Alternative Michell Feet

Vinyl Frontiers: Audio Origami SpikePods & Motor Pod Support

Audio Origami Alternative with Added Altitude

[Italian version here]

Product: Audio Origami SpikePods isolating the feet kit for Michell Gyro SE and Orbe SE turntables
Supplier: Audio Origami
Price: £200 YMMV depending on exchange rates
Author: Mark Wheeler - TNT UK
Reviewed: Summer to Winter 2023

More Feet for the Michell Orbe and Gyrodec

The Audio Origami SpikePods alternative footwear for Michell SE turntables arrive hot on the heels of Pete's Pads. Rarely do aftermarket footwear for classic turntables arrive at the TNT-Audio Scottish hillside lair, so two sets in as many months mean that this review jumps the queue.

“The Old Scribe has already descended in to the first circle of pun Hades in the first paragraph” complain Plebs, stage left, “Presumably the next circle of this unique linguistic torture follows soon”

Audio Origami are well known in the analogue world for developing and manufacturing their own high-end pick-up arms and rewires and rebuilds of the rest. Founder John Nilsen continues the evolution and manufacture of the legendary Syrinx PU3 pick-up arm, now reaching the PU 7 generation. Audio Origami are based in Scotland's largest city Glasgow and the Audio Origami PU series have become established as a symbiotic match for a well known turntable also made in Glasgow. Recently Stephen Cosh, founder of Puranota, based an hour South of Audio Origami, has been turning his attention to raising the performance of the Michell Gyro SE/Orbe SE. As with Pedersen's subchassis system and Pete's Pads, Stephen sees vibration control as an obvious win. He is a serial entrepreneur who has now in New Year 2024 become proprietor of the Audio Origami venture combining John Nilson's analogue talents with his own business acumen and vibration control exploits.

The Audio Origami feet for Michell turntables are one of a group of products launched under the Audio Origami brand. These include vibration isolation feet (TNT-Audio review soon) and turntable supports and plinths.

The Audio Origami vibration accessories include Audio Origami SpikePods, another alternative to Michell turntable feet with unique features. Immediately striking is the appearance of this set of feet and motor plinth. Some minimalist modernists might prefer the plain industrial aluminium and perspex purity of the standard Orbe/Gyro SE offering, but this reviewer believes that the Audio Origami aesthetic follows function on a human scale by incorporating natural materials. There is evidence that being surrounded by natural materials improves our quality of thinking and mental health. Hopefully here it improves our sound system.

The Audio Origami SpikePods are claimed to improve isolation and noticeably enhance reproduction. They aim to achieve this with an unusual combination of materials with different properties of mass and energy dispersion whose sum combines to achieve greater vibration control and isolation than the standard Michell cone feet or optional Michell maglev feet.

Like Pete's Pads the Audio Origami SpikePods are simple-to-install isolation feet and the Audio Origami system takes isolation footer principles further and also addresses the issue of motor height and motor stability. Unlike the Gert Pedersen solution involving a major irreversible reworking of the Michell Orbe and Gyrodec models, using a complicated system of modifications involving sand & glue (Bowie reference to Dylan's voice sneaked in there), the Audio Origami system for Michell SE demand no hacking or subchassis drilling. It simply swaps the Michell suspension tower feet and adds a motor base plinth, and the kit can be user installed in a few minutes. While the installation does not require dismantling your turntable, the Michell turntable dog bowl set up jig is as essential as described previously.

For once the word plinth genuinely and accurately applies to a turntable component in this context. This is a base of solid Ailsa Craig granite upon which the motor sits. The Audio Origami motor pod plinth is just like the granite plinth of a monument, providing a stable base for earthquake-resistant stable bass.

The Audio Origami SpikePods approach is another attempt to maintain isolation from the turntable motor and structure borne vibration interference (impact noise) while improving horizontal stability and hence pitch stability. The Audio Origami SpikePods can be installed on otherwise standard Michell Orbe SE and Gyro SE models with many original or aftermarket suspensions. They fit Pedersen modified SE models and many of the aftermarket SE suspension towers. I would anticipate that the findings here would be similar regardless of suspension type. In conjunction with Pete's Pylons, the Audio Origami's SpikePods mitigate the S/N ratio sacrifice of those o-rings and bronze bush slider to restore the traditional Michell SE quietness while improving PRaT. With the original Michell springs the AO feet simply turn the Michell up to 11. Your Old Scribe has gone to a lot of trouble to write the rest so do read it.

