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AMG Teatro Moving-Coil Phono Cartridge Review

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Dagogo readers who read my reviews regularly know how important the way a system plays voices is to me. When I go to hear someone’s system and discover they are huge classical music fans, I know what I’m going to ask eventually. “Don’t you have anything with voices?” For me, it’s ultimately how any component allows my system to reproduce the human voice that makes it or breaks it for me. Again, the Teatro caught me off guard, I can’t say that I often thought about the voices when listening to music with the Teatro. Not because it doesn’t play voices exceptionally well, I would notice that in a heartbeat. No, because it has such a magical way of wowing you with the performance you are listening to that you forget the parts. Having said this, voices sound as good with the Teatro in my system as any cartridge I have used except for my Soundsmith Strain-Gauge.

There is one thing that I noticed more with this cartridge than I remember with other cartridges in my system and yes, that includes the Soundsmith Strain-Gauge or the Miyabi Standard. That one thing is how easily I could tell how the voices were recorded. This was not a problem on live recordings, but on rare occasions it was slightly disconcerting when I could tell the voice or voices were not recorded together or in the same acoustical space. This very rarely took away from the musical enjoyment, but I did notice it from time to time.

The bigger question is why does it show this flaw in recordings? The Teatro is not overly detailed, nor is the air and space over done by an artificial, phasey sound. In fact, these lack of audiophile sounding finger prints may be what makes it possible to hear things like this. Let me explain, the Miyabi Standard, my favorite moving coil cartridge, is just not as quiet as the Teatro. This results in a masking of audible cues that allow me to hear where the voices are recorded so easily. I think this combination of both extreme quietness and the Teatro’s ability to let me hear real decay results in this ability to hear the recording space so easily. Well, I may be out of my league here, but it’s worth a thought.

While talking about hearing faults in recordings, let me take a moment to point out that like products from Shindo or Audio Note, the AMG line and that includes the Teatro cartridge seem to let you enjoy more of your LPs than most high-end analog systems. I don’t really think this is because the AMG is overly forgiving. I think it’s because:

  1. The AMG products let you concentrate on the performance;
  2. They are very organic and holistic;
  3. They are emotional involving to such a degree that you don’t concentrate on their faults or the faults of the recordings;
  4. They have such energy and scale that again you are thinking about the listening experience more like your mind does when you are listening to live music.

AMG Teatro

Comparisons

Some of my favorite moving coil cartridges over the years have been the Miyabi Standard, the Benz Ebony TR, the EMT TMD 25N, the Shindo SPU, and the Miyajimas (Premium BE mono, Shilabe). The Teatro has a great combination of body, decay, a holistic sound and detail. It has more guts and more of an organic feel to it than the Benz Ebony TR, but it does not have the incredible transparency or the beautiful, delicate inner detail of the Benz TR. It comes close, though.

In some ways, the AMG Teatro combines the best of all these cartridges. The tonal balance of the AMG Teatro is more similar to an SPU and an older EMT, but with more detail, more information and a prettier top-end. It also has that sweet, meaty, musical sound of the Miyajima cartridges. Of the cartridges on the list, it sounded most like the Miyabi Standard or maybe the Miyabi and the Miyajima combined. All of these cartridges do certain things better than the Teatro, but like the AMG Viella V12 turntable it may get more things right than any of the cartridges.

 

Let’s Spend Some Tunes

Since this cartridge is all about emotional involvement, I’m going talk about some different LPs than I usually talk about in my reviews. Let’s start with the album, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn. On this recording, the two of them used seven different banjos, including a cello banjo, a ukulele banjo and a baritone banjo that Fleck commissioned specifically for this album. I have always wondered why this LP is noisier than most Rounder LPs. With the Teatro, it didn’t seem nearly as noisy. Even better was how beautiful the tones each different banjo possessed. I was used to hearing the speed and tone of the banjos, but the better decay added so much realism to the performance.

I’ve been listening to Cat Steven’s “Sad Lisa” from his classic album Tea for the Tillerman since I was in college. I love the music on this recording, and I love this cut. Cat Steven’s voice has a special haunting quality on “Sad Lisa.” Then, there was his piano and the guitar. They are both played with a grace and delicacy that so fits the lyrics. The Teatro did a great job of capturing these emotions.

I put the Mercury Living Presence’s recording of Marcel Dupré and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Saint-Saëns: Symphony No.3 in C minor – “Organ”. I had never enjoyed this recording this much on the Teresonic Ingenium XR. It just drew you into the performance and when the organ came in, “Oh My” it just sounded so much like I was there experiencing the performance.

 

A Couple of Words of Caution

The Teatro, like most moving coil cartridges, is fairly dependent on the phono preamp, and the load setting you use it with. I found its basic tonal characteristic were there with both Margule’s solid state phono preamp and with the Allnic tube phono preamp. Still, you need to take the time to find the settings on an transistor preamp or on a transformer.

Also, it is important that you take the time to get the VTA set correctly. I found it sounded it’s best with the bubble in AMG tonearm ever so slightly higher than dead level. Take your time and listen; you will be well rewarded.

 

Conclusion

Teatro translates into English as theater. This seems to be a most appropriate name for this cartridge. This AMG Teatro cartridge can give you much of the energy and emotion of what you would hear in a live theater experience. It creates great drama and soul, far beyond the normal experience of listening to music reproduced.

The AMG Teatro experience is different from most other moving coil cartridges in that it focuses more on the richness of the music and the totality of the performance than it does on the audiophile qualities. In absolute terms, it’s not the most transparent cartridge I have ever heard, but the result is a highly emotional connection to the music. It produces some of the richest tones I have ever heard in recorded music. Notice I said richest not warmest, this cartridge is in no way an overly warm cartridge lacking in detail and transparency, but that it takes a back seat to the excitement of the performance. The Teatro has become one of my favorite moving coil cartridges. I so hope this cartridge doesn’t fall through the crack in the vinyl world. It is truly a world class cartridge that produced beautiful music in my home.

One Response to AMG Teatro Moving-Coil Phono Cartridge Review


  1. Jack, thanks for the great review! We just wanted to clarify for your readers that the AMG Teatro does not include the rocket as part of its packaging, but rather we had the rocket made up as a one-off for trade shows, press and photo ops.

    Thanks again,

    Ian Taylor Sutton
    Musical Surroundings

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