AMG Giro Turntable, DS Audio E1 Optical Phono Cartridge System, Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum III Integrated Amplifier, Magnepan .7 Speakers, Wireworld Cables

On Sunday morning I eased into my rounds with the Musical Surroundings folks: In conjunction with local dealer Sweet Home Audio, they presented a sweet-sounding, straight-up analog setup that featured several products at (relatively) more affordable price points than is sometimes the case.

If it isn't apparent by now, I'm kind of a sucker for good design and gear with aesthetic appeal in addition to (of course) good sound. So yeah, I was loving the made-in-Germany AMG Giro belt-drive turntable with its shiny sapphire blue base/plinth of machined aircraft-grade aluminum in a "double circle" configuration with a white platter made of a proprietary synthetic material. (This was a special edition; it also comes in black and other color options.) It uses the same decoupled spindle design that's found in AMG's higher-end Viella V12 turntable.

The DS Audio E1 optical cartridge system consists of the DS E1 cartridge ($1250) and DS E1 phono preamp/equalizer ($1500) with minimal filtering. The cartridge has an elliptical stylus mounted to an aluminum cantilever and a new wire suspension for increased channel separation. The optical sensor is placed closer to the stylus than in prior DS cartridges, and there are no lasers used in this model.

A 100Wpc Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum tube integrated amplifier powered a pair of Magnepan .7 planar-magnetic loudspeakers to pleasing effect, with wide-open soundstaging, substantial midrange, more low-end extension on bass lines than expected, and wonderfully natural sound on John Prine's "Fish and Whistle," to name just one selection. Maggies are often considered among the best bargains in hi-fi, though placing them properly in the room can be tricky. Setup requires a little extra care and finesse-which was clearly done well here.

A couple of other German-made turntables were on static display, the Clearaudio Performance DC Wood model for one-and for those who desire top-tier performance and ease in record cleaning, the Clearaudio Double Matrix Professional Record Cleaner ($6000) appeared to be a beautifully machined and well-engineered contender.

funambulistic's picture

That Giro is quite the looker!

SteveDollar's picture

One of my favorite rooms in Tampa (I had a much better time listening than in the VAC/VS room or the Wilson/VTL room, neither of which had the inviting vibe of this set-up, which honestly took me by surprise. I love the Giro, too ... But really impressed with what the Cronus+Maggie combo could do with that impressive table/cart combo.

Ortofan's picture

... a $12K+ turntable/cartridge/phono-stage and $1400 speakers.

neilspeed's picture

After visiting all the rooms on Friday and Saturday I was pleasantly surprised when I visited this room towards the end of my day on Saturday. They were playing Dire Straits Communique. The sound was very detailed and robust and I was really surprised how solid the bass was. I had never paid much attention to the Magnepan before as they were supposed to be a bit thin in the low frequencies from what I had read and that would not work in my bright Miami room. I did a double take when I saw the price of the speakers and integrated. Wow! I ended up spending more time in this room than I did at any other room at the show.