What Hi-Fi (UK)
Founded around a decade ago, Vertere Acoustics is a hard company to define. It initially focused on making high-end cables, later branching out into high-end turntables. That might not seem the most logical of steps for a cable company, but Vertere has stuck at it, slowly increasing its range of vinyl-related products to include other decks, arms, a cartridge and supports, not forgetting own-brand records too.
Three of a kind…
At the heart of the turntable’s structure is a triple-layered acrylic construction that uses precisely tuned rubber isolation mounts to control and filter the flow of vibrations within the deck. There are many interesting details here, from a motor body that’s free to rotate, so that belt tension remains constant (so helping speed stability), to a removable centre spindle on the platter that stops noise from the bearing being directly transmitted to the record surface.
The power supply unit that drives the motor is housed in a separate, outboard box. This controls the playing speed too, and changing from 33⅓ to 45rpm needs just the flick of a switch. It’s a neat enough box, but looks a little basic next to the look-at-me appearance of the main deck.
The SG-1 Mk II tonearm is just as interesting as the partnering turntable. Its bearing is essentially a variant of a unipivot design where the arm balances on a single point, but here Vertere has gone its own way by sitting the point between three precision ball bearings.
…and the first of its kind
The newest member of this package is Vertere’s first in-house cartridge, the Mystic. This 9.1g moving-coil has a rigid aluminium body that’s machined from solid. Its top plate isn’t flat as is the norm but has three small raised sections that ensure a stable fit with the tonearm, and it’s easy to fit thanks to threaded bolt holes in its body and its flattened front.
While not everyone will like the MG-1’S extrovert appearance, there’s no denying the excellent quality of engineering and build, which is well up to the standards we expect for this kind of price. If the fully transparent look doesn’t appeal, the deck also comes in three premium finishes – metallic black, pearlescent white or champagne – for an extra £500.
While this Vertere isn’t particular hard to get working, there’s enough in the way of subtle adjustments, particularly for the arm, for us to suggest that most people should leave it to the dealer.
We use Vertere’s Phono-1 phono stage for much of this review alongside our usual Cyrus Phono Signature/psx-r2 combination. The rest of the set-up is our reference Burmester 088/911 Mk III pre/ power and ATC’S SCM 50 speakers.
The initials MG stand for Magic Groove, which sounds a bit over the top until you start listening. It doesn’t take long to realise that Vertere has delivered something special for the money.
Full of energy
We start with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and are blown over by the dynamic expression on offer. The music sounds packed with energy and drive, each new crescendo hitting hard. There’s just so much information on offer, with the deck giving the impression of being able to uncover every detail in the record groove. All that insight is delivered in a coherent and organised way. It never sounds anything less than composed, no matter how complex the music gets.
We’re struck by just how well the Vertere captures the interplay between the instruments, making the piece even more enjoyable than we’re used to.
It’s an agile presentation, one that gains authority through stability and control. We can’t recall a similarly priced alternative that sounds as precise or as articulate. This agility may actually make the MG-1 sound a little lightweight, but listen carefully and you’ll find there’s no lack of substance here.
The package’s stereo imaging is excellent – expansive and impressively focused. There’s a lovely sense of depth on this recording, with the orchestra layered with care. Instruments stay firmly locked in position too.
Those looking for that stereotypical soft and warm vinyl sound would do better elsewhere. This Vertere package sounds open and transparent, forgoing any sign of excess richness for a hardhitting presentation that sounds highly analytical and unusually natural to us.
We switch to Catch A Fire from Bob Marley and the Wailers and love the way this record player delivers bass. Rarely do we hear such articulate and textured bass from vinyl, regardless of price, and particularly when it’s combined with such authority and punch – and such impressive surefootedness with rhythm.
The story is equally positive higher up the frequency range, with Marley’s voice coming through with all its passion intact. It’s easy to close our eyes and imagine the group playing just for us.
The MG-1 MKII package is an exceptional performer, even at its elevated price level. Once properly set up, it is fuss-free to use and built to a high standard. Most of all, it renders sound with a combination of precision, agility and dynamic dexterity that we haven’t heard bettered near this price.