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Five Things that the Beatnik learned or remembered while reviewing the AMG “V12” turntable

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Jack Roberts Beatnik's JourneyI wrote two reviews about the unbelievably musical sound of the AMG V12 turntable, tonearm, and HRS platform. Reviewing the V12 was quite a learning experience for me. Lots of things I already knew were drove home again for me. So, I thought I would take a moment to share these with you.

First is the importance of the right step-up transformer for the right cartridge. I tried several cartridges with the V12 tonearm and I was just amazed at how much difference the choice of SUT makes. I just want to remind you that you can’t just change out cartridges and expect that you are really hearing the new cartridge until you get a SUT in the system that matches the new cartridge.

I’m lucky that the Shindo SPU, the Miyabi Standard, and the Benz Ebony TR S class cartridges all sound best with the Auditorium 23 Homage T1 SUT. The wonderful EMT TMD 25N mono cartridge I have sounds best with the standard Auditorium 23 SUT that was originally built for the Denon DL 103 cartridges. Both of the Allnic cartridges, the Puritas and the Verito Z, sounded good with the standard Auditorium 23 or even better when you dialed them in with the Allnic AUT 2000. I know you probably know this, but sometimes we all get lazy and need to be reminded.

The second thing I learned again was how much vibration changes the sound of a system. I use what is considered by many to be one of the best audio racks on the market; the Box Furniture D3S Audio Rack. I really didn’t expect much improvement when Garth at Musical Surroundings said the AMG turntable design worked 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 just how fundamentally right my system sound with the AMG on the HRS platform. I’m not going to repeat my review of the HRS M3X-1921-AMG V12 platform when you can just read it for yourself.

The third thing I learned or was reminded of, was just how good the Benz TR and Miyabi Standard are. Since I had been living for quite a while with the wonderful Shindo Vinyl Plackback System, I had not listened to these two cartridges in quite a while. Sadly, due to health reasons of Takeda Haruo, the owner of Miyabi, the cartridge is no longer available, but the Benz still is. These two cartridges are truly world class and when matched with the Auditorium 23 Homage T1, are about as good as it gets in the world of high end phono cartridges.

The fourth thing is something we all know, but we get lazy about it, or at least I do: Never overlook the importance of clean records. As I pulled out more and more LPs to listen on this table with different cartridges, I was amazed at how important it was to be sure the LP was clean. I know you know this, but don’t be lazy.

Last, is another thing we all know, but we need to be reminded of from time to time. It’s the importance of getting the VTA and VTF right. I’m not one to get anal over setting up a tonearm, but whether you do it right or not makes a big difference. I know, there’s a lot of buzz right now about using a USB microscope to do the setup, but that’s not for me.

You have to remember that when you change either the VTA or VTF you change the other one, too. So, I think you need a good scale, not a ridiculously expensive one, so you can get the VTF close to where it’s going to end up. You also need some way of getting the VTA close to level. Now, when you have done those two things you are ready to trust your ears. If you need a little more warmth, lower the arm in the back a little. Likewise, if you need more transparency and top end raise the back of the arm a little. Now, when you get this to sound good you can find tune both by simply raising or lowering the VTF just a little. If you raise the tracking force, it’s just like lowering the arm a little, if you lessen the tracking force it’s just the opposite, of course. Now I’m not talking about big changes here. With my Miyabi, I set the VTF at 2 grams. When I was finished with the entire setup I was at 2.08 grams.

Well, I hope you remember to do the things you know in setting up and listening to your music. Don’t be like I am sometimes and get lazy and settle for less. By the same token, don’t get so anal that you can’t relax and enjoy the music; that is what this really is all about, anyway.

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