Inspiration

U-Turn Audio Puts an Audiophile Spin With Orbit Turntables Series

If you’re just entering the hobbyist stage of vinyl record listening and collecting, you’re probably not at the stage of concerning yourself too much about features like a magnesium tonearm, electronic speed control, and a silicone belt driven system. They’re all options a vinyl listener can grow to appreciate over time, something American turntable maker U-Turn Audio is hoping to capitalize on with the announcement of a series of three updated modular turntables: the Orbit Plus, Orbit Special, and Orbit Basic, alongside a made-to-order Orbit Custom option.

Founded in 2012 by Benjamin Carter, Robert Hertig, and Peter Maltzan, U-Turn Audio has made a name for themselves as an independent American maker of audio equipment ranging from turntables, phono preamps, and speakers. Their Orbit turntables have earned popularity for their clean modern aesthetic, prosumer-to-audiophile specs, and the reasonable entry price into their brand. The newly updated Orbit turntables offer something for nearly everyone seeking a capable and handsome looking turntable intended to openly display your affinity of analog audio.

Person with tattooed arm reaching to place Red Ortofon needle and tone arm onto record with ORBIT wood plinth turntable. Houseplants can be seen blurred in the background alongside a brick wall.

Orbit is designed around a customizable and modular platform, allowing the customers to choose which components to prioritize up and down the turntable series. Parts such as the cartridge, preamp, speed control, platter, and isolation feet can all be customized, either at the time of purchase or down the line as an add-on replacement. The new generation of Orbit Turntables feature an updated single piece magnesium OA3 tonearm for improved tracking, an electronic speed control to easily switch from playing speeds between 33/45 RPM with the turn of a knob.

Upgrade to the Orbit Special or Orbit Custom, and you’ll get a seamless silicone belt drive with new grooved platter design for even smoother playback than its two lower-tier counterparts.

Recognizing the love for vinyl comes attached to an entire lifestyle element, U-Turn Audio has made sure to add a choice of five colors and two hardwood options to improve the chances you find a deck that ties together the whole listening room. It’s worth mentioning the wood turntables are not simply given the cheap veneer treatment, but are constructed from 100% sustainably-harvested, US-sourced hardwoods for stability and durability.

Angled view of ORBIT turntable with green plinth, clear acrylic platter, and cover open placed on top of a small vinyl record storage shelf with potted houseplant in the background.

If you’re a little more discerning about keeping your U-Turn Audio turntable perfectly stable, the company offers optional adjustable-height aluminum feet outfitted with Sorbothane to reduce external vibrations.

White Orbit Basic turntable from overhead against white background with black felt slip cover.

Orbit Basic starts at $249, an entry model that comes equipped with the newly designed magnesium OA3 tonearm, grooved MDF platter with seamless silicone belt, and five new color and two wood options.

Blue Orbit Plus with semi-opaque acrylic platter shot from overhead against all white background.

The Orbit Plus starts at $399, arguably the sweet spot model for most listeners seeking “great” but not necessarily the “best.” The Plus comes with an upgraded acrylic platter and an Ortofon OM5E cartridge with elliptical diamond stylus.

For a minimalist setup, U-Turn Audio offers to add a built-in Pluto 2 Phono Preamp that allows them to connect the turntable directly to powered speakers without any additional space required – an increasingly popular configuration when budget, space, or a preference for keeping things simple eclipses audiophile precepts for larger discrete components.

Green Orbit Special turntable with clear acrylic platter with Red Ortofon needle and dust cover opened, staged against white background.

Green Orbit Special turntable with clear acrylic platter with Red Ortofon needle without dust cover, staged against white background and viewed from overhead showing its seamless belt drive in the upper left corner and speed dial control in the lower left.

The $549 Orbit Special adds several premium bells and whistles: an Ortofon 2M Red cartridge with elliptical diamond stylus, electronic speed control that allows users to adjust between 33/45 RPM playing speeds with the turn of a knob, and a cue lever for precise tonearm operation.

U-Turn Audio continues to offer Orbit Custom starting at $249 (fully maxed out, expect to part northward of $600; not an unreasonable price within the turntable category). If you harbor aspirations for a turntable under the pretense of one-and-done, the Orbit Theory delivers the brand’s best performance, attributed to the genuine hardwood plinth, seamless silicone belt drive powered by an ultra-quiet motor with electronic speed control (33/45 RPM), with the option to top the one-piece magnesium OA3 Pro Tonearm with either an Ortofon 2M Blue or Bronze cartridge.

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Gregory Han is a Senior Editor at Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at gregoryhan.com.

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