If you’re in the market for a brand new record player, and especially if you’re a beginner in the world of vinyl records, then a showdown between Crosley vs Victrola is exactly what you need. In this article, I’m going to cover which record player brand best fits your needs when it comes to topics like sound quality, portability, and overall reliability.
Crosley vs Victrola: Which is Best?
I’m going to cut right to the chase here: Crosley and Victrola are about even. They both offer affordable record players for those that want a low maintenance experience when it comes to playing vinyl records, but both brands also offer a couple more expensive (and higher quality) options for those that see themselves as audiophiles-in-training.
With that said, I’m going to go ahead and announce my bias here—I had a bad experience with a Crosley record player. I documented it on my Devoted to Vinyl channel on YouTube quite some time ago, which you can watch below:
In short, in my experience of using a Crosley, the platter started to detach from the base of the record player, which shockingly allowed me to see inside of the turntable.
It’s quite embarrassing—even for a record player that’s intentionally built on the cheap to be as affordable as possible for its intended demographic.
Best Crosley or Victrola for Under $100
With that said, when it comes to these two manufacturers, it ultimately comes down to how much money you’re willing to spend in order to get a good quality record player.
For example, if you want to spend to $100 or less on a record player, I tend to prefer recommending turntables that allow for a record to sit fully balanced on the platter (as opposed to any portion of the record peeking over the edge of the record player’s base).
A lot of people love these companies for their their suitcase style record players, which give off a great retro vibe. And I get that. But when you have a record player that features a spinning record hanging over the edge of the player itself, you’re asking for trouble.
You’re already buying a record player that’s built cheaply (likely with a lot of plastic and a ceramic cartridge)—the last thing you want to do is buy a record player that leaves your spinning record even more vulnerable to vibrations or being hit by a friend or family member while it’s spinning.
On top of that, I prefer a record player have a dust cover that can cover the entire record while it spins. Again, I understand that for aesthetics, the suitcase style is quite fun to look at. However, if you have kids running around the house or animals jumping onto your furniture, the ability to be able to close the dust cover, and still enjoy your music as the record spins, is immensely gratifying.
Problem is, Crosley and Victrola, for this price range, don’t tend to make record players that satisfy these requirements. So, if any of the above resonates with you, I’d actually recommend you buy something like the Audio-Technica AT-LP60X.
With that said, if neither is all that important to you, I’d recommend bypassing something that’s super popular like the Crosley Cruiser and instead opting for the Crosley Scout. Not only will you be able to enjoy a fairly compact turntable with built in bluetooth capabilities, but it comes with a dust cover.
Granted, you won’t be able to close the dust cover over your spinning record, but at least the cover can protect your tonearm and stylus when the Scout is not in use.
Over at Victrola, the turntable that most compares to the Scout is probably the Victrola Eastwood. And while this record player does come with a dust cover (which I love), it again doesn’t seem to fully protect the record while it’s spinning. Now, this isn’t an inherently bad thing, but do keep in mind that the record hangs over the edge of the record player’s platter here, so you’re going to need to be careful when maneuvering around it.
With that said, what I like about the Eastwood is the variety. Victrola is offering up this record player in two options. If you go for the Eastwood Signature for an additional $50, you get a record player that also comes with built in technology that’s aimed at lessening the impact of vibrations. There’s nothing worse that outside factors affecting the integrity of your music, so an addition like this is always nice to see.
Crosley vs Victrola Under $300
Now this is where battle between Crosley and Victoria starts getting interesting to me. We know that these two companies have jockeyed for positioning to target frugal vinyl record buyers (which, to be honest, is where a lot of consumers are, which I think is great). But now, these two price-friendly giants are flexing a little bit of muscle to go after that next tier of vinyl fans—the ones that have been enjoying vinyl records for one or two years, but are finally ready to upgrade.
If you fall into this category, and you’re interested in a Crosley, you’ll probably first want to consider something like the Crosley C100BT. Gone is the cutesy suitcase turntable aimed to tap into your nostalgia or be a fun portable showpiece when you’re heading to a house party.
No, with the C100BT, you’re getting quite a lot for your money. In fact, for about $280 (give or take), I think this is a turntable that anyone that considers himself or herself a budding audiophile will actually be able to appreciate.
With this Crosley record player, which now comes with good sized feet to truly prevent vibrations from ruining your music, you now get an S-shaped aluminum tonearm, as well as an adjustable counterweight and even anti-skate. This record player is all about giving you options to optimize your playback experience, but it never forgets to give you an easy going experience.
With the C100BT, you’ll get a player that comes with a built in phono preamp, so while there are no built in speakers to the turntable itself, you could theoretically plug this table directly into powered speakers and be good to go.
This is a turntable not only meant to compete with Victrola’s better offerings, but turntables like the Audio Technica AT-LP120XUSB, as well.
As for Victrola, well, they’ve come to play ball too. If you have the disposable income, definitely give something like the Victrola Premiere T1 a closer look. In my book, this is easily the best looking turntable on this list. I think this is a record player that punches a bit above its weight class here. For a little less than the Crosley C100BT, you get a record player that, just on visuals alone, could be confused with a Pro-Ject or Rega turntable.
Here, you get a wooden plinth, a metal platter (no more plastic junk here, folks), adjustable counterweight and even an anti-skate knob. On top of that, as we go up in price, we begin moving away from record players that have preset tracking force or ceramic cartridges and begin moving towards adjustable players that feature a moving magnetic cartridge.
Frankly, as vinyl continues to become more popular and widely used, I hope Crosley and Victrola continue to push the boundaries of what we expect from affordable higher-end record players.
Crosley vs Victrola for Sound Quality
Lastly, I wanted to touch on the topic of sound quality. For this, I’m mostly going to focus on record players with built in speakers, because that’s such a large amount of both Crosley and Victrola’s turntable offerings.
To be frank, while both companies offer an array of record players, if you’re buying a suitcase record player, I think it would be wise to go in with the expectation that the sound quality is not going to be good. That’s just the honest truth. You’re likely buying these record players either because they are relatively cheap (less than $100) or you love the retro aesthetic—or both. Either way, sound quality is likely not a priority for you when it comes to your purchase.
And Crosley and Victrola know this.
Sure, some record players will boast about having improved speaker technology, or brag about the listening experience mimicking surround sound, but the reality is that you’re essentially buying an all in one record player. Always remember that you’re paying for convenience first and foremost here—not quality.
If you’re looking for great sound from your record player, it’s best to not buy a player with built in speakers and instead opt for a turntable with a very good cartridge—and then just buy yourself some external speakers.
With that said, if you’re not a big stickler for precise treble, or soul shattering bass, or you have no concept of what a “wide soundstage” means to a world full of audiophiles, then you might be completely unfazed by the sound you get from a record player with built in speakers.
And if that’s the case, go for it!
In this battle between Crosley vs Victrola, my goal was to provide you with a simple, honest, and detailed account on which record player company is most worth your money.
And while I think my conclusion was kind of a toss up of sorts, I hope these detailed breakdowns of a handful of turntables models better helped you determine whether a Crosley or Victorla most fits your specific wants and needs.
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