For a start the build quality is a bit ropey to say the least. The turntable chassis is completely made of plastic which cuts down on production costs. In fact the same chassis can be seen on all those “vintage style” music systems which have been popping up on the internet over the last few years. The case itself is relatively solid in comparison though.
Then there’s the ceramic pickup cartridge. Basically, it’s the same as a Sanyo MG05 cartridge which was first available in the early to mid 1990s on those cheap midi systems you could get from those mail order catalogues. The common complaint here concerns the stylus that goes with it, especially if it has a plastic cantilever. According to reviewers this could result in poor tracking or skipping during playback. There’s no counterweight either so you won’t be able to adjust the tracking weight, which according to some, is excessive to say the least. Most cartridges track at around1 - 3 grams maximum, while the Cruiser’s tonearm tracks at around 4 – 5 grams. So be careful with that prized 180gm pressing of “Dark Side Of The Moon”.
So how does it sound? Well, if you’re using the built-in speakers it sounds rather tinny with very little bass response. Then again, it you’re not expecting hi-fi quality sound, and just wanting something to play those old 1950s and 60s records it doesn’t seem too bad. Many reviewers have suggested hooking it up to your amplifier for best results, although the performance of the ceramic cartridge doesn’t match up to those on the higher end systems.
So how about my experience with the Bush KTS-601? (which is essentially the Crosley Cruiser in all but name) Well, it’s not as bad as the reviewers make out. If you’re prepared to put up with the tinny sound and ropey build quality it’s OK, but make sure you have a spare needle or two to hand. It’s currently selling on the Argos website for around £20 (but prices vary between £20 - £40 elsewhere) so all in all, it’s good for the money.
And as a final thought: if it goes kaput, well, at least you can still use it as an amp for your mp3 player...
UPDATE: That YouTube user who declared that he would smash up a Crosley Cruiser on camera when his subscriber count reached the 100,000 mark: he did (unfortunately) honour his promise, and a few days ago posted this video...