What is your price range?
Back in the '70s and early '80s tuners were very popular and companies focused more on making a good tuner, therefore there are many good tuners from that era.
Magnum Dynalab devotes themselves, for the most part, to making tuners therefore they make a quality tuner, but IMO you will have to pay a lot more than you would for a vintage tuner, and depending on the vintage tuner, the vintage may be better. Some of these vintage tuners were quite expensive in their day.
Meridian and Linn make very good tuners, though I am not sure if they have any in their current line-up.
My price range is $1,000 but I could go to $1,500. What about the Meridian 504? The question is old tuner vs. new tuner. Thanks
Personally, I would be VERY interested in the 504 if I was looking for a new tuner; Very nice tuner indeed! Have you read on it at http://www.fmtunerinfo.com
? This tuner would fall in between old vs. new, actually more towards new; it was introduced in '93
Brian is exaclty right about the tuners from the 70's and 80's. I've got a yamaha from '78 that I absolutely love. However, I also just picked up a Parasound Halo tuner and have been really impressed with its performance.
I agree w/the 504 would make a fine choice but do be sure to check the remote that goes w/the unit. What I've seen of remotes for that piece are rather bulky, table-top consoles.
Lately bought a few tuners on E-bay for really small amounts and I'm really impressed by one model made by Sherwood in the early 80's called the TD120B. Looks plain, non-remote but sounds absolutely great in my system. Paid about $28 inc. shipping for it. Has better specs, lower distortion, tighter/lower freq. specs, equal to or better seperation than four modern tuners that I've owned which retailed from $250,$350 and $700.(I'm so impressed w/this tuner that I bought 3 of them!) It's not listed in the FM info site. Also, a used Yamaha RS (remote-capable)TX-540 is also for the $ is a nice little tuner. You might want to consider a Kenwood KT-7300/7500/8300 as well if size, silver and non-remote doesn't bother you. These might with or without modification perform equally as well for you. The 504 does look really nice and I wouldn't mind owning one myself one day. Good Luck in your quest!
Over the last three years, I have auditioned (and owned some of) the Fanfare, Audiolab, Dynalab tuners -- they are all very good, but end up now with Mcintosh MR71 and just love it. MR71 is magical, may be because of the tubes. Mine has the Mod.
Good luck on your search!
Before going out and spending $1K, or more, I'd suggest finding even a modest tuner from the 70's, some to be found for as little as $80-$100. Contact Don Scott (e-mail if you want his e-mail) for suggestions. Then, have Don do a few mods. I'm guessing that for about $400 or less, all told, including shipping to and from Don, you can have the performance you seek and use the $600+ for something else.
I had an modest old Sony 3950 stuck on a shelf. Had Don do $150 of mods (plus $50 shipping), including new caps and an IEC to enable use of an after market power cord and it sounds as good or better than the newer Dynalabs I've heard. Start with a tuner even better and get even better results.
A friend from the local hi fi store did a tuner test with me on a very high quality sound system. This was only for sound not distant station reception. The Revox B760 ($760) and Marantz 20 ($640) were the best and fairly equal with extremely good overall sound and deep bass. A step down was the Sequerra Reference, the next step down was the McIntosh MR-80 and a new Magnum Dynalab 90 brought up the rear. The spread form the Revox to the Dynalab was quit large. I'm sure the more expensive Dynalab tuners would be closer to the Revox. Prices noted are what I paid and fairly reflective of current prices. Good luck in your hunt.
Glad to see you're still looking for more info Howard!
Let me add publicly now a few comments I made to you earlier: Everyone should remember that as good sounding as the Meridian 504 may be, it is extremely limited purpose and very bare bones. There is no narrow IF bandwidth, nor is there the option of gradual high blend, or even standard high blend for that matter. The stock IF bandwidth, as noted by Larry Greenhill in his Stereophile review, is very wide, and while the tuner sounds great fed with an FM generator, in the real world it will work properly primarily on strong local stations, or distant blowtorch stations.
