I have recently spent a lot of time testing my newest vinyl toy.
The Crosley Cruiser suitcase-style portable turntable.
The Crosley Cruiser is a super affordable and cool looking turntable that is very popular among new vinyl spinners.
It has also received a fair bit of criticism from vinyl enthusiasts for having poor sound and reputation for destroying records.
So, is the Victrola Cruiser any good?
I’ll give you my quick answer first, and then we dig deeper into the details in the coming sections.
I found that the Crosley Cruiser has both significant advantages and significant disadvantages.
The more time I spent with the Crosley Cruiser, the more I understood why it is so popular. It has a really cool design and provides a cool vibe. It is also very versatile, it can play records, act as a Bluetooth speaker, connect to powered speakers and headphones. It is also easy to carry around.
The Crosley Cruiser’s biggest downside is, unsurprisingly, its poor sound. The sound through the speakers is honestly not great. The sound totally lacks bass and it is quite muddy.
I think the poor sound is inevitable. The tiny speaker and low material cost could hardly make for a great sounding turntable. I think everybody that’s buy a Crosley Cruiser expects the sound to be compromised.
The good news is that the sound improves tremendously when I connect the Crosley to my Edifier R1280DB powered speakers. I think using affordable powered speakers to enhance the sound is a great option when you are not on the go.
Who is the Crosley Cruiser for?
If you are some kind of audiophile and fancy wonderful sound, the Crosley Cruiser is definitely not for you. It is not made to blow you away with amazing sonic performance. It can sound ok with external speakers, but it will never sound audiophile graded.
But for someone that wants a cheap and cool looking turntable to start out with records and care little about sound quality, I think the Victrola turntable is an impressive little machine for the money.
Victrola: Pros and Cons
- Higley affordable
- Cool look and design
- Easy to set up
- Easy to use
- Sounds decent with external speakers
- Sounds decent with headphones
- Doesn’t sound great when using built-in speakers
- High tracking force adds wear on records
- Few (or none) options to upgrade
How does Crosley Cruiser compare to Victrola Journey?
I also have the Victrola Journey suitcase turntable, which may be the major competitor to the Crosley Cruiser. You can read my Victrola Journey review here.
The Crosley Cruiser and the Victrola Journey turntables are extremely similar. They cost, look, feel and perform almost exactly the same.
After spending a bit of time with both, testing and comparing them, I must be honest and say that there were a few tiny details I liked better with the Victrola.
- The Victrola sounds a fraction better through the speakers
- The Victrola suitcase has a better lock latch (doesn’t open accidentally)
- The buttons/dials are nicer on the Victrola
- The speaker grills have a slightly nicer finish on the Victrola
Note that these are tiny details. The Victrola and Crosley are very similar. I had to spend quite a bit of time with them to discover these nuances. But if I were to keep only one of them, I would choose the Victrola.
Check out my Victrola Vs. Crosley Suitcase Turntable Comparison article for an in-depth comparison between the Victrola Journey and the Crosley Cruiser.
Crosley: Setting up
When you unbox the Crosley, you’ll find that the setup process is extremely easy. It is hardly anything to set up at all.
All you need to do is unbox the turntable, remove the transportation protection inside the suitcase, and connect the turntable to power.
After that, you are ready to spin records.
The box includes everything you need to spin records.
The biggest weakness of the Crosley is the sound quality in my opinion. It doesn’t sound great. The sound quality is more or less comparable with a small portable radio and music played though laptop PC speakers.
The sound totally lacks bass. Which I think is inevitable with such small (and probably cheap) speakers. You cannot produce a nice grove with the Crosley. It simply sounds too flat for that.
The good news is that the sound improves a lot if you hook up the Crosley to budget powered speakers. This can be a nice option when you spin records at home. More on this later.
Whereas the sound quality is a weak point for the Crosley, its design and vibe are its biggest strength in my opinion.
It looks cool and you will have a hard time not think it is charming and fun to use. It easily becomes the center of attention.
I can fully understand why these are so popular. The concept is amazing.
The suitcase itself looks and feels more expensive than it is. And the material that is wrapped around the suitcase has a nice texture and comes in a trillion colors to choose from.
I give it top score on design. 5 out of five.
Crosley: Specs and Features
Another strength is the impressive list of features. The Corsley is definitively a versatile little machine that can do many things.
Key specs and features
- Built-in speakers. No separate speakers needed.
- Ultra-portable. Carry it anywhere.
- RCA output. Connect powered speakers or a stereo system for better sound.
- Bluetooth functionality. Connect your phone or PC wirelessly and use the record player as a speaker. (Update: The new Plus version also connects wireless to Bluetooth speakers)
- Headphone output. Connect wired headphones.
