Chuck’s re-capped GE Superadio II might set a new AM BCL benchmark

I recently took delivery of a better-than-new classic solid-state portable broadcast receiver: the venerable GE Superadio II.

This Superadio II was generously given to me by SWLing Post contributor, Chuck Rippel (K8HU), who has–in his spare time–been re-capping and restoring all three of the GE Superadio series models and bringing them back to life. Chuck wanted to send me one of the units he’d recently finished, knowing that it might help me when doing AM reception evaluations. He insisted “no strings attached.”

Besides thank you, all I can say is…

Wow–!

Note angels singing in the background.

When I received the Superadio II a week or so ago, I removed it from the box and it looked brand new; even sporting the original “Headset Capable” grill sticker.

This is a case, however, of a refurbished radio likely out-performing the original.  Here’s a list of the main modifications:

  • All of the original dry capacitors replaced with Nichicon Audio Grade components
  • FM AFC and AM and FM IF and RF sections have been aligned
  • Rebuilt the volume control

I’m sure there are other modifications Chuck didn’t mention.

Chuck told me each radio takes a full day to restore. Some of the alignment, rebuilding, and re-capping is surprisingly tricky and varies with each of the three models. Why is he doing this?

Chuck told me, “My enjoyment comes from giving these radios a new lease on life.”

A new lease on life, indeed!

Last weekend, we had a break in the weather–and I had a short break in my schedule–so I took the GE Superadio II, GE 7-2990A, C.Crane CCRadio3, and Panasonic RF-2200 outdoors for some fresh air.

It was late afternoon and, frankly, I didn’t have the time to do a full comparative session, but having spent the better part of an hour tuning around and comparing the characteristics of each radio, I decided to make a short video to share.

The video features the GE Superadio II, but I speak to some of the pros and cons of each model. Keep in mind, this is very much a casual/informal comparison:

Click here to view on YouTube.

The SR-II not only has the best audio fidelity in this bunch, but it’s also extremely stable and has no noise floor to speak of. No doubt, this is the result of those Nichicon Audio Grade components and a skilled technician.

Side note: Chuck is well-known in the radio world because he used to restore the Collins R390A which must be one of the most mechanically-complicated receivers ever made.

I haven’t even properly tested the SR-II on FM yet because I couldn’t pull myself away from the mediumwave dial that afternoon!

I asked Chuck if he would consider refurbishing GE Superadios for other people and I think he would.  If interested, contact me and I’ll put you in touch. Else, Chuck might leave details in the comments section of this post.

He does currently have a restored GE Superadio II on eBay. I just checked and in his listing, you’ll see a full description of the modifications made.

Click here to view on eBay.

Chuck, thank you once again for sending me this SR-II. It’ll become a permanent addition here at SWLing Post HQ. Again, I’m simply amazed at the audio fidelity of this 1980s era receiver. Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything made today that can even compare.

And thanks for doing your bit to refurbish these classic portables!

Spread the radio love

31 thoughts on “Chuck’s re-capped GE Superadio II might set a new AM BCL benchmark

  1. Stephen Thomas Powell

    I received my GE Super Radio II from Chuck yesterday and have been listening ever since. It was in immaculate condition. It is the finest portable radio (appearance, form, function, performance) in my home. The audio is simply outstanding.

    I could not be happier.

    Reply
  2. Tom Laskowski

    I have a SRII that I bought new in or around 1984 that works great, but it’s becoming quite scratchy when tuning or adjusting the volume. I don’t use it much for DXing anymore, but I’d like to have it refurbed and cleaned at some point. Might have to send it Chuck’s way. 73.

    Reply
  3. Jamie Patterson

    I have a Superadio III. I am curious as to how to improve it. I know the varactor tuning is somewhat noisy. Not sure anything can be done. Do you think recapping the unit will be a clear improvement? Perhaps change the wide filter to a narrower one? 150s are a popular choice.

    Reply
    1. Chuck Rippel

      Not much to be done to quiet the digital tuning / varactor diodes. However, the re-cap and IF alignment process should improve the audio quality.

      Drop me an e-mail and I’ll send you an FAQ on the process then you can decide.

      Lantareamon@gmail.com

      Reply
  4. Walt Salmaniw

    As a recipient last week of my refurbished Super Radio II, I can attest to Chuck’s magical ability! I sent him a tired, dirty, semi-deaf receiver, and received an as-new radio. Thank you so much, Chuck!

