The name Reloop was vaguely familiar to me as a brand that caters to dance club DJs. Then one day I ran across Reloop HiFi online and decided to investigate. As it turns out, Reloop HiFi is a new division that makes turntables for home listeners. As Reloop explains on its website,
We can look back on more than 20 years of experience in the DJ and pro-audio business. With this expertise in developing turntables, Reloop has entered the HiFi area by introducing the TURN models—a new series of turntables meeting high fidelity sound requirements that has been especially designed for music enthusiasts and sound purists.
There are five models in the Reloop HiFi lineup, starting with the Turn 2 (MSRP $399.99, all prices in USD) and extending to the top-of-the-line Turn X ($1499.99). According to Kris McDougall, director of national sales for Reloop’s US distributor, American Music & Sound, the Turn 2 can often be found for as little as $300.
While the Turn 2 is the least expensive of the brand’s offerings, Reloop hasn’t scrimped on its features. For instance, it has electronic speed switching, so there’s no need to move the drive belt to change the speed from 33⅓ to 45 rpm—a switch on the underside of the plinth takes care of that. It also has a straight 8.8″ tonearm with an interchangeable angled headshell. Inside that headshell is a factory-mounted Ortofon OM 10 cartridge with an elliptical stylus, a long-time standard in the audio industry. The Turn 2 also comes with a good-quality, plastic dustcover.
Measuring 16.5″W × 4.8″H × 13.4″D (including dustcover) and weighing 10.1 pounds, the Turn 2 is available in matte black, red, and white finishes. The Turn 2 sits on a set of shock-absorbing but non-adjustable rubber feet.
Primary controls are the power on/off switch, located under the left edge of the plinth, and the previously mentioned speed-change switch under the plinth’s right edge. Power is supplied by an external wall-mount supply that comes with three different plug assemblies, so the Turn 2 should work almost anywhere. Accompanying the turntable are some decent interconnects with a captive ground wire and a 7″ 45-rpm record adapter. The warranty is one year.
Unlike many turntables in this price range, the Turn 2 does not have an inboard phono preamplifier stage. You’ll have to connect it to the phono input of your amplifier or barring that, to an outboard phono stage.
Unpacking and setup
The Turn 2 arrived double-boxed, so there was minimal chance of shipping damage (the boxes themselves arrived in good shape). When I opened the inner box, the first thing I encountered was a plastic envelope containing the four-language owner’s manual and a small promotional card. Under this was the felt platter mat, which sat on top of the turntable, and the dustcover. The unit was well secured in heavy polystyrene carriers. The aluminum platter, complete with drive belt, and the interconnects were at the bottom of the box. The counterweight, headshell/cartridge combination, 45-rpm adapter, and power supply were stowed in recesses in the carriers.
After lifting the turntable out of the box and separating it from the polystyrene forms, I removed the plastic bag from the dustcover and the cardboard separator and protective covering from the turntable itself. The next step was to place the platter on its spindle and turn it until the pulley was visible through one of the large holes on the top of the platter. The drive belt was already looped around the inner platter. To install it, I just lifted it from the platter and looped it over the pulley.
The next steps were screwing the counterweight to the rear of the arm, securing the headshell to the tonearm with the union nut, removing the stylus guard from the cartridge, and balancing the arm. Then I turned the counterweight dial to 0, turned the dial and counterweight together to apply the recommended tracking force of 1.5gm (15mN), and adjusted the antiskate control next to the arm pivot to 1.5. When that was done, I connected the RCA cable and ground wire to my Apt Holman preamp and the power supply to the turntable and mains outlet. The Apt Holman preamplifier fed my NAD C 275BEE power amplifier and Acoustic Energy Radiance 3 floorstanding loudspeakers.
The owner’s manual concludes, “Have fun with your Reloop HiFi device!” I found the manual adequate, although it doesn’t go into much detail about any of these steps.
Once the Turn 2 was set up, I played records for about ten hours to break in the cantilever. When I began to listen critically, I noticed some mistracking on the inner grooves, so I increased tracking force to 1.75gm (17.5mN), the maximum recommended for this cartridge. That worked much better.
Next, I checked the stylus pressure with a digital pressure gauge and assessed the Turn 2’s speed accuracy and estimated wow with the RPM app. With the Turn 2’s arm set at 1.75gm according to the dial on the counterweight, the stylus force measurement was 1.82gm (18.2mN). When I set the turntable to 33⅓, the RPM app recorded the average speed as 33.94 rpm (about 1.8% fast) and the estimated wow as ±0.22%. At 45, the measured speed was 45.31 rpm (about 0.8% fast) and the wow was ±0.32%. The speed deviation at 33⅓ rpm and the wow at 45 rpm were both on the high side for a turntable in this price range.
