Product: Crosley Cruiser CR8005A
Reviewed by: Francisco
Musehelix Rating: 2.5 out of 5
I’m exited about reviewing the cutest portable record player, the Crosley Cruiser CR8005A. There are many opposing opinions about this record player. This is one of those “love or hate” products. The Crosley CR8005A is a three speed portable record player with buit-in speakers. When closed, it’s a small, light weight briefcase that you can easily transport to different places. Its cool retro look has caught the attention of people of all ages, including teens and young adults. It comes in many different colors and designs. This cute suitcase turntable, can give your room, that nice decorating touch you were looking for.
But before you buy this nice looking portable turntable, read this review in its entirety because its cuteness and cool look may fool you. After all, this beautiful piece of decoration is also a record player and you will be using it to listen to your beloved vinyl collection.
I’ve seen many people buying this product as a gift for their loved ones. It makes sense because of its price, size and beautiful design. I think it can be a nice present for pretty much anybody, but in my opinion, kids and teenagers will best appreciate it because the world of vinyl is new to them. They have never heard an LP before and they aren’t too picky about the sound quality. This product could be a great kids record player.
If you really need a portable record player and you are on a low budget, this may be a good choice for you. This suitcase record player is a good option for a dorm or a small room as it does not take lots of space and can easily be stored or displayed on a small area.
This product is also good for someone wanting a little first experience with vinyl but don’t want to spend a lot of money. Be aware that you won’t be able to experience the so called “vinyl superior sound” with this particular player. This is a fantastic player for introducing children and teens to vinyl, but don’t expect to get a great sound out of this unit. At least not from the built in speakers.
I recommend the Crosley CR8005A to somebody that doesn’t really care about sound quality and wants a very easy to use player. Someone that just wants to plug-and-play without messing up with external speakers, cords or a complicated setup. The Crosley Cruiser may be good for you, if you like an old lesser quality sound. Great product if what you want is a nice decorative piece regardless of the sound quality.
If you have an old vinyl collection that isn’t in mint condition or if you have some cheap records that you don’t mind wearing out, then you may consider this player. On the other hand, if you have a fine collection with some expensive 180 and 200 gram records or old weird LPs in good condition that you can’t find anywhere, you would be better off investing on a good quality turntable.
This product is definitely not recommended for serious vinyl collectors or high fidelity enthusiasts. You may be very disappointed with the sound quality of this unit. If you care about the condition and long life of your vinyl records, I recommend investing on better quality equipment. If you are looking for a turntable to transfer your music to a digital medium, this player wouldn’t be a good choice because you wouldn’t get a very good quality.
If after this short introduction you think that the Crosley Cruiser may be right for you, keep on reading, you’ll find very useful information. If you need something a little better, you may consider the Crosley Collegiate. If portability isn’t a must for you, take a look at the Audio-Technica AT-LP60 USB which is one of my favorite low budget turntables. You can also read some of my other reviews.
The Crosley Cruiser, like other portable and affordable turntables, has a ceramic cartridge, also known as piezoelectric pickup or crystal cartridge. The piezoelectric effect refers to the ability of certain materials to produce electricity when a bending or deforming force is applied to them. The ceramic rod inside the cartridge generates an electrical signal in response to the bending forces induced by the stylus. The voltage generated by the ceramic material is large enough that there is no need to use a preamplifier. Ceramic cartridges also attenuate high frequencies and boost low frequencies, which eliminates the need for an equalizer. Not having to install a preamplifier and an equalizer enables manufacturers to greatly reduce the costs of production.
One of the advantages of ceramic cartridges is that external noises entering the system through the stylus are less important. This is very convenient for light units like this portable player. Generally heavy turntables are better at isolating internal and external vibrations. But the Cruiser is designed to be light and portable. Therefore, its light design makes it vibrate more, especially when using the built-in speakers. Ceramic cartridges are more prone to skipping with music with strong bass and drums. Skipping may also happen when the turntable resonates with the internal speakers during loud music passages.