    Reply
  5. Chuck Rippel

    It’d be kinda tough to widen the AM If as it is 4 tuned circuits but not impossible. Maybe take the 1st of 4th IF can electrically out of the circuit or spoil the Q on a couple of them. Sorry the 110 IF mod did not work. You probably got a filter that was not resonant on 10.7 MHz and even though 110 kHz is a little narrow, even for mono FM, it should have worked.

    I use 150’s but do a Bode Plot at 10.7 mhz on each filter to make sure it’s not off frequency.

    Reply
    1. les shamel

      hello chuck,I also have a GE3 superradio.Liked the video very much.I would like to recap my radio to up-grade the am and fm band and re-align it,iam not sure what that entells but i would like you to give me a ball park on the cost if you would do it for me.thank you; les shamel

      Reply
      1. Chuck Rippel

        The re-cap makes quite a difference in the audio quality on both AM and FM. Some of the SR-III circuits allow a filter change and I’d remove the 280 in it now and do a 150 or 180.

        Drop me an e-mail and I’ll send you and FAQ on the restore process. You can decide from there.

        Chuck
        Lantareamon@gmail.com

        Reply
  6. Guy Atkins

    Thanks for sharing Chuck’s wonderfully upgraded SR3 with us through you article and video, Thomas! It’s audio is certainly sterling and makes up for its average AM selectivity. This great receiver simply begs the operator to slow down and enjoy the programming and audio quality of stations near and far.

    My SR3 is in similar near-new condition. A few weeks ago Chuck kindly shared his upgraded capacitors list and urged me take my Superadio to the next level. After hearing the improvement in the video, I’m more stoked than ever to replace the ~34 year old caps! My next patient on the radio surgery table is a Satellit 700, but after that, bring on GE’s benchmark MW portable :^)

    Reply
    1. Guy Atkins

      Oops, I meant “SR2” (same as Chuck’s model), not SR3. In my opinion the Superadio II is the real gem of the series. They don’t make ’em like this these days!

      Reply
  7. Jeff Benedict

    I have a GE Superadio III. Bought it new. I have used it pretty much continuously since I got it 20+ years ago. It’s plenty sensitive but the slide rule readout is so goofy, it is hard to just turn the dial and get the station I want. I have to tune something and unless it is really obvious (like the format) I have to listen awhile to know if it is what I want. Hard to check the frees on new ones. Digital dial chips and readouts are pretty cheap these days. Have you heard of someone adding a digital readout of AM?

    Reply
  8. Ray Robinson

    Great comparison – thanks for posting. You’re fortunate to have music on the AM band in your part of the world. Here in SoCal it’s all talk or foreign language!

    Reply
  9. ThaDood

    Here, I have the CC Radio+ and rge GE SR III. The CC Radio is a great AM / FM performer, but that IF on AM is wayyyyyyyyyyy too narrow. I on-purposely off-tune that radio +/-2kHz for better fidelity. Someday, I hope to change the IF on that to something wider. The GE SR III??? Not a bad performer for $50.00, when I bought it off a friend of mine in 1997, but I knew that the FM selectivity could be better. So, I did the Bruce Elving narrow band FM 110kHz TOKO IF filter MOD to it. And, totally threw-off the tuning doing so. That varactor diode tuning didn’t like the MOD, since sensitivity went way down on me. I 1/2-ass got it re-tuned, but it wasn’t until I’d gotten the service manual for that radio that I was able to do a proper alignment. Now, my GE SR III is a DX champ. So, be aware if you do that IF MOD on such a radio. That didn’t happen on other radios, like a Sangean ATS-803A, a Bose Acoustic Wave Radio, a Radio Shack headphone radio, and an AC Delco car stereo. Huh… Live & learn…

    Reply
  10. 13dka

    Wow indeed! Are you sure you haven’t switched the SR II to the same station on FM? Just kidding, but there is so much top end on the audio while it appears to have even less hiss than the RF-2200, which has the second best audio frequency range! Really stunning and crazy how pristine it looks…I’m jealous now . 🙂

    Before I retreat to huff a little on my evening walk (j/k, I’m happy that it found its way to you, congrats!) …

    I wanted one of those a long time ago, because the GE Superradios were praised as affordable “DX machines” when I started to investigate MW DX more seriously back in the early 90s and I had just dug out some older book about MW DX somewhere that compared a lot of radios and praised the Superradios and particularly the SR II (even though IIRC the filters on them all were a bit too wide for the reviewer’s taste). The problem was that ordering stuff in the USA wasn’t a thing yet and I guess only few knew how to do that, and even if I knew – they were likely out of stock already when I heard of them. I’m glad this got much easier now and that I have a few radios that do pretty OK on MW. 🙂

    Reply
  11. Steve

    I still have and use my GE Superadio III that I bought new a long time ago. Works great and has great ability to pull in far off MW radio signals. Batteries last a long time.

    Reply
  12. Dane

    Wow!
    I own one of these fantastic radios and would love to have it recapped and refreshed.
    Thanks for the great story and video. And thanks to Chuck for keeping these great radios alive!
    Dane

    Reply
  13. Dave

    Wow Thomas, the Super Radio 2 does indeed sound amazing, and really clear compared to the others in your informal test, which were no slouches themselves. Major kudos to Chuck for keeping these fantastic receivers alive. In an age where few new AM portables with great performance are being made, keeping these hearty “oldies” going is a noble pursuit!

    Dave
    AA7EE

    Reply
  14. Chuck Rippel

    It sounds like you had as much fun comparing all the radios as I did re-working the SR-II. I have found radio to be “magic” since about age 8 or 1962. We lived in NE Ohio and my mother bought me a 6 transistor radio from a jewelry store in Lorain, OH for the princely sum of $4.95. There were no electronic stores in our area then. I remember taking that radio into the woods and listening to KYW in Cleveland (yes, KYW WAS in Cleveland then) and being able to hear the news. It was magic to me then and still is today.

    Fast forward to now. The magic of radio is taking a back seat to other forms of communication and while that is simply the march of progress, there are still memories of the magic of hearing the news while sitting in the woods in 1962…. The technical side of Radio has been both a hobby and career path. Yes, I am a ham but SWBC DX and being part of NASWA, Fine Tuning and Numero Uno took the #1 spot for enjoying radio as a hobby.

    The Super Radio I and II are “sleepers” in that they look fairly plain, are portables, have minimal signal tweaking features but perform well beyond what might be expected. Kinda like the 1968 Dodge Dart, family daily driver but instead of taking delivery with the usual “slant 6” under the hood, a pop of the latch reveals a 426 Hemi bolted to a 4 speed manual complete with Hurst shifter.

    There are no noisy varactor diodes to set the frequency and tune the RF stages in the SR-1 and II. Rather, there is a 6 section, split stator manual tuning capacitor which not only tunes the radio to a particular frequency but also tunes 2 RF sections on AM and 2 on FM for optimal sensitivity. Anyone remember the famed Radio Shack TRF radios? Same concept. I’d love to A/B an SR to a TRF. Wait till he tries the FM in the SR. The barn-door wide, stock 280 khz IF filter has been removed and replaced with a 150 kHz wide, quality Murata filter then the IF is re-aligned to that filter using one of, if the THE FM/FM MPX signal generators professionally offered, the Sound Technology 1000A.

    Thomas and The SWLing post continue to be a major contributor to the radio hobby and a “cup of coffee” while a contribution, was not up to the efforts it takes to find material and edit a blog which has benefited so many. So thanks, Thomas and enjoy the Super Radio!

    Reply
    1. Rob L

      Hi Chuck, I had fun with one of those $27 TRF radios when I was a kid. Often I picked up the same DX as other guys with Hammarlunds & big loops. 73s

      Reply
    2. Thomas H Carroll

      Hi Chuck, I just read the article on your recapping the GE Super Radio II & really enjoyed it. I rescued a SRII from a Flea market in Kansas City a couple years ago & it does have fantastic audio. I rescued it from some house painters as there were telltale paint spots left behind on the cabinet. I think it cost me $10.00 to $15.00 dollars at the time. Not sure how old it is but it sounds great.

      Tom Carroll
      KC0NVS

      Reply
  15. Stephen Thomas Powell

    Thomas,

    Just sent you a cup of coffee in appreciation of your SuperRadio post. I just purchased it from Chuck. I’m a radio enthusiast and have been since I built a crystal radio as a child. I’ve admired the classic SuperRadio for decades; the replaced/upgraded components sold me.

    Steve

    Reply
    1. Chuck Rippel

      Sure and there is another finished in about the same time frame: Am kind of surprised at that as my style of restoring radios (especially true of R390A’s) was to have only 1 on hand at a time. Some folks have a regular assembly line type operation and I would not want my gear to be treated that way.

      https://www.ebay.com/itm/184674995901

      I’m at:

      Lantareamon@gmail.com and we’ll see if we can save you some $.

      Reply

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