…the [U-turn] tables I measured are more than 2 times worse than their specs and possibly much more…
Unfortunately, both suffer from is a tendency to slow down a bit during certain musical passages. Speed shifts under 1% are often inaudible to people, but the shifts from the U-Turn tables are easy to hear. At first, I wasn’t sure if it was just me, so I called in Wirecutter associate editor Michael Zhao and his brother to make sure I wasn’t just hearing things. Both of them immediately noticed the speed shifts as well—long, sustained notes develop an unpleasant warbling
Doing a direct A-B comparison of them to the Audio Technica, the sound is very close but the speed shifts make it easy to choose the AT-LP120-USB. And compared to the Pro-Ject, the U-Turn tables are a clear step down in clarity and bass response. The tonearm is also limited in what cartridges it can support due to a smaller range of counterweight adjustments. The extra $50 for the Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB over the Orbit Basic is clearly worth it.
I heard one at a friend's house and it had a hollow sound to me -- the build quality was good compared to most "budget" turntables I see -- but I wasn't all that impressed with the output (aware there are other factors that could come into play there).
Interesting. Didn't know there was that much disparity between the two.