Fm tuner


I am looking to upgrade my fm tuner. I now have an old Rega Radio.

i listen mainly to classical,wfmt in Chicago and listen to that station as much as I do my vinyl and cds.

as I live close to Chicago receiving weak stations is not an issue.

i have recently upgraded to a Rogue Sphinx v2,kef LS50s and a rega p6.

im not really up on the latest technology so I think an fm tuner is all I really need.

any suggestions or thoughts will be appreciated.

allan
wino55
Do your ears a favor and find a MR65/71 tubed Mcintosh.

With some effort, you can find a unit for $7-800 and it will perform and sound nicer than any of the value SS units you can find for a couple hundred bucks. 

The Scott tuners  are great, perhaps some will chime in, with knowledge.
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As a backup, I have a $200 cambridge Audio 550T, which probably can be found for $50-75. For a cheap tuner, it sounds decent, looks nicer than it should, has a remote and RDS-shows the song and artist. 

Magnum Dynalab tuners pop up here every now and then.  Go for something like an MD-90 or above.  I own 2 different Magnum Dynalab tuners and I am extremely satisfied.
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+1 Magnum MD-90 or other models!
You can get the previous model FT-101A for under $400!
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I'm looking too but am too indecisive to pull the trigger. On my radar are Mcintosh MR ,78, 80, 7082, 7083. Or the Meridian 504 as that series components are very good. 
+2 Magnum Dynalab
I have a Technics tuner that is rated within the top 20 on the fm tuner shootout web site. 
I had many tuners and still do Magnum Dynalab md 100 was the best tuner I ever had.  Those our Mac our by far the best.
Look into the Sony ES tuners from the mid 1980s. I owned a 10B for 30 years and it was a terrific investment and its scope was great fun, but I don't value FM as much any more. The Sony ST-555ES that I bought for a total of $60.70 online last January serves my needs perfectly. It should sort out everything you want to listen to in Chicago very well. 
You can find a Pioneer TX 9500 II on Ebay sometimes under $300 in fine working condition . It's got the smoothest analog tuning feel and excellent reception and good sound in stereo or mono .  This was their top-of-the-line tuner and is the one I use . Loaded with features , yet easy to use . Heavy , well built & worth repair if needed . With both fixed and variable output it can directly drive a basic power amp , bypassing a preamp . You would also have no difficulty selling it later if you so choose .
I gave up on FM years ago....here in the NC mountains it's iffy at best, and local radio choices are bad to worse....
Prefer 'streamcasters'....more variety, although quality varies.  Favorite is a Euro 'station' whose commercials are in another language I don't understand.  So they come off as a minor 'break', and if I recognize the tag music or 'logotype sound signature' it's almost amusing....;)
But good luck with it...
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back in the 70's there was the sequera 1 fm tuner. are they stil around?
I have had Magnum Dynalab 90 & 101 but tried the Macs and ended up with 2 that were neither. Mitsubishi FT 20 which I sold recently and still have a Updated Sansui 719 which is one  of the top 15 on the Tuner websites. Tube like in sound and also very close to the very best at a very reasonable price. Sansui 717 are very similar and easy to find on Ebay.
They are both Digitally Quartz Locked Tuners. The newer tuners are ok but not as smooth as the old tuners from late 70's and early 80's. Do your homework and you will be set. If you get a vintage tuner, try to get one that has been reworked. New caps, & most definitely recently aligned.
Dynaco FM-3 tube tuner, sounds as good as my friends McIntosh he says, and when perfectly restored, almost Scott good.

Or Marantz ST6000 is my favorite of the 8 I have right now. Next would be the LUXMAN T-117 or Rotel RT-950BX, all pretty cheap at less than $200 on ebay.
I tried several tuners fated i the top 20 on fmtunerinfo.com. they have not tested everything, but their evaluations are spot on. I sold my beautiful Kenwood 917 because the old IC driven B&K TS108 really does sloun just a bit better. I do liss the beautiful Kemwood. The Sansui 717, 707 and up are also really good sounding, but their mechanical parts are not as reliable, i.e. broken strings, staying adjusted properly. Mac and Sequerra are terribly overrated, but sweet sounding, not accurate. With the B&K, it helps to have a second tuner in the system forrplaying around. It is not fun. Just set the stations on the presets and enjoy.
Finally pulled the trigger and bought a MR 7082 from Ernie @ Audio Classics.  I think I need a better antenna though as the signal strength is only 3/5 bars. 
You can't go wrong with a used Magnum Dynalab Tuner - very musical - I used mine with all tube equipment and it sounds great.  You can find them reasonably priced. Any of the models would be fine - right now I have an FT 101A but I used to have the model down from that and it was also great. 
I also listen to a lot of FM Classical here in Western Mass (WFCR).  I can solidly recommend these two FM tuners.  I own them now, and have owned others through the year.

