tube mac mr-71
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I have an exceedingly rare Sansui TU-X1, about the size of an ARC D300 amplifier. I own many tuners, including a Magnum Dynalab MD 108 ($5000), Marantz 10B and Mac MR78, each of which has been some reviewers candidate for best ever. The TU-X1 is an am/fm unit with both variable and fixed outs. It is in the next league down from the more famous supertuners, so cheaper. Last time I thought of selling, I was offered $400, which is low but exceptable. It is slightly lean mid-bass, but as detailed as the big guys. The condition is good to excellent because it may have a few scratches. You would be very happy with it, I am sure. Joe
Try to audition a FM Fanfare tuner. I have the FT1a. They have a downgraded model FT1al, w/o balanced out or remote, that is just a bit over 1K. It has excellent selectivity and sound. Go to www.fanfare.com. Although I personally would spring for the extra and get the remote. Excellent sound! Plus good dipole antennas.
Also check out Creek T43 for around $500 used.
I have owned tens of tuners. All the McIntosh's have an excellent soundstage but lack transparency (back in the 1980s Stereophile rated the $229 NEC T6E (the newer NEC 601E is just as good and has twice as many presets) as better sounding than the sought after MR-78 on strong FM Stations, if you have not heard (nothing to look at) the NEC T6 (former Stereophile Class B) you are missing something for a second system), the McIntosh MR-78 had exceptional selectivity though. The best transistor based McIntosh, sonicly speaking, is the MR-7083 (I have auditioned the MR-71, MR-78, MR-7084 and owned the MR-7082, MR-7083, MR-80, MR-500). While the old Macs may not be up to snuff sonicly they really represented a cornerstone in American Build Quality and Care in Manufacture (watch out for anything made by McIntosh after Clarion (the car radio for teenies people)bought out McIntosh in the early 1990s. Stereophile found the Rotel RHT-10 as better sounding than the Etude and Fanfare and even had a better RF section than the Day Sequerra. I agree, without reservation in that assessment. However, I really love the Meridian 604 (the flagship made in the mid-1990s that provides both digital and analog outputs). It has incredible clarity and the ultimate in FM imaging and soundstage in modern FM tuner design along with the Accuphase 109. But DXers will want defeatable blend circuitry and selectable band widths and narrower filters for pulling in those hard to reach stations. But the Meridian really does an excellent job at getting really hard to pull stations that can offer anything approaching hi-fidelity sound (the 504 is $1000 less back in the mid-1980s and is an excellent/exceptional sonic performer, you can not go wrong with it). If you want a hint of this sonic 3D space get a Creek T43 (recently www.jeffssoundvalues.com had one for $395, Ebay also has them from time to time for $400-$500) or better yet the upscale Musical Fidelity tuners. If you can get an Audiolab 8000T in excellent or better condition get it. It provides the great marriage of Rf options and sonic virtues. Just remember to give Artech a call and buy a replacement display panel without bulbs (about $20-25) and get a replacement bulb (~$4), ship the replacement bulb with voltage specs from Artech to vendor that offers hi-intensity white LEDs and ask them to match LEDs to the bulb. Then have a tech or yourself solder the new board with LEDs in place into your Audiolab. The bulbs can burn out if you leave the tuner on for a long period of time or after several years of normal use. Or buy the $1500 more expensive Tag McClarean (spelling?)(~$2500 now). It is essentially a computer interface friendly, remote controllable version of the Audiolab. Tag bought out Audiolab. Also, I recommend the Roksan Caspian (not the Kandy) for excellent sonics and exceptional 3D space rendering. If you want to pull in stations from unbelievable distances with good (not great) sonics find a Pioneer F-93 (last made 1999). It clearly beats the other great station puller, the Onkyo Integra 9090 II, in reception ability and sonics. If you want a somewhat darker tonal perspective get a Sony STA5ES (not to be confused with the less capable STA50ES, which is the current model). By the way, many have found that the hard plastic used for the connector casing virtually all XLR connectors is a terrible dielectic. You may well find that a great metal RCA connector based interconnect (e.g., Nirvana SX or more realistically priced Mapleshade offerings) will beat most XLR designs. Moral of the story, don't get hung up on balanced XLR operation for short cable runs.
nanderson has excellent, thorough info here. i wanna ad a couple tings, tho.
adcom's tuna, the gft-1a, which was by far the best tuna they ever made, *also* rated as "best sound w/a strong signal", in that s'phile comparo which included the nec t6e. i have one, & its' true - good sound. it beats the nec in all areas - my friend bought a nec, based upon that s'phile article, & we've compared. but, i'm not using it, so anyone wanna make me an offer? ;~) i'm original owner, have the obm, it's in great shape.
so, if the adcom is so good, how come i'm not using it? ;~) well, i happen to tink the tuna i am using competes, in sound & reception, w/the best there is - the onix bwd1 w/soap power supply. besides great specs, this tuna has the sound to match. i had a chance to compare it w/the naim nat-01 - one of the all-time great-sounding tunas, imho, & it gave up little, if anything, to that tuna. it retailed for ~$1800 w/the upgrade p/s, but every once in a great while, ya see 'em used for ~$400-$600. it's an overlooked great tuna. i'm at the western foot of a ~1800'-hi ridge, w/the stations ~75 miles east of me, & w/the help of an antenna performance specialties antenna, i get critical-listening-quality reception on the two quality stations i listen to most. & i listen to a *lot* of fm.
another excellent tuna i'm fortunate to have, is a revox b261. this ting is an unbelievably complicated big-box digitally-synthesized tuna - the polar opposite of the 2-knob analogue onix. it has 20 presets, the ability to program the call letters, etc, for each station, threshold-level settings, fixed & adjustable outputs, the ability to detune in 0.0125 increments (ie: ewe can set it to 89.3125 instead of 89.3). and a bunch of other stuff i can't tink of off the top-o-my-head. i picked this retail-$1500-tuna up for ~$300 at a local used stereo shop here, & it's been dead-reliable for the ~5 years i've owned it. sonics are comparable to the onix, but not as warm - i prefer the warmth the onix offers. so, the revox does admirable duty as the bedroom tuna, w/simple rabbit-ear antenna...
good luck, doug