My Beautiful Michell Gyrodec SE

I bought my turntable in 2016, having read about Michell turntables on and off for more than 20 years. While working in Taiwan between 2011 and 2015, I visited a local Audio shop in Tianmu, Taipei where a full Gyrodec within its Perspex case was on display. It was a huge piece of machinery, but one could not help but admire the beauty of the thing – affordable British precision engineering at its very best. I returned to the UK at the end of 2015, after a stint in Shanghai, and finally bought one in 2016. A local audio store in Norwich assembled the beast for me and I duly got a call to let me know it was ready to be collected. I can tell you I was way more excited than I was getting a new car.

My turntable came with a bog standard Rega arm that I used with an Ortofon Black MM cartridge with a Shibata stylus for a year or two (there’s a whole back story to this specific cartridge as well – one for another post) until I was able to purchase a mint SME 3009 II ‘Improved’ on eBay which I still have and use with a Dennon DL103 MC cartridge. Some may criticize the SME arm + DL103 pairing, but I haven’t had reason to doubt the sound is anything but sterling. The folks at Michell were helpful in guiding me through the process of converting the standard arm mounting plate to a new one that catered for the SME arm.

The Michell Gyrodec, and the upgraded version the ‘Orb’ have been around in their current form for over 40 years. The Gyrodec was launched in 1982 and, in the words of Michell ‘turned turntable design upside down’. The fact that this iconic turntable, and in its various derivatives, is still available 40 years after launch, and wowing reviewers and buyers alike, stands as testimony to the quality and robustness of the original industrial design and engineering. Over the intervening decades, the Gyrodec has gradually been improved along with materials and manufacturing tolerances so that today, in 2024, you have a topflight product that can compete with turntables costing 2 or 3 times as much.

In 2016 when I bought my Gyrodec SE, they were priced at £1750 with the basic Rega arm. That same table now retails at £3500, and if you go for its bigger brother, the straight ‘Gyrodec’, you are looking at £4500 with a better arm. Part of this of course is due to increased demand for high end turntables as audiophiles have come to recognize the special qualities vinyl brings to the listening experience, but another reason I believe, is that Michell have come to the realisation that in a world where everything is made of tacky plastic and pressed plywood, a beautifully designed and engineered product that has stood the test of time can and should demand a premium. The other great thing about the Michell turntables is you can start with a basic SE and then over time upgrade it, so you end up with a top of the range Gyrodec. This would entail replacing the platter and then perhaps later adding the base and plinth, and of course whatever arm takes your fancy.

What does a Michell Gyrodec sound like? Michael Fremer, of Stereophile fame, reviewed the Gyrodec SE in 2000 and then again just a few years ago, describing the turntable as producing ‘airy highs’ and in the latter review, ‘solid crisp, bass’. In my system, over KEF LS50s’ or my B&W 703s’, I’d describe the sound as lush and expansive, with a clean, extended sonic palate right across the audio spectrum. With a Michell, you really are in the company of an extraordinary sounding turntable for the money, no matter what kind of music you play – the preferences in my case lying with 20th century classical music and jazz.

Here is a short video from Michell, talking about the product range and the company ethos

Below, some pictures of my Michell Gyrodec SE and the equally stunning SME arm with my X-Altra MC/MM phono preamp. In normal use, the turntable sits on an Atacama stand upon which I have placed a 40kg block of polished granite which in turn is isolated from the stand via 4 very large rubber bumper/shock absorbers. This decouples the turntable from any extraneous vibration from a very low frequency.

My Michel Gyrodec and the X-Altra MC/MM phono preamp


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