Philips BX998A (1955) and Philips BX642A (1955)

Mike Radio’s project: first the overhaul of the  PHILIPS BX998A    Year of production: 1955
The BX998A was Philips top model of the nineteen fifties. The price of this radio was an expensive 820 guilders (in 1955). That’s at least 4 month wages in 1955!!
(See also the flier more beneath.)
There was also a console model FX995A with built-in pickup for 2300 guilders, but the nicest was the FX997A with tape recorder, and this machine would sell for about 2700 guilders. All models were built around the same chassis. It is not difficult to find the Full factory documentation on Internet. For those who can’t read Dutch, there is an English translation of the text (from the FX995). You can use this text in combination with the tables and diagrams of the Dutch service docs.

The radio is equipped with sixteen tubes and offers -even now- the best sound quality of the time, as well as some funny and some useless gizmos. Actually, a few tubes could have been saved easily, but potential buyers would rather be attracted by having this many tubes than by a fifty guilder price reduction. The FM tuner uses two tubes (EF80 and EC92), while single tube units (with ECC85) were available at the time. Also, the third IF tube (EF85) could have been saved by using the ECH81 tube as the first IF stage for FM reception, a technique that was well-established as early as in 1953.

The radio is based on the bi-ampli concept, which means that bass and treble notes are amplified seperately; the ouput tube for trebles is the very common EL84, while the bass output comes from a series-balanced output stage with two PL81 tubes. Treble and bass can be regulated separately (the treble control also narrows the bandwidth of the IF strip for the AM bands), and of course there are separate speakers as well.

A very attractive feature of this radio is its motorized bandswitch; it is controlled by nine pushbuttons, but the actual bandswitch is rotated by an electric motor inside.The chosen band is indicated by having electric lights on the front panel. You can intimidate your friends by pushing a button and then hear the motor work itself through the positions of the switch and making the pilot lights light up one after another, until the motor stops at the chosen band. To avoid heavy noises during this operation, the motor voltage is directed by X1 to cut off the first audio stage.

The FM unit can work in two modes: the `quality’ one features silent tuning, where the hiss between stations is suppressed and the detector is only activated when a strong station is tuned. Diode X2 in the anode circuit of the RF stage (EF80 tube) prevents overloading of the mixer EC92.

The Short Wave capabilities of the BX998A make it a real all-wave receiver; all frequencies between 517 and 26500 kiloHertz are covered. The RF stage gives good image rejection, and due to three IF transformers the selectivity is adequate. On the two highest bands (5.1 MHz and higher) fine tuning is offered with a little knob and an additional miniature dial, illuminated only when these bands are selected, of course. CB communication (27 Mc band) can be overheard, but this band is not so active anymore nowadays. One almost regrets the lack of a BFO, but probably the richest Philips clients at the time were not interested in hearing CW, and SSB telephony was not used a lot at that time. Also, Philips might not dare to include a functionality that its costumers wouldn’t be able to use properly.

The set has built in antennas for FM (dipole) and MW/LW (ferrite rod rotatable from the front). There is a local MW dial on which one station can be preset; this dial is illuminated when local MW is chosen.

The radio shows its age in its design, because it is, though high-end, definitely a child of the fifties. The entire radio is monoral; stereo reproduction (of records and tape) was introduced to home entertainment only in the late fifties, and stereo FM transmissions came later still. A more regrettable sign of the era is the simplicity of the tonality control: there are `just’ two controls for treble and bass, while many later sets have four or five band equalizers and presets for speach, jazz, orchestra, etc. My explanation reads that in 1955 there was just one acceptable style of music, namely classical music, while pop music didn’t exist and jazz was hardly played by the class of people buying this radio.

Technical data for the BX998A:


Philips BX998A, The Netherlands 1955.


LW (870-2000m), MW (185-580m), SW1 (57.5-185m),

SW2 (20-59m), SW3 (11.3-20.4m), FM (3-3.43m).
Int. freq.: 452 kHz and 10.7 MHz.


Wood, weight 27kg  =   61,7 lbs.


This is a sixteen tube radio.

EBF80 (RF stage AM), ECH81 (mixer AM), EF80 (RF stage FM), EC92 (mixer FM), EF89 (1st IF), EBF80 (2nd IF, det AM), EF85 (3rd IF, FM), EAA91 (det FM), ECC83 (preamp AF and trebles driver), EBC41 (bass driver), 2xPL81 (bass output), EL84 (trebles output), 2xEZ80 (rectifier), EM34 (magic eye), OA50 (suppressor), OA72 (signal limiter FM), 15 dial and pilot lights.


Volume, tuning, bass, treble & bandwidth,

antenna rotate, fine tune (SW2/SW3), tune local MW, Pushbuttons for LW, MW, local MW, SW1, SW2, SW3, phono, FM quality, FM sensitive, power

The condition of the radio how it was found at home of a privat-person in Westzaan (Holland)  in februari 2015, after nearly 60 years.
In 1932, PHILIPS had already sold more than one million radio sets and was worldwide the largest supplier of radios. A year later PHILIPS  reached the selling milestone of 100 million radio tubes!

Listen and look;  short video Philips BX998a, the audio is recorded from radio Edelkampioen (Holland) 1629 kHz in crispy clear bi-ampli AM sound, click here:  IMG_1940

Next the overhaul of the:     PHILIPS BX642A        Year of production: 1955
The radio is based on the bi-ampli concept, which means that bass and treble notes are amplified seperately; just like the BX998A. In 1957 Philips left  the bi-ampli concept because production-cost could be get lower  by using one amplifier for all the tones;(instead of using two).  That make that the bi-ampli radio’s -even nowadays- are special in clearity of sound! Clear deep/low tones and nice bright high tones.         
* complete set. The hightones speaker are in real hung up in another place/position, like Philips meant. See advertisement more beneath for explanation.  Imagine: Your looking at the first audio surround-system!
This radio with only external speakers for high tones (2x) and one bass corner-speaker for middle and low tones,
called:  HI-Q (HIGH QUALITY).  Hi-end mono system with BI-AMPLI technic.
The technical ‘depth overhaul’ is done by  (Dutch specialist in vintage audio).
Picture before overhaul extern: The vinyl got loose of glue and is after 60 years colloured bij the sun/light. It will be renewed.
After Overhaul:
The overhaul extern, with new vinyl.  This set was in 1955 with a price of 780 dutch guilders rather expensive.
There is in Holland a dedicated group of Hi-Q lovers; enjoying the excellent PHILIPS HI-Q sound from the fifties;
Some technical info: For model High Quality Radio (Hi-Q) BX642A /00, Philips; Eindhoven (tubes international!);
Country: Netherlands
Manufacturer / Brand: Philips; Eindhoven (tubes international!); Miniwatt
Year: 1955 Type: Broadcast Receiver – or past WW2 Tuner
Valves / Tubes 11: ECC85 ECH81 EF89 EF85 EM80 EABC80 ECC83 EL84 EL84 EZ80 EZ80
Principle Super-Heterodyne (Super in general); ZF/IF 452/10700 kHz
Wave bands Broadcast, Long Wave, Medium wave, Short Wave plus FM (87,5 – 101 Mhz)
Power type and voltage Alternating Current supply (AC) / 110; 127; 145; 160; 180; 220 Volt
Loudspeaker The speaker setup: woofer box AD5004 and 2 satellites AD5005
from Model: High Quality Radio BX642A /00 – Philips; Eindhoven tubes
Material Wooden case
Shape Tablemodel with Push Buttons.
Dimensions (WHD) 630 x 250 x 240 mm / 24.8 x 9.8 x 9.4 inch
Notes Hi-Q Series Bi-Ampli radio with separate output stages for bass and treble channels. Power consumption 100 W.
After technical overhaul:
With a double (rotating) ferroceptor antenna, the sensitivity of the MG and the LG band will be increased.
Normally, the two antenna coils for these bands were placed together at one ferroceptor.
Philips did place this antenna-system into the more expensive radio’s.A weaker radio station what can give some interference can be „turned away“ by rotating the antenna’s.
Today, it’s not that important anymore, because in the Netherlands, the broadcast at the MG and LG is almost over and out.
After 60 years it looks like and works as new!! No, it ‘s even better, there are some modifications done for sound improvement, cutting too much bass en too much treble, more middle tones; bi-ampli in balance; overall a perfect sound image.
Advertisement 1955 Philips BX642A: