As a child, I remember watching the record spin ‘round and ‘round on the turntable at home – and Dad yelling at us to stop making it skip. Vinyl albums went the way of the Dodo bird decades ago but wait – there is a new resurgence in long-playing albums, and Crosley Radio is at the forefront.
Crosley Radio appeared back in the 1920s, bringing music to the people with affordable radios for everyone’s listening enjoyment. In 1992 the company produced its first record player at a time when no one was producing record albums as the world had gone digital. Fast-forward to today and we are seeing a new vinyl revolution (pun intended) as musical artists are releasing LPs alongside the digital recording of their new songs. Stroll down the music aisles at any electronics store and record albums are lined up across from CD collections, and the vinyl displays are growing in size.
Of course, my wife and I still have a formidable collection of albums we purchased “back in the day” and with a few exceptions, they are all in really good shape. I, like many, had purchased a USB-style turntable a few years back to convert this vinyl collection into digital form but never really got around to it. I am just glad I did not follow the “home improvement” crowd in stapling our albums to the wall for decoration or bury them under plastic or resin in a coffee table or countertop.
Crosley is a leader in the modern turntable rejuvenation and I count some 30 different models offered on their website. They recently sent me the new Crosley Nomad to test, just in time for the holiday season. Nomad is a self-contained turntable, meaning it does not need to be hooked up to your home stereo system to play music from your albums. The unit features a small amp, built-in speakers, a headphone jack (although mini, not RCA-style like back in the day), RCA output, auxiliary input, and USB connection for a computer. A power adaptor plugs into the wall and you have turntable portability at its finest for under 200 bucks.
The Crosley Nomad ($199.95 MSRP) features everything a vinyl aficionado requires: Three speeds (33, 45, and 78), diamond-needle stylus, auto-stop at end of album (to save your needle), 45 spindle adaptor, carrying handle, and removable lid. And all this is in a very stylish retro package. Full-range speakers on both ends do a fair job of reproducing the sound stamped into the vinyl album surface but the best musical reproduction comes when connecting Nomad to your home stereo system or listening on headphones. And when I say headphones I mean REAL headphones, not those crappy little plastic plugs you shove in your ear hole.
If you cannot locate any record albums Crosley has you covered there, too, as the website also lists a host of recordings for you to purchase, including some classics such as Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon or The Beatles’ Abbey Road LPs. I recommend scouring the church rummage sales for classic wax, my wife and I scored some real treasures a while back and now we can actually play them at home.
How does it sound? After decades of digital music, you will notice some differences. The needle does a very good job of capturing most of the musical frequency range but I noticed a slight loss of high frequencies (I attribute some of this to the repeated playing of the LPs over the years). A newer ZZ Top album showed very good musical accuracy with bright vocals and jamming rhythm guitar riffs. Another benefit of listening to these older recordings is they were all done in the days before Autotune – you hear the music the way the artists and audio engineers intended you to hear it, not the way a computer or machine says it should sound.
Vinyl is back and in a big way. The Crosley Nomad makes a great gift idea for the upcoming holidays and if record albums are not your thing there are a host of other nuevo-retro items offered on the company website. Music for the masses, indeed.
Source: The Crosley Nomad turntable review sample was provided by the manufacturer.
What I Like: Portability; cool factor; good sound reproduction; flexible use options
What Needs Improvement: Nothing