Vertere Acoustics unveils exquisitely engineered high-end Calon phono stage at High End Munich

Vertere Calon phono stage
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Vertere Acoustics has introduced the high-end Calon phono stage at High End Munich. The name Calon means 'heart' in Welsh, which is quite a poetic name for an electronic component that can make or break the performance of a vinyl-playing system.

The Calon is a carefully considered moving magnet/moving coil unit that takes a fresh look at how a phono preamplifier should be designed. It is dual-mono in construction to ensure that the signal path for each channel is identical, with extensive care taken over the power supply arrangement and its shielding. The amplification boards are sophisticated four-layer gold-plated circuits packed full of high-quality components. Vertere hasn't just crammed them full of 'big name' audiophile parts, rather it has used its extensive experience to choose the components that give the most accurate and musical results.

The signal path is unusual too. The cartridge's tiny output first enters a user-adjustable gain stage that offers 0dB, +10dB and +20dB options. The idea is that the low-level cartridge output is amplified before any equalisation takes place in a bid to preserve the detail and dynamics inherent in the signal. 

The RIAA equalisation is then done with a hybrid circuit where the low frequencies are handled actively and the higher ones equalised passively. Vertere has found that this approach gives the most accurate results. The fully equalised signal then passes through another user-adjustable gain stage (0dB, +2dB, +4dB, +6dB and +8dB) before being routed to the single-ended and balanced outputs.

Vertere Calon

The wonderfully neat insides of the Vertere Calon (Image credit: Future)

The company is particularly proud of how it has implemented the switchable subsonic filter, claiming it to be pretty much inaudible and having almost no measurable effects above 20Hz. The advantage of such a filter is that it removes subsonic noise, reducing the additional strain on the partnering amplifier and speakers. There is also a 180-degree  phase switch that can compensate for albums recorded out of absolute phase. 

As expected, there is plenty of adjustability here. The Calon offers a gain range of 45 - 73dB with capacitance from 100pF to 1uF and impedance ranging from 100 Ohms to 47 kOhms. That should be enough to cope with just about any cartridge on the market.

Vertere Calon

(Image credit: Future)

The Calon's casework looks beautifully finished and is made of non-magnetic (Austenitic) stainless steel, which provides shielding without suffering from eddy currents and other magnetic issues steel would bring. The small control dials are made of highly polished stainless steel. There are two finishes available: silver and black.

All this quality costs a fair bit, as you can imagine, although you may not have guessed the eyebrow-raising price of £15,500 / $19,995 for the Vertere Acoustics Calon when it goes on sale in July 2024. 


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Ketan Bharadia
Technical Editor

Ketan Bharadia is the Technical Editor of What Hi-Fi? He's been been reviewing hi-fi, TV and home cinema equipment for over two decades, and over that time has covered thousands of products. Ketan works across the What Hi-Fi? brand including the website and magazine. His background is based in electronic and mechanical engineering.