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                                                                 The Victor-Victrola Page 

Design Details:

1. Horns

2. Tonearm Designs

3. Cabinet Features

4. Soundboxes

5. Cranks and Speed Controls

Pictures and details on some of the design features of External Horn Victor phonographs. Each sequential page covers one aspect of the evolving designs. Advance to the next page via the link above or at the bottom of each page

Victor Tonearms.  As early phonographs evolved, the design of the tonearms changed significantly. For its line of external horn phonographs, Victor used three basic tonearm types.


Integral Horn/Tonearm. The earliest Victor models used an integral tonearm/horn configuration. These machines really don't have a distinct tone-arm, per se, but rather, the entry of the horn attaches directly to the soundbox. Thus, the entire horn pivioted along with the soundbox as as a record was played. This design, while simple, had the disadvantage of causing rapid record wear, as the needle had to pull the mass of the entire horn along with it as a record was played. This resulted in a lot of force being applied to one side of the record grooves. It was also rather awkward to manipulate, especially with the larger horns. All early disc phonographs used this design configuration; it became obsolete with the invention of the rigid arm system in 1903.  A wooden swing-arm supported the horn/soundbox system, and allowed it to move as the record played. These are what are termed Front Mount styles, since the bracket that holds the horn is in the front of the machine (facing the listener). This design was soon replaced by the Rigid Arm/Rear Mount concept (below) on the better models, but was continued on some of the less expensive Victors up through the early 'teens.

Rigid Arm.  In the fall of 1902, Victor developed a "rigid arm" system, wherein the tonearm became a separate component from the horn, and was connected to the horn via a slip-fit interface. In this design, the horn did not move with the tonearm, but was now mounted rigidly to the cabinet. This reduced record wear and also made it easier to operate the phonograph (you didn't have to move the whole horn in order to play a record). Note the pivot joint midway down the tonearm which allows the soundbox to swing up to make it easier to change a record or replace a needle. The tonearm is not 'tapered' in these early designs, but remains as a straight tube from the soundbox to the pivot joint in the rear. These are termed Rear Mount support styles, since the bracket that holds the horn is in the rear of the machine (away from the listener). Rigid arm designs were only produced for about 6 months, making machines with this configuration very derirable from a collector's standpoint.

Taper Arm. In April 1903, Victor incorporated a gradual taper into the tonearm, which improved both volume and fidelity. This is due to the fact that the tonearm's taper served as a "miniature horn" in itself, gradually increasing in size until it connected into the horn itself.  The pivot joint used in the previous design was replaced with a "gooseneck", allowing the tonearm to be swung back when changing a needle or record. This successful design remained in production for many years. These are also termed Rear Mount styles, since the bracket that holds the horn is in the rear of the machine (away from the listener). This tapered tonearm design was used up through the late 1920's, as it provided a much better 'impedance transitition' from the soundbox to the horn than did the earlier configurations.


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