So Many Interests, So Little Time
I have been fascinated with mechanical phonographs since I was a child. I was haunted by tales that my great-grandfather had a Victrola. After his death, I went to visit the great-aunt that had lived with him, to ask what had become of it. Unfortunately, some other relative, not even as closely related as me, had already taken it.
When I became older and began to collect records, I not only began to amass L.P.'s and 45's, but 78 rpm records as well. At an estate sale in 1989 I got a great bargain: A late 1950's Philco hi-fi in perfect working order. It cost one dollar. It's a weird creature, a Philco, but with a Gerrard turntable, and the whole unit was made in England. This is the machine I listen to 78's on.
However, in recent years, I have become fascinated with something called the Orthophonic Victrola. In the mid-1920's, Victor Records began recording music with microphones, instead of the musicians just playing into a big horn. The quality of the recording was far better than before. So technicians began to experiment to build a phonograph which could reproduce the higher quality sound. They discovered that a phonograph horn seven feet long produced the most accurate sound. So they began to experiment to find a way to fit a seven foot horn into a realistically-sized piece of home furnishing. The result was the Orthophonic Victrola. Here, if you scroll down a bit, you can see diagrams comparing the older horn style and the Orthophonic.
Some these machines were pretty elaborate, with big fancy cabinets and oranate carvings. Some had electric turntable motors, even though the amplification was still mechanical. They are supposed to sound amazing - I mean, not as good as your CD player, of course - but I have never heard one.
If I had a wish list, and if it was possible to put such a thing on my wish list, an Orthophonic would be right up front.
Oh, yeah, the name is another of these latter-day-created words from Greek roots (but at least, it's all Greek). It means "straight" or "correct sound."