Re: The Halo -- single IF bandwidth with 80dB selectivity. There is simply no way to coax audiophile quality sound from this tuner compared to most any dual-bandwidth tuner. The narrower bandwidth results in excessive group delay in the IF strip which in turn causes excessive IM and THD in the recovered audio. Yes, you CAN do this, but it requires carefully hand-selected filters, prefereably multiple GAXX type with a 110kHz GDT bandwidth, and each with a group delay equalizer. Looks nice, but is blown away by many for about $50.
Regarding Don Scott: I INVITE DON TO REFUTE THIS PUBLICLY. I have been told that Don Scott does not own the Sencore SG-80 signal generator mentioned in one of his Stereophile articles. Further, I have been told that he does his alignments "by ear", which is unacceptable and impossible to do properly. I've been told that one of his "modified" units measured around 10dB channel separation. This is awful. I've never had a unit come in under 40, and have personally achieved up to 80dB separation at 1kHz on select tuners. (This required buying the two best FM stereo generators ever produced in the world, however). Further, I have read that one of the modifications he did completely ruined superb high end tuner. He places an ultra-narrow 110kHz filter in the *WIDE* IF bandwidth running the distortion to heck. Clearly, if he let this outd the door, he is not aligning and measuring his work. If you need modification done commerically, use Ed Hanlon at Antenna Performance Specialites. Ed does the audiophile parts additions right, AND aligns it right. I wouldn't doubt that a Don-modified unit can keep up with a Dynalab. They really aren't that good as tuners. They're essentially a very mediocre tuner coupled with a handful of audiophile parts an a gorgeous chassis. Whoopee. And *TUBE* output stages? EXCUSE ME? This is the dumbest gimmick ever, and in a recent Hi-Fi Magazine article I read on the MD-102, the tuner was specified as having .1x% THD and something like 1.6% for the tube stage. Great concept: Even if your tuner is good, why not put the worlds crappies tube output stage into it to juice up the sound with a little extra THD? Stupid. Why not use an AD797 and be done with it?
I'm sure I've managed to tick off a few more people, but these are just my opinions, and I invite anyone to respond who feels like it.
The Halo is single bandwidth
Ryan, some of the information you provide in your always pointed and lengthy, albeit often contradictory (including tuner recommendations), posts is useful. You clearly envision yourself as the very authority on all things FM, what with your propensity to label poster's comments as categorically incorrect, products as garbage, certain mods as a ripoff, approaches to tuner improvements as stupid, and chiding one posters assessment of a tuner by asking him just how many high-end tuners hes auditioned while passing judgment on another yourself by employing the tired or so Ive heard evidence. But since you are the FM God, I suppose we should all defer to your omnipotence and assume that length of post equals legitimacy.
And, as to your use of the so Ive heard/so Ive been told qualifier with respect to Don Scott. I do not know Don personally, but I know that he has performed quite a number of mods for a great many folks and I have yet to hear from anyone who was dissatisfied. To my knowledge, Don does not post in this forum so your I INVITE DON TO REFUTE THIS PUBLICLY challenge is cowardly, at best. If you want him to your answer YOUR claims, why dont YOU contact him yourself and ask? By your own admission you are making claims based on what youve been told spurious indeed. If you want to make these near libelous claims, how about providing some actual proof and not mere innuendo? YOU have the responsibility to back up what YOU have said. Don has no obligation to answer your heretofore unfounded accusations.
I dont know if you have a personal thing going with Don, or not. Your reference in other threads to we at the FM Tuner Board implies that this may very well be the case. In any event, I suggest that you refrain from such professional competency assassination unless you are prepared to provide the proof necessary to finish what your mouth has started.
Oh, and this is my considered response, offered at your invitation.
