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Old 18th May 2019, 8:14 pm   #1
Nanozeugma
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Default Do you ever gain the impression...

Do you ever gain the impression that mainland Europe fared rather better than the U.K. when it came to high end valve radio receivers?

The attached is a Siemens M57, gorgeous.
One sold on eBay IE for over £900 in 2016 so I don't think I'll be acquiring one just yet

Oh well...
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Old 18th May 2019, 8:25 pm   #2
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Default Re: Do you ever gain the impression...

Should sound a million dollars,it certainly looks superb.There again we had the Beau Decca,s.

Plus Murphy A40C etc etc ,We had plenty of good stuff.
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Old 18th May 2019, 9:15 pm   #3
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Default Re: Do you ever gain the impression...

The UK high-end radio market post-WWII was stymied by two factors:

1] No FM broadcasts. Germany/France made the move to FM a decade before the UK agreed a standard and got itself off the launch-blocks and belatedly started to build a nationwide FM network.

Even then, it failed to put the most-popular BBC station - Radio1 - onto FM untill the 1980s!

2] Lack-of-competition: why would a prospective radio-purchaser invest in a FM/Stereo radio when all they could realistically receive would be the same old BBC Home/Light/Third-programs they already got on MW/LW ??

IMHO post-WWII the UK should have adopted a much more US-style free-market regulatory approach and allowed lots of new FM-stations to get on-air for minimal cost. Imagine if Caroline, Jackie etc could have been entirely legal just by buying a £50 Postmaster-General "Here's your frequency, transmit what you think will make money!" licence.
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Old 18th May 2019, 9:35 pm   #4
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Default Re: Do you ever gain the impression...

I agree, G6, but in the case of Germany, wasn't their decision to adopt VHF early because of the small number of MW/LW frequencies allocated to them in the 1948 Copenhagen Plan, meaning that only by adopting VHF could they introduce 2nd. & 3rd. Programs. As for point #2 in your post, My Father, who at the time was in his late 50s, said exactly that when we bought a new Ferguson Portable which included the VHF band. If the PMG of the day had adopted that free market approach, no doubt VHF-equipped radios would have sold by the shedload, just as, perhaps to a lesser extent because of the cost, did 2-channel TVs and Band III converters when ITV was launched. There would have been no 'pirate' radio, and probably no Radio1 either if deregulation & competition had happened, say, around 1959/60 instead of many years later.
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Old 18th May 2019, 10:59 pm   #5
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Default Re: Do you ever gain the impression...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nanozeugma View Post

The attached is a Siemens M57, gorgeous.
One sold on eBay IE for over £900 in 2016 so I don't think I'll be acquiring one just yet

Oh well...
One sold at a BVWS auction around 2011 for £20. It's waiting for a round tuit in my pile.....

Doesn't look quite so gorgeous, though.
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Old 18th May 2019, 11:15 pm   #6
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Default Re: Do you ever gain the impression...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nanozeugma View Post
Do you ever gain the impression that mainland Europe fared rather better than the U.K. when it came to high end valve radio receivers?
Have to admit I've been more struck over the years by our lack of ambition in the transistor portable field. There is, of course, Hacker, good enough sets to be the envy of the world at what they do: but they only aim to do a certain amount, and a Super Sovereign or Helmsman wouldn't be the choice of anyone with a moderately serious interest in even the broadcast bands on SW. Otherwise, there was almost nothing, a few fairly lacklustre multi-band sets from the likes of GEC and Murphy. Much the nearest thing to a competitive "world band" portable was the Perdio Marco Polo, which seems barely to have entered production.

The "high end" came to be dominated by Japan - Panasonic, Sony and Hitachi - but go down a rung or two to the "Transoceanic class" and a collection of sets could be gathered in from several US manufacturers as well as Grundig, Braun, Nordmende and Schaub-Lorenz in Germany, the Japanese of course, the Netherlands, Russia, Poland, Latvia, perhaps at a pinch even Hong Kong, and I doubt that little list is at all exhaustive. From here, just the aforementioned doomed Marco Polo...

