Even by the standards of the average workaholic, Touraj Moghaddam of Vertere Acoustics has had a busy few years. First came the cables, then that tonearm (the one that costs as much as a new BMW), followed by a matching turntable, more cables, another, more attainable, turntable and tonearm, a complete revision of the cable line, then a turntable platform and equipment stands, taking on the UK distribution of FM Acoustics, and now a third, still cheaper, turntable, and a new phono stage. All this in less than half the time it takes to mature a barrel of whisky. What a slacker!
If Vertere’s top deck’s RG-1 handle stands for ‘Reference Groove’ and the SG-1 is short for ‘Standard Groove’, then the new MG-1 tested here means ‘Magic Groove’. Doubtless, the joy-sponges who seems determined to suck the fun out of life will start foaming at the mouth about this name (as they did when they took Apple to task about where they kept the magic in ‘the magical iPad’), but when you actually listen to the thing, ‘Magic Groove’ fits well.
Followers of the Vertere range will notice that it’s not hard to see the family resemblance. The ‘good’, ‘better’, and ‘best’ nature of the turntable line-up can clearly be seen in the thickness of the two-layer plinth and sub-chassis. There’s a lot more to that than meets the eye, but the fact the largest is almost twice the thickness of the smallest is the immediate take-away detail. Vertere has also recently discovered a metallic black print material that works with acrylic, which looks good without sounding bad.
The MG-1 turntable itself really is like a scaled-down version of the SG-1, which is itself like a scaled-down version of the RG-1, so if you like the sound of the big one, but can’t quite reach that kind of outlay, the SG-1 and now the MG-1 will perform in the same vein. The MG-1 retains scaled-down versions of the main bearing and platter assembly, the plinth, and isolation system. The big change between the bigger decks and the MG-1 is perhaps the removal of the middle layer of isolation. The three-layer decoupled sandwich layout of the SG-1 and RG-1 is replaced by a smaller, two-layer decoupled platform with rigid insert, and both the one-piece platter and the bearing housing are smaller and lighter.
What is unchanged, however, is the excellent record player motor assembly from its bigger brothers. This assembly is basically floating in a rigid mount, so it delivers constant belt tension, which means it drives the platter at constant speed as the motor compensating frequency is below 1Hz. As the three elements of this whole unit (motor, sub-chassis, and platter) are designed to move as one, even belt wear over the years is less of an issue, and – aside from the odd drop of oil to the bearing every year or so – the Vertere turntable designs are made to be maintenance-free.