Could it be that I have found my ideal vinyl playback setup? I am sat listening to Vertere’s DG-1 ‘Dynamic Groove’ belt-drive turntable fitted with Audio-Technica’s AT-OC9XML moving-coil cartridge. I’m using Degritter’s ultrasonic record cleaner to ensure the purest vinyl playback possible. The phono stage I’ve sourced is Cyrus’ Phono Signature connected to my resident T+A integrated amplifier driving an Eclipse subwoofer and a pair of wonderfully detailed Fyne Audio F1-5 standmount speakers. Each element is doing its job perfectly and without fuss.
If Darth Vader were relaxing on the Death Star with a record deck, he would choose a Vertere DG-1.
Where turntable specialists Michell Engineering opts for mass and sprung-loaded deck designs with its classic GyroDec, for example, and Rega goes for rigid and light with the skeletal Planar 10, Vertere has opted for simplicity and precision and a technological design that is strikingly beautiful to look at. If Darth Vader were relaxing on the Death Star with a record deck, he would choose a Vertere DG-1.
The Vertere DG-1 is the most affordable model in the company’s already extensive range that includes the RG-1 Reference Groove, SG-1 Super Groove and MG-1 Magic Groove models priced at £21,500, £13,900 and £7,300 respectively. However, the DG-1 Dynamic Groove is the first real plug ‘n’ play design from Vertere, offering convenience and precision playback straight out of the box.
The belt-drive motor is derived from that developed for its flagship RG-1 Reference Motor Drive and is Vertere’s most advanced motor system. The motor itself is a low voltage 24-pole precision synchronous design that is tuned for the lowest noise with an offboard power supply. The motor is controlled by a microprocessor PCB with copper/stainless steel shielding, designed to minimise all electrical and mechanical interference.
The platter is driven by a bespoke silicone rubber belt around the platter’s circumference that is connected to the aluminium pulley to the top left-hand corner of the plinth. There is an electronic speed change button on the top of the plinth, showing green for 33.3rpm and red for 45rpm playback speeds.
The platter is made from a sandwich of metal alloy, cork and neoprene with a nitrile bonding and PETG (a Glycol Modified version of Polyethylene Terephthalate) plastic upon which the record sits. The bearing assembly uses a tungsten carbide ball, Vertere adds that this solution avoids complex lubrication problems. The three-layer flat profile tonearm is designed to avoid many of the resonant issues often found in tube-type designs and uses nylon thread to control the horizontal and vertical movement in the arm.
Finally, both the main plinth and the sub-plinth which the platter sits on are also made of a three-layer sandwich construction. It uses non-resonant acrylic layers with the middle layer clear to allow speed setting viewing. The plinths sit on a steel chassis supported on three adjustable feet to ensure the deck is absolutely level for optimum playback performance.
A clear acrylic dust cover is provided as part of the package price to protect the deck when not in use, and the whole setup has a very pleasing and eye-catching aesthetic. In fact, I would say that Vertere’s DG-1 is one of the best-looking turntable designs I have seen in a very long time.
Every aspect of this beautiful turntable is just a delight to look at, feel and listen to. Although the design looks a bit oversized compared to some designs I have seen, I really like the unique style of this model. The plinth is soft to the touch, is quite easy to adjust and get right, there are three adjustable feet for levelling. The more I have sat and listened to this turntable, the more I have appreciated its design, simplicity and sound.
The review set up I have is the Vertere DG-1 with the supplied (and earthed) Vertere cables from the box to the Cyrus Signature Phono stage which is connected to a T+A PA 2000 R integrated amplifier using Vertere redline cables. My speakers have been, the Fyne Audio F1-5s , a pair of Jern 14 DS speakers supported by an Eclipse subwoofer and a pair of Focal 826s.
The DG-1 is typically fitted with Vertere’s Magneto moving-magnet cartridge priced at £99 when purchased separately. As already mentioned, my review sample of the deck is fitted with an Audio-Technica AT-OC9XML moving-coil cartridge fitted and priced at £480 and ups the total package price to £3,300.
The DG-1 is quite sensitive to external vibrations and needs to placed on a solid surface with a firm footing. My Ikea Kallax shelving units (the ones that house the LPs nicely) proved to be a bit fidgety for the Vertere, so I placed the shelving units on two solid granite blocks (Wilko granite chopping boards: £10/pair and brilliant for isolation and mass) and filled the slots with loads of LPs for extra mass and stability. This all worked really well at shoring the shelving up and giving the DG-1 a far more stable platform.
Unpacking and setting up
As a plug ‘n’ play packaged deck, the Vertere DG-1 is easy to set up so long as the cartridge is fitted at source. With the cartridge of your choice fitted, all that is required is to add the main counterweight to the tonearm, level the platter and optimise the tonearm to recommended cartridge force. There is a pictorial step-by-step guide included in the box and it could not be clearer.
A bullseye spirit level is provided to facilitate a perfectly level platter, and the three adjustable feet make the process quite simple. I was also sent some Vertere Iso-Paws for decoupling the deck from its surroundings. These small, squidgy Sorbothane domes with felt bases are placed under the turntable’s feet to help isolate it from unwanted vibrations and at £95 for a pack of three, I enthusiastically recommend using them.
Thankfully, setting up the tracking force correctly was also pretty simple – Vertere has put everything into this, so the least I can do is set it up properly. There is a smaller weight on the tonearm for fine tuning after the main counterweight is fitted. Using a cartridge force gauge and making careful adjustments to the two weights, I was aiming for the recommended cartridge tracking force of 2.0g. I ended up at 2.01g, which is good enough for me.
