Is The FM tuner obsolete?


I foresee the day that the FM tuner will not be included in product offerings. 

Most radio stations have a streaming service and services like tunein offer this as well and have a much better quality to boot.

Thoughts? 
vanson1
Over the air broadcast will always be around in some form.

With that in mind, demand will dictate how the market survives.

Sound quality of streaming is still evolving, but the same tune on the best tube  tuners still sounds more convincing. 

I'll take a Marantz 10B or REL Precedent over a nice streaming setup.

My Mac MR71 gets daily use.



I don't know. Predicting is hard. Especially about the future.
Meanwhile, CBS is selling off all their radio stations.


If you have a good tuner enjoy it now and when FM broadcast ceases start thinking about streaming, 
WHEN WE HAD a classical station and two decent jazz stations I considered a good tuner with an outdoor. antenna. Then Mozart  went off the air from lack of support (in spite of a huge regional population). 
You can guess my thoughts about all the "post-disco music" that is today's main offerings as you move the dial. This used to be THE WAY to get in touch with the world, with entire concerts offered on special nights. Some of those ancient radios were well made, especially with FM Stereo broadcasts available in many cities. But now there are so many digital formats and platforms I've lost interest. I want that classical station with human announcers providing historical information and then presenting a well-thought-out radio show so that I can learn about new music I had never explored before. Yes, I know it's available on-line, but you need so much more equipment to get it to your ears these days.

Nope …no worries

FM broadcasts over-the-air is alive and well as evidenced by both (I) the auto industry and OTA station broadcasts in major centres here in NA and (2) also more so in Europe. The DAB broadcast format in the UK is great … a shame it was a stillborn broadcast platform here in NA. 
With a quality external FM antenna feeding a high-end FM tuner with a good broadcast FM signal , I get CD / near-CD uncompressed audio quality FM reception that comparatively smokes compressed format free streaming .

I have a $7k digital streamer/DAC/digital player as part of a $60K system but I will still cheerfully default to an OTA FM broadcast with a fully rebuilt and upgraded top FM tuner (… see https://www.fmtunerinfo.com ) whenever possible.


I'm fortunate to get good reception of KUSC (91.5 FM), which provides high-quality classical music 24/7 with no commercials. The sound quality on my upgraded Magnum Dynalab FT-101A is better than CD playback. It will be a sad day if the station pulls the plug.
very happy with my modded vintage tuners and a couple of good local stations...

I still use my tube HH Scott for FM and a tube Zeneth Trans Oceanic for AM (baseball) and Shortwave. For FM, the stations in Europe are by far better than in the States. Probably because they get so much government funding.
I got a Magnum Dynalab MD108T last week. I upgraded from a MD102. I have a great local station that actually sounds good and plays the most incredible music. A lot of stuff I have never heard before. I listen a minimum of 3 hours a day to FM (9AM -12PM) and now that I have this incredible sounding tuner I am cutting into some of my streaming time in the evening. 

A great thing about radio is the discovery of new music and the lack of thought as to what to listen too next.
In the US the FCC dictates the airwaves. 

My local Jazz station KCSM, struggles to maintain a high quality signal. 

Just running the electricity to power the transmitter is costly to reach maybe 100k listeners in the area? 

Economics will eventually dictate the future. 

akg_ca
FM broadcasts over-the-air is alive and well as evidenced by both (I) the auto industry and OTA station broadcasts in major centres here in NA and (2) also more so in Europe.
Annual revenue for radio totals about $10 billion in the US. It's a big business and it isn't going away anytime soon.
The DAB broadcast format in the UK is great … a shame it was a stillborn broadcast platform here in NA.
The US has never had DAB. We do have IBOC (so-called "HD radio") but that's not the same thing.
Nice tuners a really cool but commercial radio not so much.  I will go with streaming.
I started with a Fisher 50B. It DID NOT sound s good as my father's Sylvania that I recorded  offa.
Now I avoid broadcast radio always.
This is a real hard one as far as longevity. But clearly digital is here… Qobuz and the streaming services offer thousands of stations. With very good quality. You can find some tiny niche of music with dozens of stations dedicated to them. Also, you can get the stations you listen to now. Want Rwandan drum music? Check out all the Rwandan stations.

Good audio quality cost money… the more you can put in a single component the better it sounds. So why invest in a alternative box that can get a few stations when you could invest more in your streamer / digital side and have access to the world… thousands of stations millions of tunes many in high resolution format. I would spend every penny to get this stuff right. It is the future even if a few stations hang on for a couple decades… think of the business case:  a huge tower, power, maintenance, regulation…versus just buy an internet connection.
Well summed up ghdprentice.

Our local jazz station has fund raisers several times a year. 
I am a local subscriber and would like it to continue. 

Being able to listen in the car is my motivation to contribute. 

