CD Phonograph Brings Old-time Charm To Modern Music


[Jozerworx] had always wanted to build a CD player that looked like an old-time Victrola Phonograph player, though he never seemed to be able to find the time to do it. With all of his other projects out of the way, he decided to finally get started on building his phonograph.

He went garage sale hunting and found the perfect base for his project – an old wooden box adorned with tarnished brass hardware. He started in on the project immediately, dismantling a cheap CD player and mounting the motor/laser assembly on the top of the box. The CD player internals were installed inside the wooden box, along with a small audio amplifier stripped from a portable iPod speaker.

A brass horn was fashioned out of an ornament, in order to complete the phonograph feel, but also to act as a passive amplifier. He then mounted a series of switches on the top of the box to allow him to control the CD player’s basic functions.

[Jozerworx] says that it sounds decent, though there are some things he would change. He plans on switching out the audio amplifier and possibly the speakers at some point in the future. He is also still keeping his eye out for a larger, and more effective horn.

23 thoughts on “CD Phonograph Brings Old-time Charm To Modern Music

  1. @Rebel
    Yeah, they were called something like that, “Vinyl CD-R” I think. They actually looked really good from the top, even had the paper label around the spindle hole.

    The bottom side was blue though, which always bothered me.

  2. Not to knock a maker, any maker – this is a nicely done project; and an absolutely horribly mimicked phonograph.

    For a decent one, there should be a proper shaped and sized horn and no visible “controls” – knobs or connectors, that would not be there on a period item. Also, possibly a DSP audio filter to “phonography” the sound (great opportunity to go beyond the Arduino) before it goes to the speaker. Yes, the one speaker. Preferably mounted to the mouth of the horn. If you insist, it could have a concealed headphone jack and/ar A2DP module built-in, for the times you actually want to hear music. And if you really want to go the extra mile, possibly a way to conceal the CD head slot until it’s actually playing…

  3. I love the concept of a naked CD player, to see the disc spinning is way cool. The safety nurds had to do the door interlock crap and spoil the fun. In drawer types the little rubber drive belt fails, and bricks the unit for most. I hacked mine when the slide failed. The motor spindle and optics was moved to the front inside of the removed drawer hole, tilted out slightly. The spindle is changed with one from a portable. Relays make the load button read the ToC and then you can hit play.
    Look at the first gen Berliner disc players for copy ideas, the discs were about the same size.

  4. Here is an idea on similar lines…

    Something to play MP3s instead of CDs;

    Use a real record, an old 78 maybe and pick up arm, perhaps hack a real turntable. Use sensors/ switches on the arm to detect changes in the angular position, perhaps a small nudge one way would skip forward, a larger displacement skips to the next track and likewise the other way skips back. Putting the arm ‘home’ stops play back. That should be quite easy to connect up in place of buttons on a hacked (cheap) MP3 player. A really ambitious version might try to slow down playback if the turntable is slowed or might think up a way of selecting artist or genre based on which specific vinyl disc is on the turntable, concealed magnets, optical code…

  5. Vaguely disappointing (though understandable) that it doesn’t play with the data side up. If you mounted the read head on an arm, would it have to stay parallel to the spiral track’s tangent, or is the read area close enough to a point that orientation is irrelevant?

  6. Hey, thanks for all the feedback, a couple of responses:

    The laser is not dangerous. Its less than 1mW (laser pointers are up to 5mW), and its focal length is something like 1mm above the lens. Laser mice are actually more dangerous.

    You don’t need a DSP to get the low fidelity phonograph sound. Using a horn as a mechanical amplifier actually does the trick, it takes all the bass out of the sound and makes it sound tinny and retro. The only things it is missing are the “pops” of a dirty record, and the tremolo caused by variations in rotational speed of a crappy speed regulator.

  7. One small gripe…not with the project itself, that’s very cool. But the white on black page is difficult to read. I could only make it out by selecting the text as I read it.

  8. I had something similar in my mind. Luckily, if you wait long enough someone will do everything instead you.

    My 0.02€ would be idea to use needle assembly as part of user interface. So to jump to next song You have to lift “needle” and lower it another on position. If You do it without list DSP wil generate some nastiness. Of course, i would use tiny wheel instead of actualneedle.

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