Are There Alternatives to the Marantz 10 B ?


I've been sinking my money (what little I have) into a DAC DSD upgrade and to pay for it, I decided to sell my Magnum Dynalab tuner. I liked the MD fm tuner but I wasn't ecstatic about it. For one thing, I was constantly wrestling with the dipole antenna to bring in the signal and that got rather inundating. The sound was really very good at certain times but rarely when a program came on that I had been waiting to hear.

So what I've been wondering is whether or not stereo fm tube tuners exist that offer a great audiophile sound but that don't receive the same level of attention as the Marantz 10 B? I suppose the hope is to find that 'build your own tuner kit' or advice on purchasing a particular tuner and how to modify it and all of this for a reasonable sum of money. And when it's all said and done, if I've still fallen short of my aim, then I'll get a job in the diamond mines and save until I've got enough for the Marantz 10 B.

Sounds like you may need a better antenna more than a top quality tuner. That said, though, you may find this thread to be of interest.

Among quite a few vintage tube tuners I have owned, including two Marantz 10B's and the comparably expensive REL Precedent I currently use (in conjunction with an H. H. Scott LM-35 multiplex adapter/stereo decoder), the best relatively inexpensive (I suspect <$500) tuner in my experience has been the combination of an H. H. Scott 310D tuner (mono in itself, but providing a multiplex output jack for connection to an external multiplex adapter/stereo decoder) with a Fisher MPX-100 or H. H. Scott LM-35 or 335 multiplex adapter.

Of course, condition is a HUGE variable when it comes to vintage tube tuners, and many specific models (including the ones I suggested) are likely to require a good deal of patience to find, especially in top condition.

-- Al
I agree with Al. No matter what tuner you get it will not change if you use the same dipole antenna.

I've been down the road with many vintage tuners and I got fed up with the problems of a 40 year plus tuner and the cost and time when something fails.

Now I have a Magnum MD-90 and enjoy it as much as anything else I have owned.So you should start out with a good antenna before you do anything else.
Thanks Al! Funny, I just saw this H. H. Scott 310D tuner on ebay a couple of weeks back. Anyhow as I'm in no hurry, I'll keep looking. Again much appreciated.
Yogiboy, I had the MD 90 with the MD ST-2 dipole antenna and it was sketchy regarding the signal. I could have purchased the signal sleuth but decided that I would like to try a tube tuner over the MD 90 and to then search around for an external antenna. The problem is that I live on the 1st floor of an apartment building so an external antenna could be tricky.
By the way, the REL Precedent has me fascinated. Isn't this tuner initially a mono tuner that can then be modified into stereo?
Goofyfoot, like many of the tube tuners that came a bit later (ca. 1960) the REL Precedent (ca. 1954) is mono in itself but provides a multiplex output jack which can be connected to an external multiplex adapter component. The combo comprises a stereo tuner. As you probably realize, the Scott 310D I mentioned is similar in that respect.

IME with the particular examples I've had, the Precedent + MPX-100 or LM-35 (I've had both) and the two 10B's were very similar in terms of weak signal reception capability, and significantly better in that respect than any other tuners I've ever had. In terms of sound quality, the Precedent + MPX-100 or LM-35 clearly bested both 10B's, although condition could certainly have been a factor in that.

BTW, when I said I suspected that the cost of a 310D + MPX-100 or LM35 or 335 would be less than $500, my guess is that the multiplex adapter would be about 60% of that total, and the tuner about 40%.

Good luck in your search! Regards,
-- Al
Thanks again Al for better clarifying. It's a blessing to have this network of knowledge right at my fingertips. Is there a link or a PDF file, etc... that can explain the Multiplex Adapter and how to apply it? My knowledge of tuners is slightly better than knowing how to turn them off and on.

Goofyfoot, here is a simple diagram for Scott 335 Connections.
Thanks, Tony (TLS49). Also, a photo of the MPX-100 can be seen here, and of the Scott LM-35 or 335 here (the unmarked photo above the model number listings). The LM-35 and 335 are the same except that the LM-35 came as a kit, and I believe the color of the faceplates is different.

I couldn't find a user manual for either model, but as the diagram Tony provided indicates you simply connect the MPX (multiplex) output of the tuner to the MPX input of the Multiplex Adapter, and the Left and Right outputs of the Multiplex Adapter to your preamp, all via RCA cables. The front panel controls are simple and pretty much self-explanatory.

Vintage tube tuners from that era that are mono but have a mpx output tend to sell these days for much lower prices than comparable stereo models, so even though a mpx adapter in excellent condition may sell for $250 to $300 or more, combining an MPX-100 or LM-35/335 with a mono tuner can often get you as good or better quality for significantly less money than investing in a stereo tube tuner.

-- Al
I'm wondering then, would the multiplex adapter apply to the McIntosh MR 65 and if so, would the HH Scott and the McIntosh be of equal quality even though their sonic characteristics might possibly be different?

I'm thinking however that the 310 D would be less expensive than the MR 65.

I saw a McIntosh MA 6 multiplex adapter for $500.00 on the Audio Classics website. My assumption is that any multiplex adapter would be compatible with any mono tube tuner that accepts a multiplex adapter?

This is great, I'm learning things that I had no knowledge or familiarity with, thanks!

Glad to help, Al. Also, I have a Sams Photofact and copies of a Scott Service Bulletin and owners manual for the Scott 335 should anyone need them.

Goofyfoot, look here at the Berner's Site for MR 65 or MR 65A. This shows a MA 5 adapter that is mounted to the chassis of those tuners, and appears to work with them only. Also, the MR 65B is a stereo tuner. The MA 6 is shown on the MR 66 page, and appears that it only works with that tuner since it is powered through a 4 pin plug on the back of the tuner.