*  Fisher FM90B - a late, basic model Fisher tube tuner with sound that puts most solid state to shame.  Fisher was renowned for their tuners, and the renown was well earned.  This uni often appears with a walnut cabinet for under $200.  Stock, it should work; with $100 of new tubes, an alignment touch-up, and perhaps a few cap replacements, it will be as transparent and musical as anything you can buy.  Two features should also serve you well: the tuner has output volume controls so you can align volume with other signal sources, and it has two sets of antennae input jacks, one of which atennuates the signal to prevent overloading for city listening.

* Carver TX-11 or TX-11b - This carver tuner sounds virtually identical to the Fisher (I've AB'd them) and superior to any other transistorized tuner I've placed it against (about a half dozen of them).  It has sophisticated multipath elimination and noise-reduction circuitry that can be useful in a big city environment.  It can generally be purchased used, often in very good condition for $150 or less.

Why pay more.  These two tuners come from an era when FM was much more central to hi-fi listening, and accordingly the tuners are better performing and more sophisticated than those made today.
I recommend any Mac tube tuner first, followed by the Accuphases, Sansui  9900 and then the Mitsubishi DA-F20, which is a great tuner for the likely price you will pay, if you find a mint one. I have the MR 67,, which I bought from Audio Classics, but all the tubed Macs will cost you more than $1k in mint condition, as will the better Accuphases. I own all the above and the Mitsubishi is no slouch in that exalted company. Good luck! 
I recommand Leak Troughline 2 or 3 as the best I ever heard. 2 conditions : 
1- a very good signal 
2- a very good restauration. I shipped mine to " London Sound" and Mike Solomons did its magic that is nothing really magic except his great knowledge of this marvel and all I can now is

"Music Maestro"!!!.

In my opinion and my own system it is better than Tandberg 3001A, Naim NAT 101 and 01, Sequerra Ref.
For those of us who prefer classical music and, like me, live within range of a good FM station that broadcasts such music, high quality FM reception is essential. And, while the advice that you’ve received is well intended and basically sound, it is certainly NOT technically current. To briefly appreciate this refer: http://www.biline.ca/audio_critic/audio_critic_web1.htm#sony.
Also here: https://www.cnet.com/products/sony-xdr-f1hd/review/
And here: https://www.cnet.com/products/sony-xdr-f1hd/review/

I acquired my own (new) Sony XDR-F1HD FM tuner in late 2008, for $50, in a closeout sale. Sony ceased production of this product at about that same time, presumably because too few consumers understood or appreciated the merits of high definition (HD) FM broadcasting. However, you are frequently able to find Sony XDR-F1HD tuners for sale in the used e-commerce marketplace. For me, finding this product was an important windfall because I live (on the central coast of CA) within range of a local repeater that transmits the HD FM signal from KUSC (Los Angeles), the last remaining full time, non-commercial, public radio station in the U.S. that’s dedicated exclusively (24/7) to classical music. And KUSC does this with live on-air program hosts, using the full 96 Kbps bandwidth of their HD allocation, assuring their listeners of the finest possible transmission fidelity. The result can be absolutely glorious audio, but that won’t persist for long unless you also do something about the serious internal heat rise that’s implicit when using this product. For full info, see: http://www.ham-radio.com/k6sti/xdr-f1hd.htm

As the above report cites, it’s vital to address the XDR-F1HD heat build-up problem. In addition, there are numerous other improvements that are well worth making on this tuner because its ultimate performance potential is so outstanding. And here’s the guy that can do that: http://www.xdrguy.com/sony-xdr-f1hd-audio-performance.html This man is truly a talented craftsman. For $300, he installed two hi-end fans (noiseless), replaced all of my fried electrolytic caps, provided an optional HD lockout, upgraded the output jacks, replaced the worn and erratic control buttons, replaced the dim LEDs on the LCD display board, provided a super-cap to prevent loss of memory during power outages, and optimally realigned the RF front end. In addition, he installed a new analog audio stage that eliminates the high frequency falloff that was previously inherent in the stock design. And now I own the finest FM tuner ever produced. There’s nothing better, at any price. The RF performance is amazing, and the audio quality of the classical music that I receive from the live KUSC broadcasts is superb, and completely free of any noise at all times. This is a course that’s well worth following.
I've owned the following tuners- Onkyo T9090II, Dynaco FM3, Magnum Dynalab MD105 and McIntosh MR78. I also had an MR71 in my home for a few days but it wasn't working right.