When home,  it's streaming all the time. 

Luckily that station is available on TuneIn.
@cleeds

“ ….
The DAB broadcast format in the UK is great … a shame it was a stillborn broadcast platform here in NA….. The US has never had DAB. We do have IBOC (so-called "HD radio") but that’s not the same thing.…”

I used “North America (NA) “ in my prior post reference to DAB. I stand corrected that the reference should have been limited to Canada and digital radio policy in Canada in the period 1995 to 2005.
Here in Canada it was the attempt to implement the Eureka-147 Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) standard as the replacement technology for analog AM and FM broadcasting.
Canada was an early adopter of the system, but unfavourable conditions led it to largely abandon the approach in favour of a multiplatform system. The interaction between industry, government regulation, and broadcasting policy around digital radio reveals a complex situation of competing interests.
Despite extensive regulatory intervention to protect Canadian interests, the pace of technological change and the dominant influence of U.S. interests killed that transitional path to digital radio

Without prejudice to the largely useless history lesson above, my upgraded, fully rebuilt ,and modded PHILIPS 673 fm tuner was a clear upgrade to my prior MAGNUM DYNALAB FT 101a Etude fm tuner. 
With a clear FM signal from an external antenna, and an extensive bevy of quality local free FM broadcast stations here in Toronto, it certainly matches (and usually beats …) the audio performance in hi-rez streaming audio in TIDAL or QOBUZ through my streamer / DAC

As pointed out by numerous posters, one’s bespoke FM signal strength matters, and having a local broad menu of available quality fm stations will predicate one’s stroll down the Yellow Brick Road to FM Audio OZ.
Simple answer; If you have a good FM station that you like, then it's worth it. 
You better like the 3 things to justify investing in an Fm tuner:
Classical
Jazz
Public Broadcast news programming. 

That along with your location and ability to use a proper antennae are required to enjoy FM. 

Other than PBS related stations, the rest is garbage. 
It depends on the country.  There are a couple hundred.
As much as I loved and supported KUSC back in the 20th Century (and KFAC 1330 AM when I was a kid), I’m just a sucker when it comes to streaming classical. When Primephonic went south, I seamlessly transferred to Idagio. I’ve said it before, but streaming is like being the kid in the candy store. Sure, opera and classical vocal are pretty much MIA but good fortune (and a gig at Tower Classical Records) did a pretty good job of bringing vocal music to my Classical LP/CD shelves.

@tablejockey ”….That along with your location and ability to use a proper antennae are required to enjoy FM. …. Other than PBS related stations, the rest is garbage…”


I concur with the 1st comment but I strongly disagree with the 2nd comment. It is definitely not garbage in the majority.

We have 92 OTA fm stations available here in Toronto that I whittle down to a simple dozen of faves based on my variable listening genres du jure (… a very broad selection of jazz, light jazz, classical, local news, easy listening , pop, and rock …. No PBS limitations here )

(A) Sure, a bunch of these local fm stations may have reception quality issues for a multitude of reasons including multipath signal issues for signals bouncing between the skyscraper office towers if you live in the city core.

(B) Most are still great providers of fine varied genre content. And yes, there exists some “garbage” content just like the equal menu proportion of digital garbage mixed in with the good in Internet streaming stations popping up.

(C) The difference is that all too many of the of these digital streaming stations come in a compressed audio digital signal format and crap POS audio performance comparatively. Sending it through a high-end DAC with upscaling cannot compensate enough.( garbage in … garbage out)

The OTA direct fm analog signal is a superior high quality and uncompressed reception signal that is CD quality or a notch above depending on atmospheric conditions….IFF you have the quality build equipment to handle it AND proper signal reception through a proper external stand-alone fm antenna .


I can surely appreciate that in the absence of a good local FM market or resistance to upgrade to a quality build fm tuner , those audiophiles will migrate to digital streaming. But here again the variable build quality and resulting audio performance of the wide range of $ - $$$$ streamer/ DACs now plays a key role.


FM analog broadcasts and FM analog tuners are not going to suffer an extinction any time soon.


"...92 OTA fm stations available here in Toronto..."

my dial was stuck on CHUM-FM in the sixties....
I'm also lucky to be in Toronto where we are fortunate to have a nice variety of broadcast stations with high quality signals. About a year and a half ago I picked up a nice Philips AH673 and a good antenna and hooked the tuner up to a vintage Sansui integrated.
I wanted background music that didn't involve putting hours on expensive tubes in my main system.
Now I find myself setting aside time to sit down and listen to favourite programs. 
Thoroughly satisfying and enjoyable.
Is The FM tuner obsolete? Absolutely not! I have one in my biplane!
I think there will always some form of FM broadcast, but just like vinyl, reel -to-reel, cassettes, cds etc.  Streaming is where the action is and it will impose it's will on everything else for the foreseeable future.

