In Barn for Good: Michell Gyro SE Turntable

The most recent piece of my system-building puzzle recently arrived and you could say I’ve been waiting for it for 30 years.

Malcolm McDowell as Alex about to play some Ludwig Van in A Clockwork Orange

I’m assuming we’ve all seen Stanley Kubrick’s masterful (and deeply troubling) film version of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange. I’m also assuming that if you’re an audiophile, you paid special attention to the Transcriptors turntable in play in Alex’s Bedroom. I sure did.

the Gyro SE came equipped with the Michell TechnoArm 2 and Cusis E MC cartridge

There is some debate/confusion as to whether the Clockwork Orange ‘table was a Michell or a Transcriptors, a ‘table designed by David Gammon.” By all relevant accounts, the ‘table used in the film was a Transcriptors. The confusion comes in because JA Michell also built Transcriptors turntables, under license, beginning in 1973–two years after A Clockwork Orange was released. These Michell-built Transcriptors wear a ‘By J.A. Michell Eng. Ltd’ badge.

Transcriptors and Michell worked in the same factory, located in Borehamwood, England, during the late 1960s until Transcriptors moved manufacturing to Ireland in 1973, which is when Michell started producing their branded Transcriptors turntables. According to both companies, Stanley Kubrick visited the Borehamwood factory at least twice in the 1960s and in late ’69 he walked away with a Transcriptors Hydraulic Reference turntable which he used in A Clockwork Orange.

Michell Engineering remains family owned and run ’till this day. I love when that happens.

Michell GyroDec

Michell also manufactured scale models at the the Borehamwood factory and he built the spaceship ‘Discovery’ model for Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), which was the inspiration for the Michell GyroDec, originally released in the late 1980s and remains in production. I love when that happens, too.

brass weights are added the platter’s bottom to give it extra mass and more momentum when spinning

The Michell Engineering Gyro SE is a direct descendant of the GyroDec and is to my eyes a modernist marvel—sleek and elegant form meets function. The Gyro SE eliminates the GyroDec’s full size acrylic plinth/lid, replacing them with an acrylic spyder to support the turntable.

According to Michell, “The platter material was chosen for its vibration dampening characteristics and because sonically it is a very similar material to vinyl, so it has a very neutral sound characteristic.”

The Gryo SE stands on three conical feet, point down, and employs a spring-loaded three point suspension system attached to the acrylic base to isolate the weighted pendulum style sub chassis where the main bearing, platter, and tonearm assembly reside. The inverted oil circulating main bearing’s point of rotation resides at the top allowing a modified Archimedean screw machined into the inside bore of the bearing to draw oil up as the ‘table spins, lubricating the entire bearing and thrust ball that sits at the top. A waste hole allows the oil to return to the reservoir after its climb. Elegant.

The free standing motor sits inside its circular home that’s part of the sub chassis. Elegant.

To my eyes, the Michell Syro SE is a thing of beauty in every way—from material choice, to design, to build quality which strikes me as fairly astounding given its price. I will be talking about how it sounds in the not too distant future. Right now, I find myself just looking throughout the day to see how the changing light makes a movie in shadows.

Michell Gyro SE Turntable
Price: $3999 without tonearm, $1499 TechnoArm 2, $999 Cusis E Cartridge

Company Website: Michell Engineering
US Distributor Website: Fidelity Imports