Grahame N's Web Pages
by Grahame L. Newnham B.Sc.
Optical sound had been available in the 1930s for the home showman on both the 9.5mm and 16mm formats. Whilst the films were easily obtained, (many were actually for sale), these could be hired from comprehensive film libraries. In the UK just after the second World War in the late 1940s, actual new talkie projectors were not yet available at all in 9.5mm and quite scarce or even very expensive in 16mm.
This led to a spate of 'bolt-on' attachments for optical sound films, generally produced by virtual cottage industry outfits, who no doubt obtained reasonable sales until the early 1950s when Pathéscope introduced the 'Pax' 9.5mm optical sound projector from France and started manufacture of their home designed 'Son' 9.5mm optical sound projector in the UK.
Most of these sound bases were well designed, but there was one main drawback - the projector motor speed. All the silent projectors had series wound, variable speed motors. These motors were not always able to quite reach the projection speed of 24 frames/second and didn't really run at constant speed. Some companies did sometimes offer projector modifications to fit a speed governor, but this increased overall cost. The big attraction was that these sound conversion bases were usually around £35; some companies just offered the sound drum and flywheel, for users to build their own amplifiers etc.
So herewith is the beginnings of yet another equipment section on my web-pages - these various sound attachments - the first batch for optical sound film reproduction from around 1948, and a later batch introduced around 1955 for magnetic sound recordimg and playback on film. Incidentally makers names and addresses were relevant at the time these items were manufactured; but these days most have dissapeared or moved locations!.
Corrections of typos, errors, omissions etc. are gratefully welcome. Sadly none of the items listed below are available to buy new these days, but maybe some will turn up at cine fairs, car boot sales or on that addictive internet auction site ebay.
OPTICAL SOUND ADAPTORS
Most of these units seem to have appeared from the late 1940s onwards. Usually a base on which a silent cine projector was stood. An economic way to run optical sound films. Quality of the sound really depended on the projector used - would it run at the sound speed of 24 frames/second and would the projector running speed be stable!
|ASSOCIATED CINE EQUIPMENTS LTD.||Associated Cine Equipments Ltd,
353 Bexley Road, Erith, Kent, UK
Below is an advertisement from the December 1949 Amateur Cine World magazine - after WW2 a number of optical sound conversions appeared in the UK. This 'Ace' unit looks quite smart and neatly matches the Pathéscope 'Gem' recently introduced cine projector. This base consists of a compact amplifier, with the valves (probably octal GT series) mounted horizontally to obtain that compact design. Positioned just in front of the projector is the sound drum with flywheel, an extra roller ensures the return film path doesn't rub on the lower part of the lamphouse. Reading the advert below - it states ' ideal for use by lady teachers' - well, this looks as though the copywriters thought ladies were of some use for something then ........
ACW advert Dec1949
My notes mention that a version of the "Ace" was also available for the Specto projector from around 1950. The Specto unit was an alloy casting made to match the shape and style of the Specto projector. The photo-cell was a CG-10 with a 4 volt 6 amp exciter lamp; the amplifier valves were octal base types - 5Z4 or 5Z4M rectifier, 6J7 or 6J7M first stage, 6SN7 or 6SN7GT double triode second stage amplifier and phasesplitter, and 2 x 6V6 or 6V6M push-pull output pentodes, giving 10 or 12 watts output. The units could be supplied with two carry cases - one for the projector, the other for the amplifier and 10 inch Wharfedale 15 ohm loud speaker. The "Ace" Specto sound unit was reviewed in the Amateur Cine World magazine October 1950.
Amateur Cine World magazine advert May 1950
Specto with "Ace" unit in the 'flesh' - thanks to ebay! - speed control knob is not original though!
This example has been upgraded with Q.I. lamp, electronic speed control and transistor amplifier
The Specto unit is a bit unconventional in that the film goes round the sound unit after the take-up sprocket and before it goes onto the take-up spool. However reviews suggest that it worked well and the projectors managed to keep up a steady speed.
|BOLEX||Paillard S.A., Sainte-Croix, Switzerland
UK: Cinex Limited, Bolex House,
Burleigh gardens, Southgate, London N.34
Bolex began with a disc sound cine system around 1930 with an adaptation of a 16mm cine projector and 78rpm record player. A year or two later around 1932 they offered an upgraded system using their DA cine projector for 9.5mm and 16mm films.
