Michell TecnoDec (RB250 Tonearm / Denon DL103 Cartridge) review

The engineering approach to vinyl reproduction

Michell TecnoDec
The TecnoDec's sophistication through the mid and top make it hard, if not impossible to beat at the price

TechRadar Verdict

This nicely engineered baby in the Michell range needs careful partnering, but can deliver a very sophisticated result for the money. Just keep it away from resonating surfaces for optimum performance


  • +

    Good build quality

  • +

    Looks great

  • +

    Sophisticated performance

  • +

    Strong timing


  • -

    Requires good support to minimise resonance

  • -

    Bass isn't very strong

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The TecnoDec neat little disc spinner is the least expensive model in Michell Engineering's range and does without the suspension and fancy platters of its brethren, instead relying on good-quality engineering to make its sonic case.

This refreshing approach delivers a clean-looking turntable that, while perhaps not quite as elegant as some of the competition, is still honest and well-executed.

Beautiful design

The plinth is a slab of acrylic that stands on three aluminium legs with soft rubber feet to provide a degree of isolation. The platter is made from a compound of carbon and vinyl-loaded acrylic, a mix that produces a matt finish and a medium weight platter.

This sits on an inverted bearing that, thanks to some clever machining, pumps oil through the weight-bearing interface of thrust ball and phosphor bronze seating. Michell does not supply a clamp with the TecnoDec, but has one that can be used on this and all ofits turntables.

The platter is driven by a DC motor that's mounted in a beautifully machined aluminium case, the finish being considerably more attractive than many rivals.

Good value cartridge

The Tecnoweight is a replacement for the standard Rega counterweight that places the mass below the bearings for greater stability.

It is supplied with alternative size counter- weights to suit different cartridges. In this instance, Michell also supplied its threaded collar, which allows VTA adjustment on Rega arms such as the RB250.

The Denon supplied DL103 cartridge is a classic low-output moving coil that although lean, is very well priced and we felt well suited to the overall character of the turntable.

Impressive balance

All of the panellists managed to agree on one thing about this deck: its unusually neutral balance. Some commented that it was very similar in sound to the CD reference, while others found the balance to be "quite correct".

Which might seem like damning with feint praise, but lets the TecnoDec deliver an impressively revealing result. Joni Mitchell's voice is open and finessed to a remarkable degree, while the accompanying bass line is nothing short of lush.

It keeps things in perspective and doesn't overemphasize brighter instruments like trumpets, although the clear-cut nature of its sound means that it's better suited to a more relaxed cartridge, such as the Denon DL103 we ended up with, rather than the Dynavector DV 10X5 used initially.

Good timing

Its neutral balance is good for keeping the various elements consistent with one another and it makes a clear case for itself next to a more affordable deck like the Rega P3-24, thanks to a decent grasp of timing.

Some will prefer a warmer sound, perhaps, but that's a matter of cartridge choice and while the Denon DL103 may not have the power in the bass offered elsewhere, its sophistication through the mid and top make it hard, if not impossible to beat at the price.

With its minimal energy barrier, the Michell TecnoDec needs a better support than most, but keep it away from resonance and you have a very fine turntable for the money.

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