The SE is the ‘sport’ version of Michell’s Orbe rangetopper. It cuts down on costs by removing the acrylic casework of its namesake and, in many respects, looks the better for it. Like the well-regarded Gyro, it is a fully suspended design that floats the armboard and platter on three springs, which sit under three posts that stick up from the cast aluminium subchassis that surrounds the platter. Underneath are two acrylic layers in a tristar shape that reach out to support the suspension posts and fix-to-turned aluminium feet.
Set up is a matter of adjusting the knurled tops under the three covers, so that the turntable is level without leaving a large gap between the bottom of the subchassis and the tristar. In practice, there isn’t much scope and you need a level support in the fi rst place, because the gap should not exceed a couple of millimetres.
The platter looks heavy, but as its made from a mix of vinyl and acrylic, it sits on an inverted bearing and is driven by a round-section rubber belt. The motor housing is the biggest in the group and supports a DC motor that connects to an external power supply that offers speed switching.
The Techno Arm is a heavily modified Rega RB250, with silver litz cable, silver plated plugs, cartridge clips and a VTA adjuster. It also features the Tecnoweight, which keeps mass at the same level as the stylus for better tracking and allows incremental downforce adjustment.
This turntable sounds more substantial than its platter feels, but you can’t judge a turntable by mass, it’s design and engineering quality that count and the Orbe SE seems to have both of those down. It has real bottom end weight combined with an open, assured midband that lets instruments and voices through in all their tonal glory. The drawback with many high-mass designs is that they don’t time well because there is a tendency for mass to retain and reflect energy. This turntable avoids that altogether and produces an extremely coherent and right-sounding result.
This was a view shared by the panel, who enjoyed the Orbe SE’s fi ne dynamics and full-scale soundstage in which voices and guitars were projected with considerable realism. It garnered favourable comments about its timing, even if leading edges were considered less obvious. It also managed to turn in a very enjoyable rendition of the dub plate, which revealed much of its extension and rhythmic coherence.
There were several comments about the quality of piano tone from the listeners, with one describing it as being ‘realistic’ and another as being detailed. The Orbe clearly has a strong and well-defi ned bottom end and this goes a long way to placing a piano solidly on a realistic soundstage.
It’s not just about weight either, its also very good with voices, which are well articulated. Allan Taylor’s guitar is also well projected into the room in the context of a full-scale image. Transparency could be greater, as some of the competition reveal, but the Orbe SE balances power and subtlety very effectively. What’s more, it has a breadth of appeal that none of the alternatives could quite match which is impressive to say the least.
LIKE: Powerful, nicely timed and dynamic with a revealing midband
DISLIKE: The need to screw on a clamp slows down the proceedings
WE SAY: A fully suspended design that manages to do everything with ease
• 60mm acrylic and
• Screw down clamp
• Inverted bearing
• DC motor with
tacho speed control
• External power
020 8953 0771
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