Vertere Mystic (Moving Coil) Phono Cartridge Review [English]
…will pretty much give you everything is in the grooves of any LP out there, with no fuss or stress and world-class soundstage dimensionality.
The sound of vinyl includes a lot of satisfying (to us older audiophiles) elements. The procedure of getting the LP out of the protective cover, how you clean it carefully with a carbon fiber brush, the lowering of the cartridge on the surface, the kind of vague imaging that you can feel only when you listen to the surgical precision of the same album on digital, the awe from the incredible mechanical-to-electrical transformation of something that was made a some decades ago and still gives you goosebumps, the ability to be able to listen to your favorite music that is still not issued on CD, or worse that it is out there on digital but it was “butchered” on the analog to digital transfer (mainly from the new age mastering minds that think that dynamic compression is a good thing, even on classical material, my God!) regardless of the sampling frequency or bit depth…
But good analog sound needs good (really good) analog gear, and that needs money, a lot more than some people think. See good analog reproduction needs a good cartridge, a good arm, a good turntable deck, a good phono stage. And if you have listened systematically to an analog rig that costs at least 3-5.000 euros then you will be surprised to find that listening to a lesser quality combination of the above does not get you the same level of satisfaction (and that is in my opinion a starting point for a complete set, sorry). And that is true especially for cartridges. Now good quality cartridges can be found from around 500 euros, but really good cartridges are more expensive (more than a 1.000 euros), and amazing cartridges are above 2.000 euros. And here am testing cartridge that is in that last category. 2.500 euros are a lot of money for the most of us (myself included) and that is why something like that must be of a special quality, must perform in a very unique and very satisfying way, in a way that makes you feel happy in more ways than one.
And the Vertere Mystic is a cartridge that can do that. First of all it has a unique color, a unique shape, and a kind of unique sound (but that is for later). The body of the cartridge is made from a solid piece of aluminium alloy with threaded holes that make the life of the installer a breeze. It is also mass-tuned for the generator for optimum support without any unwanted mechanical vibrations. On the upper section that makes contact with the shell it has three small bumps that make contact with the shell, that the manufacturer states that make the mechanical coupling more rigid. The body is kind of big and that is why, before acquiring it, you should check that your arm is compatible with it. The magnet system is Samarium-Cobalt (rare earth) and the coil is a low mass cross type made with pure virgin copper wire. The cantilever is made out of Aluminium 7000 telescopic tube that (as the manufacturer states again) maximizes stiffness without a massive high Q peak. The diamond tip has a Micro Elliptical shape for maximum tracking ability without compromising high frequency response or increasing surface noise (more about that later). The output of the cartridge is a healthy 0.5mV but the coil impedance is 40Ω (Ohms) and that needs special care on the phono preamplifier side. The manufacturer states that in order for the cartridge to sound its best you need a termination load of 680Ω to 1.5kΩ, and that is a load that not so many phono preamps out there can provide. And, the manufacturer is right, using as a load 800 -1.2kΩ got me the best sound out of the Mystic. Also on one of the preamplifiers that I tested the Mystic (Goldmund Mimesis 7 phono) I got total incompatibility. So before you spend your money, a test would be the smart thing to do (bring your phono stage to the dealer to check if everything sounds great). And it can sound great, that is the point of this review.
The preamplifiers I tested it with were the Bonnec Fono (were I had to change the input load to satisfy the needs of the Mystic), the aforementioned Goldmund (that did not work nice at all) and the Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista Vinyl phono stage that provides with the push of a switch the proper loading. With the Nu-Vista Vinyl I got also the best results (better match). The most used turntable in this review (out of three) was the EAT Forte S with the 12” C-Note arm. The head-shell wires (as all others in the system) were from vdH, the amplifier was the Musical Fidelity M8xi and the speakers were the ProAc K6 model. The rack that was used is from Finite Elemente with carbon fiber shelves.
The Mystic requires careful setup (as do all cartridges) but it was not difficult at all to get it to sound right with maximum information retrieval and minimum distortion, as it uses these extra helpful thumb screws that make (with the threaded body holes) everything else out there seem, well, kind of a sadistic experience. Also the geometry of the body is very helpful (parallel sides) and the instructions did make my life easy during the installation. The Mystic also needs a lengthy break-in since it sounded really good (as the price range it belongs suggests) after at least 50 hours of play. Being used to mostly Japanese cartridges (and vdHul for that matter) that after about 15 hours sound not annoying smooth and grainless (to put it mildly) the Mystic was a tough nut to crack till it hit the (around) 40 hour mark. But then it smoothed out completely, it got a silky but VERY dynamic character, that made listening to all kinds of music pure joy. Now it had a very surefooted behavior, tracking pretty much everything I put on the platter with such a cool attitude that it kind of became addictive.
The detail it retrieves from the grooves is top notch and that makes it produce a huge soundstage with very well defined and precise images with very convincing height, depth and air around the instruments. It also (as every other great cartridge I have encountered) glides in the tracks with minimum surface noise, making listening to a properly cleaned LP an almost eerie experience.The tonal balance is pretty much neutral, not very sweet (only when the recording is such), but if I had to point out a frequency range that the Mystic excels I would pick the bass and mid-bass. It is simply of reference quality, tonally and dynamically. “it has the kind of bass that you feel not only hear” was a quote from a friend.
So there you have it, the Mystic is a worthy contender if you are looking to get a very, very good cartridge, that will pretty much give you everything is in the grooves of any LP out there with no fuss or stress, it is basically neutral in character and very easy to set up, but needs careful matching with your preamp to get everything out of it. Highly recommended!
Analog Sources: E.A.T. (European Audio Team) Forte-S turntable with the 12” C-Note arm , Kuzma Stabi-M, Musical Fidelity Roundtable S, & Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO DC, Dynavox PS-300, Oracle Audio. Phono Stages: Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista Vinyl, E.A.R. Yoshino models, Various others. Cartridges: Ortofon, Kuzma CAR, Shelter, Nagaoka, Benz Digital Sources : Primare, Holo Audio Spring Kitsune’ Level 3 Edition, RT-Audio Design Orpheus HiRes Battery DAC, Ideon Audio 3R Streaming Music Services: Tidal premium, Spotify premium, Preamps: VTL, Conrad-Johnson,Audio Hungary Integrated & Power Amplification: Pathos Classic One MkIII edition, Musical Fidelity M8xi, Jadis (integrateds), RT-Audio Design Class-A, Musical Fidelity (various), VTL ST series, Audio Hungary ,Conrad-Johnson (tube & solid-state) Transports: Musical Fidelity, MusiChi, Foobar2000, Hysolid, various PC-based others Speakers: ProAc K8, Club-27 Kurt mk2 Signature Kit, Duevel (various models), Magnepan 30.7 Cables: Nordost & TelluriumQ ηχείων & Analysis Plus ψηφιακά, Supra & Nordost USB cables, Alpha Core Goertz Sapphire Silver RCA, Pure Silver Cables, Van Den Hul interconnects (RCA) Power Cables: IsoTek, Oyaide Tunami, Shunyata Research,Tellurium Q Power Conditioning: Shunyata Research Hydra, Nordost Qv2/Qk1. Rack: Finite Elemente with carbon fiber shelves.
Price: 2.500,-€ (including VAT)
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