Build quality is, as ever with Michell turntables, exemplary and the sound is none too shoddy either. Good dynamics and image scale are enhanced by adding the very reasonable Isolation Base
Timing not a strong point
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The Michell Gyro SE is a simplified version of the Gyrodek turntable that made Michell's reputation. It doesn't have a base or a lid, but in essence it's the same turntable.
On this occasion, Michell decided to supply its Isolation Base in order to demonstrate what this substantial slab of acrylic on aluminium cones can do for this impressively engineered turntable.
With its chrome-plated peripheral weights and circular subchassis, this is undeniably a distinctive turntable, especially in the black finish shown here. This colour option adds about £100 to the price, but the good looks more than justify the supplement.
Out of the box, the Gyro SE requires a fairly long build up. It took us about 20 minutes, but you do get to appreciate the quality of engineering that goes into it along the way. For the mechanically minded, it's a straightforward operation. We particularly like the main bearing and the way it's designed to pump oil to the thrust point. The machined motor casing is also a luxury touch.
Being a spring-suspended design, it has a separate acrylic spider that sits underneath the whole caboodle and lifts it up on three turned feet. The subchassis then sits on three springs that can be adjusted when the arm and cartridge are installed.
The springs are hidden underneath black cylinders that sit on the subchassis casting, strategically mass loaded to balance the weight of the arm – and you don't have to adjust the springs to achieve this offset.
Michell held off supplying its Techno Arm, but did send along a Rega RB300 (one of the remaining few) with the underslung Tecno Weight (£70) and a VTA adjuster (£20), plus a finger lock-nut (£8) that makes setting VTA rather easier than getting a spanner onto a nut under the arm board.
We auditioned the Michell with and without the Isolation Base and discovered that this slab of spiked acrylic has a generally positive effect on the resulting sound. In particular, it allows a calmer and quieter presentation, with lower noise helping to produce better dynamics and scale.
Results were better on the Townshend VSSS stand, which rather surprisingly improved the turntable's timing, albeit at a price close to the record player as a whole.
Timing is not generally a strongpoint of the Gyro SE: its true skills lie in presenting a wide soundstage populated with authentic sounding instruments and voices. Listeners were impressed by its ability to reveal hall ambience during the Mussorgsky.
Imaging, while not short on scale, is a little weak when it comes to stereo solidity: you don't get the same degree of realism that you do with the best turntables in this price range.
There is a slight loudness or forwardness to the balance which is less appealing, suggesting that this deck is sensitive to its supporting surface. Detail is well served and it does midband presence very nicely, but the bass, while well-defined, is relatively lean and doesn't plumb the depths to full effect.
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