VPI HW19 MkIII vs. Michell Gyrodec?

Hi all, I've lurked around the forums here but never posted before. Now I have a question!

I'm looking to take my first real foray into the high-end by upgrading basically my whole system. I'm replacing an AR ES-1/Linn Basik/Aurum Beta and I've got it narrowed down to two 'tables. I'd love to hear what you think about each one, and which you'd buy if it was you:

VPI WH-19 MkIII with an AudioQuest PT-9+ and my Aurum Beta (I'll upgrade the cart later!)

or a Michell Gyrodec SE with the venerable RB300 and my Aurum Beta.

I've been able to audition the VPI locally and I definitely preferred to the Nottingham Interspace, plus I live in a loose bulding with plenty of vibration and NO possiblility of a wall shelf, so I need a competent suspension! However, I hear such GOOD things about the Gyro SE. Unfortunately, there isn't a Gyro even remotely close to me so I hear one.

What to do!?

My amp is a Conrad Johnson MV55, interconnect is Audioquest Viper and AQ Type6 speaker cables to Clements 107di's. I haven't yet bought a preamp but am looking at either the JJ 243 which has a nice tube phono stage, or a CJ PV10B with phono stage.

Thanks for any help!
Dirtyragamuffin - Sadly, I don't have an answer BUT I pray someone comes to help us with this question. Do you think we'd get a discount for buying two? (ha-ha)
Dirtyragamuffin, you can't go wrong with either turntables.

I have owned both VPI HW19MKIII and Michell Gyrodec(full version, bronze edition) for a while. Both are excellent turntables. Currently I have ET2 or 309 tone arms on VPI and SME V or 309 arms on Gyrodec. When comparing two turntables with same arm(in my case SME V or 309) both VPI and Gyrodec with same cartridge used, it is very hard to pick one over the other purely based on sound. To summarize the sound, VPI has more of darker presentation compared to Gyrodec. Gyrodec has little more airy sound. Sound preferences will depends on type of music you listen to and the rest of your system set up.

Gyrodec definitely has the look, even my wife loves the turntable. VPI has easier upgrade path, easier to find parts(used), and less picky on set up. You can upgrade Gyrodec close to Orbe. VPI really sings with ET2 tone arm(I really like this set up). Michelle works well with Rega or SME arms.
Thanks for the response! I went ahead and ordered a JJ 243 preamp/phono stage today, so that will be part of my system. I forgot to mention, I listed to lots of different music from rock and metal to blues and folk to jazz and sometimes classical or electronic, so verstility is a good thing. The Gyro definitely has the look, but my VPI dealer can get me a VPI with the AQ PT-9 for about $400 less than my Michell dealer can get me the Gyro/RB300...with the money the VPI would save, I could get a very nice interconnect or trad up my Beta to a Virtuoso Wood...but I don't know...somethig about that Gyro! Also the VPI would take about 8 weeks to get in; I could have a Gyro within the week. Hey I'm a patient guy, but my beat-up AR perched atop a rack of tube amps...augh! Killing me! ;)

Ahhhh, what to do!

I don't know how much I can help you but here are some things to think about (if you haven't already received the Michell unit):-

>>plus I live in a loose bulding with plenty of vibration and NO possiblility of a wall shelf, so I need a competent suspension!

In this case, the Michell is a BAD choice & I feel that you will regret it! To get the best out of ANY suspended TT you need a rock-solid place to put it such as a wall shelf or a concrete stand such as that made by VPI or by Billy Bags. These things are freaking heavy but the idea is to arrest all vibrations from getting to the TT. If you let vibrations get to the TT, your suspended TT will sound merely mediocre & you will never realize its full potential. It'll be marginally better than your present setup. If I may, I'd recommend you go for a non-suspended TT such as the VPI Scout or Scout Master or a Nottingham Interspace. In your setting, the Nottingham should be the outright winner. Get the Nottingham w/ its corresponding tonearm - there is a lot of synergy between the TT & its arm as my good friend, who owns a Spacedeck, found out. He couldn't believe how much things got better when he swapped out his Origin Live Silver 250 for the Space tonearm!

* The RB250 is a more stable design than the RB300 as the 250 has bearings on *both* sides of the tonearm while the 300 has bearings only on *one* side. This is also why Origin Live chose to upgrade the RB250 & create a Silver 250 over the RB300.
A inherently more stable tonearm translates to its use with a much, much larger range of cartridges & cartridges that have a low(er) compliance such as the Denon DL103, Shelter & Koetsu types.

