I've been looking at a few different phonographs and I was wondering if there's a difference in quality of sound produced by an external horn phonograph compared to an internal horn phonograph ? I know some people claim external horn machines produce a clearer and louder tone, but is it true? Thanks
Don's right. Although external-horn machines are GENERALLY better than their internal-horn counterparts made at the same time, exceptions exist. Edison Gems, Pucks, Berliner Gramophones, and Polly Portables are not known for their fidelity although all have external horns. Yet some external-horn models excel: Edison Operas, any Edison equipped with a larger-diameter reproducer such as an O or Diamond B, Victor models I-VI, and some Columbia Graphophones with large diaphragm floating reproducers will play excellently. The horn's size and geometry will play a significant part in a particular machine's fidelity. For instance, an Edison Standard with a 14" black & brass horn will toot out music, but remove the small horn and fit a 30" morning glory horn - - it won't sound like the same machine.
Commonly found Victrolas and Grafonolas will play reasonably well as a rule, but in the mid-1920s both Victor and Columbia introduced scientifically designed machines (the Orthophonic Victrola and Columbia Viva-Tonal) which outperformed most anything that had been built up to that time. However, some Orthophonics and Viva-Tonals have smaller horns that perform more like their predecessors.
In Britain, EMG manufactured external-horn machines into the 1930s that featured huge, unwieldy horns that played superbly.
So, as Don said far more concisely, each machine must be judged on its own merits.
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