Crosley Cruiser Needle
Attached to the cartridge is a diamond tipped stylus. I’m assuming the tip to have a radius of 0.7 Mil (0.0007 in). I couldn’t find information on the tip radius. The manufacturer didn’t include this information on the specifications. Other brands selling needle replacements for the Cruiser specify a tip radius of 0.7 Mil. According to Crosley’s website, the needle will last approximately 1000 hours. In my opinion, it would last about 300 hours because of the tracking force on this player. If you are going to play records often, I recommend buying an extra needle. The required needle for the Crosley Cruiser is the NP6. You can buy the NP6 needle directly form the manufacturer’s website, LP Gear, amazon or ebay.
The cantilever is the long part of the stylus. One end attaches to the ceramic rod of the cartridge. The other end has the diamond tip. The needle that comes with the unit has a cantilever made of ABS plastic. This type of plastic is very resistant, similar to the plastic used for Lego blocks.
A stylus with a metal cantilever may improve the performance of your player. Someone has reported that changing the stylus that came with the unit with the metal cantilever one solve their skipping problems. Be warned that the manufacturer advice is to only use the NP6 replacement.
The Crosley portable turntable can play 33⅓ , 45 and 78 rpm records. I thought that a special 3 Mil needle was needed to play 78 rpm records. Since I couldn’t find a 78 rpm replacement needle on the Crosley’s website I contacted their technical support and asked if a special needle was needed to play 78 rpm. Here is what they told me:
The needle that this unit takes is a NP6. That’s the only needle capable of playing any records on this unit. Even the 78 RPM.
So, there you have it. You can use the same needle to play your 78 records and only the NP6 would work on this unit according to the manufacturer.
It’s true that a 0.7 Mil stylus would be able to play a 78 RPM record, but it’s not optimal. A 78 rpm vinyl record has wider groves than 33⅓ and 45 rpm records. Long play records have microgrooves and require a stylus with a tip whose radius is approximately 0.7 Mil (0.0007 in). Long play records are stereophonic. It means that you have left and right channels on the same groove, with each wall containing one channel. On the other hand, a 78 record is monophonic (it has only one channel of music), and because the grooves are wider, it requires a needle with a tip radius of about 3 Mil.
What happens when you play a 78 rpm record using a normal 0.7 Mil stylus? You will hear more surface noise (hiss) than if you played it with a 3 Mil needle. Also, the stylus will wear out faster when playing 78 rpm records.
I bought two replacement needles to find out if they actually worked on my Crosley Cruiser. I bought a 0.7 Mil needle with metal cantilever (793-D7M) and a 3 Mil needle for playing 78 rpm records (793-S3). I got both of them from eBay. Both were manufactured by Pfanatiehl as you can see from the pictures.
To my surprise, the replacement needles didn’t fit! They looked the same size as the original, but once I installed them, they would pop out of the cartridge. I carefully filed the back side of the needle, but very lightly. Both needles fit perfectly now. The metal cantilever one, sounds better than the original with plastic cantilever. However, I tested the 3 Mil needle with an old 78 rpm record and it produced a lot of surface noise. I will test the 3 Mil needle again with a different record and report my findings. For the moment, I don’t recommend buying replacement needles made by Pfanatiehl for this particular turntable, unless you are willing to spend some time fixing the needle.
Here is a video that shows you how to change the needle on any Crosley turntable. Follow the instructions for the NP1 needle. The same instructions apply to the NP6, they just have not updated their video.
Tonearm and Adjustments
As you may know by know, this unit does not have adjustment features like counterweight, anti-skate or tonearm height. Which is expected from a low end turntable. This record player has an auto stop feature. When the needle gets to the end of the record, the platter stops spinning. It doesn’t have an automatic arm return so you have to manually return the arm to its rest. The auto stop feature can be enabled or disabled using the auto stop control switch.
