Vertere SG-1/SG-1 PTA HB Turntable Page 2

At first, however, I had to take a leap of faith and return to those bygone days when I simply put an LP on the platter – no puck, clamp or vacuum hold-down. I am so used to employing one of the three that it was almost like an act of heresy. Successfully undermining my conditioning, during set up, designer Touraj whipped off the spindle and placed it on its magnetic resting spot on the plinth, near the front left corner, saying it was needed only to centre the LP .

A Sceptic Convinced
Stone me if its removal (and the absence of any form of hold-down) had no deleterious effect on the bass. It was rich, powerful, extended and nearly as dazzling as that of open-reel tape. I had kicked off proceedings with a series of raucous, bass-rich LPs which I imagined would expose Vertere's spindle/anti-clamp folly as more eccentricity, but the sheer power of the lower registers on 'Boogie 'Til You Puke' from Root Boy Slim & The Sex Change Band With The Rootettes [Warner Bros BSK3160] suggested very firmly otherwise.

An example of syncopated funk reminiscent of Little Feat, with a dose of Dr John and a whiff of Captain Beefheart thrown in for seasoning, the track is ripe for dissemination by those enthusiasts who adhere to the concept of 'Pace, Rhythm & Timing', as if these are by-products of the system and not simply of the recording being played at the correct speed. I like to think we've moved on from that benighted era and the truth won out: the SG-1 simply extracted all that the grooves contained.


New Imperium outboard PSU offers fine adjustment for 33.3/45rpm speeds plus a separate 12V feed for the SG-1's LED illumination

What followed was a more mournful track, 'I'm Not Too Old For You', the SG-1 then able to demonstrate its prowess in the midband, with Root Boy's gravelly vocals richly textured and full of emotion. You could sense the sheer anguish when he delivered that immortal line, 'When you turn seventeen, I'll just be thirty-two'. Behind him, with impressive depth, was a wall-to-wall array of instruments and backing vocalists, The Rootettes' singing with angelic sweetness. Better still, and experienced even through my first listening session, the SG-1 was to prove itself a model of consistency and musical coherence.

Home Run
This hit home with the 45rpm, 2LP release of Love's Forever Changes [Mobile Fidelity MFSL 2-402], a Left Coast milestone that excels not just musically but sonically. I'd already heard the delicate 'Andmoreagain' a few hundred times, but the SG-1 added prominence to a few subtle details that I hadn't recalled having such presence. Then again, this was the first time I'd heard it with the DS Master 1, so here I must show restraint. What can't be denied is the foundation which the SG-1 creates.

Forever Changes never struck me as particularly bass-biased, and it wasn't disproportionate via the SG-1, but the LP certainly seemed to have gained more body. What the Vertere/DS Audio front-end was emulating – also against my conditioning – was bass more in line with the kind of 'fill' I expect from open-reel tape but rarely from vinyl. To test this, I dug out an LP from Love's stablemates at Elektra.

Signature Sounds
Clear Light [Elektra EKS-74011] was recorded two months earlier, in April 1967, in the same studio, Sunset Sound, and with the same engineer, Bruce Botnick. Like The Doors' eponymous debut recorded the previous year, it possesses a distinct character which separates it from other LA bands of that fecund period, while distancing them further from the competing sound of San Francisco's bands. Sixty-five years on, these LPs remain paradigms of rock-with-subtlety.

So nakedly revealing is the Vertere SG-1, and so coherent its demeanour that you could hear with minimal effort the signature sound of both Botnick's skills (also heard on Buffalo Springfield's immortal Again) and the mid-1960s Elektra label per se. It's a delicious blend of the incisive and the soothing, as if fuzz-tone guitars and massed strings are natural allies. Yes, Clear Light and Love (and The Doors) are siblings.


Transparent rear of the SG-1 reveals 7-pin DIN connector for the Imperium PSU's dedicated motor link cable [right] and captive tonearm cable with strain relief [left]. Note adjustable 'wings' on the tonearm counterweight for fine azimuth tuning

With the SG-1 flaunting undeniable finesse above palpably powerful lower registers in recordings so endowed, it seemed to be in direct contradiction to my near-religious belief that an LP should be all-but-glued to the platter. Yes, the truly commanding TechDAS Air Force III Premium [HFN Jun '19], at twice the price and with vacuum hold-down and air-bearing, can extract a trace more mass and solidity, but that's not the point. The SG-1 satisfies nearly as much by going in a different direction. Like I said, Touraj is an iconoclast.

Even cacophony doesn't faze the SG-1. Few saxophone solos are as madly screechy as that in 'Astronaut Food' from Sopwith Camel's The Miraculous Hump Returns From The Moon [Reprise MS2108]. Think of the weirdest noises ever made by the astounding Sun Ra and you're close: soaring treble, rapid attack, red hot transients. By the time I got to Carole King's Tapestry [Ode Records SP-77009], chosen to relax me by wallowing in its deliciously convincing piano and yet more floor-filling bass, I was hooked.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Turntables are 'hands-on', so it's always a bonus when a deck excites a pro-active listener. The SG-1 is the antithesis of streaming and a completely fresh approach to vinyl playback, right down to the counterintuitive removal of the spindle. Against all my preconditioning, I fell in love with the SG-1 for both its iconoclasm and its sound, especially the quietness and the cavernous bass. This deck rocks.

Vertere Ltd
Supplied by: Vertere Ltd
0203 176 4888