If you’re in the market for a quartz-controlled direct-drive turntable, check out Paul Rigby’s latest review subject, the Reloop Turn 5
When you move up the price point ladder from sub-budget (less than £200), turntables and better quality budget (£200-£350 or so) to the ‘super budget’ level, if I can put it that way, you’ll notice changes. With turntables, especially around this price point, you’re going to get two things. Firstly, there will be a much better sense of quality in terms of individual component parts, how they’re put together and the final performance of the same but, above all, you won’t find perfection. What you’ll get is a compromise but, because you are within a high budget level, a more acceptable compromise.
The reason is that no turntable at this price point can do everything. Hence, you need to decide upon priorities. Some turntables actually do try to do everything, understandably fail at that but produce a decent sound nevertheless without excelling in any one area, others focus around a great suite of midrange and upper mid dynamics while giving you a decent bass response, some focus on the bass to provide a firm foundation while providing an admirable array of upper frequencies and so on.
So what of the Reloop Turn 5? Before we get to that sound, let’s look at the product itself in more depth.
This brushless DC direct drive turntable certainly has that Technics SL1200 ‘look’ from the strobe-surrounded platter to the controls on the front left of the plinth. That said, experienced Technic users will notice a feature that is notable by its absence. There is no sliding pitch control on the right of the plinth. This one point indicates that this deck is less DJ-centric and more concerned with audiophile matters.
Offering quartz-controlled accuracy, if you turn the platter over, you’ll see some rubber damping while, on the upper part of the plinth, the company has supplied a rubber mat.
The turntable offers three speeds (including 78rpm), which are selected by the three rectangular buttons on the upper plinth, the S-shaped arm features a removable, SME-style headshell so any specialist cartridges can easily be hot-swopped for immediate use.
There are controls for both anti-skate but also VTA available to the rear of the tonearm that sits adjacent to the hydraulic arm lift. Hanging off the front of the tonearm is an Ortofon 2M Red cartridge, itself valued around the £90 mark.
Noticeable as soon as you pick the Turn 5 up is the heavy, metal plinth weighing in at a meaty 12.8kg, supported by isolation feet. The rear features sockets for phono cables and a grounding screw for an appropriate grounding cable.
The aesthetics are very nice indeed, the Turn 5 exhibits an black finish with anodised gold highlights.
A simple phono cable is provided but I, instead, used the Pro-Ject Connect-IT E phono cables (£45).
I began with vinyl and the country ballad, You’re Free to Go via Emmylou Harris from the album, Thirteen.
Highlights to look out for are Harris’ throaty, sometimes dry and raspy delivery, a pair of lazy acoustic guitar strums, a mandolin solo during the middle eight, occasional but rather subtle piano chords and shy cymbal taps with reverb tails.
To begin, I wanted to see what you’re paying for. What’s in that £650? So I dragged out my reference, sub-budget turntable, the well regarded Lenco L-3808 (£200), another direct drive design. Just to see what the extra Reloop cash provided.
The comparison was fascinating because I could hear the, as it where, family resemblance. That sense of timing and pace supported by the direct drive motor. Both were swift and sprightly in their underlying rhythms.
What the Turn 5 had was a superior sense of that bass. The lower frequencies were firmer, massy and with a greater degree of substance. I point that finger directly at the plinth. The Lenco’s being plastic and lightweight and the Turn 5’s metal-based plinth being heavy and sturdy. The Turn 5 provided a greater degree of balance in the mix, therefore, because the lower frequencies were more prevalent, retaining a significant part of the overall soundstage.
Speaking of the soundstage, the Turn 5 created a larger and more spacious arena to hold the music. A lower sense of noise also provided an airy feel to the midrange which was packed with detail. The mandolin solo, mid-song, held extra transparency with the player clearly sorting his strings out before the strumming began, something that the Lenco could only hint at.
Treble, because of the enhanced clarity, offered a new level of complexity around cymbal hits on the Turn 5, which are nothing if not restrained on this track.
All of which is reassuring and allows you to breath a sigh of relief. The extra cash has been, as it where, well invested. So what if I compared the Turn 5 to a more powerful competitor? In this case, I brought in the similarly priced Pro-Ject RPM 3 to see how the Turn 5 coped.
