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Crosley Executive Portable Turntable Review

NOTE: If you're in the market for a good, high quality turntable to start out with, I highly recommend the Audio-Technica AT-LP60-USB turntable instead! It has much clearer sound and is a better turntable in general. They can be had for as low as $120 from places such as Amazon.

Well, it finally happened! For years, I've wanted to start a vinyl collection of some of my favorite, hard to find music. I was at a Barnes & Noble bookstore a few months back and something really caught my eye while I was there. Typically, you'd expect such a place to have nothing but books, magazines, a cafe, etc. but I was really surprised to see a turntable sold there! I had to get it.

Two options were offered and I was hesitant between which one to choose: one with USB and the other without. Well, the one without USB only costed $10 less and I figured maybe I could play and record my vinyls through the line in port on my computer and the one with USB would probably be a little more convenient. I decided to go with the USB option, and it's fortunate that I did.

Design/First Impressions

It looks a lot like a briefcase. In fact, when a lot of people first saw it, their first question was always something like "Is that a suitcase or something?" and I really like the design of it. I don't know much in the way of vinyl players, but you can't deny the fact that this is a cool way to design such a thing. For this review, I'll be using my Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet and a Perry O'Neil vinyl I pulled out of my measly, but ever growing vinyl collection. :)

The reasons I chose the USB version are:

  • Some devices, especially tablets and modern laptops, don't have a line in port so I wouldn't be able to make the vinyl player as portable as I could.
  • The audio quality when listening or recording from the headphone jack is incredibly bad. The sound is rather muffled and distorted and you hear a lot of popping noises that you wouldn't hear if you listened to it through USB.

The back of the player allows you to connect via USB, offers an auxiliary input and allows you to hook it up to a stereo with an RCA cable. A power adapter is also required. So far, it looks really nice both, aesthetically and portability-wise.

Let's Play Some Records!

This is what it looks like when it's opened up. You're allowed to play vinyls at 33, 45, and 78 RPM.

Vinyl plays is, well... Not too good. First off, I get quite annoyed that music plays through the player regardless of how low the volume is set. It does have a set of speakers in the vinyl itself but they don't sound good at all. Since I prefer to listen to my music through headphones, it still plays "trebly" version of it. I'm not sure if this is how all vinyl players operate, or if it's just a few of them. I suppose it's not a big deal, but it's just a quirk that I don't much care for.

The biggest disappointment was that vinyls would always skip! At first, I thought it was just dust and fingerprints since all of the vinyls I own at the moment are used. After washing all of my vinyls with warm water and mild soap, they still managed to skip. I was almost thinking about writing this player off as a loss and returning it. But first I decided it would probably be best to do a little bit of research first. I came across a post on reddit wherein a user who also had a different version of a Crosley turntable was complaining about the same issue! In that post, he mentioned that pushing gently on the arm would cause it to play properly. In the comments, many people were saying that Crosley isn't a good brand at all.

My Solution to the Skipping Problem

I can't just hold the arm down whenever I want to listen to a record. That wouldn't be very effective in the long term at all. Here's what I did instead...

You'll need to find a lightweight object such as screw (which is what I used) and some tape (preferably duct tape). Then, go ahead and wrap that object around the arm to put some weight down on it. This will allow your vinyls to play properly. Just make sure the tape isn't going to rub against the vinyl and make sure the weighted object is securely wrapped in the tape. There is no question that Crosley thought long and hard about this.

Listening to and Recording Music

After you've solved the skipping problem, the Crosley Executive Turntable player plays vinyl quite nicely. At this point, I don't have any complaints.

If you want to listen to music through your computer, you'll need to plug the USB in and allow it to play through whatever sound device you want it to. You'll need to right click the volume control icon and click "Recording devices" and double click "Microphone Array" and go to the "Listen" tab and check "Listen to this device". You can then click the "Levels" tab and change the volume of the input. I recommend first setting your speakers to a reasonable volume and then adjusting the input level if needed to prevent distortion. Linux and Mac users, I'm sure the steps above are quite similar, you'll just need to look around some more. It's pretty easy to figure out.

Now, it's time to get those tracks recorded onto your computer. You'll need to download this really nice, cross-platform program known as Audacity. After you've downloaded, installed and ran the program, you'll need to make sure it's recording through the Microphone Array device. You can change these options in one of the tabs on the top. Then hit the record button and play the vinyl. Just make sure the waveforms aren't too big.

Final Thoughts

The Crosley Executive Portable Turntable is not a good option for anyone. Really, the sound quality is terrible, some vinyls don't play properly and there are a myriad of other issues users have reported having. I'd look elsewhere if I were you. I guess if you ever find one at a thrift store bargain bin for $10, go ahead and snag it. Sure, it looks cool. I have to give credit where credit is due and Crosley definitely deserves props for that. This is also just a temporary option for me. One day, I'd like to get some Technics turntables and perhaps even try some real mixing.

Written on November 11, 2014
Edited on November 18, 2017