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Vintage Audio (record players, hi-fi etc) Amplifiers, speakers, gramophones and other audio equipment.

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Old 25th Nov 2012, 3:03 pm   #1
Audio1950
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Default HMV and Columbia soundbox identification

It has been suggested that a thread be started on this subject, so here goes.
I've started with some of the most common soundboxes from the two most famous gramophone makers, "His Master's Voice" and Columbia.

The first two pics show the HMV "Exhibition" and the No.4. Next, the side view of the No.4 shows the protruding rubber grommet at the back. This indicates that this is the infamous pot-metal backed version. On the earlier, brass backed version, the grommet lies flush with the surrounding metal. Beware of taking this as failsafe, howerever, as the two types of grommet can be interchanged.

Next comes the HMV 5B, considered by many as one of the best soundboxes ever. The 5A is externally identical, but the diaphram has a slightly different design round the outer edge.
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Old 25th Nov 2012, 3:11 pm   #2
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Default Re: HMV and Columbia soundbox identification

Now a few "Columbia"s.

First is the No.15. Available in nickel or chrome. Used extensively on the "plano-reflex" tonearms, where each bend is cut at 45 degrees.

Next two are the front and back of the No.8, made to swivel round in a straight tone arm to facillitate needle changing.

Finally, the front and back of a No.9.
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Old 25th Nov 2012, 5:48 pm   #3
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Default Re: HMV and Columbia soundbox identification

Thanks for that Barry. What are the practical differences of the Exhibition 2 and 4? I seem to have narrowed the required one down to one of those. As I have acoustic and electrical records would I need both?

Also could you confirm that the connecting pipe is 3/4" OD?

Thanks
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Old 25th Nov 2012, 8:01 pm   #4
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Default Re: HMV and Columbia soundbox identification

The "Exhibition" and the No.2 had a much smaller, thicker diaphram, and a somewhat cruder stylus bar suspension. When electrical recording became the norm, a new soundbox had to be made to cope with the more heavily modulated grooves, hence the No.4. The No.4 is by far the better sounding of all three, but, as said before, the Exhibition will play anything, but if we're getting really technical, it will probably be at the expense of your more modern records, due to it's limited range of movement. How much of an effect this would have in practise, I can't tell you. I don't monitor my 78s that closely, I'm afraid. To sum up, the final choice is down to you, whether you want historical accuracy, or worry-free music!

I've just measured the O/D of the HMV arm that my Exhibition is fitted to, and it's slightly smaller than 3/4", it's 11/16".

Barry
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Old 25th Nov 2012, 8:21 pm   #5
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Default Re: HMV and Columbia soundbox identification

You certainly know your stuff Barry. It is almost certainly an Exhibition that was originally fitted then.

Have been offered the black one with 'Exhibition' on the front with a new back chucked in but haven't a clue what to offer.
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Old 25th Nov 2012, 8:52 pm   #6
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Default Re: HMV and Columbia soundbox identification

The only thing I can advise you on here is that I've just bought a new back for mine, and that alone was 12.00. Taking that into account, I'd say that around 50.00 would be a good offer, but be prepared to go a bit more.

Barry
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Old 18th Feb 2014, 7:56 pm   #7
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Default Re: HMV and Columbia soundbox identification

Further to Barry's information, there are 2 versions of the Columbia No.9. One with a domed front and one with a truncated cone front, the latter were also fitted to the plano-reflex tonearm in portables at least.

I have also added photos of a couple of diaphragms. An HMV No.5b and a Columbia/HMV No.15.
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Old 18th Feb 2014, 10:21 pm   #8
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Default Re: HMV and Columbia soundbox identification

Here's what a plano-reflex tonearm looks like.
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Old 4th May 2014, 1:34 pm   #9
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Default Re: HMV and Columbia soundbox identification

Before HMV the company was called The Gramophone and Typewriter Co. and the Exhibition soundboxes were imported from the USA, so here is a photo of an early model. These are sought after to go with early machines so are worth more than the HMV version.
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Old 4th May 2014, 2:30 pm   #10
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Default Re: HMV and Columbia soundbox identification

Here's another HMV Soundbox from the 30s.

The first 102 portables came with the No.16 soundbox, on which the front was swaged onto the back, so it cannot be easily repaired. HMV soon replaced this with the 5B.

Early 102s also had a pressed steel motorboard with a lithographed woodgrain pattern. The case was slightly lower (about 5mm) than the later ones with plywood motorboards which were leatherette faced for coloured cases or varnished for black cases. The steel motorboard models are much rarer than the plywood ones, but most people don't recognize the difference, so you could find a bargain. Remember leatherette or varnish = plywood and printed woodgrain = steel.

The most sought after 102s are the red leather covered ones with the gilt fittings.
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Last edited by knightley; 4th May 2014 at 2:54 pm.
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Old 2nd Jul 2014, 3:53 pm   #11
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Default Re: HMV and Columbia soundbox identification

Addendum to last post.

Very late 102s have the case sides level with the motorboard and no cut out for the winding handle.

Also, even the black ones have leatherette covering to the motorboard.
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Old 11th Oct 2015, 8:51 pm   #12
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Default Re: HMV and Columbia soundbox identification

Hi.

I've just been give this gem !. It works really well. The cabinet needs a little care though. Very loud. I got 12 records (Jass).
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