I've owned numerous vintage tube tuners over the years, including two different Marantz 10Bs, a 1954 REL Precedent (as you probably realize, that's Radio Engineering Laboratories, no relation to the modern British subwoofer manufacturer), a McIntosh MR71, and several made by H. H. Scott and Fisher. Among more modern solid state designs I've only owned a Carver TX-11 and a Kenwood receiver, both during the 1980s.
By far the most sensitive of these were the 10Bs and the REL Precedent, which were similar to each other in that respect. Despite the Carver's unique sensitivity-enhancing circuitry its sensitivity was easily bested by those two. The best sound quality of all of the tuners I've owned was provided by the REL Precedent, which I used in conjunction with vintage tube-based "multiplex adapters" made by H. H. Scott (model 335 or LM35) and Fisher (model MPX100). (The REL is mono by itself, but it provides a multiplex output from which these adapters can decode the stereo).
Unfortunately, of course, both the 10B and the REL go for multi-thousands of dollars these days, at least if in good condition. In terms of value per dollar the best in my experience was an H. H. Scott 310D used in conjunction with one of the multiplex adapters.
It goes without saying, of course, that condition can make all the difference with any of these older pieces.
I'm still using my McIntosh MR-80 and it still sounds terrific, given a clean signal.
I have two Accuphase T-101’s, they also sound terrific.
I use my old (late "70s) Luxman T-110.
Not entirely on topic, but I do still own a McIntosh MR71.
Over the years, and living on the left coast, there were excellent FM stations
to listen to. Classical music, a college jazz station and two classic rock
stations were just some of the choices.
Over the years many excellent tuners came and went from the
likes of Marantz, Sansui, McIntosh, Fanfare and Yamaha. Sadly, I now live on
the right coast in a large city that is an FM wasteland. The MR71 remains…packed
away. I’d have to say I miss all that great free/quality music.
Sorry, I think
I’ve been locked up for too many days already.
Like rpeluso, I use a Luxman T110. In my audio life, I have owned two different Marantz 10Bs, as well, and I have lusted for a Sequerra. But it doesn't make sense these days to spend so much on a tuner.
McIntosh MR-74 and Luxman T-110, both upgraded by Don Scott and both wonderful. Yamaha T-2 recently refurbished and also excellent. Also quite like the tuner section in my refurbished Tandberg TR-2075 MKll receiver.
tubegb makes an excellent point. I have a college classical station and a tech college mainly Jazz/some classical and all the other stations are mainly this country/rock/mainstream mix of "bar" music. For all the pleasure that exist in good audio gear, many people have their car radio and the bar jukebox as their musical reference...not exactly the absolute sound.
I have a barely used Jolida tube tuner that really sings when I had it connected. Put it up for sale but got got nothing but uhhhh radio silence (sorry). Nice looking unit too maybe I’ll break it out again
I have a Sansui TU-X1.
I’m a jazz fanatic.
There’s only one jazz station in LA.
I've always considered my tuner as a tool to find new jazz music.
Consequently it doesn’t get much use due to bounty of jazz stations all over the world via streaming...along with Tidal & Pandora Premium.
As good as my tuner is, it’s turning out to be more of a nostalgic piece of audio sculpture.
It is a gorgeous beast, and I’ll never get rid of it.https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/876#&gid=1&pid=4
Recently I overhauled my Carver stack - m500t amp, C1 preamp, and TX-11a tuner (kayoed by a party spill). Had to actually replace the tuner, but I was lucky enough to find another TX-11a on ebay in excellent condition for just $125. What a relief to fire it up and hear my stations again, clear as a bell. I may not use it everyday, since I started Qobuz (streamed to a Bluesound Node 2i and thru my Schiit Yggdrasil dac). But nothing really replaces radio. The tube guys may have me beat, but I think that Carver ss tuner is nice for the money!
I don’t believe it fits your SOTA criteria but I’m still using my Yamaha T500. And for some reason it’s been a regular part of the rotation lately. Usually my listening leans towards physical media.
Not high end, but I have my eyes on a Pioneer TX-D1000 but don't know how much I can offer. I'm inclined to offer 50% of new retail price but does anyone here know what the going price is? I don't gauge pricing by Ebay
I’ve got a beautiful fully refurbished Marantz 2220B hooked up right now. It’s a fun looking piece of HiFi history, and it sounds pretty good too.