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Old 19th May 2019, 8:26 am   #7
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Default Re: Do you ever gain the impression...

Not only valve radios IMO. Some of the transistor radios produced by Telefunken, Tandberg and Grundig were real beauties - sleek styling using decent materials and usually excellent sound quality. A far cry from UK-produced tat made from bent plywood and rexine.
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Old 19th May 2019, 8:45 am   #8
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Default Re: Do you ever gain the impression...

I think that pre WWII, the upper range UK sets were probably the best, E.g. Models by Murphy, R.G.D, Dynatron and the top of range from HMV/Marconiphone.

My direct experience was all post war of course with the family's pre war sets. Later in 1957 I heard a Beau Decca playing an LP and was srtuck by the improvement. In the same year our next door neighbour bought a Grundig " Balmoral"radiogram. AM/FM Collaro autochange and the sound was the best I had ever heard.

It was mono and cost £100 then; next year stereo records appeared; I bet the neighbour was vexed! Anyway it turned me on to hifi reproduction and after reading lots of mag's went down the hifi separates route.

But yes, the German manufacturers at that time were well ahead of the UK in terms of radiogram sound quality and also the suberb cabinet finishing.
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Old 19th May 2019, 9:43 am   #9
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The British don't like paying for quality and it's getting worse.. John.
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Old 19th May 2019, 9:59 am   #10
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Default Re: Do you ever gain the impression...

It certainly appears they had more 'fun' in the design of even everyday sets, from cabinet colours, trim & circuit topology.

I have an Orion AR312 awaiting rework, it's a nice looking set (if you like that sort of thing) a nice colour, general build quality is very good, FM goes to 108 MHz, uses sensible valves and it's all laid out on a PCB. The factory fitted penguin logo on the front is a mystery, but it's different, and I like it.

We're some of these manufacturers supported by government at that time, & less likely had the same cost constraints as The UK? I guess post-war Britain we were still making do, and dare I say, with the passage of time being left behind technology-wise, by overseas companies.

None of my sets are in the 'high-end' category, but I have very recently been buying overseas sets, because of either quirkiness or just jolly good fun.

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Old 19th May 2019, 10:08 am   #11
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Default Re: Do you ever gain the impression...

The German radios from the late 50’s and 60’s exported to the UK were top quality. They surely must have produced less expensive sets for their home market, not everyone would have been able to afford the best.

Has Livewire states in post#4 the move to VHF frequencies was more or less forced upon Germany due to the small number of allocated MW channels. I seem to remember that super regen converters were in use at first to allow the older radios to receive VHF, these converters or super regen receivers were later to cause interference problems as the use the VHF band expanded.

If there are any forum members in Germany with knowledge of the history it would be good to either confirm my thoughts or to correct them.

A paragraph on Super regen in Germany in this document.

http://members.iinet.net.au/~cool386...ne/fremo1.html
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Old 19th May 2019, 11:00 am   #12
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Default Re: Do you ever gain the impression...

I always have the impression that you POHM's are spoiled!!
We had a beautiful Philips radio ( AM only, albiet 3 shortwave bands).
French polished cabinet.
As far as Im aware longwave never existed in Australia.
WE never had a television in our house when I was a kid.
WE didnt have a telephone when I lived at home.
I have never bothered with FM, as I was already too old to bother. PLUS, if you live 1500 kliks from an FM station, you need a mass of arrays mounted some hundreds of metres above the ground. THEN you have the noise factor.

I DID buy a very expensive German radio when I was about 18.
Yep, had FM too, but Australia didnt!!!. From memory was some silly frequency too. Like 70 megs to 95 megs or something. I still live 100 kliks from the nearest FM station,
( where I was the engineer for a time), 1000 metres above the transmitter tower, and well behind the Great Dividing Range.
( sorta this BIG lump of granite that runs the whole vertical length of eastern Australia).
Turret band change!!.
Rf stage.
RF gain control.
LARGE round speaker with AD161/162 output stage.
MORE D size batteries than I could afford per week, ( and it DID suck the current).