Bolex sound-on-disc outfit, based on the DA projector
Home Movies & Home Talkies magazine advert - Vol 1 No.10 - Mar1933
Later, first announced in the October 1939 Amateur Cine World magazine was a rather heavy and chunky casting finished in much the same colour as the Paillard Bolex projectors type G916, G3 and G16 models. The projector fitted on top of the sound unit, at the rear, with the necessary sound drum, flywheel, guide rollers and sound head held up at the front of the projector. The G916 conversion actually sported an extended take-up arm assembly so that the take-up spool was just forward of the whole assembly (see illustration and photos following).
The base fitted to the projector with three chromed screws at the sides, these operating sliding sleeves, making a complete unit - but rather heavy! There was a large size, heavy wooden case which housed the amplifier unit and contained a decent size permanent magnet loud speaker.
My Bolex example is similar to the one shown in the advert above. My example has a Bolex G916 projector fitted, so was able to show both 9.5mm and 16mm optical sound films.The set-up accepts just 900 foot spools. Originally these machines were supplied with resistance fed 110 volt pre-focus 500 or 750 watt lamps (my example has been converted to 24 volt 150 watt QI lamp A1/216). Whilst the normal G series projectors had a series wound variable speed motor, it seems that those used in the sound versions were soon to have an electrically controlled speed governor fitted. I have just received a superb repro. Bolex booklet dated 1937 which includes the note below:-
Sept1937 - still provision for record turntable linkage but now a governor for the future optical sound-head
I recall it was working fine (on 9.5mm) when I purchased it many moons ago, but it will be a major upheaval to extricate it from my 'museum room' - ie front smaller bedroom, to give it a good going over! My Bolex G916 'talkie' example has a serial number of 100178.
Bolex G916 mounted on Bolex optical sound base
The amplifier unit was packed in a large wooden carry case equiped with a decent (10 inch?) size permanent magnet loudspeaker unit - the case also had spaces for a loud speaker cable reel and the 9.5mm / 16mm conversion parts. Rather heavy though!
Bolex 9.5mm / 16mm talkie speaker / amplifier carrry case
Bloex G916 talkie conversion parts - 9.5mm silent / 16mm gates; 16mm spindles; 16mm sound gate; 16mm single perf. sprockets
A closer look at my 'sound base' indicates that it is not British made - the text on the knob controls is original - probably Swiss (ie from Bolex). There are controls for On/Off/Volume; Tone and the Microphone input (to allow 'voice over' commentaries for example. The black knob at the front raises and lowers the front feet for height adjustment. I notice that the mains input on the reverse side has had the later IEE mains input socket fitted - I now know this was the work of John Critchley - there is a typed threading instructions note in the large speaker/carry case. So my amplifier has been rebuilt with post-war components, probably in the late 1950s or 1960s.
The sound base on my Bolex G916 'talkie' projector
Needless to say, I just had to lift off the cover! (Just unscrew the four outer larger head screws on the base plate, the smaller four screws secure it to the amplifier body). Now another puzzle! The innards are certainly British! UK upgraded since it was new - there are four valves, B9A type, I guess EF86 low noise first stage, ECC83 double triode second stage and phase splitter, 2 x EL84 output pentodes. Maybe someone still remembers the history of this piece of kit! Certainly the valves move us to the later 1950s. Output transformer is on the right hand side. I guess the centre one is for the amplifier and the transformer on the left must supply the projector motor (110 volts) and 24 volts for the upgraded A1/216 24 volt 150 watt lamp.
The 'innards' of my Bolex G916 talkie outfit - looks rather modified to me!
This ACW advert dates from 1940
||BONEHAM & TURNER LTD.||Boneham & Turner Ltd.
