Once thought to be a dead form of media, vinyl record sales have exploded in recent years. Not only are big name artists like Taylor Swift and Harry Styles releasing their music on vinyl, but lesser known indie groups are finding it easier to publish on records as well.
That’s all and good, but how are you supposed to play all these great new albums as well as the old ones that might be collecting dust in a basement? For those who want to start collecting and listening to music on vinyl, Crosley makes the Cruiser Plus, a compact and budget friendly turntable.
In this review I will go over the Cruiser Plus in depth, its features, positives, negatives, as well as my own personal experience with this turntable along with others I’ve tried out, to help you decide if this record player is right for you. In addition to this written review, there will also be an unstructured unboxing video as well as a full video review.
- Can output to external system
- Built in speakers aren’t great
- Sound quality could be improved
- 3 speed turntable
- Built in bluetooth receiver
- Built in stereo speakers
- Adjustable pitch control
- Aux input and output
- RCA output
What Is the Crosley Cruiser Plus
The Crosley Cruiser Plus is an entry level turntable for playing vinyl records. It comes in a compact, suitcase-like, design and comes with built-in stereo speakers that you can use either to play music right from your collection of vinyl records or via bluetooth.
Crosley and record players like this are partly responsible for the boom in vinyl record sales in the past few years, with more people deciding to get into the hobby every day. With relatively cheap and compact turntables like this, pretty much anyone can start collecting vinyl and playing their records in the comfort of their home.
Crosley Cruiser Plus Unboxing
I was very excited coming into this unboxing since I come from a family of vinyl enthusiasts. We have a fairly nice stereo system connected to a high end turntable in our basement and frequently use it to play music when entertaining guests or just for ourselves when we want to relax. Not to mention how I just received one of my favorite albums of all time, Welcome to the Black Parade by My Chemical Romance, on vinyl.
Everything was packed and shipped very nicely and I had no issues getting the device out of the box. The box itself was adorned with glamor shots of the product, as well as plenty of information on it’s features.
Other than some instructions and legal paperwork, the only things included within the package were the turntable itself and the AC adapter to plug it into the wall. I really liked how small, compact, and suitcase-like the player was. I also really liked the tweed texture on the outside, making it feel just a little more premium. The handle would also help with portability.
I hadn’t heard great things about this turntable from hardcore vinyl enthusiasts, however, this unboxing left me with a very positive impression of the product. Although looks and feel aren’t exactly the most important factor in how good a record player is, that would come down to the sound quality.
The Crosley Cruiser Plus has quite a few nice features going for it. To start, it supports 3 speeds so that you can listen to 7 inch, 10 inch, and 12 inch records, and even includes a spacer to put in the middle for smaller records.
The turntable can also be used as a bluetooth speaker, just in case you run out of records and want to play music from another device, though I wouldn’t recommend this due to the speaker quality. More on that later.
The stereo speakers themselves aren’t the best, but they are built right into the case, so you won’t have to plug them into a big electronic system in order to enjoy your music. You can also use the Cruiser Plus to adjust the pitch of whatever you’re listening to. Not sure why you’d want to, but it is an option.
If you don’t like the built-in speakers, which is very understandable, then you can hook up the Cruiser to an alternate speaker system either through auxiliary or RCA hookup. If you want to listen to your vinyls without waking up any roommates or family members, you can do that with a built-in headphone jack.
Crosley Cruiser Plus Test
I wanted to see how well the Crosley Cruiser Plus did under the absolute best circumstances, so I decided to test it with a brand new and never played vinyl I had, that being a copy of Welcome to the Black Parade that I’d received for Christmas. So I set up the turntable and got my record going.
Set up was pretty easy, all I had to do was plug the AC adapter into the turntable and the wall and then place my record on it just as I would any other player. When I first dropped the needle, I was worried that my player had some kind of defect, since the sound was way more high pitched than it should be.
As it turned out, I just had the pitch control up too much. Upon fixing it, Gerard Way’s singing sounded just as good and delightfully emo as I remember. Still not sure why you would want to change the pitch on your records, but I guess it’s still an option if you want to mess around with your songs.
When everything was working correctly, I noticed that the built-in speakers were not great. They weren’t awful by any means, they just made the music sound very distant and it lacked that “warmness” that vinyl enthusiasts talk about so much.
Additionally, I noticed that, during periods of silence or pauses in music, you could hear the needle scraping against grooves which was very unpleasant. The whole thing just sounded very mechanical, which is something I don’t think hardcore vinyl collectors are going to be fans of.
Luckily, we have a stereo system all set up and ready to be connected to this turntable. When I played the record through this system it sounded so much better. It was a lot clearer and less metal sounding, though I still could hear the needle scraping during moments of silence.
While the Cruiser sounded pretty good coming from my own stereo system, I wanted to see how it would compare to the other turntables I have, mainly the Audio Technica player we have set up with the stereo system. We’ve been using this player for years and it’s served us quite well. It’s also worth noting that our entire system is about $200-$300.
