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 the new Vertere Magneto moving magnet, and it’s essentially a rebadged Audio-Technica AT-VM520EB with a different coloured body. Bought separately it costs £220 ($249, AU$550).
As part of the Vertere DG-1 package, it’s more than capable of justifying the extra £100 ($100, AU$150) it adds to the base DG-1 price of £2750 ($3795, AU$5845). But, think of it as something to get you going, rather than the final destination. Ultimately, the DG-1’s abilities demand something better.
One of our favourite products from the last year or so is Vertere’s MG-1 turntable. It’s a supremely talented performer that sets the performance benchmark at its price but, at close to £10k, it’s out of reach for most people. That’s where the company's most affordable deck yet, the DG-1 Dynamic Groove, comes in to play.
Get past the Dynamic Groove’s 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.
Speeds (rpm) 33.33, 45
Electric speed change Yes
Manual operation Yes
Phono amp No
Tonearm included Yes
Cartridge included Yes
Belt drive Yes
Dimensions (hwd) 13 x 38 x 37cm
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.
There’s a counterweight at the back, as normal, but if you need to make subtle adjustments, there’s a small secondary weight on the cartridge side of the arm to make that easier.
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-neoprene-nitrile disc on the underside to give a good combination of rigidity and damping. It’s driven via a bespoke round-section 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 is derived from the one used in Vertere’s more upmarket offerings and is a 24v pole synchronous design. It comes with an individually optimised partnering power supply to minimise noise and vibration. As with other Vertere turntables, the motor body is designed to move to absorb belt tension effects, so helping to improve speed stability.
Changing speed from 33.3 to 45rpm is done electronically by giving the stop/start button a quick press. Holding that button a touch longer stops the platter rotating. It’s a pleasantly simple control method, though we’d like to see the button near the front edge of the plinth rather than up by the motor and a little too close to the drive belt.
Ideally, the DG-1 should be placed well away from speakers on a dedicated, low-resonance support. This advice applies to all turntables if you want to get the best out of them. Also, make sure that the support is absolutely level.
Set-up is straightforward and the instructions are clear enough for most people to get going pretty quickly. The cartridge comes fitted and apart from setting the tracking weight, adjusting arm bias and fitting the platter and belt, there’s not much else to do.
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, out-going 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 clarity and are solidly planted in an expansive and nicely layered soundstage.
The presentation stays composed and stable, even when the piece becomes frantic, the deck refuses to sound stressed. Yet, given the music’s dramatic nature, we’re pleased to report that the DG-1 sounds admirably explosive when required. It’s a complete performance that’s all the more impressive when considering the relatively modest cartridge.
Sure, a better one would see an improvement in refinement at higher frequencies where the Magneto sounds a little coarse, and also would also reveal even more in the way of subtleties. But, even as the package stands with the Magneto in place, it’s easily the most entertaining option we’ve heard at the price. No mean feat considering it’s up against rivals as capable as Rega’s excellent Planar 8/Apheta 2 combination.
Over the test session, we play a range of records from Michael Jackson’s Bad to Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis and Nirvana’s Nevermind, and the DG-1 never sounds out of place. It delivers a full dose of musical thrills without falling short on hi-fi specifics, such as stereo imaging, resolution or tonal accuracy.
There’s no denying the fact that the Vertere DG-1 is up against some mighty competition, but given what we’ve heard it can go into any such comparisons with confidence. Highly recommended.
- Sound 5
- Features 5
- Build 5