The Audio Origami SpikePods combine discs of Ailsa Craig granite with a specialised 3D honeycomb-printed spike. Hence the SpikePods claim to stop more vibrations than any other foot solution currently available for Michell turntables. The SpikePods bundle includes more Ailsa Craig granite in the form of a motor riser with rubber grip feet, which realigns the belt path and reduces vibration at the motor and thus decreases wow & flutter as well as motor noise. In theory the vertical rigidity of these parts also enables the cartridge to preserve more spatial information clarity.

Setting up the test Orbe SE

The Pedersen sand boxes and associated perspex had already been removed for the Pete's Pylons & Pads reviews. The Michell subchassis at the Old Scribe Scottish lair is damped with layers of different kinds of glass fibre and metal loaded Plastic Padding. This is beneficial compared with Michell Densodamp or loose sand. There is also the Pedersen bearing reinforcement flange installed but now encased in a circular block of sand loaded resin. The original Michell Orbe SE DC tacho motor and top hat VC NC supply was used on the Ailsa Craig granite motor podium with a layer of Deflex polymer sheet.

The wider base motor pod from a Gyro SE was also provided by Stephen as a perfect size match, powered by a True Point Audio MIDAS power supply, MIDAS being an alternative acronym for Never Connected technology (review to follow). Both worked well on the Ailsa Craig granite motor pod riser plinth. Differences between the turntable's sound with Michell feet and with SpikePods were unaffected by the choice of motor/controller.

Audio Origami SpikePods Sound Quality

In combination with Pete's Pylons and reinforced subchassis there is a clear order of preference between different feet alternatives that correlates perfectly with price. During Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume 2 (the original black vinyl on Warp records) there seemed to be... [alert! alert! pretentious reviewspeak warning] more distinction (wot other reviewers might call “space”) between the complicated layering of Richard James' compositions. It's wot the Flat Earth brigade referred to as “Tune following”. The British Flat Earth camp's subjectivist transatlantic rivals at The Absolute Sound might describe this as better soundstage. Whatever you want to call it, the listening experience of Selected Ambient Works Volume 2 moved up a gear and that, dear reader, is the only reason to faff about with this HiFi sound system stuff at all.

So, moving inevitably on to Aphex Twin's Girl/Baby EP, which has not been played for a long time chez TNT so will be afresh without prejudice. For reasons long forgotten, Girl/Baby was played only once or twice on the Michell Gyro SE/Hadcock GH242SE/Cartridge Man Musicmaker II, and before that many more times on a Linn Sondek/Ittok/Sumiko BPS fronting a Naim based active system. Thus it sounded newly wonderful, without any claims to hearing deeper into the recording, becoming enlightened or falling asleep.

The Grateful Dead's Aoxomoxoa gets regular spins on whatever analogue front end is gracing the system and sounded as good as it ever. Pink Floyd Animals 2018 remix sounds spectacular via this modified Orbe SE front end. The original release of Animals was bought the week of release on pre-order and quickly became a go to system evaluator, especially for vinyl front ends and so I played it straight after the 2018 remix. This showed how far downward dynamic range has improved since those early plays on a Thorens TD150/SME 3009 II improved and Transcriptor Saturn/Hadcock Unipoise, with so much more audible of the studio as an instrument.

The wider front end window created by the Audio Origami SpikePods and Pete's Pylons equipped Michell Orbe SE proved a boon in a concurrent review. It really illustrated the added transparency of a Marchand XM126-3 balanced valve (tube) crossover (replacing the Behringer; the set up confirmed by REW and new calibrated microphone) mid review period. Trying the crossovers back and forth was more obvious with more information and less vibration from the analogue front end. Ditto the arrival of the Tippi current gain stage review replacement for the Ludahl SUT. This being the first gain stage after the turntable was a mutually beneficial substitution with all three of the recent Michell Orbe SE experiments:

