FM Tuners

Using all capitals is extremely annoying. It also makes it harder to read and follow along. I know that you've been asked NOT do this in the past and we are asking again. Please refrain from using all capital letters when posting.

The most sensitive tuner that i have ever used is a NAD 4125. It can pick up a weak station that is appr 40 miles away at full quieting using a 6' piece of coax with NOTHING connected to it. It is simply a piece of shielded coax that is screwed in at one end and hanging horizontally behind the tuner. Quite honestly, this is performance that i have a hard time believing. As a point of reference, i have tried a Magnum Dynalab FT-101, Musical Fidelity E-50, Quad FM-4, Citation 23, Yamaha TX-950, Pioneer TX-9500, etc... using an indoor wire dipole ( the big wire "T" that comes with a tuner ) and NOT gotten the station in as cleanly.

This is not a fancy tuner, only has five presets, no remote, etc... and is quite old. It makes use of Schotz tuning circuitry from what i can recall. I think that Proton also made tuners with similar circuitry. Both should be dirt cheap. So cheap that i'd be embarrassed to admit what i paid for it and where i purchased it from.

Set one of these up ( or something similar ) with a reasonable antenna and you'll probably be in business. Sean
how does the NAD 4125 sound compared to the other tuners you listed? i have a tandberg 3011A... very nice tuner but since i live in manhattan, i cant pull signals (even major broadcasts) without some serious interference!

FM reception is VERY location dependant. The transmission/reception is "line-of-sight", therefore if the antenea can't see the brodcast tower, you won't get the station. Sean listed tunners esp. the NAD that will work in the rolling hills of electrostaticman's area. His other alternative would be to get a good antenea and mount it HIGH, as high as possible.
Tapashead, you being in NYC and have a lot of signals comming at you every way but loose, can get buy with a less involved rig. A good sounding tunner that can separate out multichannel and be narrowly selective is all you need. From My experience, the T'berg will be fine, esp if you like the sound that it presents.
Happy listening.
I found the Fanfare FT-1A to be the best-receiving FM tuner I have tried from my location near a major metropolitan area (Wash DC). It is not a flat area, there are some hills, but I don't know how "rolling" or comparable to your location in CA. This tuner was very sensitive and worked well for me w/just an indoor antenna.
The NAD above is a very nice tuner for the money. For great reception and very good sound, find an old Onkyo Integra T4017 or if not then the T4015. These are on eBay all the time and go for around $50 to $75. Reception is excellent even with one of those "T" wire antennas a lot of receivers come with. Sound is very close the the NAD. The T4017 has a variable output control, so I guess you could by-pass the preamp if you have separates.
As a former owner of an NAD 4155, I can tell you that both the reception and especially the sound are bettered by my current AudioLab 8000T (out of production, but I think this basic, "A"-rated unit is now being produced in an updated version by AL's successor TAG-McLaren, although I don't know if it's being imported). Of course the Magnum-Dynalabs are highly regarded, but I wanted AM and presets. But with any decent tuner, the issue of reception is most dependent on the antenna used, and particularly its location, with outdoor-mounted being preferred.
I will second the Fanfare FT-1A. I purchased this a year ago after researching through the 'net. I narrowed it down to the Fanfare because of the reviews I read and it's convenience of a remote, I have no regrets! By far my most used source, and I hadn't had a tuner in my system since the 1980's; it wasn't much of a system then.

At the same price range I would recommend an old McIntosh MR-78, not from experience, just from research.

The Fanfare antenna guys are right. The myth about tuners is sensitivity when in fact SELECTIVITY is where it's at. The ability to tune out closely adjacent signals and listen only to the one you want.

The Dynalabs are great, and expensive. Might try one of the older Luxmans as they are quite selective and sound great too. Warm, very analog. Good luck.

I would say that the sound quality of the specific NAD that i mentioned was "mid pack". In other words, it wasn't phenomenal and wasn't the worst. Then again, i have never even bothered to hook it up to even a wire dipole since that "piece of coax" seemed to be doing the job. I'm sure that applying a stronger input signal would further increase the signal to noise ratio, improve imaging, increase dynamic range, etc...

Needless to say, i'm not using this as my primary source of FM reception. Even if i was, i don't think that i would be drastically disappointed with its' overall performance or sonics. Most FM is limited by the "compressed and EQ'd" broadcast quality and not the tuner. I don't doubt that other tuners could easily outperform this one under ideal circumstances though. Like anything else, a more specialized and expensive product SHOULD easily outperform a "cut corner" mass produced piece of gear.

I simply mentioned this specific model because of the excellent sensitivity and capture ratio that it seems to offer. I know that many folks visiting this site are "out in the boonies". Besides that, who wants to pay megabucks for a tuner when SOOOO much of what is broadcast is junk to start off with ??? You should be able to find this or an equivalent product for pennies on the dollar. As such, it will probably do a bang up job for those looking to add yet another source of "free" musical entertainment to their systems.

Quite honestly, i found this tuner in a pawn shop for $29. It was in excellent shape and appeared to be fully functional, so i snagged it just out of curiosity. It may be the best $29 ( in terms of audio ) that i ever spent. Sean
I've found great tuners in Pawn Shops also. My favorite was a high end Yamaha I paid $180 for. Decided I did not care for the sound and sold it for $350.

In my opinion the biggest mistake some people make with tuners it not using quality interconnects, like they will for their CD players. I am talking about mid-fi tuners like NAD, Rotel, Onkyo Integra, Cambridge Audio. They have a sub $100 pair of cables for the most part. I use Siltech ST-18G3 cables ($300 per meter) on my two mid-fi tuners and they sound pretty close to my friend's $1000+ tuners with cheaper cables.

