I have had the privilege of listening to Vertere’s Magic Groove-1 turntable this last month. Not only that but it has also been enhanced by the Vertere Mystic Moving Coil cartridge with the Vertere Phono-1 phono stage. To complete the package, I also have the Challenger DC supply upgrade powering the Vertere Tempo motor drive. The MG-1 has been supplied with their SG-1 tonearm. In summary, it is near perfection.
The Vertere MG-1 is a belt-driven turntable, and it is a high precision piece of equipment. For example, the belt itself is designed with a precision ground smooth side to provide optimum grip on the solid aluminium alloy platter, that has a 3mm bonded cast acrylic disc as used on the next-step-up turntable, the Super Groove‐1.
The motor is also borrowed from the Reference Groove and Super Groove turntables that represent the highest form of design for Vertere and Touraj Moghaddam, the main inspiration at Vertere. The motor delivers a constant speed to drive the belt without any variation. In this review the motor is powered with the Vertere Tempo motor drive, which is off-board, contributing to the silent running low noise theme here. In turn, I have here the Challenger DC power supply for the motor driver, a further low noise upgrade.
The main bearing assembly is also similar to that used on the Super Groove turntable. The main bearing is silent and is supplemented with Vertere’s own bearing oil.
The Vertere MG-1 MkII is provided with the Mystic Moving Coil cartridge which has an aluminium shell that is ‘mass tuned’ to avoid unwanted mechanical variations, it is finished in a rather attractive sapphire blue anodised finish.
The claimed frequency response from the Mystic is 10Hz – 40kHz, it features a micro elliptical diamond construction that claims to offer:
maximum tracking ability without compromising the high frequency response or increasing surface noise
The cartridge is a precise 9.1g and the tracking weight recommended is 2.0g.
When Vertere launched the Mystic cartridge, they noted Touraj said:
The job of a record player is very simple and very linear it has to allow the most accurate measurement of a something going past the stylus and throwing it from side to side over 1000 times every centimetre
This serves to illustrate the incredible forces acting on the Mystic cartridge.
This is actually a MkII version of the Vertere MG-1 turntable, the main upgrades for what they are worth have been made to the motor mounting and the drive itself as well as improved tolerances and accuracy to the main platter and bearing. The tonearm is also upgraded with a counterweight locator for the tracking force and azimuth as well as a new stiffer headshell and heavier sliding mass weight. The tonearm cables are Redline specification too offering an improved link over the previous D-Fi cables.
Precision is the watchword here, much of it derived from the Super Groove model, in turn, learned from the Reference Groove model at twice the price. The tonearm assembly is simply pure engineering precision, and it shows, yet it is so delicate and simple to set up balancing the tonearm was a simple, but accurate, pleasure. The collar on the tonearm is such an effective piece of engineering I was just having the time of my life.
The finishing on the Vertere MG-1 is everything from the acrylic polishing to the tonearm and counterweight shine.
The are several finishes available for the Vertere MG-1 MkII including the clear acrylic shown in these pictures. There is a metallic black, pearlescent white or champagne choice.
The Vertere MG-1 MkII turntable dimensions are 468 x 384 x 140-155mm and it weighs in at a creditable 14 kg.
The MG-1 as supplied (incl. the Tempo Motor Drive) is £9,900 in this review. The Challenger DC upgrade adds £350. The Mystic cartridge is £2200 and finally, the Vertere Phono-1 Mk II is £1,100.
I have the Vertere MG-1 MkII into the Vertere Phono-1 stage; factory set for the Mystic cartridge. This is fed analogue into my Naim NAC N-272 using Vertere Redline interconnects. The NAC is powered by an XPS and in turn, the NAC feeds a Naim NAP 250 with a Vertere Redline Din interconnect. I have an Atlas Modular power distribution block and Atlas power cables feeding the XPS and NAP (and the Vertere Challenger power supply has a Vertere power cable).
I’m driving my pair of KEF R700 floorstanding speakers; old, a bit saggy, and a little loose at the seams, but I love them. And, yes, this setup sounds good, really heavenly.
The Vertere MG-1 MkII is supplied to me with the Vertere Mystic Moving Coil cartridge on their Super Groove Precision Tonearm. This has an aluminium headshell with a wrapped carbon fibre arm.
The Tempo motor drive supplied drives the MG-1 with a 6-7 pin screw-locked DIN dedicated cable.
The turntable has a larger footprint and as such was struggling on my rather functional HiFi rack. I felt to start with I was struggling with a fraction of undue noise, rumble (?) from the cartridge but only at the beginning of a side of a record.
Investigating a new plinth or rack was problematic for time and size reasons but a friend of mine came up with a double-thick kitchen offcut and the insertion of some steel spikes I happened to have into some zinc inserts has produced a heavyweight plinth I think even Touraj would be pleased with, it is weighing in over 20 kilos. Additionally, the rumble I was experiencing has been removed, I’m using the ISO paws too. It’s all about the peripherals in HiFi, every time.
