntable worthy of the name, a stable, perfectly rigid and, above all, totally horizontal support is required. Make sure that there are no loudspeakers near your turntable, especially on its right side. And of course, never on the same stand. If you can, choose a preamp of the same brand, otherwise a more affordable model from Atoll or Lehmann (non-exhaustive list) will be just right.
Where to start? There is an undeniable urgency in purely analogue sound transcription. A feeling of physical incarnation. As if the musical notes were being recomposed in our intimate space in a surprisingly materialized way. There is hardly a word for it, presence. It is for this reason and for no other that we still listen to black records. That we still listen to black records. That one listens more than ever to black records… One fully grasps the thickness of the line that separates the inside from the outside of each of the multitude of small sound cells. To achieve all this in the best conditions, a turntable like the Vertere DG-1 is a precious ally. It reminds us that no two records sound the same. It allows us to approach with total virginity the immense diversity that reigns in the world of black records, within the community of artists who have recorded their works, the labels who have committed themselves to it, the producers who have wished to shape a style. The Vertere DG-1 does not seek to impose itself by any “marked” sonic identity. It is rather the messenger of the signal that it strives to transcribe with the greatest acuity. It cannot be classified as a “romantic” or “baroque” turntable. No, the Vertere DG-1 is clearly a radical punk turntable, in the noble sense of the term of course. By this we mean that its purpose is to reach for the essential. It has no equal when it comes to reproducing a bass line with clarity and energy. She has an obvious ease in transcribing rhythms. Try an old Police album, or the Clash, or why not the excellent reissue of the Bauhaus EP ‘Bela Lugosi’s dead’ on Stones Throw Records, a splendid record by the way. On messages like these, you’ll feel the dark side of the new wave period, the percussive velocity of punk, with an energy that teases your plexus. As the Vertere DG-1 offers a clear and serene playback, which is not at all antinomic to the beautiful ardor it can display, you will not lose a crumb of this analog rage, nor of its beautiful quality of impact. So of course, if your installation allows it, you’ll have to turn up the volume, because the distortion will only be felt very late! And oops, you’re no longer aware that you’re listening at a completely unreasonable level. This is the magic of a turntable that tracks down distortion and compression phenomena, to offer you pure modulation that is guaranteed not to be adulterated! The Vertere DG-1 is not a consensual turntable. It cannot be denied that it has a bias towards physical rather than intellectual listening. But since it has excellent resolution, the listener is always provided with a precise and exhaustive panorama that prevents him or her from jumping to hasty and erroneous conclusions. And it does this with a consummate science of balance. With the Vertere DG-1, you’ll enjoy all your black pearls with intensity and emotion. The harmonic gradation is very successful, just as the wide range of tonal balance allows the most diverse messages to be reproduced with equal ease, but always with a penchant for voluptuousness. In this respect, we strongly suspect the very positive influence of the new Sabre, which, contrary to its name, does not cut the music into slices, but offers it a surprisingly strong bond and homogeneity.
Analogue playback is an eternally renewed source of pleasure. The Vertere DG-1 seems to us to be one of its fine defenders, capable of digging deep into the groove to extract wonders, but also of providing powerful and full-bodied physical sensations. We particularly like its assertive character and its ability to be open and universal to the musical styles it will be given the opportunity to play. The Vertere DG-1 will be the ideal companion for eclectic music lovers who like to vibrate to their precious black discs. We warmly recommend the configuration we were able to test, i.e., in company with the Sabre, the Phono 1 preamp and the Red Line modulation cable from the Vertere Acoustics catalogue. It is a fact that the British manufacturer has taken care to develop a complete ecosystem of great homogeneity and total complementarity to guarantee a coherent and faultless operation of its analog retranscription system. It is a great pleasure for us to see that one of the historical tenors of British audio is still at the helm and seems to create products according to its heart.
€ 5.160 DG1 Red Line Pack + Sabre
469 x 384 x 130 mm