Category Archives: REVIEWS

The Analog Manufaktur Germany (AMG) Giro Reference Power Supply – Making the wonderful better?

AMG001

Last year a little nugget of information popped up momentarily on one of Michael Fremer’s Analog Planet show reports that might have slipped past unoticed by many, but not by me. Michael was visiting the Analog Manufaktur Germany (AMG) room at the Munich High End HiFi Show (held from 11th to 13th May 2018) and during the walk through of what was on display, and upcoming products, a brief mention was made of an upgraded power supply option for the AMG Giro turntable which I reviewed favourably back in May 2015 (1) My listening experiences during that review left such a strong impression, so much so that it haunted me to such a degree that I really had no choice but to get a Giro for myself when funds and circumstances allowed. A convergence of factors occurred in February 2017 (2) which enabled that to happen, and I have been enjoying the Giro ever since, basking in the wonderful music resolving ability of this excellent turntable.

AMG019_412x550However in saying that there has always been an elephant in the room regarding this turntable that for me never went away, a niggle that such an excellent, simple design that performed so highly should really have a more substantial power supply than the tiny one it came with. This elephant for me, perhaps had more legs for me than for others because during the period of time I did that AMG Giro review I was also working on a comparative set of reviews of power supplies for the Technics 1200/1210 direct drive turntable, and during that review period (3) I had become increasingly aware as a result of that just how much a difference power supplies could make, so my thoughts would on occasion stray in the direction of wondering what a better power supply might do to the performance of the Giro.

Honesty, Good for the soul, so they say. 

Confession time before I continue, I was once very sceptical of the difference that ‘upgrade’ power supplies could make, in-fact I was down right hostile to the idea feeling strongly that upgrade PSUs was a way some companies could fleece gullible audiophiles out of more of their money. I think Naim Audio may well have triggered this thought process, but regardless of whether it was this company or not those thoughts became entrenched, and to me all power supplies supplied with the product, designed to work with those products were all that was needed. How wrong was I? Very wrong.

I freely admit I had a closed, blinkered mind regarding this and eventually direct experience blasted through, opening it up, and very quickly. Not only did the various power supplies for the Technics 1200 make a very noticeable improvement in performance but also between the options differing flavours of improvement were evident. (4) During my first Giro review that thought did pop into my mind, but the only option to hand was the supplied ‘switching’ PSU, and as no other option existed at that time I accepted the Giro as the whole it then was.

Forward to last year and on hearing there would be an AMG upgrade option for a better power supply I was keen to get a chance to audition one as soon as I could and that opportunity arrived recently.

The AMG Giro Reference Power Supply 

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The new Giro PSU on the face of it looks very similar to the PSU supplied with the AMG Viella turntable, but not having one of those to hand I could not compare sizing, or construction, but as best as I recall when I did see and handle a Viella PSU a year or so ago, and by the pictures online, the new Giro Reference PSU looks close to it.

AMG 05

 

The Giro Reference PSU is nicely made from brushed black metal, front and back plates neatly held on with screws, with the front panel sporting the AMG logo and a power on indicator bulb. The back panel has a captive power cable of much thicker quality to the originally supplied PSU (5), which puts out 12Volts 30VA DC to the turntable. The flying lead from the back of turntable plugs into this cable. Other than that there is an IEC receptacle and a power on/off switch on the back, beside the power out cable.

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016_412x550The IEC socket will allow those who are so inclined to try better quality power cables, something I feel is worthwhile trying, as that did make an improvement to the original power supply performance. Also nice the inclusion of an on/off switch finally allowing the power supply to be powered on from the PSU, rather than the wall socket as was the case with an original Standard  Giro power supply.

During the review period I did not try other power cables over the Audience AU24 lead I normally use with the Standard Giro ‘Switching’ PSU, as I did not want to add too many variables to the review.

As can be seen from the following photo the new AMG Giro Reference power supply is a fair bit bigger than the original Giro PSU.

AMG017

 

Review System 

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My system for the review included the following items: AMG Giro turntable and 9W2 tonearm, AMG Reference tonearm cable, AirTight PC3 MC cartridge. Phonostage was the PassLabs XOno. Amplification was the Meridian balanced G02 pre-amplifier and the power amplifier was the Meridian G55.  Speakers the Anthony Gallo Reference 2.1 speakers. Interconnects were Atlas Mavros balanced XLR cables. Speaker Cable was Atlas Mavros. Power cabling was Audience AU24. No mains filters or conditioners were used, though the system does obtain mains electricity via a dedicated consumer unit and spur.

Music Used

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Dead Can Dance – Into the Labyrinth 

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Thomas Dolby – Aliens Ate My Buick 

and others.

