Return to Home Page

                                                                 The Victor-Victrola Page 

Victrola Design Details

1. Cabinets

2. Cranks, Brakes and Speed Controls

3. Soundboxes and Keys

4. Lid Supports, Record Albums and Needle Trays


Pictures and details on some of the design features of Internal Horn Victrola phonographs. Each sequential page covers one aspect of the evolving designs. Advance to the next page via the link above or at the bottom of each page

Design Details: Soundboxes and Keys

Victrolas came with a soundbox (which holds the needle and couples the record's vibrations to the horn system) and those models with lids also had a key. Some collectors refer to soundboxes as "reproducers", although this term was never used by Victor.

Soundboxes (provided in nickel, gold and antique bronze finishes)

Starting with the introduction of the Victrola in 1906, many models used the Exhibition Soundbox. This soundbox originated with external-horn Victors in late 1904, and continued in production for well over 20 years. It was a well-proven design, and was economical to manufacture. By the late 'teens, it was used only on inexpensive machines, external-horn models, and those intended for export.

No 15 Soundbox. Introduced with the low-cost external-horn "Victor O" model in 1908, this soundbox was used for a brief period on "Victrola IV" machines when they were launched in 1911. It is essentially an Exhibition Soundbox with a metal "shrouded" body which covers part of the mica diaphragm. This may have been done to protect the diaphragm from damage when used by children. The "Victrola IV" transitioned to the Exhibition Soundbox in 1912.

In late 1912, Victor offered the Improved Concert Soundbox as an "upgrade" option to the Exhibition model. It provided slightly more volume and improved sound, although based on the limited number of surviving examples, very few were sold. It originally cost $3.00 in nickel and $7.00 in gold plate.

The No. 2 Soundbox was introduced in time for the Christmas 1917 buying season. It was initially included on the premium Victrola models such as the "VV-XVI" and "VV-XVII", but soon became standard equipment on virtually all Victrola models, excepting for the lowest-price tabletop versions. It became obsolete in 1925 with the introduction of the Orthophonic machines.

The Orthophonic Soundbox was launched with the introduction of Victor's Orthophonic product lineup in the fall of 1925. It became standard on all floor model machines, and was offered on some of the better portables and tabletop Victrolas. It replaced the long-running mica diaphragm, used on virtually all soundboxes since 1901, with a stiffened, paper-thin aluminum diaphragm. The stylus alignment was maintained via a pair of magnets, supported on tiny ball bearings. The resulting sound quality was revolutionary, with vastly improved frequency response and reduced compliance, making this soundbox a perfect match for the new electrical recordings. This soundbox remained in use on portable machines through much of the 1930's, even after electrical reproduction had long since overtaken acoustic playback on most home models.


The No. 4 Soundbox was introduced to replace the outdated Exhibition Soundbox in 1926 for the low-end tabletop and portable models when did not have Orthophonic horns.  It was essentially a larger version of the No. 2 Soundbox, providing slightly improved performance with the new electrical recordings. It was discontinued within a few years.


The Victor "horseshoe magnet" Electrola Pickup was used on all electronic (Electrola) phonographs, beginning in 1925. It went through several design iterations over the course of almost 10 years (including the later addition of the Victor "Nipper" logo being stamped on-front), even after RCA bought-out the Victor Talking Machine Company. It was an excellent performer; one of the first electromagnetic phono pick-ups to be mass-produced.

When "Radio-Adaptable" Victrolas were introduced in 1924, this interesting soundbox appeared as an accessory . It allowed the user to connect their radio's output directly to their Victrola, transforming the phonograph's horn into a "speaker". To operate, one would remove the regular Victrola soundbox from the tonearm, connect the radio output cables to the two Bakelite terminals on the adapter soundbox, and then attach the adapter soundbox to the Victrola's tonearm. Performance was marginal at best, and it was a short-lived concept.



Victrola Keys (provided in nickel and gold plating)


Standard Victrola keys were included with most of the floor-model machines, with plating to match the hardware. These were used to lock both the lid and the record storage area. The classic "V" symbol dominated the design

The "VV-330" model (and a few other high-end models) used a distinctive key.


Some of the Victrola "Period Models" also used a unique key design, such as this one from an "Adam" model

Forward to Lid Supports and Albums

Back to Cranks and Brakes