Victrola vs Crosley Record Player [Which One to Choose]

Published Categorized as Guides

Are you bombarded by the debate between Crosley vs Victrola each time you head into your local outlet of Urban Outfitters? Are you strewn with stray pieces of cracked vinyl discs every time you find yourself outside, not even having bought the thing you intended to? Do you want to get to the bottom of the feud once and for all?

Then you have found yourself in the right place, for today we will be looking at this age old debate, exploring what precisely separates these two monolithic modern day turntable brands, but also what unites them.

crosley vs victrola

History Lesson Pt. 1: Crosley

Both Crosley vs Victrola have been around for a considerable amount of time. The former began as the Crosley Company towards the beginning of the 20th century, establishing itself with a headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, home of the post and math rock band Slint (a personal favorite of mine).

Though they are now known as Crosley Radio (in order 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. Seeing as turntables and vinyl technology as a whole was on the decline, it seems an odd time to have begun manufacturing them.

It seems to speak to a prescience on their part, for soon enough the world came back round to vinyl technology and now they are one of the leading manufacturers of radios and turntables throughout the western world.

History Lesson Pt. 2: Victrola

In the red corner we have their similarly priced competitor, the Victrola model of turntable.

They, too, have a strong and storied history, though one that has remained of throbbing significance throughout the west’s evolving relationship with media and home entertainment technology.

Unlike Crosley, Victrola are not new to the manufacture of turntables. In fact, they were there at the very beginning, creating some of the very first phonographs and records in the very beginning of the 20th century, before they were acquired by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and subsequently operated as a subsidiary that anyone who owns any 70s records will be familiar with, RCA Victor.

And though they have changed hands a few times over the years, they are still doing what they set out to do: creating record players and turntables for the masses.

The models are of course a little different these days, coming with built in stereo speakers, FM radio, with some victrola turntable even coming with a headphone jack, but there is still instilled within the brand the long and storied history of a true American original, one that was chosen above all by the original progenitor of the gramophone Emile Berliner to fulfill his vision of analog recording technology.

There is no way of comparing the sound quality of yesteryear with that of today, so we must take their word for it, that through Victrola turntables ‘their goal has been to marry the sophistication of yesterday with the technology of tomorrow‘, and the Victrola innovative technology truly is what it is.

Similarities

Though each company offers a whole host of different products, their flagship models (and the ones that tend to sell a whole bunch with the nostalgic and rose tinted youth of today) are the suitcase models, so it would be worth comparing the two.

Contrary to assumption, they are remarkably similar and have likely become more centrist in an effort to catch the widest possible net of possible sales:

  • They both can function at three vinyl record types and speeds: 33 1 / 3 rpm, 45 rpm, and 78 rpm.
  • They both use built in speakers (with the option of using external speakers too, via the RCA outputs).
  • Both offer Bluetooth compatibility.
  • Both come in a similar form, in a hard case with a handle that makes them both
  • Extremely portable turntables, able to be carried more or less anywhere anytime.
  • And both of them are more or less the exact same price wherever you look.

So, regardless of which you end up choosing to purchase, you are going to get a more or less similar user experience from each. They can both be used as fully functional amplifier systems, as a conduit for other signals to external speakers, as well as both being able to play vinyl records at three different speeds.

They also sound broadly the same too, especially if you are using the built in speakers which, spoiler alert, are not very good anyhow.

They, like the cartridge that comes installed upon it out of the factory, ought to be replaced as soon as possible if you are looking to have a listening experience that is in any way sanctimonious, preferably with a set of external powered speakers, some of the best powered speakers for turntable, dependable and able to amplify your favorite sounds wherever they are needed.

Differences

Subjectively, the Victrola record player has a sturdier feel than the Crosley, denser and more rigid than the Crosley, with corner guards made of metal that ensure its portability does not correlate with increased susceptibility to damage.

The Crosley, by contrast, is supposedly a little more luxurious, with a padded surface that can have the appearance of being softer, something which will be readily prevalent to anyone willing to give it a touch or stroke.

Many purport that the sound quality is different between the two, though this is simply false, and if it is true then it is simply a case of degradations of inadequacy.

As previously elucidated, the stylus or cartridge that is installed on the record player out of the factory is the key reason that cheap record players like the Victrola and the Crosley get such a bad wrap.