- 3-Speeds. Plays 33, 45 and 78 rpm records.
- Autostop. Shuts off when the record ends.
- Colors. Many colors to choose from.
Crosley: Tech and Internals
The Crosley’s suitcase is made of wood. It is wrapped in a material that gives it its nice color and texture. The tonearm assembly and platter are for the most part made of plastic. The tonearm itself is however made of metal.
The cartridge is not upgradeable. You can however replace the stylus when it is worn.
When I opened up the Crosley to look inside, I noticed that is uses a YD3412 amplifier circuit to drive its speakers. The YD3412 an all-in-one amplifier circuit that can output 3 Watt. The speakers are marked 3 Watt and 4 Ohms. So not a lot of power in play, which is expected.
On most turntables, you can upgrade many of the parts for better sound and performance. Popular upgrades include cartridge, tonearm, plater, etc.
On the Crosley, there are however no real options to upgrade. Everything is more or less fixed. So this is a turntable you buy and keep stock. If you want better sound, that means investing in a new and better turntable.
Crosley: Connecting Speakers
You can easily connect powered speakers (or an amplifier or a mini-Hi-Fi) using the RCA connectors on the back of the suitcase.
When I connect the Crosley to my Edifier R1280DB budget powered speakers, the quality of the sound increases dramatically.
The sound becomes clearer with a lot more volume, bass and punch. If you fancy decent sound, I think using external speakers for most of your vinyl spinning with the Crosley is the way to go.
Crosley: Connecting Headphones
There is also a nice option to connect wired headphones directly to the turntable using a 3.5mm connector.
This works well, and the speakers shuts off when you connect headphones. You then use the volume knob to adjust the headphone’s volume.
Just as with powered speakers, the sound quality gets a lot better with decent headphones. A really nice option.
Crosley: Using Bluetooth
The Crosley comes with Bluetooth receiver functionality. This means that it can be used as powered speakers for your phone, PC, etc.
(Update: The new Plus version also connects wireless to Bluetooth speakers.)
You can connect your phone or PC to the Crosley turntable wirelessly and stream the music you have on your phone or PC through the speakers in the Crosley turntable.
When you put the Crosley in Bluetooth mode, it shows up as ‘Crosley CR8005D’ in the list of Bluetooth devices on your phone and PC. Then you simply click on ‘Crosley CR8005D’ and your phone or PC will connect to the turntable. You can then stream music from your phone or PC to the Turntable.
Crosley: Tracking Force (Does it break records?)
One of the main arguments against the Crosley (and similar cheap turntables) is that it can destroy records due to their high needle downforce.
When I tried to measure the tacking force on my Crosley, it overloaded my tracking force gauge. Which can measure up to 5.0 grams. In my research I found that the Crosley’s tacking force actually is around 6.0 grams.
Most decent turntables have a tracking force around 2.0 grams, so 6.0 grams is quite high.
Higher tracking force leads to more friction and more war and tear on records.
So, if you play the same record over and over again tens or hundreds of times on a Crosley, it is actually proven that it adds more wear to the record than what I higher quality turntable will do.
It is however not correct to claim that the Crosley destroy records. That is to take it too far. The correct claim is probably that it adds a bit extra wear and tear on records over time.
That said, if you have a record collection of high value that you want to keep in mint condition, it is probably best to not play them on a cheap suitcase-style record player. To be on the safe side.
The most obvious alternative to the Crosley Cruiser is probably the Victrola Journey. And other similar portable record players with built-in speakers. Check out our Top 10 Portable Records Players article if you would like a comprehensive list of alternatives.
If you want to go one step up in price, quality and performance, I think the best option is to invest in a standalone turntable and separate powered speakers.
A decent standalone turntable will have a better motor, drive, tonearm and cartridge than the Crosley. And sound better when using the same external speakers.
My top recommendation for an entry-level standalone turntable is the super-popular Audio-Technica AT-LP60X. It is a very good entry-level turntable that is considered best in its class by many Hi-Fi critics and journalists. I own one myself and it has impressed me in many ways. As you can read more about in my AT-LP60XBT Review.
Great powered speakers to pair with the AT-LP60X is the Edifier R1280DB that I have mentioned a few times in this article already. It is grad budget powered speakers, and they are very popular companions to the AT-LP60X powered speakers.
You can rad more about this combo in my Best Way to Play Vinyl Records on a Budget article.
I hope my honest review has given you a good overview of the Crosley Cruiser Suitcase Turntable.
I think it is an amazing piece of kit for the money.
But it also has big downsides compared to more expensive turntables that it is good to be aware of.
Thank you or reading.
And enjoy your vinyl spinning!