Three best jukeboxes
Put another dime in the jukebox, baby?
Nothing says retro cool quite like a jukebox -- chrome gleaming, lights flashing, music pulsing.
What if you could add that fun vibe to your rec room or man cave, minus the expense of buying and maintaining a vintage machine circa the 1950s or early '60s?
Now you can. Modern jukeboxes, no longer limited to a few dozen vinyl 45s, play CDs or stream your favorite songs. Just load your music from a memory card or connect your smartphone's playlist via Bluetooth. No need to hunch over the machine and punch any buttons, either. Sit down, take it easy, and use the remote.
Most new jukeboxes play homage to the Wurlitzers and Rock-Olas of old, with ornate facades featuring plenty of curved glass, chrome accents, and dazzling light displays. The result is an eye-catching centerpiece that can be the finishing touch to that basement refuge, between the pinball machine and wet bar.
There are plenty of styles and sizes to choose from. Read on for tips and recommendations to make your shopping easier.
Considerations when choosing jukeboxes
Vintage or modern?
You could go vintage, but should you?
Sure, there are refurbished Wurlitzers out there, but the cost is steep at $10,000 to $20,000. Another factor to consider: when parts go out, it may be hard to find a replacement. That means your high-priced jukebox may be out of commission for long stretches.
Of course, if you're a vinyl record purist, nothing's going to change your mind. It's true that the sound of a 45 being played by a stylus is unique, with more warmth and boom. But if you're used to the crisp sound of today's digital music, you may find vinyl too old school for your tastes (and budget).
There are many advantages to a modern machine, not the least of which is the fact that the parts are new and under warranty. Top-quality jukeboxes use LED lights instead of bulbs, CDs instead of vinyl, and plastic in place of some wood and steel, but they're built to last because they're designed for daily use.
If you want classic styling without the headaches of heavy maintenance, it makes sense to buy a new "juke."
New jukeboxes can be either freestanding at up to five feet tall or designed to sit on a table or bookshelf at about half that size. Full-size jukeboxes offer a fuller sound and better light effects; these are the best choice for entertaining.
Another key consideration is how much music the jukebox can hold, physically or digitally. Jukeboxes that only play vinyl or CDs are limited by the number of discs they can hold.
Digital jukeboxes, meanwhile, stream music rather than play discs. Most are Bluetooth compatible, so you can use your subscription services and crank out the tunes that fit your mood on any given day. Some CD jukeboxes also offer Bluetooth connectivity and FM radio for added versatility.
You can find quality digital or CD jukeboxes for $1,500 to $8,500. Tabletop models from reputable companies can be found for under $150.
Durability is an important factor. High-end jukeboxes are made from quality, long-lasting materials like real glass, wood, chrome, and steel. Cheaper models are built primarily with plastic painted to create a classic look.
Other helpful features on a modern jukebox are a USB port, audio input jack in front, and stereo inputs in the rear to add additional speakers if desired. Remember: if you fall in love with a jukebox that lacks Bluetooth, it may be possible to buy an adapter at little cost.
Q. How do modern and vintage jukeboxes compare in terms of durability?
A. New jukeboxes are far more reliable than refurbished vintage models that likely still contain dozens of 60-year-old parts. New machines usually require no maintenance and come with a warranty.
Q. How can I be sure I'll like the sound of my new jukebox?
A. Sound quality is pretty subjective. To avoid disappointment, it's a good idea to listen to a particular machine's output before you buy it. Is the volume adequate? Is the bass deep and rich enough? At the very least, be sure to check customer reviews before you buy.
Jukeboxes we recommend
Best of the best: Crosley iJuke
Our take: This handsome, full-size jukebox is our top pick for those who want a quality machine for a rec room or man cave.
What we like: Beautiful classic looks and a durable hardwood cabinet. Great sound and light displays. Versatility-plus with CD player, radio, and Bluetooth connectivity. Remote control.
What we dislike: Smaller than a commercial jukebox. Customers say Bluetooth performance can be spotty.
Best bang for your buck: Crosley CD Jukebox
Our take: Retro styling belies the modern technology in this affordable tabletop jukebox. A good gift for music lovers.
What we like: Sound quality is surprisingly good. Versatile for the money, with a CD player, radio, and smartphone audio input. Twenty-song memory. Color-shifting LED lights.
What we dislike: No remote or Bluetooth connectivity. Lots of plastic.
Choice 3: PPG Nostalgic Bluetooth Jukebox
Our take: Fun, mid-size jukebox that combines vintage appearance and modern technology.
What we like: Attractive machine that stands about three feet tall. Colorful neon lighting. Built-in Bluetooth connectivity and radio. Programmable up to 20 songs.
What we dislike: Sound is crisp but not balanced. No CD player.
William Miller is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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