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Turntable + tonearm
AMG Viella V12 + AMG 12J2

Pricing: deck + tonearm 12,800 Euro
Deck: 9,800 Euro ǀ tonearm: 3,900 Euro

Manufacturer: AMG Turntable

High Fidelity Studio ǀ tel.: 49 821 3725 0


Country of origin: Germany

Product provided for testing by: RCM

Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Andrzej Dziadowiec
Photographs: AMG ǀ Wojciech Pacuła

Published: 1. July 2012, No. 98

As we learn, the Viella V12 turntable, so far the only model from the new AMG company was initially feature a AMG Benz logo. Werner Roeschlau, the AMG owner and designer, had an idea to sell the Viella together with the LP cartridge from Benz-Micro, since he reckoned them to be ideal partners. However, something misfired and Albert Lukaschek, the Benz owner, did not enter into this venture. I don’t actually know why – it really is a fantastic combination!
The basic component however is the turntable. Analog Manufaktur Germany is the newest idea that comes from Werner Roeschlau who previously manufactured turntables and components for other companies, mostly Brinkmann, and that may be the reason why they look similar to each other. It is enough to see the shape of the Balance or even more so the Bardo models to know that something’s up. The devil as always is in the details – while the Balance from Brinkmann uses an external motor and control unit and the Bardo features “magnetic direct drive” system, the Viella has its belt motor integrated with the chassis. The main bearing is also different; the AMG turntable uses hydromechanical characteristics of the lubricant which simplifies the bearing design. And then there are further differences.

The Viella V12 is a non-decoupled mass-loaded belt driven turntable design. Its shape is very characteristic – the plinth is an aluminum block, not very large. The platter is attached to one end while the armboard with the tonearm to the other. In some way it reminds the Kuzma design of the Stabi S) turntable. The motor is integrated with the plinth – Werner aimed at the best coupling of the motor and the platter. Since such small plinth does not allow for a lot of space the motor found its place on the line connecting the tonearm with the main bearing with its polished steel cylinder hidden under the platter’s outline.
The platter is truly massive. It is made of two layers: black anodized “aircraft grade aluminum” component with weighted rim for enhanced flywheel effect and an integrated top surface layer made of PVC. The whole thing is CNC machined in house by Werner.
The Viella 12 12J2 tonearm is very interesting, too. It is light as a feather and length 12”. A thin, straight tube design, made of aluminum, just as the plinth. It features a dual-pivot design with magnetic antiskating replacing the standard gimbaled bearing. VTA adjustment is easy thanks to a small level built into the tonearm board.
The turntable arrived for the review equipped with the Benz-Micro LP cartridge. This way the Werner’s original idea has been maintained. On the cover photograph you can see the turntable with an optional, wooden component. As it turns out, it is not just a decoration but an actual part of design. The basic version that we review comes without it.


A selection of recordings used during auditions:

  • Air, Love 2,Archeology/Virgin/EMI/The Vinyl Factory, 53361, 2 x 200 g LP (
  • Andreas Vollenweider, Caverna Magica, CBS, 25 265, Halfspeed Mastered, LP (1983).
  • Bill Evans, Selections from Bill Evans Live at Top of The Gate, Resonance Records, blue vax 10”, Limited Edition No. 270, 180 g LP (2012).
  • Billie Holiday, Songs for Distingué Lovers, Verve/Classic Records, 45 Series, One-Sided Pressing, MG VS-6021-45, 2 x 180 g LP (1957/2001).
  • Chet Baker Quartet, Chet Baker Quartet feat. Dick Twardick, Barclay Disques/Sam Records, Limited Edition, 180 g LP (1955/2011).
  • Chico Hamilton Quintet, Chico Hamilton Quintet feat Buddy Collette, Pacific Jazz Records, PJ-1209, LP (1955).
  • Czesław Niemen, Postscriptum, Polskie Nagrania, SX 1876, LP (1980).
  • Depeche Mode, World in my eyes/Happiest girl/Sea of sin, Mute/Sire/Reprise, 21735, maxi-LP (1990).
  • Jean-Michel Jarre, Revolutions, Dreyfus Disque/Polydor, POLH 45, LP (1988).
  • Jean-Michel Jarre, Zoolook, Dreyfus Disque/Polydor, JAR4 5, LP (1984).
  • Julie London, Julie is her name. Vol. 1, Liberty Records, LPR 3006, LP (1955).
  • Kraftwerk, Techno Pop, Capital Records/KlingKlang/Mute Records, STUMM 308, digital master, 180 g LP (1986/2009); reviewed HERE.
  • Mikołaj Bugajak, Strange Sounds and Inconceivable Deeds, Nowe Nagrania 001, 45 rpm LP+CD+WAV 24/44,1 (2010); reviewed HERE.
  • Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here, EMI Records, 029880, digital master, 180 g LP (1975/2011).
  • The Cult, Electric, Beggars Banquet/Sire, 25555, LP (1987).

