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Vinyl Asylum: REVIEW: J.A. Michell HR PSU Turntables by Fretless

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REVIEW: J.A. Michell HR PSU Turntables

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Model: HR PSU
Category: Turntables
Suggested Retail Price: $750.00
Description: DC Power Supply Upgrade for Gyro and Tecnodeck
Manufacturer URL: J.A. Michell
Model Picture: View

Review by Fretless ( A ) on August 23, 2003 at 17:07:58
IP Address: 209.179.252.56
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for the HR PSU


The long-awaited (by me, anyway) high-current “Never-Connected” power supplies for the DC powered Michell Gyro and Tecnodeck are finally beginning to make their way across the pond to the US in small quantities. It shares the same attractive, if nondescript all acrylic non-ferrous case that houses the Michell Dino phono stage. The fancy Alecto-shaped black acrylic VC PSU is discontinued, though that case style is still being used on the Orbe Controller. The HR retails for the same price as the VC (around $750 USD) though owners of DC Gyros made before late January 2003 will also need a $30 adaptor cable to supplant the short lead attached to their motors. The case contains a small, tidy PCB and a doughnut-sized toroidal transformer that accounts for most of the small unit’s considerable weight. The only control on the front panel is an unlabeled on/off rocker switch with no power indicator light, and on the back there’s a small recessed speed adjustment pot. I see no reason to have an on/off switch and would have preferred an electronic speed-change feature as offered on the Orbe Controller. A somewhat wimpy-looking power cord connects via an IEC jack (yay!), so I’ll be driving myself nuts trying out some after-market cords in the near future. There was no paperwork of any kind included.

Even fresh out of the box with a twenty minute warm up it was pretty obvious that this new toy was going to be a keeper. When switching back and forth between the standard wall-wart PSU and the HR, the sound with the wall-wart struck me as comparatively gray and slightly fuzzy. The HR lowers the noise floor, setting the music against a blacker background, and gives the PRaT a pronounced kick in the pants. The attack and decay components of the notes are cleaned and sharpened, and the pitch stability is better as well – sustained notes sound much more assured and solid. The Gyro’s slightly light-weight character (perhaps its most conspicuous shortcoming) is somewhat assuaged, though not entirely ameliorated. Image clarity and stability are also much improved. There’s an increased sense of depth and three dimensionality; the improvement in soundstage front-to-back layering is particularly noticeable. With the help of the HR, I was actually able to better fine-tune my speaker placement; it improves the soundstage focus enough that small position changes become much more obvious.

While the HR’s effect is relatively subtle; more along the lines of a serious cable upgrade than something like a big step up to a better phono cartridge, its presence is clearly identifiable with every LP I spin. I’ve been surprised numerous times by the appearance of such things as additional background vocals, instruments, and ambient cues that were previously lost in the noise floor haze. Song lyrics are more intelligible, and it’s easier to sort out the individual instruments and vocal harmonies on heavily multi-tracked recordings.

The older Papst powered AC Gyro’s were given a considerable leg up with the inclusion of the QC PSU; enough so that many considered the upgrade mandatory if you wanted that ‘table to get up off its butt and really sing. The newer DC powered Gyro was likewise abetted by the VC PSU, but to a lesser degree. In a post archived here in the Vinyl Asylum, Werner expressed the relative PSU improvements like this:

“Trying to put it in numbers, just to convey the idea:

-AC/basic: 6
-AC/QC: 10
-DC/basic: 9
-DC/VC: 11 “

With that in mind, and having heard the older AC/QC combo, I’d hazard that the DC/HR offers up a solid 13, and thus, IME, represents the best pairing of motor and PSU offered for the Gyro to date. All things considered, I think the new HR is actually worth the asking price, unlike far too many audio widgets these days. I can think of nowhere else other than “high-end” audio (well, perhaps US military funding) where the idea of shelling out $750 for a zero-bells-and-whistles power supply would be contemplated with a straight face, but its positive effect on every LP I play is gradually massaging away the aches and pains from my emaciated wallet. Hell, my cartridge sells for more than twice as much and it’s only viable for one trip around the sun on poor old planet earth before it gives up the ghost.

Thanks to John Barker of Sonic Culture for reeling in one of the first HR’s off the boat, and for all your sound advice.


Product Weakness: Not cheap. No electronic speed selection.
Product Strengths: It makes my beloved Vinyl sound even better!


Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Audiomat Prelude Reference
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): none
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Michell Gyro SE MkII/Morch UP-4/Dynavector XX-2
Speakers: Reynaud Offrande
Cables/Interconnects: Cardas/Acoustic Zen/Silver Audio/DH Labs
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Lots!
Room Size (LxWxH): 24' x 12.5' x 8'
Room Comments/Treatments: Heavy silk Japanese kimonos over acoustic foam
Time Period/Length of Audition: one week
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner




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Topic - REVIEW: J.A. Michell HR PSU Turntables - Fretless 17:07:58 08/23/03 ( 1)