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U-Turn Orbit Plus VS. Audio Technica AT-LP120 turntable?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by thatguy1976, Apr 2, 2016.

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  1. thatguy1976

    thatguy1976 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Hi there!
    Okay, so I've got it narrowed down between the U-Turn Orbit Plus and the Audio Technica AT-LP120. Both are around the same price and both have (mostly) great reviews. I really don't want to make the effort to remove the pre-amp from the AT-LP120 but I heard it makes a big difference. Which one would you recommend and why?

    Also, would the Grado Black1 really sound much better than the Ortofon OM 5E on the Orbit? If not, than I'm thinking about just customizing it with the Ortofon OM 5E cartridge. Thanks in advance for any input!
  2. Danby Delight

    Danby Delight Forum Resident

    I think they're roughly equal in terms of sound quality, so I would go for the Orbit simply because it's a nicer looking piece of equipment. Plus it's made here in Massachusetts, so local pride.
  3. Seems to me they're two different animals: Orbit is simply a totally manual turntable whereas the AT is USB/built in preamp/pushbuttons and lets you play records backward (???) Never wanted to play a record backwards so don't know about this feature.

    But the biggest plus to the Orbit is that it's built locally here in US which means if anything goes wrong you ship it to Boston for repairs. Where do you sent the AT??? Also the Orbit is upgradeable--from cartridge to platter to cables. Don't know if the AT is that upgradeable.

    Finally if you go with the Ortofon cartridge there are many upgrade routes to the stylus without having to unscrew and fiddle with new cartridge alignment.

    Up to you but I'd choose Orbit
    Shawn likes this.
  4. Trapper J

    Trapper J Senior Member

    Great White North
    I can't really comment on either, but the at-lp120 LOOKS very cool.. I would take it over the orbit if it were based on looks alone. Vinyl is old school, and I just love the look of those AT tt's, and love that speed light :thumbsup:
    thatguy1976 likes this.
  5. Trapper J

    Trapper J Senior Member

    Great White North
    But Michael here raises some very good points.. Based on this I'd go with the orbit, and forever be slightly annoyed that it looks like a futuristic spaceship.. Instead of looking like a 1970's/1980's version of a spaceship :D
  6. DLD

    DLD Senior Member

    Dallas, Tx
    Since you were discussing removing the phono pre amp on the AT I'm presuming you have a phono pre amp built into your receiver or integrated amp? If so, my first thought was that would probably be a better pre than the one built into the AT/not a given but more likely. Personally, I'd go the Orbit route for no other reason than the better phono pre in your existing gear. Then there's the audiophile approval factor in the Orbit's favor as well ;)
  7. Prophetzong

    Prophetzong Forum Resident

    Central VA
    About the AT-lp120. I bought one for my son as a gift. It comes with a cartridge. I upgraded the cartridge to a Shure M97xe for him. I also replaced the mat with a rubber mat I found on eBay. There was nothing wrong with the mat or cartridge that came with the turntable. I just felt that the upgrades were better. I also bought the turntable because it was direct drive over belt driven. That choice has been widely debated on the forum. I like constant speed without belt changes. But that is my preference.

    I think either turntable is a good choice. And you could easily resell and upgrade to a different turntable later.

    Note - orbit does not come with cueing lever. It's a $40 dollar option. I would get that. And a couple of back up belts. $10 each.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016
    patient_ot likes this.
  8. ubiknik

    ubiknik Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL USA
    Orbit. Because of the unipivot arm and all of the above.
  9. BKphoto

    BKphoto JazzAllDay

    save your money, get a better table....you will be happier in the long run....

    project carbon got amazing reviews and it sux....I wasted a lot of time and money...
    Long Live Analog and thatguy1976 like this.
  10. JamesD1957

    JamesD1957 Forum Resident

    Cypress, Texas
    To the OP, can't comment on the Orbit, but I just unhooked the AT LP120 that I've been using for the last two years. I decided to, for grins, hook my old B&O TX2 that's been sitting in a closet. I couldn't believe how much quieter that the B&O is, even at its advanced age (27 years with NO changes or upgrades). The only reason I changed in the first place was that the B&O is proprietary, and I didn't want to throw money for upgrades into a machine that would cost a fortune to repair if problems began to show up. I agree with the post above about getting a better table, but I don't know if the Orbit is that table or not. But I would be willing to bet that it's better (and quieter) than the AT. I'm currently looking at Music Hall 5.3se and a few other comparable tables. Haven't made a decision yet. Let us know what you choose and how you like it!
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016
  11. Ben Adams

    Ben Adams Forum Resident

    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    You may know me as the guy who has posted lots of stuff about upgrading the AT-LP120.