Although I haven’t mentioned it before, the first time I had a chance to listen to the AMG Viella V12 was during the High End 2012 show in Munich. It was part of a system which sound simple enchanted me. And while the Aesthetix CD player in the same system sounded equally well, it was the analog source that made the deepest impression on me. Thanks to efficient and prompt service of Roger Adamek from RCM who during the show reached an agreement to become the Polish distributor for AMG and promptly got the turntable shipped to his company (or actually to me), I had an opportunity to audition the Viella in my system less than two weeks after the show (several accompanying photos have been made in Munich).

My initial impression, first gained in the Aesthetix room with Audio Physic speakers, was immediately confirmed: this turntable does capture our attention. Immediately and without any warning. Without taking any prisoners. If I could draw some sexist parallel I’d say that while most good turntables such as Linn, AVID etc. flirt with us, trying to enchant us, the AMG comes straight at us, leaving the ‘foreplay’ for later.
The sound is very direct, resembling the guitar sound straight from the soundboard, without the amp. It is especially evident during headphone auditions. My headphone system, that is the Leben and the Sennheisers never before showed such dynamics, as if the sound came straight from the microphone, not from vinyl.
I know this feeling very well, both from my years of experience in the recording studio as well as live sound engineering, when I check the sound of particular instruments on headphones. Here I had a feeling as if the performers were just behind the glass window of the studio room. The dynamics, sound tangibility were incredible!
What left the most vivid impression on me was the 10” album Bill Evans Live at Top of The Gate. Although just a ‘foretaste’ of a special box, it is still beautifully pressed on blue vinyl, splendidly restored and recorded. On the AMG it sounded spectacular, pulling me into the world that had been long gone. I was presented with a huge soundstage (as much as headphones go), perfectly organized, excellent dynamics and very good tonal balance. I had a feeling of taking part in a live music spectacle which happens right there, in front of my eyes.

The Evans’ record already showed something that was fully evident on Jarre’s Revolutions (now also on my speakers) – the V12 differentiates recordings as hardly any other turntable can do. I can really count on my one hand the turntables that can so effortlessly show differences between recordings, nuances of different pressings, sound production, without disrupting the whole picture, without turning our attention away from what’s most important – music itself. Revolutions is a good material to prove my point.
Issued four years earlier, in 1984, Zoolook was the first Jarre’s album recorded on digital recorder. Its sound is very clean, even sterile, not very saturated. The 1988 Revolutions was also digitally recorded but the mix and final production was made in the analog domain, using the Studer A820 tape recorder with Dolby SR. It brought some life to the material, preserving its clarity. Unfortunately, Dolby always does the same thing – it crushes dynamics. Although the noise floor is clearly lowered, which results in incredible soundstage depth, the sound is evidently compressed. Of course what I mean here is analog compression resulting from magnetic tape saturation etc., not digital compression removing some data from audio stream. How do I know all that? Well, first from the album description (the technical part) and second, from the AMG presentation (the sound). That splendid differentiation was irrespective of various musical genres, music labels, etc. If there was it resulted from a certain approach to a given recording, not from the turntable “preferring” one recording over another.

Although… When Roger and Wojtek – his (co)worker – brought the turntable to me and during the time they were setting it up, the RCM owner shared his two days long impressions of it with me. He said how he had unpacked it, how he’d fit the Benz-Micro cartridge and listened through the Floyd’s The Wall. And then another album, and one more… After the listening session that extended well into the night, it occurred to him that he’d listened almost exclusively to rock. Why? Here we come to the most interesting part of this review.

