Touraj Moghaddam Vertere’s founder and chief designer today announced plans to start delivering the new Imperium Motor Drive this month. Imperium follows quite closely behind the new SG-PTA tonearm and VeRum interconnect as the ideal products to match the Vertere SG-1 record player. Demand for the latest Motor Drive, subsequently called Imperium, was driven by owners of SG-1 and RG-1 record players looking for a Motor Drive superior in performance to Tempo but more affordable than the Reference MD.
Imperium’s design derives from Vertere’s Reference Motor Drive: it includes a simplified power supply and control functions. As a result, it sits above last year’s launch of the innovative Tempo.
Imperium is available to order now and will sell for £7950.00, 9998€, $11995, CAD$14995, AUS$ 17995. The Imperium packaging includes a motor link and a 2m Redline mains cable.
What makes Imperium special
The key was to make a motor drive with as pure a sine and cosine wave output and as little noise as possible. The design and cabling also had to consider possible RF pickup and ingress.
Enclosed in a precision CNC milled from solid aluminium shell lies a twin-regulated linear power supply feeding the primary circuit, the 12V external supply for the record player’s illumination and the digital regulation for the microprocessor and DAC.
The double screened programmable and updateable microprocessor digitally generates the sine and cosine waves (which are switchable to be ± 0, 0.25%, 0.5%) to the equally double screened DAC. The output of the DAC feeds two ‘power amps’ provided by an extremely clean supply to drive the approximately 17V the motor requires.
Exceptional attention to detail, including a gold-plated two-layer PCB utilising extensive ground planes, fully regulated voltage rails powering different circuit sections, and carefully selected components, ensure in-control and ‘clean’ final delivery of power to the motor. The PCB mixes SMD and thru-hole components using the best of both technologies. Copper foil shields the entire digital, microprocessor and DAC circuitry is first, and then the whole PCB is secondarily shielded using a stainless-steel shield plate.
The motor drive output is a high-quality gold plated 7-way thread-locked DIN connector, connecting Imperium power to the record player via a dedicated motor link cable.
Contrary to quickly thought logic, the only energy that produces output from a phono cartridge comes from the record player’s motor. The quality of this motor, the motor mounting, the drive belt and especially the motor drive, including its power supply, massively influences the player’s sound quality. It seems illogical for the power supply to affect the sound quality dramatically when all it does is provide a constant supply to a digital synthesiser of sine and cosine waves. But equally, we forget that no power supply is perfect, and all have an output impedance and contain some noise and distortion.
Imperium is designed with the optimum linear power supply internally to reduce any external noise pickup and lower the impedance path.
The result is a subtle but, at the same time obvious, improvement of timbre and low-level information and stereo precision, even over Tempo which itself was a significant improvement over the original SG motor drive.
Imperium is supplied fully optimised and set up for the record player motor. In the case of an upgrade, the retailer can adjust the output voltage and phase for absolutely the lowest motor noise and vibration. This is adjustable for both 33.3 and 45rpm rotational speeds.
One, sometimes forgotten, element of record player design is the future technology of the belt. Should a new material be researched that delivers improved performance but requires a different thickness of the belt, this would change the platter’s speed as speed is related to the circumference drawn by the centre of the width of the belt – Not the inner circumference as would be expected. In this case, Imperium (in fact, all Vertere digital motor drives) could be reprogrammed to deliver precisely the correct speed and pitch.
Touraj explains the source of some of his background knowledge
“Our collaboration with music industry engineers has given us invaluable insights into the art of cutting. This knowledge has enabled us to advance our record player design in many ways to extract the maximum from vinyl records.
For example, with his recent remixes of the Beatles albums, Giles Martin – son of the late Sir George – used a Vertere MG-1 record player, including SG-1 tonearm and PHONO-1 preamplifier throughout to check and approve the acetates and the test pressings.
And we’ve worked closely with the multi-award-winning mastering engineer Miles Showell: since February 2017. Miles has been using his own extensively customised Neumann VMS 80 lathe, incorporating Vertere cables, to cut normal and half-speed masters for the likes of ABBA, Cream, The Police and The Rolling Stones, and also the 50th-anniversary release of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Beatles (otherwise known as ‘The White Album’).
Working closely with Miles has led to the first releases on our record label Vertere Records. Releases: a three-track EP and first album by Scottish band Caezar, and the first album by Dutch singer/songwriter Elles Springs, which was specially tape-transferred and then half-speed mastered and cut by Miles for our label.
It’s only by involving ourselves at every stage of the record-making process that we can ensure our players bring you as close as possible to what the artists and engineers wanted you to hear.”
Reducing engineering to its fundamentals, to get you even closer to the original recording.
When aiming to reproduce the complexities of music, it’s all too easy to introduce even more significant complication in the engineering of audio equipment, putting in place one element to solve the problems until the whole design escalates into something fiendishly intricate – and expensive.
That’s not the Vertere way: coming at the whole problem with decades of audio and mechanical engineering experience, plus close collaboration with the recording and mastering industry, we step back, take a long hard look at the fundamentals, and look for simple, elegant solutions.
That may sound like a simple ‘less is more’ philosophy, but we prefer to look at it this way: the best audio equipment shouldn’t add anything to or remove anything from the original recording. Instead, it should affect it as little as possible; bringing the listener ever closer to what the artist, producer and mastering engineer wanted you to hear.