About Me

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Cromer, Norfolk, United Kingdom

I'm a former hospital radio/club/mobile DJ, avid record collector and amateur musician (playing guitar, keyboards, recorder, harmonica and percussion.) I've even filled in on bass guitar for a couple of local bands as well (although that was quite a few years ago). Also interested in Motorsports, Wrestling/Mixed Martial Arts and Classic Television and Radio from the 1960s - 1980s.

Why am I on here? Well, I'm just trying to make some sense of life before it's too late...but who cares anyway?

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Just For The Records

Bush KTS-601.
You may have seen all those stories in the media about the boom in vinyl sales. In fact, they increased again last year by 26.8% according to a report by the BPI. So many electronics companies are cashing in on its resurgence which explains the explosion in record players and turntables in recent years.  Crosley in particular have been at the forefront with models such as the Cruiser, but seem to be suffering from some bad press.    One YouTube user (who’ll remain nameless at this point in time) has even gone on record as saying that when he gets 100,000 subscribers he’ll destroy a Crosley Cruiser on camera.  So I’m left wondering, why is the Cruiser (and other similar players, such as the Bush KTS-601 (which I got as a 53rd birthday present a couple of weeks back) getting such a bad reputation?

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...