We’ll open Digital Audio Review’s 2015 RMAF coverage with a perverse twist: details of a ‘Murican, entry-level turntable manufacturer.
Among the three rooms marked off for Affordable Audio by show organiser Marjorie Baumert, U-Turn Audio adopted the $1000 room as their own for a proper Goldilocks moment. Their message: US$500 for a turntable is one helluva slice of coin for the young kid looking to get into vinyl.
According to U-Turn Audio founders Ben Carter, Bob Hertig and Peter Maltzan, whose collective ages – 27, 26 and 26 – sum to less than that of the even the most senior RMAF attendee, US$250 is a far more achievable goal for youngsters and wallet watchers looking to stay away from the “shitty used ‘tables” they each owned through college.
With a further eleven employees on staff at their Massachusetts productions facility, U-Turn Audio offer over a hundred permutations of their super affordable Orbit turntable. Prices start at a shade under two hundred bucks and with website’s ‘Turntable Builder’ allowing each customer to pay for exactly what they need and nothing more, including a choice of four cartridges. Even the cue lever is optional. Whatever you specify, your U-Turn is ready to go out of the box.
On demo in the $1000 room in Denver was the Orbit Plus that sports an acrylic platter and the cue lever for a mighty reasonable US$329. To its left, U-Turn’s recently released Pluto phono stage (US$89) firing directly to Audioengine’s A5+ active monitors.
In a telling moment, Carter says, “Passive speakers are alien to many of our customers. They don’t know what to do with them”. Newcomers are understandably turned off by unnecessary complexity. This room’s second standout quality was simplicity.
Those wanting to reduce the box count still further are advised that the Pluto phono pre-amplifier is now available as a low noise, in-table option for which U-turn engineers net the advantage of a fixed cable length between cartridge and pre-amplification board and so cable capacitance is known. The on-board Pluto is also fully by-passable should that upgrade itch need scratchin’.
And if you reckon that a $300 turntable can’t possibly sound any good then consider this: it isn’t for you. The U-Turn Orbit is for your college-bound son or daughter or your neighbour who keeps on at you about wanting to get into vinyl on the cheap.
There is a catch though, for the time being at least. These American-made ‘tables are sold direct only residents of the USA and Canada. Carter explains that they’re also looking to expand sales into a dealer network that comprises more record stores than audio specialists.
Well played, chaps. Well played indeed.
Further information: U-Turn Audio
RMAF ’15 coverage brought to you by Aurender: