MICHELL ENGINEERING: Synchro turntable test review

Howard Popeck writes:

The Synchro was mid-priced turntable inspired by the original GyroDec, but with an inverted-pendulum suspension and a glass platter. It looked dazzling 20 years ago, and it still does today. In the John Michell tradition, all the working parts are exposed, superbly engineered and impeccably cosmetically finished. It has a cast-ring sub chassis with a three point coil spring suspension. The base is pale green tinted Perspex with a thick glass platter and very unusually for Michell Engineering, a moulded clear lid with rounded edges rather than straight fabricated edges. The final touch was the thin felt mat in a darker shade of green.

As with all Michell turntables of that era, the drive is by a rubber cord and the motor was an AC synchronous type with a manual speed change via two different pulley diameters. Two type of screw-in feet were provided; metal pointed and rubber-faced. The deck was usually partnered with the Rega RB300, but I had considerable success with Alphason HR100S, the Linn Basik LV Plus, the Mission 774 and the Syrinx PU3.
The suspension was pretty good at isolating vertical impact (footfall we used to call it) but was a wee bit sensitive to sideways movement. Placing it on a decent isolation table proved useful then and might be invaluable now. My own one was silent in operation i.e. inaudible mechanical and electrical noise. Bass was detailed and solid but not quite as deep as my GyroDec but certainly a lot less sloppy than the then current issue of the Linn LP12.
In terms of sound-for-ya’-pound, bearing in mind it was £290 when new (the LP12 was £450 at the time) the Synchro was in my view and that of dozens of my customers, unbeatable. It looked and looks beautiful in a timeless way, and didn’t need some self-righteous, self-appointed turntable guru to set it up and keep it set up. It was consistent in operation and was a stable, relatively uncoloured platform for many decent tone arms.
An average price for used examples in excellent condition is £370. My best estimate is that an average of just 7 appear on the UK used market each year. Michell Engineering aftersales service is legendary. They still have parts today. It’s doubtful if you’ll ever need parts though. Mind you, replacing a broken platter might be more difficult. All in all highly, thoroughly and unhesitatingly recommended.