I now dont own even a single radio, even though its where my interest started. There are a couple of "GunnaDo's", on the shelf. None with RF stage, so good for local AM only.
They are however 1940's/1950's sets.

SO,!! Do I ever get the impression.....

best wishes to all

Joe
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Old 19th May 2019, 12:36 pm   #13
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Default Re: Do you ever gain the impression...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nanozeugma View Post
Do you ever gain the impression that mainland Europe fared rather better than the U.K. when it came to high end valve radio receivers?

The attached is a Siemens M57, gorgeous.
One sold on eBay IE for over £900 in 2016 so I don't think I'll be acquiring one just yet

Oh well...
Never knew I have a treasure sitting on the side board next to me
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Old 19th May 2019, 1:41 pm   #14
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Default Re: Do you ever gain the impression...

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Originally Posted by joebog1 View Post
I DID buy a very expensive German radio when I was about 18.
Yep, had FM too, but Australia didnt!!!. From memory was some silly frequency too. Like 70 megs to 95 megs or something.
That sounds like a USSR or Eastern European radio rather than a normal West German export set, as they used a different band for FM in the Soviet bloc (OIRT). You do get all sorts of odd radios turning up in Australia because of migration.

Aus adopted FM very late - 1976 I think. As far as I know, no Australian valve FM radios were ever made. It's one of the reasons that Australian consumer electronics of the 50s and 60s is a bit idiosyncratic. I believe rural Australians opposed the rolling out of FM as they couldn't see any benefit given the distances involved.

The big German manufacturers made a deliberate strategic decision to concentrate on the luxury export market as they were rebuilding the economy in the 50s, partly because the tariffs in place at the time had less impact on that sector.
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Old 19th May 2019, 3:03 pm   #15
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Default Re: Do you ever gain the impression...

There is an alternative perspective on mid-20th century developments in UK consumer radio compared with those in mainland Europe.

It was chiefly UK companies, often small and innovative, who were early in recognising the opportunities for high quality audio in the 1950s from the new sources such as FM radio, microgroove discs etc. As a result, the natural transition from a pre-war top-end 'woody' wireless was to go for individual hi-fi units, including a separate speaker, maybe installed in a large corner cabinet and well able to beat a glossy self-contained continental radio on both volume and quality. The Decola user might well have changed allegiance to a Garrard/Quad/Wharfedale system, maybe in an Imhof 'contemporary' cabinet. I recall that the family of a schoolfriend of mine actually installed the new hi-fi units in their old Decola cabinet, having (sadly) scrapped the Decola electronics.

We need of course no reminder of the resulting global success of UK audio manufacturers such as Quad, Leak, Wharfedale, Goodmans, Tannoy etc. Meanwhile, it was the British autochanger, whether Garrard or McDonald (BSR) that dominated the US market.

Maybe the continental residential environment meant that the demand was for the high quality highly sensitive self-contained radio rather than a quality audio system designed for an external FM antenna.

And of course we did have one or two high quality self-contained British radios such as the Hacker Mayflower.

Martin
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Old 20th May 2019, 1:12 am   #16
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I think that Martin has provide the best perspective so far. The apparent slower development of the hi-fi components industry in mainland Europe as compared with the UK tends to support the hypothesis. One could look at say the evolution of the B&O product line to see that the change of emphasis to hi-fi components did not arrive until the 1960s.

Since we are talking about radio reception – during the valve era - in particular and not audio in general, it may be noted that the addition of an FM tuner to the product range was a key item for the UK hi-fi electronics makers once FM started in the UK in 1955. In fact some released FM tuners well before the start of regular FM broadcasting, as early as 1952-53. Given the apparent British customer parsimony (and the adverse incidence of domestic purchase tax), the emphasis was in getting the most out of relatively simple FM circuitry rather than the multivalve, multistage approach adopted by the American makers. Even before FM, the British hi-fi makers often made more effort to get the best out of AM broadcasting than most others.

