A brief glance at the Vertere is enough to tell you that this is not a normal turntable and the company that makes it has little interest in normality, either. Despite its not inconsiderable price, the DG-1 is the most affordable turntable that Vertere Acoustics makes. It represents the irreducible minimum standard to which the company feels it can make a turntable that performs to its requirements.
In some regards the DG-1 is similar to its bigger brethren. It uses belt drive, powered by a 30v motor related to the one found in other Vertere models and that comes with electronic speed control. The platter is made from aluminium with an integrated mat for the playing surface and it sits on a plinth made from three layers of acrylic with a separate sub chassis to mount the arm and help isolate it from the outside world.
Where things get novel is in the tonearm. Called the Grooverunner, this looks different from almost any other arm on the market. For a start, there’s no armtube with wires in it; instead, a printed circuit board, placed between two layers of stiff composite, forms a flat but rigid arm. Then the Grooverunner has no bearings; not even of the unipivot type. Instead, it uses a pair of nylon thread bearings to control the movement of the arm. The vertical bearing also forms the anti skate system that controls the force that pushes back against the cartridge. What’s particularly clever about this is that the height of the arm can still be adjusted, allowing for the cartridge of your choice to be accommodated.
The result is a turntable that not only doesn’t look like anything else at the price but doesn’t look like any other turntable at any price; a sort of amalgam of batmobile and stealth fighter. It’s well made though and takes up no more room than any other similar equipment.
If you go into your first listen of the DG-1 expecting that the aesthetics to have some relation to the performance, you are going to be disappointed. Vertere is not about shock and awe. You don’t note any one aspect of the performance as standing out – and that is the whole point. The Vertere expends enormous energy on taking the information in the groove of a record and delivering it exactly as the artist and mastering engineer intended, with an absolute lack of embellishment.
This is harder than it sounds because it requires the DG-1 to tie together a variety of attributes. The bass response is deep, agile and detailed but no less importantly, it integrates perfectly with a midrange that is expansive and engaging and upper registers that have all the energy they need without being bright or forward. This carefully applied neutrality won’t appeal to everyone; there are rivals with more overt character and if this particular character appeals, it may leave the DG-1 sounding a little restrained for you.
This is not to say that the DG-1 doesn’t have some specific attributes of its own, though. The more time you spend with it, the more you appreciate how effortless it is. Switching to other devices (both digital and analogue) after using the Vertere leaves you noticing their quirks and colouration. It also means this turntable can genuinely set about any genre of music with a complete lack of fear or favour. If you’re the sort of person that genuinely listens to ‘a bit of everything’, this is a turntable built from the ground up to go ahead and make all of it sound excellent.
The Vertere looks like no other turntable on the planet but it’s a genuinely easy device to use and live with. You can order it with either Vertere’s Magneto or Sabre cartridges pre-mounted but the arm will accept almost any roughly price-equivalent cartridge. You also get a lid as standard too. Not strictly pertinent to performance but rather cool nevertheless is that the middle layer of acrylic in the plinth is illuminated.
The DG-1 is an impressive introduction to the world of Vertere. It offers a beautifully balanced and engaging performance that does justice to a huge variety of music without fear or favour and is utterly painless to live with while you do so.
Editors IN DREAM
The way that the DG-1 cuts through this dense and congested album to get at the best series of songs Editors has ever written is something that many considerably more expensive turntables struggle to do.
Fink Fink meets the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
A full scale orchestra can be a challenge for any turntable but the Vertere turns it into a believable and tangible presence in front of you.
Beastie Boys Paul’s Boutique
The true advantage of the Vertere’s unflappable neutrality is that something as utterly berserk as the Beastie Boys’ finest hour can be unpicked and opened out to reveal a masterpiece.
If you’re looking for a genuine allrounder that prides itself on an accurate and neutral performance that never sounds dull, this is where you start looking.