What is believed to be the largest and most powerful radio receiving set ever assembled is the latest achievement of a well-known Chicago radio engineer. Designed for world-wide reception on all wave lengths, the mammoth receiver has a complicated circuit which employs forty tubes. Five separate loudspeakers, operating simultaneously, cover a wide sound-frequency range, and give exceptional tonal quality. The total weight of the receiver, shown below, is 620 pounds.

  1. Casandro says: October 19, 20078:31 am

    Today having a radio with only 40 transistors would be considered minimalistic.

  2. Rick Auricchio says: October 19, 200710:12 am

    A large portion of those tubes go to powering the different speakers. Effectively they’d be using multiple audio amplifiers for the different frequency bands, similar to today’s bi-amping and tri-amping.

    I’m sure someone could have come up with a way to waste a few more tubes with a less-efficient design.

  3. Tom says: October 19, 200711:46 am

    I wonder if any attention was paid to crossovers, or if they just threw 5 speakers at the thing and let their size determine their frequency range…

  4. Neil Russell says: October 20, 20072:22 pm

    What a system. I suppose it would be mono too. That’s a lot of oomph for one channel!

    Just the thing for listening to the 500K power of WLW in those days.

  5. MaggieL says: October 22, 20076:46 am

    There was very little stereo in 1936. Very little as in “none”.

    And as the text says, the measure of a radio in those days was how far it could hear (in other words it’s sensitivity and selectivity). This translated directly into how many stations you could choose from to listen.

    That’s why I doubt that most of the tubes were due to “powering the different speakers”; at most you’d need one amp (three tubes? four at an extreme maximum) for each speaker. The bulk of the tubes were more likely for intermediate stages to amplify the received RF. Probably a double- or even triple-conversion superheterodyne.

    Margaret Stephanie Leber CCP, SCJP, SCWCD…
    AOPA 925383 – Amateur Radio Station K3XS – ARRL 39280 – AMSAT 32844

  6. Ed says: October 29, 200710:05 am

    $2500! A kings ransom back then.…

  7. Tom says: January 23, 20089:37 pm

    According to record, the Crosley “WLW Super Power Receiver” was the largest consumer radio receiver ever built, with 37 tubes, 6 speakers with 75 watts of power – all packed into a nearly 500 pound package.


    Crosley’s company had it’s hands into everything at one time or another. While they’re most noted for making radios, they also sold (that I can think of) tractors, sewing machines and cars — with sealed engines designed to be replaced when worn out. I think the original Crosley company wore out before the car engines did. There are several bios online that I was too lazy to google. lol

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