It could be too that in some European countries, a larger proportion of the population listened to classical music via the radio. Certainly in the German, Austrian and Italian cases, their respective musical heritages would have encouraged that. (One remembers from the movie “Bridges of Madison County” where Francesca, from Puglia, was in the Iowa farmhouse listening to Italian opera on what was probably an AA5.) This might have created a larger market than in the UK for single-box receivers that gave a reasonable account of themselves on classical music.

Back to the UK case, I’d say that the AM-only export receivers with bandspread SW coverage of the early 1950s were probably as good as any single-box domestic models of the same type from anywhere. This list included, but was not limited to the Murphy TA160, Pye PE80, Bush EBS44, Ekco A182 and Ambassador Viscount. Their domestic market penetration was probably limited by the small demand for SW programme content listening (as distinct from dx’ing) capability. And for getting the best from local AM broadcasts – in the days when the BBC broadcast bandwidth reached 10 and sometimes 15 kHz - the Murphy A188C (which might be described as single panel rather than single box) was probably difficult to beat.

By the time that FM arrived in the UK, the setmakers were generally under the thumb of the cost accountants – who were probably responding to apparent marketplace signals that “cheap” was wanted - and whilst one or two reasonably elaborate single-box models, such as the Pye FenMan II escaped into the marketplace, “ordinary” seemed to be the operative approach.


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Old 20th May 2019, 11:00 am   #17
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It is interesting to note the comments re: classical music. Dad's Philips radio spent most of its time on short wave listening to classical music. I have mentioned I grew up in Southern Australia. High up ( for Aus) and there was absolutely zero industrial noise in the area. And I mean the surrounding 500 miles in any direction. I have memories of dad translating concerts from Deutsche Welle in Cologne. I later had a "few hassles" with dad over my "new" ( recycled ) AM radio that I listened to 2SM, a radio station in Sydney that broadcast in the 60's, the latest Beatles and Hollies hits. At the end of the day, there was nothing else to listen to. It was short waves in some foreign language, or the latest rock from some Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane station, with the wonderful traditional fading and phase changing as it drifted in and out of reception. Depended on the sun of course.

I should add that we have the ABC!! I think loosely based on the "BBC World Service", but still my TV channel of choice. I did not lie about not having a working electric wireless!!.

To dad's credit, he did take me to the Beatles concert in 1964. He also taught me to make my own resistors with a 3B pencil and some blotting paper, connections being via drawing pins inserted in either end of the black pencil marks.

Such is life!

Joe
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Old 21st May 2019, 1:53 am   #18
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I mentioned in post #16 that British hi-fi makers had FM tuners either in production or in protype form as early as 1952-53.

But even before that, towards the end of 1949 HMV had released a quite ambitious single-box FM receiver, namely the 1250. This had a 10-watt push-pull output and a 13.5-inch elliptical speaker. As a thought experiment, it would be interesting to compare a restored example of this model with say the Hacker Mayflower on suitable programme material. The RF chassis of the HMV 1250, modified for crystal control of the oscillator, was used as the basis for the BBC HR4 outside broadcast radio microphone receiver, so it was in the broadcast chain. At about the same time, Kolster Brandes also released an FM receiver, along with an adaptor (the RF section alone of that receiver) for use with existing AM receivers. By the time FM broadcasting started in the UK, the cost-conscious era had arrived and for example, the HMV 1251 AM-FM receiver looks to have been very ordinary when compared with the 1250.


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Old 21st May 2019, 2:37 am   #19
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Default Re: Do you ever gain the impression...

Not even mainland Europe, it was the Nordic countries that adopted FM quite early on.
Even one of the first pirate ships, Radio Syd, broadcast on FM in 1962 !
I recently acquired a Radionette Seksjon 6 made in Oslo in 1966, all valve, which
performs as well as any of the larger table sets (e.g. Grundig).
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Old 21st May 2019, 2:52 am   #20
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My understanding is that Germany started FM broadcasting in 1950, with a failry significant network built within two years. Italy also started building its FM network in 1950. Were any of the Nordic countries earlier than this with FM?


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