I should also say that using Tidal in my system(s) has performed way above any expectation that I had for this medium.
You guys in Toronto have the CN Tower to broadcast radio.
Wow, I guess need to appreciate 91.9 WCLK in Atlanta, GA. It’s a jazz station and the entire metro ATL listens to it via streaming, over the air and internet.

The DJ’s introduce new badass music on a weekly basis. Just like in the old days when you listened to the radio for the next hit and newest music. The station has been around for more than 40 years and is also part of Clark/Atlanta University communication curriculum system.
KCSM in San Mateo is part of the community College which has a degree in broadcasting. 

I support them every year. 

Their signal only reaches the peninsula. 

Maybe 1,000,000 so a pretty small amount compared to the expense to broadcast the signal for a nonprofit. 

I think as radio stations evaluate how to distribute music,  online will be the only way. 
Not if anyone still wants good sound over the air.
Well, I hope not! I own 4....I have a great classical radio station in Boston, WCRB 99.5, as well as a great jazz station, WGBH 89.7. I love my Cambridge Audio T500 tuner, it's fun to use and I get great reception with my Winegard attic antenna. 
I hope to continue listening to OTA radio for the 15-20 more years I could be alive.  Neither of my older cars has internet capabilities and I always play the radio (Classic Rock mostly) while driving.  

At home, there are two local stations I enjoy.  One plays 50’s-60’s-70’s rock and roll and the other plays old-time country music. Both are relaxing to listen to, depending on my mood. 
As an old FM tuner I'm not obsolete...plenty of tuning left yet!

Ah, well, while broadcast radio lacks the impact of the 60s thru 90s there are very few stations I dial in these days.  Long gone are the rock giants 96 Rock, wkls Atlanta and She 103, wshe Miami, two former faves.

I run SiriusXM in one car and at home.  Other vehicles are FM radio, mostly classic rock and Christian music.  I often tune FM at home and don't see where it will go away anytime soon.  Not saying it couldn't... have you seen any recent vehicles with a cassette deck?

For news I'll take local mom and pop am/fm all day long over any biased news source.  No delay buttons, no mute, no edits. No corporate agendas...
I don't this the FCC will eliminate the FM band anytime soon but at some point, stations will not be able to justify pumping out 100K watts into the air.

It's so much more efficient to do an internet steam and reach millions of actual listeners!

I have seen so many good local stations fade off into the abyss. Good AM/FM in the car is how I will really miss them. But then there is satellite radio to take is place, sort of.

Long live FM for as long at it's around!
What happens if KAOS cuts off the internet pipe? Your streamer is useless!
https://i.pinimg.com/originals/11/cc/24/11cc244068121416b814df0fed34867e.jpg

Tube transmitters are still being used too!
Everyone should have one of these as a  backup unit
http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/roadtour7/hero_precedent.jpg9
The "BEST" FM tuner.
This kind of reminds me of the relevance of "recievers".

A preamp or variable output DAC could take over this function too.
I cannot predict the future, but I can tell you about what I experience in the present.

I listen to FM at least four hours a day. Mostly to classical on WQXR, jazz on WBGO, and NPR on WNYC, all broadcast in the NYC Metro area.  I enjoy it so much I’ve actually started purchasing vintage FM tuners and am thrilled at the quality of the audio.
(Sony ST-5000FW, Sony ST-J75, and Pioneer TX-7800)

FM may be obsolete, but as long as broadcasters provide me with quality programming and a good signal, I’ll be listening.


I haven't had an FM tuner for many years since I owned a Marantz receiver in the mid 70's, but yesterday I found a Pioneer TX-410 at Goodwill in mint condition for $16.49 and I bought it. I'm having a ball with it. It's nowhere near as good as the Accuphase that I had for a short while years ago, but it's just fun to have one in the system again. If I find that I'm using it a good bit, I'll buy a better one, but for now, this is fun! 
If you live close to college towns, student  and/or university sanctioned FM stations can be good sources. I have a number of these choices, one specializes in purely student choices, really all over the place, widest range of genre ever experienced from one source, another specializes in jazz/blues/soul, another classical, the rest are pretty much NPR all day. Each also offer streaming service, so who knows how much longer FM service provided?
I've been lucky to live near some great college and/or public radio stations, like WRAS in Atlanta, KUT in Austin and WDET in Detroit; so, as others have pointed out, your ability to access a good local station has a major impact on this question. I'd compare listening to satellite radio in the car to watching football on the NFL "Red Zone." How do you resist A) nothing but highlights  and  B) no commercials? So, your question exposes the potential danger of extinction in certain areas.

