Welcome to The Esquire Endorsement. Heavily researched. Thoroughly vetted. These picks are the best way to spend your hard-earned cash.
I like to have things. Things that are tangible. Some call that collecting. I call it having things. So it was only a matter of time until I got into vinyls—collecting my favorite albums, and picking up video game and film soundtracks. I also love bragging about my things. Finding artful ways to show them off. That’s why I needed a kickass record player, to show off my cool (and, to be fair, also not so cool) records. Finding that player was hard, because while I know a lot about tech, old-school audio is lost on me, and most players on the market seem gimmicky, putting huge emphasis on “all-in-one packages” or “vintage sound,” which really just translates to “bad.” Then came the vinyl gods at U-Turn Audio with a customizable turntable that looks modern, gives my records the platform they deserve, and above all else, was a breeze to figure out.
The design is beautiful—and customizable.
Records and record players are inherently decorative pieces. It’s part of what makes them so covetable. The U-Turn’s basic design is simplistic—not a ton of nobs, textures, and embellishments to muddle the look. I am a man with a compulsion for good design; ask any of my friends about my orderly home. All those nobs, textures, and embellishments you’d find on other turntables are a deal breaker for me. U-Turn’s modern direction isn’t. What’s really cool are U-Turn’s customizable turntables. It’s like a video game character creator for your own record player. I won’t tell you how long I spent playing with options and combos on mine, but it’s probably 10 times your most modest guess. One of the coolest design options is the acrylic platter, which is the clear, thick plate that helps the player blend in. And the base, which is noticeably thin, comes in colors ranging from basic whites or blacks to intense reds, greens, and blues. There are also options for wood grains both light and dark.
The sound quality will make you stop and really listen.
A record player is a must is for unbridled, analog-ish listening. Any sound nerds, including my sound designer of a brother, will tell you that. You just can’t get that sound through a digital rendering (like an MP3 or WAV). I noticed it immediately with the first record I booted up on my U-Turn: Modest Mouse’s Good News for People Who Love Bad News (yes, that’s the “Float On” album). Was that the choice because I was moving and didn’t have all my records unpacked? Maybe. It is a great album nevertheless, and even better on vinyl. There’s something about listening on this turntable that really made me focus on what I was hearing—maybe the loss of the digital speaker sound, or the shorter-burst session. What I picked up on was U-Turn’s mind-boggling sound quality. Even the most basic audio customization with U-Turn delivers a higher-end record player, and you’re always going to hear a massive difference. And the U-Turn team is beyond helpful, so if you’re not related to a sound nerd, you can ask for help building a turntable that works great with your speakers and set-up from scratch.
Very little stands between you and your music.
Record players can be tough to really get into. I’ve always struggled with them, even though I come from a tech background. With U-Turn’s basic and minimal design, it’s just so damn easy. Plus, the set-up took me no time at all. In fact, I redid the steps a few times, thinking I had done them wrong because they were too easy. Getting a record to play is just as straight-forward, which is great, because, let’s be honest, most of why we want record players is to feel like we’re straight out of Mad Men, swirling our whiskey with one hand and dropping a needle on vinyl with the other. You know, suave. Will I ever truly be like that? Probably not, especially considering my bullshit hipster collection of records. Regardless, if you’re looking to class up your space and listen to music, choose U-Turn.
Photography and prop styling by Allie Holloway
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