Primarily created by Opsonar, the Orchestron was an attempt at improving the Optigan, and it was intended to be used by professionnal musicians. It was David VanKoevering, a former Moog employee, who eventually produced the Orchestron with his company, Vako.
Compared to the Optigan, the Orchestron was more solid (it was made of wood instead of plastic) and more reliable, although it used the same system (optical scanning of celluloid discs). Thus, its sound was as poor as the Optigan’s, and it couldn’t compare with its main competitor, the Mellotron. The keyboard assigned to accompaniments and chords, which had been included in the Optigan, disappeared with the Orchestron.
8 specific records were produced:
- Pipe Organ
- Vocal Choir
- Solo French Horn
Pea Hix from optigan.com has made new records for Orchestron:
- String Ensemble
- Tremolo Electric Guitar
- Solo Female Voice
- Solo Trumpet
- Solo Trombone
- Brass Ensemble
- Bass Clarinet
Several Orchestron models were created from 1976 to 1978:
One keyboard models: Model A, B, C et D
Two keyboard models: Model C et D
Three keyboard version: Custom 3 manual (created for Patrick Moraz)
Four keyboard version: Xphase Four
The last two models included a synthesizer.
Because of its poor sound quality (low fidelity of optic discs, limited bandwidth… ), the Orchestron proved to be a flop. Reportedly, only fifty units or so were eventually made.
Model A #2221
Model C #3240
Model C #3278
Photos: Damien Cesbron
Model C Double Manual
Model D Double Manual