  1. Pete's Pylons suspension
  2. Pete's Pads feet
  3. Audio Origami SpikePods feet
Experimenting back and forth with all the possible permutations and combinations of these front end devices, the front end first rule could apply. Both the Tippi current gain step up and the SpikePods are far more transparent at the top and bottom 2 octaves (i.e. 20-80Hz and 5-20kHz). Hence the effects are cumulative and this Michell Orbe SE has never provided more information, bandwidth, musicality, PRaT, soundstage or whatever reviewspeak you care to permutate. All depend on the Pylons (or Pedersen system) being installed first. With standard Michell springs (uncoated version) the SpikePods make a difference to articulation of human vocal range, including cello and fiddle among strings, backing vocalists, guitar effects and latin percussion.

With Bootsy's Rubber Band's Jungle Bass (Manifestation Implies Illusion - A Cyberfunk Pump Mechanism, if ever your Old Scribe heard one) again improves that Flat Earth cliché tune following. Or perhaps a badass journey into the fattness of space bass wiv da Bootzillaposse...
“Isn't there an Old Scribe anecdote regarding one of his old friends and the Parliament/Funkadelic crew?” ask Plebs, stage left, “Infuriating chaos ensuing...”
Not for these pages. Suffice to report that the heavy bass modulation of this vinyl is perfectly handled by the modified Orbe SE/Pylons/SpikePods with none of the intermodulation, dynamic wow, or blunted leading edges such grooves might incite.

The Audio Origami SpikePods improve low frequency extension without sacrificing articulation, like choosing a lower Q bass alignment via a bigger box and bass unit magnet in a loudspeaker. This becomes obvious during the title track on side 2 of Bootsy when there are some shockingly realistic voices completely unaffected by the heavy melodic bass and instrumental density. These are similar effects as Pete's Pads but improved further in all the same dimensions. The music list overlaps Pete's Pads because used for comparison between the two sets of feet and your Old Scribe would be happy with the improvement wrought by either over the standard or maglev Michell offerings.

Noise Levels

The subjective tests are all in the context of the potentially noisier 2 belts, which improve dynamic wow. A seismograph app was used to compare the noise results at the platter surface with the belts removed and motor on and motor off. Consistent impact noise was generated at various points on the turntable support using a ball bearing released from a constant height. A frequency sweep was also used 5Hz upwards at 96dB measured near the turntable (C weighted). Whether any of this correlates with sound quality is not known and TNT-Audio is primarily a musical subjective review site. Three arrangements were measured and compared:

  1. Michell original feet
  2. Pete's Pads
  3. Audio Origami SpikePods
Objectively the differences were small on this app but both aftermarket sets of isolation feet showed less noise than the standard Michell Gyro SE and Orbe SE feet.


The Audio Origami SpikePods are another step in the direction of perfecting of the already excellent value Michell Orbe SE analogue turntable package. The convergence of great performance parameters of various turntable technologies (direct drive, belt drive, idler drive) by refining execution continues. The Michell Orbe SE has barely changed in production since its launch by John Michell and suspension alternatives and footer alternatives enable enthusiasts to fine tune our machines.

The Audio Origami SpikePods further raise the Michell Gyro/Orbe SE performance towards megabucks rivals. The Michell strengths of low noise, low frequency control, low colouration and mahoosive soundstage grow with a combination of Pete's Pylons and the Audio Origami SpikePods. Unusually for aftermarket accessories, the Audio Origami SpikePods actually improve the Orbe/Gyro SE aesthetic adding some high-end furniture stoneware. That the stone is local Ailsa Craig granite that is also functional in the domain of vibration control is more than a bonus.

Music enjoyed while writing this review

Reference system

on vinyl of course

  • Aphex Twin: Selected Ambient Works Volume 2 Warp records original black vinyl
  • Aphex Twin: Girl/Baby EP
  • Pink Floyd: Animals 2018 remix on vinyl and CD as reference between feet configurations
  • Pink Floyd: Animals original pressing
  • Rory Gallagher: Check Shirt Wizard
  • Grateful Dead: Aoxomoxoa
  • Grateful Dead: Blues for Allah
  • Hart, Airto & Purim: Däfos Reference Recordings
  • Jethro Tull: Thick as a Brick MFSL OMR
  • Little Feat: Sailing Shoes MFSL
  • Little Feat: The Last Record Album
  • Miles Davis: Kind of Blue UHQR
  • Miles Davis: Miles in the Sky MFSL OMR
  • Miles Davis: Tutu
  • Bootsy's Rubber Band: Jungle Bass

