Victor, Orthophonic Phonograph, Credenza Model

image courtesy of James D. Julia Inc.

p4A ItemID A063652
image courtesy of James D. Julia Inc.

p4A ItemID A063699

The Victor Orthophonic Phonograph

In late 1925, the Victor Talking Machine Company of Camden, New Jersey, introduced to the phonograph market the revolutionary Orthophonic models. The largest model was the Credenza, soon to be renamed the 8-30. It became Victor’s “flagship” model during the so-called Orthophonic era, from late 1925 to 1929 or so, which are the early years of electric recording. Only Victor used the term “Orthophonic.” Other major companies coined their own words for their own “electric” models. By “electric” it is meant that the records they played were finally being made in studios by the Western Electric microphone process, resulting in a richer and fuller sound. New machines were needed to play these records. The Credenza is among the finest quality Victrolas.

Many of the new Orthophonic machines were sold by December (whether they were in homes by Christmas is unknown), allowing Victor in 1926 to declare excellent sales for the year 1925. What a contrast! The year 1924 had been terrible for the company. The revolution in the industry caused by the microphone may have saved the Victor company. It meant new machines, new records–profits were excellent in the late 1920s.

The new mechanical, or acoustic, Victrolas had specially designed sound boxes and internal horns. Whereas all earlier Victrola models had sound boxes with thin mica sheets as the vibrating diaphragms to generate the sound, the new Orthophonic Victrola sound boxes had a special thin aluminum diaphragm (the term “sound box” is how Victor literature refers to this part of the machine; Victor engineers did not use the term “reproducer”). The large internal horn of the Orthophonic Victrola had a special “re-entrant” design based on the ideal logarithmic horn, but folded back upon itself. Its design permits the passage of the large bass sound waves. An air-tight design was developed from the small vibrating diaphragm to the large open end of the internal horn and it permitted an impressive sound quality, even by modern standards.

The earliest Credenza model had only two doors in front, but in less than a year this was replaced by a four-door model. Also, in early machines the turntable sits in the middle of the machine, in later machines the turntable is off-center. By moving the turntable a few inches over, engineers created a space for stacking records (some of these late machines even have “lifters” that hold the records an inch or so above the motor board, making it easy to pick up records).

The original 1925 selling price of the Credenza was $275.00, but the price was raised to $300.00 a few months after it was introduced. An estimated total of 60,000 hand-wound Victrola Credenza’s were produced. The Credenza was also available with an electric motor option (Credenza X or VE 8-30 X), and a total of 30,642 of these machines were produced.

In January 1929 the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) bought the Victor Talking Machine Company and the Orthophonic models were discontinued in favor of the newer all-electric models.


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