Opinion | Beware the Crosley Cruiser record player

According+to+Assistant+Opinions+Editor+Talia+Duffy%2C+buyers+should+be+wary+of+Crosley+record+players.+Instead%2C+they+should+consider+higher-end+options%2C+such+as+those+from+1+by+ONE.

Photo courtesy of Marco Verch / Flickr

According to Assistant Opinions Editor Talia Duffy, buyers should be wary of Crosley record players. Instead, they should consider higher-end options, such as those from 1 by ONE.

By Talia Duffy, Assistant Opinions Editor

Over the years, methods of listening to music have changed drastically. From cylinder phonographs in the late 19th century to vinyl turntables, cassette tapes, compact discs, and finally, to the dominance of streaming services, music technology has been through a whirlwind evolution. 

Usually, it’s all about the next best thing. However, vinyl records have defied the odds over the last decade, exponentially booming back to relevance since they surrendered to CDs in the 1980s. In 2010, 2.8 million records were sold in the US; in 2021, that number reached an impressive 41.7 million. And in 2020, vinyl sales passed CD sales for the first time in over 30 years.

The rising popularity of vinyl is likely due to the sentimental value of physical music, the excitement of starting a collection and according to some fanatics and improved sound compared to streaming files. 

But these benefits won’t last without the proper equipment.

Before joining the trend and purchasing a record player, know one thing: beware of the Crosley Cruiser. This product tricks consumers with its cute, retro design and attractively low prices — but when it comes to turntables, you get what you pay for.

As with all technology, research is necessary before going all-in on a record player. A few minutes on the internet will show that suitcase-style record players like Crosleys and Victrolas are much more likely to damage vinyl records during play than higher-end products.

This is largely due to the quality of these players’ tonearms — the stick-like piece that positions and lowers the needle — and the needles themselves. Crosley uses cheap materials for these essential parts and fails to properly calibrate them. 

Technically, even the best needle on the best turntable will wear out records over time. That’s the nature of this delicate analog medium. Usually, it takes hundreds of plays to notice a difference. But Crosley Cruisers destroy records at a significantly quicker pace; many users notice damage after just a few plays.

Speakers are included in suitcase players’ all-in-one format, so it’s not necessary to purchase them separately. Again, a money saver — and again, damage. The presence of sound vibrations so close to all the intricate parts in that little box can further detriment the player and the records.

If a new vinyl collector is serious about actually using their record player, Crosley Cruisers are a waste of the few dozen dollars they cost.

That’s not the only downside of Crosley’s built-in speakers. A major part of vinyl’s attraction is its warm, layered sound. The small, poorly built speakers on a Crosley, however, emanate what many describe as a “tinny” sound with little to no bass, often underlaid with uncomfortable background noise.

To improve the sound of suitcase record players, listeners would have to buy and connect separate speakers — which defeats the purpose of having a cheap, all-in-one Cruiser in the first place. 

In that case, it’s time to start looking for alternatives. There are several brands that are great for beginners, not too pricey and excellently made. 

The 1 BY ONE H009 is an all-in-one option that’s designed to minimize the drawbacks of built-in speakers. It has the benefits of a Crosley Cruiser — it’s simple and compact — but with higher-quality manufacturing and sound. The 1 By ONE’s design isn’t as prominent as the Crosley’s, but it still has an authentic retro feel.

Most other record players require the purchase of separate speakers which might seem a bit daunting at first. However, the benefits overshadow any extra research and money, including better sound, easy setup with Bluetooth and compatibility with many devices.

One of the best beginner turntables on the market is made by Audio-Technica, a highly respected audio equipment company. Their AT-LP60X, which also has a Bluetooth version, is both affordable and well-made. 

It’s a belt-driven turntable that helps to prevent inconsistencies from vibration and is also fully automatic, which makes its simple design even easier to use. Speaker pairing is as straightforward as pressing and holding a button. 

Audio-Technica is the obvious choice for anyone who wants to get into vinyl. Additionally, the brand sells upper-scale, more expensive turntables for customers who might want to level up in the future.

If you couldn’t tell, this is my personal favorite, as it’s the turntable I got four years ago. I was enticed by the aesthetics of Crosley, too — but every time I play a record, I am so grateful that I did the proper research beforehand.

The list of viable alternatives to suitcase record players is long. If someone plans on listening to records once in a blue moon or simply wants to use the player as a cute decoration, go ahead and spend the $50 on a Cruiser. 

But in any other situation, spend the extra money. It’s an investment with amazing returns for many spins to come.

 

Talia is a sophomore in Media.

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