Presented by Ian McIver
Welcome to The Virtual Radiogram. For those not familiar with the term "radiogram", it was a 1930s combination of a radio (or wireless) and a gramophone (or phonograph) into a large piece of furniture which could reproduce sounds from both 78 rpm records and radio signals (AM, of course).
The radiogram is symbolic of this website, on which you can listen to theatre organs fifty years or more ago as heard on both records and broadcasts.
The sounds are more or less as they would have been heard up to eighty years ago, so please do not expect high fidelity sound. I have not undertaken extensive restoration work on these recordings, as I have no wish to compete with those who have done this work and have released on CD a number of excellent regenerations of old theatre organ recordings. Please buy their CDs.
The purpose of The Virtual Radiogram is to enable those interested in the history of theatre organs and organists to explore the sounds of what might be described as the "Golden Age" of the theatre organ, worldwide, and to experience the sounds of virtually new and "untouched" organs by a variety of builders. You will also be able to gain insight into the playing skills and techniques of organists of the past.
Please remember as you wait for the sounds to download, that back in the radiogram days, you had to wait two or three minutes while the amplifier "warmed up" before you could enjoy your broadcast or records. You also had to change the gramophone needle after each side of each record, then go to your record cabinet, select and take out the next record you wanted to play. The whole listening process was not one to be hurried, as a dropped record became in most cases a broken record.
I have tried to minimise download times by creating files in WMA (Windows media) format, as I have found that, at least with historical low-fidelity recordings, acceptable results can be achieved with remarkably small files (approximately one third the size of the lowest bit-rate MP3 files), which can be played using the standard WinAmp software. Because of the high degree of compression, there is a slight background noise. This is considerably less intrusive, though, than the "hiss" that was an inescapable part of the pre-war record-playing experience - the digitising process has removed most of that hissing sound. If you do not have WinAmp, you can download the latest version free of charge here (be sure to download the FULL version, which has Windows Media Audio (WMA) support.
I find a suitable basic setting for WinAmp's graphic equaliser for these recordings is
but you might like to raise the 6K filter for the later recordings.
Steve Ashley in England has provided advice for those who use Mac computers:
Thanks, Steve, for that advice. I believe those who have Windows Media Player on their Windows PCs do not need to download WinAmp unless they wish to.
It is my understanding that the recordings featured on this educational website, having been released fifty or more years ago, are now able to be used for the purpose of the site; however, if any person's rights have been infringed by the inclusion of a track or tracks, should they notify me of this, the item(s) will be removed. A full discussion of copyright, as it relates to historical recordings, may be found here.
What sound is that ?
Buddy Cole demonstrates the various ranks, precussions and effects of his 3/27 studio organ:
Introduction and Flutes Strings Diapason Tibia Vox Humana Other reeds
Tuned percussions, "Toy Counter" and non-tonal percussions
Putting it all together
Note: These files are in stereo and will take longer to load than the other Virtual Radiogram files
Visit the Virtual Lounge Room (press "Back" to return)
Please click here to explore the UK sound files
Please click here to explore the American sound files
Please click here to explore the Australian sound files
Please click here to enter the new Listening Room to study in depth restored 78-era recordings of Jesse Crawford
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