Setting the turntable up was relatively easy and balancing the tonearm weight to the Mystic 2g tracking weight was simple with the collar on the SG-1 tonearm assembly. Establishing the cartridge azimuth and VTA using the cartridge protractor provided was also pretty easy with the rearward screws in the counterweight being very intuitive. After that, it was a case of putting the weight on the anti-skate bar and after this, I felt like a true professional.
I would say I spent half an hour setting up the turntable in total silence and joy, wearing the gloves provided. There is nothing like the enjoyment of fiddling with feet to get that bullseye spirit level near perfect!
It has emerged that I failed to remove the red transport screw from the tonearm assembly, my error was mitigated by the fact I at least loosened it intuitively (so the arm was free), not knowing any better. I should have removed the screw and replaced it with the bearing yoke screw that appears to replace the weight of the transit screw. There was no sign of the bearing yoke screw, a reviewer’s perpetual problem with these wonderful pieces of design that are passed across the industry. But I was lucky the counterweight adjustment and azimuth adjustments were a simple matter to get right.
Ryan Adams – Live at Carnegie Hall, Limited Edition, 180g 6-disc vinyl collection
There is nothing for it but to play my favourite piece of vinyl and just pour a glass of wine, this is what it is all about isn’t it?
Recorded in November 2014, this is surely Ryan Adams’s zenith but as Denzel Washington reminded Will Smith recently, ‘In your highest moments, be careful, that’s when the Devil comes for you’. The Devil has befallen Adams who seeks his redemption of sorts this May (2022), again at Carnegie Hall.
If I really wanted to see Ryan Adams live, and I would absolutely love to, I’d need a plane ticket to New York, a few nights in a hotel and a few t-shirts later, I’d be looking at the price of this turntable. But I do not need to go to Carnegie Hall now because I spent a whole evening listening to this concert and it was like Adams was with me, such is the image, pace, pleasure, and the purest musical enjoyment I could wish for.
Radiohead – OK Computer
OK Computer has never sounded better. Crisp and accurate, powerful, and emotional. That was easy. So too, In Rainbows; in particular, Amnesiac, A Moon Shaped Pool, but less so The Bends. I have a rough copy I think, I’ve always thought it was a poor recording in the first place anyway in any format.
Yes, I played Dark Side of the Moon. Yes, I played every War on Drugs album I have, including Live Drugs (which really is a treasure by the way). And yes, I played everything else you can think of, Automatic for the People, Graceland, Chemtrails Over the Country Club, Malcolm McLaren, The Delines’ Colfax, Led Zep II, III and IV, Sgt. Pepper’s!
The point is that this is a peak vinyl experience, so it must be savoured, and I have taken as many moments as I can.
Paul Simon – Graceland
I bought a longed-for copy of Graceland locally just to finally do it. I absolutely love the visceral African acapella bits on Homeless and Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes, and here the depth in the lungs is as close to perfect as you could want. There is nothing being left behind by the cartridge. I’m going to venture to myself that this turntable is as neutrally inert as it gets, meaning it is simply picking up the rhythm and timing without adding anything, at all. More importantly, it is not taking anything away. I would also suggest getting the bass right towards the end of You Can Call Me Al, puts this turntable up there with one of the funkiest three-second experiences I’ll ever experience.
I’m at my highest audio moment with this turntable, these electronics, but the Devil is unlikely to get me because I know who I am, and I am ready.
Should my wife ever kick me out, I would want to take just a few things, this Naim NAC N-272, NAP 250, a bunch of my best cables, this new plinth, and my saggy KEF R700s. That would be it but the next thing I’d do in my ocean side cottage would be to purchase this Vertere MG-1 turntable, with the matching Vertere Phono-1; oh, and the Mystic cartridge, and the Challenger power supply upgrade, I’m going all in. I also feel genuinely as if I would not need any CDs and surely this is the joy of vinyl (I’ve got a shiny CD Transport coming shortly so this statement will inevitably change!).
We had the Vertere DG-1 last year which was a dreamy listen, it was natural, precise and at least as good looking as this Vertere MG-1 MkII. The choice between these turntables is simply about your budget and your desire but there is no doubt in my mind that Vertere’s turntables are a dream to listen to.
A turntable will only be as good as its weakest link, and in the Vertere MG-1, there just don’t seem to be any. Timing and precision are the keys here and they add up to deliver a sublime vinyl audio experience. It really is as simple as cueing up your favourite piece of plastic and sailing away. This Vertere MG-1 MkII has also highlighted the best of this wonderful Naim system and it has reminded me how fortunate I am to live with this pile of electronics.
Easy to Setup
Easy to get lost
Nothing is taken away
Full details are on the company’s site