Wondering whether to buy the U-Turn Orbit? Check out our review!
So you’re contemplating buying the U-Turn Orbit record player?
For as long as I can recall, vinyl has fascinated me. The enlarged artwork, the thrill of the find at thrift stores, and the warmth nuanced sound. These were significant enough factors for me to take the plunge and become a vinyl collector.
But, I lacked a vinyl player. Or a good one, at least. This was my simple criteria… affordability, sound quality, and slick esthetics. During my search, the U-Turn Orbit Basic came to the fore.
The U-Turn Orbit retails at a price point littered with underperforming turntables. So before you pull the trigger, you need to know…
Is the U-Turn Orbit any good?
For approx $200, the U-Turn Orbit Basic is a budget-friendly turntable delivering clear audio. The Basic is stylish with its minimalist design and is available in six colors. You can opt to include a preamp at an extra cost.
Let’s take the U-Turn Orbit for a spin. Read on to find out all the pros and cons to discover whether the U-Turn Orbit is for you.
U-Turn Orbit Basic Review
About The Brand
The U-Turn story is far from conventional. Founded in 2012 by three friends at Lexington High School, U-Turn came about through a Kickstarter campaign. They achieved the funds and, with the first prototype completed, manufacturing began.
Every U-Turn Audio turntable comes from their Woburn, MA workshop and with an emphasis on using American suppliers.
There are three models, the U-Turn Orbit Basic, Plus, and Special, with the Basic being the cheapest and Special the most expensive.
With a simple layout, The Orbit Basic is easy to use. An On/Off button placed at the bottom left corner is accessible.
The external belt drive placed in the top left corner is a nice visual to hypnotize during the listening experience.
For me, I enjoy the minimalist layout. All U-Turn turntables are trendy when planted in a living room, so are perfect for casual listeners. But say you’re a DJ requiring more features, then the U-Turn Orbit Basic is a definite no.
You have a wide choice of colors on the web-store. So whether you opt for white, black, red, blue, green, or purple, I’ll leave that to you.
For such a cheap player, the U-Turn Orbit is sturdy and performs beyond the $200 price point.
Made by U-Turn, the OA2 gimbal tonearm offers accurate tracking and features an internal anti-skate. So, the arm doesn’t drift, leaving you with a beautiful, natural, balanced sound.
There’s no sign of cost-cutting with the adjustable counterweight. Made from stainless steel, the counterweight looks expensive and is solid to touch when adjusting the weight. Moreover, the counterweight is effective at applying the right tracking force. Something I seek to protect my precious record collection.
The Basic doesn’t come with a cue lever, a feature I’d like to see as standard. The cue lever costs $40 from Turntable Lab. It’s easy enough to snap into place, no tools needed but would like to see it included from the start.
Now for a few more bugbears. First, it’s the arm holder. It’s flimsy and loose, but I suppose at this price there are worse negatives.
Secondly, switching from 45 to 33 ⅓ requires you to adjust the belt to another step on the pulley. This can be delicate for many users. But if your plan is to collect albums alone, then this isn’t an issue.
If you’re thinking $200, what a bargain! You’d be right. But let’s just say this. You’ll need a preamp. If you’re transitioning from an all-in-one player, consider the extra cost.
U-Turn can have an in-built preamp included for an extra $70. This is a good choice if you’re beginning your setup. You’re a pair of speakers away from high-quality music listening.
So, how does the U-Turn Orbit Basic sound?
The U-Turn Orbit won’t have the same energy as a turntable double the price. But, all things considered, the sound quality is awesome. Fitted with the Audio-Technica AT91B, you’ll have clarity and detail.
The AT91B is one of the leading entry-level moving magnet cartridges. Its characteristics are brighter than most, with less emphasis on the low end.
U-Turn Orbit Basic Alternatives
A fantastic alternative in this price range is the Sony PS-LX310BT. This is more feature-rich with Bluetooth connectivity for wireless speakers. Furthermore, it has a preamp as a standard.
If you need a preamp, the U-Turn Orbit Basic costs $270 while the Sony PS-LX310BT costs $230. So, it’s more affordable. But for some balance, while both are tidy-looking players, the external belt drive on the Basic looks great and delivers steady speed playback.
Do you need a cue lever on a turntable?
A cue lever eases the stylus on and off the record with care. It protects your vinyl and the stylus. However, it’s not a necessity. You can use your hand for this function as long as you’re careful.
Can you plug a turntable directly into speakers?
You can connect your turntable into speakers if it has a built-in preamp and your speakers have a built-in amplifier. If your turntable has a PHONO output, then you’ll need an external preamp to drive the signal.
So let’s summarize the U-Turn Orbit Basic.
For any vinyl collector, it’s an ideal entry point. It’s affordable, costing just $200 or $270 with a preamp. For the price, you get a stylish player with clear, balanced sound quality. It does the basics very well.
Easy to set up and easy to use. It’s ideal for any beginner wanting to upgrade from a portable or all-in-one turntable.
If you’re sold on the idea of a U-Turn Turntable but want higher performance. Then Turntable Lab has modified the U-Turn for optimal performance.
So what about the difference between the U-Turn Orbit Basic and Plus?
If money is no object, then the Plus offers better sound quality with its Ortofon OM5e Cartridge.
But other than the OM5e cartridge and clear glass platter, the disparity between the two is small. On that point, the Basic is easy to upgrade, should you need it down the line.
Ultimately, whether you go for the Basic or Plus depends on your budget. While the $200 to $500 price range seems a lot, with turntables, it isn’t. But it’s important to pay what you can afford.
Not sold on a U-Turn Audio player? For more options in this price range, check out Best Turntables Under $200.
So take your pick and enjoy your voyage into the world of vinyl, but mostly… enjoy the music.