Are you on the fence about whether or not to buy a Crosley record player? Do you need your old friends at Notes on Vinyl to deliver a soul-crushing Crosley record player review, the review to end all reviews?
Then join us as we explore the history of Crosley, what makes them so unique, and what makes them so similar to other competitors.
Table of Contents
- Some History
- What is the Crosley?
- Final Tones
- FAQs Crosley Record Player Review
Crosley has been around for a considerable amount of time, beginning as the Crosley Company towards the start of the 20th century, establishing itself with a headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, home of the post and math rock band Slint (a personal favorite).
Though they are now known as Crosley Radio (to differentiate the Crosley record players from their furniture offshoot Crosley Furniture), they were originally known as the Crosley Company or Crosley Corporation.
In their heyday, they were owned by and took their name from Powel Crosley Jr., an inventor, entrepreneur, and all-round industrialist, as well as a pioneering force in the early days of radio broadcasting.
Their reputation within the sphere of music production is clearly established, though the original company was discontinued in the mid-50s due to declining sales, perhaps (ironically) as a result of the rise of vinyl in people’s homes, allowing them to play music whatever and whenever.
The brand was resurrected in the 90s when they marketed their first turntables for the listening public. As turntables and vinyl technology as a whole were on the decline, it seems an odd time to have begun manufacturing them.
It seems to speak to prescience on their part, for soon enough, the world came back around to vinyl technology, and now they are one of the leading manufacturers of radios and turntables throughout the Western world.
What is the Crosley?
In essence, a Crosley record player is simply another way to listen to your favorite vinyl records, though this one tends to offer forth its services at a more affordable price, much like competitors Victrola.
Though the Crosley most people are familiar with, comes with built-in speakers attached, there is also the opportunity to connect the whole turntable to an external speaker setup. This means that you can play music without being limited to the less-than-exemplary speakers that come with the Crosley.
Despite its relatively limited means, the Crosley still comes with all the requisite parts and features, including an auto stop switch, tonearm, speed switch, power cord, pitch control, and even coming with, in some instances, a headphone jack (aux connection) or even a CD player. There is even a Bluetooth version for those looking for something more convenient.
Many audiophiles, however, will recommend that you replace the cartridge straight out of the box with a new needle, projecting the needle upward in quality to something better able to do your record plays an adequate service.
Using a Crosley device like so could not be easier, being more than self-explanatory once plugged in.
Before delving deeper in, it might be worth just glossing over some of the main pros and cons so that you can get a better understanding of what makes the Crosley uniquely itself.
- This turntable is incredibly portable and lightweight – the idea is to take this wherever you please rather than install it into a home entertainment system, something that would likely leave you wanting more in terms of sound quality, especially when plugged into external speakers (stereo speakers or even a Bluetooth speaker.
- The components are fairly durable and sourced to a reasonable standard.
- This turntable is available in at least 22 colors, with plenty of special edition versions out there for you to collect.
- There is the ability to play at all three of the main speeds – 33, 45, and 78 rpm.
- There are built-in speakers in the Crosley Cruiser, stoking the fire of portability for years to come.
- Thanks to the Bluetooth and auxiliary input, you can play music from just about any other source through the speakers on this Crosley turntable.
- Indeed, you can entirely eschew the built-in stereo speakers for an entirely separate stereo system to play records in considerably higher fidelity.
- All of this at one of the most budget-friendly prices on the market today.
- Unlike other all-in-one type record players in this category, there is no AM/FM radio functionality, meaning that you will just have to imagine listening to the crackly low-fidelity radio signal.
- The speakers are a nice touch but are altogether unacceptable for anyone wanting to listen to their music in the way that God intended. They also do not shape up to some of the competition in this price category.
- There is no USB port, meaning that it will not be possible to export your vinyl to CD.
One of the best things about the Crosley is just how easy it is to use. This is an inviting piece of kit that will leave even the least technologically gifted consumers coming back for more.
Just follow the following steps, and you will be well on your way to listening to your favorite tunes on vinyl
- Choose a record! It can be any you like, preferably one that you know reasonably well so that you can tell whether the record player sounds right or not.
- Assemble the device: plug the record player into the socket, secure the slip mat onto the turntable platter, place your chosen album on the platter, etc.
- Place the needle down onto the surface of the record, placing it gently onto the very edge.
