This Crosley record player is portable and affordable

I’m the type of person who always needs background music, and I usually use my record player for occasional listening when I’m cooking, cleaning, or just existing around the house. Several of my friends already had record players they liked when I started looking for mine, and I’ve seen them all over social media over the past few years (vinyl sales have hit $1 billion in 2021, their biggest year since 1986). A few TikTok videos and Pinterest photos later, I gave in and bought my own turntable early last year: the Crosley Cruiser Deluxe. A year later, I’m still as obsessed as when it came out of the box.

I knew early in the buying process that a record player is a worthwhile investment for many people, but I wasn’t willing to spend hundreds of dollars (or even thousands) on a device that I would use for background noise. (Actually, I couldn’t either.) I wanted something stylish, functional, and affordable, and I wasn’t too concerned about crystal-clear sound. The Cruiser Deluxe fits my criteria to a T: it’s a very basic record player that sounds great, looks great, and costs less than $100.

The Cruiser Deluxe is a semi-automatic record player – in our guide to turntables, the experts told us they’re great for beginners (like me) as they automatically stop once they reach the end of the disk. I can play an album and forget about it without the risk of scratching the record – a manual record player, on the other hand, requires you to gently lift the tone arm, otherwise it will continue to spin. I have to manually position the tonearm where I want the record to start playing, but it manages to move down smoothly with a little lever (and gives me the freedom to start my album on whatever track I want).

My favorite thing about this record player is that it’s completely portable – not only is it more compact and lightweight than other record players I’ve seen on the market (weighing just 5.5 pounds and fitting nicely on my dresser), but it also features a sleek briefcase design that I can easily carry via the handle. The portability coupled with the all-in-one look of the turntable makes it a practical option for me – it has built-in features such as speakers, pitch control and a cartridge that I might have otherwise had to be purchased separately. Its built-in Bluetooth function also adds some versatility since I can play any music wirelessly from my smartphone through the turntable’s speakers as long as the player itself is plugged in (and the included RCA outputs allow me to hook it up to any external speaker too).

Granted, the Crosley record player isn’t the one our experts recommend. In fact, they explicitly advised against buying an all-in-one record player, noting that it can damage your records and generally lacks good sound quality. But as a beginner, I found it to work just fine for my casual listening experience: the speakers are loud enough to be heard throughout my apartment without any additional accessories, and it fits all my standard size discs ranging from 7 inch to 12 inch. in diameter (all still in good condition a year later). The sound quality may be lacking compared to more expensive models, but the price is worth it for a beginner, in my opinion.

Other turntables to buy

Whether you’re looking for a better quality turntable or a cheaper turntable to buy, here are some popular options, including those we’ve previously recommended.

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB turntable

If you’re serious about your records and looking for a premium option, this manual turntable from Audio-Technica features a built-in preamp, adjustable S-shaped tonearm and a USB function that helps you convert your recordings into digital audio files. . It’s a direct-drive turntable, which means it’s powered by magnets with the motor sitting just under the platter (where the record sits), allowing it to quickly pick up speed expected, experts have already told us. However, our experts suggested buying a new cartridge if you opt for this model, as the one that comes with it is of inferior quality.

Victrola Vintage Portable Suitcase Record Player

This turntable from Victrola looks a lot like Crosley’s – it features a similar suitcase design, Bluetooth capability, and an auto-stop switch that stops spinning records once they’ve finished playing. Writer Zoe Malin said her brother loves this budget turntable because it’s small enough to fit on his desk and connects to any speaker using the stereo RCA outputs.

Denon DP-300F turntable

The Denon DP-300F turntable is a fully automatic turntable that lowers the tonearm and stops running when the record is finished – all you have to do is load your record onto the platter and leave the machine do the rest. It’s slightly heavier at 12 pounds, which can help keep turntable vibrations from becoming audible, Thomas Rasmussen, the owner of Rasmussen Turntable Repair, previously told us in our guide to record players. Editor Morgan Greenwald owns this turntable and said that while she had to buy the speakers separately, she’s a fan of the sound quality and sleek design.

Technics SL-1500C Direct Drive Turntable System

If you’re looking to splurge on a high-quality model, the experts told us that the Technics turntable system is one of the best turntables on the market – like the Audio Technica, it’s a manual model with a motor direct-drive, but it includes an Auto Lifter function that automatically lifts the cartridge when the tonearm reaches the end of the record. It’s a heavier turntable option (weighing in at 21 pounds), which increases its “rumble rating,” meaning it’s less likely to pick up vibrations from external movements, according to Rassmussen.

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