Mansfield, Notts, UK
First announced (I think), in the December 1949 Amateur Cine World magazine was a rather heavy and chunky casting that was finished in much the same colour as the Paillard Bolex projectors type G916, G3 and G16 models. The projector fitted on top of the sound unit, at the rear, with the necessary sound drum, flywheel, guide rollers and sound head held up at the front of the projector. The set-up was very similar to the actual Bolex sound attachment.
ACW magazine advert Dec1949
I must finish to add that Boneham & Turner Ltd are still in full swing as a UK engineering company - founded in 1918 their web-site proudly boasts. I doubt that they now could supply a circuiit diagram for that 1949 cine sound base though!
88 Greenfield Avenue,
Watford, Herts, UK
from late 1940s:-
1725 Leigh Road,
Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, UK
A really early entry into this optical sound attachment field in the UK. This company, formed in 1942 by F.G. Benson began immediately by publishing a booklet on sound conversions. From the first edition, a duplicated and stapled 1941 effort to later nicely commercially printed editions with card covers, by 1944 it had been reprinted three or four times! In fact I would guess that of the other conversions listed on this page, most were based on the designs in this top selling booklet!
One of the popular sound conversion booklets
By 1947, there were a range of sound conversion booklets, the general one, plus specific booklets for the 200B, Kodascope C etc. But by now, the company were also offering parts for these sound conversions, catering for the 'do-it-yourself' enthusiasts. The booklet is excellent, beginning with details of the optical sound tracks, then simple experiments just using the projected image of a soundtrack to fall on a photo-cell plugged into a convenient radio-set, then amplifier and hardware designs with lots of practical advice. Maybe I should consider doing a few reprints to sell on my lists!
Amateur Cine World magazine advert April 1947
By 1947, the company had moved to an address in Leigh-on-Sea, where they traded for some years - not sure if this was a business premises or just from a shed in the garden. Certainly the little display adverts ran for some time - hopefully the company continued to be successful - was there any connection with the later Supersound business in the same area I wonder?
|CINESMITH PRODUCTS||Cinesmith Products,
Barnsley, Yorks, UK
Announced at about the same time as the "Ace" unit, the 'Cinesmith' was also based on the newly introduced Pathéscope 'Gem' cine projector. Two models were to be available - one for 9.5mm, the other for 16mm. This amplifier was designed with the valves mounted upright as in normal practice but this made the unit more chunky. Not sure what the 'vernier speeed control' meant. Can't say I have ever seen one of these in the flesh so to speak. Cinesmith also manufactured dual -gauge conversions for the Specto and Pathéscope 200B machines.
ACW magazine advert Dec1949
Later 1948 Amateur Cine World advertisements mentioned that their sound film units were available for Seimens, Specto and Pathéscope 200B and 'H' projectors. All I can find about Cinesmith is that it was established in 1932; run by a Fred Smith, also a music teacher. By 1954 they were offering a TV chassis to fit in ones own cabinet for £54, but sadly went into receivership in 1968.
|GENERAL LAMINATIONS||General Lamination Products Ltd.,
Cine Div., Winder House, Broadway, Bexleyheath, Kent
This appears to be a company winding transformers who diversified into these optical sound adaptor units. Don't think I have come across their stuff - only a few adverts seem to have appeared.
Advert in the Amateur Cine World magazine August 1947
Glancing through my odd snippets, I came across this nice looking piece of kit, which in it's optical only form, appeared in the late 1940s or maybe the early 1950s. Only problem, is this was marketed in Australia and I don't think ever marketed in the UK. A little similar to the "Ace" sound attachment listed at the top of this page, it was intended for use with the 9.5mm Pathéscope "Gem" projector. The mention of a fixed speed of 24 frames/second, suggests that a projector modification was available that involved fitting a governor of some sort (the "Gem" motor does tend to 'hunt' a little!). Maybe they fitted the "Son" governor? I notice that the basic unit was an optical sound version - 9.5mm optica\l sound films seem to have sold well in Australia, I myself was lucky to obtain some interesting titles from 'down under' and the 9.5mm sound films were in remarkably good condition!
