Hey all,Im getting back into the FM thing since I was given a Adcom GFT-1A
The antenna is a $15 Radio Shack cat.# 15-1843 it is about 4"x4" and 1/2" thick.It seems to pull in stations really good and lights up the signal strength meter on the tuner to 5 out of 5.
I love the sound of this tuner and it's my first adventure with good FM.I can't believe how transparent,warm and smooth this thing sounds.My only complaint is the drums(rock music/metal) coming through with lack of slam.The drums seem like they are far away,distant like.If I crank the volume that helps some but they still just don't have the slam Im use to with vinyl and CD.
1) whats up with that?
2) WHY does FM sound so DAMN good??
3) Whats a KILLER tuner (used) for <$1K?
I can answer on all your questions.
There are a few reasons:
You should realize that different radio stations don't have the great reproducing quality wich depends on broadcast source, amp, transmitter. There is a great deal on power loss during the broadcast. It's a matter of compatibility between other stations and assets of the broadcast station to take wider freequency bandwidth, having a higher power signal. That's where I think the slam is getting lost due to a compressed signal that can be transfered onto the air.

FM signal can sound DAMN good because:

1. The FM signal (Freequency Modulated) has a high carying freequency. That gives a possibility to place wider bandwidth for the audiable signals per one channel without mutual channel interferance.
2. The FM signal has only one fixed amplitude and therefore doesn't require to have a powerful transmitter and have the best transfer ratio throughout the atmosphere.
3. The only negative part of FM signal that it needs to be fired directly from transmitting to receiving antenna and if your antenna is directional, you should direct it to the main town/city antenna.

Your Adcom is the KILLER tuner for <1k.
thank you Marakanetz for the kind words about my tuner.I would'nt really call it killer but it sounds nice.so,maybe Im confused,but even if I get a "true killer" tuna,I mean tuner, I may still have poor slam d/t FM in general? I need my slam man,can't head bang the bald head without SLAM can ya??Are there any tuners known for slam out there or does a real high-end tuna,I mean tuner offer this already?I really have the FM dud,I mean bug and I could see myself listening to FM 80-90% of the time if I found the right tuna/antenna.Thanks again!
David99, I don't know if I want to answer you on this one, your scaring me dude, but go to http://www.geocities.com/tunerinfo if you want to learn more about tuners that actually have lowend. The Adcom is a decent tuner under 200, I had one over 8 years, but it does lack in the lowend, and a lot of digitals do. The site will help you with analog tuners, whose sonic performance tend to be better than most digitals, but be prepared to spend a little.
Also, Marakanetz, is telling you straight. I will tell you a little more, from a marketing standpoint,IMHO, some of the stations you might be tuning in to hear your particular type of classical music, probably has less concern about the quality of signal they are send out when compared to the local true classical station, where the listeners will call up and complain, or a college station where students are learning the fundamentals and a lot of the time actually have a cleaner and broader signal that the big boys in area where you live.
I get surprisingly good mid-bass from my Magnum Dynalab Etude from some stations.
I can't add much to what has already been said, but I will concur with the message that recommends spending time on the Vintage Tuner Web site. (Great site!) Also check out http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FMtuners/

The best bang for your buck, and probably best bang period, will be in a vintage tuner from back when R&D was going into tuners.

I have owned one of the modern "super" tuners and now have a Yamaha T-2 from circa '78. The Yammie is better!
Most FM stations compress the music deliberately because their primary target audience are drivers in a noisy car environment or listening on a boom box. I've never seen the need for a high-end tuner for precisely this reason.
Hi David; I know very little about tunas-- except the ones that smell bad after a few days. But oddly, I just purchased an Adcom GFT-1A a couple months ago also. I have it hooked to a MD ST-2 whip antenna, and even though I just get 4-5 stations clearly (I'm in the boondocks), it sounds pretty darn good-- clear, smooth, and non-fatiguing-- pretty much like you describe.

