A made-in-the-U.S., audiophile-grade turntable for $150?

That's what a group of talented twentysomethings are promising on their recently launched Kickstarter project, we'll see.

The U-Turn Audio Orbit turntable Jon Hyatt

Great audio can be expensive, but Ben Carter's ambitious Kickstarter project aims to make a serious dent in the price of quality turntables. A $150 pledge secures an Orbit belt-drive turntable, fitted with an Ortofon phono cartridge. As I write this blog, and just a few days after the Kickstarter project was launched, Carter has already passed the halfway mark to reaching his $60,000 goal!

I spoke with Carter on Thursday; he has a background in marketing and consulting, and Bob Hertig is handling the engineering for the project. Orbits will be manufactured by U-Turn Audio in the Boston area. Pledges of $150 buy the turntable finished in black, but Carter can't for certain guarantee that price for production turntables. They may sell for a little more.

Rather than going with a conventional tonearm, the Orbit features a Hertig-designed, ultra-low-friction uni-pivot arm (similar to the type of arm on my $2,700 VPI Classic turntable). I don't know of another turntable anywhere near the price of the Orbit with a uni-pivot tonearm. The Orbit's plinth/base is CNC machined out of medium-density fiberboard (MDF), and the base rests on specially designed styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) feet, to prevent external vibrations from affecting the sound.

Since Carter is already over halfway toward meeting the Kickstarter goal, turntable deliveries should start in May 2013. I hope to get an Orbit in for review around that time.

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.


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