FM alive and well here...curious question


SoCal listener here. 

Last night, the Classical station finished their listeners  top 100 with Ludwig B's 9th.
I got sucked in listening to the end of the 4th movement.  I can't remember what conductor/orchestra, but fantastic performance.

My Mac 71 with a $20 indoor antennae is able to get a  signal strength reading just over "8" with dead center tuning according the meter.

Ludwig B was sounding clear,quite and simply fabulous. 
 
Im aware a "real" roof antennae is the way to go. Wondering if the effort to get a "10" reading on the tuning meter will actually be heard as even better sonics?

Just for kicks, I spun a few minutes of a minty 59' Living Stereo to compare. 
WOW! The record naturally wins, but my beloved Mac isn't far off. Considering the broadcast was a CD, it was reasonably convincing. It certainly was just as good as my generic CD deck(no fancy outboard DAC)

My 71 is stock, tuned with NOS glass. I'd love to hand over $ 1K for the RM mod, but ain't gonna happen.

LONG LIVE FM! Hopefully?


tablejockey
The advantage to using a "real" antenna - by which I assume you mean a directional antenna - isn't just the added gain, but the potential for reduced multipath and the distortion that goes along with it. Whether that would  be noticeable on your system hinges on many variables including the terrain where you live. The only real way to know is to try it. Based on your description, it sounds like it may not be worth the effort.
I was worried my post is evidence FM listening is dead!
Nearly 100 views, no responses!

"Based on your description it sounds like it may not be worth the effort."
I was hoping to read such a response. Didn't want to start a project involving climbing on the roof. Thanks!

While the Classical and Jazz stations are palatable, the rock stations not so much.



It ain’t dead here in Connecticut. There is still some outstanding stations broadcasting!
Rock stations are run for money, good sound costs money.
Classical and some jazz stations are largely NPR run and spend money 
 on the sound . Of course Herr Trumps budget calls for total de-funding of NPR and PBS . We shall see .
"Of course Herr Trumps budget.."

Schubert- 
Unfortunately, funding has been on the decline since the 80s, perhaps more so the last 10-15 years?

I imagine we can look forward to even LONGER PLEDGE DRIVES and 99.9% corporate/private donations including commercials of donors plugging their own interests. Weird times...

yogiboy- Other than NPR/PBS broadcasts here on the west coast, our R&R stations are a far cry from the AOR from the late 60's-70s. Pathetic!

Musically, I think a wayback machine might be the invention to invest in.

Worse times are coming .
schubert-
Even though news/events seem to make it easier than EVER to believe it’s time to stash more money under the mattress, let’s hope you’re WRONG!

I’m just glad so many record collections have been given up in the 80’s.
My desert island collection is fortified in case of the apocalypse.

If we have warning that s#%ts gonna hit the fan, I will be prepared to blast some of BEST period stampers found for next to nothing!

"Ride of the Valkyries","Tocatta and Fugue in D minor" along with Zeppelin,Stones and Beatles are all cleaned and ready for volume at 11.

Now, everyone back to your Iphone/laptop SS digital systems!




I was pleased to discover that Portland (Oregon) has a good Classical and Jazz station, at the left end of the dial of course. I haven't yet set up my MAC MR78 (with Modafferi update), but I gotta get a rooftop antenna and rotor.
More civilized cities tend to, in Milwaukee last year I was sad to learn they
have neither.
In Twin Cities we have a good Jazz station, which ,believe or not, is owned and run by the Mpls. school district .
Classical NPR is 24/7  plus 3 other streaming channels , archive , symphony AND choral all 24/7 .
L.A.'s Classical stations are terrible, playing a single movement of a Symphony or Concerto. What are they afraid of, listeners getting bored?! Plus, they have radio "personalities", trying to be charming, but coming off as smarmy. To me, at least.
bdp24-
Its not a surprise SoCals Classical and Jazz station are what they are now.

The biggest problem may be the  declining listener base. New listeners arent keeping pace with attrition.

I can do without the "personalities" but, this is California.





I bought a Magnum Dynalab Signal Sleuth (demo unit) last week so that I can try to pick up S.Cal's KCRW better. I get the Santa Barbara signal from 88.7. I managed to get marginal improvement with this unit and my Magnum Dynalab indoor/outdoor antenna. For that improvement I am happy because I love FM especially KCRW. My ROON/Tidal playlist has grown so much larger just because I get to hear such eclectic music for free on KCRW.