However, I find it to be lacking in dynamics-- except when listening to a PBS college station, and then it does sound fairly dynamic-- haven't paid much attention to bass though. Do FM stations generally broadcast a compressed signal? I have taken this lack of dynamics to mean that the sound quality has more to do with the broadcast signal than the quality of the tuna. I bought the Adcom as a secondary music source, and maybe some PAC-10 football games, and for my needs it's just fine. Cheers. Craig
Second the Magnum Etude. The reason Rock sounds nasty on FM is because almost all rock/pop stations compress the signal. Here in Canada CBC radio 2 has all day Classical/Jazz without commercials and the signal is uncompressed. This is the ONLY station that I ever listen to on the Etude because most other stations sound quite nasty and there's lots of commercials.. So find a good station and a Magnum Etude or a Fanfare and you'll be quite happy.
in WBGO, NJ DJs use broadcast TT and play records very often.
Compressed music is in the nature of FM signal and less-likely it's because of loud car stereos.
I've owned many tuners in the past with varying results. Magnum Dynalab and Fanfare tuners have an excellent reputation, but I was a bit disappointed with my Magnum once I started to compare it against vintage tuners. I have spent and lost allot on money on my quest to find an ultimate tuner. The three tuners that I have kept and currently enjoy (all purchased used for less than $1000 USD used each) are as follows: Yamaha CT7000, Tandberg 3001A and an ONIX. Each tuner has its own endearing personality, but IMHO, you cannot go wrong with with either unit.
I've said it before and I'll say it again...roll out the XM and Serius tuners for audiophile home use, and let's see how digital radio can *really* sound.
Analog is once again the answer.Deep and full sound for any Music.HK Citation IIIX Vintage Tube tuner Rocks!For a few hundred Bucks up.Or spend several thousand+ on a digital.
David, I had a Yamaha T-2, which had much better bass than my Mcintosh MR71. The T-2 is a good rock tuner. Around $350 for a good one on ebay.

I got unbelievable bass from a Fanfare tuner. Really nice bass, it stood out on my system. I still think I will buy a Yamaha T2 which sounded a little better in different ways (on someone else's system, hi Brian)

But if you want bass try the Fanfare.
In my experience many mid priced tuners are better than most people think. The reason is cables. In most systems I've seen, including the AudiogoN virtual listings, a lot of folks don't take FM seriously, so they don't use a high end interconnect cable, just a budget one at best; or the tuner gets the left-overs and no effort is made to find a good match.

I find cables selection with tuners just as finicky as CD players. In one system I am using a classic digital tuner that had a MSRP of $420 in 1986 dollars (I paid $35). I have tried many cables, and with the (used) Siltech ST-18G3 I am now using, it comes close to CD quality. It is a 5 gang tuner, so it also brings in the stations as well as many costing much more.

So before you dish out $1K to $2K++ for a tuner as your upgrade path, try your current one with better cables. You might be surprised.

Here's a vote for my Accuphase T-101 (circa late 70's). Tons o' bass- quite an audiophile tuner, actually...
best tuners..
Hands down the Marantz 10B quite a bargin right now at a depressed $ 1,500-2000.00 You simply cannot believe that the music is coming from thin air.

Next the Awesome Tandberg 3001a Great base great soundstage not warm like the 10B but also very musical.

AccuphaseT100 T106 $$$ T107.../Mac 78$$$ 71 67

Best tuners for the least $$$

Carver TX 11a
Luxman T110
Pioneer TX-9100
Tandberg 3011a
Dynaco fm 5?
H.H. Scott and Fisher tube tuners

Please invest in a good outdoor antenna, inside I like the magnum dynalab whip SG-1 ?
regarding value for your tuner dollar, suggest Magnum Dynalab Etude, MD100 or the new MD90, or the Fanfare. But since you like your Adcom stick with that for awhile.
In order to beef up the tonality you could try experimenting with different upgrade AC cords & interconnects. You'll be surprised at the improvements that can be realized by doing so. So many owners end up selling perfectly servicable components & moving onto something else just for failure to experiment with these basic tweaks. A better antenna is also helpful despite the fact that receive signal strength already appears to be strong.
I have used most of todays tuners inc the Magnum Dynalab Etude, Fanfare and guess what? Best I have come across is the old Mcintosh MR71. Usually, they are expensive but you might score one at a good price.

