U-Turn Audio’s Orbit Turntable Gets a Refresh

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Robert Silva
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The U-Turn Audio Orbit has been refreshed with a new tonearm, revamped drive system and other changes.

The little engine that could is tucked away in a suburb outside of Boston, and after almost 11 years, it is hard not to be impressed by what Ben Carter and the folks at U-Turn Audio have accomplished. U-Turn Audio was founded in 2012 by Benjamin Carter, Robert Hertig, and Peter Maltzan.

Northeastern University was the setting for a rather bold concept — could a start-up focused on building affordable turntables in the United States compete with Rega, Pro-Ject, and Audio-Technica?

Having sold more than 120,000 turntables over that time period to a new generation of vinyl listeners and seasoned audiophiles looking for a secondary table, U-Turn Audio proved that it could be done.

The U-Turn Orbit was a great idea at the time, but the industry caught up and that forced them to develop necessary improvements to the existing design culminating in the the release of the Orbit Theory in 2022.

Those improvements came with a rather steep uptick in price — the new table sells for $999 USD.

Convincing your base to upgrade from $300 to $1,000 might be easier for a brand like Rega that also offers amplifiers, digital sources, and phono pre-amplifiers in the same price range, but it has always felt like a stretch for U-Turn.

The affordability of the Orbit was the key to its success and many of us wondered when the technology developed for the Orbit Theory would start to trickle down.

U-Turn Audio Orbit Turntable Lifestyle Blue atop record storage shelf

The new U-Turn Orbit Series has arrived and with new features such as a high-tech magnesium tonearm, electronic speed control, revamped drive system, and additional customization options. 

The new Orbit line consists of four models:

  1. Orbit Custom
  2. Orbit Basic
  3. Orbit Plus
  4. Orbit Special

From Bob Hertig, U-Turn Audio co-founder and Orbit designer:  “Our mission is to make great analog audio more accessible,…Over the last decade, we’ve built and shipped hundreds of thousands of Orbits across North America and have earned a reputation for high-level performance and quality craftsmanship that doesn’t break the bank. This new generation of Orbit represents a decade of experience, learning, and turntable development. We were able to take something that was already great and make it even better.” 

U-Turn Audio Orbit Turntable Placing Tonearm

Orbit Custom 

Orbit turntables incorporate modular design. This enables users to customize several turntable components such as the cartridge, preamp, speed control, platter, and isolation feet. This makes it easy for users to upgrade their turntable over time. The Orbit Custom starts at $249 and increases as options are added. 

OA3 Tonearm: Included with all-new Orbit turntables, the OA3 tonearm is a single-piece magnesium arm tube that tracks records precisely with very little record wear, delivering a high level of musical detail. An adjustable counterweight and internal anti-skate are included. 

U-Turn Audio Orbit Turntable Speed Control Knob

Electronic Speed Control: Orbit’s new electronic speed control allows users to change between 33/45 RPM playing speeds with the turn of a knob. This option is available on the Orbit Special and Custom. 

Revamped Drive System: Orbit’s new grooved platter designs, combined with an all-new seamless silicone belt, provides stable operation at the chosen speed. 

U-Turn Audio Orbit Belt-Drive System

New Colors and Hardwood Options: Orbit comes in a choice of five stunning colors and two hardwood options. U-Turn Audio’s wood turntables are constructed from 100% sustainably harvested US hardwoods, not veneers. Color/Hardwood options include Black, White, Green, Blue, Red, Oak, and Walnut. 

Built-in Preamp: Users can add a built-in Pluto 2 Phono Preamp. This option allows the turntable to be connected directly to powered speakers (such as the U-turn Ethos), eliminating the need for a traditional amplifier or receiver (although you can connect the turntable to an amp or receiver if desired).

Iso-Level Feet: Users can premium adjustable-height aluminum feet. The feet incorporate Sorbothane to reduce external vibrations for more precise turntable playback.

Preconfigured Models

In addition to “building” your own Custom Orbit turntable, you can also opt for making things a little easier by choosing one of Orbit’s pre-configured models. 

U-Turn Audio Orbit Turntable Lifestyle Green

Orbit Basic: Sitting in the entry-level spot in the new Orbit line, the Basic combines a simple design and great sound. The new Basic has been upgraded with U-Turn Audio’s new magnesium OA3 tonearm, grooved MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) platter with seamless silicone belt, and new color and wood options. The Orbit Basic starts at $249.

Orbit Plus: The best-selling Orbit Plus is designed for everyday vinyl listeners looking for premium audio quality and stylish design. The Plus comes standard with an upgraded acrylic platter, precision machined for perfect flatness. This supports improved speed stability and lower resonance. An Ortofon OM5E cartridge with an elliptical diamond stylus is also included. The Orbit Plus starts at $399.

Orbit Special: The Orbit Special adds electronic speed control that allows users to adjust between 33/45 RPM playing speeds with the turn of a knob. It also comes with a cue lever for precise tonearm operation and features the dynamic Ortofon 2M Red cartridge ($99 at Amazon) with an elliptical diamond stylus. The Orbit Special starts at $549.

All turntables are available for purchase now at uturnaudio.com and select retailers. 

U-Turn Audio Orbit Turntable Oak

This article originally appeared at ecoustics.com and has been published here with permission.

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