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

  8. Bubba says: October 23, 20156:33 pm

    The 1936 Crosley WLW Super Power Receiver with 37 tubes, six speakers and 75W of audio power,was designed to be larger than the 1935 Stratosphere model 1000Z, with 25 tubes, three speakers, and 50W of audio power.

    Zenith and Crosley made mass market radios and these large radios were limited production stunts to increase sales of their mass produced radios. Scott was a very high end radio producer that didn’t really compete with Crosley. The Quaranta, which normally had 40 tubes, was also introduced in 1936, the 48-tube Quaranta was a one-off radio. Crosley probably didn’t know about the Quaranta, which was also a stunt rather than a production radio, when it was designing the WLW Super Power Receiver. Scott’s highest tube count radio in 1935 had 23 tubes, which was less than the Zenith Stratosphere.

    Scott’s “best” regular production radio had 30 tubes and was introduced in 1938. The Stratosphere was a practical (although very expensive) radio that was produced for 3 or 4 years and was housed in a reasonably sized cabinet. The WLW Super Power Receiver was in a hugely oversized cabinet that wouldn’t fit in most normal sized living rooms in 1936, it didn’t really matter how large the Quaranta was because the buyer had to buy or have cabinets built for it. The Quaranta came in several sections; the controls and speakers could be built into one room and the “guts” of the radio could be put out of sight in another room. In any event, the sort of person who would buy a Quaranta probably had a large living room.

    All of this for AM radios that had less power than many of today’s car stereos.

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