If the Mac is too expensive for you, the Yamaha T2 is the other which consider. It KILLS the Etude and the Fanfare in all respects.
Great Bob. I had the feeling I was the only one who took the time to tweek a tuner setup like others tweek the turntable.

The very rare Rotel RHT-10 is one the best in the bass department for a modern tuner.

Sugar; you're absolutely right-- when I got the GFT-1A, I put Kimber PBJ on it without much thought because they were lying around. But, I also have a spare pair of Syn Res Phase 2 (w/active shields)-- I'll have to try them. Really, it didn't occur to me to try high quality ICs on a pretty inexpensive tuner. Thanks. Craig.
Luxman tuners of late 70s early 80s vintage still outperform the venerable Yamahas. Smoother, better selectivity.
As in other threads, I will say that I have owned tens and tens of tuners (just about everything including the Rotel RHT-10 that I later had Don, you know who, modified (this is the tuner you might see being commmented on in several discussion threads on tuners). It was very transparent and yes, had, detailed bass but it was not as involving as my tube guys) and have yet to find one that is more musical and involving than a good tube tuner BUT.....if you do not have it aligned (afterall we are talking about a 33+ year old electronic device and what of anything would you own of that age without getting it some maintenance updates) and as or more important, forget listening to one without getting the best tubes for it such as Mullard Gold Pins and the better Telefunkens. Those commenting on the sonic quality of the better tube tuners without these caveats is sort of like saying that "I drove a Porsche 911 and did not think it performed very well" without telling you or maybe were unaware it was running on 87 octane fuel and the plugs had gone 15K miles beyond their recommended limits.
Hey Craig- I have PBJ's on my 1A !! spooky huh????
I did have my Micro Purls on the 1A but just last week put them on my Planet CDP.
Keep them coming guys.Looks like the Yamaha T2 is a good bet so far.
The Meridian 504 tuner is excellent. I've seen them going for less than $900. According to "Stereophile" back editions, it was one of the best and got a solid class"A" in the recommended components issue (if you believe those guys) I had one for a while and it was a darn good tuner provided you were receiving a good broadcast. It even cleaned up weaker ones well. It also has a very smooth sound similiar to their CD players.
I will step out and slightly disagree with Bob in that those he listed are not the best value for your buck, unless you are wanting to purchase a new unit, and even then I question if there aren't some "hidden" gems much cheaper.

I will say again that your best bang for your buck is a vintage tuner. Being that these tuners are used, obviously, they can be purchased at cheaper prices than new ones, for the most part, clearly there are exceptions.

In the 70's and early 80's some incredible tuners were being made. In comparison for example, the Fanfare, which I owned, has a four gang front end and the T-2 I replaced it with is a 7 gang front end; not that this is the end all to tuners design.

Don't get me wrong, I greatly enjoyed the Fanfare for the year I owned it and you can find my comments on Audiogon to confirm this, but I never compared it to anything either.

There have been several on here to praise the T-2 along with me, I must point out that there are many other vintage tuners I feel would make people very happy as well, I just happen to have chosen the T-2. I also have a Sansui TU-717 and this also is a wonderful performer, probably the best of the three I have owned at pulling in stations.

As for using good interconnects and power cords, I have no arguement with that, vintage tuners genrally have fixed power cords though. BUT, if the tuner isn't good out of the box w/o "tweaks", how much better is one that is???

With some research, IMO, you can get a vintage tuner cheaper than some of the newer tuners mentioned and stand a good chance of having a better product. Consider this, the T-2 listed for $750 way back in 1978.