* You Aurum Beta cart. should work just fine as-is & I would spend top $ on getting the best TT. In order of priority that yields most spend the max. on
1. TT
2. tonearm
3. cart

'cuz if you put a stellar tonearm on a mediocre TT, you'll limit the tonearm & will obtain on mediocre sound. Same logic applies to mounting a stellar cart. on a mediocre tonearm. It is much better to mount a mediocre tonearm on a stellar TT as you know that the tonearm is giving you its best. Any subsequent upgrades in the tonearm will yield much better sound as the TT will not limit the sound. This, of course, is valid until you reach the limits of the TT. That is why buy the best TT possible w/ your $. You can keep it for a long time while you upgrade the tonearm.

* From a very reliable source (who I will insist on keeping confidential) I understand that the Michell suspensions are not as SOTA as its rivals. This person sells VPI, Michell, MMF & Nottingham for a long, long time. Many, many people, who have used his services, have nothing but compliments to pay to him. He has rarely misguided people & I have personal experience w/ him as do some of my friends. All, I'm saying is that I trust his advice completely. When I was looking for a TT, he recommended a Nott. Spacedeck w/ Space arm. I didn't go with his suggestion 'cuz of looks *only* . However, sound-wise, this TT-tonearm kills almost all its rivals & is *far* ahead of VPI & I have heard a VPI Aries-JMW10 & JMW12 TT.

Hmmm....Very interesting. Non-suspended turntable does not need wall shelf or solid platform compared to suspended turntable???? Reason for putting suspension on the turntable to isolate the external vibration. That is the reason why non-suspended turntable sounds better with wall shelf or solid platform. Suspended turntable of course will benefit as well but not as much as non-suspended turntable.

OL RB250 is a good arm for the money, but not the best. I have owned OL modified RB250 and RB300. Definitely decent arms with the OL modification. Another clarification for OL using RB250 instead of RB300: According to OL and OL reps, spring in RB300/600/900 VTF adjustment has resonance problem in low frequency resulting less focussed/controlled bass and that is the main reason for RB250 having slight edge on the performance when fully tweaked.
Wow, interesting post! I've not yet ordered a turntable because I still can't decide!

I'm confused, though--you're saying a suspended turntable in a high-vibration environment will be worse than a non-suspended turntable that's just letting every vibration get right up to the stylus?

I haven't done a direct comparison between these two tables, but have owned a VPI 19-Jr. and the latest Michell Gyro SE, and have heard HW-19 MkIIIs and IVs, Scout and Aries. I now have a Nottingham table. Personally, I think the Michell is a step above the HW-19 series and Scout in dynamics and resolution (of course, the Aries is a different story). I too have suspended floors, with a fair amount of give. I did not have a big problem w/ the suspension of the Gyro, though a few times when my 80 & 95 lb. Labs got too excited by a cat or another dog, I got a little too much bounce in the suspension. The Michell had far less problems w/ bounce than other suspended tables I've owned, Systemdek and Linn, though I suspect the heavier VPI would be a better choice if a bouncing suspension is your only concern. I seem to have more feedback problems w/ the Nott, and need to add a more secure stand or a wall-stand. As far as sound quality, this is very personal and depends upon your preferences, setup, arm, cartridge, and the rest of the system. After selling my Gyro, I had to "downsize" to a Horizon, for reasons unrelated to quality of sound. The Horizon, while great for the $$, is not in the same class as the Gyro, as far as squeezing as much info from the LP, using the same cartridges for comparison. Another Gyro, or a Spacedeck would be the two tables I would consider if I were to buy in that price range again. BTW, I also had a Clearaudio Virtuoso w/ the Gyro, and thought this was a great cart. w/ a Rega arm (but not SME).

Dirtyragamuffin, Nameci:

Guys, I'm NOT saying that a non-suspended TT does not need a wall shelf/solid platform. It certainly benefits - no doubt.

OK, what I was trying to say was a correctly designed non-suspended TT is much easier to work with in terms of getting the best perf. from it compared to a suspended TT. If one is not familiar with how to tune/tweak the suspension correcly, then one ends up obtaining mediocre perf. So, if your home environment is "loose" to begin with + you are a novice @ tweaking suspended TTs, I feel, that you will end up coupling the noise/vibrations from the environment into the TT. Also, the suspension of the TT needs to be checked every 6 months or so to ensure that it's settings have not changed. Not saying that you have to touch is every 6 months but am saying that you got to look @ it to see if you need to touch it. So, it's not entirely set-and-forget. Maybe this is not a criteria for Dirtyragamuffin?

Non-suspended TTs are more novice-friendly & using some pretty straight-forward isolation techniques (granite slab, Bright Star sandboxes, Neuance shelf, etc many of which are inexpensive DIY solutions) one can obtain very good sound from them. Yes, if the floor is loose & you walk across the room - thump, thump, thump - the stylus WILL skip!