This rarified atmosphere was more of a challenge for the Turn 5. Although there was not quite the same focus, midrange insight, tonal realism, delicacy or subtlety from the Turn 5 it was not enough to damn this turntable because it held enough of all of those factors to make a brave fist of its musical presentation. All of these deficits were not major, the RPM 3 edged each and every one but the Turn 5 was never embarrassed.
In terms of the lower frequencies, the direct drive system arguably provided a greater and stronger foundation for the track with more confidence in and around the bass so, while there might have been a slight roll off in terms of dynamic reach around the upper mids of the mandolin solo, the Turn 5 could be said to have provided a much improved overall balance to the song with that bass infusion adding more substance and a stronger heart to the music.
I then I turned to Queen with their dynamically rich track, Dead on Time from the album, Jazz.
As you might expect, this is where the Turn 5 really scored because bass is such a dominant aspect of the presentation. Subtlety is secondary in most rock music which means that, as this track also showed, the drive and power from the lower end was magnificently displayed. The drums were big, bold and positively sexy while the screaming guitar and accompanying bass were enriched with energy, propelling your forward and demanding instant foot tapping.
This sense of urgency, muscle and authority was also of great benefit during electronica and beats-related LPs (i.e. Kraftwerk and a selection of vinyl LPs from the Ninja Tune label) as it provided clout and control over a genre of music that, without such control, can become unwieldy and bloomy in the bass. Not here, the Turn 5 was able to retain discipline at all times.
If I would highlight a priority in terms of an immediate upgrade, it’s the rubber mat which does the turntable no favours whatsoever. If you buy a Turn 5 change the mat immediately if not sooner and grab a cork mat or, even better, a butyl rubber/cork mix mat which will reduce noise, tighten the percussion, enhance guitar strums plus cymbal work and add new textures to the lead vocal. On my reference system, the change was a significant upgrade in sound and the final review rating reflects the Turn 5 plus a new mat.
Solid and meaty in terms of construction with an element of aesthetic finesse that is pleasing on the eye, the Turn 5 provides an admirable array of detail in and around the midrange and treble with a secure and assured suite of lower frequencies that provide a welcome poise to the soundstage. More importantly, it’s a little different from the competition and provides a bone fide and welcome sonic choice at this important price point.
RELOOP TURN 5 TURNTABLE
Tel: 01235 511166
TO BUY CLICK BELOW:
USA – https://amzn.to/35VhjKD
EUROPE – https://amzn.to/3ejeZ43
GOOD: commanding bass, aesthetics, easy to use, overall sonic balance
BAD: extreme dynamic reach, platter mat
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Pro-Ject RPM3 Turntable
Rega Brio-R amplifier
Tellurium Q cabling
Blue Horizon Professional Rack System
Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components
All vinyl was cleaned using an Audio Desk’s Ultrasonic Pro Vinyl Cleaner
Wojciech22nd November 2018 at 10:43 am
Amazing coincidence! My Turn 5 was delivered yesterday, so I have read your review before unpacking the box.
I strongly agree with your listed immediate upgrade needs, however replacing the default cartridge is #1 on my list. I am very disappointed with the sound of 2M Red, but this is not a complete surprise — I compare it directly with Rega Elys 2 on my Rega Queen; this combo set the standard pretty high. Phono cable— yes, I will replace it with something reasonably priced; rubber mat — yes, another replacement. Can’t wait to start swapping the cartridges and — hopefully — hear the improvement.
Thanks for the review!
Paul Rigby22nd November 2018 at 10:54 am
Ah! Synchronicity, I see 🙂 Glad I was of some help then. I hope you enjoy your turntable.
Wojciech Froelich22nd November 2018 at 2:54 pm
Enjoy is not yet the right word 😉 I have fun making small upgrades (just replaced the phono cable), need couple more to be able to enjoy it fully.
Wojciech Froelich23rd November 2018 at 12:59 pm
I just bought refurbished Ortofon MC Salsa. Holy guacamole! This is what I needed 🙂
Paul Rigby23rd November 2018 at 1:09 pm
Interesting choice – how is it?