The other interesting thing to note, is that there was also a version including magnetic stripe sound - maybe I should list this entry further down the page as well! The magnetic stripe indicates a date of around 1955 or later. The movie booklet scan below is dated 1958 / 1959 on the cover. I may spot a mention in the Amateur Cine World magazine to accurately date this interesting piece of equipment.
An updated scan - from an Australian 1958/1959 Movie Guide (Home Cinemas Pty. Ltd)
(by then there was a magnetic / optical unit as well)
The 'innards' of a Kleesound optical sound attachment
Having just found the Australian Movie Guide dated 1958 / 1959 we know that the 'Kleesound' was still in production, together with a versiom for magnetic and optical sound. I also have an article written by Denzil Howson, and another by Mike Trickett, all about the 'Kleesound'. I guess it must be Mike who sent me this material a while ago - so a belated thanks!! (I had a spate of ill health, so not a lot got done for a while!)
The Kleesound adaptor was the brainchild of Alan Kleeberg, an engineer working for Home Cinemas, the distributors of Pathé and Pathéscope products in Australia. The unit took the form of a base containing the amplifier with the necessary flywheel and optical sound reader system, based on the 'Pax' design. The total number of units manufactured is not exactly known, but is estimated at well over 50.
The unit was supplied in a sturdy carry case, which incorporated the loud-speaker, and had sufficient room to accomodate both the Klee-sound adaptor as well as the Pathéscope Gem projector. The unit was assembled from Australian made parts with a valve line-up of - 927PE photocell; 6J7 pre-amp; 6SJ7 intermediate amplifier; 6L6G output and 5Y3GT rectifier. The speaker was a 10 inch Rola model 10G (same as the 'Son'), which was mounted in the combined carry-case speaker box.
Incidentally, once the home movie industry began to decline, Alan Kleeberg (despite his lack of technical qualifications), secured a post at Channel 9 TV. Within a few short weeks he was provided with a Technical Laboratory and an assistant. Whenever a technical problem arose, the cry went out "Send for Kleeberg"! He remained on their staff for over thirty years, remaining after retirement, as a free-lancer. He died, after a long and painfull illness in June 1997.
|LADELL & CO.||Ladell & Co.,
14 Wardour Mews,
London, W.1, UK
Beginning with sound conversion bases for 16mm machines, Ladell were advertising in the Amateur Cine World magazine with units for the Specto projector, plus Bolex, Seimens, Filmo etc. So I guess the only 9.5mm units one might come across from Ladell would be the Specto sound base. I think these were packed in a speaker / carry case. An odd shape like an 'H' with side legs and the cross piece with the volume and tone controls.
Advert in the Amateur Cine World magazine July 1949
Woodham Park Road,
West Byfleet, Surrey, UK
A well known name in the UK 'add-on' soundhead market, but I have only just managed to locate adverts - so they must have sprung up in the 1950s. I don't have access to my example at the moment, so will just have to wait till I spot a photo. The Scanrite sound adaptor was a simple plate which fixed to the lower take-up area of a cine projector. The unit had guide rollers, a rotating sound drum with pulley and exciter lamp, optics and a photo-cell. Generally I think it was intended to be connected to a suitable amplifier or radio set. They also supplied parts for 'do-it-yourself' construction.
ACW advert July 1950
|SOFIL||Southern Film Services Ltd.
5 Mackenzie St.,Slough,Bucks,UK
Another 'cottage industrry' that sprung up during or just after the second World War. I've yet to check war-time cine magazines, but so far adverts I have spotted, suggest that the 'Sofil' optical sound attachments appeared during 1947. Quite a conventional valve amplifier (which could also be used for Public Address etc.) had the projector stand on top. The sound head attachment was quite a neat design, consisting of various rollers to guide the film around a rotating sound drum fitted with a decent flywheel. An exciter lamp directed the light beam through the film sound track into a shielded photo-cell casing. The amplifier had power output for the exciter lamp and connections for the photo-cell.
