An HMV branded radiogram from the early 1970s. It features a turntable for vinyl records and an AM radio receiver encased in a tan-coloured wood cabinet.
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Vintage Sound Equipment

Vintage Sound Equipment

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.

His Master's Voice Imperial Radiogram from approximately 1970
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/07-2019/nfsa_asset_radiogram.jpg
His Master's Voice Imperial Radiogram
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
578316
Year:
Year

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.

AKAI X 2000SD Combined Cassette and Cartridge Player, manufactured 1973
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/akai-x-2000sd-combined-cassette-and-cartridge-player.jpg
AKAI X 2000SD Combined Cassette and Cartridge Player
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
573711
Year:
Year

Combined Akai X-2000SD reel to reel, cassette and 8 track cartridge player with speakers. General note: Accessories accompany the Akai and there are also two spare cartridges.

The Akai X 2000SD was manufactured in the mid 1970s (circa 1973) and combined the 3 consumer tape formats available at the time in the one unit. The cassette mechanism is beneath the headblock for the reel to reel machine. The 8 track cartridge mechanism is in the right hand side of the machine. All 3 transports are driven from one set of motors. The deck could dub from reel to reel to either cassette or cartridge and had a built in stereo amplifier and 2 x 4" speakers.

RCA black metal and chrome electric microphone, manufactured 1930
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/collection/hero_image09-2016/rca-microphone.jpg
RCA Microphone
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
561558
Year:
Year

Comprises a black metal microphone with chrome head and chrome handle with an opening at the base to screw into a stand. Electrical cord is attached. Red RCA logo in the middle of the chrome head. Operation method: Electric. Manufactured 1930.

RCA Victor off white portable radio, circa 1950
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/rca-victor_portable-radio.jpg
RCA Victor Portable Radio
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
438681
Year:
Year

Off white portable radio with two small circular dials and HMV logo in centre bottom. Approximate size: 260mmx80mmx160mm. Manufactured 1950.

Philips CD 100 Compact Disc Player, silver and black, circa 1982
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/philips-cd-100-compact-disc-player.jpg
Philips CD 100 Compact Disc Player
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
634137
Year:
Year

An early (possibly one of the first) CD players. Top loading via a hinged transparent lid. Aluminium body over black plastic base. Operating buttons on front at an angle. Production 1982. Countries of origin: Australia and Netherlands.

Stromberg-Carlson Radiogram with two pull-down draws containing turntable on the left and radio on the right, manufactured 1950
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/stromberg-carlson-radiogram.jpg
Stromberg-Carlson Radiogram
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
637895
Year:
Year

The radiogram has two pull down drawers at the front with a turntable on the left and radio on the right. On either side at the bottom of the radiogram, are curved doors which open outwards and this allows for storage of discs. Operation method: electrical. Manufactured 1950.

 

His Master's Voice Portable Transistor Radio in blue leather case
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His Master's Voice Portable Transistor Radio
Year:
Year

Blue and bone leather cased portable broadcast band transistor radio, badged 'His Master's Voice', bone leather carry strap. Battery operated. Manufactured 1965.

The Dictaphone voice recording machine, manufactured circa 1920
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/dictaphone.jpg
The Dictaphone
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
424012

'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.'

Elac Miracord 90 self-contained light blue record player, circa 1959
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/elac_miracord_90_record_player.jpg
Elac Miracord 90 Record Player
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
423994
Year:
Year

Self-contained light blue record player with bright blue plastic tone arm and speed selector, and a blue slip mat. Plinth is mounted in a blue and white vinyl suitcase. The player was connected to a radio set which provided the amplifier and speaker.

Approximate size: 370mm x 320mm x 130mm. Manufactured circa 1959 in Germany.

Saphon portable children's gramophone in yellow tin
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/saphon_portable_gramophone.jpg
Saphon Portable Gramophone
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
441230

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.

 

Webster Chicago 81-1 wire recorder made of sheet steel and microphone, manufactured 1951
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Webster Chicago 81-1 Wire Recorder
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
430291
Year:
Year

Wire recorder made of sheet steel, silver and brown powder coated, including microphone made of brown painted cast aluminium.

Approximate dimensions of recorder: 300mm x 290mm x 230mm.

Approximate dimensions of microphone: 110mm x 70mm x 30mm.

Manufactured in the USA, 1951.

Sony Sports Walkman and Sony CD Walkman (Discman)
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Sony Sports Walkman WM-FS191 and Sony CD Walkman (Discman)
Year:
Year

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.

RCA Uni-directional microphone
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/rca_uni_directional_microphone.jpg
RCA Uni-Directional 77a Microphone
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
432129
Year:
Year

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.

BBC L2 hand held electric lip microphone with mouth in wooden case
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/bbc2_hand_held_lip_microphone.jpg
BBC L2 Lip Microphone
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
473222

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.

Nagra portable sound recorder in blue carry bag
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/nagra.jpg
Nagra 4.2 Portable Sound Recorder
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
528233

Portable professional tape recorder contained in a blue carry case with strap. Contains two main reels with a number of dials located on the top and the side. The carry case reads: “Kangaroo Video Pack, La Mesa California”.

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
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Sonora Gramophone
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
444309
Year:
Year

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

Mellotron FX 400S Sound Effects Machine
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Mellotron FX 400S Sound Effects Machine
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
556402

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.

Gospel Recordings Missionary Kit orange hand held cassette players
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Gospel Recordings Missionary Kit cassette players
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
573396

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.

Photo of the Edison Standard D model phonograph at the NFSA with Senior Disc Preservationist Gerry O’Neill and Wally De Backer (Goyte) standing in background not facing camera.
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Edison Standard D model phonograph

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.