8/17/2013

c.1950 RCA Victor 12" Projector Speaker Cabinet


So, this is a metal-cased, plywood-baffled 12" Victor speaker cab that would've originally been sound for a 16mm projector. I picked this up from my buddy "up the hill" in town and it came complete with a bunch of excess projector-related transformer and power supply stuff which I removed. It was then just a simple old 12" speaker in a box. I wasn't expecting too much since it's a metal case and an unknown speaker.

Update: I forgot to mention that there's an extra panel that covers the face of this unit for protection in travel. It physically resembles the rear of this case but has a cool red "RCA Victor" jewel on it.

I popped some leads on and plugged this into the Orange Micro Terror that I've been using a bunch lately, and oh my! -- this thing sounds awesome. I couldn't believe it.

After doing a bit of research, it turns out that the 12" speakers in these Victor projector boxes are actually early Rola fixed-magnet types (as in: not field coil) of the same sort used in early '50s Gibson lap steel amps. Figures! The sound was so far above what I'd expect from a typical projector speaker it was sort of astounding. I actually used this as part of our "mains" for a concert just recently since it has such a clean, pure tone with lots of bass response.

I've also been using it in the shop with an iPod and this thing certainly does justice to Billie Holiday and Bob Wills.


I love the grill work. Note the silver-finished flamed maple plywood... pretty bizarre, but cool looking. The grill cloth is also fun vintage silvery stuff and moves around beautifully with big old low notes.


I liked this thing so much that I hard-installed a 20w tube-pre, solid-state power Orange Micro Terror into this guy since the steel of the case on this was thin enough to install permanently.

I'd like to replace those knobs with something more vintage but it's hard to find old stuff narrow enough.


Being a big old steel box, this thing is plenty durable, too.

Update: I neglected to include an internal shot! Here it is:


Below the speaker, the power supply is simply taped to the bottom of the cabinet with the power cord running out of the original power cord/incoming cable "out" slot in the bottom of the unit. Works nicely and keeps the power supply from rattling around.

I have an older 80s German-made 12AT7 tube in this right now (street value on these guys run ~$25-30) that sounds great. It's a bit less gain than the original JJ 12AX7 type but sounds a ton smoother and more suited to vintage styles (blues, rock, jazz).

4 comments:

Kevin Crowell said...

OK, truth be told I'm new to the amp world- strictly acoustic up until now- but I recently purchased an amplified Boat Paddle uke that I'd like to run through something. Would this amp allow me to make some basic adjustments to the sound (treble, base, etc.) other than volume? Or, would I have to run it though another device?

Antebellum Instruments said...

Kevin, yup -- 3 knobs: left = master volume, middle = tone, right = gain (tube preamp, = adds volume and distortion the more you increase it)

This amp gets hecka loud if you want it to (or stays room-quiet if you want it to) and the mini jack (green) bypasses the tube preamp and tone controls so you can hook an iPod or mixer board into it and use it as a clean "auxiliary in" channel like a powered PA speaker.

I'm actually only selling it because I have a second project that's very very similar to this one so I don't need two.

Petri from Finland said...

Hi there and greetings from Finland! Nice to see someone else also enjoying the cool sounds and vintage vibe of these great boxes.

I have two of these boxes. The first one I bought from a local guitar shop and it had been converted into cool tube combo amp by installing the amplifier section of an old Bell&Howell projector of same vintage on bottom of the cabinet. Needless to say that this thing rocks.

The second one I found on ebay and I paid like $200 for it incl. delivery to Finland. I'm planning on getting a custom built clone of some vintage Fender tube amp for this second cabinet. This cabinet came with an empty film reel attached to the inside of the back cover that you can use to store the guitar cable.

There's some codes on the speaker that points towards company called Cinaudagraph. The 60+ year old speaker seems to handle very well the power of overdriven 2x6V6 power amp section.

wolfie luth said...

I bought one of these but all wood with black tolex. dimed 5f1 5w with my LP and tone for days. Go from jazz clean to Angus with a flick of the volume knob. Incredibly responsive speaker.