The T9090II was the most sensitive, somewhat dry sounding, the FM3 the least sensitive, with a bloated mid bass and rolled down treble. The I owned an MD105 for a while and thought it was quite good, and now I have the MR78 which so far I would say is the best tuner overall I've owned. I find its multiple filters and selectivity are genuinely useful. Note that the MR78 has been recapped. 
vtvmtodvm06-24-2017 6:45pm
For those of us who prefer classical music and, like me, live within range of a good FM station that broadcasts such music, high quality FM reception is essential. And, while the advice that you’ve received is well intended and basically sound, it is certainly NOT technically current ...
I acquired my own (new) Sony XDR-F1HD FM tuner in late 2008, for $50, in a closeout sale. Sony ceased production of this product at about that same time, presumably because too few consumers understood or appreciated the merits of high definition (HD) FM broadcasting. ... And KUSC does this with live on-air program hosts, using the full 96 Kbps bandwidth ..
"HD Radio" is digital radio technology, but it isn’t "high-definition" and developer iBiquity always insisted that the "HD" designation didn’t stand for "high-definition." That’s a good thing, when you consider you’re listening to 96 kpbs bandwidth at best, which is far short of CD quality, which is 1,411 kbps.

If you are close enough to the transmitter, HD can deliver a low noise signal which will be much quieter than a conventional signal received by cheap FM tuner. But if you use a quality FM tuner connected to a proper directional antenna, there’s no comparison at all. That is one of the many reasons that HD radio has failed in the marketplace.
Another vote for Magnum-Dynalab. Any model.
My post of yesterday had some broken and duplicated links. I'll try to do better now, see below. In response to Cleeds' accurate comment, let me add that I merely intended to refer to "HD Radio" as hi-def because that is what it is named; the HD handle stands for hi def. And the implicit benefits of HD radio do work well FOR ME, but I'm located within 5.4 miles of my KUSC repeater, and I use a good antenna. If you are in a more distant reception area and find that conventional analog FM reception might work better than HD mode, the modification work performed by the cited source includes an optional HD lockout switch that gives you that option.

For those of us who prefer classical music and, like me, live within range of a good FM station that broadcasts such music, high quality FM reception is essential. And, while the advice that you’ve received is well intended and basically sound, it reflects “old school” design; it’s NOT technically current. To appreciate this see…
http://www.biline.ca/audio_critic/audio_critic_web1.htm#sony
Also here: https://www.cnet.com/products/sony-xdr-f1hd/review/


I acquired my own (new) Sony XDR-F1HD FM tuner in late 2008, for $50, in a closeout sale. Sony ceased production of this product at about that same time, presumably because too few consumers understood or appreciated the merits of high definition (HD) FM broadcasting. However, you are frequently able to find Sony XDR-F1HD tuners for sale in the used e-commerce marketplace. For me, finding this product was an important windfall because I live (on the central coast of CA) within range of a local repeater that transmits the HD FM signal from KUSC (Los Angeles), the last remaining full time, non-commercial, public radio station in the U.S. that’s dedicated exclusively (24/7) to classical music. And KUSC does this with live on-air program hosts, using the full 96 Kbps bandwidth of their HD allocation, assuring their listeners of the finest possible transmission fidelity. The result can be absolutely glorious audio, but that won’t persist for long unless you also do something about the serious internal heat rise that’s implicit when using this product. For full info, see: http://www.ham-radio.com/k6sti/xdr-f1hd.htm

As the above report cites, it’s vital to address the XDR-F1HD heat build-up problem. In addition, there are numerous other improvements that are well worth making on this tuner because its ultimate performance potential is so outstanding. And here’s the guy that can do that: http://www.xdrguy.com/sony-xdr-f1hd-audio-performance.html This man is truly a talented craftsman. For $300, he installed two hi-end fans (noiseless), replaced all of my fried electrolytic caps, provided an optional HD lockout, upgraded the output jacks, replaced the worn and erratic control buttons, replaced the dim LEDs on the LCD display board, provided a super-cap to prevent loss of memory during power outages, and optimally realigned the RF front end. In addition, he installed a new analog audio stage that eliminates the high frequency falloff that was previously inherent in the stock design. And now I own the finest FM tuner ever produced. There’s nothing better, at any price. The RF performance is now amazing (I use Terk's FM50-Pro antenna, wall-mounted near ceiling), and the audio quality of the classical music that I receive from the live KUSC broadcasts is superb—also completely free of any noise at all times. This is an FM tuner that’s well worth pursuing.

