For the first time since storming the turntable scene in 2012 with its Kickstarter “Orbit Turntable,” U-Turn Audio has given its Orbit lineup of turntables a welcome revamp that includes a redesigned magnesium tonearm, electronic speed control, a new grooved platter, and additional finish options. And that’s just for starters. The customizability of the Orbit turntable remains intact, as does its affordability across the range, which runs in price from $250 to $550.
When U-Turn launched its first premium turntable, the Orbit Theory, in late 2022, we gave it a glowing review, mainly because it’s one of the best turntables we’ve ever seen, but also because the company built on its decade of experience to eliminate some key gripes from many Orbit owners and to design some pretty great new components. For 2023, U-Turn is tapping into some of that Theory innovation and applying it to the rest of the Orbit range, which includes the Orbit Basic, Orbit Plus, and Orbit Special. these are all great turntables whether you’re just getting started with vinyl records or already on your way.
First off, all new Orbit turntables will benefit from a version of the Theory’s OA3 Pro tonearm (without the “Pro” designation), a lightweight, straight-style tonearm molded from magnesium that combines the headshell, armtube, and pivot housing in a single piece. Because there are no assembly points, this means better antiresonance properties. U-Turn has seen fit to move on from the OA2, which used glass-filled nylon, aluminum, brass, and stainless steel. The only distinction between the Theory’s OA3 Pro tonearm assembly and the OA3 is the exclusion of the numbered counterweight measuring dial. But, it’s still adjustable and comes standard with internal anti-skate control as well.
Orbit Special (starting at $549) and Orbit Custom ($250 and up) buyers will also benefit from the Theory’s electronic speed control dial and upgraded drive system, which eliminates the need for manually moving the belt to switch to and from its 33 1/3 and 45 RPM speed options, which can be a nuisance (it’s one of those customer gripes I mentioned earlier). The Orbit Special still utilizes thecartridge, though.
While all Orbit turntables have kept the same platter materials — MDF for the Basic and acrylic for the rest — they’ve all been upgraded with a machined groove around the edge to keep the seamless silicone belt in place better and make manual speed change easier for those models that have it.
The revamped lineup of U-Turn Orbit decks also brings in a handful of new finishes to choose from, including a green color and the availability of sustainably harvested American hardwood in walnut and oak across the full line. Orbit Custom buyers can also choose U-Turn’s upgraded Iso-Level feet that are height adjustable and use Sorbothane, a shock-absorbing polymer, to further reduce resonance.
“Our mission is to make great analog audio more accessible,” said Bob Hertig, U-Turn Audio co-founder and Orbit designer. “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.”
All of these new upgrades are available to mix and match in the company’s build-it-yourself Orbit Custom line, and like with the original Orbit lineup, U-Turn leaves several options for customers in the shopping process, including add-ons such as a cue lever (for Basic and Plus), a range of cartridges from Ortofon and Audio-Technica, and whether to add the company’s own Pluto built-in preamp for easy connecting to powered speakers or various other systems (which can also be bought as anunit).
The upgraded Orbit turntables are available today through U-Turn’s website.
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