Hi Phil! In response, I know you really liked the bass in the Fanfare, but I don't think it has an advantage over the T-2 in bass.
By the way, unless I have several copies of the Stereophile with errors in it, the Meridian 504 was a Class B tuner. That said, I had the big brother to the 504 the 604. It was a very nice solid state tuner, a little time to get use to on the ergonomics, but none-the-less nice.
Hi David,

What they said...go with a vintage tuner (probably analog). They're relatively cheap and very good. I have a Luxman T-110 and a Revox B-260S...both are amazing (I also like an old, late 80s HK Citation tuner that I have too). You're tuner may not be the problem. I switched from a powered Terk FM antenna to my rooftop TV antenna, and the improvement was noticeable. The Terk provided a strong signal, but it wasn't a good quality signal...it merely magnified a bad signal. I would also keep in mind that there are so many things about FM broadcasting and reception that are completely out of your control. You have no idea what sort of equipment they have at the station...crap CD players?...old turntable with an old cartridge??...poorly maintained transmitting equipment??...a low power FM designation??...is their transmitter too close to your house, or too far away??...do they compress their signal a little or way too much (like most FM rock stations usually do)?? See what I mean?? Radio was a great idea, but it's become nothing more than a poor product ( a poor product using our so-called "public airwaves"). There are two or three companies that own most stations in the US...there is very little competition...and like most modern corporations, they'll welcome the profits, but they're hesitant to put that money back into their broadcasting equipment. The stations may be owned by some of the largest companies in the world, but the above post is correct...most college stations and NPR stations have much better equipment and it's usually maintained better too. I know several of our Viacom (CBS? Infinity?? whatever...) owned stations in Chicago share ONE engineer, and these are all popular, multi-million dollar, money-making stations. All rambling aside...I guess I'm suggesting that you try not to spend too much, because you may find yourself severely disappointed with the result.
With Stereophile what I think happened; was when the Rotel RHT-10 came out; the RHT-10 was so good, and the Rotel RT-990BX almost as good, that they knocked some Class A tuners down to Class B when listened to in comparison. So what you read depends on how old the issue is.
Correct me if wrong, but wasn't it Stereophile that compared the Fanfare FT-1, Rotel RHT-10 and one of the MD's years back? If I remember correctly, they liked all sonically, each having slight differences, as all tuners do, but they thought they were on par with one another; yet they gave the nod to the Fanfare for it's remote and presets.

Even though the signal we receive today, for the most part, is far from what could be, I enjoy using my tuner a lot and it is my most used source.
Hello David:

I see no one seem to mention anything about the Magnum Dynalab FT-101 (not the FT-101A version). I happen to own one, and may I say that I have been a happy owner for almost two years now. I will go out on a limb and say that my Magnum Dynalab has a pretty good bass response, and that it will go "toe-to-toe" with any of the vintage super tuners of yesterday in that department, and it will stomp the living s**t out of any modern tuner out there today with regards to sound quality, and also selectivity, sensitivity and FM quieting and separation.

My Magnum Dynalab FT-101 is a mid 80's vintage tuner (the first ones came out in 1985). It has a tight and well defined bottom end, a nice, clean midband, with a smooth and sweet sounding top end. And best of all, it is also reasonably priced. You should be able to land a used one for WELL LESS than $1,000.00 if you look hard ($400.00 to $550.00 should be the norm).


Hope you land your "super tuner" real soon.

I have an old Luxman T-240. How does that rate among tuners?
The reason FM sounds so darn good is because it is FREE and exposes you to both different artist and types of music!!!!
Luxman, Sansui, Kenwood all made tuners in the late 70's and early 80's that will put most of todays tuners to shame. I 'upgraded' from a Magnum Dynalab FT-101A to a Sansui TU-717 and was surprised that I was able to make such an improvement, while spending less than half the money. It wasn't as sleek, but it pulled in more stations, and sounded sweeter. Of course I'm selling it now, but not to upgrade. I've just tired of all the talk on radio now. Not enough music. I find myself not listening like I used to.

