So about the U-turn orbit.

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Leggs91203, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. Leggs91203

    Leggs91203 Active Member Thread Starter

    I have read a few times how they are good units for the money.
    I trust they probably DO sound good, but here is what seems weird.

    First, the external platter drive belt looks like an accident waiting to happen. Probably not something that could cause injury by any means but would you really want the belt out in the open like that? It just looks "old fashioned" but not in a good way.

    Second, on their site they say each one is hand built. I have a hard time believing something built by hand would be more precise and dependable than something built by other machines.

    Third, on their Basic and Plus models, the cue lever is available separately. Regardless of the caliper of a turntable, shouldn't some kind of cueing mechanism be standard, Whether it is a lever or a button? Especially on something that costs $179 and $289. Not using one is another disaster waiting to happen.

    AND, some of the platters are made of MDF - medium density fiberboard. Why does that seem like a bad idea? Seems like if it were to get wet (say from any cleaning) or even excess humidity would eventually ruin it.

    I am not a turntable expert but the four points above seem a bit concerning. Did I miss something?
  2. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    If you don't care for the looks or design, perhaps you should go with a different manufacturer.
  3. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy Forum Resident

    Orlando, FL
    You are way overthinking this.

    The exposed belt drive makes sense. No subplatter needed.

    Hand assembled? Common on many if not all turntables. Arm wiring and adjusting arm bearings are done by hand on tables that cost many times the UTurn.

    Cueing? While I agree with you not everyone needs or wants it- hence the option. The original AR table didn't have it either.

    The MDF platter allows the Orbit Basic to exist at $179. And they aren't the first to use MDF- NAD did as well on their version of the original Rega Planar 2.
    Lebowski, forthlin, PhilBiker and 8 others like this.
  4. H8SLKC

    H8SLKC Forum Resident

    Boston, MA
    The Orbit is simple, functional, dead-cheap and great-sounding. It's all of that plus being made in Boston plus U-Turn provides, without any doubt, the very best customer service you can receive in audio.
  5. resonated

    resonated Active Member

    The engineers at VPI or Spiralgroove would argue that the external belt configuration is superior to sub platter designs.
    From what I've read, the orbit is as tightly-engineered a table as any sub $500 pro-ject or Rega offering. For a table that's marketed as a lifestyle product, it hits high above the bar. The optional cueing lever is a definite minus though.
    dbsea, recstar24, HiFi Guy and 2 others like this.
  6. This Heat

    This Heat Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL
    My Music Hall 7.3 has an external belt. Much better speed stability than any table I had with a subplatter.
    displayname and H8SLKC like this.
  7. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Forum Resident

    You have a hard time believing that something made by hand is more precise than something made by automation?

    There are literally hundreds of (not thousands) of examples proving hand made to be the best. Ever buy furniture? Ever hear of point to point wiring. Automation is a cost saving measure not for improving quality.
    yamfox, Jeff8086, RobCos02330 and 3 others like this.
  8. sakuraba

    sakuraba Active Member

    Charleston, SC
    Somehow I've avoided all those "disasters" with mine.
  9. krisbee

    krisbee Well-Known Member

    The plinth and mounting holes are CNC machined by a computer. I prefer the exposed belt because it makes changing speeds easier than the models that hide that under the platter. It also helps isolate noise by putting the motor further away from the arm/platter/record....
    PhxJohn, Agitater, recstar24 and 2 others like this.
  10. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    They are fair enough for the price but not the best quality in that section of the market. The Music Hall, Pro-Ject, and Rega tables have nicer overall build and sound. In particular, the latest Rega Planar 2 is exceptional. The tonearm is significantly better than those on similarly priced decks. The Planar 2 glass platter is much heavier and will remain true ans clean over decades of use. They are backed by a company with a 40 year history of building super high value tables and arms.

    The drive belt is fine on the outside or the inside. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. The Utun table does have a subplatter, it's just thin and tiny compared to most. The cuing lever being missing is just a way to make the cost of the unit seem more affordable. It is similar to pricing loudspeakers as $500 each rather than as $1000 a pair. I have never seen anyone ask to buy a single stereo speaker.
    PhilBiker likes this.
  11. Gramps Tom

    Gramps Tom Forum Resident

    In reality, if I was in the market for a new manual turntable, this would likely be my choice.
    recstar24, H8SLKC and nosliw like this.
  12. theron d

    theron d Forum Resident

    Baltimore MD
    Ill probably get an Orbit for a second /budget setup. Also will be nice to have a belt drive vs my Technics 1200 DD. I left belt drives years ago, dissapointed with Rega (p2 and p5). Hopefully the Orbit will be a nice addition!
    Gramps Tom and PhilBiker like this.
  13. displayname

    displayname Member

    I don't disagree that the Planar 2 is a potentially superior table to an Orbit. But I do think to a new buyer those tables are not viewed on the same level/class. Yes they are both technically on the entry level of the market, but in the eyes of the average U-Turn customer the P2 is more than double the costs. The U-Turn starts at under $200, and tops out under $600 - while the P2 starts at $675, it's a hard sell for someone just starting out. They may both be entry level, but when you're brand new to the hobby and on a tight budget, doubling the cost is a big move.
    Again, not saying the P2 isn't worth the cost. I'm just saying it's not really a fair comparison at that segment of the market.
  14. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    It's not supposed to be a comparison of equals. It can't be. I'd take the Planar 1 over the Orbit in an instant. That's closer, but still it's never apples to apples. If you are looking at $200 for any turntable, you are not looking at much. That's just the truth of it. The reason that I suggested the better and more expensive Planar 2 was that it is worth the difference and will be one less mistake and problem going down the new path to vinyl playback. No need for most to upgrade once there. The trouble with less expensive options is that many buyers wish they had bought better or will want to upgrade soon after. It saves them money to buy a better product from the start. Not starting at the bottom is good advice for anyone getting started. It isn't going to stay cheap if they want good quality. The OP had specific reservations about quality, so that is what I addressed here. Others might live happily ever after in blissful ignorance with a Crosley. That wasn't suggested by the OP here.
  15. displayname