My own example (now sadly still at the ill-fated Curzon Collection cinema museum) was fitted to a Pathéscope 200B projector, but the sound head adaptor plate would fit many other machines both 9.5mm and 16mm with very little bother.
Advert in the Amateur Cine World magazine Juuly 1947
From my scribbled notes, the Sofil amplifier probably used four valves (octal base types - no doubt government war surplus at the time!), 5Z4G rectifier, 2 x EF37 first & second stage high-gain pentodes (plus surely an output pentode?). There was 6.3 volt MES pilot lamp and a 6 volt AC supply for the exciter lamp. (The exciter lamp would have been a high-current type - say 30 watts, to reduce mains hum). The interesting construction of the amplifier had wiring connections twisted round on a thin wooden rod!
The Sofil amplifier is reviewed in the August 1947 Amateur Cine World magazine, so must have been just introduced. We read it boasted additional inputs for gramophone and microphone and claimed an output of 10 watts push-pull with a negative feedback tone control circuit. The photo-cell voltage was easily adjustable.
This advert in the ACW for April 1948 clearly shows the 'Sofil' soundhead - my notes say 'similar to the "Scanrite" soundhead'
ACW advert June or July 1948
I must mention that this company actually marketed a proper 16mm optical sound talkie projector, advertised in the Amateur Cine World magazine for December 1950. Because of the massive import duties at the time, I would guess this machine was British made and presumably by Southern Film Services themselves; I've never come across an example, then my main interest is 9.5mm of course!
ACW advert December 1950
MAGNETIC SOUND ADAPTORS
Magnetic stripe on film appeared in the early 1950s -I believe Pathé in France were possibly the first to offer a magnetic stripe sound projector around 1951 but these were not imported into the UK until a few years later. The idea of add-on attachments seems to have arrived in the mid to later 1950s. Whi;st these add-on units may have been good for ones home movies, I'm not sure if the sound / picture separation was similar to that used on commercial releases. Remember there were also gadgets to link reel-to-reel tape recorders with cine projectors.
|PATHÉSCOPE||Pathéscope (Great Britain) Ltd,
North Circular Road, Cricklewood, UK
Pathéscope Aurator Magnetic Stripe attachment
Pathé were possibly one of the first with sound on stripe with the French made Marignan cine projector. By about 1955 Pathéscope in the UK had launched a magnetic stripe adaptor base for machines like the Gem. It had a valve amplifier built-in; it relied on the projector to pull the film through the machine - with guide rollers and a sound-drum with a flywheel. Models were also announced for 16mm machines. So far I only have what may be the development model - not in the original smart case with loud speaker in the cover - still looking for a good example!
ACW magazine advert Sept 1955
Probably not imported to the UK, this interesting gadget is listed in the French Pathé catalogue dated 1956. Reel-to-reel magnetic tape recorders were in full swing in the mid / late 1950s - in France, Pathé-Cinema (part of the parent company) marketed televisions and tape recorders. Hence this device to synchronise a tape recorder with current Pathé cine projectors. Haven't come across an example in the flesh so to speak, but it appears the magnetic tape ran round the large capstan roller- connection to the 9.5mm cine projector must have been electric or mechanical by bowden cable. Or was it the other way round with the film going round the capstan - does anyone know or even own one?
French S.C.I. Pathé general catalogue 1956
(by then the French 'home movie' bit of Pathé was 'Societe Commerciale et Industrielle Pathé)
It would help if I read over the page in this catalogue!! My poor French (and a very drawn out description) explains that the unit consists of two plates - one turning with the tape recorder - yes - the magnetic taoe goes round the top!); the other with the variable speed projector (must be a mechanical connection). The two plates control a variable resistance (in the circuit of the projector motor) so if the projector speed varies then the device pulls the projector back into sync. - we hope! There is also an override for 'faster' or 'slower'. Wonder what our dear Harry Garlick would think of this fiendish contraption.......
