The formative years of Truvox are still unclear, suffice to say, it was founded by Daniel Dan Prenn, a Byelorussian-jew
who studied in Germany and became a world class, top-seeded, tennis player representing Germany in the Davis Cup during the
1930s before being exiled under the Nazi regime, fleeing to Britain in 1933. As a prominent Jewish businessman, he nurtured other
small Jewish-refugee businesses and over the next 50 years created one of Britain's largest military electronics and
communications 'empires'. The full story is told in A Truvox Product.
first business activity in Britain was assembling fountain pens, but it appears he may have bought the Universal Radio &
Gramophone Co in Kentish Town from where Truvox originally operated. His Truvox Engineering Ltd business was formed in June
1936 (it appears he may have bought a ready made company Truvox Ltd, formed in October 1928).
launched a series of loudspeakers (of which little is known - can anyone help?) ranging from miniature 3" to large auditorium
units, as well re-entrant public address speakers.
In 1937, Truvox moved to the redundant Wembley Exhibition
grounds. During the war, they produced thousands of Tannoy type artillery speaker-telephone sets. Truvox's major competitors
were Tannoy, Goodmans, Celestion and Rola, but when the Anglo-American Rola-Celestion business faced a serious financial
crisis in 1949, Prenn bought their British operations and merged it with his Truvox speaker business. Truvox's few post-war
enclosed speakers included the '55' extension speaker (right) intended for radios or office dictaphones;
it incorporated a volume output control.
The group's domestic hi-fi speakers were produced by Celestion,
such as the famous 'Ditton', but Truvox later lauched their TS100 and TS200 enclosed speakers as part of their Series
100 and 200 tape-recorder and tuner-amp range - and very good they were too!
Just after the war, Prenn bought
the fledgling British Communications Corporation and rapidly expanded their walkie-talkie models into a major Army and
Police mobile radio-telephone business, even expanding into airfield voice-loggers; in 1958 he acquired Thermionic Products,
transferring BCC's airfield loggers to T-P while BCC concentrated on communications.
had been developing plastic extrusion technology and audio pick-ups. After the war they produced simple Bakelite bodied cameras
and took over production of a German floor cleaner machine; Truvox survive today as a world leading floor-cleaner maintenance
During 1951, Truvox developed a 7" domestic tape deck intended for cabinet-makers to install into radio-grams.
Uniquely, it used a 3/8" plywood deck faced with a Formica laminate and conductive aluminium film to which was bolted a cast-alloy
head-block and flywheel/motor cradle. Switchgear, with electrical braking, was in a separate block. Like the later
Brenell, capstan sleeves determined tape speed, but Truvox used the German right-to-left, upper track format.
Launched in late 1952, and marketed through Rola-Celestion, it underwent several minor improvements and was soon a
major force in DIY tape-recorders with an impressive range of accessories, including their famous 'Radio-Jack' plug-in MW/LW
radio receiver. They launched their first tape-deck amplifier in 1954 from their new factory at Neasden, and also adopted
the British/US tape-format. In 1956 they launced a more compact Mk.III TR7/U deck (left), with gold livery,
reducing the width by a couple of inches; this model survived until 1957, when it was superceded by the new R1.
Truvox's first complete tape-recorder, which used what became known as the Mk.IV deck, was the R1, (Right)
launched in Spring 1956. The deck was an improved Mk.III with stylish cast alloy headcovers and was also offered separately
for DIY or orginal equipment fitting. Complete with the new Truvox 'K' Type amplifier, it was offered in a range of
specifications. The deck and amp were within a cradle which slid into the plywood cabinet. The R1 soon spawned an improved
R2 followed by their first 'Twinset' stereo model which used their own heads and a matching R2 case for the second
channel amp and speaker.
In 1959, a similar looking R6 was launched. This used a modified deck (christened the Mk.VI
- there was no Mk.V) with its keyboard controls on the left hand side as Truvox had by now adopted the British/US
'International' standard tracking format. The R6 had a striking, slanted front speaker grille and was on sale,
for only a short while, alongside their new R7 auto-reverse and the new, greatly improved, cast-alloy deck Series 80.
In September 1959, Truvox launched a novel auto-reverse deck to demanding hi-fi standards. The R7 (Left)
was completely different to their other models, using a single, pole-switching reversible capstan motor with pairs of heads
ranged either side. Its 10watt amplifier and electronics gave superb reproduction, but while aimed at the discerning audiophile,
and pitted against the Simon SP4, the Truvox R7 was overpriced and consequently few were sold; it was eventually withdrawn
in 1964. The R7 is their rarest model.
The R6 spawned a re-engineered, cast-alloy deck model in 1961 to compete with, primarily, their European competitors
- Truvox was a keen exporter. The new 2-speed Series 80 was offered in 2 or 4-track format as a transport deck (D82 etc),
plinth mounted recorder (PD..) (right), or complete tape-recorder with output amplifier (R..). A highly praised stereo
model, the PD86/R86, came in March 1962. These were superceded by a Mk.II range in October with a Papst hysteresis
capstan motor and 3-speed operation. Confusingly they kept the same model numbers!
