Help: AM antenna and AM reception

Hello all: I would like some suggestions and advice on AM reception. I know this may not be a popular format but a couple of the stations I enjoy broadcast in AM only.
My experience with AM reception using the "mainstream" FM/AM tuners has been very dissapointing (said tuners being JVC FX1010, SONY SA5ES and Denon TU-800). I tehn bought the Denon TU-680NAB (supposedly optimized for AM performance) but still no luck. OTOH, a pre-wired whole house intercom system with am/fm radio does a FAR better job with the AM stations! This creates a problem with my spouse who says that I spend so much on tuners which are unable to compete with much cheaper syatems! So, what gives? Why does a $300-$600 tuner fail miserably while an "el cheapo" combo am/fm/intercom does so much better? I should say that the antenna used for separate tuners has been the Terk AM indoor type. How do I improve upon this? My location is central NJ. Thanks.
PS: Do let me know if I need to provide additional info.
I think the reason that AM tuners are under designed in audiophile gear is that the signal is not audiophile quality in the first place.

I'm not familar with the Terk antenna, but I've never found their FM antennas worth anything. However Radio Shack sells an AM antenna which is a large (10") diameter loop which is tunable - costs about $30. You might want to give it a try.
AM in most new audio gear is an afterthought. Not sure why they even bother.

The short wave band is AM of sorts. The short wave frequencies start right where AM leave off (on the high side of the AM dial). I don't see why AM would really be any different.

For short wave a long thin wire makes a great antenna. And I mean long; can be 10 feet up to 30 feet long depending on the frequencies desired. I use one that I just run along the edge of the wall basically out of site.

Experiment with a piece of regular thin speaker wire, if you have some left over typical 18 AWG or thinner wire hanging around.
See what happens. Can't hurt trying..
Sugar is right on the money. Get the longest piece of wire that you can hide hooked up to the tuner as an antenna. This should help. AM is such a low frequency that the wavelengths are quite long. The longer the wavelength, the longer the antenna that you need to work efficiently. Even with this, the AM section of a stereo tuner may not be all that hot, but it should at least be acceptable. Sean
Thanks for your responses- I will try the long wire approach. I feel some of you may have been led astray by my phrasing: I am not interested in the "audiophile" (or lack of) quality of AM signal - more concerned with improving the performance of my reception. Also, even if it is an afterthought (its inclusion in tuners), it still does not explain (atleast to me) why a cheap AM/FM portable system does so much better with AM reception while the dedicated tuners are poor performers. Let me try the long wire antenna and I will update the group. Regards.
The vintage analog tuners from the 60's and 70's have much better AM reception than today's digital tuners.
The really good AM radios were build before FM became the dominant format. Get an old Stromberg Carlson from the 30's or 40's, and you will hear what AM is really capable of doing. Except for HF response, AM can meet HiFi criteria.

I have a set of Benny Goodman LPs, that were made from "Air Check" recordings. These were made off the air, AM radio, using good but primitive recording technology (must have been disc recordings, since mag tape was not invented yet).
These recordings have the usual LP limitations, but they are every bit as good as similar vintage LPs which were made in studios.

Perhaps the venerable Mr Scott can optimize a tuner for your needs. I enjoy FM on the one he did for me.

Course if it's Rush you may be SOL. Cheers.
My mom has an old tube Sylvania table AM radio that easily picks up the clear channel stations hundreds of miles away with just the internal antenna. They do still built good AM tuners in car radios..
They actually still do make good AM radios. If you buy a decent portable short wave radio, they include the AM band. Even the better ones at Radio Shack work well. Popular professional brands are Grundig and Sangean.
The best AM section I've found in a tuner so far was, unfortunately, in one of the most expensive tuners out there as well. I won't go into full technical detail, but suffice to say the AM section in the Sansui TU-X1 with its synchronous AM detector is simply one of the very best ever produced. Reportedly, Carver also did a decent job with the AM section in their TX-11a and TX-11b as well, although I've never used one. I've also gotten good AM out of my Sony ST-S730ES which has selectable bandwidths, although it was by no means as good as the TU-X1, with its wide/narrow, selectable filters, and synchronous detector. The Philips AH673 also had a good AM section, reportedly. Sansui and Pioneer also put decent AM sections with selectable bandwidth in a few tuners, Pioneer specifically in the TX-7800 and TX-9800. The most economical might be the Carver, where I'd take a second look for sure. The lower end Pioneers and Sansuis don't seem to have had the filters often necessary for good wideband AM reception. Hope this helps.
Thanks for all the responses. I do agree that older AM tuners had good performance BUT I want to stick with tuners from late 1980's to current. One of the posts also confirmed that Car head units have better AM performance- I totally AGREE! This is another sore point, I can get the same station MUCH better in my car with its cheap $150 head unit BUT my dedicated JVC/SONY/DENON [FX1010, S707ES, TU-800] are lousy at getting the same station. I have even tried taking the tuner outside (OR putting the Terk antenna outside window) but still no improvement. BTW, [Ryammh1]: I have also owned Sony S730ES 2 times and it was not very good with AM reception - too much static and a continuous droning noise in background.
For those of you recommending Grundig/Sangean models: I have tried that route also. Currently have a Sony SW-777 (very pricy) and also a Grundig (Model 2000?) but both have same problem. And yet the cheap $100 unit which builder installed as part of whole house intercom system continues to beat all these pricy units! As the weather improves I will install a "long wire" antenna and see if it makes a improvement. Regards to all those who posted.
I've found that the GE Superadio II portable is superb on picking up am signals. It also has a good sound with adjustable bass and treble. They usually go for $75-100 on Ebay.
I use the CCrane Twin Coil Ferrite AM antenna to pick up my favorite sports talk.. Much better than the Terk AM/FM I used to have.

I've measured about 40 db SNR on a distant station using that and their Select-a-tenna in tandem.