With the set up completed, I have a nice sound from the DG-1 and the noise floor is noticeably low. Using the deck, I am really appreciating the engineering and the stability that been achieved and feels like a really nice piece of design execution. I have not had to play with the anti-skate dial on the tonearm assembly as I was informed it was already optimised for the cartridge and tonearm.
Performance-wise, the characteristic warmth and detail that make vinyl sound so lovely comes through with a sense of ease, and with the luxury of time, I drift by playing album after album. There is a realism to vinyl, particularly with live LPs and other ‘earthier’ recordings. For example, with such an accurate and precise set up there is no hint of any timing issues and recently purchased albums burst through the speakers. As a big fan of The War on Drugs, their Live Drugs album sounds particularly dynamic. The album compiles the band’s very best live performance recordings from several years of touring and the production and sound are terrific – although I accidentally purchased a purple vinyl copy and I’m not quite so chuffed about that!
If I am a big fan of The War on Drugs then I am equally about Ryan Adams’ prolific career, wracked in the angst and delight of love, in equal measure, notwithstanding the recent abuse allegations. His Live at Carnegie Hall six album collection, for me, is audio perfection and I have a copy from the first Pax Am label run. Here on this exquisite Vertere platform, the music is pure gold; his New York, New York from the second night and his intimate recital of Sylvia Plath are highlights of the last week of listening. The tracks, indeed, the whole performance does not miss a beat.
In use, I realise that there are a couple of minor physical niggles. The speed on/off button is too close to the platter, which in turn is just slightly oversized and makes the removal of LPs trickier than on Rega’s Planar 3 platter, say, where the vinyl overhangs slightly.
Minor design grumbles aside, the DG-1’s sound is as good as I hoped it would be and I quickly realise I’m in for a listening treat when I introduce a pair of Focal’s Chora 826 floorstanding speakers into the setup. The T+A integrated amplifier and Cyrus phono stage combination is so smooth in its delivery and really does seem to complement this turntable nicely. The Chora speakers give a more natural, ported sound and I feel they are a good match for the resolution delivered by the turntable itself. Particularly with classic vinyl tracks like Miles Davis’ A Kind of Blue, the cymbals in So What are so soft and crisp and Coltrane’s saxophone is a delight.
I have the Focal Chora 826-D (the ‘D’ stands for Dolby Atmos) here for a future AV review, but wired in straight two-channel mode for this review, they are a dynamic joy and seem particularly easy to drive.
Review Album List
It feels appropriate I list my listening choices since I cannot use a Tidal playlist!
Ryan Adams – Live at Carnegie Hall (Night two) and Gold
The War on Drugs – Live Drugs, A Deeper Understanding and Lost in a Dream
Radiohead – In Rainbows, OK Computer and A Moon Shaped Pool
Dire Straits – Love over Gold
Coldplay – Everyday Life
Ed Sheeran – X (45rpm)
Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
The Delines – Colfax (Record Store Day Orange vinyl) and The Imperial
Ceazar – a sample 12” from the Vertere Record label
A joy to look at as well as listen to, Vertere’s DG-1 is an outstanding turntable package without a doubt.
There is no doubt in my mind that Vertere’s ‘entry-level’ DG-1 Dynamic Groove turntable is a wonderfully precise piece of engineering. Each element of the design is optimised to deliver the warm characteristic associated with the vinyl sound. If a Michell GyroDec SE is priced around £2,750 and a Rega Planar 10 is near £3,400, Vetere’s DG-1 Dynamic Groove at £3,300 fitted with the Audio-Technica moving-coil cartridge as reviewed here, is a natural addition to any serious vinyl fan’s must-hear audition list.
A joy to look at as well as listen to, Vertere’s DG-1 is an outstanding turntable package without a doubt.
Style, it is a talking point
It is just fun
Speed switch colours
Ease of use
Low noise floor
The platter was a fraction smaller
Speed switch was elsewhere
Veretere’s Site here
Type – Belt-drive turntable
Motor – 24 Pole Synchronous Acetal Spindle Thrust Bearing
Motor Mount – Axially De-coupled Pulley
Super Precision Aluminium Alloy
Drive Belt – Bespoke Silicone Rubber
Platter DG-1 – Precision Machined Aluminium Alloy, PETG Bonded Record Interface Mat, Underside Bonde Resonance Control Disc
Bearing Spindle DG-1 – Stainless Steel Super Precision Machined and Polished
Roundness / Concentricity < 5 Microns
Bearing Housing – Brass
Super Precision Machined Bore Tolerance < 5 Microns
Super Precision Tungsten Carbide Ball
Plinth Structure – 3 Layer Acrylic, Top and Sub-Plinth, Internally Illuminated
Isolation System 4 Point, Bespoke Silicone Rubber
Support Structure – Steel Chassis – Three Adjustable Feet
Motor Drive – Advanced Microprocessor Controlled
Fully Programmable and Motor Noise Reduction
Speeds – 33.3 and 45 rpm (+/- 0.2%) – Electronically Selectable
Dust Cover – Non-resonant Acrylic
Dimensions (W x D x H) – 469 x 384 x 130mm (including dust cover)
Power Supply – Wall Adaptor Type – UK, US, EU and AUS Exchangeable Plugs – 100 – 240 Vac with 1.5m Cord
Weight – 8kg