MX-110 1965 and firmly stuck there frozen in that moment...
I use both a Mac MR67 and a Sansui TU-X1 regularly. One or the other will be on for days at a time. My wife and I have music going on all the time.
I admire you guys who have not one, but two or more FM tuners. I guess you can use one for each worthwhile FM station, so you never have to tune them.
I had a Mitsubishi DA-F20 that was a very enjoyable tuner. Now I have a Crown FM2. Both offer a lot for the money, and can be great deals if found in top shape.
An old SS TEAC remains my primary audio source among the many. Local NPR station programming and engineering are good enough to hold my interest without resort to LP, CD, stream, cassette (!) etc. Got the current model NAD in reserve for when the TEAC dies (all prior tuners have died in <15 years). Nothing fancy in the stable and not shopping used market for ancient exotics. A/B between analog tuner & live stream of same station is a satisfying exercise.
I used to have a Kenwood KT-815, and then later a Denon (forgot the model). I sold them both due to the death of FM in my area (Hudson Valley, NY). Ever since WRVR switched from jazz to country in the late 70's I've bemoaned the status of FM. Now I just use internet radio on my streamer.
I use a marantz model 20b. It’s the best ever made. Just sayin
Sansui, Yamaha, Technics, Onkyo, Hafler and JVC are some that I’ve used over the years. I got off the tuner merry go round after buying a modified sony xdr-f1hd by the xdr guy. If one still listens to am and fm, the xdr is tough to beat. The unit is sensitive, selective, small in stature, sounds great and has a remote control. It’s the only piece of gear in my systems that I’ve never contemplated replacing. It’s used with a Magnum Dynalab whip antenna outside about 25 ft up. Very nice.
Yet another Luxman T-110 owner. It's such a cool piece of gear, rivaled only by a Marantz tuner with a scope. I never had a 10B, but Marantz made an awesome SS tuner with scope in the late 70s, the 2130 maybe? Along with an equally great 3250 preamp and 170DC mid-powered amp. I wish I'd kept them.
Most expensive tuner I have on hand (among several, including a tube stereo Scott) is a McIntosh MR77. In present use is a Mitsubishi (Diatone) DA-F10. Here in the Tampa/St.Pete area the only quality FM stations we have are WUSF 89.7 (NPR and Late Night Jazz) and WSMR 89.1 and 103.7 (Classical) . The rest of the dial remains a musical desert of commercial dreck!
The Mitsubishi DA-F10 and DA-F20 offer outstanding sound quality. And can be found for around $150 or less!
I came across a Kenwood KT 5500(1979) in pristine condition. Truly an entry level tuner, but, according to my technician it has alot of the same components that Kenwood used in their higher end models. It just has a cheaper chassis. We cleaned it up, re-tuned it and installed blue LEDs so it would match my existing modern equipment. Works just fine for me as I only occasionally listen to the radio.
Luxman T-110. Still working and looking great.
Still using a Sansui TU-9900 for 42 years now. Sounds great with WBGO Jazz station out of Newark NJ. Available on the web as well (of course), its a listener supported station, hence no commercials, but the occasional fund raiser.
I use a Mitsubishi DA-F10 (bought new) every day, as well as a Nikko Gamma 20 in the office. We have outstanding FM in our area: an NPR cluster offering separate jazz, classical, college/progressive and mainstream public (talk) stations. Available streaming as well, of course. A part of life I would be saddened to lose.
I have a Magnum Dynalab Etude that I listen to every day while working from home. I live a long way from the big broadcasters, but have a rooftop antenna and get pretty decent reception of the local NPR news/jazz station. I also have an Onkyo T-9090 II and a Marantz ST-17 (which is not quite as "high-end").
Both the Etude and the Onkyo can deliver close to CD quality with a good station and a good signal, both of which are a little hard to get in the remote area where I live.
Marantz 110 in garage system 1.
Pioneer F51 in garage system 2.
Dynaco F5 in main system.
Non vintage Sangean in bedroom.
No issues with any other than the Marantz seems to drift every now and then.
The little Dynaco is surprisingly good and the Pioneer is a real sleeper. Joe
I’m a sucker for vintage Meitner products and have a second system built around his classic pre and power amps. What can you tuner mavens tell me about Meitner’s Museatex FMT? Any info/opinions are appreciated. Thanks!
Magnum Dynalab FT 101 Upgraded caps. Still sounds great after 30+ years.
