A lot of people really dislike the Crosley brand. Famous for their cheap, low-end, all-in-one portable record players, Crosley appeals to many people not interested in a high-end record player for its sound generating abilities. However, even for a cheap turntable, there are a lot of reasons you should never buy a Crosley record player, in my opinion.
Crosley record players are known for their low price and their low quality. Touted on many forums as the bane of the true audiophile, Crosley record players are some of the cheapest and cheapest quality portable record players on the market.
However, if you are in the neighborhood for a budget-friendly option, you don’t have to break the bank to get a better sound than a Crosley. If their low price is still luring you in that direction, take heed – I’m not the only one with an opinion on these cheap record-turning devices (I don’t even want to call them turntables).
Let’s take a look at what some people have said about the Crosley and why you’re likely better off without one. Stick with me to the end, and I’ll share my not-so-secret alternative to a cheap turntable you’ll regret.
As mentioned, I’m not the only one with an opinion about the cheap Crosley players. Mawnck of the Reddit community had this to say about Crosley:
“…the main problem with the Crosley/Skywin stylus is its plastic cantilever.”
Okay, so we can see from this statement that if true, these record players would produce inferior sound. Or so it would lead me to believe. However, Mawnck doesn’t stop there. The user goes on to lacerate the brand further.
I don’t take some random forum person’s opinions for the gospel. I know to take everything I read with a grain of salt. With that in mind, I decided to go hunting for more reliable sources of information.
My journey to find out all I could to back up my experience and opinion with Crosley record players led me to more professional opinions. I left the forums behind and went to see what some real audiophiles had to say about these budget record players (again, I want to call them record-turning devices, not turntables).
The next place I stopped was an article by the respected Brent Butterworth of Wirecutter. Here’s what Brent had to say about the Crosley:
“With all the records I played on it, the sound was thin and blaring. I heard little else but vocals and guitars when I played albums from Bob Dylan, R.E.M., and Yes.”
This sentiment sounds like a broken record after reading all the user reviews about the Crosley record players. In particular, the Cruiser and other portable, cheap models.
Brent went on to tell us more about his experience with the Crosley, and I can say that it mirrors my own experiences,
“I was sure the album included a bassist but I couldn’t easily hear him.”
The final point Brent nails right on the head, and I agree wholeheartedly.
“Noise from the turntable’s motor leaked into the stylus and was audible through the speakers.”
The very same experience I had with the Crosley I tested. I turned on a record to listen to the silence between tracks and could hear the motor coming out the speakers. The speakers are of inferior quality as well, in my opinion, and from my experience. They sounded kind of like tin cans were mounted as horns. I felt it wasn’t worth wasting money on their product.
Here’s what Brent says about the speakers, again mirroring my sentiment:
“I hadn’t expected much from the Cruiser’s two 2½-by-1¼-inch oval speakers; even so, I couldn’t lower those expectations enough to enjoy listening to it.”
You may think that I just had a flawed model, and so did all these other people. So, I found another person who distinctly did not use the Cruiser model that many of us dislike. Here’s what I found from Justin Channell on Steve Hoffman Music Forums:
“So, for years I used a Crosley turntable/CD combo cabinet, until I got sick of it’s poor tracking ability.”
Let me see if I’ve got this straight. Aside from my experience with the Cruiser that sounded like cheap cans and was all over the place in terms of tracking, other users have said a few things. Let’s sum up the top three complaints:
- Poor tracking quality
- Poor speaker quality
- Poor build materials
A few other ‘rumors’ are floating about the forums, stating that the Crosley product wears out records prematurely. I have yet to see the evidence to support this claim. However, I can tell you from experience that the three issues above are, in my opinion, critical issues and cannot be ignored.
The truth is that not everyone has the passionate desire to hear perfect sounds. Not everyone is an audiophile. However, there has to be some sort of reasons why a person ignores what so many tell them about the quality of these record players.
The primary reason people buy units like the Crosley is that they are cheap and all-in-one, meaning you don’t need a separate amplifier and speakers – The Crosley has them built-in.
To be honest, if you’ve had a few drinks, or if you don’t care so much about missing half the bass (or all of it) then, it might not be the worst option. I mean, there might be a worse record player out there; I hear the Victrola’s have equal quality as the Crosleys do. Though, you should look at other options.
When it comes to electronics or most music equipment for that matter, I usually prefer to purchase brand new, so I can take advantage of any warranties and use a new flashy product. However, I can appreciate used equipment and the next person; and when it comes to turntables, used is an excellent option for a cheap alternative.
Here are my top two favorite ways to find an excellent turntable for dirt cheap.
One of the best things I did when I was in college did a Saturday morning drive. I had ten dollars in my pocket and just received my box of records from my parent’s house – with no turntable!
To make a long story of youth chasing deals shorter, let me just say that I found my first turntable – a Technic SL-1200 in the driveway of a charming Jamaican woman selling a few things on a Saturday morning. After chatting with her about her garden for several minutes, I asked her how much the record player was missing its plastic cover, but the rest looked intact. She sold it to me for $10.
I brought it home and plugged it into my stereo, and it worked great. I still have that direct-drive turntable in my basement.
You might be surprised to see what brands people will part with at used product stores. Some areas call them Hock Shops. You know the stores, they are notorious for buying stolen goods in the movies. In real life, you can find some fantastic deals on turntables that people are getting rid of because they have an iPod now or some other digital means of playing music. The same thing happened to tape cassettes, except vinyl has a vintage sound many of us, myself included, refuse to let go of in exchange for digital source.
Drive around, look for garage sales and used equipment stores, and I bet you’ll find a sweet deal before you know it. Just be prepared to buy a new cartridge. It’s often required when buying a used record player. Good luck and happy turntable hunting!
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