I picked this gramophone up at a local antiques fair and am currently restoring. The main attraction was the complicated looking soundbox which I had knowledge of but no experience. At present all the complication of the soundbox seems to focus on controlling pressure on the rubber insulator and I guess, without being able to fit a new insulator, (an impossible task) I'll never fully understand what control of sound was available. Two other things strike me about the Orchorsol. The first is the similarity with the HMV 101 and the second is that AWFUL logo. Whoever came up with that...well words fail me. So what do I understand about Orchorsol.
Orchorsol were a British Gramophone manufacturer based in London who claimed that they had designed and produced " the only gramophone to reproduce all vocal and instrumental tones of modern records with absolute fidelity and without harmful wear". A major claim is that one! Although Orchorsol did win the Gold Medal organised by "The Gramophone" magazine that took place on the 24th June 1924 in which it beat E.M.Ginns Magnaphone. (See Orchorsol record cover below). I wouldn't make any claim of quality for their portable that is the focus of this page. I believe it came towards the end of Orchorsols short life and, with the exception of the soundbox, is nothing out of the ordinary.
Click on thumbnails for larger image
To return to the model in question I have dated it at 1928 which is based upon a ticket that was attached to the 12B Garrard motor. It also seems to fit with other documents I have come across on the internet as well as the resemblance to the HMV 101 pitching it at around the same time. ( The 101 was produced between 1925 to 1931).
As previously mentioned most if not all the fascination lies with the soundbox, in particular the elaborate adjustment of the soundbox insulator. I find it hard to believe the claims made about this soundbox but records show that Compton Mackenzie of "The Gramophone" magazine certainly found favour with it and in his book " Collecting Phonographs and Gramophones" Christopher Proudfoot states that the inclusion of the "built in version of the Lifebelt, a piece of rubber tubing which, when installed between the Soundbox and the tonearm, could often give a surprising improvement in reproduction". I guess unless such a new rubber insulator is available we'll never know. Certainly, as with most insulators of the period mine has hardened over the years. As a final point it's interesting to note the insulating element was invented by a West Country parson.
One week later the restoraton is complete and whilst I found the case construction was in good condition it left alot to be construction wise but this was more than compensated for by the sound from that soundbox. Don't ask me why because it defied logic. A small diameter diaphragm and an insulator set up the main part of which was a, if not absolutely hardened at least hardening insulator plus a loose fit on the tonearm did not bode well for good results. Having taken up the slack on the soundbox fit with PTFE tape I must admit I was impressed by the sound which was exremely well balanced across its range and very pleasing to listen to. The only restoration I had done to the soundbox was a clean up, repaint of the cover and replace the inevitable gaskets. So, a machine to keep for no other reaon than the sound from that box, and that is more than good enough for me.