As the vinyl revolution started to pick up some momentum, a little start-up outside of Boston found itself on the precipice of either greatness or failure. When I visited the factory at the time, I was there on a consulting mission on behalf of a larger OEM manufacturer in the space. U-Turn Audio was only a few years old and trying to figure out supply chain issues to meet the demand for their first generation of turntables. The U-Turn Audio Ethos Powered Loudspeakers were not even in the womb yet.
The founders were local kids who went to college at Northeastern University and like any smart entrepreneurs were trying to solve a problem.
How to offer an entry-level turntable made in America (VPI had already introduced the Traveler but it was priced for a very different customer) for under $350 with a Grado or Audio-Technica cartridge.
Trying to compete with Crosley or Pro-Ject probably sounded like a stupid idea to most people but the U-Turn crew were undeterred. I still have one of the first prototypes of the U-Turn Pluto phono preamp on my desk connected to my Orbit+ table and I have great admiration for what they have accomplished in less than a decade.
U-Turn have sold over 100,000 turntables over the past 10 years and created a cult of younger (and older) listeners who love listening to records on one of their tables.
The MDF tables always felt a tad flimsy and the pulley definitely needed some work but Ben Carter was already working on the next generation tables and tonearm when I first met him.
The top model; the Orbit Custom (acrylic platter, Ortofon 2M Blue, and cue lever) in solid Walnut sells for $635 in 2021 and that’s actually a really good deal considering that the majority of the components are made in America, the Danish 2M Blue is $250 (retail), and their employees are not making $5/hour in some sweatshop in China.
When the brand found its footing, it started to sell Audioengine loudspeakers with its tables. Smart. Audioengine were another start-up from the opposite side of the country selling speakers and accessories direct to consumers and the synergy between the two brands made a lot of sense.
Fast forward to November 2021, and we find a new pair of U-Turn Audio Ethos Loudspeakers featured on the homepage.
The Ethos were designed in-house and are being assembled in their factory in Massachusetts.
The powered loudspeakers retail for $399 USD (white or black) or $499 (real Walnut veneer) if you’re feeling fancy.
There are a few things about the Ethos that I really like aside from that fact that the brand is keeping true to its own ‘ethos’ and making everything in America (most of it) and assembling them at home in the same factory.
Class AB architecture delivering 80 watts RMS of impactful, low-distortion amplification.
Efficient thermal management which helps dissipate heat for impressive power in a compact package.
A Toroidal transformer provides the amp stage with clean, low-noise power.
The Passive crossover uses second order filtering to seamlessly reproduce the full frequency range.
Using an 80 watts/channel Class AB amplifier is a huge difference and I’m sure when I finally hear them that decision will prove to be a winner.
The U-Turn Audio Ethos also support Bluetooth aptX and have 2 sets of analog inputs for an external phono stage like the U-Turn Pluto 2 (which has been redesigned with better parts, and now offers 40 dB of gain for MM carts) and even a Dongle DAC connected to your smart phone or a network streamer like the Andover Audio Songbird.
U-Turn understands its customer base and the Ethos is a really smart play by the company.
A fully tricked out Orbit Custom with a Pluto 2 and the Ethos will run you $1,233.00 with free shipping. Made in America by the next generation of audiophiles.
For more information: uturnaudio.com
|Amplifier architecture||Class AB|
|Power||2 x 40 W RMS/2 x 80 W Peak|
|Bluetooth||Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX|
|Wired connectivity||RCA input 3.5 mm AUX input RCA output (variable level)|
|Dimensions||5.75” x 7.5” x 9.5” (each speaker)|
|Weight||15.8 lbs total weight (9.8 lbs powered, 6.0 lbs passive)|
|Frequency response||55 Hz – 20 kHz|
|Drivers||4” Mid-bass (paper cone)1” Tweeter (silk dome)|
|Warranty||3-year limited warranty|