As I said before, in my opinion it makes no difference what kind of music we play on this turntable for each will be presented in an equally ‘live’ and ‘true’ way. Truth in this case is the capability of evoking in the listener the emotions he or she experiences during a live music event. The sound of the reviewed device, with the LP Benz and in my system and my room was somewhat shaped. It was not ‘neutral’. Of course, we cannot bring live music event directly home but there seems to be a consensus regarding the meaning of ‘neutral’ in the context of audio equipment. Based on that, ‘neutral’ the AMG is not.
Its sound is founded on the incredible ‘blackness’ of presentation and on a very deep, exceptionally well defined bass. Roger had mentioned that and I can only agree with him. It is a turntable that shows the main point of mass-loaded non-decoupled turntable design. What’s the advantage of the fact that there are no soft, elastic components. I had only once heard something similar before but even then not to such extent, from the 100,000 Euro worth Transrotor Argos!
It is a bass that’s ‘alive’, i.e. changes its tone, dynamics, elasticity and depth depending on the given recording, sound production and music. It does not dominate the recording that’s light on it. Yet sometimes it comes alive in totally unexpected moments, showing what other turntables tend to hide or even out – as for example in Cry Me A River, the opening track from Julie London’s album Julie is her name. Vol. 1. I had listened to the original mono edition of this album (some of her records had been issued both in mono and stereo versions) and I know it really well. It is a very dense, dark sound, totally different from what can be heard on the HQCD issued in Japan. The double bass sounded really deep, tight. More so than any time before, making the glasses in the kitchen cupboard resonate, which happens very rarely. It is an energetic, very direct sound that I already described.

Another V12 characteristic that ‘may’ actually contribute to the fact that rock music really ‘shines’ on it is a slight muffling of the part of midrange. It is difficult to explain in a few words for it is very delicate, without influence on the tonal balance or soundstage or actually – again, actually – anything else. At least that’s my impression. I’m talking about a slight ‘contraction’, ‘congestion’ of the midrange. AVID or Linn turntables showed vocals somewhat more ‘independently’ of presentation; here they were more controlled, as if someone (something) guarded them. It is not meant as a critique. I like this sound a lot and it pulls all the right strings with me. But I cannot help hearing ‘how it is done’.
Bringing together the two things, i.e. excellent bass and tempered midrange is what gives music the ‘kick’ and such ‘kick’ favors most rock recordings, with ‘drive’ – a strong bass guitar, expressive drums, etc. For both Vollenweider’s album and Depeche Mode sounded equally well. There was rhythm, drive and depth. However, while I agree with Roger that Pink Floyd – in my case a new pressing of Wish You Were here that I opened specially for this occasion – sound fantastic, what really proved to me the Viella advantages was jazz. I touched on it before – the turntable’s definition, both in bass as well as in treble is breathtaking. It breathes extraordinary air into recordings, at least as far as generating the soundstage and the feeling of listening to live music is concerned. That’s why I so much liked the above mentioned Evans’ album, recently issued by Resonance Records and incidentally also unpacked by me just for this occasion, as well as the brilliant Chet Baker Quartet’s album, issued by Sam Records (originally Barclay Disques). Both of them issued on relatively young, independent labels, they sound fantastic! (You can also read about the Chet’s album in the Jeff Day’s “Jeff’s Place” HERE). I have already spoken to Zev Feldman, Resonance Records vice-director regarding the album’s review. Anyway, with both albums it was the AMG that gave me the kick I mentioned earlier.

