General Electric (G-E) Model J-80 Cathedral Radio (1932)
The General Electric (G-E) model J-80 was described by G-E in their
1932 advertising as being "an early English style compact" with "a new
satin finished, two-toned gothic cabinet that you'll be proud to own".
Perhaps these comments refer to the "Gothic revival" movement,
which originated in mid-eighteenth century England. Certainly, it is
easy to see the Gothic influences in the graceful lines of this
wonderful radio, with its pointed arches and columns. To be sure,
this is one of my very favorite cathedral style radios.
The earliest date I found this model appearing in the advertising
record is February of 1932, with a purchase price of $59.95
complete with tubes. Later, in the fall of 1932 it was superseded by
the model J-82, having a new escutcheon and improved circuitry.
The chassis is an 8-tube superheterodyne that covers the
broadcast band. It features AVC, tone control and pentode output
stage. The chassis is the same as that of the RCA model R-8
(gothic tombstone) and R-12 (floor model). The tube line-up is 35
(RF amp), 24A (mixer), 27 (local oscillator), 35 (IF amp), 27 (2nd
detector), 27 (AVC), 47 (power pentode) and 80 (rectifier). Note
that the AVC circuit uses a tube dedicated to the AVC function,
unlike the superior Philco circuit, developed by Hazeltine, that
combines both the AVC and 2nd detector functions into a single
stage (they did however add a stage of AF amplification, referred
to as their "detector amplifier").
Quality of tone was of major importance to the radio buying public
and was conspicuously addressed by most of the manufacturers in
their promotional material. G-E was no exception and below is an
extract taken from 1931 advertising that reported on a series of
"blind tests" between different manufacturer's models, the outcome
of which suggested "superiority of tone" of the G-E models.
Graceful full-size table model
G-E would frequently refer to these tests in their subsequent
advertising, adding the phrase "believe your own ears". It is unclear
exactly which models were compared and how the tests were
conducted, though the tests were organized by G-E. However, I
would remark that G-E was on the leading edge when it came to
paying attention to many of the design aspects that contributed to
good tone. Their sets embodied large, heavily built electro-
dynamic loudspeakers, solid cabinets and chassis often com-
pletely suspended by rubber, as is the case for the model J-80
chassis seen to the right. Further information on the tone tests
can be seen in this 1931 advertisement.
|"In a series of tests in which a brilliant group of composers, critics
and music authorities, passengers aboard the RMS Berengaria,
Roxy Orchestra, tone experts of Steinway and Sons, the Cincinnati
Conservatory of Music and others participated, G-E Radio was
selected because of its superior tone quality.
In these tests, four leading makes of sets competed. All radios
were hidden from the audience by screens. Each trade name was
cloaked behind the alias of a number and no one knew what makes
were competing. In every case, G-E was preferred by most of the
experts and in several cases the vote was practically unanimous".
|"The most brilliant performance and beauty yet
achieved in table model design. Automatic volume
control! 8-tube, screen-grid superheterodyne. 2 super
control tubes. Pentode output. Floating chassis - rubber
mounted. Tone control. 8" dynamic speaker. Handsome
Gothic cabinet - with two-tone walnut velvet finish.
Dimensions 18 31-32" high, 14" wide, 10 19-32" deep"
Although some of the G-E sets, such as the J-80 photographed here, are finally gaining the recognition they deserve today, most sadly
remain under-appreciated by the collecting community.