A couple of years ago, a cable company made a tonearm. That is interesting enough in its own right, but the tonearm it made cost £27,000, making it the most expensive production tonearm in history. Anyone who scratched the surface discovered the full story was not quite as insane as it first looked.
First, the arm was damn good. And the reason for that was the cable company was a relatively new brand called Vertere. Vertere was the brain-child of one Touraj Moghaddam, one of the founders and chief designer of Roksan, the makers of the Xerxes turntable, Artemis tonearm, and so on. Suddenly, the idea of a cable maker bursting onto the vinyl scene didn’t seem so mad.
Despite (the more cynical might say ‘because of’) the price, the Reference arm proved more of success than Touraj could have dreamed of, and those who heard what it could do began to ask if there could be a turntable that drew on Touraj’s years of deck-building, that offers something close to the same performance. The answer was, unsurprisingly, ‘yes’… but the Vertere concept also needed to be able to reach a less well-heeled vinylista. The result was the SG-1 turntable and arm, and the RG-1 turntable. This is possibly the best example of ‘trickle down’ seen in audio for some time; the success of the Reference arm helped ‘green light’ the turntable and lower cost arm projects.
Those who have followed Touraj’s turntable designs from the original Xerxes to the TMS 3 will see commonalities between the Roksan and Vertere designs, but the SG-1 and RG-1 we tested are not simply ‘me too’ rehashed designs of old. In both Vertere turntables, the plinth itself is a three-and-a-bit layer design, with 30mm clear acrylic upper and lower plinths, a 15mm clear acrylic mid-plinth, and a 25mm ‘sub-plinth’ (that practically everyone else would call a sub-chassis). These form a three-stage compliant and two-stage rigid system, with the turntable sitting on hard rubber/stainless steel adjustable feet, with 3mm acrylic disc stand-offs providing the rigid part, and a dozen decouplers (made of tuned silicone rings on bobbins) providing the compliance.