"And now I own the finest FM tuner ever produced. There’s nothing better, at any price."

vtmtodvm-  you found something that agrees with your ears.  Have you owned one a Marantz 10B, REL Precedent,Scott...etc? I wasn t aware Sony produced such a product that can match and exceed the performance of these tubed classics.

Im a KUSC listener in SoCal, and yes that and our Jazz station can sound great on a decent tuner with a good antenna. I'm using a 65'  tubed Mac MR71.

Load of BS Vt, both St.Paul MN and Madison WI have 24/7/365 Classical
PBS stations as does Chicago .
As does smaller cities like Syracuse  ,WCNY , which I stream because its my home town .
And no doubt many others I am unaware of .
tablejockey, I based that conclusion on what was stated (and implied) by Peter Acxel, owner of the now defunct "The Audio Critic". It's in his post, see: http://www.biline.ca/audio_critic/audio_critic_web1.htm#sony

schubert, it's my understanding that the other stations that you allude to are NOT actual full time classical music broadcasters. I'm told that they carry other programming, too, like "All Things Considered" and "Morning Edition" and related NPR format programming, as well as some pop and folk music. Is this truly not correct? 
vtvmtodvm

... I merely intended to refer to "HD Radio" as hi-def because that is what it is named; the HD handle stands for hi def.
No, "HD Radio" does not mean or stand for "high-definition."

See: https://hdradio.com/trademark
" 'HD Radio’ is the brand name for the digital radio broadcast technology developed by iBiquity Digital Corporation. The ’HD’ in ’HD Radio’ does not stand for ’high definition’ or ’hybrid digital.’ ”

This is significant distinction because - no matter how happy you are with your HD radio - it’s 96kbps at best, and it uses an even lower bitrate than that if the station is also transmitting HD2 and HD3 subchannels.

I own the finest FM tuner ever produced.

That may be true for you, in your location, especially given your satisfaction with its 96 kpbs HD signal. After all, some people are satisfied with 128 kbps mp3 files.

To understand more about the limitations of the little Sony XDR-F1HD, see: http://www.fmtunerinfo.com/sony.html



cleeds - thanks for the lawyerly info. The iBiquity statement sounds a bit like a defensive disclaimer, doesn't it? And it still doesn't explain just what the label "HD" signifies. Who would ever be so inventive as to surmise that it implied hi-def? Maybe just me?

I think that the relevant focus here is not so much about whether 96 Kbps is of the utmost audio quality, but more about the best way to hear currently available FM music broadcasts without any background noise. As far as I know, that means is via "HD (FM) Radio"---whatever that term might mean---provided you're able to latch on to a good "HD" signal. The Sony XDR-F1HD probably gives you the best shot at doing this when such signal is available, provided you've upgraded that tuner as described.
I'm familiar with the info noted in the "tuner info" site, and concur. But that stuff (mostly) addresses the stock product, not the upgraded version. My stock tuner was grossly misaligned and suffered treble falloff. The RF range was greatly enhanced after rebuild, and the sound got lots better. I recommend http://www.xdrguy.com/sony-xdr-f1hd-audio-performance.html
Excerpt from linked article-
"As for audio quality, here’s what I have observed so far: HD radio at 48 Kbps is wider in both frequency range and dynamic range than analog FM. The noise floor is also incomparably better—basically total silence. What is missing at the reduced data rate is the spatial detail. The subtle spatial clues that render a clear 3-D soundstage and provide air around the instruments are better on the best analog FM broadcasts if cleanly received and reproduced through a really good pair of loudspeakers."

I haven't heard HD radio in a home system, just in the car.  This has peaked my interest I'd love to have one these inexpensive units next to my daily driver Mac.

One thing for certain the Sony unit doesn't have- the tube magic that makes the music-even the on air personalities, sound more realistic than a SS unit.

Enjoy listening!

table jockey - I surmise, from your comment concerning vacuum tubes, that you’re a relatively young man, at least young enough that you did not have to suffer through those terrible times when vacuum tubes were the sole means of building anything electronic. I’m now 86, and not nearly so fortunate. My interest in “hi fi”, as we then referred to this hobby, first sparked in 1949, right at the beginning of the LP record era. My life, in the course of the next 5 years, left no opportunity to pursue hi fi, but that changed in early ’54, when I got back to NY from the Korean War. And from that time forward, I became quite active in my pursuit of high quality audio. Of course, this meant embracing vacuum tubes. Transistors (germanium alloy) were then in their infancy, and unsuitable for serious use, so tubes were the sole option. And I soon learned that tubes were imperfect—they had high failure rates, and the heat from their filaments cooked the other components—and that this problem could work well for me if I learned radio/TV repair. So I built a (kit) tube tester and oscilloscope, and an oscillator, and bought a multimeter, and I began a 32 year career in electronics.

