The wonderful Michell Gyro Dec arrived in several boxes, indicating a possible period of neglect in a store room or cupboard, however, having offered to house this audio refugee, I was expecting as much. I’ve previously had the ‘entry level’ Michell TecnoDec which is a very pleasing piece of high quality engineering but the Gyro Dec feels like a whole level of added quality, with weight and precision.
Michell Gyro Dec Assembly
I opened the platter upgrade first, this is a weighty piece of carbon damped acrylic that I then proceeded to cover in sticky fingerprints, not a good start. The platter upgrade, from the Orbe, is designed as a ‘massive piece’ that delivers consistent stability. There is a vinyl record clamp, that covers the record label, pinning the vinyl to the surface.
Out of the (various) boxes I fished out the Rega 3 point tone arm mounting plate (arm board). Sadly the three isolating legs that sit on the chassis were broken. However, the amazing website analogueseduction.com had the replacement parts I needed and a couple of days later and for only £30 I was back in business. The arm board mounting feet isolate the tone arm from the chassis thereby preventing ambient noise transferring to the cartridge.
To my delight the next piece of luck was the Orbe power supply unit, another upgrade, adding an extra element of control to the turntable. After these little gems were exposed I started to assemble the turntable. Taking my Rega Elys 2 cartridge and tonearm from my Rega RP3 I was ready to go. The aluminium chassis was placed on the perspex three legged base. The chassis is suspended by the three springs resting on the three pointed feet fitted to the perspex chassis. I also have the densodamp, which is a maleable chassis damping compound, however, I have chosen not to use this, in the interests of ease of use and confusion about where to put it (it goes on the under the metal chassis of the Gyrodec for better damping and better performance, it is applied at a 6-8mm depth to all internal corners of the Gyrodec aluminium casting, including the full perimeter of the armband).
Michell Gyro Dec Quality
There is little to be said here; it is beautiful and the quality is self evident, machining, design, poise. The quality and thought that has gone into the Michell Gyro Dec reflects nearly forty years of passion and love, inspired by their founder John Michell. Michell started his career at Finchley Autos and then started building film models in his garden shed for 2001:A Space Odyssey and Star Wars. In 1973 Michell took on a licence to make Hydraulic Reference turntables and a passion was born. 1977 saw the first John Michell designed turntable, called the Reference Electronic. Records were placed on six pods to reduce electrostatic charging on the vinyl. Latterly they were clamped onto a glass platter. Later, an entry level Michell turntable, called the Focus One came to be followed by the first Gyro Dec in the early 80s. Each element of the Gyro Dec is beautifully thought out, from the the spiked feet to the perfectly engineered chassis that doesn’t quite touch the DC motor that drives the platter belt. Speed is easily adjusted by moving the belt on the top of the motor. The power supply sits separately from the motor itself.
Every day usage is wonderfully accessible with the Michell Gyro Dec and as such I am finding myself listening to more vinyl because it is so easy to access. I have the Michell Unicover that I bought when I had the Tecnodec and this just lifts off, sits at the side and the record is on and spinning before you even think about it. I recently had a re-organisation of my record collection that saw me flipping between original pressings of 12″ New Order records (including my original ‘Blue Monday’, ‘Murder’ and ‘A Perfect Kiss’) and other slightly dodgy 45s, that included A Flock of Seagulls’ “Wishing I had a Photograph of You”.
My listening has been framed by the upgrades I have described above. The PSU is £439, the ‘massive’ 60mm thick platter is an incremental £469. The Michell Gyro Dec itself (I have the SE basically that comes without the perspex surround that encloses the turntable) retails around the £1300 mark. Adding on a Rega Arm board which is around £50 and the clamp kit is £98. A Rega tonearm and cartridge will put an additional £500 on the bill. My first set-up is a basic RP3 tonearm with the Elys2 cartridge. This set-up is tipping £2,850 in total, but boy it’s worth it.
I am using the Naim Stageline, a Uniti 2 as pre-amplifier and a NAP 250 for power through KEF R500 floor standers with Atlas Mavros speaker cable. The difficult thing here is for me to listen to the turntable and not the speakers and set-up, although I am familiar with its sound, so I think all I can really do is to compare familiar tracks from both Tidal and the RP3, as best I can.
Separately I have received from my wonderful friends at Rega an RB303 tonearm and an Exact cartridge that I will discuss later.
First thing to note is that I have never experienced a flatter piece of vinyl in all my time, the clamp just glues the vinyl down perfectly, and, crucially, there is no noise in the quiet bits. Speed adjustment is via adjusting the belt on the motor so the process is simple. With Ed Sheeran’s records, they play at 45rpm whilst others are 33 1/3 rpm, this is such a lovely design feature.
The sound presentation from this set-up is really stunning, the detail is wonderful. With such clear resolution the soundstage is enhanced, certainly in advance of other sources. Listening to a heavy vinyl copy of Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” the main lyric, the trumpet, is front and centre and remarkably clear. With John Coltrane’s saxophone to the left and Paul Chambers’ double bass to the right channel separation is demonstrated beautifully and the resonant notes from the instruments are pure joy. Overall the sound presentation is deeper than I am used to and the warmth, vibrancy and rhythm from these tracks are fully rewarded with this turntable and set-up. I’ve had a full listen to a new copy of ‘Dark Side of The Moon’ and the whole experience is just pure joy, just listening to the music, hearing warmth and passion, it is like properly meditating (whatever meditating is).
RB303 tonearm and Rega Exact cartridge upgrade
I received a three point mount RB303 tonearm from Rega with their Exact cartridge. As an upgrade I simply needed to replace my older tonearm onto the same arm board which has the three point mounting system anyway. The I realised I didn’t have right screws to attach the tone arm. However, several wrong sized screws and then returns to Homebase yielded that I needed 35mm M4 machine screws with ‘shake proof’ washers and nuts to secure the 303 to the Michell Arm Board, very fiddly but worth it.
The sound from the Exact cartridge is cleaner, less edgy than the Elys 2 and this turntable shows what can be gained from these upgrades. I’ve also felt the trebles on my ears are easier to hear in places. I’ve not found a great deal more from the lower ends, I think the previous Elys is doing a good job there. But overall, I feel the set-up is better matched and the sound is now as good as I can get it. I do happen to have the Michell Technoweight upgrade to the Rega tonearm. The idea here is that the centre of gravity of the tonearm set-up is lowered delivering stability and performance. However my record dealer and I decided that the strain in getting out the existing counterweight from the RB303 would be too great and may damage the tonearm (it’s stuck, basically, and it is not mine of course) so I have yet to pursue this. Otherwise I suspect that I would need to go for a Moving Coil solution to get more from this turntable, in the light of my T+A MC experience, see my T+A G 2000 R turntable review.
I don’t have around £3,000 to go for this line up but the Michell Gyro Dec is surely one of the most beautiful and tightly engineered turntables you could aspire to (which I do). It has been a pure joy to listen to and aesthetically it has been a talking point every-time anyone has walked into my lounge. It is probably the nicest piece of equipment I have experienced in over four years of reviewing hifi, and forty of listening to it.
Everything about it
Added warmth, depth and bass
Speed control with the belt
Orbe platter upgrade
I could afford it
For more information goto Michell Engineering’s website http://www.michell-engineering.co.uk