Vinyl Records on the Go: Crosley Cruiser Portable Turntable

Tech Test Lab Review

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Product: Crosley Cruiser Portable Turntable
Price: $99.95
Rating: Recommend*

Saturday, April 20th is Record Store Day, an international celebration when independent record stores release exclusive vinyl releases and special performances all over the world in honor of the beloved record. It's as good a day as any for a beginner to dive into the world of record collecting and listening, and this compact portable turntable is just the player to get started with.

The Crosley Radio Cruiser Turntable is widely billed as a "portable" turntable. It's a record-collectors answer to the iPod in this hyper-mobile world, and about as compact as a turntable can get, considering that records aren't getting any smaller. Newbie vinyl-lovers will take a shine to the tote-able briefcase design, super easy setup, and built-in speakers.

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Design: At the risk of sounding repetitive, "briefcase" really is the best word to describe the overall style and design of the Cruiser Turntable. When I first pulled it out of the box, snapped shut, the only clue to it's audio action is two small speaker grills positioned on either side of the handle.

The case is vinyl-wrapped, and every piece of its construction has a great texture and feel, from the slimly padded handle, to the felt inside the lid. Cruiser comes in a bevy of colors, including black, blue, green, orange, pink, red and turquoise, depending on where you buy it (Target seems to have every color available).

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Setup: Out of the box, setup is simple. The only accessory included is a small A/C power adapter. After plugging in the power source and removing a plastic piece protecting the needle and putting a record on the platter, the Cruiser was ready to go.

The Cruiser is equipped to play 12", 10" and 7" records (there's a 7" adapter that snaps in) at 33, 45 and 78 RPM. The only controls on the entire turntable are a small toggle switch that lets you choose the play speed, an auto-play toggle switch, and a single knob that turns the device on and controls the volume of the built-in speakers. 

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Listening: My first impression of my initial listen was "not bad." The built-in stereo speakers sound similar to a mid-range iPhone Bluetooth speaker. Is it the best sound I've ever heard? Not by a long shot. But it does the job of letting you listen to vinyl records anywhere the mood strikes. My only gripe is that the volume doesn't get very loud. But there's RCA Audio output at the back of the case, allowing anyone to upgrade output to a set of external speakers.

There's also a headphone jack, should you want to get cozy with your favorite cans for a private listening session. But the real selling point for a portable player like this is being able to take it to parties or out on the patio, so the headphone jack shouldn't be a deal-maker for anyone interested in intimate high-quality audio. 

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Portability: The briefcase-style player is about the size of a laptop computer (but much taller), and weighs in at 5.5 pounds. The handle is comfortable, and once you remove the record and unplug the power cord, the whole thing is a cinch to pack up and carry nearly anywhere.

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Overall, the Crosley Cruiser Portable Turntable is an ideal plug-and-play device for an aspiring vinyl enthusiast. It's easy to carry, easy to use and easy to set up in a pinch, making it perfect for anyone who'd like to listen to records at a small party of get-together. 

Features:
  • Portable 3-Speed Turntable
  • Built-in Speakers
  • RCA Audio Output
  • Headphone Jack
  • Stereo Speakers
  • Dimensions: 4.63" H x 14.0" W x 10.5" D
  • Weight: 5.5 lbs
  • 1 year limited manufacturer warranty

Pros: Compact and lightweight, easy out-of-the-box setup, multiple color options to suit your style, great device for entry-level vinyl enthusiast.

Cons: Built-in speakers are low-volume and not of exceptional sound quality, occasional skipping. 

Our Ratings:

Strong Recommend
Recommend*
Weak Recommend
Don't Recommend

(Images: Taryn Fiol / Crosley)

Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. This specific product was provided by the manufacturer for testing and review purposes.

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