Yes, there are better tuners out there than the Dynaco. I see that Magnum Dynalabs has used units for sale.
I know no one is interested in tuners given streaming etc and on and on, but I moved to a place with some excellent radio stations and I think having a tuner would work for me. I got one for free from my brother, a 70s vintage Dynaco kit and it seemed to warm up over time without any repairs etc. although the light is out and gauge doesn’t seem to work. Muting is not functioning but once on a station it brings in some pleasant sound.
On the other hand, I see old units on eBay that are low cost, some say tested, mint condition, etc. so would it be worth a couple hundred dollars to have a different tuner? Or is the Dynakit not a bad vintage tuner and if it’s working, I’d be smart to stick with it? Any suggestions for replacements worth the change?
I bought 3 tuners back in Oct 2021. A new Magnum Dynalab 108T which is incredible. A used 40-year-old modded Accuphase T2 (I think) that was fixed up by a real tuner expert. It sounds almost as good as the 108T.
I also got a 40-year-old Sansu TU9900 that is warmer than the other 2 but also very good. Not at the same level as the other 2 but it was also recently refurbished by Sansui experts in Oregon.
I also have a Sony XDR-FIHD mooded by the XDRguy.com. This unit cost about $500 after the mods and it was good. Not as good as the other 3 until I put in an Audience Au24 SE RCA interconnect and the sound quality was transformed. This is an excellent unit and has the very best reception of all of my tuners. The MD 108T is the worst for reception so I use a MD ST-2 antenna on my roof for that one. The other 3 us indoor anntennas.
I would check on Audiogon for tuners to see if the guy who sold me the Accuphase is selling anymore. Or, get a used modded Sony XDR.
I will see if I can remember the guy who did the Accuphase work.
This is the guy who fixes up tuners to sound incredible.
ACCUPHASE T-100 (Super Tuner)! | Tuners | Audiogon
Check out the website link. The “shoot-out” tabs will give you a fine grounding on quality build FM tuners .
I have a fully professionally rebuilt / recapped / aligned PHILIPS 673 (USA model) that was an upgrade to my prior MAGNUM DYNALAB.With an external roof-mounted antenna , it’s near CD quality reception performance .
eBay have a number of Magnum Dynalab tuners, of course.
I don’t pretend to know the specifics of each model (I covet a MD90T), but the FT-101’s seem to be priced at around USD700 or so. One I looked at is from a dealer so lab checked and good to go.
Yes, I’m sure that a 108T is quite good, too. The decimal point might be a bit in the wrong place in its price tag, though.
Yes, decimal point issues in price. It seems with any collectible there are the big names that rightly fetch top prices. By their reputation the prices seem to inflate from there. Meanwhile, I think there are some less touted names that are a close second but at half the price. I try to find that sweet spot, but tuners are an odd commodity. The most expensive back in the day might have had cutting edge tech for that time, but it became standard or later improved on. It’s tough to disentangle the specs and prices without being an electrical engineer.
Even so, the hunt is fun.
There exist some guides for us mortals as to what specs to think about. I consulted one or two a few years ago, google is your friend. Takes some patience.
The thing with tuners (and CD players) is that because there are moving parts and precision components, it may not be prudent to get one that is becoming tired, or you buy with the knowledge that it probably will need to be re-calibrated and so on - so it may be false economy and that might blunt the fun.
I saw this at the fmtunerinfo site reading (? struggling, actually) through the shootouts of vintage gear. Often they would say that a tuner being considered needs looking at for one reason or another. Yeah, they may have been state of the art at the time, but now they are quite tired.
Yeah, as always, the sweet spot is good - forget the elite and also the rubbish, leaving a good bunch in the middle. I use a yamaha, from the mid 80s. Its pretty good with great ability to pick up distant stations or weak reception, but sadly not analogue.
I decided to go for a Sansui TU-717. It had been refurbished so not a bargain, but the guy seemed to have good reviews and a reliable vintage piece of equipment seems sensible. I’ll report back about sound. I’m a little worried because there seems to be some disagreement about recapping tuners, like all things audiophile, but again, he seemed to know what he was doing. He said he did the following:
All the Electrolytic Capacitors were changed and all switches, RCA jacks, and fuse holders were cleaned with contact cleaner.
So, here’s hoping,
@lynnj I’d appreciate it if you could provide your thoughts here on the Sansui TU-717 after you have had a sufficient listening honeymoon.
Because it is supposed to be very good. So it is understandable that you may have high expectations. I know I would.
