Analog Tuner Existence.....

Hi Everyone,

Have any of you heard whether or not analog FM broadcasting will still be around or not for a few years? I want to buy a fairly good tuner for listening to my public radio station, but heard rumor FM broadcast days might be numbered by digital's taking over. Any of you know or heard? Thanks! -Brian.
HD radio in Wikipedia kinda says no.I myself hope it doesn't
happen unless they improve the sound. I tried the Sam Tellig
recomended Sony. A big disappointment to me.The highs aren't
there,maybe to cover up the analog hiss. The highs are also
bad on HD FM. My analog tuners put the HD FM to shame.The
soundstage is narrow also.On the plus side,there is the side channels
you could pickup with HD only.I receive to few AM stations
to say for sure,but I've heard better dial-up,(low bit-rate)
streams over the internet. I hope the two could live together.
Try one with a 30day trial if you could.As far as high end tuners
going out, I would like to know too.
Thank you for your input. I am considering a used MR 85 Mcintosh tuner, and am a little gun shy for obvious reasons!
There are so many excellent tuners out there for $200-$400, why buy a collectors piece and worry? I have had an MR-71, a full Audio Classics mod MR-77, a Fanfare 1A, etc. over the years. I now have a Marantz 7001, and a Sherwood 3000 lll, with less than $400 in both.
The Sherwood seems the sonic equal of my MR-71. The Marantz is not the equal of the solid sate Macs in sonics, but it beats the pants off them in quieting on distant stations. I now hear my favorite college station with a dead quiet background, whereas with the Macs it was always subject to noise and cut out.
Read more and spend less.

The radio situation is a bit different than TV. Most TV users have cable, so the transition to digital didn't affect them at all, and the TV industry was willing to risk pissing off a few customers to bring in a system that benefits them and their advertisers. Make no mistake, the TV move was all about advertising; more side channels and bandwidth utilization equals more ad revenue.

Contrast radio, where virtually all listeners use the broadcast signal. Until HD capable radios reach critical mass, there's no way stations can go exclusively HD, as they'd cut off a huge piece of their audience. Radio stations are going to HD for the same reasons TV did, and none of them have to do with helping the consumer.

It will be analogous to the introduction of FM; it took 20 years for FM to really take off. I would expect analog broadcast signals to be around for a long time. That said, I completely agree with Samujohn that it makes little sense to invest in a high buck tuner at this point. A decent $200 tuner with a good antenna will squeeze pretty much all you're going to get out of an analog broadcast signal these days, even the ones that use little or no compression.

Tune in with something reasonable and relax; I haven't owned a TV in 15 years and my Yamaha T-85 is plenty.

I have owned a lot of hi-end tuners from the McIntosh MR-71, 77, 78 and 80. I have owned the Tandberg 3001A and the Yamaha CT7000 along with a few T2's. I love tuners, but got tired of the limited broadcast content and quality of the signal. My favorite independent stations and University /College based broadcast are no longer. I had given up on "radio" until a friend turned me onto the Logitech Squeezebox products and it has opened up the entire world of internet radio to my main system. I have the Squeezebox attached to an external DAC and listen to stations from around the world. The broadcast quality is from okay to very good, but the content available is absolutely stunning. The addition of the Squeezebox has been the best single addition to my system and has introduced me to music that I am not sure how I would have discovered in the past. I have sold ALL of my tuners and have absolutely no regret and would not consider a tuner purchase again unless it was a wireless internet based system upgrade to the Squeezebox.
Have to completely agree with Armstrod's take on Televisions reasoning for HD. Its about money and profits period. FM broadcasts will be here for a long time to come as Armstrod stated they just cannot loose the audience. Its that, that drives their revenues through advertisment and the amount of listeners they have that drives advertisers to them. Unlike TV where if you own a TV your at their mercy. I,m lucky however , in my area their are still plenty of excellant stations and variety as well to choose from. I still use an expensive tuner in a Magnum Dynlab MD 108 and love it. If it goes HD I bet Larry at Magnum can make it sound as best as it could with some form of mod or something. You can still though for very reasonable cash get a descent tuner and " tune in and relax ". Cheers
digital FM is just another subcarrier riding / sucking up bandwidth on the main analog carrier which will always be there. There's nothing HD about it. If you compromise buying a cheap tuner you get what you pay for. Invest in a quality product & enjoy the full benefits available. You'll not regret the quality of a classic design either; most of them were built better than what's available now. Grab that Mac while you still can!
An FM tuner been in my system literally for decades. Currently I thoroughly enjoy an Accuphase T-100.

