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Stylus force on Crosley players

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Justin Channell, Mar 17, 2014.

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  1. Justin Channell

    Justin Channell Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Washington, PA
    So, for years I used a Crosley turntable/CD combo cabinet, until I got sick of it's poor tracking ability. My girlfriend had a Brookstone player that was a rebranded Crosley and it seemed to have poor tracking as well, though it'd jump in different spots.

    Luckily, we ended up finding a nice Technics SL-D2 used for $50 and have never gone back to the Crosley. Recently, I got worried that my tonearm setup was wrong and set way too heavy, so I picked up a digital stylus force gauge to check it out. It ended up being nearly spot on (about 0.02 grams off, which doesn't bother me at all, since I'm set at 1.5g), but I decided to experiment and see what the Crosley tracks at.

    I was stunned to find that the flimsy plastic tonearm on my Crosley had over 5 grams of tracking force and maxed out the scale. I'm kind of in awe of this, since it doesn't feel that heavy at all. I don't know if it's accurate, since the gauge is really only meant for weighted tone arms and tracking force differs from stylus to stylus, but I'm truly amazed the Crosley didn't completely carve up every record I own if it's tracking at 5g.
     
  2. Matt I

    Matt I Forum Resident

    Location:
    Alabama
    I'd believe the gauge.

    I bet if you played one record over and over you would see and hear damage.

    I talk to people all the time that have skip issues with Crossley turntables. I ask them to bring their record by the store to check on my turntable and it will play without issue.
     
  3. Justin Channell

    Justin Channell Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Washington, PA
    I haven't noticed anything major on records I've played a lot, other than some crackling. I think the only record I own that has some major issues is a copy of Lou Reed - Transformer where the first side has some very audible groove wear. I know I played it on the Crosley a lot, but I know it had some issues when I first got it, so it's hard to tell if it's the Crosley's fault or the previous owner's.

    Still, the poor tracking was my first reason to turn people away from Crosleys, but now I'm going to be adamant about it. I mean, if it has a force of 5 grams and STILL can't track properly, it's worth spending an extra couple bucks to at least get one of the lower-end Audio Technica tables or something.
     
    mikeyt likes this.
  4. Justin Channell

    Justin Channell Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Washington, PA
    Also, Matt, that's true with the skip issues. Several records I thought were as good as trash because of skips play fine on anything other than a Crosley. I even had 2 records I scratched with the Crosley needle that left a skip and one of them plays just fine on the Technics.
     
  5. mikeyt

    mikeyt Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I briefly had an Audio Technica LP60, which didn't track that well either. I had original copies of Exile on Main st., Damn the Torpedoes, and The White Album which I couldn't play, and it really made me mad thinking that I had gotten bum copies. When I found and joined the forum and started researching, I realized that I just needed to do it right and get a real table. So now, when people ask me for advice, I point them toward the AT-LP 120 as the absolute minimum, as I've read that it does a fairly decent job for the money.
     
  6. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

  7. Trashman

    Trashman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Most Crosley units use inexpensive ceramic cartridges, which require a heavier tracking force than most moving magnet cartridges. A heavier tracking force by itself won't necessarily kill a record, as long as it stays within the specifications of the cartridge and needle. While it's true that wear is occurring more quickly with a heavier tracking setup, that doesn't necessarily mean the record is being destroyed. However, the build quality on those Crosley units is so cheap, I question whether they are even capable of accurately tracking a groove.

    Also, the problem with ceramic cartridges is that a lot of them use cheaper sapphire styli, which have about 1/10th the lifespan of a diamond styli. One can easily wear out a sapphire stylus after only 50-80 hours of play. In contrast, most diamond styli are good for 500-1000 hours. Once a stylus is worn out, that's when it really starts to heavily damage a record.

    Back in the 50s and 60s, when ceramic cartridges and sapphire styli were much more commonly used, people tended to play their records long after the stylus was worn out. (Many people simply kept using them until they could no longer physically track the groove.) I believe that's why many console stereos and record players from that era have a reputation as being vinyl killers. While those vintage players weren't as gentle as modern turntables are, they often killed vinyl because their owners didn't change needles as often as they should have.
     
  8. Justin Channell

    Justin Channell Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Washington, PA
    The AT-LP 120 looks like a solid deck to my eyes. As long as a table has a good adjustable weight tone arm, it should eliminate the biggest issues of the sub-$100 offerings.

    I was in the same boat, owning a lot of records I thought were junk were fine once I got them on a good table. A friend of mine has an LP60 (I think... it's one of the USB models) that has drop outs at completely random intervals. Not sure if it's a stylus issue or a malfunctioning unit, but it seemed to track much better and much lighter than the Crosley.

    However, I'd personally suggest people look around and see what you can find used. When I was looking into getting a new turntable, my girlfriend said her co-worker was selling her son's old player and it was a "Tunica, or something." I figured it'd be junk, until I came home one night and saw a Technics SL-D2 setting on the coffee table in great shape. I threw out a low-ball price of $50 and it was mine.
     
    DarkAudit likes this.
  9. Justin Channell

    Justin Channell Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Washington, PA
    They aren't. :)
     
  10. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    Yes, the build quality on these "nostalgia" players is very cheap, thanks to Leetac.
     
  11. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    You are right that they aren't capable of tracking accurately.
     
  12. Justin Channell

    Justin Channell Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Washington, PA
    Honestly though, before I knew better, I was guilty of not changing needles on the Crosley as soon as needed. It doesn't seem that I did any major damage, but my ears and amp/speaker setup are far from perfect. Now that I've learned better and have a diamond tip cartridge (Audio-Technica ATN95E), I'm going the "change the stylus every year" route.
     
  13. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    Oh, I'll bet every 2-3 years with normal use is fine.
     
  14. Justin Channell

    Justin Channell Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Washington, PA
    I've heard that too. I'm playing on the "better-safe-than-sorry" side.

    Actually, I guess my thinking is more of buy a new one at the year mark, so I can I don't have to wait when it goes bad.
     
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