That's true, Brf you won't have to buy CDs or records to listen to the music -- just tune.
That's why I usually buy records or CDs that arn't heard on the radio.
David - as several people have already posted, you are
probably receiving rock/metal/etc. without "slam" on the
drums due to the compression that most commercial radio
stations use to process their broadcast signal. Since you
seem to be getting a pretty decent signal with your current
Adcom tuner; you might want to try to tune in a local
college or PBS station and see how they sound. You might
be surprised to hear a lot of lower bass level information,
as most non-commercial stations do not "process" their
broadcast signal.
As for tuners under 1K that you might want to look
into; you might want to check out some of the older McIntosh
tuners. I have an older model MR-73 that I had aligned and
tuned up; and it sounds great. Best of all - it only cost
me a little over $500.00 for a tuner that works and looks
like new. Also, don't forget to use some decent interconnects. If you listen often, you will notice the
difference at once.
Thanks for all the great responses.
I've read this thread over several times and I've spent alot of time on eBay getting to know some of the tuners mentioned here.
I really like the looks of the Mac tuners.Specifically the MR-74 and MR-75.They go for such high prices though its scary!
I like the looks of the Sansui TU-717 quite a bit also.
They go for MUCH less than the Macs do of course.
Now,question....What would I be getting in sound quality with a Mac compared to the Sansui? Am I paying for the build,fit and finish of the Mac with some nostalgia thrown in for good measure? Will the Sansui hold its own against a Mac?? Which one would have better reception?
Thanks all,this is really helping alot!
One more thing..a friend is pushing me towards a Accuphase T-100..comments??
David, I would suggest you join this Yahoo group, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FMtuners/, as well as spend time on the afore mentioned Vintage Tuner site. This Yahoo group is dedicated to FM tuner users and there is a lot of experience there.

The vintage Mac's have a wonderful reputation and there are people that can steer you to which are better than others. From what little I have read, the Sansui may have the advantage at pulling in stations, but depending on the model, some Mac's will have an advantage in sound.

I own a Sansui, though I am not using it, and I can attest to it's ability to pull in stations.

Also, those that are really into FM listening fall into two groups, some like to find a happy medium, DX'ers and audiophiles. Audiophiles want the best sound possible from their tuners while DX'ers want to pull in as many stations as they can and from as far as they can.

