Great choices in tables and overall a dynamite plan you have plotted out. I have not heard the Spacedeck/Spacearm, but I have owned 2 different Gyro SEs and they are great. Great new DC motor, fantastic engineering, sprung so its not prone to footfalls etc and its upgradable in many different ways (Michell stock powersupplies, Orbe platter, new Tom Evans powersupply, various Pederson mods (http://pedersensgyro.hjem.wanadoo.dk/index_english.htm)).
If that is a new, stock Rb300 you have your eyes one, I would strongly suggest you look for a modified RB250 instead as it is better by far. Your choice of cartridge and phonostage can hardly be faulted - that should be a killer combination. I have owned the 10X and 20X and used the EAR834p with them, with a Gyro and different arms including the Rb250, and it was great. A LO MC like the 17D2 and the robust P75 phonostage should be a great match. I am sure no matter what combination of deck and arm you choose, overall you would have a superb vinyl system. Saying so probably doesn't help make a decision, but without hearing both rigs its the best objective answer I've got.
I'm right where Bmckenney is (ie, haven't heard either of those rigs). I HAVE heard a stock Rega and own a modded one (OL Silver). There's no comparison. I doubt a stock Rega could come anywhere near a Spacearm either.
Otherwise you've got two well regarded tables to choose from, I expect either one would satisfy. That's not much help I know. Hopefully someone who's actually heard both tables will chime in.
Audiogon member "4yanx" has done a direct comparison test that included the Gyro and the Spacedeck. The test used the same tonearm and cartridge being transferred from one deck to the other. Perhaps he could be kind enough to comment on this. It is also written in the archives, as I have read it here previously.
Glad to see you followed up by posting the question here. Sounds like you've narrowed it down to 2 great TTs.
When I suggested the Spacedeck/Spacearm to you, I didn't go into detail as to what led me to that turntable. These are my own opinions distilled from combo of personal experiences and what I've been able to absorb here & elsewhere from the likes of those commenting here before me.
- No suspension often = better performance in this price range. IMHO, when designing around a budget, designers must make compromises. I prefer to see more of the cost go towards the components that contribute more directly to overall sound. Yes, this means I need to have a solid setup(in my case w/Neuance shelf on a heavy Billy Bags rack), but that appoach makes sense to me.
- Puny motor/no switch, novel approach. Some have said that the "Nott motor isn't the greatest." But, since it doesn't need the to power to get the platter "from 0 to 33 1/3", it makes sense. Ergonomics of the manual start are a kick, too!
- Character of the "Nott sound": Big images wide & deep, emerging from a black background, plenty of PRAT, and a natural timbre. Perhaps not the ultimate in dynamic contrasts, nor the most transparent compared to some other tables, but always musical, never calling attention to itself.
- Good engineering, lousy marketing: the value 1-2 punch ;-)
As I haven't heard a Gyro SE, can't comment on it, although I did enjoy listening to older Michele's that I've heard. Keep us posted. Cheers, Spencer
Thank you to all who have responded. I have been making some inquiring phone calls to dealers that carry both lines and have almost been told unanimously the Nottingham Spacedek seems to be a bit more musical, as well as a bit more performance for the money.
Along with some phone calls, my cartridge and phono amp presumptions have changed as well. I would now be considering the following:
Nottingham Spacedek with Rega RB-700 arm with Shelter 501 cartridge coupled with the EAR834p phono amp.
The above arm combination was recommended over the Space arm as to have better compliance with the Shelter 501, and the next justifiable upgrade step to a Koetsu Black. Does this recommendation seem logical?
I am still considering the Gyro SE, so if anyone does have direct comparisons or advice, please do chime in.
Again, sincere thanks for everyones help and input.
If you are considering the Rega RB700, you might want to take a look at the Michell Tecnoarm as well. The Tecnoarm is a highly modified version of the RB250 (Counterweight, continuous Cardas rewire, additionally damped, bearings fine adjusted). The problem with the new RB700 is that it uses the RB1000 bas, that cannot be used with the standard VTA bases from Michell, Incognito etc. The Origin Live Silver is another alternative you might want to consider.