Unfortunately the cast-alloy
deck prevented its modification to 10-1/2" for professional users, but the Series 80 proved to be a most robust and reliable
deck and soon endeared it to education authorities - indeed by the mid 1960s, Truvox dominated that market, especially
the demanding new language laboratories.
Truvox was approached by The Rank Organisation in 1963 to produce for them a suitable language laboratory deck. While
the Series 80 was fine as a 'master' deck, the student's deck need only be a simpler affair - to merely listen to
one track and record simultaneously on the other. Truvox thus developed a basic model (left) which combined
technology from the 80 and from their recently launched budget Series 60.
Truvox justifiably had a very good reputation for build and audio quality, but things tended to go wrong when they
made a 'budget' domestic deck! Their first foray into that market came in 1959 when Prenn took up a business offer
to dispose of an end-of-line range of Italian made 'Inicis' tape recorders. Thankfully they never carried the 'Truvox'
badge! The 4" Melody and 5" Harmony were pretty mundane and uninspiring but they prompted Truvox to make an
equally mundane and uninsipring 2-speed Series 60 (right) in 1962. This was offered as a 2 or 4-track
model and was very light in weight, but it was cheaply built and used lots of plastic which did little for its audio
output! The model lasted a year and it was not until 1965 that Truvox reintroduced a (better) budget model, the Series
The new Series 40 (left) of late 1965 was a very attractive domestic model housed in a cabinet design
shared by the Series 90 and 100. It also showed great potential as the deck was the new Magnavox 363, also chosen
by Elizabethan. The 363 was designed by the recently merged Magnavox and Collaro companies to be a most versatile deck, but
sadly its build quality was lacking as too was Truvox's early transistor technology, but no sooner were these cured than
Magnavox ceased production in 1967. Legend has it that Truvox bought the remaining stocks and design rights!
The Series 80 was greatly improved in 1963 and relaunched as the Series 90 with pcb technology, VU metres and
a new blue-grey livery. The tape-recorder models were now housed in an attractive, robust plastic and plywood case, later
adopted by the Series 40. The stereo PD86 (right) with its twin VU meters further enhanced Truvox's
reputation for quality, even if the one piece head pressure pad left much to be desired. This was their last valve model.
In 1963, Ron Bishop of Truvox designed and launched Britain's first transistorised hi-fi tape-amplifier, the TSA100, for
the new transistorised Series 100 tape-deck and LS100 speaker. This was a very highly regarded amp for it retained that
unique 'valve' sound. Housed in a quality wood veneered case, it was joined by a matching FM100 FM tuner, capable of
being upgraded to stereo. The 100 tape deck did not appear until 1965 but with the launch of the Series 200 in 1969, the tuner
and amplifier were upgraded to TSA200 (left), FM200IC tuner etc, with a new blue-grade livery.
The transistorised Series 100 finally arrived in March 1965, but it was more than just an upgraded Series 90, for
it now had bridge mounted Bogen heads, Papst capstan and EMD spool motors. Its audio capabilties matched those of their domestic
Brenell and Ferrograph competitors. It was a very fine machine indeed. A de-luxe 'Belgravia' model (right) was
housed in a high quality teak veneered cabinet to complement the Truvox tuner, amp and speaker.
With the demise of the Magnavox 363 deck, Truvox developed a well specified, compact, domestic model in 1967. The
new mono Series 50 (left - the carrying handle is not correct!) was
a high quality, single motor idler drive machine with twin hi-fi front speakers aimed at the discerning domestic user. It
used Marriott heads, DIN socketry and a central piano-key operation. It was available only in a teak cabinet, or 'ruggedised'
for education authorities as a cheaper alternative to their Series 100.
But in 1967, with Truvox's lease at Neasden expiring, Prenn merged Truvox with Thermionic Products at Hythe, where
the Series 50 was first produced. Despite its hi-fi credentials, the Series 50 failed to capture market share from the Thorn
group and especially their Japanese competitors. When Racal-Thermionics merged in 1969, the slow selling Series 50 was
Following the move to Hythe, the Truvox Floorcraft business was separated from the group and run independently by
the Prenn family; it survives today as a world leader in floor cleaning equipment.
Unfortunately, the move to Hythe lead to a temporary loss of production which allowed Tandberg to increase its position
in Truvox's crucial education/language laboratory market. Worse, Philips' cassette was eroding the open reel market, now increasingly
dominated by the Japanese. Unlike Brenell and Ferrograph, Truvox could not offer a 10-1/2" model for professional use
without, frankly pointless, major reinvestment. Never the less, the Series 100 was upgraded to the Series 200 and benefited
greatly from Thermionic Product's military contract quality control expertise. The stereo model PD202 (right)
is a factory preproduction model.
The Series 200 was arguably their best ever deck and was proudly launched in February 1969 with the slogan: "This won't
be the first tape recorder you'll own. But it could be your last". For Truvox, sadly it was, for when Racal and Thermionics
merged later in 1969 to concentrate on military electronics, interest in the Truvox audio equipment abruptly ended and
production of all but the 200 deck came to an end in September 1970.
The 200 deck alone survived, much modified, as the 4-speed Racal-Thermionic T3000 portable instrumentation deck - see