    Get the Orbit.
  12. JamesD1957

    JamesD1957 Forum Resident

    Cypress, Texas
    Yeah, saw one of your recent posts. Sorry for your loss!
    Ben Adams likes this.
  13. Alfredo Jahn

    Alfredo Jahn Active Member

    Dallas, Texas
    I own a green Orbit. I love it. I did the "build your own" version. I added a queue lever and upgraded to the Grado Black. I love the manual-ness of it. I still have a B&O 4001 in the attic (needs minor repair) and it would cost me more to fix it than what I paid for the Orbit. The company has fantastic customer service. No way to call them, but they answer their emails immediately. I had a warped dust cover and they sent me a new one, without asking for the old one back. I think it sounds great. I would highly recommend it. I actually got my son one for his college dorm room. He used to have the $99 Audio-Technica which gave out. Decided to get him something that would last longer and take better care of his growing album collection.

    Forgot to mention, I also got the built-in preamp, then realized my Sony amp already had a phono input.. could have saved some money on that one. Oh well.
    krisbee, GetHappy!! and forthlin like this.
  14. I prefer the Audio-Technica because a quartz-locked pitch control is a personal requirement. Having that makes any mods worthwhile for me.
  15. motionoftheocean

    motionoftheocean Forum Resident

    I got to play with a new Orbit Plus (with the Ortofon OM5e) very recently. Nice turntable at its price point, and a much more narural, vibrant sound than the mostly lifeless ATLP120. That said, the Orbit boasted no shortage of IGD. Basically every record I played sounded a mess on the inner tracks. This can be a problem with the AT-LP120, too, but the ability to easily make adjustments to tracking force and anti-skate offers solutions. With the Orbit I didn't really see a straightforward means of altering anything (hell, the TT doesn't even have an anti-skate), and that one would almost assuredly have to swap out the cartridge to eliminate the IGD dismisses its marketability, imo. There just seems to be a bit too much guesswork required with the Orbit for my liking.
  16. The OM5e is the problem. It's one of the cheapest of the OM range, and is the minimum required to get the turntable up and running. It has a chunky stylus tip. Reducing IGD means upgrading the stylus to something with a much finer tip - and that always comes at a price...
    krisbee likes this.
  17. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    South West, UK.
    My advice is to save up for something better. The PLX1000 can be had for a discount but some sellers on Amazon are charging £100 over RRP rather than the £200 under I paid. It will take a fairly expensive cartridge and I estimate is competitive with anything up to £1000 and beyond. Also you have pitch stability and push button speed change.
  18. DigMyGroove

    DigMyGroove Forum Resident

    For a secondary system I use while working on location, I purchased the Orbit Plus with a built in Pluto phono stage and the Ortofon OM5e. Out of the box it sounded pretty good, but a few tweaks improved thing greatly.

    1) Swapped out the supplied felt mat for a Herbie's Way Excellent II - $68

    2) Added Qty: 4 Herbie''s Tall Tender feet to isolate the table - $67.80 ($16.95 each)

    3) Used a Signal Cable Silver Resolution Interconnect - $69
    I already had this cable and also tried a few others I have in hand. One of the chief reasons I decided on the Orbit over the Music Hall 2.1 was that the MH TT has hardwired interconnects which is a deal breaker for me. I've learned from experience how important a quality cable is to the sonics, and know that the stock cables that came with my Music Hall MMF-7 were not so good, swapping them out for Signal Cables was a revelation.

    4) Swapped out the OM5e stylus for am OM10 - $34.95 new via Ebay Seller
    This was such an important upgrade, I was floored by how much better the sonics got with the OM10 in place. The music became nuanced, natural, smoother and more detailed all around. Given the small price differential between the OM5e and the OM 10 it seems a shame U-Turn don't just offer the 10 in the first place. I opted for the Ortofon rather than one of the Grado carts offered after reading a convincing race review as well as more than a few knocks on the grados. With all the tweaks now in place I am so impressed with how great this table sounds.
    jimbutsu likes this.
  19. bru87tr

    bru87tr Forum Resident

    I tried to find a good deal on this, just couldn't. I thought of the Orbit but I have carts mounted on removable headshells and like that feature. I was also going to go for the Musical Fidelity Roundtable.

    I have a Sony PS-X75 and X60, both really great TT's back in the day. They both started to act up.

    So for Christmas, I told my wife I wanted something new and dependable. I went for the Audio Technica AT-LP-1240. I was expecting it to be pretty good, but not nearly as well built as it is.

    Not a bad table at all and nice to have something new in the chain, as everything I have for headphone listening is new also. Big difference and it sounds really good.
    PhilBiker likes this.
  20. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    Your combined upgrades cost almost as much as the turntable!
    patient_ot and Vinyl Addict like this.
  21. DigMyGroove

    DigMyGroove Forum Resident

    True enough, but the Herbie's Mat and Silver Resolution interconnects would have been added no matter what the table was. I had been using a Mopad isolation base until I happened upon the Conposite Products base here on the Forum and decided to give it a shot. If I hadn't I'd still be using the other one, which now sits under my Music Hall MMF-7. And I recently got a free upgrade from U-Turn, their new tone arm. It turned out mine had a defect in the bearing which often caused forward skips during the second tracks of many records. Upon reporting this to U-Turn they quickly offered up the replacement. The total turnaround was just six days, and all of the previously troublesome records now played through perfectly and sounded great.
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