The Spacearm/Shelter 501 combo works great. That's what I bought based on recommendations of others here. No problem using the Shelter w/the Spacearm. The 501 has .4mv output, sort of on the low side; you might want to double check that the 834 has enough gain to mate well with the 501. The Wright phono stages are another tube phono stage in same price range that many folks have praised highly. Just an idea...Cheers,
I have not heard a 17D2, but I understand it is quite the cartridge that digs out a lot of info. The Shelter would be a great choice, and probably more musical than the 17D2. I would say your decision probably depends on the type of system you have, and what your personal tastes are. You mentioned that the Spacedeck may be more musical than the Gyrodec. To me that means the Spacedeck is more foregiving, or to say it does not dig (that word again) as much information out. Wouldn't you want a turntable that digs the max info out. That way you can tailor the rest of the downstream to suite your tastes. A Shelter and an modifed Rega arm is a pretty killer combo (heard it), and very, very good at balancing all the detail and being musical at the same time. Put that on an honest deck like a Gyro, and it would rock. Add an 834P and it would be lush. Modifiy your 834P with good, neutral coupling caps, and your back to the perfect balance. Do the same thing with a Spacedeck, and what do you have? Its like trying to solve an equation or something. Anyway, just think it all through, and think about whether you want your source to have all the info to begin with or not, and what you can do with downstream stuff to get what you want.
Bmckenney, I don't think you are making a proper inference when you equate that the musicality of a Spacedeck makes it more forgiving and, thus, less able to "pull out the detail" than a Gyro. In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. I happen to think that the Gyro is a fine table. However, as Tom mentions, I have listened extensively to the Gyro with several arms and the Spacedeck with about eight different arms. Ive heard the Shelter 501 and 901 on both. Ive heard the 17D on both, in addition to a couple of other Dynas. Ive also heard the Shelters, Dynas, and a Benz on the Spacearm, an Origin Live Illustrious, and a Graham 2.2 and combinations of arms and cartridges on the Gyro too numerous too mention.
In the end, for my money, the stock Spacedeck (WITH THE ORIGINAL PLATTER, NOT THE NEW THICKER VERSION) is superior in terms of pacing, musicality, detail, and speed consistency to the Gyro. For the Spacedeck, I do not think you can do much better than the Spacearm for less than about $2K.
To the original poster - mate the Spacearm/Spacedeck with a Shelter 501 MkII and enjoy it greatly. Mate it with the 17D and enjoy, but I find the Dynas a bit bright for me. A Spacedeck at retail is a good value, used it is a killer value. That said, you, like others, might also be happy with a Gyro, but it will have a hard time besting the Not DC motor or not. IMHO, YMMV, and all that.
4yanx and others-
Thanks for all the advice. I was speaking with a dealer that recommended the RB700 arm over the Space arm to be used with the Shelter 501 and then perhaps the Koetsu Black down the road.
Is there some inclination on paper that the RB700 would be a better compliance match, or perhaps even yield a better sonic signature than the Space arm combo? I personally was leaning toward the Space arm with the Spacedeck thinking the synergy would be better.
Would you recommend any other tonearm in this price range (Space & RB700 arms) that would work well with the Space Deck and Shelter 501 cartridge?
From what I am hearing from both members as well as dealers (only inquired to dealers that sell both Michell & Nottingham) is that the Space Deck seems to be more "musical" than the Gyro SE is the phrase that keeps coming up. However, both are supposed to be excellent. Does this seem correct?
Thanks again for all the help!
I use a Shelter 501II with a stock SpaceDeck with Spacearm. Great combination. Have the dealers who are not recommending this combo tried it?
One thing that PERHAPS the dealer is not considering is the fact that Tom Fletcher designed the Spacearm with two stabilizer bars (which you can see from the bottom of the arm). This design seems to allow for a bit of exception to the normal compliance issues with a medium mass unipivot and, from the experience of many, the 501 mates well with the Spacearm, though I wouldn't stretch things to something like, say, a Denon 103. I cannot comment specifically about the 700 but the Spacearm with 501 sounded better to several of us than an OL Silver with 501, ON THE SPACEDECK, FWIW.