Listening

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Set up was relatively simple though I did have to reorganise the back of my audio rack to accommodate the power supply, which while not large, would not sit where the much smaller original PSU sat. Once that was completed I sat the Giro Reference PSU on the granite plinth I had placed at the side of my sofa, beside the Target B5 rack, and making sure it was switched off I plugged the carefully dressed Audience AU24 mains cable into the IEC power input and plugged it directly into the wall socket, which was also switched off.

Once everything was switched on, the speed control lights illuminated, platter rotating I was good to go for a first listen.

I feel there are two ways of going about this sort of thing, start with the new item in place have a listen and see what’s what, then replace with the original component, and repeat the listening with the same music, beginning with the last thing listened to. In this case I opted to go from original to new, so satisfied the new PSU was working ok I reconnected the as supplied ‘switching’ Standard power supply, and sat down to listen.

Up first was Dead Can Dance’s wonderful Into The Labyrinth album and I listened to the tracks The Carnival is Over, Birds, and Towards the Within. All the tracks sounded as I recalled, being very familiar with how they sound on the Giro.

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After a few minutes I had the Reference Power Supply hooked up and sat back to listen again to these tracks, and my jaw hit the floor. The music that had just filled my room, just a few minutes before, was transformed. Being frank it was like listening to the album a new.

The first track I listened to with the Reference PSU in place was Towards The Within, the last track I had listened to with the Standards PSU connected. This track has a nice deep, wide soundstage, with haunting vocals by both Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard, which sit infront of a backdrop of sparse percussion, and drums, which slowly build up, with layers of instrumentation added as the track progresses. There are notable moments in which a cowbell is being tapped which is very 3 dimensional, existing within a very airy acoustic, and an instrument which has a scrapping sound which appears on the left side of the soundstage from behind Lisa’s voice. Overall the track is very three dimensional and beautiful to listen to, and the Giro reproduces it very nicely, with the Standard PSU in place.

As the track gets busy and layers of detail are added the Giro renders it all well, with excellent control, detail, and clarity. For instance what I think is a tabla drum, comes in towards the end of the track, and despite the swell of other instruments, it is possible to hear every tap upon the drums skin. One of the AMG Giro’s abilities is to make complex multi instruments easy to hear and follow, no matter how dense the mix, the Giro resolves the detail with wonderful clarity. Can this get any better I wondered. Time to find out.

All of the above comes from my notes with the Standard power supply connected, wonderful stuff, however within seconds of beginning to listen to the same music with the Reference power supply it was very evident that what I had heard before, as good as it had been, was not the full story regarding how good Towards The Within could sound on this turntable.

In my notes I wrote, WOW!!!!!, in bold high block capitals.

The soundstage was wider, deeper, the acoustic reality of the track effortlessly increased. The space and air around instruments and voices was better rendered, more open and dimensional. What had been very three dimensional before was so much more now, walk round more. The clarity, and detail retrieval, even the very smallest nuances more obvious, indeed things I had not heard or noticed before were revealed during listening to this music.

AMG 008_412x550One very interesting thing was in the area of intsrumental timbre, and tone, not something that had been lacking before, it too was also improved. I would never before have said that there was any trace of leanness in the way the Giro went about things and yet adding the Reference power supply had revealed a little more weight and richness to instruments and voices. Its important to note I am not talking about warmth or thickening here simply there was now more solidity, and believability to elements in the midrange frequency and in the bass. The Giro is well known for being very fast to respond to musical information, transients, to resolve them with no smearing or bloat and using the Reference power supply did not effect that, it simply allowed the Giro to reproduce more instrument tonal colour present on the recording.

The Carnival is Over also showed the same sort of improvements. What is a simply stunning piece of music to begin with was more stunning, with increased levels of clarity and detail evident. Part of the track that is often very telling regarding improvements is the end of the track when Brendan Perry’s voice sits in-front of and then fades into a cavernous acoustic, which then in turn fades away. As I sat listening this was among the best rendering I have heard of this section of the track via any medium, with Brendan’s voice retaining greater dimensionality and clarity as it decays and fades into the acoustic.

Next up was the track Birds, which I listened to with the Reference PSU and then as soon as I could, after finishing with it, the Standard PSU. With the Reference power supply the soundstage was massive, wide, deep and high with bird sounds at the beginning of the track projected well over half way out into my room on the right side of the soundstage and with the Standard PSU this shrank back noticeably. There was also a noticeable reduction in detail, clarity and dimensionality.

As the track gets into its full tribal swing, and the mix more dense and busy, percussion begins to pound there is a fair bit of tight low bass going on. The bass notes were tighter, deeper and more articulate, more solid with the Reference PSU and somewhat reduced with the Standard PSU. The soundstage was cavernous, of a walk into size with the Reference power supply and somewhat shrunk with the Standard power supply.

