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Vertere Acoustics Imperium

Vertere Imperium

The idea of a product range that translates to ‘good, better, best’ is a longstanding one and something that resonates with both dealers and customers alike. Vertere Acoustics doesn’t perfectly adhere to this formula; there are four levels of turntable but fewer arms, cartridges and other sundries to perfectly replicate the idea but with the arrival of the Imperium Motor Drive unit, there are now three levels of turntable power supply to choose from.

Logically enough, the Imperium splits the difference between the ‘entry level’ Tempo Motor Drive and the flagship Reference model but given that the price difference between those two devices is in the order of £29,000, it gives it a fair bit of space to fill. The design principle is built around an AC system which Vertere prefers. A sine and cosine wave is generated by a microprocessor that passes this digitised signal to an onboard DAC that decodes them into an analogue signal.

Bridged amplifiers

In order for this signal to drive the motor, it is passed to a pair of bridged amplifiers that generate the signal required to run the turntable motor itself. Every part of this process is heavily screened, both from each other internally and for resistance to the outside world. The Imperium outputs to the turntable via a 7-way locking DIN connector that is the same as the fitting on the Tempo. So long as your Vertere turntable has this connection (some older models will need it retrofitted), the Imperium connects directly. Vertere supplies an upgraded cable with it as well as one of their Redline mains leads.

Where the Imperium borrows from its big brother is the presence of a very fine pitch adjustment system. This is intended to nullify minor speed errors in the mastering process and gives a +/- 0.75% adjustment via a knob on the front panel. This is really the only styling feature on the whole chassis and a source of slight confusion because, for the most part, you won’t touch it and instead use a much smaller pair of switches to select speed and start and stop the turntable. The Imperium is well finished but feels a little small and sober for the outlay.

Vertere Imperium - Base

Connecting the Imperium is simple enough but the physical connections only represent a small part of the setup procedure. The idea is that the Imperium is initially connected upside down. From there, two trim pots on the underside can be adjusted at the same time as you press a finger against the motor. Judicious adjustment with a supplied tool will reduce the perceived vibration of the motor down to nothing, after which, the Imperium can be reinstalled the right way up.

The review sample was installed on my own MG-1 MkII which has been running with a Tempo Motor drive and Challenger power supply since I purchased it. In the true ethos of the Vertere range and good, better, best, the Imperium is more price appropriate to the middle SG-1 model but Vertere notes that a number of MG-1s have been fitted with them too. I will confess to a degree of scepticism about the worth of fitting an £8,000 PSU to a turntable that doesn’t cost significantly more than that in total but Vertere was confident it would make a difference.

And…perhaps infuriatingly… it does. Absolutely central to what the Imperium does is that it doesn’t alter the MG-1’s fundamental determination to get out of the way of the music being played. It doesn’t add character or emphasis to the performance but enhances the underlying qualities of the deck. Alternating between the Tempo/Challenger and the Imperium and playing A World of Masks by The Heliocentrics [Soundway] sees the Imperium augment the MG-1’s already exceptional detail retrieval. The superb percussion of The Silverback isn’t more pronounced in the overall mix, it’s simply easier to appreciate the subtleties in Malcolm Catto’s extremely distinctive playing style.

Vertere Imperium - Inner Details

Something else that benefits is the overall soundstage. In its Tempo equipped form, this is perhaps the one area where the MG-1 has to concede ground to my resident Michell GyroDec which has an almost cinematic width to its presentation (at the expense of being a little more diffuse towards the centre). With the Imperium, the space present in Fink Meets the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra [Ninja Tune] is enough to make the orchestra a tangible presence in the room, extending well beyond the confines of the speakers themselves. When the full weight of the instrumentation in Berlin Sunrise arrives, the swell of sound pressure is visceral and acts like a further aid in the suspension of disbelief. It’s a maddening cop out to say that the Imperium makes the MG-1 MkII ‘more Vertere’ but, in the manner of most of the other components I have tested from the company- even on non Vertere turntables, this is by and large what it does.

Absurdly accomplished

Of course, you can reasonably ask whether this further focusing of what is already an absurdly accomplished turntable is worth the stiff asking price of the Imperium and this is something you will have to decide for yourself. I suspect that, as a proportion of the total price, it will be easier to justify for SG-1 owners but people with MG-1s should be aware that there are considerable benefits to be had here too. Vertere’s take on good, better, best might be closer to ‘outstanding, game changing and out and out transcendental’ but the Imperium usefully bolsters their already formidable turntable range.

Vertere Imperium - Back

Price and contact details

Imperium Motor Drive Plus £7,950


Vertere Acoustics


 +44(0)203 176 4888

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