When I played the same album on this turntable, it was really no contest. The Audio Technica player sounded far clearer and better than the Crosley could ever hope to. I understand though that a system like this isn’t an option for many people, so I decided to also compare it to the quickest and cheapest alternative I could find.
Luckily, a local thrift store was selling an old Fisher Price turntable from the 70s or 80s for just $8. So I plucked it up, took it home, put a record into it and…it didn’t output any audio. The machine turned on and spun the record, but no sound came through the speakers.
Needless to say, the Crosley Cruiser beats this one out by default. So while it is not nearly as good as some of the high end turntables you can get, it’s certainly better than the cheapest alternative.
I also wanted to test how well the Cruiser worked as a Bluetooth speaker, and it worked just about as well as I expected. It connected to my phone easily, but the speaker quality still wasn’t great.
If you do use a Crosley Cruiser Plus, I would recommend not using the built in speakers and instead hooking it up to an alternative audio system either via the auxiliary or RCA outputs, something that wasn’t even an option on the Fisher Price player.
How Can You Use the Crosley Cruiser Plus? / Who Is This For?
The Crosley Cruiser Plus is made so that just about anybody can use it regardless of prior experience with record equipment. All you need to do is plug the turntable into the wall, open the lid, place your desired record on the spindle, use the spacer if needed, power the device on with the volume knob, and drop the needle onto the edge of the record.
If you want to improve the sound quality, you can also hook the device up to an external speaker or audio system via the ports on the back. When you’re done listening to your record, simply use the lever above the adjustment knobs to raise the needle, turn off the machine, take the record off, and close the case.
The Cruiser Plus best serves beginners or those just starting out in collecting and listening to audio on vinyl records. It’s not exactly for hardcore collectors who want the best sound quality possible, as they have sort of a negative reputation among this group.
Still though, entry level devices like this are important to any hobby. Crosley is largely responsible for the boom in vinyl record sales by providing cheap and accessible turntables like the Cruiser Plus to those who are curious about the hobby but maybe don’t want to spend a lot on something they may or may not enjoy.
Web Infrastructure / Branding
The official Crosley website not only lets you look at their wide selection of turntables, but also their other products, including speakers, radios, cassette players, jukeboxes, and lots of other audio equipment and Crosley branded merchandise. Everything on the site also functions very well and all links I tested worked and redirected to where they were supposed to.
As for branding, Crosley very much embraces their long history in the business with an early 20th century sort of retro aesthetic. This design philosophy continues in many of their products. Record players in particular elicit a very mid century vibe, extremely fitting since that’s when the vinyl industry was at its peak.
Should You Buy It
If you’re wanting to get into vinyl record collecting and don’t much care about getting the best sound quality or already have a stereo system to hook the Cruiser Plus up to, then I would absolutely recommend picking one up. The accessibility and small form factor make this perfect for younger fans living in small apartments or dorms, and the headphone jack makes it even better for that audience.
The built in speaker quality is the biggest downside, however, which prevents me from recommending this to hardcore vinyl enthusiasts. The sound quality is still not the best, even when hooked up to a high end stereo system, so if you want the absolute clearest, have the money to spend, and are sure you’re going to get lots of use out of it, then I would suggest springing for a high end turntable and audio system.
Where to Buy
You can purchase the Crosley Cruiser for yourself in most stores that sell record equipment and turntables, or through the official website. Additionally, you can use our affiliate link to get the turntable through Amazon for $60 with free shipping (at the time of me writing this).
For pretty obvious reasons, I won’t be discussing the Fisher Price turntable that didn’t work as part of my comparison, but I will be talking about the one my family has used for years.
The Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT is a really great turntable that features an automatic belt drive and arm, audio out via cable as well as bluetooth connectivity, and it sounds great when connected to a good stereo system. This turntable has served my family very well and has all records sounding as good as they possibly can, despite the age of some of them.
Even though this is a fantastic turn table, there are some downsided when compared to the Cruiser Plus. For one, it costs $219 on the official site, with the cheaper non-bluetooth version at $149. The device also doesn’t have built in speakers, so you will have to hook it up to an external system.
If you want something more budget friendly and comparable to the Crosley Cruiser, then you may want to look at the ByronStatics record player. This turntable sells on Amazon for $55 and has many of the same features as the Cruiser, including built in speakers, a suitcase like design, and bluetooth connectivity.
Honestly these 2 turntables almost seem like the same product, though the Cruiser does fare slightly better in terms of customer reviews. I would still choose the Cruiser over this since Crosley has far more experience in making audio equipment and I imagine their customer service is far better.
I think that the Crosley Cruiser Plus is a fine turntable. It’s nothing spectacular and its features aren’t going to revolutionize the vinyl industry, but it serves its purpose well as a starting turntable for those curious about collecting and listening to vinyl records.
Vinyl enthusiasts may want to look elsewhere for the best sound quality possible and state of the art features, but beginners may find a lot to love with the Cruiser Plus.