Wojciech Froelich23rd November 2018 at 3:02 pm
I like it very much. I was sold in 15 seconds. It passed our home test of Talk Talk’s Dum Dum Girl with flying colours. Born into This by The Cult sounds great (by the way, Music on Vinyl simply nailed this release), Soundgarden sounded great. It’s wide, it’s juicy, it’s energetic. I love it.
I have another interesting find: Ortofon X1, high output MC cartridge, and I will need more time with this one. I probably have to use the ultimate test vinyl: Treasure by Cocteau Twins…
Paul Rigby25th November 2018 at 12:42 pm
Thanks for the update Wojciech.
Iliya Osnovikov19th August 2019 at 11:15 pm
Paul, would be nice if you could compare TURN5 with a Reloop 7000 Mk2. That turntable allegedly has the same direct drive and the same tonarm but it’s quite a bit less expensive and is sold without cartrige. That allows to get a better than Ortofon 2M Red cartrige and still remain within the same £650 budget.
Also there are two somewhat similar to TURN5 designs AT-LP5 and SL-1500C. Would be interesting to see your opinion about those machines in comparison to the TURN5.
Paul Rigby20th August 2019 at 10:36 am
Hi Iliya – I haven’t done those comparisons, as you know but…the 7000 is aimed at the DJ market and so I would expect far more masking high frequency noise from that turntable and less so from the Turn 5. I’d probably go for the latter. The AT-LP5 suffers from the same problems because it includes a USB port and internal phono amp. The Technics, reviewed by my colleagues at HiFi World this month also apparently has a ‘forward’ sound and while it has obvious sonic qualities I think it’s compromised because of its semi-auto mechanism. I’d plump for the Turn 5 above all of these.
ILIYA OSNOVIKOV21st August 2019 at 9:58 am
Thank you, Paul!
As for SL-1500C’s it’s semi-automatic mechanism might be nonexistent after all. Tonarm operation seems to be fully manual and it has only autolift at the end of a record. And that one does not work as a typical mechanical autostop with some springs, levers, etc attached to a tonearm. Some reviewers and I have noticed that autolift does act about 15 secondes after a needle reaches to a final groove. So, most likely that’s just a photo sensor in a tonearm base with some ON-delay output and some solenoid to push a microlift up without any mechanical connection to the tonearm itself.
Paul Rigby21st August 2019 at 3:45 pm
Hi Iliya – the fact that the mechanism exists in the turntable at all is a cause of noise, that’s my issue with it.
Danny12th May 2021 at 12:49 am
Does the turntable stop at the end of the record?
Paul Rigby12th May 2021 at 6:14 pm
Hi Danny – it doesn’t, no.
Boban16th March 2022 at 9:22 pm
Hi ,the reloop 5 vs magnat, if I may ask
Paul Rigby17th March 2022 at 12:03 pm
Hi Boban – no idea 🙂 Not yet, at any rate. The Magnat is a new one to me. I’ll have to introduce myself…
Julien23rd February 2023 at 2:13 pm
It seems that I have an over-average sensitivity to wow&flutter, Anything over 0.10 – I can hear it and it bothers me.
Some time ago I bought a Rega Planar 3 with Exact cartridge. The wow was all over the place, quite high and disappointing at 0.16. Had to do lots of upgrades (power supply, belts, stand etc) to bring it down to a decent 0.10. However, by then I totally lost confidence in it and I became quite obsessed with the wow&flutter, always thinking that at the next section in a song I will hear it again (!).
So I got rid of the Rega and went for a Project Evo Classic with Hana EL cartridge. The wow was quite respectable at 0.08. I kept that turntable for over a year. However, don’t know why, but I was never sold on its sound. I also have an old Sony direct drive (PS-X45) tt and of course I did lots of comparisons between the two and the Sony always sounded, I don’t know…more gripping…And that with its original XL-20 cartridge, go figure…Of course, the Sony’s quartz direct drive system is locked on at 0.03 (after 40 years!) and that stability is felt in sound.
Long story short (sorry for the long post) now I am pondering over a new direct drive tt, the Technics SL1200 exceeds my usd 1000 budget at this time, so I am thinking at the Reloop reviewed here or the Pioneer PLX1000.
Based on your review I think I will go for the Reloop…something gives me faith in it, don’t know why…Didn’t see a wow value, but I suspect it is below 0.07.