Philco Model 680X (680) High-Fidelity Console Radio (1936 season)
The 680X is a 15-tube behemoth that was Philco's top-of-the-line
console radio for the 1936 model year. It features variable selectivity
and a high-fidelity audio system covering the entire musical range, at
least to the extent that it was understood in 1936. When first intro-
duced in June of 1935, the 680X was housed in a large cabinet with
an upward-facing instrument panel concealed below a lift-top (right).
It retailed for $250. This early style was superseded in January of
1936 by a more traditional cabinet having forward facing controls,
priced at $275 (lower right). Functionally, the two sets are identical.
The 680X replaced models 200X and 201X from the preceding year.
Both 680X versions are housed in large, heavy cabinets that border
on being austere but are for sure no-nonsense designs devoid of all
frivolous embellishments. The creators of the flip-top early model
arguably attempted to disguise its true purpose, but for the late
version they clearly made no such concessions to domestic harmony.
Either way, the posture of the 680X unashamedly and boldly pro-
claims to the world its intended utility - a large, all-business, all-
powerful radio designed to command attention as the centerpiece of
the entertainment paraphernalia in an upscale mid-1930s home.
Styling of the late 680X is attributed to Benjamin S. Nash (US design
patent #D101,064). It seems probable that Nash was responsible for
the early version too, as although no US design patent exists for it,
there are numerous likenesses between the early and late cabinets.
For sure, Nash held the design patent (#D101,061) for the flip-top
Philco 650MX, another 1936 model with obvious similarities to the
According to philcoradio.com, only 2500 early- and 1500 late-style
680X radios were ever made, making them among the most seldom
seen of all Philcos.
I purchased my first 680X, the late version, at the Kutztown radio show in the fall of 2007. I had gone to that particular show with a 680X,
rare as I knew it to be, high on my wish list, but after almost two days there I had relegated any hopes of finding one to the realms of a pipe
dream. My travelling companion and I had been all set to depart the show for the long drive home, some time Saturday morning, when I said
to him "let's just take one final look around". It was lucky we did, for as we were walking those aisles that one last time, with the end-of-show
auction preparations in full swing, this set was wheeled in, quite literally, right in front of us. I recognized it at once as a 680X, though I could
nevertheless scarcely believe my eyes!
The original finish has a few rough spots on top, no doubt the result of stuff having been indelicately placed upon it during years in storage,
but following a good cleaning and touch-up, it has turned out real nice and is now very presentable! The chassis is complete and clean and
showed promising signs of life when powered-up to two-thirds voltage on a variac. The original dial is faded but I was fortunate to obtain a
reproduction from Mark Oppat at oldradioparts.net. Sometime soon I hope to restore the set electrically.
I finally found my early version of the 680X in the fall of 2009. I bought the set from a seller I met at Lansing that summer, but there is a
Kutztown connection with this set too, as it was delivered to me at the Kutztown meet in Sept 2009. It needed a re-finish, a job that I comp-
leted in the fall of 2010.
- Automatic Aerial Selector - to span oceans requires a scientifically
designed All-Wave aerial System. Used with the Philco All-Wave Aerial, the
built-in Aerial Selector automatically switches in the exact electrical values
needed to maintain maximum power on each waveband. In effect a separate
aerial for each band.
- Super High Fidelity Audio System - 15 Watts-The widest tonal
range, the most faithful, life-like reproduction ever achieved in radio. All
musical instruments, all voices, are reproduced with the overtones that
identify them and distinguish them, one from another. Power output covering
the full range, from the faintest whisper to the thunderous finale of the
greatest symphony orchestra.
- Precision Radio Dial - Station settings are spaced farther apart on this
dial. Result: The easiest, most precise tuning in all radio.
- Broadcast Band Coverage - Both Daylight and Night-time Foreign and
American Shortwave Broadcasts... Both Police Call Bands. Aircraft, Ship and
Amateur bands... Standard American Band... U.S. Government Weather
- Two-in-one High-Fidelity Speaker - Specially processed center for
reproduction of high notes (treble). Flexible rim for reproduction of low notes
(Bass). Auditorium volume without distortion.
- Philco Balanced Superheterodyne Circuit - Through the scientific
balancing of each unit with all others, Philco engineers have raised both the
American and Foreign performance of the superheterodyne circuits to new
heights of perfection.
- Philco Inclined Sounding Board
- Acoustic Clarifiers - Automatically eliminate unpleasant barrel-like boom,
resulting in clarity of tone beyond all previous radio experience.
- Completely Shielded - Both circuits and tubes shielded throughout to attain
- Wide Angle Sound Diffusion - Scientifically designed diffusers spread
the most delicate overtones evenly throughout the room
- Live Rubber Condenser Mounting - Patented Philco feature eliminating
microphonic squeals and distortion. Full tonal range otherwise impossible.
- Philco High-Efficiency Tubes - By scientifically combining correctly
chosen types of Philco High-Efficiency tubes, Philco always achieves power and
selectivity impossible with even a greater number of less-efficient tubes
- Glowing Arrow Wave-Band Indicator - glowing arrow shows visually
the band in use
- Two-Speed Planetary Drive Station Selector - A. Fast speed for
swift turning; B. Slow Speed for precision tuning of short-wave stations
- Rigid Chassis Base - Permanent Alignment guaranteed through assembly on
rigid rust-proofed steel.
- Power Line Noise rejectors - Keep power line noise out of the radio
- New High-Fidelity Audio Tubes-Exclusive with Philco - Giving the
mellowness so necessary for true high-fidelity tone
- Triple Selector System - Automatically rejects interfering stations and
gives hairline selectivity on both American and Foreign broadcasts
- Safe From Fire and Shock - Built to conform in every respect to the
Underwriter's Safety Standards
- Music Interpretation Controls - Enables the discriminating listener to
interpret any selection in his own way to exactly satisfy his own musical
taste. In effect, he becomes his own musical conductor.
- A. Fidelity Control-Treble. To widen the treble range to the maximum
fidelity for each station and program
- B. Fidelity Control- Bass. To adjust the Bass to the proper proportion
for each station and program (Amplified Bass Compensation).
- Amplified Shadow Tuning - For perfect tone you must have perfect tuning.
Philco Amplified Shadow Tuning shows you visually when each station is tuned
in perfectly. Amplified Shadow Tuning is used on this Philco to give you,
without effort, the extra fineness of tuning to match the extra fineness of tone
- Noise-Excluding Signal Amplifier - Automatically amplifies the station
signal while rejecting interference and image noise
- Automatic Resonance Governor - Automatically prevents overload and
- Non-Radiating - Built-in Filter prevents interference in other nearby sets
- Twin Automatic Volume Control - Doubly counteracting fading of distant
stations and blasting of local stations
Absolute realism in radio... Super High-Fidelity American and Foreign
|"In these brilliant new High-Fidelity receivers,
Philco gives you startling new fidelity of tone-
plus thrilling American and Foreign reception!
Here is absolute realism in radio - brought to
you through many new and important balanced
"The large area and slope of the famous Inclined
Sounding Board preserve, and project up to ear
level, all the extended musical range and clarity
of tone created by the Philco High-Fidelity
Audio System and Acoustic Clarifiers.
Scientifically designed diffusers spread the
most delicate overtones throughout the room"
|Extracts taken from Philco 1936 sales Brochure.
|Technical Overview - to follow...
The SUPREME ACHIEVEMENT - In Tone, Power, Foreign Reception.
Philco 680X early version (Jun 1935)
Philco 680X late version (Jan 1936)