Equipment used in this review:

  • Turntable: Michell Orbe SE

  • Turntable Modifications: include Pedersen subchassis & suspension kit

  • Turntable armboard Modification: Pedersen Michell Armboard isolator

  • other Turntable Modifications: Polycrystal PolyCrystal Point Discs beneath 12mm laminated glass sheet, beneath Orbe and aftermarket feet; Deflex plain sheet beneath Orbe motor pod

  • Pick-up arm: Hadcock GH242 SE with all silver wiring from cartridge to silver Eichmann Bullet plugs

  • Comparison Turntables include: Garrard 401 (in plywood & concrete plinth) and Thorens TD160

  • Pickup arms on 401: SME3012 series 1 or SME 3012 II with FD200 damper

  • Pickup arm on TD160: SME 3009 SII improved detachable headshell

  • Turntable support: Kiln dried sand filled custom wall shelf (aluminium reinforced plywood & hardwood) with marble sheets on sand bed

  • Cartridges: Dynavector DV XX-2 MkII; Decca London (John Wright serviced 2020) with walnut body;

  • Phono pre-amplifier: Canor TP306VR+ with Shuguang Treasure 6SL7 valves and NOS black bottle Brimar 6SN7, casework damped by additional internal struts and BrightStar Isonodes. Steel cover removed and chassis loaded by BrightStar Little Rock. Supported by BrightStar extra large Isonodes on Something Solid XR4 rack on Something Solid Missing Link feet. on Polycrystal isolator cones

  • Line Pre-amplifier: Audio Research Corporation Reference 3 with steel top cover removed, casework damped by BrightStar Little Rock 5, tube rolled and vibration further controlled internally by silicone O-rings and Pearl valve cooler/dampers, on Something Solid end grain balsa plank, on Something Solid XR4 rack

  • Crossover: Marchand XM126-3 Linkwitz Reilly (4th order) balanced valve 3-way active crossover with Marchand pm127 power supply

  • Treble Amplifier: de Paravicini (HiFi World) designed SET6080 in RATA Torlyte case and outboard mains transformer, and passive components to match mid and bass

  • Midrange Amplifier: Assemblage SET300B Signature variously tube-rolled and components to integrate with treble and bass

  • Bass amplifier: Breeze Audio Nelson Pass Zen clone SE class A FET 10W

  • Tuning planks beneath crossover, treble and midrange amplifiers: ERaudio Large SpaceHarmoniser on ERaudio steel cones

    on custom spalted beech shelves
  • Active Loudspeakers: 3-way active loudspeaker drivers:

  • Active Loudspeakers Bass drivers: Focal Audiom 12 VX with dual layer Cerwin Vega 2 layer cone roll surround, in 3 layer 25mm birch-plywood braced, hardwood - chipboard - fibreboard - birch-ply reflex cabinets, with Deflex subwoofer sheets & and with Deflex wedges and centre supported long fibre wool.

  • Active Loudspeakers: mid-range drivers: Focal Audium 7K with rubber solution surface damping removed. Mounted in separate enclosures with sculpted & radiused fiddleback sycamore baffle, 25mm birch-ply bracing, Deflex standard sheets. Rattletrap Extreme damped, decommissioned missile warhead, aluminium tipped copper mesh reinforced resin outer shells - literally.

  • Active Loudspeakers high frequencies: Focal TC120TDX with felt focus ring.

Extensive and ever evolving acoustic treatment including corner bass absorption, high frequency (above 2kHz) absorption at primary tweeter reflection points, high frequency diffusers at other critical points.

Some low impedance, low reactance wire is used to join these components together, much of it made up by the Old Scribe from high quality components with Pixie Dust personally mined by the Old Scribe. Mains is supplied by an audio only Ben Duncan 3kVA balanced mains spur main with centre tapped Radex earth (ground) non-inductive connections to a technical earth. Crossover and power amplifiers fed by a minimum connections hydra. All mains cables are screened & supplied from a non RCD connection.

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