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Dear tgonzalez: Very good stuff you own. I know very well the 90X and is a very nice performer.
Now, if I was you what I would like to change will be both: tonearm and cartridge. First step a diferent tonearm and listen with the 90X and after this decide if the 90X has to goes too. At this moment I don't think in " touch " the TT, tonearm and cartridge can make a more notable diferences for the better you always in the future can up-grade the Michel to Orbe status.
Regards and enjoy the music,
Congrats on your nice system and happy to chime in with my suggestions on ways forward. As a prior owner of both the Gyro and the SME IV I’ve been in exactly your position. I actually changed my Gyro for a first generation Orbe and then added the HR supply and a wall shelf (GrandPrix Audio Brooklands) both of which really helped so I imagine the Gyro upgrades you have in line will all be positive
However where I would focus most attention if I was in your shoes would be In swapping out the arm. The IV has a very dry and even rough sound and it was only when I changed mine (first to a Triplanar VII and then to a Durand Kairos) that I realized how much it was coloring the sound. I’d sell yours and explore alternatives, personally my taste now runs to unipivots such as the Kairos but Moerch arms are another classic combination with Michell turntables
With an upgraded table and a better arm you can then explore cartridges - anyway hope this helps and let us know if you have any more questions
Excellent points. There is no doubt swapping a Michell for VPI would deliver differently but not necessarily better.
The Gyro feels like the potential weak link in my analogue chain. The tone of Michell is fantastic besting my Oppo 105 with Hi-Res. So why do I feel that is the Gyro the weak link? First, often individual instrument touch on realistic tone, speed and microdynamics. Never is this true across the entire band. A snare drum, lead guitar or bass guitar that is simply stunning. Others simply blend in. Listening to the Dead's American Beauty some instruments are more there than others. Vocals are a bit recessed. The vocals are very organic. Second, I feel that ultimate blackness could be improved. This is the reason I thought about a non-suspended 'table like the VPI. But as FolkFreak suggests this could be a SME issue.
This all sounds like I'm dissatisfied. I'm not. The PRaT of the Gyro is fantastic. It's very musical. A bit less Hi-Fi a bit more a musical instrument.
Exactly -- the Gyro needs an arm that has the same "swing" -- which is not the SMEs strength. Adding the Orbe upgrades and the HR will help with the stability and blackness you are looking for but you will still be stuck with the coloration in the arm.
One cheaper option to experiment with would be to purchase a Wand+ unipivot -- at $1K it's a real bargain and you can see if you like the sound going in that direction.
I actually sold my SME (at this time my number 2 arm on my dual arm EAR Discmaster) and replaced it with a Wand+ for my Miyajima Zero -- no comparison the Wand is much more musical and involving.
I have a SME 10A and a Michell Gyrodec with Origin Live OL-1 arm and a new power supply.
I also have a Garrard 301. My recommendation is to try a Garrard 301/401. You should be able to do that with a new plinth and tonearm for under $10K.
Another thought, if you want a gradual step, would be to buy a Vibraplane to place under your current turntable.
I have a fully modified Michell Gyro. Twin spiders, the Orbe platter and clamp, and the H.R. power supply. I run an SME V on it and use it with a mono cartridge exclusively. I love it and I am not suffering any audiophile anxiety at all.
A good turntable shelf, the Orbe clamp, and the H.R. power supply would be the only modifications I would consider. Go in steps so you can judge what is happening. The SME tone arms are often criticized for being too analytical, but they are accurate and reliable with outstanding low frequency reproduction. They were the arms that John Michell used as a reference when he was designing and building the first Gyro's and Orbe's.
You may want to try the blu-tak tweak mentioned in this link :
I can’t recall the details, but remember having considerable improvement when I was using the Orbe with SME V years ago.
Good thing about this is that it cost practically nothing, and completely reversible if you don't like the result!
I ended up following regafan's recommendation of adding the HR Power Supply and Orbe clamp (but not the full patter upgrade). I'm very surprised what a difference it made. The PRaT became snappier and bass really filled out. Not night and day different but very much an improvement.
I also followed other advise to adjust SME IV damping paddle to just barely touching, whereas before I had it fully submerged. I did this prior to the power supply and clamp upgrade. That alone made a difference in pace.
The one caveat is that I upgraded both the power supply and Orbe clamp at the same time. It would have been nice to do one at a time as regafan suggested. Moreover, when I made the clamp upgrade, I noted that the bearing was low on oil. Adding oil mostly helped. Too bad I hadn't made step changes.
On the original problem of footfalls and blacker blacks, I think I still need to address that. Thinking about fabricating some type brace for the Synergy stand, at least until I can figure out a wall shelf. The wall shelf seems like the best bet, but its location has and continues to be the problem. The only two options are a distant wall requiring a long run of balanced XLRs ($$$) or directly behind one of the Magnepans (which would be in the rear "line of sight" of the speaker which may cause even more interference).