Saturday, June 8, 2013

Savvy Saturday : Ye Olde Vinyl

I'm not sure what it is right now, but I'm in future planning mode. I spent all last week fantasizing about what my ideal library would look like (it's pretty darn awesome). This week I've been stuck on records. I ran across my grandmothers old record collection the other day. I was looking through them and became really nostalgic. So last night I spent two hours looking at turntables that were in my price range.

There are actually quite a few to choose from, many of them from Crosley which seems to be the main one on Amazon.

But when looking for a turntable you have to take quite a few things into account:

  • Sound. Many of the turntables, especially portable cheap ones, do not carry the sound as well as the more expensive models. While they sound okay, they may not be what you are looking for. Keep in mind what you want from this player. Do you want something retro and nostalgia filled. Or are you buying one because you like the sound of vinyl better than digital (this is me). Remember that you are going to get what you pay for. 
  • Quality. Because vinyl records are so easily damaged one has to be leery of quality. Many of the Crosley products have a ceramic cartridge. The cartridge is the device that converts the vibrations from the needle into sound. Originally, these cartridges were magnetic. The ceramic cartridges weight more and therefore can cause more damage to your records.
  • Speed. There are three speeds. 33 1/3, 45, and 78 rpm playback. Almost all records are 33 1/3 and 45 rpm, but a few of the oldies will play at 78 rpm. Many players do not have the capability to play at that speed. 
Taking these three things into account let's move on. 

When I began this journey (Monday, so believe me, I'm less than experienced still) I had no idea what I was looking for. So like any good eighteen year old I got onto Amazon. I found a plethora of turntables. The first one to catch my eye was this: 

Crosley Cruiser Portable Turntable

And being the inexperienced buyer that I was, I thought, "Well gosh, that is so cute!"

Rule number one: Unless it is clothes or puppies or boys, never buy something on its "cute factor" alone.

Record players are definitely not going to just get by on their looks. When I really dug into the specs of this thing I realized that it wouldn't live up to my standards. Don't get me wrong, this thing is pretty good. Especially for the price they are asking: $79.95. That's a steal.

The specifications aren't too bad either:

  • 3 Speed Turntable
  • Portable Audio Ready with Aux-in
  • Built-in Stereo Speakers
  • RCA Output Jacks
  • Headphone Jack

That' really all the casual listener would need. If you were just getting started and were on a tight budget then this would be the one I would suggest.

But here is my warning. Those speakers are tiny, and while it gives you two options for external speaker systems that kind of defeats the purpose of its portability. Also, thinking back to the cartridge, it's a Crosley and therefore may cause damage to your records (I don't know if this is true or the extent of the damage. It's just what I've heard from many different sources). In addition to the cartridge is the sound quality. This has less to do with the speakers and more to do with the product itself. Remember that you are getting what you pay for, and $80 is not a lot. It's housed in plastic and may wobble. That means that your sound is not going to be as crisp and warm. 

Needless to say, I still think this thing is so cute and I still want to buy it just on that fact alone.

If you're still looking for portable but with a better sound I ran across a Crosley with a magnetic cartridge that I am seriously thinking about buying:

Crosley Collegiate Turntable

This one is actually really nice compared to the other Crosley products available. 
  • Vinyl-wrapped
  • Belt-driven turntable mechanism
  • Diamond stylus needle
  • Plays 33-1/3, 45 and 78 RPM records
  • Dynamic full range stereo speakers
  • Headphone jack
  • Portable turntable
  • Durable aluminum grill
While the speaker does look enormous and mono, it's actually two very small speakers (which is depressing) but the reviews I've seen say this is still really good. Again, three speeds and a really nice tray. It doesn't look wobbly like the others. It's also an amazing price at Walmart: $88.

If I get a portable one, this will be the one I want to get.

I also found a really interesting turntable that would be perfect for any college kid in a small dorm room.

Crosley Revolution Turntable

This thing is SMALL. When I first saw it I laughed. I looks like it would be awful. But according to a lot of people it's not actually all that bad. Sure it doesn't have the best sound, sure it wobbles a bit. But if you buy a turntable that doesn't even qualify as a table you can't expect perfection. 

If you aren't serious about audio quality or record wear and you are low on space this is actually a good option (and one I'm considering). 

We have two full-size and high-end turntables at my house so sound quality really isn't one of my big issues. I'm looking for something I can take to college and the Revolution is looking pretty darn good. 

As you can tell, most of the portable turntables are Crosley. While their quality isn't the highest they are still one of the major options if you are looking for portable and affordable. Again, this all depends on what you are looking for. These are not high quality tables and if you are an audiofile these are going to be sorely disappointed. Look for something else. 

There are many other affordable options for turntables which require separate speakers. These are higher quality and better suited for purists. I'll be reviewing these soon. 

Do any of you have turntables? If so, what do you have and what do you like/not like about them.


  1. I didn't know you're such an expert in turntables!!!! :D that future library of yours I'd love to visitttttt

  2. haha less of an expert and more a nostalgist. i grew up with cars that still had 8track players in them and listened to vinyl broadway records rather than CD's. i attribute this to my grandparents refusing to own anything manufactured after 1975 :P
    oh my gosh. my library fantasy is redic. i've got a 360 degree view of it in my head. i got so into it i actually went into pricing the whole project (i'm gonna need a winning lottery ticket).

    1. well good luck with the lottery :PPPP but you never know, maybe one day!!