As usual, I began with a piece of orchestral music, primarily because recordings of this genre have very wide frequency and dynamic ranges. And the piece I chose stretches the limits for even orchestral works: it adds a pipe organ, whose lowest note is around 16Hz. The piece in question is Camille Saint-Saëns’s Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78, “Organ,” as performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy, with Michael Murray on organ (Telarc 10051). I listened to the section of the last movement, marked Molto Allegro, in which the organ makes its grand appearance, entering thunderously and afterwards underpinning the rest of the work until the triumphant conclusion, when it plays a deep 16Hz note. The Turn 2 handled it all brilliantly. The orchestra sounded rich and full, with the characteristic silky quality of the Philadelphia strings on full display. At moments, I could hear the piano deep in the background. My speakers can’t go nearly as deep as 16Hz (the -3dB point is 40Hz), but with the Turn 2 spinning that famous Telarc LP, they delivered a nearly window-rattling sound.
The Modern Jazz Quartet, an American jazz ensemble known for its sophistication and innovation, featured John Lewis on piano, Milt Jackson on vibraphone, Percy Heath on bass, and Kenny Clarke or Connie Kay on drums. Prestige combed their early recordings for the label and presented the best on The Modern Jazz Quartet (Prestige PR 24005). These guys lived on precision. On the song “Django,” dedicated to the three-fingered French/Roma guitarist, each of the musicians has his moment. Lewis’s piano and Jackson’s vibes often parallel each other, achieving a fuller sound than if either musician had soloed. That came through loud and clear on the Turn 2. The vibes really stood out, the bass line was reproduced precisely, and the drums were crisp.
Rickie Lee Jones’s 1979 breakout hit, “Chuck E.’s in Love,” from her self-titled debut album (Warner Bros. BSK 3296), has always beguiled me. And I have to say, the Turn 2 turned in an excellent performance on this selection. I was amazed at the depth of the soundstage. The acoustic guitar and bass were out front, with Jones in the middle and the backup singers and other instruments further behind. I did not expect this from a $400 turntable. Everything about the reproduction was nicely crisp. The acoustic guitar plucks were clear but not excessively so. The drums were sharp with no overhang. The bass guitar was robust yet well defined.
The late Gordon Lightfoot wrote many songs in the folk vein, but one of my favorite Lightfoot performances is his cover of Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee” from If You Could Read My Mind (Reprise RS 6392). It starts with Lightfoot’s voice and guitar, but after the first verse, he’s joined by a bass guitar, a Dobro, and a second guitar, along with knee slaps. As with “Chuck E.’s in Love,” I experienced a surprisingly deep soundstage, with the backing instruments firmly placed. Lightfoot and his guitar were, of course, front and center, together with the bass guitar. The knee slaps came from the far ends of the soundstage, while the second guitar and Dobro were placed above and behind Lightfoot on the right and left, respectively. This was one of those moments when the sound gave me a strong sense of having the musicians with me in my room.
When I put Fourplay’s “Bali Run,” from their eponymous debut album’s 30th Anniversary re-release (Evosound EVLP 25), on the Turn 2, my ears were assaulted with audio schmutz from the right channel. I gave the disc a good going-over with my Spin-Clean record cleaner, which helped a lot, and a further treatment with my Groove Washer. However, the noise was still present. Was it gunk on the record? A bad pressing? Or was the OM 10 stylus losing contact with the groove, causing mistracking distortion?
Hard to say, so I just played “Bali Run” on the Turn 2, and ignoring the noise, I noted good reproduction of the bass, which sets the stage for the piece. It has to be prominent, and it was. I was generally pleased with the reproduction of the Turn 2 and its Ortofon OM 10 cartridge—a cartridge I’ve found highly satisfactory in the past. Dynamics were good; the soundstage was broad but there wasn’t much depth.
Playing “Bali Run” on my Music Hall Stealth and Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge ($1649) was a revelation. There was none of the noise I heard with the Turn 2, which leads me to suspect that what I’d been hearing was mistracking. Second, the bass line was more prominent than with the Turn 2—it was meatier and more solid. In addition, the soundstage seemed twice as deep. The synth and piano parts had more sparkle and Lee Ritenour’s guitar part had more presence.
Still, given that the Stealth costs more than four times as much as the Turn 2, I think the Reloop HiFi unit performed quite well—if I could only determine the cause of that noise.
The Reloop HiFi Turn 2 isn’t the least expensive entry-level turntable out there. But it has many features that less expensive units lack, notably electronic speed control. My only criticisms were its deviation from 33⅓ rpm, its excessive wow at 45 rpm, and the noise issue with the Fourplay album. On the plus side, setup was dead simple, and for the most part, sound quality was quite good. While the MSRP of the Turn 2 is a penny under $400, I’ve found it at lower prices on the web. But no matter its selling price, the Reloop HiFi Turn 2 is a fine turntable that will satisfy the budding audiophile for a long time. If I were looking for a turntable in this price range, I’d have the Turn 2 on my shortlist.
. . . Thom Moon
- Analog source: Music Hall Stealth turntable with Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge.
- Preamplifier: Apt Holman.
- Power amplifier: NAD C 275BEE.
- Speakers: Acoustic Energy Radiance 3.
- Interconnects: Reloop supplied on the Turn 2, Music Hall supplied on the Stealth, Wireworld Luna 8 (preamp to amp).
- Speaker cables: Acoustic Research 14-gauge terminated in banana plugs.
Reloop HiFi Turn 2 Turntable with Ortofon OM 10 Cartridge
Warranty: One year, parts and labor.
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