The Vella V12 with the 12J2 tonearm is an exceptional turntable. The Benz cartridge only brings it out. Although it’s not the best turntable I know it belongs to a small group of analog systems (turntable + tonearm + cartridge + interconnect) being complete, finished projects. There is nothing to improve, change etc. for instead of a step forward we can move back. It is a system with which we can live peacefully, concentrating on buying new records, each one bringing something new. Its sound is well-defined, selective, and dynamic. It shows recording in a fresh way. My only slight critique is that the excitement with new recordings, evoked by the turntable’s set of characteristics, is present in each recording, in every track. Not that something’s up-beat or nervousness, not at all! What I mean is that the music grabs our attention 100 percent each time. It’s impossible to read or talk while listening for every once in a while we turn our heads to the speakers, as something surprises us, something suddenly jumps out of the recording. After all, maybe that’s not a reason to critique, maybe that’s what music’s all about? Maybe, just maybe I’m simple getting old…

Testing methodology
The turntable sat on the wooden shelf of the Base IV Custom rack. It was connected to two phone stages, the RCM Audio RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC (solid state) and the Manley Chinoock (tube). During the whole review it was equipped with the Benz Micro LP cartridge. The distributor also provided the TCI Viper Interconnect from True Colours Indrusties. The audition was different that usually, i.e. I listened to whole albums instead of shorter music samples.


Almost the whole turntable, including the tonearm, has been CNC machined of high grade aluminum in house, at the Werner Roeschlau’s factory. The plinth is an aluminum block 25 mm thick with three adjustable and retractable steel-copper spikes in aluminum feet. It features a built-in spirit level. On the right side there are three illuminated sensors to select the speed – 33 1/3, 45 i 78 rpm. Each selected speed can be further finely adjusted.
One side of the plinth houses the main platter bearing. It is not a typical ball bearing but a hardened 16mm axle bearing. The two sealed radial bearings are hydro-dynamically lubricated with axial bearings featuring static lubrication. The axle is not a regular spindle. Instead, it is a stainless steel sub-platter that interfaces with the 24.25 lbs (11 Kg) aluminum platter. The platter is a 12.5” (318 mm) diameter CNC machined two piece design with a weighted rim for enhanced flywheel effect. The top surface is made of PVC and profiled similarly to the SME turntables. i.e. right next to the spindle there is a milled disc elevating slightly the center of the record. The record is tightly clamped to the platter’s surface with an inverted threaded aluminum clamp. Unlike the usual threaded spindle, here it is a sleeve with internal threading. I do not like threaded clamps but this is one of the few that are precisely made and it presents no problems while attaching. On the other end of the plinth is a heavy component shaped as a low, wide cylinder. Its outer diameter sports a gauge to quickly adjust the needed distance between the tonearm board and the platter axle. The board is pre-drilled for AMG and Graham Engineering tonearms.
The motor is attached to the plinth from below. It is a Lorenzi 2 pulse, low-speed brushless, precision 24v DC motor with an outboard motor power supply. It features sintered bronze bearings, cured and polished axis, and heavy flywheel. Motor housing is decoupled from the plinth via 5 rubber/metal mounts. The Viella is belt-driven; the drive-belt pulley is made of weighted and polished stainless steel; the belt is precision made rubber.

The 12” tonearm is made of a thin aircraft quality anodized aluminum tube for resonance control, with 12 gram effective mass. The bearing is a dual-pivot design replacing the standard gimbaled bearing. Vertical bearing, similar to those used in the helicopters rotor heads, uses two 0.5mm “spring steel wires”, allowing fine azimuth adjustment while eliminating play. Horizontal axle is made of hardened tool steel, precision ground to a backlash-free fit with a needle roller bearing. The counterweight is a two piece with Teflon decoupled sleeve. Internal wiring is of multiple gauges high quality copper. Antiskating is magnetic. The turntable doesn’t come with any interconnect – I think that should change.

Distribution in Poland:
Firma Handlowo-Usługowa
"RCM" S.C. Roger i Ewa Adamek

40-077 Katowice, ul. Matejki 4

tel.: 32/206 40 16 ǀ 32/201 40 96
fax: 32/253 71 88



  • CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air V-edition, review HERE
  • Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE
  • Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE), Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE
  • Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III [Signature Version] with Re-generator Power Supply
  • Power amplifier: Soulution 710
  • Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom Version, review HERE
  • Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
  • Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro; 600 Ω version, review HERE, HERE, and HERE
  • Interconnect: CD-preamp: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300 (article HERE, preamp-power amp: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
  • Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review HERE
  • Power cables AC (all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
  • Power strip: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE
  • Stand: Base; under all components
  • Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD, Audio Revive RAF-48 platform under the CD and preamplifier
  • Pro Audio Bono PAB SE platform under Leben CS300 XS [Custom Version]; review HERE