I soon learned that, although some circuits were better than others, the basic variability of tubes made for lots of design compromise. Tubes are simply not high precision devices. Tube parameters are initially expressed, by their makers, as typical characteristics, not as absolute limits. And their variable performance is inconsistent. Tubes forever change as they age. Filament temperatures vary, cathodes continuously disintegrate, grid spacing shifts—and tubes constantly degrade, from the moment that they’re first turned on until the day that they fail. Tubes are simply not dependable.

All of those tube shortcomings were tolerable to me when they were inside somebody else’s radio or TV set, but I hated to see ’em in my own audio gear. I once purchased a costly hi-end Fisher FM-200B tuner, one of the very best available, but its RF and IF stages kept drifting due to tube aging. I had to perform complete RF realignments every 6 months. And my Marantz 8B stereo power amplifier needed constant rebiasing of the output tubes to keep the IM distortion to within 0.5%, and I’d install four new EL34s every 20 months or so. Indeed, I got so anxious to dump vacuum tubes that I finally built my own solid state power amplifiers (dual mono units) back in the mid ’70s, just as soon as PNP silicon power transistors became commercially available. So I happily left vacuum tubes behind forever, in the past, where they belong!

The state of vacuum tube technology has severely regressed in the 40+ years since I kissed tubes goodbye. All of the former domestic, British, Dutch, and German makers of tubes are now either defunct (like Tung-Sol Electric, my employer from March of ’57 to March of ’60), or they ceased production long ago. The remaining world market for vacuum tubes is now limited exclusively to (young) audiophiles, and it’s served only by a few recent Russian and Chinese suppliers who had no prior production credentials. (I believe that there might also be a supplier in Ireland.) The general quality and consistency of product coming from these unregulated foreign sources is dubious, and they’ll exist only for the duration that audiophile demand will support.

The future for vacuum tubes looks dicey—especially since all measurable means of evaluating quality supports the superiority of solid state design. It’s only a select subset of you young audiophiles—guys who feel that their ears are more accurate than any instrumentation—that makes selling tubes viable. Like I said, it’s dicey.

@ vtvmtodvm
I doubt that very much!
http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/could-an-old-school-tube-amp-make-the-music-you-love-sound-...
yogiboy - Thanks. I'd read about that new source in FL, but it had slipped my memory. I understand that his pricing is going to be tough to swallow, but price is not always a deterrent if you live in the land of hi-end audio. Hope that's your home address.

For the record, do be assured that it's quite possible to precisely replicate that "warm" tube sound with a solid state power amplifier design, if that's what you prefer. Indeed, famed circuit designer Bob Carver once collected on a bet with Stereophile by demonstrating exactly that.

Nothing it the cited article changes what i said. There is no world market for vacuum tubes other than the demand created by a relatively small group of hi-end audiophiles who feel that their aural perception is more sensitive than all of the available test instrumentation. They want to see filaments glow. And that's their right. But it's dicey to gamble that tubes will continue to exist, at ANY price, over the course of another decade.
I would suggest the Fanfare tuners. It has balanced outs and great rejection of the unwanted signal nonsense we get in the Chicago area. They came with a black or silver face. I have one of each face due to change of preamps over the years. Simple unimportant aesthetic change, but looks so much better with matching colors. 
   I like FM tuners. I have a collection of McIntosh tuners--the MR71, a Modaferri modified MR-74, an MR-77, an MR-78, an an MR-80. I retubed the MR-71 myself last year with NOS Telefunken tubes, and it sounds great. Also great are the MR74, 77, and 78. I don't particularly care for the sound of the MR80, although this is all just opinion and what sounds good to your own ears. 
I decided to pop for a refurbished MD 90 from the manufacturer.
CEO told me there was a defective board which was replaced.

i am very satisfied with its sound
You made a very wise choice.
I scanned through all of the above.  No one mentioned my Luxman T110 tuner.  Decades ago I went from a Marantz 10B to this Luxman, not because I expected it to outperform the Marantz but because it is great (enough) sounding and remains stable over time, whereas the Marantz is high maintenance in the sense that a Ferrari is high maintenance.  You can often find the T110 for less than $100.