There are plenty of shiny new turntables coming to market, but can the venerable designs still compete? Paul Rigby tries one of them – the Michell TecnoDec EAT C-Sharp…

EAT C-Sharp Turntable And C-Note Arm
Price: £775 (& Rega RB202 tonearm, £199)
Web: www.michell-engineering.co.uk

For those new to the world of turntables, you might assume I’m reviewing a new unit called a TecnoDec when, in fact, I’m doing the opposite. I’m reviewing an old turntable called a TecnoDec. This was the last to be designed by the company’s father, John Michell, just before he died in 2003. So, it’s hardly a spring chicken. Why bother, then? Because. Because Michell turntables are notable for the excellence of their engineering, and because I wondered if the TecnoDec could still cut it in today’s market. Finally, because new entrants into the vinyl world may not know about Michell. And they should, frankly.

The TecnoDec is the company’s entry-level design and arrives with a low-noise DC motor and the impedance matched platter of the GyroDec, a solid-plinth design with spindly, damped feet. The acrylic/vinyl platter sits on an oil-pumping inverted bearing and arrives with an arm board for Rega-compatible arms.

There’s an optional record clamp, which I employ for the review. I also grab the company’s own TecnoArm (£650) – a Rega RB202 tonearm is a recommended cheaper alternative. Finished in black acrylic with aluminium metal parts, the turntable weighs in at 4.6kg and spans 490x310x85mm.

I begin my sound test by playing a slice of Manchester-based punk via an original pressing of The Fall’s Live At The Witch Trials and the tracks, Frightened. The first impressions I receive from the TecnoDec are two-fold. Firstly, I’m impressed by how clean the overall sound is. There are absolutely no extraneous or loose frequencies populating the music. Because of this, the presentation has a focused air about it. The clean nature of the presentation, apart from the extra elbow room for the performers, gives the music extra air and space to manoeuvre.

The second impression from the TecnoDec comes courtesy of the bass. It’s not big, powerful or massy in nature. The clean aspect of the sound allows the bass to retain a punch but, in this rock track, it doesn’t hit me across the face. Hence, some rockers might think twice about this fundamental sonic aspect and their own requirements.

As for the other end – the upper-mids and the treble – this portion of the sound frequency isn’t exactly warming in that vinyl sense; instead, I’d class it as ‘cooly neutral’. The electric guitar, which was played on the track in an almost psychotic manner, is stretched and widened. The ear is almost able to hear inside each of the frantically played notes and, while the electric piano might not offer a requisite growl as it hits full pelt, it does provide an impressive articulation nonetheless.

I then turn to female vocal jazz and Sandra King, warbling the Henry Mancini ditty, The Art Of Love. King’s lead vocal is clear, while her slightly restrictive, nasal quality during crescendos is successfully tracked by the TecnoDec.

The space around the brass section of the backing orchestra gives the trumpets a particularly brassy and tonally fascinating aspect, because it’s plain the trumpets were not recorded in a large auditorium, but in a more restricted studio space. The TecnoDec successfully conveys this nuance. Drums are covered well, and the instrumental separation reveals an acoustic guitar, which often hides itself with other turntable designs.

So is the TecnoDec still relevant? You bet! You can’t keep superb engineering down, and the Michell TecnoDec is certainly that. It does retain a character of its own, and hard rockers may have second thoughts. But if a clean, open soundstage is a priority and you like your bass punchy but informative, with supremely detailed mids, then the TecnoDec is a definite demo subject. Combine that with Michell’s famed after-sales support, and you’ve got one mighty turntable package.

Pros:
treble fragility
midrange detail
clean and spacious soundstage
build quality

Cons:
Heavy bass fans might think twice

Score:
27/33 1/3

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