I have no quams spending hundreds for modifications to further enjoy my favourite FM broadcast.
Perhaps digital radio will produce decent stereo. Except in strong signal areas the difference signal that is combined with the mono (sum) signal to derive stereo is so noisy that it is often best to switch to mono reception.

Digital radio will produce great stereo separation to go along with the totally compressed signal. HD radio streams at 96K max, and that's only if they dedicate their whole bandwidth to one channel. If they decide to divide it up to make more money, you end up with 48K or less.

Go listen to any Internet station streaming at 96K, then tell me whether you'd trade it for a decent analog signal. All the stations I listen to here also stream, and I'll take the broadcast signal every time.

Your complaint about weak signal areas is totally valid, and roughly analogous to old scratchy vinyl vs. CDs. HD radio may not help you, though, because just like HDTV it's either on or off. If the signal where you live is too weak, with HD radio you'll get nothing, whereas now you can at least listen, albeit in mono.

As HD radio becomes more prevalent, those of us with analog tuners will become a fringe group, just like those of us with turntables. I can live with that.

here is something that I don't really get it. most FM stations these days play music from computer harddrives in MP3 and other compressed formats. What's the point of having a high-end tuner and perfect signal reception if the source quality is poor and compressed?

Because there are still plenty of stations (we have 3 right here in Eugene) that still play music from the CD or even directly from (gasp!) vinyl. These are all public stations, and you can definitely tell the difference from the crappy compressed commercial stations you're referring to. If such commercial stations are your only choice, I agree that it doesn't matter what the signal OR the receiver is doing.
I think you would be surprised of the sound quality of a good analogue tuner.
I'm not suggesting you buy one, just if you ever get a chance to listen to one.

The majority of my tuner use is back ground while I go about with other things.
A station that stands out is CBC Radio Canada ,with live in the studio chat, radio concerts to music documentaries.

There have been a few times where the quality of the broadcast has distracted me to a point where it made me stop what ever I was doing to listen.
And yes as Armstrod points out some of the public funded stations are certainly worth a listen to....

Trumpetbri, buy and enjoy that Mcintosh and don't listen to the rumours, because that's all they are.
Once in a while the local NPR station (WAMC) stops its left wing diatribe long enough to broadcast some live music. Even over the radio music that has never been run through a tape recorder sounds more real.
Stitskin, totally agree on your comments on CBC radio. They had a segment on in the summer that was all vynil. Just like you said I stopped and listened. Randy Bachman of BTO had a show as well talking and playing his guitar in the studio setting up songs to be played by various bands and guitar styles of play. It was great! Cheers
FWIW, here is the latest on the situation in Great Britain, as reported in the latest issue (September, 2009) of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Spectrum:

Britain Mulls Over Digital Radio Transition:

The British communications ministry has released a road map calling for the completion of the nation’s move from analog FM to the digital audio broadcast (DAB) standard by the end of 2015. But DAB skeptics say that the move will waste money and that consumers just aren’t interested. Conversion will require anywhere from 120 to 700 new transmitters, according to Eureca Research analyst Gareth Owen, and there will be 130 million useless FM receivers to toss.

What’s more, the British government does not stand to make any money from freeing up bandwidth. Unlike the U.S. 700-megahertz spectrum—which sold for US $20 billion and will be used for new services—the FM space in Britain will simply go to small local commercial and community stations.

-- Al
I just purchased a Kenwood KT-8300 and have been amazed at the quality of sound from FM broadcasts, especially the UNLV jazz station (KNUV) here in Las Vegas. Like Stitskin, my use has been as background music, but I too find myself drawn into the sound on occasion it is that good. Also, I was surprised at the sound stage presented by this tuner, it is very good for a vintage piece of gear.
I have not tried HD radio yet but it is depressing to hear that it is lower bitrate.

We live in the burbs of DC. The classical station here WETA in DC plays live music sometimes that is just amazing. We have a Marantz 10B in the main system that I've used for over 15 years, and a REL in the bedroom. Even the Sansui 9900 is not bad.

Also, be sure to invest in a good antenna. We can actually pull the classical station from Baltimore now, using a Wineguard in the attic.