The people at HRS have made a special version of their M3X isolation platform for the AMG Viella “V12” turntable, designatd M3X-1921-AMG V12. It is set for the proper weight distribution of the turntable with the heavy platter on one side and the tonearm on the other.
I did the review before I added the HRS platform and it was tempting to rewrite the review, but I think it best to leave the review as it is — that way you know that’s how it sounded sitting directly on the Box Furniture Audio Rack, one of the best racks on the market, by the way. Still, the AMG V12 is a non-decoupled mass-loaded, belt-driven turntable design. Garth at Musical Surroundings said this type of turntable design should work best with a isolation bass instead of a tuned wood base. Man, was he right!
Sitting on the M3X-1921-AMG V12 platform, the V12 equals or exceeds the drive that the Shindo and other 301 turntable are famous for. It has even more scale as well, but the most amazing thing about the V12 on the HRS is how quiet the background is. This results in many positive things that I must tell you about.
First is the ability to unravel and let you hear everything going on in a complex piece of music.
Second is the amount of detail you hear. I don’t mean etched, hyper-detail I hear from a lot of audiophile equipment. No, this is extremely natural detail; they were the quickest transient attacks I have ever heard, and at the same time the most natural and airy decay after the attack.
Third is the soundstage; it is simply rock solid. Yes, it produces the widest and deepest soundstage I have experienced with this system, but that’s not really the point. It’s how incredibly locked into their own space instruments and voices are on and within the stage. They’re not floating in blackness, they’re just right there full bodied and full of life.
Fourth is the ability to hear differences from one recording to another. Peter Qvortrup at Audio Note UK says the way to tell how good a system is, is to listen to different recordings and the one that lets you hear the biggest difference is the most accurate. If he is right and I believe he is, then this is the best record playing system I have ever heard by far.
Fifth is the increase in macro-dynamics and the speed and naturalness of the micro-dynamics. I already thought this was the most dynamic sound I had ever heard from my system, but the addition of the HRS platform is just startling in these two areas. In fact, at first you may find yourself having to jump up and turn down the volume before the loud passages bother the neighbors. It does this without giving up any of the beauty of the music
Sixth is the very deep and exceptionally well defined bass. It actually out performs the Merrill-Scillia MS21 which heretofore had been the bass king of turntables I had reviewed.
Seventh is the treble; I honestly had no idea a single-driver speaker like my Ingeniums could have such extended and beautiful treble. Cymbals, triangles, and strings continue to amaze me with how beautiful they sound. I think this is directly due to how quiet the whole record playing system is. Some of it also is due to the simplicity of the Benz TR cartridge.
Eighth is the way it deals with air. The air around an instrument, within the instrument, the air around a singer, the air of the singer’s voice, and the air of the recording space itself are all better than I have ever heard.
Ninth is how alive and organic the midrange is. A lot of time when you get so many great parts they just don’t come together to sound like music. In the way audiophiles think of the term musical, this table surely is much more than that. It is startling alive, beautifully organic, and easy to listen to; so easy to listen to you may stay up way too late at night.
Last and maybe most important with the addition of the HRS platform: This is the most tonally neutral turntable I have ever heard. By comparison, the Clearaudios sound a little hi-fi like and the Shindo is just slightly warmer than real life.
Are there any faults with the record playing system? Well, that depends on what you mean by faults. I find nothing inconvenient or difficult in its use. The only thing difficult in the setup is putting on the belt, but I managed on my second try. I guess it would be nice if you could level it with platter on the table, but as long as you don’t forget to level it before you put the platter on, it’s no big deal.
The only thing sonically I can mention — and I don’t know if either is a fault but some might think so — is that the AMG V12 is not forgiving of bad recordings. The Shindo Turntable system, similar to most Audio Note DACs, have the ability to help the sound of bad recordings. It’s more accurate for a turntable to let you hear that a recording is bad, but it’s also nice to hear them sound better. At this point in time, there haven’t been enough really bad ones to make me think twice about this wonderful record player. By the way, by bad recordings I’m not talking about nicks, pops, and other surface noise. The V12 is exceptionally quiet in regard to surface noise. No, I’m talking about recordings that are recorded too hot or have too much compression; you will hear either. Also, the AMG V12 is not quite as relaxed sounding as the Shindo, instead it is just so alive sounding. I still haven’t experienced any listening fatigue at all; just the opposite I find it hard to quit listening to music when I need to.
The Second Conclusion
In the original conclusion, I said the AMG V12 was one of the two best turntables I had used in my system. I feel safe in saying that with the addition of the HRS M3X-1921-AMG V12 Isolation Platform, the AMG Viella is the best table I have used. This does leave the potential buyer with some choices to make. If you can afford it, get it with the wood trim of your choice and the HRS isolation platform. If money is an issue, start with the basic table with no trim and no platform. Then, when you can afford it add the HRS, and then if you want the looks, add the wood trim of your choice. For me, I want it with the dark wood trim and the HRS isolation platform.
Five Features I Like on the AMG “V12”:
1. The tonearm has a lift; after living without one I can tell you it is very nice to have one.
2. The screw-on clamping system is the best I’ve used. It starts with a stainless steel spindle, then there is the record center support, and lastly, the screw-on clamp itself. So far, I haven’t run into a single warp it couldn’t handle, and it a lot easier and less dangerous than using a perimeter ring.
3. The ability to adjust VTA on the fly and having a level in the top of the tonearm bearing cover, so you can tell how much you have changed the VTA. It also helps you find a starting place.
4. That it comes with all the precision tools you need for setting up the turntable and tonearm; and that you can level the turntable itself.
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