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My hypothesis is the Darbee is a heterodyne circuit

Maybe. In radio, such circuits are used to provide sensitivity and selectivity. But no matter what they do to the signal, the effect is probably more noticeable on lower end sets, so it will be interesting to see how it performs on your gear. If it wows you, or at least gets a passing grade, they really have something.

BTW, a shout out to Major Howard Armstrong, the inventor of the heterodyne and super-heterodyne circuits. Like Tesla, he's largely an unsung electronics hero.

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