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For best vinyl playback avoid the plastic

Crossley CR6002A-BK

Earlier this week my fellow Radio Survivor Matthew posted about this cute-looking little Crosley record player with a oblong clamshell design far more compact than a typical turntable. Unfortunately, I have to put a damper on Matthew’s excitement, since my opinion is that the Crosley CR6002A is nothing more than an expensive plastic toy.

Retro Thing wrote about the Crosley back in January, noting that it looks like a knock-off of the iconic Audio-Technica AT-727 Sound Burger record player from the 1980s. While the design of the Sound Burger may have been iconic, I recall the sound being mediocre at best.

I’ve been a vinyl enthusiast since I got my first record player as a child, and have consistently listened to records ever since. When I bought my first CD player in 1987 I also bought a new Onkyo turntable that lasted me a good thirteen years until I gave it to a friend. Throughout this time I’ve continued to buy new and used records, and I listen to records several times a week.

As I argued in a post on my own blog last year, the decline of vinyl in the 80s and 90s can be partly attributed to the cheap plastic turntables that came to dominate the era. Lacking any heft and therefore any isolation from the slightest bump or thump, these plastic players pass on every little bit of motion anywhere in the room right to the record and stylus and into the sound. While I’m thrilled that vinyl has seen such a resurgence in the last few years, I’m disappointed that it brought back these miserable bargain-basement turntable designs.

Walk into any radio station that still plays vinyl records (mostly college and community stations) and you’ll likely find a set of reliable Technics 1200 DJ turntables. Solid, heavy with direct-drive platters, they’re standards because they last a lifetime. Audiophiles may argue that the 1200s aren’t the absolute best sounding turntables out there, but they will beat the plastic off any Crosley out there.

At $500+ a pop the 1200s aren’t inexpensive, but it’s rare to be able to buy any consumer electronics that you can be sure will make it into the next three decades. Luckily, the popularity of the 1200s with DJs provoked many other reputable manufacturers to make their own versions at more reasonable prices.

For about $200 Audio-Technica makes a nice ‘table (ATLP 120) that even includes a USB connection to output directly to your computer. Sony has its own version (PSLX350H) for about the same price as the Crosley. Or you can go with venerable DJ brands like Gemini and Numark. Myself, I’ve had a Gemini direct-drive as my second turntable for over a decade of reliable vinyl listening.

So, dust off those old LPs, dig in to the vinyl bin at a garage sale or even drop in to a local record store for some fresh platters still in the shrink-wrap. With a decent, not-so-plastic turntable you’ll enjoy listening for years, if not decades.

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One Response to For best vinyl playback avoid the plastic

  1. Matthew Lasar September 18, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

    Drat! And that turntable looked so cute!!

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