This is also the defining factor as to why these kinds of budget record players are believed to ruin records instead of playing them justly. I once went round a lover’s house and they were playing a Bombay Bicycle Club record on a Crosley, though it sounded far more like a piece of musique concrete that I had been listening to the day previously.

This is the reason why any audiophile will recommend that if you are buying a cheaper record player for whatever reason, you ought to change the cartridge that comes installed from the factory immediately, lest you do some serious damage to your record collection and / or your listening experience as a whole.

Victrola do actually include an extra stylus with their suitcase models, though this is meant more as a replacement should something happen to the original instead of a stylus of better quality that will do a better job of bringing the records to life than the original stylus.

Which is Better?

Though neither is inherently better, there are certainly some advantages to the Crosley over the Victrola, just as there are benefits of the Victrola over the Crosley.

The Victrola, for instance, is kitted out with a special set of rubber feet that do a nifty job of isolating the record player from external vibrations that might otherwise mar the listening experience. You would hope they had got this down by now to be fair, considering they have been doing this thing since the very beginning.

The suitcase model of the Victrola is also a little hardier than the Crosley, with the aforementioned metal corner guards alongside the backup stylus that comes along with it all.

Victrola is clearly the more reliable and trustworthy brand, though each are budget brands and will come with its own set of issues, such as the record player not spinning, etc.

The Crosley, on the other hand, has a more luxurious look to it, and to the monetarily and materialistically minded will appear more expensive. The inner casing is padded, and so it will subjectively to some have a slightly classier look, though each of its parts, upon closer inspection, is made from rather cheap plastic.

Though a matter of much contention, it is alleged that the Crosley’s in built speakers are better out of the box from the factory, though if you are in any way serious about sound quality or listening experience you are likely going to want to change the speakers anyhow, or at least hook up the whole unit to a set of external speakers.

No matter which you buy, you are going to have to put in some serious work before it is able to properly do your records any justice.

Final Tones

So, there you have it! Hopefully your curiosity about these two monolithic turntable brands has been satiated somewhat, and you are now feeling ready and able to draft up some sort of peace agreement between the two warring factions Crosley vs Victrola.

If you are willing to put the work in, you can make a budget record player like this work for you certainly, though you must be warned that they are not going to sound totally perfect out of the box, and will require a considerable amount of work to do your record collection justice.

FAQs Crosley vs Victrola

Is Crosley a good record player?

Not really, no. Sure, turns on, the turntable platter spins, there are three speeds which are all played consistently, sound indeed comes out of the speakers through the stylus via the vibrational data imbibed within the grooves, etc. But the listening experience is far from satisfactory, and any audiophile will tell you that a considerable amount of work needs to be done to one of these cheaper record players before it can in any way do your favorite records justice. The stylus is unsatisfactory, as are the inbuilt speakers, both of which together provide a less than adequate user experience.

Are Victrola better than Crosley?

Neither is truly better than the other, and in fact I would go as far as to say that they are both as bad as each other, at least in the way that they fool their audience into feeling like they are living through a bygone era when really their nostalgia and yearning for a different time is simply being capitalized upon. They even call themselves leaders in the ‘nostalgic electronics category’. Go figure.

Is Crosley a good brand?

It is debatable, certainly. What constitutes a good brand? They are undoubtedly a successful brand – just look at the sheer amount of teens who have one of their radios and / or turntables occupying pride of place in their immaculately designed and aesthetically pleasing instagram friendly bedrooms. They clearly hold sway over the adolescent populace – even those not necessarily into music have felt the need to pester their parents into getting one so they can play the music they do not even really like through it in an effort to please their friends. If that is not a ‘good’ or ‘successful’ brand, I do not know what is.

Is a Victrola record player good?

Not really, no. Sure, turns on, the turntable platter spins, there are three speeds which are all played consistently, sound indeed comes out of the speakers through the stylus via the vibrational data imbibed within the grooves, etc. But the listening experience is far from satisfactory, and any audiophile will tell you that a considerable amount of work needs to be done to one of these cheaper record players before it can in any way do your favorite records justice. The stylus is unsatisfactory, as are the inbuilt speakers, both of which together provide a less than adequate user experience.

Published
Categorized as Guides

By Robert Halvari

My name is Robert Halvari - audio engineer and a total audiophile. I love vinyl because it has that natural character which brings music to life. I've been using and testing vinyl record players for around 15 years and I'm sharing my love and knowledge of vinyl by publishing all I know at Notes On Vinyl

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *