What do you consider a budget tuner? Everyone's budget is different.
15 responses Add your response
In my opinion that leaves you a lot of room. I would suggest that you spend some time at the FM Tuner Info site if you have not already.
I wouldn't hold everything as fact that is said within the review section, if for no other reason than tuners vary amongst themselves, but I think the information can be very helpful. I personally feel that a vintage tuner is the best back for your buck and possibly the best bang peroid.
I have owned a Sansui TU-717, Fanfare FT-1A, Yamaha T2, Pioneer ?? (modified), Kenwood KT-917 and now a Luxman T-117. I like the Luxman the best and when you can find one they are relativly inexpensive, definately less than your budget.
The FM Tuner Info site can give you lots of ideas. The APS site has a number of modified tuners, or ideas on which tuners to look for & have modified
You might check on audio aslyum for suggestions. The Sansui tuners (717, 719..even the lower models 714? 715?) have a good reputation, particularly after some mods, alignment, updating..and there's LOTS of them available.
I don't want to sound like the proverbial broken record but- the older Sansui lines such as the TU analog not T (totally digital) or AU (integrated amp) are fabulous. I found a TU 5900 that is absolutely mint and sounds great, for less than $100. The difference between the TU 9900 which is top of the line and highly collectible vs. the 7900, 5900 is in the number of tuning gangs, and some a few other infrequently used features, again see the tuner site for details but the differences are smaller than you might think. You will probably find a TU9900 in your price range if you are patient. They are disproportionately expensive due to scarcity,its overkill unless you're a collector.
I think the TU-717 will be running closer to $300(or more occasinally) at least on ebay. I watched them recently for a couple months before I picked something up. The TU-9900 might well run up to, or over, $500 in stock form, depending on condition(again, ebay). The TU-919 is a real gem, but the prices are pretty rightous in the $700-$900 range, stock. One went recently for $800+.
The down side of picking up one of the better models(read: higher priced though in your price range) is that it'll be in stock condition & probably not checked out & aligned in a very long time. If you're looking to save a couple dollars it may be a better tack to pick up something that is technically very good (# gangs..etc.., see FM Tuner site) even if it is a "lesser" tuner and then have some work done on it. The resulting unit will then either equal or exceed the higher end (stock condition) tuner-examples in performance. Actually I read a post here on A-gon by a very well known writer-technician in audio-dom that a TU-317(?) & TU-417(?) that he modified turned out to be some of the better performing tuners he'd ever seen.
One last thought...you might contact someone who does mods and ask them what they think is the best bang for the buck in a modified, low priced tuner.