I am using a 20 year old McIntosh MR85 tuner in one of my systems.
I loved FM and for years had a succession of great tuners and antennas. How things change. My current tuners are a McIntosh MR78, modified by it's designer Richard Modaferri, which is greater than the program material available here in South Florida. We also have a nice little tuner in our home in the Boston area, Perregeaux maybe (?). UPS managed to completely destroy a wonderful Kenwood 600T that I cherished for years. I had a Marantz 20 years ago, not sure what possessed me to part with it. We also had a Tandberg that was a hot item in the day, that got sold because I needed the money. These days if you live where there is a decent signal and programing you like you are in the distinct minority.
I am running a Modafferi-refurbed McIntosh MR78 in my music system.
Tuners in storage are Acoustic Research Tuner, Magnum Dynalab Etude, and SAE 8000. Gave away my Classe Tuner 1.
And tuner sections reside in random other components, like Magnum Dynalab MD208 receiver, Emotiva PrePro, etc.
In my experience the Modafferi modded MR78 and the last Sequerra are about equal and as good as tuners get. Or put another way they and some of the others mentioned exceed the best broadcasts available that I can find. Years ago we could listen to live performances that had great sound, but for my environment these are no longer available. And good luck finding a good antenna these days.
This may not be much, but for other/secondary FM use, the Nakamichi Soundspace 5 radio is super for what it is and for the used prices it seems to bring...and for a bit more in a secondary use, the Nakamichi SR-3 receiver is an early, Nelson Pass influenced, superb receiver for secondary use...or a college dorm, etc.
Sequerra was pretty good back then, but they broke a lot. Also, big in the day was the Onkyo T-9090; it was great. Still going for big money these days. I have an older Onkyo T-4055, the T-9090 precursor, and it still plays pretty well!
I shopped for vintage high-end tuners about 10 years ago and found out that several of the earlier Kenwoods were excellent, topped by the 600t or 650t. Also the Accuphase T100 and T101 (which is the only one I still have). Also the earlier Sansuis. Anything modified by Modafferi or Antenna Performance is a very good bet. Enjoy!
Like some others, I have, and still occasionally use a LUXMAN ( TX 101 ). It does require a decent antenna and this can sometimes be hard to set-up in an indoor environment. The problem is, as others have pointed out, there is almost no quality transmission of music. Everything is compressed and boomed up and distorted. The local public station doesn't use compression, but you have no selection choice. I have a old $50.00 radio from somebody that often sounds better because it does not pick out all the trash that is broadcast -- and it's mono-pole antenna is built in.
I have a Kenwood 600T and even though it needs aligning I really like it.
I use a Denon TU-800 from the 80's. I had it worked on a few years back and it sounds great to me. It's always tuned to the local classical station. I'd like to upgrade my antenna--maybe something outdoors...?
On my local Craigslist, I saw a listing for a NAD tuner, 4225 if I recall correctly. I looked it up and it is about 30 years old now. I think they are asking $400 for it. I’m not sure if that is a reasonable price??
I don’t have a tuner and not sure I need one. A lot of local radio is the same classic rock oldies played over and over. But would this piece be worth acquiring?
I love my Yamaha T-1. It is all analogue and sounds smooth and warm. Has variable output also. I remember in the early 80,s seeing this tuner with other Yamaha separates paired with Perreux amps and ADS speakers, The Tuner sounds great still!
I run a NAD 4150. It is probably the cleanest tuner I have ever used.
I love radio, have a Mac MR71, 67, 74. The 71 and 67 sound the best but with the hassle of finding someone to do repair work on them i ended up with an alternative. And I live in an area (Northern Colorado) that has at least 7-8 very good stations
I bought a new CDP with dac-Emotiva ERC4, with a schitt etr spdif i am now streaming radio as well as itunes. The Emotiva has a very rich full sound, not as fantastic as the MR71 but close. May not go back to a tuner except for my cabin in the mountains with no internet.
For years I ran a KLH model eighteen which I had modified by installing crystals in the IF section and got rid of the IF transformers. I also updated the audio portion to sound a bit smoother- after changing out all the filter caps. Regulating its supply helped too, but I couldn't get around the fact that it simply didn't have enough selectivity in the front end (one of my favorite stations is really low power and right beside a behemoth country station). So I'm on the hunt for an old Kenwood...