If you’re a recent convert to vinyl, chances are you’re spinning records on one of Crosley’s incredibly popular “record player in a suitcase”-style products (like the one Jenny Bristol reviewed a few years back). They’re colorful, retro-looking, portable, affordable, and don’t require any additional equipment. Malls are full of these and people snap them up. But after that initial fix, many new record fans want to graduate to something a little more capable.
But not necessarily “$500+ and a bunch of additional stereo equipment”-capable…
The company has a new turntable in its lineup that’s designed to be the perfect fit for this demographic: the $159.95 Crosley C6. I spent a few weeks testing one out.
The C6 is meant to be a step up turntable, one that’s more capable than the company’s entry-level models, but still affordable, flexible, and easy to use.
So the Crosley C6 looks the part of a higher end turntable. It has an attractive plinth that’s made of audio-grade MDF (to reduce vibration) and covered in an attractive veneer—my review unit was finished in a bright red that got plenty of looks. There’s a low vibration, two-speed belt-drive motor that plays 33-1/3 and 45 RPM vinyl on a heavy steel platter. The tonearm has an adjustable counterweight and an Audio Technica cartridge. The cue lever is nicely damped, and the turntable is mounted on special feet to further isolate the stylus from external vibration.
Crosley C6 Key Specs
• Two speed, belt drive with low vibration synchronous motor
• Audio grade MDF plinth
• Steel platter with felt mat
• Manual return tone arm with adjustable counterweight
• Audio Technica cartridge pre-installed (uses NP5 replacement stylus)
• RCA output with integrated pre-amplifier, or Phono output
• Vibration control feet
• Removable, clear dust cover
However, look closer and you’ll see details that show the Crosley C6 is aimed not at audiophiles, but upgraders looking to take the next step in record playing enjoyment without getting in too deep.
There’s no anti-skate control. And while an Audio Technica moving magnet cartridge is pre-installed, it’s a basic unit. You can upgrade it thanks to the use of a standard mount, but I doubt many people would bother. There are dual RCA outputs, but with the option to switch between Phono output to an amplifier that accepts Phono input, and a built-in pre-amp that lets you connect directly to virtually any self-powered speaker. With the right cable (dual RCA to 3.5mm) you can connect this turntable directly to a wireless speaker’s AUX input.
Will you outgrow the Crosley C6? It sounds pretty good, especially when played through a decent audio system—definitely a step up from an all-in-one record player. But if you find yourself getting truly serious about vinyl, you may be better off skipping the Crosley C6 and jumping directly to a low-end audiophile option. I like the Fluance RT81 (reviewed here) as an affordable option that includes a pre-amp and a solid cartridge. When connecting through a pre-amplifier or stereo system with Phono input, I have been very impressed with Crosley’s C20, which was built with the help of Pro-Ject (here’s my review of the company’s current flagship turntable).
But for many vinyl fans, the C6 is all the turntable they’ll need. It performs and sounds better than an entry-level record player, with the counterweight set correctly its stylus won’t damage records, it’s flexible and easy to set up. Technically, the cartridge can be upgraded, but just swapping out the stylus for a higher spec third-party option like this one from LP Gear (something that’s far easier and much less expensive than a cartridge replacement) will net an improvement in audio performance if desired.
The icing on the cake? The Crosley C6 looks pretty good, too.
The only downside to this turntable is something that might bug anyone who switches back and forth between LPs and 45s. The speed selection is a manual system—remove the platter and move the belt from one pulley to another—instead of a switch. If you primarily listen to one or the other, no issue, but it makes things a little more complicated for anyone who wants to listen to both formats. You’ll also have to shell out for cables as there are none in the box.
Disclosure: Crosley provided a turntable for evaluation but had no input into this review.