1928 Victor Orthophonic Portable Victrola Model VV 2-55
PICTURES WILL TAKE A FEW SECONDS TO
Check out these Videos recorded on the
A program of great records made by the
Wizard of Camden, Victor’s conductor Nat Shilkret.
El Choclo – Tango Argentino, Tap Dance,
Parade of the Wooden Soldiers (with the Trinity Church Organ)
Me and My Shadow (1927 – 1930)
Nat Shilkret and the Eveready Hour
Group in a stunning symphonic program (1927)
Goin’ Home (based on the Largo of Dvorak’s New World Symphony, a 5 min 20 sec record!)
Down South (a curious mix of close harmony singing, classical citations and a hoedown)
Charles D’Almaine, one of the first
Violin Virtuosos (1903):
Balfe’s Then You’ll Remember Me (demonstrating constant speed on a worn Monarch record)
1928 – 1930 Price $35
23 ½ lbs
The VV 2-55
Orthophonic portable was Victor’s first fully Orthophonic portable. All
previous Victor portables were still equipped with a No. 4 soundbox.
large, heavy steel horn and the superb Orthophonic soundbox, the Victor VV 2-55
was not only Victor’s best sounding portable, but the best portable produced in
In 1929, HMV
obtained some of Victor’s portables for their next generation model:
“They were not liked.”
The timing of
the VV 2-55, launched in Summer 1928 and sold until 1930, gives some reason for
It is known from
letters to dealers that Victor stopped producing acoustic Victrolas in the
summer of 1928. After the existing stocks were depleted, only Electrolas were
that the horn of the 2-55 is made from the same very heave stock of steel plate
that was used for the big Orthophonic metal horn (in the 8-9, 8-35 and 10-35.)
Also, the case is completely made from stamped metal.
Was the 2-55 designed this way to use up steel stock and use the capacity on the stamping machines?
Also, we can
presume that Victor paid a hefty royalty fee to Western Electric for every
Orthophonic soundbox sold – after all, the Victor Orthophonic soundbox was not
a Victor invention, but licensed from WE. Was Victor able to negotiate a lower
royalty, now that the bulk of full-size Victrolas was gone? The timing suggest
this, also that the concurrent cheaper VV 2-35 at $25 was identical to the
2-55 at 35$, except for a simplified tone arm, and a Victor proprietary soundbox.
2-55 is a truly impressive machine: The heavy steel plate horn wraps tightly
around the motor, and the unusual “landscape” orientation of the case made it
possible to make a long and efficient horn. The heavy steel is very “tone dead”,
and does not produce deleterious vibrations or resonances.
construction however comes at a weight of 23 ½ lbs, which makes it one of the
The motor is
purpose-designed on a cast base. It is curious that it does not have a bottom
plate, but all the gears “hang” from the top base.
proprietary angled crank not only makes winding easy, it also does not
interfere with the horn.
The Victor motor cannot be praised enough: It is one of the strongest and smoothly running motors of all portables. It will play a 5 minute record without slowing down. The total absence of wow and flutter is very impressive.
The tone arm
and bracket is a scaled down design from the full-size victrolas: Its ball
bearing base and solid drawn-brass construction guarantee air tightness. The
tone arm bracket (and the sound box) are the two pot metal parts in the 2-55.
Other than the very early examples, the pot metal on these machines is very
good, and rarely swells or cracks. However, the wall thickness of the bracket
is ludicrously thin, one dropped lid may crack the bracket.
broken brackets can be repaired and structurally strengthened.
thing of late-production 2-55s is the use of rivets instead of screws: The tone
arm brake lever is riveted, as well as the spring barrel of the motor, which
makes servicing them a challenge. Nevertheless, the ball bearings need to be
filled with heavy grease to ensure a full tone.
When new, the
VV 2-55 must have been a gaudy affair: All hardware is painted with gold paint,
and the interior was covered with a gold crinkle paint.
with time, the hue of the crinkle paint has mellowed down to a caramel color.
Victor Orthophonic sound box was used on the 2-55 for the first time. Later,
under RCA management, the soundbox was slightly modified by removing the spider
and phasing plug. The face of the soundbox was covered with felt and an
additional shield to reduce needle talk. The RCA spiderless soundbox is
actually very interesting, especially when used with a large machine like the
Credenza: While it produces full range and full bass, the treble is much more
prominent, and allows you to get a much more vivid rendition out of “dull”
acoustic or early electric records
Victor Orthophonic Soundbox
RCA Spiderless Sound Box
1925 – 1929
1929 - 1933
The portable portable soundbox
is a regular Orthophonic soundbox with a felt cover. It retains the diaphragm
spider and the phasing plug. Finish is either reddish gold or gold paint.
The RCA portable soundbox
is a modified Orthophonic soundbox: diaphragm spider and the phasing plug
have been removed. The face is covered with a fine brass mesh. Finish
is often greenish gold.
Except for very early run 2-55s, portable sound boxes
usually do not have pot metal problems. They are uncracked and have no
swelling. However, the ball bearings in portable soundboxes need to be
rebuilt: They were originally held in place with rubber cement, which has
hardened and causes excessive friction. The inside of the solder joint in the
RCA soundbox should be checked for air tightness.
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