What Hi-Fi (UK)
The Vertere DG-1 Dynamic Groove is a deck/arm package that offers a fair dose of the performance of Vertere’s top-end turntables but at a far more approachable outlay. It’s designed to be easy to use, and even has the option of a fitted cartridge for those who want a complete package.
That cartridge is Vertere’s Magneto moving-magnet, and it’s essentially a rebadged Audio-technica AT-VM520EB with a different-coloured body. Bought separately it costs £220.
As part of the Vertere DG-1 package, it’s more than capable of justifying the extra £100 it adds to the base DG-1 price of £2750. But, think of it as something to get you going, rather than the final destination. Ultimately, the DG-1’S abilities demand something better.
Out of the ordinary
Get past the rather extrovert appearance and you’ll find plenty of interesting engineering details here. It’s the arm that really grabs our attention. Rather than using a conventional cylindrical arm tube, which gives rigidity but is also prone to resonances, the DG-1’S arm is made of a flat, triple-layered, aluminium alloy/polymer sandwich.
This provides a stable, properly damped home for the cartridge. Its bearings are unusual too, discarding traditional metal designs for twisted nylon threads – one for movement in the horizontal plane and two for the vertical axis. Even the wiring is unconventional, using a gold-plated flexible PCB rather than traditional cables.
The DG-1’S distinctive plinth echoes the arm’s sandwich construction, but this time it’s three layers of acrylic reinforced with a steel chassis to give a rigid yet well damped structure. Similarly, the aluminium platter has a bonded PETG (a thermoplastic polymer) mat and a cork-neoprenenitrile disc on the underside to give a good combination of rigidity and damping. It’s driven via a bespoke roundsection silicone rubber belt.
This platter rests on a quality main bearing consisting of a polished stainless-steel spindle sitting on a high-precision tungsten-carbide ball in a brass bearing housing. The result is an impressively smooth operation and no detectable play. It’s long-term lubricated too, so the deck doesn’t need the regular maintenance that most conventional rivals require.
The complete platter, main bearing and arm combination sits on its own separate sub-plinth and is isolated from the rest of the turntable structure by strategically placed and precisely tuned silicon rubber.
The DG-1’S motor comes with an individually optimised partnering power supply to minimise noise and vibration and is designed to move to absorb belt tension effects, so helping to improve speed stability. Changing speed from 33⅓ to 45rpm is done electronically by giving the stop/start button a quick press.
Set up is straightforward and the instructions are clear enough for most people to get going pretty quickly.
You’ll need a quality system to get the best from this package. Consider something of the standard of the Naim Supernait 3 integrated amplifier as a good starting point with the likes of Dynaudio’s Special Forty speakers or Proac’s Response D2RS finishing the system off. You could aim even higher and this Vertere would cope admirably.
It doesn’t take long to realise that the Vertere DG-1 is a terrific-sounding deck. It has a bold, outgoing sound that brims with energy and drive. We listen to Four Tet’s There Is Love In You and are bowled over with the punch and power on display. Bass notes hit hard and fast, but in an impressively controlled way. There’s little in terms of overhang and at no point do we feel that the lows are dominating unnecessarily.
We’re impressed with the level of detail too. The DG-1 is a precise and highly resolving product, one that’s able to dig up plenty of information and organise it into a cohesive and musical whole. It’s excellent rhythmically, and has our feet tapping with ease. We haven’t come across a rival that communicates the changing momentum of a piece of music so explicitly.
Next up is a rather different test, in the form of Orff’s Carmina Burana. Here the Vertere shows-off its insightful midrange performance, fine stereo imaging and impressive dynamic expression. Voices come through with pleasing clarity and are solidly planted in an expansive and nicely layered soundstage.
Grace under pressure
The presentation stays composed and stable throughout; even when the piece becomes frantic, the deck refuses to sound stressed. Yet the DG-1 sounds admirably explosive when required. It’s a complete performance that’s all the more impressive when you consider the cartridge’s relatively modest capabilities.
There’s no denying the fact that the idiosyncratic Vertere DG-1 is up against some mighty competition at this level, but given what we’ve heard – and we’ve heard a great deal – it can go into any such comparisons with confidence. Highly recommended.