- Adjust the volume for the space and the listening context. This will depend on the kind of speakers or headphones you are using. Headphones, as aforementioned, are easily connected.
- And there you have it!
- You will find that once you lift the tonearm, the turntable stops playing, much like a direct drive turntable or belt drive turntable, regardless of whether they are automatic, semi-automatic, or manual.
Here is where Crosley turntables fall out of favor. While they are fairly inviting in terms of the user experience – and there are plenty of such testimonials to back it up – the performance, especially in terms of sound, leaves a whole bunch to be desired.
Indeed, one of the first things any audiophile will usually recommend that you do as soon as you get a Crosley or Victrola suitcase-style turntable is to replace the cartridge. The cartridge that they install in the factory is just not acceptable, at least if you do not want your record to sound like Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music.
There is of course a time and a place for everything. We here at Notes on Vinyl love a bit of noisecore and power violence from time to time, but would it not also be nice if a record could sound as it was intended to, at least so you had the choice whether or not it sounded like an airplane taking off.
For all the stories of users having a great time with a Crosley, there are at least two or three relating to how it can make a record sound like it is trying to take off, not to mention how damaging it can be to a record to use such a cartridge. Subjecting any records to such cartridges and turntables repeatedly and for extended periods is going to shorten their life considerably.
This turntable might be ideal for those just starting in the world of record collecting – they are so affordable that even if you do decide record collecting is not quite for you, you can sell it without losing too much money in the process. Even still, it is well worth replacing the cartridge as soon as possible with something by, say, Audio-Technica.
What better way to understand this record player than by looking at it in relation to other similarly-priced competitors on the market?
One of the most popular alternatives is, for example, the Electrohome Kingston. This is, likewise, a suitcase-style record player with an attitude. This sure is more difficult to transport, boasting a considerably greater weight than the Crosley. With this, though, comes a considerably greater depth of experience, including an AM/FM radio which the Crosley lacks.
Another competitor which seems to owe a great debt to Crosley is the 1byone. This is a suitcase-style record player very much in the vein of Crosley, almost to the point of parody. It’s a shame that Crosley did not put down their stake for suitcase-style record players, lest they would be maintaining a monopoly and sitting on an even higher stack of cash than they likely already are.
This record player is so similar to the Crosley Cruiser that it would be difficult to tell them apart without the logos. Perhaps it would be worthwhile doing a blind taste test in a similar way to such things relating to debates between Coca-Cola and Pepsi, etc.
So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are now feeling ready and able to go out there and make a well-informed decision about the Crosley record player.
FAQs Crosley Record Player Review
Is Crosley a good brand of a record player?
Not really, no, though your own answer to this question will likely depend on your expectations and what exactly you intend to get out of owning a record player. If you are just looking for a record player that is going to play your records while being a more or less inviting user experience, then you are likely to be satisfied by the Crosley Cruiser. If, though, you are in any way looking for a record player that is going to bring your records to life in the way that they were intended to sound, then the Crosley Cruiser or anything else by Crosley is going to disappoint you deeply.
Why does my Crosley record player sound so bad?
Because it is a Crosley. Even if it started not sounding too bad, the cheap manufacture and poor reputation of the brand mean that this is a piece of kit that is likely to deteriorate over time. In such instances, it is usually cheaper to just replace the whole thing or, indeed, get a better record player in the first place, rather than, instead, replacing the particular component that is letting the side down.
What are the reviews of the Crosley record player?
Generally not great, though this will depend on where you look. Most audiophiles will be very quick to let you know just how much of a mistake you are making or have already made, then go on to advise you to at least change the cartridge, goddamn it, lest you do some serious damage to your records in turn. Some, though, are perfectly satisfied with the simple performance and inviting user experience of the Crosley, an experience that seems to place the user at the center, even if they have made the wrong decision.
Can you replace the needle on a Crosley record player?
Indeed you can. In fact, audiophiles recommend that you do this as soon as you get your record player, lest you do some serious bodily harm to your record collection before you can stop it. The needle that is fitted onto the Crosley Cruiser and other Crosley record players is simply unacceptable, especially if you want your records to sound good and not be damaged in the long run. Changing to another cartridge is relatively simple, though at this point you would be spending about as much as you would when buying, say, an Audio-Technica AT-LP60. This turntable doesn’t come with speakers, but the ones on the Crosley are crap, let’s face it.