Shortly after Record Store Day 2019, I posted about the Crosley RSD3, a miniature belt-drive turntable that plays only 3-inch records. Defying the odds, the unusual vinyl format remains active. Crosley touched base with me a few weeks back with a heads up that additional releases are coming as 3-inch pressings.
I received a package with a blind box set from Hopeless Records with four singles in it. If you’re into collecting vinyl, or you like collecting trading cards—or you like both—you should have a look at these things. They’re like the vinyl version of collectible trading cards.
Although significantly smaller than a CD, 3-inch singles have full cover artwork, and several in my collection have included fold-out posters.
If you’re wondering what they sound like, there are two answers to that question.
Played on the Crosley RSD3 (which appears to now be in stock at Amazon after being a Record Store Day exclusive) and using the mini turntable’s own built-in speaker, the sound is decidedly old school. Like what you might expect a 45 played on a 1950s vintage all-in-one mono record player to sound like, only with less volume. What would you expect from a single speaker that’s around the size of a quarter?
However, the RSD3 is actually equipped with a comically full-sized Audio Technica AT-3600 moving magnet cartridge. And it has an AUX output so you can connect it to an external speaker. That effectively gets rid of the tinniness. I don’t think anyone is going to positively compare the audio quality of a 3-inch single to a standard 7-inch 45 record—there are compromises involved in compressing three minutes of audio into such a compact form factor—but it sounds better than you might expect. And there’s no denying the cool/curiosity/collectible factors.
Anyway, if you picked up one of these tiny turntables on Record Store Day, or you’re considering buying one now, you can look forward to additional releases of 3-inch vinyl to add to the collection. Crosley says to look for more titles in time for the holidays, and I just noticed that there are four singles from Sun Records due to be released in the format on October 18, with Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins getting the 3-inch treatment.
Check out the Record Store Day website for an updated list of 3-inch single releases—and, yes, some are even on colored vinyl…
Disclosure: Crosley provided an RSD3 and records for evaluation but had no input into this post.