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Vertere Introduces XtraX and Dark Sabre High-Resolution Phono Cartridges

Looking to upgrade your vinyl playback? Vertere’s Dark Sabre MM and XtraX MC cartridges promise a lot for a very steep price.

Vertere Xtrax and Dark Sabre Phono Cartridges

Touraj Moghaddam, CEO and Founder, of Vertere Acoustics has a long track record of innovation in the turntable category going back to the Roksan Xerxes; one of the most popular British high-end turntables of the 1980s. Their entry-level DG-1S is one of the most innovative turntables currently available, but it only represents the first tier of their products.

Vertere has introduced the new XtraX moving coil cartridge ($6,499) and Dark Sabre moving magnet cartridge ($1,599). Both cartridges will be available from the end of October, claiming to offer significant improvements over their predecessors, which will now sit beneath them in the Vertere cartridge range.

Vertere Xtrax Moving Coil Phono Cartridge
Vertere Xtrax Moving Coil Phono Cartridge

What makes XtraX special

XtraX follows Vertere’s hugely popular Mystic moving coil cartridge and improves upon it in every area. Lower tip mass, a stiffer, faster cantilever attached to a very low mass cross coil in a time-constant magnetic – a combination known internally as “Direct Drive” – delivers a highly musical, high definition, and powerful, engaging performance. Its purple color makes no difference to the performance.

Vertere Xtrax Moving Coil Phono Cartridge Right Side
Vertere Xtrax Moving Coil Phono Cartridge

XtraX MC Features

  • The body is precision CNC machined from solid aluminium alloy and hard anodised.
  • Threaded body to accept the supplied stainless steel thumb screws for correct coupling of the cartridge body to the tonearm headshell.
  • Three specifically designed contact points CNC machined into the top of the body that provide the exact mechanical coupling required.
  • Alignment ridge on the front top that assists mounting XtraX to any Vertere tonearm.
  • The low-mass generator utilises a Samarium-Cobalt magnet with a low-mass cross coil made of pure virgin copper wires.
  • The low-mass generator is mounted into the high-mass body using a Quad-Point Contact with Four Stainless’ Spike’ Screws for optimum support and control of unwanted mechanical vibrations.
  • The telescopic aluminium tube cantilever utilising two different aluminium materials – maximises stiffness without a massive high Q peak.
  • Nude Micro Elliptical single crystal diamond stylus tip for maximum tracking ability without compromising the high-frequency response or increasing surface noise.
  • Square shank diamond assembly maximises alignment precision, consistency and rigidity.
  • Wideband frequency response of below 10Hz to 45kHz.
  • Output of 0.45mV will provide a lifelike dynamic range with depth and precision.
Vertere Dark Sabre Moving Magnet Phono Cartridge
Vertere Dark Sabre Moving Magnet Phono Cartridge

What makes the Dark Sabre special

Traditionally, since the passing of the Shure V15 Mk3 and maybe the Mk4 moving magnet cartridges, they have tended to be seen and heard as low and middle-market products. In the last two or three years, a few more high-end moving magnet cartridges have been launched mainly to suit modern high-end integrated amplifiers – a relatively new market entrant. Vertere’s Sabre, the high-end moving magnet cartridge, has been successful and brought a demand for an even further improved version.

With its single crystal, nude micro elliptical diamond and dual aluminium telescopic cantilever, Dark Sabre improves on Sabre significantly.

Vertere Dark Sabre Moving Magnet Phono Cartridge Right Side
Vertere Dark Sabre Moving Magnet Phono Cartridge

Dark Sabre MM Features

  • Aluminium alloy body CNC precision machined from solid then hard anodised black.
  • The low-mass generator utilises an Alnico magnet with a low-mass cross coil made of pure virgin copper wires.
  • The low-mass generator is mounted into the high-mass body using a Quad-Point Contact with Four Stainless’ Spike’ Screws for optimum support and control of unwanted mechanical vibrations.
  • The body is mass-tuned to the generator for optimum support of unwanted energy transfer.
  • The telescopic aluminium tube cantilever utilising two different aluminium materials – maximises stiffness without a massive high Q peak.
  • Nude Micro Elliptical single crystal diamond stylus tip for maximum tracking ability without compromising the high-frequency response or increasing surface noise.
  • Square shank diamond assembly maximises alignment precision, consistency, and rigidity.
  • Alignment ridge on the front top that assists mounting Sabre to any Vertere tonearm.
  • Three specifically designed contact points CNC machined into the top of the body that provide the exact mechanical coupling required.
  • Three specifically designed contact points CNC machined into the top of the body that provide the exact mechanical coupling required.\
  • Wideband frequency response of below 14Hz to above 28kHz
  • Output of 4.3mV will provide a lifelike dynamic range with depth and precision.

Specifications

Dark SabreXtrax
MSRP$1,599$6,499
TypeMoving MagnetMoving Coll
Output4.3mV (@ 1kHz, 5cm/sec.)0.45mV (@5cm/sec.)
Frequency Response14Hz-28kHz10Hz-45kHz
Coil Impedance (per Channel)1k Ω, @ 1kHz40 Ω per channel
Recommended Tracking Weight2.0g (1.90g-2.10g)2.05g (1.90g -2.10g)
Recommended Load47kQ OpF-Max. 470pF850Ω-1k5Ω. 0pF – Max. 470pF
CantileverAluminium – TelescopicAluminium – Telescopic
Magnet TypeAlnicoSamarlum-Cobalt
Mounting to Stylus≈ 9.0 mm≈ 7.8 mm
Headshell to Stylus≈ 18.5 mm≈ 18.5 mm
Diamond ProfileNude Micro Elliptical. (7.5 x 15.5 μm)Nude Micro Elliptical (7.5 x 15.5 μm)
Dynamic Compliance10 x 10-6 cm/dyne (@100Hz)12×10-6 cm/dyne (@100Hz)
Channel BalanceBetter than 1dBBetter than 1dB
Channel Separation>25dB>28dB
Generator FixingSpecial Quad-Point Contact. Four Stainless ‘Spike’ ScrewsSpecial Quad-Point Contact. Four Stainless ‘Spike’ Screws
Head-shell MountingTri-Point Contact M2.5 Threaded Fixing HolesVertere Tri-point M2.5 Threaded Fixing Holes
Weight11.5g11.2g

Background

The cartridge’s job is to stand up to the mechanical torture of playing a record and deliver the most accurate representation of what was cut into the record’s groove as is possible.

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.

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.

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By involving ourselves at every stage of the record-making process, we can ensure our players bring you as close as possible to what the artists and engineers wanted you to hear.”

Price & Availability

Available end of October 2023.

  • XtraX moving coil cartridge – $6,499 (£5800, €6998)
  • Dark Sabre moving magnet cartridge – $1,599 (£1450, €1798)
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