Ryanmh1: "I've been told that one of his "modified" units measured around 10dB channel separation." Although 4yanx has composed a very reasonable response to your opinion, I would like to emphasize that you do not state any real evidence other than heresay for your views. How do you know that Mr. Scott did not specifically design the unit for someone with only 10dB of separation? If a customer lives in a region w/poor reception, he/she may be seeking modifications that are appropriate for distal reception rather than audiophile sound. I had Don modify a unit to my specific requirements, and the end result was ideal (he also guaranteed the work with no strings attached).
Just my opinion.
4yanx, Nice job digging up everything I ever posted! =) I certainly don't feel I am any sort of "FM God", but just a guy who is as obsessed with FM as Michael Fremer is obsessed with turntables. I did label a few expensive antennas as rip-off junk once, which is true when you can get a 6 element FM Yagi at Radio Shack for $22.99. I do slam a lot of tuners, but I legitimately believe there are much better for less money. To some, that won't matter, and that's their own prerogative. But point taken: "junk" isn't a fair or accurate word, and I'll temper it a bit more in the future.
As for Mr. Scott, I felt a caution had to be made. Most tuner users do not have the capability to evaluate nor measure a modified product. I'm not trying to be devious by not naming sources, just protecting the privacy they desire. Suffice to say they are very technically competant individuals with full analysis and measurement capabilities with whom I have had significant correspondance. Your suggestion is well taken: While Don may not know of his botched IF modification, he certainly will know what alignment equipment he uses. I'll ask him, and if he has a good generator which he uses, I'll publicly eat the words from my previous post on that subject.
Most importantly, however, Antenna Performance does great mod work: they use a Meguro IF Filter Digimarscope for analyzing 10.7MHZ IF Filters and use a Sound Technology ST-1000A for alignment work. It's not the best, but its good enough for most tuners. NOTE: I have nothing to do with these guys.
Gabbro, Although high blend would normally be the way to deal with poor multipath-ridden reception, I suppose someone might have asked for that, but not on the particular tuner in question. But here's an offer for you: If you want, Email me privately and we can work this out if you'd like: If you can ever go without your tuner for a week or two, ship it to me and I'll do a full spectral analysis of it and provide you with detailed FFT performance graphs for free. You may just make me stuff a sock in it, and at the least, you'll have 20 or so really cool plots to show your friends and to amuse yourself with. I'll even pay the return shipping.
Finally, I like long posts. I'll take length over a "Get a Sonicbliss Magnoblaster. It sounds really neat" any day. Of course, that would keep me out of a lot of trouble. =)
Back to recommendations... Sansui TU-X1 for analog and slightly modified Yamaha TX-1000/2000 or T-85 for digital (or the very similar Rotel RHT-10/RT-990BX) are the top of my audiophile list without having to dip into very scarce Accuphases. Good classic tuner reading: The Sansui TU-X1 product procure: http://www.classicsansui.net/Tuners.htm
Searching for a tuner is not easy. What about the Marantz ST-6000 tuner? It is a modern tuner and is priced under $300. The article below says good things about it:
Is the ST-6000 any good in terms of sound quality and its ability to pick up stations? thanks..
Phew! My recommendation to chase the older (1990-ish) NAD Monitor Series tuner (4300?) or receivers (7100, 7400, 7600) for a fine cheap tuner is based on my empirical results that they perform much better than newer ones (like my NAD T751 HT receiver), but certainly not as life-like as my new Magnun Dynalab 100. Can't understand how Ryan slams the MDs. This $1k newbie sounds GREAT!
I only slam them on a cost/value basis. If they were selling the MD-102 for $1000 bucks, I wouldn't have nearly as big a problem with it, even though I still wouldn't like it.
I have the Meridian 504 and it is SUPERB! It is in the basement driven by a cheap powered Radio Shack Antenna.I can receive signals from thirty miles away with no problems. It is one of the better fm tuners on the market and came in I believe on the top ten tuners of all times in a recent shoot-out of 100 top tuners both tubed and solid state.Now that is an accomplishment! I have not needed any narrow bandwith or other expensive features. This unit is quality vs gadget driven.