I am surprised that somone finds the spacedeck to be literally superior to the Gyro in detail, musicality and pace (same as speed consistancy, yes?). I would have thought that they would be equals on some terms and one better than the other in other cases. I would have thought that the real difference between the two would be that the spacedeck was blacker in the background, and images more vivid and solid. And the Gyro would be lighter fleet of foot like, more nimble, less vivid. As for differences in detail, I am surprised that a spacedeck is superior. Was that Gyro one that you personally owned for some time and were very familiar with setting up and in particular were you confident that you had its suspension tuned properly? If the suspension on a Gyro is off then it will not perform well. As for musicality, thats such a subject thing to quantify and ultimately I think that one comes down to what a deck does to someones brain. Someone may really key on the standout strengths or differences of a spacedeck (big, vivid images for instance) and to them thats what makes the one more "musical" over the other.
Also, another thing to keep in mind is that if that Gyro SE was the one with an AC motor, and no QC powersupply, then its not the same deck someone would buy new today. A person today would get one with a DC motor and it sounds quite a bit better and different than the older Gyro. The AC motor Gyro is literally a completely different beast when it is QC'd, and the DC motor sounds basically the equal to an AC + QC.
And that is another nice thing about the Michell decks. They evolve and are improved thru time (AC to DC motor wasn't by design however - but recent SE chassis sure was). I don't know if Nottingham does this with their products or not, but its something to think about from a long term ownership perspective. Hell, NA came out with what they thought was a better, thicker platter, that users are saying sucks. Not exactly a swift move on someones part.
Actually, Nottingham came out with the thick platter as an option resulting from the American market which demanded a "thicker is better platter". Tom Fletcher, himself, will tell you that he prefers the original platter on the Spacedeck and that his customers in Europe and Japan have and continue to eschew the thicker platter.
It is true that the Gyro benefits greatly from set-up tweaking. That said, it is also one reasons (other than sound) that I don't prefer it (I'm lazy) and may not recommend it to someone who is new to tables or does not have a resource to help them with the table in their home.
When comparing the two tables, I was listening in the shop of a long-time acquaintance who has been in the business for many years. As such, I feel fairly confident that both tables were at least close to their ultimate, respective setups. The Gyro was of the DC variety. I fully agree that this feature improves the table markedly.
As far as updating, 'Nots basic premise is "the simpler the better", so there are not many design features to update. If Fletcher's collective inspirations accumulated sufficiently, he'd probably just do a new model as in the case of discontinuation of the Interspace in favor of the Horizon (a super-value table in its own right).
One thing with respect to the DC motor in the 'Not. It is extremely low-torque, you have to give it a nudge with your thumb to start it up (no on-off switch!). While it is DC, it is also very quiet, in my experience, and exceedingly stable with respect to speed consistency. 'Not and others sell separate power/speed control units - some costing thousands. Experience reports on these with the 'Nots are a mixed-bag, with some claiming improvements while others feeling it is a waste of money that can be spent better elsewhere. A friend of mine brought a VPI unit over and we could not tell much, if any, difference using it in conjunction with the Spacedeck. Maybe, as long as you have a steady and clean power source to begin with, these units are not necessary.
OK, I just have one more question about the conditions under which you have listened to these two tables, just so we can understand the complete context. Did you listen to the two tables in the same system/room with the same equipment at the shop? Cartridges, phono amp, the works. I assume the shop carries both tables in this case and while you may not have a done a direct comparison side by side, same everything, at the same time, you have at least done it over some period of time, and in long enough sittings, to have basically compared an apple to an apple. This isn't some sort of inquistition, it's just a desire to understand. And this isn't some I Love My Gyro Its Surely the Best maniac getting all defensive. Hell, I have no problems accepting that some other table may be superior in some respects to the Gyro. However it is nice for someone who's about to make a decision between two tables, who can't hear them both for him/herself, to get as much context as possible in a discussion thread like this. It's not every day that someone asking a which one is better question actually gets an answer from someone who has done a true comparison.