So, to answer your question, all multiplex adapters are not compatible, although it appears that the Mac tuners may work with the Scott and Fisher adapters.
Sorry to question the obvious. Yes, I later saw that the MR 65 accepts the multiplex adapter and thanks for the PDF link.

Can anyone comment on the sonic comparisons between the 310 D and the MR 65?

The reason I am mentioning the MR 65 is that they seem to appear on auction websites more readily than the 310 D and can at times be within the same price range as the 310 D.

Either way I can wait while looking periodically for a reasonable offer.

I wish my 1957 Zenith Trans-Oceanic had FM.
I'm working and looking at the links that are being sent my way so I apologize for delayed responses but everyone's been more than generous with their time and knowledge.
Have you thought about the Magnum Dynalab Signal Sleuth?
I have one that I use with my MD-106T Analog FM Tuner and it works well to lock in on distant stations.
Good inputs from Tony, all of which I agree with. Here is a link to the manual for the MR65 and MR65A. It confirms that those tuners provide a MPX out jack, so consistent with Tony's comment I suspect (although I can't say with 100% certainty) that if the onboard MA-5 adapter is not present a Scott or Fisher multiplex adapter would work with those tuners.

I have no specific knowledge of the sonics of those tuners, although assuming excellent condition (a big "if," of course) I'd be surprised if they were less than an excellent value in their price range.

-- Al
I've serviced all the tuners mentioned in this thread at one point or another. Even though these days my main business is building tube amps and preamps, I kept all my tuner troubleshooting gear from the old days.

There are several points to keep in mind with all old tuners:
The tubes must be good
The filter caps must be in good condition
Coupling caps should be looked at (some Fishers have real trouble with this)
The tuner should be in good alignment, particularly the ratio discriminator.

If you experience excess noise when tuning the station, that is caused by corrosion in the bearing of the tuning capacitor, and can be sorted out with a shot of Deoxit.

I always like the Scott tuners as they could have very good performance for the dollar. Outside of the Marantz I think one of the Scotts was the only tuner other than the Marantz that had 4 tuning caps in the front end. They built one with cosmetics meant to match that of Marantz, to fill that market for Marantz owners before the model 10 came out. Their layout and construction is pretty spartan, but they are also done rather thoughtfully so they are easy to service.

The Macs were all good too, with much more grandiose chassis hardware. The Marantz 10 was the king of all tube tuners and took a bit more finesse to sort out, but are quite reliable once that is done. The scope was fun but an unneeded extravagance. They get good money for that CRT on ebay if yours is bad! Rebuilding them is a pain but worthwhile. The trick to them is get a good copy of the schematic- it is laid out exactly the same as the internals, and so also functions as a layout guide. They have some special circuits for muting and the like that use neon lamps and LDRs; if these fail they can be rebuilt easily enough.

I have a Dyna FM-3 myself. Its weakness is the glue that holds the IF transformers together is often failing so you sometimes have to perform surgery on them to get the tuner to really perform. They sound fine but don't have the sensitivity of the other tuners, and try finding that seeing eye tube if its bad (fortunately that is a rare issue).

In all cases and including MPX adapters, alignment is critical! If this is off, stereo separation suffers or may not even exist, and some may also generate beat tones depending on the design. So this is one area that is best left to someone who has an FM Stereo generator.
Best tuner I have owned (both reception/sensitivity and sound quality) was in Tandberg tr2080 receiver. The better dedicated Tandberg tuners were even better and do not cost a fortune to acquire it seems when they become available.

I've seen and heard many over the years including Magnums, which seem nice but overpriced, but not that particular Marantz though.

FM tuners used to be an obsession area in audio for me, so I tend to take notice of tuner performance whenever I hear one.

The current brand I like for affordable good tuner technology is Sangean. I have a recent model Sangean table radio (comparable to Tivoli) that rivals most anything I have ever used for reception. Sangean makes some tuners, but I have never used these, however this is a company with a focus on making good radios for those who care.
Atmasphere, your insights make me think that it would be best to go through a dealer like Audio Classics, as they have the ability to bring their tuners up to acceptable standards. I like Audio Classics and I've bought from them before but doing so would ad a bit of money to the price tag.
Are there other sources for seeking out the H.H. Scott, etc...?
Mapleshade audio sells and rebuilds Scott tuners!
Thanks Yogiboy. I can't help wondering however why the Scott 310 D mono tuner with Multipllex adapter would be preferable to a later Scott tuner either mono or stereo, or is i just based on the overall cost?
Ralph (Atmasphere), thanks for providing your always extremely knowlegeable inputs.
05-09-14: Goofyfoot
I can't help wondering however why the Scott 310 D mono tuner with Multipllex adapter would be preferable to a later Scott tuner either mono or stereo, or is i just based on the overall cost?
I believe the 310D was among the last and the best of the Scott mono tuners. Perhaps THE last and best. What I believe was its successor model, the 310E stereo tuner, is highly sought after and commands prices well upwards of $1K if in excellent condition. Among other stereo tuners, the 350 series is fairly popular, but I suspect it would be at least as costly as a 310D + MPX'er in similar condition.

So yes, cost is definitely a factor in what I've had to say, given your cost-related statements earlier in the thread, and given the MUCH lower selling prices that are typical of vintage mono tube tuners vs. their slightly later stereo counterparts.

-- Al
Thanks Al for clarifying that for me. Yes, financially at this point I would be starting from ground zero but it's good to know something about the market value and respective costs ahead of time.