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How on Earth did I stumble into such remarkable luck to turn this into a monthly article moving ahead? Ku understands that there is a cultured crossroads where being an audiophile, and having a deep appreciation for the finer things in life intersect. Located in what is considered an excellent barley-growing region in the eastern reaches of Scotland, in the Valley of Garioch, the distillery is a short drive from Aberdeen, and goes back to The Garioch 12, and the Vertere combo is another inspired, and complimentary pairing for this review piece, as the complexity, and refinement of both the whisky, and turntable require time, and a mature palette to properly absorb, and appreciate.
Like the Standard Groove, it wastes no time introducing itself as a strong performer, with a deep, complex personality that is revealed more over time. I started with the Garioch neat, but found a few drops of distilled water opened up the caramel, oak, and vanilla that had been somewhat shy at first blush neat. The initial splash that hits the mouth feels dry, with a slight apricot hint at the base of the nose, with dry fruits lightly piled on top towards the middle where traces of banana, citrus, brown sugar, and pepper then make their presence known.
Mouth feel is strong, and fulsome, if a slight bit oily in its ability to coat the tongue for that extended, peppery finish.
Playing to the heart of music. With my notes taken regarding the first part of this review, it was time to turn to the listening aspect. The SG-1 is the second-tier offering of three from the London-based, boutique turntable, tonearm, and cable manufacturer Vertere Acoustics.
Founded in by engineering legend Touraj Moghaddam, who had previously co-founded Roksan, Vertere is gaining traction, and notoriety not only for their high-fidelity contributions, but for wiring up some of the most seminal recording studios in the world: Abbey Road for example.
An arm without colouration? To look at it is to come to a renewed appreciation for the capabilities of tonearm manufacturers to create high-fidelity artwork, because it is — literally — a thing of beauty to behold. Once you go stone-body, is there going back? The Koetsu Onyx Platinum. What to say about a Koetsu? In particular, what to say about a stone-bodied Koetsu? Many audiophiles fall in love with Koetsu, and their midrange abilities, but they are often lamented for their rolloff in the upper, and lower registers.
Where there is a more romantic, timbral saturation to the Rosewood, the Onyx is a few shades less warm, but scales the resolution — not only in the midband, but particularly in the upper, and lower frequency extension — dramatically. I used a wide range of LPs for listening, with particular emphasis on jazz, electronic, vocal, acoustic, and classical, and was never disappointed.
All cabling except for the Siltech phono cable was Audio Note. Power treatment was a combo of the Shindo Labs Mr. T , and the PS Audio P After I had played several LPs through it I noticed a suppleness start to creep into the entire frequency spectrum, but it was particularly noticeable initially in the upper, and lower registers, with the midrange coming on-song last.
And, flow they did here. Summing things up, regardless of what type of music you have a preference for, I could find no shortcomings other than being out of my price range in the Vertere SG-1 or the accompanying SME-V tonearm, and Koetsu moving-coil cartridge. They outperformed my expectations — which were very high — from start to finish, and were capable of live-performance recreations at high volume levels with completely fatigue-free playback, and yet retained a full bottom end, and midrange timbral bloom with plenty of detail during low level listening sessions as well.
Review: Whisky and Listening – Vertere SG-1 turntable, SME-V tonearm, and Koetsu Onyx Platinum
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