There’s a lot of merit to the Crosley business model. After all, the company has carved quite a niche for itself by delivering uber-affordable turntables, cassette players and radios.
Not everyone’s an audiophile, after all, and not everyone is willing or able to spend a chunk of their disposable income on relatively expensive products by the brands more commonly found on this website.
Democratising these technologies can only be a good thing, right? And everyone knows someone who’s used a Crosley product as a gateway drug to a lifetime of audio appreciation… so where does the C62 fit into all of this?
Crosley C62: Price & Availability
The Crosley C62 Bluetooth turntable system is on sale now, and in the United Kingdom it sells for £249, tops. In the United States you’ll need to part with $279, while Australian customers will have to fork out around AU$349.
At this price, it looks very much like Crosley has the field clear - certainly we’re struggling to think of another way to spend this sort of money and end up with quite as extensive an audio system. That doesn’t automatically mean you should, though…
Crosley C62 review: Features & What's New?
Not every all-in-one system consists of a single item - and that’s the case here. The Crosley C62 may look like a record player and a dinky pair of speakers, but in fact it’s an entirely self-contained system with some wireless streaming smarts thrown in. Which isn’t too bad at all when you consider the asking price.
The speakers themselves are a tidy 250 x 159 x 159mm (HxWxD), and have little silicone feet to facilitate shelf-mounting. Each features a necessarily compact soft-dome tweeter above an equally tidy mid/bass driver at the front, and a rudimentary bass-reflex port above a pair of spring-clip speaker cable binding posts at the rear. The fabric grilles are detachable, in case you prefer a more rustic aesthetic.
The turntable, meanwhile, has a bit more going on. As well as the aluminium tonearm with pre-fitted Audi- Technica cartridge, belt-driven steel platter and felt slip-mat under a perspex dust-cover, the top surface of the plinth also features two rotary controls. One selects 33.3 or 45rpm and also engages Bluetooth pairing, while the other is a volume control.
The Crosley uses Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless connectivity, with compatibility with SBC and AAC codecs. The amount of amplification that’s built in, meanwhile, is not a number that the company is prepared to divulge.
At the rear of the turntable there are spring-clips for connecting the deck to its partnering speakers, and a pair of stereo RCA outputs. These can be used to connect the turntable to an external amp, perhaps, or a pair of active speakers - the Crosley has an integrated phono stage, so there’s a toggle for switching between ‘line’ and ‘phono’. A ‘power on/off’ switch and a connection for mains power complete the line-up.
Crosley C62 review: Performance
As long as you’ve a level surface and easy access to mains power, getting from ‘opening the box’ to ‘listening to some tunes’ is a job that won’t take long - even setting the counterweight is the work of just a moment or two. The Crosley C62 is about as ‘plug and play’ as any system that includes a record player could possibly be.
The sound it makes, though, might conceivably make you think you’ve wasted even this brief amount of time.
With a record playing - any record, of any genre - the sound the C62 makes is strangely remote and matter-of-fact. There’s next-to-no dynamic variation in the way it presents a recording, no light and shade in the individual sounds and certainly no real body or assertiveness to the overall presentation.
Bass is woefully curtailed and lacks both presence and definition, while at the opposite end of the frequency range the Crosley achieves what until now I’d considered to be ‘the impossible’: treble sounds are simultaneously dull and sibilant. There’s an edginess and phasiness to the top-end that would seem to suggest it’s not possible for it to sound rolled-off and truncated at the same time - and yet here we are.
Sandwiched in between all this unhappiness, the midrange is equally undemonstrative and equally lacking in powers of communication. Singers sound barely present, and the overall lack of detail retrieval sucks any animation or character from vocal performances - and there’s just a little hint of the phasiness that becomes more obvious the higher up the frequency range we venture.
The soundstage the Crosley creates is confined, vague and not especially easy to follow - it’s the audio equivalent of driving through fog. And there’s a slight, but definite, suggestion that the platter isn’t turning at a consistent speed in this review sample.
Switch to the Bluetooth wireless input, and at least that rather queasy sensation of rotational instability disappears. None of the C62’s other unwelcome sonic characteristics are mitigated, though, and for some reason the way the system goes about receiving wireless information means that the first few milliseconds of songs are missed. It doesn’t look like much when it’s written down, because it isn’t - but when you’re used to a particular song, and it starts playing just fractionally later than its actual beginning, it’s disconcerting to a disproportionate degree.
Crosley C62 review: Design & Usability
Nothing about the design of the Crosley C62 is going to startle or perturb - it looks exactly as you’d expect a turntable and a pair of compact bookshelf speakers to look. Which, we can all agree, is a good thing.
The plinth of the turntable and the speaker cabinets are available in black or grey finishes, as well as the walnut of this review sample. As is only to be expected in a product at this sort of money, there’s nothing remarkable about the way the components are finished - corners are pointy, tactility is negligible. But there’s certainly nothing wrong with the way the laminate walnut wrap is applied, nor with the way everything is put together.
The clear perspex dust-cover slips securely onto its hinges, the aluminium tonearm is sturdy in its mounting plate, the rubbery feet that support the plinth and (allegedly) isolate it from vibration feel quite robust, the couple of control dials on the plinth’s surface operate with chunky reassurance. Given the asking price, it’s hard to take issue with the way Crosley has presented the C62.
And things are equally well-implemented where usability is concerned. Set-up extends to fitting and adjusting the counterweight - Crosley suggests the ideal stylus pressure for the Audio-Technica cartridge is a hefty 3.5g. Then it’s just a question of fiddling with the anti-skate control, connecting the supplied (and brief) lengths of bog-standard speaker cable to the turntable at one end and the speakers at the other, and plugging into the mains.
The platter starts and stops rotating with the movement of the tonearm, and the system automatically enters ‘pairing’ mode when ‘Bluetooth’ mode is selected. Short of turning your records over automatically, it’s hard to know how Crosley could have made things more straightforward.
Crosley C62 review: Verdict
Every product T3 reviews is approached with a clean slate and an open mind. We’re certainly not about to suggest you should spend more money on a particular product just for the sake of it. But in the case of the Crosley C62, it’s difficult to think of a single reason why you might consider spending money on it at all given the resulting sound - there’s a vibrant second-hand market in audio equipment, after all…
Of the brands vying to part you for similar money for a similar level of functionality, Crosley is by a distance the most high-profile of the lot. So while there are systems from the likes of 1 By One (visually very similar to the C62), Victrola (a kind of pre-war stereogram vibe) and Looptone (like a trolley-dash around Tandy), we’ve yet to hear them and so must reserve judgement. But those are the obvious competitors.