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Tonearm Designs: External Horn Models


Integral Horn/Tonearm. The earliest Victor models used an integral tone arm and horn configuration, such that the horn pivioted along with the soundbox as a record was played. These machines really don't have a distinct tone-arm, per se, but rather, the entry portion of the horn attaches directly to the soundbox. This design had the disadvantage of causing rapid record wear, as well as being rather awkward to manipulate. All early disc phonographs used this design configuration; it became obsolete with the invention of the rigid arm system in 1903.  A wooden swing-arm supported the horn/soundbox system, and allowed it to move as the record played.






Rigid Arm.  In 1903, Victor developed a "rigid arm" system, wherein the tonearm became a separate component, and was connected via a slip-fit interface to the horn. In this design, the horn did not move with the tonearm, but was now mounted rigidly to the cabinet. This reduced record wear and also made it easier to operate the phonograph (you didn't have to move the whole horn in order to play a record. Note the pivot joint on the tonearm to allow it to swing up when changing a record. Performance was not very satisfactory, and an improved design was required.






Taper Arm. Shortly after the introduction of the Rigid Arm, Victor incorporated a gradual taper into the tonearm, which improved both volume and fidelity. This is due to the fact that the tonearm's taper served as a "miniature horn" in itself, gradually increasing in size until it connected into the horn itself. This successful design remained in production for many years.  The pivot joint used in the previous design was replaced with a "gooseneck", allowing the tonearm to be swung back when changing a record.







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