Midwest Model DD-18 Console Radio (1936)
The Midwest Radio Corporation's DD-18 is an over-sized 18-
tube console radio first offered for sale in 1935 for the 1936
model year. Ever since first seeing one, I have considered its
cabinet to have an endearing but portentous quality. This
opinion is perhaps beholden to the set's resemblance to the
mythical cyclops, for it appears possessed of a large solitary
eye, resplendent with shiny pupil and eyebrow, gazing out
from atop a prominent nose. However, it is easy to dismiss
these undertones and instead appreciate the set for what it
truly is, a Deco masterpiece from the era of mid-20th-century
modernism. Today, the radio's streamlined Deco appearance
makes it an interesting and sought-after collectible.
Like all sets from the Midwest Radio Corp, the DD-18 was
offered for sale exclusively through mail order. The company
advertised that there were "no middle-men's profits to pay.
You buy at wholesale price, direct from Laboratories..
saving 30 to 50%". Indeed, Midwest radios were priced very
aggressively. A complete DD-18 listed for $106.50, which
represented quite the bargain when compared to similar con-
temporary models offered through more traditional retail out-
lets. The 11-tube Philco 116 from the same model year, for
example, retailed at $175. Some Midwest ads, such as that in
the thumbnail to the right below, appeared to show the radio
available for $59.50, less tubes. However I believe this to have
been the price for just the chassis and loudspeaker (the 18
tubes alone would have added around $30).
The comparison with the Philco 116X here is deliberate in that
both Philco and Midwest claimed their models were capable of
Hi-Fi reproduction, but in reality both fell short. Midwest mis-
leadingly advertised their DD-18 as providing "a complete
range of audible frequencies from 30 to 16000 cycles", an
unrealizable feat. Besides there being no AM Hi-Fi broadcasts
at the time that would justify such a range, the DD-18 lacked
variable IF selectivity, effectively restricting its upper audible
limit to around 4000 cycles/sec (4kHz)*. The true Hi-Fi sets of
the day, such as the Philco 680, which did have variable IFs,
attained upper frequency limits of around 8kHz, which was the
minimum necessary to satisfy the emerging Hi-Fi broadcast
standards at the time. Note that Midwest offered variable sel-
ectivity for 1936 only on their limited production top-of-the-line
24-tube Royale line.
Ostensibly, Midwest's DD-18 Hi-Fi claim was made to promote
its embodiment of their "Acousti-Spread V-front" technology.
Metal "dispensing veins" were placed in front of the loud-
speaker (hidden from view behind the grille-cloth) to "spread
the beautiful lace-work of the highs throughout the room"
and the effect was "further emphasised by the V-shaped
Acousti-Spread front of the cabinet". Several other manu-
facturers adopted similar principles.
With yet more hype, some DD-18 advertising referenced
Design Patent 96750, filed on behalf of Midwest on 17th May
1935. In the ads, the clear implication was that the patent
covered certain of the set's "unique" technological aspects,
whereas in fact the patent made no technological claims,
referring only to the "ornamental design for a radio-cabinet".
Moreover, the cabinet depicted appears to be not quite the
DD-18 but to exhibit other influences, perhaps from the con-
temporaneous CC-18, with the exact model being apparently
The DD-18 used Midwest's 18-tube 18-36 chassis, with tube
line up 4* 6F6 (output tubes); 6F6 (driver); 2* 5Z4 (rectifier);
6C5 (1st audio); 6C5 (tunalite tube); 6K7 (1st RF); 6K7
(mixer); 6C5 (LO); 2* 6K7 (IF amps); 6K7 (AVC amplifier); 6H6
(AVC tube); 6H6 (2nd detector); 6C5 (whistle tube, for Robot
Ear). The schematic and service information may be found
here, courtesy of Mike Simpson's excellent Midwest website.
*The DD-18 had little choice but to adopt a 4kHz limit in order for it to be
inter-operable with normal standard broadcast stations having 10kHz
separation as well as the "new" Hi-Fi stat-ions with 20kHz channel
spacing, not to mention foreign broadcasts. No Hi-Fi model could
successfully reconcile these conflicting requirements without adjust-
able selectivity in the IF.
Some Features of The Midwest DD-18
- Acousti-Spread V-front Console
- Giant Theater-sonic speaker (optionally, for an
extra charge the set could be purchased with a
pedestal speaker and tweeter)
- Six tuning ranges (41/2 - 2400 meters)
- Full-Scope High-Fidelity
- Push-button tuning (actually a single push button
used to activate muting while tuning between stations)
- Robot Ear (a heterodyne circuit, activated using a
push button, which served for an audible tuning aid
for weak signals)
- Metal or Glass tubes
- Tune-a-lite Tuning Indication (a tuning aid based
on an indicator lamp, situated behind the dial, that
dimmed as a station came into tune)
- Super Vernier Slow Speed Tuning + High
80 sensational advancements...
thrilling world-wide 6-band reception...
|...the world's most powerful Super DeLuxe
18-METAL Tube 6 tuning range radio.
click thumnail to enlarge....