The arm doesn’t get all the way to the spindle. This may be a problem with some vinyl records that may have grooves close the center of the record, which is not very common. Some 78 rpm records have grooves close to the center. Some unusual records have grooves hidden beneath the center label called under label grooves. If you have one of those beautiful records, the Crosley Cruiser may not be able to play the hidden tracks.
One very important thing to consider is that the tracking force of the tonearm is to high. Measurements of more than 5 grams have been reported. A heavy tracking weight may help the needle stay inside the groove and avoid skipping, but at the cost of wearing out your vinyl records and the needle faster.
Platter, Motor and Power
The Crosley Cruiser CR8005A is a belt driven turntable. If you’re planning to use this player often, you may need to replace the belt in the future. Replacing the belt is not complicated. Crosley provides an easy to follow video that shows you how to replace the belt. You can find the replacement belt at LP Gear.
Most of the parts of the turntable mechanism, including the platter, are made of plastic. It has a small DC motor. And some of the parts on the inside are hot-glued. No information of wow and flutter is provided by the manufacturer. The motor is not very powerful and the speed is not very accurate, but this is something to be expected from a low budget portable turntable. It does not have a speed adjustment control which would be very useful in this case. This player does not have reverse playback, but I wouldn’t worry about this feature, unless you wanted to hear some hidden messages from old records.
It has a rubber slip mat that goes on top of the platter. The rubber mat has a diameter of 6¾ in and sits on a 7¾ in diameter base. Some times the slip mat does not sit on the platter completely flat. This may cause the music to sound warped, like speeding up and slowing down causing periodic pitch variations.
The platter has three small rubber bumps that make the surface of the slip mat uneven. You may be able to fix this issue by placing small self adhesive rubber bumpers on top of the platter to level-out the mat.
This product comes with a 110V AC power adapter with a 9V 0.4A output. If you live in a country where 220V is the norm, you may need to get a power transformer for 220V. However, I don’t advice to do this because, even if you can get the right voltage, the current frequency may have an effect on the speed of rotation of the platter.
One design flaw is that the power cord cannot be stored inside the unit. This means that you would have to carry both the power cord and the turntable separately during transportation.
Many people have asked if this unit runs on batteries. This particular model (CR8005A) doesn’t run on batteries. But the Crosley Cruiser II (CR8005C) is a battery powered record player that came out recently. It uses 6 AA batteries and also includes an AC power adapter. It’s a little more expensive though.
Inputs and outputs
The Crosley CR8005A has two built in 3W stereo speakers. They are located on the front to the sides of the handle. The speakers are small and as one may expect, the sound is not too loud. The internal speakers are very convenient since you don’t have to attach external speakers to make it work. However, the sound is not very good, you’ll get a better sound by using external speakers.
This unit comes with two RCA line outputs so you can connect it to your amplifier, receiver or sound system via auxiliary or line inputs. You will need to use your own RCA cables because they are not included. This player contains a headphone jack output. When headphones are connected, the internal speakers don’t work.
Some people have asked if you can connect the Crosley Cruiser to a computer. It does not have a USB audio connection but you can connect it to your computer’s sound card using an RCA to 3.5 mm stereo male to male cord. Connect one end to the headphone output and the other end to the sound card. Another option is to use an RCA to stereo 3.5 mm mini-plug cable adapter. You can use your favorite audio editing software like Audacity to digitize your music. Be aware that you won’t get a good sound quality with this player.
A practical audio setup for this particular player would be to connect a pair of computer powered speakers to your player. They are way better than the built int speakers of this unit and you can find good prices. You could even buy a good set of pre-owned speakers. You’ll notice a big difference in sound quality.
The volume can be adjusted with the volume control knob. This will control the volume level of the internal speakers and headphones but not the RCA line output. When the line out is used you can still listen to the built-in speakers. If you don’k want this, just turn the volume down all the way. Make sure you don’t turn off the turntable.
You can connect your portable audio device like iPods and MP3 players to this unit via its 3.5 mm TRS auxiliary input. You will need a cord with two 3.5 mm jack ends which is not included. This feature allows you to listen to your iPod or MP3 player through the built in speakers of the Crosley Cruiser.
