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The Best HiFi Turntable (The Gyrodec)

Updated on December 10, 2014

The Michell Gyrodec - The Best HiFi Turntable?

This article is about HiFi turntables and playing vinyl records, but mostly a review of the Michell Gyrodec, possibly the best HiFi turntable (record deck) currently available.

The Michell Gyrodec was designed several decades ago and is as much a design icon as it is a masterpiece in mechanical engineering. It still looks futuristic now, and yet a similar turntable featured in Kubrick's 1971 film, "A Clockwork Orange" Over the years it has been improved continuously although always retaining that iconic look, but with ever better sonic qualities. Many of the improvements can be retro fitted either in the factory or at home and the modular design means there is huge scope for customisation and upgrades.

The Michell Gyrodec: What is it?

A Review of the Michell Gyrodec: The Best Record Deck

The Gyrodec is a belt-driven turntable, with a separate free-standing DC motor. The beautifully machined chassis is suspended on three pointed feet and supports the platter on a high quality bearing and an arm mounting plate onto which a huge variety of tone arms can be attached. Polished brass weights hang from the bottom of the platter and catch the light as the record rotates. The cheaper SE version, which costs about £1,400 without an arm, comes without any dust cover or case, whereas the standard model comes with an acrylic case and lid. An inexpensive plastic cover can also be purchased for the SE version to keep the dust off the platter. Some people find the cheaper version more attractive because of its simple uncluttered lines.

The standard kit

A typical starter package consists of the Michell Gyrodec, a cheap plastic power-supply for the motor and a Rega RB300 arm, and your choice of cartridge. This could all cost less than £2,000, but most modern amplifiers also require a separate phono amplifier. This is what I purchased almost 15 years ago, with a Denon low output moving coil cartridge, and I also bought the small transparent Michell phono amplifier, which John Michell, the designer himself, customised for me to exactly match the gain required for my cartridge (that's the kind of service you get from this small company). This is plugged into an Italian valve amp with Ukrainian valves protruding out of its huge wood and metal case and a pair of six foot high electrostatic hybrid speakers. John Michell unfortunately died a few years ago, but the company still provides wonderful customer service and continuous innovation of this and their other products.

Turntable Upgrades

When I bought my Gyrodec it had an AC motor and cheap power-supply, so after a year or two I upgraded the power-supply to the "QC" costing about £800. This is a stunning piece of kit weighing in at several kilos and looking like a half scale metal top hat on three spiked feet. It added detail and subtlety to the music due to the smoother and more stable motor rotation. A similar upgrade for the new DC motor is still available, but unfortunately doesn't look as good. It is just a small rectangular box. It does however, apparently sound even better.

The possible upgrades are almost endless and can run to thousands of pounds. A significant improvement on the standard arm could cost in excess of £1000, but even that can be upgraded with a more expensive cartridge costing hundreds or even thousands of pounds. I instead opted for a having the standard arm rewired with silver wires which improved detail a lot.

Michell Gyrodec Sound Quality

I worked on the designs of the silicon chips inside many CD and DVD players (low end main-stream stuff) while working as a design consultant, and while, these days the resulting sound quality from a CD can be very good, from a high quality player with an off-chip DAC, they still are not as good as a good record player, nor as visually interesting or as tactile. Maybe I'm biased and rather bored after years of staring at the inner workings of CD players.

The Gyrodec is actually very neutral, so it doesn't suit just one type of music. You really can play anything from heavy metal to classical. The bass is deep and controlled and yet the treble extremely well defined allowing the development of an accurate pin-sharp soundstage. The sound can also be tailored by changing the cartridge, arm or phono amplifier to suit your taste or system.

Why Vinyl? (What's wrong with CDs, MP3s...)?

Is Vinyl still better than CD, MP3 and other digital sources?

The act of putting on a record is very enjoyable, handling the cardboard sleeve and vinyl, cleaning the dust from the record and carefully controlling the delicate mechanism of the arm. Shame you have to do it every few minutes. There are a surprising number of manufacturers still making good record players, and even a few new ones on the market. Vinyl records are still being manufactured although hard to find on the high street, but can be found on the Internet or of course bought second hand.

Records are the best way to enjoy music albums and the accompanying artwork and the Gyrodec is probably the best record player currently available.