7671, though I believe your tuner is a quality tuner, see my comments above, those 'expensive features' that you call gadgets are actually 'vital' componants of a good tuner.
Brianmgrarcom:Since Meridian is a reputable company, wouldn't you think they would install these vital parts if they saw them necessary? I have yet to have had a tuner with the above features noted.The end however is the sound quality,pulling in of weak stations,stability, etc.For this the Meridian cannot be beatIMHO.
7671, It is great that you are pleased with your Meridian, but these features have a very real purpose, no mater how good a tuner is. You state that you haven't had a tuner with these features, therefore you haven't had the experience to see their use.
If you live in a rural area and want to pick up distant stations as clear as possible (even if I do have to switch to mono), a vintage analog dial tuner picks up stations clearer than any digital tuner I have been associated with..... I am talking about "clear signal quality" from distant stations, rather than "audiophile sound quality".
Go to fmtunerinfo.com and click on shootout. A review of 63 tuners were done by an audiphile. He ranked the Meridian 504 at number 8.Quite an accomplishment for a digital tuner. Enough said. Enjoy.
7671, I was going to attempt to stay out of this, but I'll dip just a toe in: Brian is right. Period. Just because a high end company prefers to sell a stripper doesn't mean those features aren't essential! High blend and selectable IF modes weren't something someone invented to add more glitz. And Playtrim: You clearly have not used very many good digital tuners. The manner of station display has little or nothing to do with sensitivity, selectivity, or the quieting curve of the tuner. I have had vintage analogs that cost $250 used that were easily slaughtered by a cheap (but previously highly underpriced) $50 digital.
Ryanmh1: I'm not stating these features aren't essential but obviously not needed on some tuners. The 504 is hardly a "Stripper". Read the reviews on fminfotuners.com for yourself.I have had vintage tuners as well. All I'm saying is the 504 is one heck of a tuner and will compete with most anything without added "Essentials".Please, let this one lie and die with dignity. Thanks.
Ryanmh1: I'm not stating these features aren't essential but obviously not needed on some tuners. The 504 is hardly a "Stripper". Read the reviews on fminfotuners.com for yourself.I have had vintage tuners as well. All I'm saying is the 504 is one heck of a tuner and will compete with most anything without added "Essentials".Please, let this one lay and die with dignity. Thanks.
7671, it appears to me, in lieu of your last words, you don't like someone disagreeing with you. Furthermore, it is clear that you do not have an understanding of these features on tuners, there isn't a tuner made that cannot benefit from these options, it is just the nature of FM and its many radio stations.
I finally made a decision. My local California retailer was asking $700 for their Meridian 504 FM Tuner. I offered $500 and they offered to split the difference ($600). I agreed and just hooked up my new Meridian 504 tuner. I am sure it is breaking in but it sure sounds good to my ears. The unit was a demo at a Meridian retailer but had never been played. I also have a 3 year warranty on the unit. I was very surprised when he told me the retail price was $1,760.
The bad news is my Harmonic Technology interconnect cables do NOT fit the tuner or my McIntosh MA6900 integrated amplifier. It seems the metal on the cables are to long and need to be shorter. I have loaner cables from the store and am waiting for Harmonic Technology to call me back. I am also waiting for Fanfare Electronics to send me the missing "F connector" so I can connect my Fanfare FM-2G Whip antenna to my Meridian.
It made no sense to pay $2,500+ for a Magnum Dynalab MD102 or what ever for a McIntosh MR78. The Meridian sounds great and for $600, it was a steal.
Thanks again for all your help and advise. cheers.
Excellent choice Hgeifman!! Enjoy your 504 for years to come.
Hey, an MD100 is only $1k used/discounted. As a kid I was a HAM, and last year bought a vintage Hallicrafters "high end for its 1955 era" receiver, and finally delight in having SIX switchable IF window widths! Keeps Radio Rwanda et al from being swamped by the big guys....