What has given me the most hope about local radio is my recent discovery of WDET's newest show: "Don Was Motor City Playlist." That show's podcast can be accessed from either WDET's website (wdet.org) or Spotify. The only caveat is that the WDET website only archives the 2 most recent episodes, while all of the episodes (the show started in April of this year) are available on Spotify. Anyone old enough to remember "free form FM radio in the 60's & 70's" should enjoy this show. The fact that Don is a master storyteller who is also hilarious certainly makes this a memorable and must listen experience.
akg_ca

The OTA direct fm analog signal is a superior high quality and uncompressed reception signal that is CD quality or a notch above depending on atmospheric conditions….IFF you have the quality build equipment to handle it AND proper signal reception through a proper external stand-alone fm antenna .

I’m into FM but that is simply mistaken. First, all broadcast signals are subject to some compression, if only to prevent overmodulation. Most stations go far beyond minimal processing, and fine tune things such as Orban or CRL processors to create a unique or "punchy" sound.

FM also can’t deliver CD quality because of the 19kHz stereo pilot tone that has to be filtered form the signal. Most FM tuners struggle to deliver above 15 kHz.

Don’t get me wrong - I’m among those who still appreciate fine FM sound. But, as with all formats, it has its limitations.


I still have my  Kenwood KR 9600 receiver from 1978 .  The FM tuner is probably the best part on it, lol. 

I'ts been in storage mostly for 25 years but still sounds good. Only issue is a power off cycle pop on the A speaker channel .    Thinking i need to sell it .
The radio is on 24/7.

My magnum dynalab ft 101 a with the Etude upgrade from MD has been my favorite component. Bought it new and it’s not going anywhere. Have MD’s ST-2 antenna and the sq from this tuner is amazing.

Just had the tuner section on my restored Marantz 2230 brought back in line. Sounds quite good, albeit not as nice as the MD. As was said above, the receiver saves my tubes as the radio is on all day

I do love an all in one for the simplicity, but just not convinced of the SQ.

A MAC7200 with a tuner/DAC would be a swell lifestyle set up.



We are in a somewhat remote area, in the middle of the sea. There is a classic rock & a classical station near me. They have good quality sound. There are a couple others with OK sound.

The classic rock station has gotten worse with song selection. They play Steve Miller abacadabra, rather than his better songs. It also seems like their playlist has changed to incessant Billy Joel, Hall & Oats, Don Henley and Elton John.

I have a Magnum Dynalab MD-102. Excellent tuner with big caps inside. With the right station, it sounds glorious.

We are moving to another place in this area that has a great classic rock station, and other stations.

If you have a good station with good sound quality, a good tuner can be an essential source component.

My MD-102 provides excellent uncompressed analog goodness, given the right station. With reference quality interconnects into my VTL tube pre, I am often shocked at how good it sounds.

My reference point for this is the stats for over the air tv. Currently over 60% of households still receive their tv from an antenna of some kind. So no fm tuners are not going away. Also don’t forget the car market too. Yes they might become harder to find but they will always be around. Now for the political comment do you want all of the media we receive and our contact to the outside world to be cut off with the flip of a switch! Think about that with your electric car. They have another shut down and don’t want you to go anywhere they cut the grid and there you sit. Don’t think it can happen look at Australia right now.
Parasound TDQ1600 Tuner
listening to this Rock Station WEBN 102.7
with local adds, beats listening to station on iHeart. Frog Nation WEBN Cincinnati.
WEBN got bought out in the same way that WMMS did in Cleveland. WEBN was a fairly good station in the 1970’s but it never rose to near the level that WMMS did. Both stations are so compressed anymore, I don’t know how anyone can listen to either. There was a pretty good station out of Northern Kentucky University called WNKU but they couldn’t operate within budget and it was dissolved by the University. So, besides the banal, middle of the road classical station WGUC, we have WAIF, a diverse community station with a very weak signal.
I use my tuners every day.   I have a Magnum MD102 and a Fanfare FT1a which is in rotation right now.   Plenty of FM where I am,  just outside Boston.    I get Rock 101 in Manchester NH , 94 HJY in Providence ,  and everything from Boston to Worcester.. .   Plenty of stations 
The FM tuner in my Marantz NR1200 was one of the key reasons I purchased it, but recently I picked up a used Marantz PM8004. Sounded better than the NR1200, but I missed listening to FM, so I found a used Marantz ST6000.  I suppose I could have run the NR1200 as a pre-amp into the PM8004 to still have the FM and streaming, but it just seemed simpler to pick up a used ST6000.
College late 1970s Terre Haute radio station WPFR played, Martian Boogie every Friday night.  That’s my best memory of FM radio.  By 1988 I got my first ARC preamp and have never had FM radio since.  In the car it was 8 track, cassette, CD, satellite, iPod, and now memory stick.  Like broadcast TV no patience for all of the commercials.