Vintage sound recording and reproduction equipment from the NFSA's artefacts collection.
Together, these beautiful artefacts contribute to the story of recorded sound in Australia.
This radiogram from the early 1970s was donated to the NFSA in 1994 by a Canberra homeowner.
It is an interesting artefact in its own right – particularly for how its combination of radio and record player forecasts the integrated devices we use now.
Together with the vinyl records that were played on it, this mass-produced, everyday object contributes to telling the history of Australian music and the evolution of the recording and playback technology that allowed us to enjoy it.
The teak veneer radiogram has black legs and a gold rack underneath the radiogram cabinet. The unit contains an AM radio receiver and a four-speed automatic record player, which allowed you to suspend records and drop each down automatically as the last finished, without having to get up and change it.
The HMV logo is positioned on the radiogram and each speaker.
Blue and bone leather cased portable broadcast band transistor radio, badged 'His Master's Voice', bone leather carry strap. Battery operated. Manufactured 1965.
'Dictaphone' is a trademarked name, but the term has come to be synonymous with machines used to record the voice.
This incarnation, complete with horn and hose records speech direct onto a wax cylinder.
Manufactured in Australia, circa 1920s. The metal plate on the front reads 'The Dictaphone, trade mark. 19 Hunter Street, Sydney. Phones B2187 – 5716 and at Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide.'
Approximate size: 370mm x 320mm x 130mm. Manufactured circa 1959 in Germany.
This square tin portable gramophone was made for children. It includes a black horn, green felt platter and a wind-up key.
Approximate dimensions with lid open: 160mmx160mmx210mm.
Manufactured in Germany, circa 1920.
Approximate dimensions of recorder: 300mm x 290mm x 230mm.
Approximate dimensions of microphone: 110mm x 70mm x 30mm.
Manufactured in the USA, 1951.
Yellow sports Walkman and Discman. The Discman says on it ;'AVLS (Automatic Volume Limiter System) Groove CD Compact Player'.
Walkman is a Sony brand trade name, and dates back to 1978 when the first Walkman was manufactured in Japan.
Approximate dimensions of Walkman: 120 x 100 x 50 mm. Approximate dimensions of Discman: 160 x 120 x 30 mm.
Made in Japan, circa 1980s.
Silver coloured metal bottom half, metal mesh on top half. Includes a metal holder with which to pivot the angle of the microphone which would attach to a microphone stand.
Approximate microphone dimensions: 100mm diameter x 290mm.
Manufactured in the USA, from 1932.
Hand held black metal microphone with mouth rest. Two gauze protection covers over mouthpiece and black rubber hand grip. Microphone cord is non-detachable from both ends. The cord runs into a metal pre amplifier which is encased in the wooden microphone carry box. Also contains a grey non detachable cord coming from the pre amplifier and which would run from pre amplifier into what is believed to be either a mixing desk or speaker unit.
Approximate dimensions: 295mmx260mmx150mm. Manufactured in Australia.
Donated to the NFSA by a prominent Australian Sound Recordist, who used this Nagra 4.2 in classic Australian film productions of the late 1970s and 80s.
Approximate size: 350mm x 240mm x 135mm. Manufactured in Switzerland, circa 1970s.
Mahogany coloured Sonora Gramaphone. Lid opens upwards to reveal a green felt turntable with a chrome stylus. The lower doors open outwards at odd angles and incorporate four sections for storage of records (A-D). Central section of gramaphone has crafted pattern. Approximate Size: 485mmx485mmx310mm. Manufactured 1915
The Mellotron is an electro-mechanical polyphonic tape replay keyboard, originally developed and built in Birmingham, UK in the early 1960s.
Contained inside the instrument is a bank of parallel linear magnetic audio tape strips. Playback heads underneath each key enable the playing of pre-recorded sounds. Each of the tape strips has a playback time of approximately eight seconds, after which the tape stops and rewinds to the start position.
This unit features grey-blue chipboard casing with small keyboard and effects dials on left hand side. The unit can be wheeled around on casters. Tapes in this machine were loaded with pre-recorded sound effects used in TV drama production. A description of each effect is written in red pen on masking tape positioned above keyboard.
Two orange hand-operated cassette players with handles. Kit also contains two red and grey plastic hand-operated record players.
This sound reproducing equipment was made to carry Christian teachings to remote and inaccessible locations. As the machines are hand-operated, they can be used in locations where batteries or mains electricity are not available.
Manufactured in Australia, date unknown.
The Edison Standard D model phonograph dates from around 1908 and has a clockwork spring-powered motor. It has been fitted with a recorder head that can play back two-minute cylinders.
Recording on this equipment is a purely mechanical process, with no electricity involved. The performer sings down a metal horn and the energy of that sound is concentrated onto a thin circular mica disc in the recorder head. The vibrations of the disc move a thin glass rod which cuts the spiral groove in the cylinder.
The distance of the performer from the horn is critical; the performer has to be able to hear a reverberant echo coming back out of the horn for there to be enough mechanical energy to cut the groove.