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for used, i suggest the onix bwd1 w/soap power-supply, tandberg 3001/3001a, magnum dynalab ft101/101a/etude, revox b760, revox b261, marantz 2130, mccintosh mr67/71/77, audiolab 8000, fanfare, meridian, sansui tu9900 or tu-x1, yamaha ct7000, accuphase t-100, quad fm-4... am i forgetting anyting? ;~)
If you don't mind pre-loved,look at some of the older Marantz or Fisher tuners. The sound can be exceptional, but there are obviously no luxuries like remotes and presets. Check ebay for say a Marantz 2130. you might get change out of $US300 for a minter. The only trouble is they nay need a bit more signal than a new model, but not by much. I have a Marantz 2285B receiver,used only as a tuner, a Fisher 800B and an old sherwood.The last two are tube, and all are stable, reliable, easily serviced and especially in the case of the Marantz I feel far more beautiful than modern stuff.Check out www.classic-audio.com
Is the sound quality of the radio in your area very good?
Many of the top of the line tuners from the time frame of 1976 - 1980 will be very hard to exceed without going to many multiples of a thousand dollars. Ask anyone who has owned a substantial high end system and has taken the time to audition the new stuff (no matter the emotional attachment and advertizing gimmics and thoughts that it is 20 years old so new has to be better). I have owned many McIntoshs, Audiolab 8000t, Rotel RHT-10, Kenwood 600t, Roksan Caspian, Scott 350, several Magnum Dynalabs, NEC T6E and 601E, Creek t-40, Yamaha TX-1000u, Yamaha TX-1 and 2, Sansui TU-9900 and 917, 919, and Fanfare FT1. There are exceptions to the rule of old is better: My top pick for transparency is the Rotel RHT-10 (others agree: Stereophile dumped the Magnum Dynalab Etude and the Fanfare FT1 out of Class A when both the Audiolab 8000t and Rotel RHT-10 were reviewed). You will find several reviewers of today's model's commenting that "has a 5 gang or stage RF front end, something rare today". There is a reason for this: Many older tuners of the zenith of tuner dedication (1976-1980)had 8 gang front ends. You can not suck a "pool" of musical FM signal through the "soda straw" 3-4 gang front ends found on, even, relatively expensive new tuners. By inferred worth: Take a look at the 2130 (which is more sensitive in real world tests, by the way, than most of what is available today) that sold for $600 in 1978-1980 has sold on average (good and not so good units) for ~ $580(reference: Audiogon Blue Book). Anyone that follows FM Tuners will also tell you about the profound drop in general tuner quality starting in 1980-1981. It costs a substantial amount of money to produce the quality front ends of the past. As an interesting and important aside: To get idea of what inflation will do check out "http://stats.bls.gov/blshome.htm" and go to "Inflation Calculator". Some comparisons: I have a 17 ft APS-13 Antenna with a rotor on top of one of the highest hills in a 100-mile area. Using my Kenwood 600T Tuner I am able to get a better signal than with my otherwise super Rotel RHT-10. Stations are present with wideband signal reception that don't even show up with the Rotel (both units are properly aligned). Maybe even more amazing is how close, from a pure reception standpoint, is the 1961 Scott 350 tube tuner. If I was looking for the absolute low buck champion in terms of reception and sound I would choose the NEC T6E (former Stereophile Class B) or its successor 601E. I spend considerable amounts of time in critical FM Listening and can attest as to why many of the older top of the line (including the 1964 vintage Marantz 10B) tuners from pre-1980 era show up in the "Equipment Lists" of review equipment, along side Levinson/Audio Research Preamps etc, in journals like The Absolute Sound and Stereophile. Everyone knows that old amps and preamps do not carry this superiority to today's designs but in tuners it "can" be a different story.
Should mention that if you don't have difficult reception problems and want excellent sound on the cheap on the used market consider the Creek T-40/43, Musical Fidelity A3 (have not owned but heard, excellent value), NEC T6E (really inexpensive alternative), Roksan Caspian, many of Magnums are nice but have a family tendency to drift off signals over time.
i agree w/what nandersond is saying, except, for one thing - in the lo-buck arena, i tink the adcom gft-1a tuna has better sound & better sensitivity than the nec t6e - i had the opportunity to compare this tuna directly w/my adcom tuna, & the adcom beat it in both sound-quality & reception...
regards, doug s.
I have an old Scott lt112b sounds so good it's laughable thinking what I paid for it. But I also use my MAC1700 RCV which has a tube tuner which sound better than many tuners upward of $700. I laugh at the price I got that for too! Get an old klinker and use the remaining $600+ dollars for CDs & LPs....