I will likely buy the SONY HD tuner from eBay auction this Tuesday just to get the lower quality HD stream for the other KCRW channels (Electic 24).

All of this equipment is running in my office on the very adaptable Benchmark DAC2 (it has 2 analog inputs). My tuner is the Magnum Dynalab 205.

When buy my big rig system (hopefully soon) I will buy the Accuphase T-1100 tuner (supposed to be the best now) just to listen to KCRW. I know FM is "dead". However, while I am still alive and great music is still available on FM I will listen.

Stations that play single movements aka :"bleeding chunks" and go disc-jockey assume their  listeners are not knowledgeable .

If you want to hear the exact opposite stream Wisconsin Public Radio Classic , most pro I ever heard .Why listen to junk when anybody can stream the best? WMFT out Chicago and WCNY out of Syracuse also are pros.
I would schubert, but don't own a streaming device, whatever that is ;-). Such a luddite!
Don't need one , computer will do just fine . Stations are online .
"Don't need one , computer will do just fine."

schubert-
is the sound quality of playing an  online statin equal to a nice tuner?
I have zero knowledge how this method works.

Are you using a digital out from thePC/laptop soundcard plugged into DAC? 

The availability of stations would be nice, but seems dependant on the outboard gear for sound quality?

Plugging from computer via analog audio outs to an amp seems lofi.



tablejockey
is the sound quality of playing an  online statin equal to a nice tuner?

In a word: No. It's not even close.

Seems OK to me, WI public radio puts out an uncompressed signal and
use 8$K Tascam Pro CD players and Denon 103 on their tables .
Takes about 2 minutes to judge for yourself .
schubert
Seems OK to me, WI public radio puts out an uncompressed signal
There’s no such thing as a real radio station that transmits an uncompressed signal. They all have signal processors in the audio chain, either before the STL, or before the transmitter, or both. They have to; they’re not allowed to overmodulate.

Of course, if you're happy with listening to the digitized signal online, that's fine. But typically, it's hardly the audio equivalent of a good FM signal ... even when the source is digital.
"In a word: No. It's not even close."

cleeds-
"good sound" of course is subjective, but I can't imagine anything beyond lofi, if one doesn't have a decent soundcard in their pc?
 
A reasonably fast, clean internet connection is commonplace now, but a standard pc typically has a mini jack audio out, so clearly one needs to invest in additional hardware? 

I have limited knowledge on this subject of "online broadcast" and it's potential plugging it into a stereo rig.

If you are fortunate to live in an area with signals, seems a tuner is still a good thing for passive listening. Our public stations aren't the greatest to everyone, 
but I certainly enjoy them. The commercial rock stations-well, garbage for the most part, but a few bright spots if you look for them-anyone listen to Steve Jones(former Sex Pistol) 2 hour program? Fantastic, almost a throwback to a 70's listening experience. Once in awhile, a really cool musician from the 60s/70's chatting with Steve, sharing insight about the "scene" I missed being born a decade or so too late.


I (being an audiophile) A/B'd the sound in my car (a factory installed Burmeister system) comparing FM to Sirius.......FM is significantly better on the classic music station (KBACH) here in Arizona, and better too on any station.
Stringreen- I too have always heard a sonic difference between "subscription" radio vs "over the air" 

Clearly, the options kill FM.

This topic of FM listening  reminds me of
TV viewing.I don't have cable, and over the air broadcast still has a superior picture quality over cable.

Oh well, to each his own.  I'd be more alarmed not being able to listen at all!
@tablejockey - for easy internet radio at a low cost, simply connect your computer to an inexpensive USB DAC, or a multi-input DAC that has a USB connection. Easy-Peasy and you open yourself up to a WORLD of new radio stations. The DAC will connect via RCA outputs into your audio system.

Try Radio Paradise sometime. It's great internet radio station. Listener supported, so no commercials. Eclectic mix of rock, indie, blues, electronica and a little classical at times. I love it and listen to it regularly. You can just listen to it on your computer, tablet or smart phone just to get a taste of the music they play.

BTW, I'm listening to Radio Paradise as I type this reply. Currently listening via an iPod connected to a NuForce iDo (Bit Perfect) into my Rega Saturn-R CD player/DAC -> Rega Elicit-R Integrated amp. Sounds really good. Shockingly good sometimes.
ruebent-
I forgot about the USB port!

If I get the bug for something different, I will go DAC shopping and get with the times.

Internet radio sounds very bad to me. I am all digital except for a tuner. I can only listen to internet radio or other low quality streaming with low resolution speakers like AudioEngine A2 desktop speakers. When I upgraded to KEF LS50 speakers for my desktop I could no longer listen to internet radio.

FM is so much better with good stations. I used to listen to a great signal in the Bay Area, CA on my decent Magnum Dynalab tuner. It was almost CD quality sound. The same broadcast on internet radio was unlistenable to me. Same goes for the NPR music station I listen to now in Santa Barbara. The FM is way better.
@yyzsantabarbara - what were you using to receive the internet stations you referenced? What bit rate were you receiving?

I listen to Radio Paradise a lot and I typically listen to the highest quality bit rate - 320 MBPS. I think it sounds very good. I can't comment on other stations or lower bit rates as I haven't spent any time recently with those.

Unfortunately, I don't have any local stations worthy of a high quality FM tuner.
I can report that a Magnum Dynalab ST-2 yields great results here in NYC. Just tossed it under the credenza, hooked it up to the MR71 and I’m pleased as punch.

I’m surrounded by buildings 7 stories higher than my apt. Easily get classical stations broadcasting from north of the city and jazz stations in Jersey (and a bunch of stuff I don’t bother with). I don’t know what WQXR is using as source, probably CDs, but I would say its usually comparable to Tidal HiFi played through a Dragonfly Red or Meridian Explorer2. Quite good.

Anyone who thinks streaming is equivalent to FM broadcast isn't using a Mc tuner. They sound amazing. In some ways more engaging than vinyl. Most FM playlists, however, suck, and the good ones are usually low power. Therefore a decent outdoor antenna is crucial--I use a Wineguard 6100 (not expensive) but you've got to get it waaay up there to get the most out of it and avoid the dreaded multipath. Twenty feet above ground, minimum. Of course then you're going to have to properly ground it so you don't fry your awesome Mc tuner. Depending on your local FM fare, it can really be worth the trouble. 
For close to half a century I myself have always had a top quality fm tuner.  It really began when after I got out of the Army in 1970 I soon discovered the Maranta 20b FM Tuner.  Soon afterward the earlier 20 FM Tuner.  Years later I discovered the McIntosh MR78 and MR89 FM Tuners.  Presently I have a Mcintosh MR74 and a Day/Sequera FM Studio Tuner.  Actually the MR74 is a little better than even the Day/Sequerra but both are truly exceptional.  Anyway 35-40 years ago or so I learned that when, say a Stax electrostatic headphone system on a local live FM tation that when listening to a live FM broadcast, that the announcers themself would sound better over the air than they would actually sound in person.  That, first off, the live human voice sound better over FM radio than they actually sound right in front of you.  That is a fact.  Living now in Boulder, I ony have yo turn in 88.5 FM, KGNU, and that is what happens.  A few years ago I had a Naim 555 CD player, even today probably one of the finest CD players of all time.  Over a Stax tube headphone system played thru an Audio Research LS26 tune line stage, and directly comparing between the Naim and an McIntosh Mr80 FM tuner, it actually sounds better on FM Radio compared directly to some truly exceptional CD's at the time.  I am talking Neil Young at Massey Hall on HDCD, Jacintha on Autumn Leaves, the special Dire Straits Brother IN Arms Cd, various Mobile Fidelity both CD's as well as SACD's, overally FM radio sounds bettr overall.  Of course, a well recorded record is truly superior to digital and even FM radio-it is truly the supreme audio souce.  By the way, when I listen to KGNU, the differences between what they are playing at the time are easily discernable.  Thus whatever CD or record that they are playing at the time-how good the recording is at the time is almost as easy to discern as if I was playing that same cd or record myself on my own home audio system.  Thus I am contunially canging the volumn control on my Audio Research LS27 line stage depending to what music they are playing on KGNU at the time.  What they happen to be playing at the time-we one could actually do a review of the quality of what they happen to be playing at the time with little loss of audio fidelity compared to playing the same source material live on your own audio system.  That is what FM radio is all about.  By the way, a few years ago I tried out digital audio using a Bryston Dac.  Even though today I have an Oppo 105 player I do not even bother using it's Dac.  Internet radio, in comparison to FM radio truly sucks.  I do not even bother with it anymore.  And high resolution digital audio seems to be the audio source of the future, but records are still better.  Eventually I will get Tidal with MQA, but that will most likely be all that I will ever need.  Getting a huge selection of music on a hopefully better digital audio source should do it.  Anyway, FM Radio is, in my opinion, easily the best audio source for the money avaliable today.  Just as long as you live in Boulder.
"I can report that a Magnum Dynalab ST-2 yields great results here in NYC. Just tossed it under the credenza, hooked it up to the MR71 and I’m pleased as punch."

