Version: Dec. 8, 2003

Lionel Risler

Studio player


Lionel Risler built this player in 1972 - 73. It has been in use ever since, now in Risler's company Sofreson in Paris, where he restores old sound recordings - vinyl, 78's, cylinders, tape and wire - and records music in a studio.

The player has a battery powered Rabco arm, modified to the higher speed required for playing the coarse grooves on fast-spinning cylinders. The pickup os a Shure M75 wired for vertical cut and used with a wide variety of styli. Stylus pressure is normally about 3 - 4 grams. The counterweight is set to maximum pressure, and if more is needed, Risler places a few coins on top of the pickup.

The mandrel can be removed and replaced by a slimmer one to play Lioret cylinders. For larger sizes, slip-on mandrels are fitted onto the standard mandrel. There is no device for compensaing for misshapen cylinders, and Lionel Risler sees a problem in in providing a such adjustment: if you move the mandrel off-center, you also move its center of mass, producing variations in speed with every turn of the mandrel.

The drive motor is a common DC motor, with a box for speed control. It is mounted on a metal block which is standing on springs to reduce vibrations. The current supply is in its own box half a meter away from the player to avoid picking up hum from the transformer. When the player is not in use, the belt is unhooked from the motor pulley so as not to develop a bend.

Transfers are nearly always done with the cylinders turning at original speed, only occasionaly slower. Risler's reason for this is that at slower speeds, it is harder to maintain an even movement of the mandrel, especially when there is no really solid flywheel, as in this player.

Risler's cylinder transfers are done almost exclusively for archives and other institutions and there is almost no public demand. His work is considered to be of good quality.

Christer Hamp, 2001


The motor lists heavily on its springs toward the mandrel under the pull of the drive belt. The Rabco arm with its motor visible and the box for mandrel speed control.


The back of the player with the counterweight set to maximum stylus pressure left of centre, and the output connectors to the right.


Lionel Risler in his studio, doing transfers of cylinders with his phonograph.

Write to Lionel Risler: [This is no link]
Main page Sofreson
18, rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle
75009 Paris