A whole new footing for Michell SE turntables

Vinyl Frontiers: Pete's Pads

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Pete's feet are Pete's Pads

[Italian version here]

Product: Pete's Pads for Michell turntables
Supplier: True Point Audio - UK
Price: Pete's Pads (feet) £125 per set via TPA ebay shop, YMMV depending on your currency
Author: Mark Wheeler - TNT UK
Reviewed: Spring to Autumn 2023

Pete' little feet improve Little Feat

If you haven't read the review of Pete's Pylons do so now but come back real soon, y'hear. This is PART 2 of a pair, even though these pads will work well with the original Michell spring suspension too. Pete's Pylons are designed to mitigate the inherent instability and precession on the suspended subchassis of Michell Orbe and Gyrodec models. Pete's Pads are designed to mitigate the inherent reduction in isolation engendered by Pete's Pylons. These pads insert between the original Michell feet and the chassis or spider. Pete's Pads are simple to install isolating inserts for the Michell Orbe SE and Gyro SE variants, either to mitigate the reduced isolation effects of o-rings compared with springs or to improve the isolation of the stock SE Michell models. Pete's Pads can be used with Pete's Pylons as well as the standard Michell springs, the Pedersen suspension and full mods and other aftermarket suspension kits for Michell SE

O-ring spring replacement kits and reduction of subchassis lateral freedom is bound to reduce isolation from motor noise and structure borne impact noise. Pete's Pads attempt to insert additional isolation relocated between the turntable support shelf (on which the SE motor pod stands) and the SE Spider vestigial chassis. Pete's Pads operate primarily in the vertical domain using a mix of compliance and granular material to convert vibration into heat. This maintains the chassis positional stability and hence should not affect musical pitch stability. At the highest frequencies this should also maintain phase coherence which is crucial for soundstage. Pete's Pads were developed during the extensive Pylons R&D but the designer does not receive payments due to being in receipt of disability welfare in the UK where there is a punitive system which your Old Scribe witnessed many times in the day job.

'Is the alliteration of Pete's Pads more attractive that the internal rhyme of Pete's Feet?' enquire Plebs, stage left

Setting up the test Orbe SE for Round Four of Testing

As described in the review of Pete's Pylons, the Michell Orbe SE has been carefully set up to minimise the variables from the existing Pedersen arrangement. Hence, the Pedersen sand boxes and associated perspex have been removed. Readers will recall that partial disassembly and reassembly of the turntable involved the special Dog Bowl Chassis Support Jig available from all good pet supply emporia.


On removal of all that kiln dried sand, some of the familiar Michell subchassis bloom returned. So the well documented Michell Gyrodec and Orbe subchassis bloom is apparent again but much mitigated by the layers of Plastic Padding Chemical Metal and glass reinforced Plastic Padding installed on this sample, replacing the Michell Densodamp sausages. A later article will explain why this is an inexpensive no brainer modification for all Gyrodec and Orbe models.

Pete's Pads add an extra 15mm to the height of the SE spider, which matters in that it raises the subchassis in relation to the motor pod. If I were TPA I would see this as a sales opportunity for a laterally stable but vibration sinking motor support. Your Old Scribe saw it as an opportunity to play with various materials from piles of beer mats to squidgy blobby products, both of which were less effective than either a piece of Ailsa Craig granite or a trio of Jade IsoDuo Absorba Footers for different reasons.

Pete's Pads Sound Quality

These little feet made an obvious difference to Little Feat whose Last Record Album is one of those go to slabs of vinyl to separate the sheep from the goats or the wheat from the chaff. In the former fawna metaphorical distinction the Pete's Pylons reduced dynamic wow noticeably and measured wow is about half that of the standard Michell Gyro SE and Orbe SE, creating goat like surefootedness in the lower registers without warbling the alto domain. The scale and dynamic bombast achievable with an Orbe grows by an order of magnitude with either Pete's Pylons or the full Pedersen system. Once Pete's Pads were installed, the chaff of structure borne interference (whether from motor or feedback) dropped significantly enabling the vocals and guitars not to be swamped by bass as happens on so many turntables.