Crosley Cruiser Sound Quality
In my opinion the sound quality of the internal speakers is very bad. The sound is tiny and with no bass which is expected to get from small speakers. The volume is OK for a small room.
The sound quality improves a lot when the player is used with external speakers. So, if you decide to buy this cute player, I highly recommend attaching some nice speakers to it.
Remember that the condition of your vinyl records also affects sound quality, so always keep them clean and in good condition. 78 rpm records may sound noisy if you use the normal LP needle. I suggest getting a special 3 Mil stylus.
You may hear other noises coming from the motor and the power adapter. It may not disturb your listening experience if you use external speakers, but with the built in ones, they are going to be noticeable. Some people are fine with it, I’m not.
If you are picky about sound quality, you’ll be disappointed with this turntable. If you don’t care much about that, then you may want to try this player along with some external speakers to get the best possible sound quality out of your Crosley Cruiser.
Body and Look
One thing that stands out about the Crosley Cruiser is its nice retro look. It comes in many different colors and designs. It makes a beautiful piece of decoration. If you don’t like its sound quality, at least you’ll be more than satisfied with its cool design.
The case is made of MDF fiberboard covered with leatherette fabric. Some parts are hot-glued, which makes me doubt its durability. The top cover has a nice lining on the interior.
One thing that I don’t like about the Cruiser, is the lid. It needs to be opened far back in order to avoid 12 inch vinyl records to touch the case while operating. This may be one of the reasons why people complain about speed inconsistencies and wobbling sounds. Make sure to open the top cover far enough to let the record freely rotate. This means that the player will need twice as much room to operate. It is also recommended to sit the lid on the wall so that the turntable is more stable. Always operate the unit on a flat leveled surface for maximum performance.
Records up to 12 inches fit on this record player, but remember that there is very little room between the edge of a 33⅓ rpm record and the top lid. The top cover is not removable, this could be a great design improvement because it really gets on the way.
- Size: 10.5 x 14 x 4.6 inches
- When the lid is open at 90 degrees, it measures about 13 inches.
- In order to safely play 33⅓ records the top cover must slant back to provide room for the record. You will need about 23 inches front to back.
- Weight: 5.5 pounds
- Turquoise, green, pink, black, blue, one direction (red and black), orange, red, tweed and chalkboard
- Check all the prices before buying, you may find a cheaper one in a different color. At the time of writing this review the orange one and green are about $20 less!
Controls and Layout
- 45 RPM adapter
- Tone Arm
- Tone Arm Control (Lever, descends slowly)
- Auto Stop Control Switch
- Power Indicator Light
- Volume Control
- Hold Down Clip
- Tone Arm Rest
- Line Out Jack
- DC Jack
- AC Adapter
- Headphone Jack
Crosley Cruiser Consumer reviews
There are opposing views about this product. I have seen many good reviews and many bad reviews. That’s why I think the Crosley Cruiser is one of those products that you either love or hate.
The number one thing that consumers appreciate about this product is definitely its design. Many have bought this product because of its cool look. The ease of use and the fact that no extra speakers are needed to make it work is another good reason why consumers like this player. They really appreciate it being plug-and-play. Consumers also love the ability to easily transport this unit everywhere.
Many people agree that this portable player is not meant for high fidelity sound enthusiasts. Those that bought this product with that idea in mind were satisfied with the sound quality produced by this player. There is a consensus among consumers that the sound quality greatly improves when the player is connected to external speakers.
Perhaps the most annoying issue that has been reported is that the needle skips a lot. I think people consider skipping a much worse situation than sound quality. In fact, people don’t complain when they play music on their tablets with tiny speakers. In most cases the needle skips at the beginning and at the end of the record and many consumers have reported that the skip occurs mainly with newly produced records, including 180 grams.
