500MH Loves: The Michell GyroDec

Michell Gyrodec

A Michell GyroDec turntable has been sitting in Casa 500MH since…well, sometime in the mid 90’s. In that time it’s seen some ups-and-downs: it’s been stoled, ignored for years in favour of rival turntables but, like Barry Manilow, it’s made it through the rain and is now back as the heart of our vinyl-ripping operation. In the following homage to this classic piece of audio engineering I’ll strive to avoid hi-fi speak (“a trace of sibilance in the transients” etc.) and just tell you what matters.

Firstly, it looks brilliant. The above pic isn’t mine, but a photo from the Michell Engineering site. It was taken (for unexplained reasons) at Borehamwood railway station and shows a GyroDec Mark III, the same model that I originally bought – though mine was finished in silver rather than bling-tastic gold. Some people will tell you that a GyroDec was featured in the film A Clockwork Orange, but that was an earlier Michell turntable, the Hydraulic Reference. Still, it does look pleasingly “far out” and I can’t deny that my decision to buy one was partly based on aesthetic considerations – though I did audition some alternative options, including the classic Linn Sondek LP12. Suffice to say, the Gyro looked the best and sounded the best.

On to my history of GyroDec ownership: the Mark III sat happily in my “system” for a few years before being stolen in a burglary (along with a number of other treasured possessions). When the insurance money came through, I replaced it with the lastest Mk IV model – visually similar to the above but with a standalone, rather than deck-mounted, motor (in the photo, that’s the gold cylinder on the left-hand side which drives the platter via what can only be described as “a rubber band”).

All was well for a while, but when we moved to an open-plan house, I couldn’t find anywhere to get, what you might call, a proper setup. And when I later realised my long-time ambition of getting an in-house vinyl-based DJ setup (2 x Technics SL1210 + mixer), the Gyro started a long fade into obscurity. Until now.

A project (men must have projects) is underway to put the GyroDec back to work – initially for vinyl-ripping, but ultimately to listen to records in the manner that God intended: decent system, leather armchair, gin & tonic, possibly wearing a smoking jacket. And a fez.

Thus far I’ve replaced the rubber band (a very reasonable £15 from the excellent Analogue Seduction) and levelled-up the equipment stand that it resides on – five minutes work with a spirit level. And that’s about it for Phase 1 (this project has very tight budget). So, armed with laptop and soundcard I can now make high-class vinyl rips that – in theory – should put to shame those done on the Technics.

And if any of that’s whetted your appetite, here’s a rip that I made today of Perri’s 1988 cover of Steely Dan’s Caves of Altamira.  Oh, it’s uncompressed AIFF format, of course:

http://www.mysterymix.com/mp3/Caves_of_Altamira.aif

Download Perri – Caves of Altamira (right click)

Michell Gyrodec

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