Originally designed by Opsonar, the Orchestron was an attempt to perfect the Optigan for use by professional musicians. It will eventually be manufactured by Vako, a company created by David Van Koevering (1940-2018), a former employee of Moog.
Compared to the Optigan, the Orchestron uses the same principle of optical celluloid disc reading but its design is more robust (use of wood instead of plastic) and more reliable.
The quality of sound reproduction is therefore just as perfectible and far from competing with its direct competitor, the Mellotron.
The accompaniments and chords present on the Optigan have been removed. Optigan and Orchestron discs therefore do not have the same structure: Optigan discs have 57 tracks while Orchestron discs have only 37 tracks. The discs are not interchangeable between the two instruments.
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.
Due to the poor sound quality (low fidelity of optical discs, limited bandwidth …), the Orchestron was unsuccessful. Only about fifty would have been produced.
Model A #2221
Model C #3240
Model C #3278
Photos: Damien Cesbron
Model C Double Manual
Model D Double Manual