An analogy might be that Pete's Pylons introduce Garrard 401 impetus and Pete's Pads offer Technics SL1200 quiet behind that impetus.

Noise Levels

Inevitably less suspension flexibility (and 2 belts) must increase motor breakthrough and potential feedback. Remember that this subchassis still has the additional stiffening & damping of the Plastic Padding and to achieve identical results, readers must apply similar subchassis treatment.

Similarly, the best results were achieved with 3 Jade IsoDuo Absorba Feet under the motor pod. The extra height is demanded by Pete's Pads and initially the motor pod was shimmed up with a stack of beermats. These introduced some flutter (audible as a papery colouration quality typical of cassette players) so various lumps of wood and stone were tried. The best of these was a disc of Ailsa Craig granite, as used to make Curling stones from another Michell aftermarket manufacturer Puranota. From a noise perspective the 3 Jade IsoDuo Absorba Feet were most effective and remained in place for the review. The Puranota granite motor pod disc is designed to work with different feet on a Michell which will appear on these pages soon.

Once again a seismograph app was used to compare the noise results at the platter surface with the belt removed and motor on and motor off. The addition of Pete's Pads successfully reduced any motor breakthrough to the limit of measurement. Even though the Michell Orbe SE is supported on a wall shelf constructed of plywood with hardwood bracing filled with kiln dried sand, with aluminium angle bracing within the sand to increase contact area, adding Pete's Pads successfully reduced acoustic feedback from a series of very loud frequency sweeps culminating at (average 5Hz-20kHz) 96dB. This was with layered Plastic Padding subchassis treatment and lossy motor support. In this context Pete's Pylons with Pete's Pads do not increase noise to a level which undermines the intended Michell Orbe SE low noise performance.

[trio of jade]


The Michell Orbe SE strengths of massive soundstage and Linn like architectural musical coherence are grown by the Pete's Pylons as much as by the Pedersen suspension. Pete's Pylons' bronze bushes have a similar intention to the Pedersen Kevlar ties and seem to achieve a similar audible result, albeit with the variable sizing complexities caused by the inevitable decades of Michell production variation. Pete's Pads are an essential part of this package (as the sand is to the Pedersen) if the legendary Michell Orbe SE low noise is to be retained. Given that Michell now offer their own magnetic isolation feet, Pete's Pads would be worth trying on any Michell Orbe or Michell Gyrodec as an alternative.

Pete's Pads are a competitively priced modification for all Michell Orbe and Michell Gyrodec turntables.

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Music enjoyed while writing this review

Reference system

on vinyl of course

  • The Who: Live at Leeds
  • Rory Gallagher: Check Shirt Wizard
  • Grateful Dead: Blues for Allah
  • Grateful Dead: Aoxomoxoa
  • Gong: Camembert Electrique
  • Bruce Springsteen: Western Stars
  • Bruce Springsteen: Letter to You
  • Bruce Springsteen: Live in Hollywood WNEW FM broadcast 5th June 1992 Second Records SRFM0005 (via Coda, nfs in N America) splatter vinyl
  • Steely Dan: AJA
  • The Good, The Bad & The Queen: The Good, The Bad & The Queen
  • Lightnin' Hopkins: Goin' Away Analogue Productions
  • Gil Scott-Heron: Reflection
  • Scotty: Unbelievable Sounds
  • Hart, Airto & Purim: Däfos Reference Recordings
  • Jethro Tull: Thick as a Brick MFSL OMR
  • Roy Harper: Bullinamingvase
  • 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
  • Led Zeppelin: Coda remastered by Jimmy Page
  • Mountain: The Best of Mountain
  • Alice Cooper: School Days UK 1973 repackage of Pretties for You and Easy Action

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 (aliminium 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 silocone 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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Copyright © 2023 Mark Wheeler - mark@tnt-audio.com - www.tnt-audio.com