French ebay item - not sold Oct 2016
There was a similar model offered on French ebay in October last year - starting at 80 Euros and no bids! Same case, but different controls - one knob less, but lights for 'fast' and 'slow', Strange that the magnetic tape rollers are rather overwidth, maybe thay had a batch of spare 16mm ones! I have found this version with one knob was a later model, still listed in a 1961 catalogue. It could also be used with sprocketed magnetic recording tape.
|PETERSON||Avondale Developments Ltd.,
9a Bicklry Park Road,
Peterson Magnetic Stripe Cine sound base
I vaguely remember this sound base - the projector sat on top of the device, a capstan drive pulled the film past the record/playback and erase heads and the film was taken up on a spool mounted on the attachment. This idea made the film path easier, but only up to 400 foot spools could be used. Models were offered for all three film gauges. Ingeneously, the 8mm model could also be used with magnetic tape as a standard tape recorder. I think the lid lifted off and contained the loudspeaker. I have never possessed one of these to really use it. I guess it was a sort of 'cottage' industry production, few are seen around today.
I believe the unit was demonstrated at an International event around 1957, at the time it was from the Nederlands. This example does look British made though. The name Peterson is (or was) connected with sound recording over the years - maybe in the USA - makes it difficult to do a useful 'google' search! Now discovered from the Amateur Cine World dated May 1957, that the Peterson magnetic recorder came from a Nederlands, manufacturer - N.V. Setrac, 9-11 Waideck, Pyrmontlaan, Amsterdam Z, Holland. I guess the UK company on the advert below, modified the design for 9.5mm models and to allow the 8mm model to run reel-to-reel tapes.
Amateur Cine World magazine advert - December 1958
Amateur Cine World magazine July 1958
Don't forget the Australian "Kleesound" - see the entry in the optical sound list above.
7-8 The Croft
High Street, Harlesden,
Amateur Cine World (weekly) magazine advert - 25Feb1965
Adsonic Magnetic Stripe Cine Sound Unit
This was originally marketed for 8mm films - Named the "Adsonic 66" it seems to have been launched early in 1965. A decent design with it's own built-in drive motor which automatically adjusted to the projector speed. The variable speed drive looked rather like those used on the contempory record players! The unit was built on a decent metal chassis, mounted into a polished wood case. The record/play amplifier sported Mullard valves, the output being an EL84 I recall. There were two inputs with mixing / fading facilities. Sadly, I notice that the company went into liquidation in October 1967, so this product had a short life!
Amateur Cine World (weekly) magazine article illustration - 25Feb1965
The first mention of a version for 9.5mm is in the Group 9.5 magazine dated June/July 1965 where there is a description of the device being made especially in a 9.5mm version for LGP Cine (the late Larry Pearce).
Three years or so later, that keen 9.5mm film maker and part-time dealer Paul Carnell, began advertising these Adsonic units in versions really to suit the little 9.5mm Cinegel projectors. The 9.5mm version had an extra sliding shelf fitted on the top, allowing easy positioning of the projector on top. Maybe he converted them himself or (as the firm was nearby), got them to do the work Either way, it was really quite good value and worked fine - I used one myself for a while (I still have the thing, but it was loaned to the ill-fated Curzon Movie Museum a few years ago). I hope to add more information and a 'real' photo if I get the thing back!
Undated 'flyer' also used as a full page advert in the Group 9.5 magazine May 1968
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Created 09Nov2015 ......... Last updated: 06 June 2018 ..........
95soundattach.htm .......... Grahame L. Newnham's web pages
16Nov2015 - Scanrite adaptor added / 17Nov2015 - Cineluxe added / 25Nov2015 - Sofil 16mm projector added
10Nov2015 - Bolex equipment updated and separated from Bonham & Turner / 13Nov2015 - Sofil adaptor added
26May2016 - extra Bolex sound-on-disc advert added / 09Feb2017 - Peterson attachment added
12Feb2017 - Adsonic magnetic unit added / 15Feb2017 - Kleesound unit added / 18Feb2017 - Pathe Synchroscope added
03Mar2017 - ACW Peterson review and Specto "Ace" photo added / 04Sep2017 - extra Kleesound photo and information added