Yes, it’s true. A group of enterprising young guys has taken square aim at the growing millennial market and the vinyl resurgence in general to create a real-world ‘table that costs about the same as a family night out at one of the city’s aforementioned professional franchises.
At RMAF, U-Turn Audio was showing its Orbit Plus turntable ($309), a price that not only got discs spinning, but my head as well. Just looking at the design and craftsmanship — built with pride on the south side of Boston — the Orbit looks like it should carry at least a $1,000 price tag.
What do you get for three bills? A sturdy plinth; acrylic platter with felt mat; pre-balanced, low-mass tonearm; low-voltage, synchronous motor decoupled from the base; pre-aligned cartridge with elliptical diamond stylus; rubber drive belt; shielded RCA cables; and a dust cover. The cartridge I mentioned is not a big-box-store-generic, either — the Orbit comes with your choice of Ortofon OM-5E or Audio-Technica AT95E.
It’s all plug-n-play, which is refreshing for those of you not named Fremer, or whose last experience with gauges, protractors and rulers was in fourth grade. As U-Turn’s Peter Maltzan told me, “All you have to do is take it out of the box, plug it in, turn it on and lower the stylus.” Now that’s my kind of turntable. I’d rather spend all that other time hunting for vinyl at the local flea market or — and I know this sounds crazy — actually listening to it.
U-Turn already is branching out into other gear. At RMAF, the company was using its Pluto phono preamp ($89 — that’ right, an ‘eight’ followed by a ‘nine’, not a misprint). To show how little one could spend, that was hooked up to a pair of Audioengine A5+ self-powered speakers ($399). Add in some affordable wire of your choice and you have a total system cost of under $1,000.
The sound, especially for a small room, was smooth, evenly balanced and pure analog. To be honest, it put to shame some systems costing far more. I’m rooting for these guys. Don’t leave this ‘table on the bench. Put the Orbit in, coach, it’s ready to play.