Skipping may be caused by many factors like the condition of the vinyl, the tip radius of the needle, the weight of the tonearm, external vibrations, the volume and the type of music you play.
Remember that this turntable has a ceramic cartridge which is more prone to skipping when playing loud, fast paced music with drum like sounds. This unit is also very light, which will cause the whole turntable to vibrate. Excessive vibration may cause skipping, specially if you use the internal speakers at high volume. Try with external speakers or lowering the volume to see if the skipping problem improves.
Another solution is the old trick of placing a coin on top of the head. This will add weight and will help the needle remain inside the groove. The downside is that both, your records and the stylus, are going to wear out faster. If your collection is not in mint condition and you don’t care if your records wear out fast, then this is a good solution. But if you have an expensive and fine vinyl collection, I wouldn’t even try to play it on the Cruiser, you’ll end up paying more in the long run, because you would have to replace your damaged records.
Somebody suggested replacing the original needle with a metal cantilever one. This may work for you as well. But if you are willing to spend money upgrading the Crosley Cruiser, why not invest a little more on something better from the beginning? For example, for the price of the Crosley Cruiser plus an extra stylus you could get the Audio Technica AT-LP60USB wich is a much better turntable with a higher sound quality. It is automatic and can be connected to your computer. It’s not portable though.
The last thing that could help you with skipping and other issues is to always place your turntable on a flat leveled surface. The needle moves with gravity, if the surface is inclined the needle is more likely to skip or skate.
The second annoying problem commonly reported is the wobbling sound. People use different descriptions when referring to this type of distorted sound. Imagine your music is constantly speeding up and slowing down, it would cause variations in pitch that sound like a warped vinyl. I remember back in the 80’s, I bought some LPs that had the hole misplaced. It wasn’t exactly on the center. That is something that the eye can’t see. But the result is exactly that warped or wobbling sound. Now, if all your records sound warped, it means that the problem is the turntable.
Make sure also that the record is able to spin freely. The top cover may be impeding the record from rotating freely. Make sure you open the lid completely to see if the wobbling sound disappears. Some times the rubber slip mat that comes with this unit may not sit completely flat against the platter. This may also cause the sound to be distorted. You can try leveling it out using auto-adhesive rubber feet as I explained above.
If none of these possible solutions work for you, first contact the Crosley’s technical support. If the item is defective, request a replacement from your retailer first. If the returning period has passed, Crosley offers one year limited warranty but you would have to pay shipping and handling costs. They require you to send the item in its original packaging.
Other complains from consumers include: units that stop working after a short period of time, defective power cords, tight and faulty headphone plug, inconsistent and inaccurate playing speed, flimsy feel and cheap construction, inability to play 180 gram records and defective units not powering up.
Finally, I have seen several complaints about Crosley’s bad customer service. I personally had a good experience with them. They were fast answering my questions but it was only one time.
Pros, Cons and Manual
- Beautiful, cool and retro design.
- Available in many colors
- Lightweight and portable
- Built-in speakers
- Auto stop feature
- Three speeds 33⅓, 45 and 78 rpm
- Volume control
- Replacement needle and belt available
- Speakers with poor sound quality
- No storage for power cord
- No battery powered
- Top cover not removable
- Lid needs to be opened all the way
- No special needle for 78 rpm
- No adjustment features
- MDF construction
- Inaccurate playing speed
- Many issues reported
Crosley Cruiser CR85005A Manual
Click the blue link to download the Crosley Cruiser Instructional Manual.
The Crosley Cruiser Portable Record Player is great for introducing kids and teenagers to the vinyl world. Good choice for people needing an easy to use, plug-and-play, self-contained player. Recommended for someone wanting a portable record player at a low price. It’s retro design makes it a nice piece of decoration. Not recommended for serious vinyl collectors or high fidelity audiophiles. Many good and bad reviews can be found on the web. If you decide to buy this product, be aware that several common issues have been reported. The most common ones being the skipping of the needle and the warping sound. I hope you found this review useful. Please live your comments, I love to hear from my readers.