I don’t pretend to know much about refurbishments except that what your technician did seems quite modest and prudent.
Yesterday I read on the fmtunerinfo website the refurbishment carried out on my model of tuner (Yamaha T-85) I was quite astonished. Wow. It was quite an overhaul and in my opinion something that only a committed specialist would be able to achieve, and perhaps only what a dedicated enthusiast would require.
Well the Sansui TU-717 is not disappointing in any way. I guess I’ve never had a good tuner so this is like a revelation that radio can be more than background music. This has stage depth, clear and not noisy. When there is static the noise reduction works fine without loss of sound. I’m really shocked at the whole effect.
I'm running it through an exposure integrated amp. Speakers are old Chicago Speakerworks 2ways. This is so much fun. Thanks for your suggestions, resources and perspectives.
I was thinking about it, and I did have a Tandberg 2001 but it didn’t overlap with my exposure amp. So this amp might drive my inefficient speakers better, or maybe the Tandberg wasn’t as good? Well, I’m happy with this. I have to say I’m in town but using an indoor terk antenna. I’m sure improving that would be good, but it’s working for now.
me too! Brought in stations in my basement from Indiana and Illinois
I miss it, great tuner,
have a very old Rolls, professional unit, works like a champ.
It depends on what you want. A lot of tuner affionados are after long-range reception, which makes sense if there is a very good station you cannot otherwise reach. But if you have a very good (technologically) station in the area, you should evaluate tuners on the same basis as other hi-fi gear. Namely, how does it sound. Musical? Dimensional? etc.
In my area we have on of the best FM stations in the nation for sound .... WFCRi a public radio station that plays DJ'd classical music all day, and DJ'd jazz for three hours in the evening. I've tested many, many tuners sise by side over the years, and I can name three that are really good sounding and don't cost and arm and a leg: for tube, a Fisher FM90b or a Dyna FM3, for transistor a Carver TX-11 or an early Harman Kardon Citation 14 or 15. There were lots of Japanes tuners with better sensitivity specs .... but many of them sounded as flat as cardboard. With a good modern station and station-based DJ'ng, FM can sound like your own CD or SACD player.
With regard to @harrylavo 's post, depending on your location and desired stations to be tuned in; besides sensitivity, selectivity can be an important spec consideration
I was listening to some Pink Floyd on a local classic rock station on the Accuphase T101 (modified) that I mentioned previously. I was listening on my RAAL SR1a headphones. I was so shocked at how good it sounded that I had to listen to the same track on Qobuz to compare with the streaming version.
That 40 year old Accuphase is incredible and available on A'gon.
Unsound, I agree that selectivity is an important spec, although frankly it was more important in the past than it is now due to advances in technology ..... while sensitivity in most tuner gear today is less than it was in the distant past (when FM stations were fewer and further apart.). Ultimately, however, the tuner is a piece of hi-fi gear and needs to be evaluated as is any other source component.
I got 4 tuners. 2 70's models that were refurbished and 1 from the 90's and 1 brand new ($7000) from last year. If I had know better I would not have spent the $7K and used only the 70's tuners I had. Though the only reason I got the 70's tuners (also last year) was because the $7K model wounded so good and I wanted a tuner for all my systems. The $7K model is the best but the others are so close.
Certain Vintage tuners sound incredible. The best value in my audio purchases.
yyzsantabarbara ... agree...you can pay a lot more, but it is a bit of a crapshoot today because tuner's just don't get reviewed. But IME the early models I mentioned will hold their own with any of the recents .... at about 1/50th the price.
I bought an HH Scott 350 A in excellent condition for $100.00 about six years ago. I replaced the multiplex tubes with NOS military issue Telefunken’s. It has a liquid, relaxed sound. The multiplex needs an alignment so I listen to it in mono. I’ll have to ship it out and the alignment will cost me about $200.00 but then I’ll be good for another five years. If this tuner interests you, try to find the first year of the 350 and look to see whether the plastic tuning dial is cracked.
I just switched to a McIntosh MR-55 mono AM/FM tuner. I like the tubes and the vintage McIntosh. It has a nicely lit and looking faceplate. I have it tuned to the NPR classical music station. It was gone over and recapped before I got it a month ago.
I do have a Dyna FM3 tuner available for sale. I used it before getting the McIntosh. It is a great tube tuner as well but I like the look of the McIntosh better. I'm debating on if I should sell it on eBay or at the local record shop. I think the value is only about $150 or so.