Now, if Dirtyragamuffin has a local vinyl guru, who is well-versed in the art of vinyl, and can help him then disregard all this!
Hope that this clarifies my earlier post. Sorry for the misunderstanding it created.

I'm not sure whether you have owned VPI or Michell but it seems you are refering to Sota or Linn suspension set up regarding the finnicky set up and the constant maintanence.

As for VPI or Michell suspension? I don't remember the last time I had to adjust VPI suspension(what adjustment? set up, level, and forget). As for Michell, I check the bounce once in a while, which never goes out of set up unless I move the turntable. I have owned a number of different turntables including Nottingham, Linn, Sota, Oracle, Michell, VPI, Rega, etc. Suspended or non-suspended, you will need to get used to your turntable and how to set it up unless you have free local dealer service.

As for the sound? I wouldn't argue on which is better design, suspended or non-suspended. They both have its strengths and weaknessses. Also different emphasis of the sound.
For me, I prefer plush sound of the suspended turntable especially with my music taste and my sound preferences.
Bombaywalla, thanks for the clarification, I see what you're saying.

Yes I'd be a newbie at working with suspended 'tables. Not saying I'm not willing to learn (I am, afterall) just saying I haven't done it. I do have a dealer who is well-versed and willing to set-up other turntables besides those he sells (my AR, for instance) so if I went Gyro I'm not so worried. He is the VPI (and Nottingham) dealer so I definitely would not have a problem there.

I'm not expecting a set-and-forget table and am willing to do minor servicing of the table where I am able.

To be honest, I've listened to several sprung table and several with no suspension, and so far have preferred the sound of those with suspension...

I agreed a suspended table is harder to set up correctly. The Michell is "friendlier" than a Linn as far as set-up, but getting the suspension adjusted just right is still a bear, and does make a huge difference. For me, it was about as dramatic a difference as when you dial in the VTA of a cartridge just right. Not sure about the VPI, since I never owned a suspended VPI.


Here is non-official Michell set up guide maintained by Werner.


This will give you idea on how to set up Gyrodec/Orbe.

IMHO, VTA/VTF set up is much more involved than Gyrodec/Orbe turntable set up.

I won't argue with you 'cuz you've experienced what you have! Also, my objective was to educate Dirtyragamuffin rather argue with the members here.

Anyway, it seems that you are a better pro @ suspended TTs than I am. Terry (Tlh28) & myself seem to have very similar experiences per his latest post.

Several facts have revealed themselves & Dirtyragamuffin can make his choice.
I just wanted to clarify what has been stated. To be sure that Dirtyragamuffin and other Audiogon readers gets the correct facts.

Wall Shelf or solid stand is more essential to Non-Suspended turntable. Wall shelf or solid stand will benefit suspended turntable as well but not as much compared to Non-Suspended turntable. Airborn vibration will affect the non-suspended turntable much more so than it does to suspended turntable.

Suspended turntable may involve little more periodical adjustments compared to non-suspended turntable.
Thanks again everyone for the responses, I really do appreciate it and you've helped me get closer to my decision!

Given my circumstances, I think a suspended turntable would be right for me, and I still have it between the VPI and the Gyro, though my budget has changed slightly and I'll be looking for a used Gyro at this point, or failing that a new VPI as set up by my dealer.

I'd still love to hear any opinions on these 'tables! Sounds like a lot of folks consider them both good choices.
Is the MkIII suspensionless? I had a Mk IV and it had a stiff suspension. I find that a stiff suspension is a plus where isolation of the table is less than ideal. A lightly sprung table like the Michell can be hell when it comes to footfall problems.

As far as sound is concerned, my own preference was for the Mk IV over the Michell. I like well damped tables. Lively tables, like the Michell can sound more exciting at first, but I suspect that the undamped resonance that give its presentation that extra sparkle and life also contribute to a slightly hashy and crude quality. Let me emphasize "slightly" since I think all of the tables at this level are very good.

My current table is a Basis Debut V (vacuum) and it is at a wholly different level from my old, but still loved, Mk IV.
I have a Gyro SE and have absolutely no problems with "footfalls" In fact I can jump up and down as hard as i like right in front of the table with no effect - of course it is on a stand that rests on a concrete floor on top of a styrofoam pad on top of several feet of crushed stone. In any case, I think you would be pleased with this table for the price (target 1200 or less without arm) but I haven't compared it to the VPI.
VPI is dropping the HW line and will not support it with parts. Buy the Michell.
I ended up with a Gyro SE, just got it yesterday, actually :)

I still need an arm, thinking OL Silver...

Thanks for all the help!