For the past few years, budget turntable manufacturer Crosley Radio has been celebrating Record Store Day (RSD) with special, limited-edition turntables. Last year, it was this undeniably retro-cool Star Wars-themed suitcase player. The prior year, it was a Disney-themed model. But this year, Crosley’s doing something totally different, and might we say, a bit wacky.
Announced at CES 2019, this year’s RSD special is a tiny, 3-inch turntable that looks like someone took a Technics SL-1200G and ran it through a tilt-shift lens. Priced at only $70, it’s got everything you need, including a moving magnet cartridge by Audio-Technica, a pitch control slider, and the tiniest dust cover we’ve ever seen. You can power this micro marvel via USB, or slap some batteries inside it. With a headphone/line-out jack, and a built-in speaker, how you listen to it is up to you — with huge bonus points if you carry it with you (and play it) on any form of public transport.
Though this is the first 3-inch player that Crosley has ever made, the format is not a new one, though it’s very obscure. Originating in Japan, these tiny turntables are known as 8-ban record players and have been used to play things like TV theme songs. Fans of the White Stripes will probably recognize the device as a “triple inchophone,” which Jack White sold for a time — he even had special 3-inch pressings of White Stripes tracks made.
The 3-inch format was perfect for the band’s material, which tends toward the short end of playtimes. An 8-ban disc can hold a maximum of four minutes of music — Seven Nation Army, as an example, is only 3:52.
In addition to the existing catalog of 3-inch vinyl that you’ll find online, Crosley Radio tells Digital Trends that Jack White’s record label Third Man, and Epitaph will be pressing tracks on this format, with more to come after the launch. Crosley has partnered with Japan’s Toyokasei vinyl manufacturing plant, to make sure there’s a steady stream of new songs.
Is there any point to this thing? If you have to ask, you’re clearly not the target market. But if you are, you probably already know that RSD specials are only available at select, participating independent record stores, and only on Record Store Day itself — Saturday, April 13, 2019.