Crosley has recently released several new turntables, continuing the company’s expansion beyond the entry-level record player market. It makes sense. Many of the company’s customers have really gotten into vinyl, and with records costing $25 and up a pop, the push is on to graduate to a player that sounds better and ensures the vinyl will last longer. But not everyone wants to spend $500 on a new turntable. I just wrapped up testing on the new Crosley C100BT turntable. Currently priced at $229.95 on Crosley’s Amazon store, it’s a nice step up from a record player that still leaves you with plenty of cash to buy more vinyl. As an added bonus, you can connect the C100 BT to virtually anything, including Bluetooth wireless speakers or headphones.
Setup for this turntable is straightforward if you’ve set up a turntable before, but if you’re accustomed to a record player (where everything is pre-installed and ready to go), there is a little more to it. Nothing is difficult, you won’t need any tools, and Crosley includes instructions, but setup involves the following steps:
- Install the platter on the spindle and pull the drive belt over the motor pulley
- Secure the cartridge headshell to the tonearm (the cartridge itself is pre-mounted and calibrated)
- Mount the counterweight to the tonearm
- Balance the tonearm and set the tracking force
- Set the anti-skate level
- Install the dust cover (hinges are already pre-installed)
From there, plug it into power and decide how you want to connect. There’s a switchable pre-amp so you can connect to a traditional amplifier or receiver’s PHONO input. This gives you the best possible sound. Or you can switch to the C100BT’s own pre-amplifier, then connect to the AUX input of virtually any audio system.
You also have the option of skipping the wires altogether and using the turntable’s Bluetooth connectivity. This was very easy to do. Simply hold the Bluetooth button until the LED indicator starts flashing, put your speaker or headphones in pairing mode, and they should negotiate a connection. You lose a bit of the analog vibe by going with the Bluetooth, but the convenience may be worth it—especially if you’re lacking in space, hate the look of wires, or don’t have a sound system to physically connect to.
Many of the turntables I’ve reviewed in recent years have a distinct nod to the ’70s. Lots of wood and minimal controls. My first thought when I’d set up the Crosley C100BT was that it reminds me a lot of my first turntable back in the ’80s.
It also includes a feature that I’ve never really considered to be a must-have, but I suppose it might be useful. That is the pitch control. There’s a slider adjustment that lets you slow down or speed up record playback in increments. That’s a feature that was a necessity with many 78rpm records—many of which are old enough that speed-accuracy wasn’t always up to modern standards—but this turntable is a two-speed. It doesn’t play 78s. I’ve read in forums that some people like to speed up playback just a few percent so the music matches what they’ve heard in movie soundtracks.
Anyway, it’s there and you can play with it. As part of the pitch control, there is a built-in strobe. If nothing else, the red strobe light on the spinning aluminum platter is a cool, retro effect.
No matter how your output its audio signal, the Crosley C100BT is going to make your records sound better than with a standard record player. It’s a sub-$250 turntable, so there are obviously some compromises. For example, the plinth is hollow plastic. The integrated pre-amplifier is a pretty basic model. The feet are fixed, so you can’t adjust them to ensure the turntable is level.
But Crosley has included some nice components in here as well. The tonearm is an aluminum, S-shaped version. It’s equipped with a low-vibration, synchronous motor. As mentioned, the platter is aluminum. The feet can’t be adjusted, but they do feature shock absorbers to limit vibration from affecting playback.
Most important is the use of a replaceable cartridge and removable headshell, with a counterweight and anti-skate control. In this case, it’s an Audio Technica AT95E cartridge. This is a very well-regarded entry-level moving magnet cartridge, with an elliptical diamond stylus. The cartridge typically sells for around $70 on its own, and it’s easy to buy and replace the stylus. You can even upgrade the cartridge if you wish. These three components elevate the C100BT over most basic record players—records are going to sound better and more detailed, records are going to last longer, and you have options when it comes time to replace the stylus.
I thought it sounded pretty good, even when streaming the audio over Bluetooth to a portable speaker. It’s not “audiophile” sound, but it is a big upgrade over a typical record player. Plug this turntable into the PHONO input on a stereo system, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised as the Audio Technica AT95E can really deliver.
Crosley C100 BT Recommendation
If you’re looking to upgrade from a record player to a turntable but don’t want to break the bank, the Crosley C100BT is a nice option. You can get one for under $250. With a switchable pre-amp plus Bluetooth, it will connect to literally anything. And with an Audio Technica AT95E cartridge (plus an adjustable counterweight), you can count on greatly improved record playback while also protecting your record investment from premature wear.
You can also play with pitch control, which is something not many turntables ship with these days.
Disclosure: Crosley provided a turntable for evaluation but had no input into this review. As an Amazon Associate, I earn affiliate fees from qualifying purchases.