In the age of dig­ital music, analog records are having some­thing of a moment some three decades past their prime, becoming a go-​​to medium for music fans looking to aug­ment their col­lec­tions with retro tech.

The sound quality is a big factor, but I per­son­ally think my favorite thing about owning vinyl is having it in phys­ical form,” said Bob Hertig, E’12. “It’s the best of my iTunes col­lec­tion sit­ting on a shelf.”

U-​​Turn Audio cofounders Peter Maltzan, left, a Berklee grad­uate, Bob Hertig, E’12, center, and Ben Carter, right, a Cor­nell grad­uate, with the Orbit pro­to­type. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

Hertig is one of three founders of U-​​Turn Audio, a start-​​up launched last year to pro­duce and market the Orbit Turntable, an inex­pen­sive, all-​​analog turntable with high-​​performance playback.

Late last month, Hertig and his busi­ness partners—Ben Carter and Peter Maltzan, former high school class­mates and grad­u­ates of Cor­nell and the Berklee Col­lege of Music, respectively—unveiled their product on the crowd­sourcing web­site Kick­starter with the hope of raising $60,000; they’ve already raised nearly $120,000 from more than 600 backers.

Most record con­nois­seurs, espe­cially those of the college-​​aged variety, begin by lis­tening to their favorite artists on an old turntable, one that has been res­cued from a parent’s attic or a dusty corner of a thrift shop. But when looking to replace a dying player or upgrade to a higher-​​quality model, they usu­ally have two choices: spend upwards of $300 for a new turntable or fork over a modest fee for one of mediocre quality with extra fea­tures, such as a USB link to record audio onto a per­sonal computer.

You can get a record player for $40,” Hertig said. “But it’s going to be all plastic and you might as well not even listen to records because it’s going to sound way worse than it could as an MP3. But if you want to get more from vinyl, right now you have to spend about $300. So there’s a market for an inex­pen­sive turntable that was stripped of unnec­es­sary fea­tures and focused on quality sound.”

U-​​Turn devel­oped its turntable with a $2,500 pro­to­type fund grant from IDEA and worked with student-​​run ven­ture accel­er­ator to create a busi­ness plan for mass-​​producing the Orbit, which will be priced at about $150.

Backers who pledge $150 on Kick­starter will receive their own turntable, which will be pro­duced in or around Boston. Image cour­tesy U-​​Turn Audio.

The idea of building his own record player dawned on Hertig when the cheap record player in his apart­ment broke down. “I did product devel­op­ment at North­eastern and on co-​​op, so I fig­ured we could make one that worked well and sold at a good price,” Hertig said. “It’s a lot of work but it’s def­i­nitely worth it when we’re able to listen to records on a turntable we’ve built ourselves.”

Once Hertig receives the funding from Kick­starter, he and his busi­ness part­ners plan to move from their cur­rent workspace—an apart­ment in Med­ford, Mass.—to a light man­u­fac­turing space closer to the city. There, they will start pro­ducing their first run of turnta­bles, which will be avail­able to backers who pledged $150 or more to sup­port their project. The goal of the company’s first pro­duc­tion cycle, Hertig said, is to demon­strate to poten­tial investors that con­sumers would be willing to pur­chase the turntable and that the young entre­pre­neurs would be able to pro­duce the device in large quantities.

This is the turntable I use to listen to my own records,” Hertig said. “It’s really rewarding to be able to bring this to other people, too.”