tommaster-I have always been curious about the ST-2,but put off by the cost.
I shouldn’t be, since everything else hifi requires opening your wallet!

Other than doing the deed-roof antennae , I’m guessing I won’t get much better results than what I have now. An el cheapo RCA branded,made in China 4" square plastic thingie. Ironic,a historic company reduced to 3 letters stamped on a Chinese product.



I forgot to mention that living in a small apartment here in Boulder, still all I need is a decent indoor FM antenna.  I am using a Godar fm indoor antenna-actually hooked up to both my McIntosh MR74 and Day/Sequerra FM tuner.  It is right next to my chair and I only have to move it around a little to get 88.5 KGNU, 90.3 KUVO and rock ststions 103.5 and 106.7.  Actually I can get very good reception using a long video cable as an antenna.  So great FM radio reception is a necessity-it depends mainly where you live.  Much like TV reception before satellite and cable even were around.
"Depending on your local FM fare, it can really be worth the trouble."

florida71-
Its comments like this that rattle my cage! Just to see a "10" on the tuning meter
keeps me thinking about going to the hardware store and getting the ladder out!

I get between an 8 and 9 on good days moving mine a couple of inches.
This however  doesn't work on the rock stations which are a 7 at best. Same station on my $200 Cambridge Audio sounds almost as good as the Mac!

alanholvey-
your insight was an interesting read.

Until I acquire an Rel, my tuner lust just won’t be satisfied. Something about the look just speaks to me-besides the obvious sonic attributes.

Im quite fond of the MR71, but gimme the REL, Marantz 10B and for good measure-the Scott 4310! I’m leaving a couple others out, but the rack is already full!

You mention TV. I don’t have cable and get fabulous reception and a spectacular picture/audio on my plasma(I know, now prehistoric) with an ultra cheap Terk I have hanging for the window sill.

tale jockey-                                                                                                         yes, although I require cable here in Boulder, I have heard that the reception on the latest high definition local tv broadcasts have truly super quality for both audio and picture as well.  Which, if true, means that cable tv quality sucks.  Pay more for inferior product.  But you get so much more.  Just like internet radio, in fact.  I could even go into the subject of quality of movies audio reproduction between the up to early 1950's mono, but tube driven, to today's surround, high definition and solid state driven electronics.  Yes, it is true.  At 73 years old, I remember how totally involving movies used to be.  With tube electronics and the high quality speakers that were used at the better theaters in those days, yes movies overall sounded better.  And more involving.
"I could even go into the subject of quality of movies audio reproduction between the up to early 1950’s mono, but tube driven, to today’s surround, high definition and solid state driven electronics."

alanholvey-
Somewhere in the early 90’s Sony made their last tube Trinitron in 16:9 format?
I think it was 480ED (not even HD) capable? I still believe it holds up to 4K OLED in many ways. OLED is pretty amazing, but I could be happy with the ancient Sony.


I have two FM tuners in my two main systems .... a Carver TX-11 in the secondary and an udated Fisher FM-90B in the main.  We have an excellent NPR station here in Western Mass, WFCR and its satellites.  The play classical daytime 9:00-4:00 with live hosts, then again 11:00pm - 5:00am with recorded programs.  5:00 - 9:00am and 4:00 - 7:00pm are filled with NPR news, and the 8:00 - 11:00pm slot filled with a really good jazz program hosted by a terrific and knowledgeable jazz host.  We are truly blessed, and it is good reason to consider Western Mass for retirement.
Yamaha TX-950
A few months ago I was lucky enough to pick up a Marantz 10b from the original owner's wife after he passed away. I haven't listened to the radio in years but I had heard a 10b in an all Marantz system (8b and 7c) and was amazed at the sound quality.  It was like listening to vinyl.