    displayname Member

    That's fair, and helps clear things up. I still think the Orbit with some options is one of best buys for under $500, but there are quite a few quality different players in that class. With so many options at every price point now "the bottom" has become a pretty grey area. Great for new buyers, but also a lot to learn.
    PhilBiker likes this.
  16. ijustdontknow

    ijustdontknow Member

    San Diego
    I picked up a basic Orbit a couple years ago after much research and soul searching. Did I want the potential science project that could come with a vintage machine? - No*. Did I want a clear upgrade path? -Yes. Did I want to spend more than $300? -No.

    * (No don't tell me about your $25 thrift store find that has never given you trouble because my luck doesn't work that way)

    I did upgrade to the Grado Black and had the built in preamp added.

    No cue lever - no problem. I tended not to use them "back in the days" anyway.

    Belt has come off a few times but not enough to be a problem.

    It just works. I've got an upgraded stylus on the way, and in hindsight may have gone Ortofon and external Pluto , but zero regrets.
    krisbee, H8SLKC, forthlin and 2 others like this.
  17. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Forum Resident

    quoted for truth, starting at the bottom can be the most expensive path. Buy it right and buy it once.
    ZenMango, Strat-Mangler and nosliw like this.
  18. These are the things I have been saying for quite awhile , and four of the same reasons why I would never waste my money on one.
    I wouldn't say that the external belt drive looks 'ole fashioned', but just cheap-o looking. Even 'old fashioned' external belt-drive turntables, like Empire, had the brains to cover the belt and drive up.
    With the cue lever being an extra-cost option also cheapens the quality.
    Also, the lack of an adjustable anti-skate is not only cheap-o but restricts cartridge choices to those of similar weight to the one that it comes with, plus the non-removable headshell makes it inconvenient to swap out cartridges to play different types of record types, such as mono records and modern audiophile records.
    I don't think that I'd considered a platter made of MDF, but I know the base is, which makes it something easily damaged by water, like the recent flooding in the U.S. This makes it a throw-away and a lowly Crosley would have a better chance of surviving water. I've already heard from many who said that any phono with wooden parts are now history.
    On top of under-engineering and cheap-o quality, the U-turn has had many issues involving correct speed and problems necessitating a re-design of their tone arm system. As with the Herman's Hermit's song , "A Must To Avoid".
  19. Jack Flannery

    Jack Flannery Forum Resident

    Houston, TX
    I picked up a TD166 with a Shure IV 2 cart on eBay for $425. I can assure you it is better than an Orbit.
  20. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Forum Resident

    That is very true but the the comparison point is new. You found a good deal on ebay that would be hard to do a second time.
    Buying used requires luck and more time than not, experience with turntables. A guy looking to get started with a $200 U-turn could easily come home with a disaster if they set out to buy a vintage table.
  21. displayname

    displayname Member

    Purchasing a TT based on it's ability to survive flooding seems like focusing in on the wrong priorities. Yes, MDF is more sensitive to potential water damage, but is this really an issue for anyone? Is there really that much water near your electronics, or that level of humidity in your listening space? I'd be just as worried about my record jackets if that was the case. I really think this is overthinking a non-issue here.

    As for wood, I don't think this is correct either. In addition to MDF, U-Turn is also offering solid wood plinths now.
    Speaking of that...
    VPI Player - Wood plinth
    Pro-ject 2Xperience SB Turntable - MDF chassis
    VPI Scout Jr - MDF chassis
    VPI Cliffwood - MDF chassis
    Pro-ject RPM 1 - Platter made from MDF
    Pro-ject Xtension 10 Evolution - chassis is made from MDF

    I don't want to send the OP down the wrong line of thinking. Are there better tables than the Orbit? Of course. Is MDF or wood bad in a turntable? Absolutely not.
  22. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Forum Resident

    Honestly, there really isn't much difference in the sub $500 tables. You get what you get and don't throw a fit. Anything above an LP-60 or a Crosly will work and won't damage records. It is better for anyone shopping at this price point to stay away from the hardware forum.
  23. William Bryant

    William Bryant Well-Known Member

    Meridian, ID
    I got one of these for my son-in-law to go with his refurbished 70s receiver and 60s speakers. Killed two birds with one stone. He loves the sound, and his hipster friends think he's cooler than them and are actually beginning to like Sonny Rollins because we always like whatever the alpha male likes.
  24. TeflonScoundrel

    TeflonScoundrel Well-Known Member

    I've got an Orbit at my office, my Mom has one at home and my daughter has one with the upgraded platter. All three tables sound great & work flawlessly over the 2-3 years we've owned them. I've also got a Rega RP3 and a Linn Lp12 Accurate, so I have higher end options as well for comparison. I would highly recommend the Orbit without any reservations. If you can afford to spend more then obviously, you can get a better table, but in their price range, I can't see how you could go wrong with an Orbit.
    sturgus, Russooll, krisbee and 8 others like this.
  25. Some say MDF isolates better, but I think that I would prefer real wood if give the choice. I wouldn't even consider flooding damage eventhough my house is near a major river. If it flooded, a damaged turntable would be the least of my concerns.
    I wouldn't want steer someone the wrong way, but there are many better TTs in the $200. range than a U-Turn.
    displayname likes this.

Share This Page