This link, http://www.amfmdx.net/fmdx/tuners.html, ranks some tuners in "Top of the line", "Excellent", "Very good" and "Solid performers" in regards to DXing. The TU-717 falls under Very good, two Mac's are listed under Solid performers. Keep in mind, this is DX rating, not audiophile.
well,I came in my thread to dust the cob webs a bit.
as long as Im here I might as well tell ya all I bought a Mac MR-74.in fact,I just got it today and Im listening to it right now.
Its mint..MINT and it looks and SOUNDS AWESOME!!
my dealer hooked me up with it and gave me a price I couldnt resist.
I did bid on the accuphase T-100 but the price went a bit too high for my comfort level.
I'm very happy with the MR-74 and plan on keeping it around for a while.
It has a very clean and sweet midrange,nice deep bass and throws an impressive soundstage.
I still lacks good slam in the kick drum but it is better than my 1A
Im still using the rat shack antenna but the 74 pulls them in better than the 1A
on most stations the signal strength meter shows it gets it up to 8/10...wish I was as lucky!
does anyone know an interconnect that has a history of being a good match with a Mac tuner?
Im useing alpha-core micro purl silver right now.
also,I went to the 'wanted to buy' but I see thats on hold for now.I'm looking for a MR-74 owners manual.If anyone can sell me one,cool.
mario-thanks for finding me this beautiful tuner and the ALWAYS great price! info@tfta.com
David - Glad to hear you have become a proud owner of a
McIntosh tuner. I'm sure it will bring you many hours of
listening pleasure.
As the owner of a MR-73 myself, I would like to suggest
a possible interconnect to use. I'm not sure what sort of
electronics you have other than than the tuner. In my case,
I have a McIntosh Pre and Amp; and I'm using the Transparent
MusicLink Plus between my Tuner and Pre. It sounds very
open and detailed; and on local stations where they don't
process or compress the music, everything sounds very
natural. In fact, two people I know personally are hosts
on our local clasical station - and when they are on the
air their voices sound just like would if they were at my
home or office.
I might also mention that the slightly less expesive
Transparent MusicLink also has a very similar sound. In
fact, I was using the MusicLink for several months before
upgrading to the MusicLink Plus. If you check around here
on Audiogon, you will find both of these ICs turning up
used fairly often.
As for a manual for your tuner, you might want to call
McIntosh directly and see if they have one available. If
not, try Audio Classics - which is a great source for Mac
gear and literature.
David -- Congrats on your "new" tuner and thanks for the follow up. You didn't say what you paid, but as long as FM continues on, you have a tuner that will probably always have value. Enjoy!!
I don't use a tuner, but some really good ones I've heard are the Tandberg 3000 series(Can't remember the exact number, 3012,3013, or somthing), Arcam, and the old Armstrong receiver(which also had a great amp in it).
Get a Fanfare antenna what ever you get (if you can put it on ecves of house or maybe even attic-hell if my I'd mount it on side of apartment building).They are amazing.
I stumbled on Yamaha T2 which years ago wasn't cheap at $750 but has turned into a cult pice that many say is poor mans Dynalab.
I just bought a luxman T 110, and it is quite nice. Voices
land in my room with presence, and air. The bass is rich, deep, and weighty. Bass has decent definition.
I did a lot of research here, and learned some neat things.
I wouldn't know for sure how it compares, but I have heard it isn't a slouch, compared to others.
Of course, there is going to be those who claim otherwise, but I can live with this one. Accuphase seems to be very highly regarded.
just bought a tu717 tuner at a church garage sale for $5.00. SWEET!
What a great purchase.
This thread must not die! This is for music lovers...not DX nerds. Analog FM Tuner design peaked in 1987 from Luxman, Denon, Onkyo, Pioneer, Kenwood, Magnum Dynalab, McIntosh, etc. The Luxman T117 being the best sounding in my opinion... and some Luxman receivers that say "Computer Analyzed Tuner" on the face...e.g. R106. (Yes the Alpine Luxman tuners bettered the 70's Luxmans!!) All that said.... the game has changed with HD digital OTA broadcasting.. and even allegedly compressed internet streams. As I am writing this...I am listening to Pandora gathering pianos from Ciani and peers from an iPhone connecting to my big sound system with a $25 Belkin Bluetooth adapter .. and I am smiling. Sadly, those I trust say the best tuner ever made is now the Sony XDR F1HD..no longer made, MSRP $99.95..now available used at $400+.. most of us but not all of us can get OTA digital but as to analog...does the non HD side of the XDR sound as good as the sound of the T117? Those trusted folk i aforementioned do not get into the music as much as I do. The Sony and Denon at the time( 1987-1990) barely out spec'd the T117 but the T117 sounded better. On the other hand if your tuner of choice is not a top of the mark bench test competitor (S/N, Distortion, Separation etc etc) .. then there is something else going on in your head or in the Alpine- Luxman's case the CAT module is improving the signal retrieved. That is my story and I am sticking to it. I have ABC'd 30 tuners/tuner-in-preamp/receivers at least... and my ears were good once. I know what I am talking about. If you are not over the top fussy a restored Pioneer TX9500 II might be the end of your quest. (And some cheapo Yamahas and Technics sound damn good as well. Higher end tuners are a ruse..look at their bench specs!! then listen and compare ABC blind, rotating switching.)...but it will not be a bench winner.
A McIntosh tuner looks so cool lit up in a dark room, whether you listen to it or not.