Lisa Gerrard’s vocals were amazing, very reach out and touch and walk round in there dimensionality. Also of note was the way in which every strike on the drums skin resonated and decayed, having a clarity and presence I had not heard before.

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After listening to Dead Can Dance I moved onto Aliens Ate My Buick by Thomas Dolby, another favourite of mine for review use and more casual listening pleasure – an old friend of an album. Here too there were large improvements in sound quality favouring the Reference PSU over the Standard one. The track Pulp is worth highlighting, as I am sure over saturating this review with lots of back and forwards comparisons of this album would quickly become boring.

Right from the get go, the bass reproduction on this album was easily the best I had heard, over very many years of listening, both on digital and analogue equipment. In other areas Pulp was also beautifully reproduced, with the percussion delicate, open and airy, with some percussion elements in the right channel heard that I had never noticed before.

Half way through Pulp the music becomes more gentle with swirling synths interplaying with the other instruments which then halts and the bass kicks back in with a loud, low note. Well with the Reference PSU that note had a weight, articulation, depth and punch I had not heard before. This was another wow moment, frankly it was fabulous. Moving back to the Standard power supply this note lacked that weight, was smaller and less articulate, much less dimensional.

As before the Standard PSU brought a reduction in openness and clarity with a smaller soundstage and while the track still sounded very good, it just was missing a fair bit, compared to how it had sounded with the Giro Reference power supply.

As I listened to other tracks on these albums and others there was consistency on every genre with the Reference power supply always bringing more to the party, frankly it was a no brainer regarding which was better. I also involved a second set of ears and that listener also responded to the comparisons as I had, hearing improvements in the same areas that I had.

Conclusions

AMG001My extensive review of  power supplies for the Technics 1200/1210 turntable clearly showed me that in that case better power supplies improved the performance of that particular turntable, and by a large margin and so it was with the AMG Giro, the elephant in the room, at least for me is now addressed, that question of what if now answered.

It would be easy to say that the Giro now has the power supply the design always deserved to have, instead of the one it came with and still does. In away ignorance is bliss and for many I suspect they may just have accepted that the Giro did what it did with what it came with and that was that. Many may never have ever thought or wondered what a different power supply might do to the Giro’s performance, simply accepting that AMG thought the supplied one good enough, and what the design worked best with.

The thing is with any product its always going to be a balance of compromises to meet a price point and at the price point the AMG Giro sold for I suspect that the ‘switched’ PSU was the best compromise to fit that price point, and the Giro sounds wonderful with it, and its not just myself that thinks that, but the many others who have reviewed the turntable do as well. However what this review has shown is that the AMG Giro, as wonderful as it is, can be improved by a better and this case, I suspect, a linear design (6) named the Giro Reference Power Supply.

Did AMG know the Giro could be improved to this extent, and did they always have in mind to someday offer a PSU upgrade option? I simply don’t know. What I do know is that the AMG Giro turntable can now be improved, and that the price of admission (800 Euros) is well worth it, the improvement is so large.

So if you own an AMG Giro I would urge you to ask your AMG dealer if you can audition a Giro Reference power supply, and I strongly believe you will be buying one. I know what I am doing.

 

Highly Recommended

 

Neil

 

Retail Price –

Europe -Euros 800

America  -$1000

 

Review Item Supplied

AudioSpace:Ireland
Audiospace Ltd.
Phone: +44 7980 983340
Email: [email protected] 
Web: www.audiospace-ie.com/

 

Analog Manufaktur Germany (AMG) 

Email: http://www.amg-turntables.com/contact/

Web: http://www.amg-turntables.com/

 

(1) Mine was, I believe, the first review in English of the AMG Giro, either in print or online.

http://www.adventuresinhifiaudio.com/30/05/2015/the-amg-giro-turntable-and-9w2-tonearm-simply-amazing/

(2) Revisted review http://www.adventuresinhifiaudio.com/14/07/2017/acoustical-systems-smart-tractor-and-the-amg-giro-revisited/

(3) The Technics PSU review period was several years long.

(4) Technics PSU review http://www.adventuresinhifiaudio.com/24/12/2015/absolute-power-power-supplies-for-the-technics-12001210-paul-hynes-designs-origin-live-long-dog-audio/

(5) Back view of the Standard Giro PSU

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(6) I have not been able to find anything out about the PSU, bar the little info in that Munich show report. AMG’s website as of this time is devoid of any information regarding the PSU.

 

© Text Copyright 2019 Adventures in High Fidelity Audio. All photos bar the AMG Viella and album sleeves images are my copyright. 

NB No part or portion of this article may be reproduced or quoted without written permission.

Original Resource is Adventures in Hifi Audio

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