And that part about the thicker platter being the result of perceived market demands in the Big Old USA is pretty funny. On a related subject, I also believe that the Interspace was not discontinued at all; it is just not imported in to the US anymore. It is still available in Canada, and the UK, I believe, as is the Horizon. I guess the US importer doesn't want to confuse Americans with two different decks at the same price point. Actually, I was thinking of getting an interspace instead of the 2nd Gyro because it might have been a better match for one of the arms I use which is never secured or mounted to a plinth or armboard, and it isn't exactly something that I want to put on a sprung open style chassis like a Gyro SE.
It certainly is interesting time for buyers of turntables in the $1500-$2000 range. I don't believe you can go wrong with some of the options out there if you chose wisely, and in that group its more a question of personal preferences in things like sonic traits, design, looks, trends, peer pressure and ease of use etc that decisions are made on.
I will not go into the vagaries of the US 'Not distributor, though I should. Yes, I meant to say that the Interspece is no longer being sold by ASL, not that it is no longer being produced. As for the thicker platter references, these comments came directly from a conversation I had with Tom Fletcher. As others have said, Tom Fletcher makes the comment in alomst every conversation, to the effect, "don't unduly fret over the details, just sit back and enjoy the music!"
The comparison was based on the same EVERYTHING, expect for swapping one arm and cartridge combination between those two, and three other decks. Comparisons done in the same acoustically treated display room over the course of about 15 hours on two separate weekends, using a variety of jazz, classics, rock, and bluegrass on 33 1/3 records and on 45 rpm media when the deck so allowed.
Bottom line. You are correct. There are some very good choices in the price range you mention - clearly tables that one could be satisifed with for a lifetime.
Again, thanks for all of the very helpful information! I was able to speak with the dealer I am working with about the Nottingham Space Deck - specifically about the Space arm vs. the RB700 arm. He did state the Space arm will work equally well with the Shelter cartridge. He was leaning me toward the RB700 arm due to upgradability down the road, as I had mentioned perhaps the Koestu Black as a possible "destination" after the Shelter. Apparently the Space arm may "limit" cartridge choices to Shelter's, Lyra's, Van den Hul's (all excellent choices as well) - however other cartridge lines such as the Koetsu's will require the compliance, etc. of the RB700. It was also pointed out both arms, the Space & RB700 are at similar price points, he was just suggesting to go with the arm that enables you for future upgrades without more hassle down the road. All in all, it seemed very logical, that is of course if the RB700 does perform as well as the Space arm with the Shelter until- and if there is an upgrade to a Koetsu down the road.
Do not forget Orotfon Kontrapunkts with the Spacearm - great synergy. There are a number of other cartridges suitable besides Shelters, Dynas, and Van den Hul. Do a search on the AA board and you will see many suggestions.
I guess I've missed most of this discussion, but will add my two cents as a loyal Michell owner. I've owned the Gyro SE and loved it; regret that I sold. I "downsized" and tried the Nott Horizon, admittedly not a fair comparison. However, I found it quite disappointing compared w/ the Gyro, using the same cartridges. I sold and bought a Michell Techno and now am happy again w/ my analog sound, though of course the Techno is not as good as a Gyro. The DC-powered Michells are dynamic, with good frequency extension, very revealing and certainly have PRAT (I have owned an LP12 so I know). I found the Nott to be slow and unrevealing by comparison (some might call it smooth), lacking PRAT, but it is only a $1200 table/arm (though the Techno is only a little more). The Nott was set up by a very experienced analog dealer, just so you know. I heard a Spacedeck once, in an expensive system at a private home (probably at least 30 grand or more). The system was one of the best I've heard, but not sure how to evaluate the Spacedeck given I only heard once and was unfamilar w/ the system or music. Just my opinion, of course.