This unit cleaned up very nicely and even the oscillascope is working.  Only two tubes had any leakage.  All the original amperex bugle boy 12ax7's and au7's are working great.

i live in Ann Arbor and have several NPR options.  But my wife and I have mad a habit of weekend listening to WDET.  Signal picks up OK with an MD ST-2 on the roof but have to switch to mono to reduce noise.  I have to say I feel more connected to Detroit music now that we are frequent listeners to WDET.  FM sounds great!
karl_desch

unfortunately, that's one of the ways to acquire a nice 10B.

I couldn't get my wallet to open enough for the minimum $25-2700 decent units are going for.

I'm curious if demand continues to decline, just how low 10B's will eventually drop to?

Post removed 
Since I love KCRW from Santa Monica so much. I bought a xdrguy modified Sony XDR F1HD tuner (discontinued model) from eBay. It was delivered yesterday.

I have a Magnum Dynalab St-2 antenna (located in a porch) and this antenna is connected to my Magnum Dynalab Signal Stealth. I am using a coax cable splitter to send the antenna signal from the Stealth to 2 tuners, the Sony (FM + HD) and a Magnum Dynalab 205. The analog output of both are fed into my Benchmark DAC2 HGC. I can quickly switch the inputs from each analog tuner. So it is easy to tell the differences in sound quality. This is in office system.

I did a quick test this morning while KCRW was playing music on FM (news for most of the afternoon). The Sony ($350 after mods) was almost as good as the $2000 Magnum Dynalab 205 on FM. Pretty shocking give how low cost the Sony is (although upgraded with mods). The Magnum sounded bigger slighter less constrained but the Sony was pretty close.

I bought the Sony so that I can listen to the HD stream of KCRW which plays music 24 x 7. The sound of that is not as good as FM (sounds a bit harsher, but surprisingly not too bad). So I can now see why people are raving about this Sony tuner. A tremendous value.

Someone earlier in the thread asked what was to bit rates of the internet radio that I was listening too. It was 320kbps or lower. In fact I was a paid subscriber to MOG streaming service and they did 320kbps. I liked that stream quality when I listened on my cheap AudioengineUSA A2 speakers but when I upgraded to KEF LS50 speakers the music was not tolerable for me on 320kbps. FM sounds great on these same speakers.

Anyways, I thought I would share some of this ramble with you all.
yyzsantabarbara-

I suppose if I lived in an area with no reception, I would rig something up. 

 Getting a handful of stations (including the awful rock stations) is a luxury. Our Classical station has been doing the pledge drive and I've heard "movie themes" way too many times. 

Thats when I bounce between the 88.1Jazz and KCRW.
Both come in strong here, on the coast in Long Beach. On good days I dial in a "9" with dead center tuning-just great Mac/tube sound.

The Jazz station has unfortunately morphed into once in awhile "straight ahead" Jazz and most of the time smooth jazz with a standard squeezed in. Better than nothing.

I use my tuner on occasion and actually have the antenna in the attic- I have not gotten around to running the cable but it's something I had planned to do.  Basically one good FM station in the Chicago area that I like.  
But I recently purchased the Sony HAP Z1ES digital player and it came bundled with tune-in radio.  It sounds better than any tuner I have ever heard and opens up access to a tremendous amount of world wide broadcast and online stations.  
Running the cable to my attic just went from a "maybe someday" to "probably never".  
I never would have sold my old Yamaha T-1 Tuner if there were any good FM stations in my area. Nothing but commercials, DJ's talking over songs, and the same songs played over and over. Soundds like AM to me. I would rather play a record or a cd. Radio too annoying and irritating.
zar-

I think it is also is dependent on genre station listened to. If it's rock and pop, yes. On the PBS stations, not nearly as much, but the on air guys are flapping their gums way more than in the past. Some of the reason may now be listeners/corporations just have to cough up more dough to just stay viable.

Our fearless leader cut even more money from public broadcasting, which has been going on for awhile, now.

I gave up on R&R radio in the 80's.