Summary: Better than any CD player

My Perfect Vinyl Playing HiFi

I have my Michel Gyrodeck partnered with a Michell AC motor power-supply, a Denon low output moving coil cartridge on a modified, rewired Rega RB300 arm, a Michell Phono-stage pre-amplifier with a custom-built (by John Michell himself) power-supply to match my cartridge, a Unison Simply Four Valve (i.e. Tube) Amplifier and a pair of Martin Logan Aeon Electrostaic Hybrid Speakers

Michell Gyrodeck AC Motor Power Supply

Michell Gyrodeck AC Motor Power Supply
Michell Gyrodeck AC Motor Power Supply

Michell Gyrodeck Phono Stage Pre-Amp and Power Supply

Michell Gyrodeck Phono Stage Pre-Amp and Power Supply
Michell Gyrodeck Phono Stage Pre-Amp and Power Supply

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    • robertred24 profile image

      robertred24 3 years ago

      Back to the '80s....

    • Andy-Po profile image
      Author

      Andy 5 years ago from London, England

      @mchesney: Yes. They look great, like a Rega Planar: Simple design. They seem to be good value too (a lot cheaper than a Gyrodec), but I haven't actually auditioned one properly, so I can't really comment. They seem to get good reviews though.

    • profile image

      mchesney 5 years ago

      Do you like the Pro-Ject Players?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Looks like a terrific sound system. There are time when I regret giving up my old vinyl collection...

    • vincente lm profile image

      vincente lm 5 years ago

      It looks really fancy ... would be a nice addition to any living room.

    • hughgrissettsr lm profile image

      hughgrissettsr lm 5 years ago

      great lens! as a lifetime music lover, i found it fascinating!

    • rewards4life info profile image

      rewards4life info 5 years ago

      Awesome this Gyrodec will have to be on my, to get list. I currently have 2 technics 1210's and an ever growing vinyl collection, I much prefer vinyl for the same reasons. I notice a few nice pieces of kit in your collection, I'm sure that valve amp has a beautiful sound. Nice lens.

    • Andy-Po profile image
      Author

      Andy 6 years ago from London, England

      @MargoPArrowsmith: I like to think of myself as a wine connoisseur too. In fact I usually open a bottle to breathe while the valve-amplifier is warming up.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      Your description of taking the record out of the sleeve etc, sounds like a wine connosuer opening a bottle of wine! My problem with vinyl is that I was so hard on it, playing one cut over and over etc, that they records were not well treated and didn't sound good for long!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      How much does a Gyrodeck (with the base & deck,not the SE model) normally cost without an arm and cartridge,as i'm thinking about getting one but i'm looking at putting a s/h SME 3009 or 3009/3 arm on with possibly an Ortofon mc cartridge.Would the SME arm fit on the Gyrodeck and do you think this would be a good combination.I currently own a Rega Planar 3 with the RB300 arm and a Ortofon MC15 Super 2 cartridge.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Looks like a great Christmas gift.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      Gosh Andy, with a name like Gyrodec it just HAS to be GOOD! Right?

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      We have a huge stack of albums from the 70's but no way to play them. We thought about getting rid of them but... They are a part of our past. Getting rid of them would hurt.

      Great lens

      Lizzy

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 8 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I miss my turntable too - it's been in storage for 3 years and I can't see it coming out any time soon. I still have all my albums and in good condition too. I can't say that my equipment is worth what yours is though, that's a very fine turntable.

      I agree the sound was better with vinyl, but apart from that, the ability to select a specific track or to play tracks randomly is a big bonus for using CD's. These days I have all of mine ripped onto a hard drive, so even those never get touched.

      This is a fine lens, 5*****

    • WhiteOak50 profile image

      WhiteOak50 8 years ago

      I totally agree with you tipi. I remember so many wonderful things about my record player, the 45's and the 33's. Geez.....flash from the past! Great Lens!!

    • WhiteOak50 profile image

      WhiteOak50 8 years ago

      I totally agree with you tipi. I remember so many wonderful things about my record player, the 45's and the 33's. Geez.....flash from the past! Great Lens!!

    • WhiteOak50 profile image

      WhiteOak50 8 years ago

      I totally agree with you tipi. I remember so many wonderful things about my record player, the 45's and the 33's. Geez.....flash from the past! Great Lens!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Been a long time since I listened to vinyl records, I remember the sound quality. This lens brought back many happy memories in time! It's remarkable how we can hear a song and (some times) remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard a song for the very first time.

      Music is love in search of a song!