Good point Sugar. The system is only as strong as its' weakest link.

As to Celtic66's comment about selectivity, that becomes more critical in highly congested areas with a LOT of nearby signals or when you live in an area where multiple stations are broadcasting / over-lapping on the same channel.

Increased selectivity gives the tuner more ability to reject strong signals that are not on that specific frequency or to "lock" onto the signal that is strongest if two are coming in on the same frequency. The tuner can literally "select" the best / strongest signal coming into it and reject the others.

While i'm not attempting to belittle the importance of good selectivity, the original posters description seems as if they are experiencing problems with getting ANY type of signal to receive due to their distance from the stations, being down in a valley and the extremely hilly terrain. While multipath might be a problem due to all of the signal bounce from the tall buildings in "metropolis" and the nearby rolling hills, i think that they would experience more of a problem in terms of trying to receive / lock onto the incoming signals rather than having problems with rejecting / having to select amongst them due to an overabundance or problems with front end overload.

As such, i would stick with a highly sensitive tuner and try to get some type of antenna up as high as possible. If you they had to make a long run of coax to mount the antenna at a remote location ( even WAY up in a tree, etc...), i would recommend the use of quad shield RG-6 to minimize loss. This cable can be purchased at Radio Shack and is not hard to work with in terms of routing, flexibility or making connections. Sean
Sean's point about antenna cable is well taken. To get optimized antenna location, a very long run may be needed, but obviously no one wants to spend the big bucks for such a length of "high-end" wire, especially when part of it might have to be exposed to the elements. Much better than anything I've tried for the purpose from RatShack, I recomment giving a look at a MonsterCable product called MonsterVideo 2. This BNC-terminated 75ohm coax is currently hooked up to my Fanfare FM-2G whip antenna in a 20ft. run. It is very much easier to handle and route, due to its supremely "limp" quality, and sounds noticeably higher in fidelity, as well as providing superior reception characteristics (presumably because of more effective sheilding). It's only about double the price of the Shack's best, as I recall, and well worth it.
Sorry - I screwed up the connector description on that last post - it's an F-type termination, of course.
I have an NAD 4130 (is this similar to a 4125?) which I bought new many, many years ago and can attest to its excellent sensitivity. Sonically, however, it hasn't been my favorite piece of equipment, although I do still use it. The sound is soft and a little bit too warm for me (I have a warm system to begin with), although it does produce a very nice sound stage. A good tuner for the money if you can find one used, but not what I'd consider top quality.

I might add that in the past few years mine has given me a bit of trouble (the audio outs die if the tuner is left on for too long), an I'd be a bit wary of getting something as old as this for more than just a few dollars. Still, if its the right price, it might be worth trying out.

How do you fellows feel about the magnum dynalab MD102. Could someone give me some feed back on this model. Sorry for the capitals. I just discovered how to access responses to my original question.
thank you
Magnum Dynalab's tuners are top notch; I'd think you couldn't go wrong with the MD102 although have no experience with that piece. My old Dynalab FT101 has been running since 1984 & still sounds very good; certainly good enough for radio.
Also refer to these archived links:
Pros and cons I can afford the MD102 but if I go in the hole I can buy the MD108. Is it worth it?
dunno - I'd guess that depends upon how much radio you listen to & the quality of the broadcasts? Hopefully someone with experience you seek will chime in here...
I think that once you reach a specific level with a tuner, the remainder of how well it works is up to the antenna system and the quality of the broadcast. From a personal standpoint, i would NOT bury myself financially into ANYTHING unless i was ABSOLUTELY and POSITIVELY sure first hand that it would give me what i was looking for.

Try shooting for the less expensive model and put the difference into a good outdoor antenna. You'll be better off doing this than buying a more expensive tuner and trying to make do with a lesser antenna. I bet that the "cheaper" tuner and "good" antenna will be more than enough to keep you happy.... Sean
Dunno & Sean thank you for the wise advise. Have either of you auditioned these units? or the step down versions MD100,Md90 or FT101A/ETUDE.
Thank you.
For the record, i'm assuming that "Dunno" was Bob as his post was above mine.

I have used a Magnum 101 and found that two of my other tuners sounded better and operated with less problems. Those are MY results in MY systems at MY location. Much of what you experience with a tuner will be location and broadcast dependent. Then again, i live less than 20 miles from most of the major broadcasters in my area, so other aspects of these specific tuners might not come into play. My experience has been that tuners with the best sound quality typically do not have the best "ears" i.e. they lack "sensitivity" to weak or distant stations. That is why i stressed the importance of a good outdoor antenna if you are ANY type of distance from the transmitters.

I have another tuner on the way as we speak. It too is supposed to sound EXCELLENT but is lacking in the "long distance receive" category. Luckily, i am not in that boat at this point in time. Should i choose to relocate further away from Chicago, i may be forced to change all of my "tuner criteria".... Sean
I posted this link on tw other threads before I found this one, which seems more appropriate. What do you guys think about this website - it seems to cover a lot of the same ground as this discussion:

The site also reinforces my DIY/anti-Magnum bias (I just can't see spending thousands of dollars on a tuner when I can buy one for a few hundred and work on it to make it better!). I happen to love old tuners and didn't really realize that you can really get audiophile stuff on eBay.
good website and thanks for posting it Mendenhalx. While i did not agree with all of their comments based on first hand experience, i think it will give a lot of people food for thought. Sean
Get an inexpensive tuner and the best antenna money can buy.