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I can give you 3 choices:
1. Cambridge Audio T500 ($300) - search the web a bit and you will read only praise for this unit.
2. TEAC T10 ($200) - I own this surprising little unit. Very good selectivity and sensitivity (used in NYC). Had some J&R gift certificates, so it did not cost me anything. Does not have a remote.
3. Go vintage ... either receiver or tuner. I have 2 Marantz receivers (2216B and 2240) that are seeing use in this way. The analog tuners/receivers from the 70's are in a class of their own.
Good luck. Rich
If you don't mind giving up the convenience of a remote control and have available space, the older tuners can be bought for a very reasonable cost. The drawback to these tuners is that you have to spin the flywheel to tune-in a station. A digital tuner most likely will have presets which will make station selection quicker and might have a remote or be remote-capable. (Please check-out my ad for the Marantz PM57/ST-59 tuner I have listed. The tuner is in MINT condition and for the $ is a very nice starter unit. A review can be found on www.ecoustics.com) Another nice tuner is the Yamaha TX-550 tuner which is "remote-capable." No need to spend over $200 for a nice tuner IMO. Bill
There are some excellent sounding & reception (vintage) solid state tuners made by HH Scott 112, Pioneer 6200, Marantz, Fisher - which can be had very inexpensively. Of course you may prefer tubes but seems to me the SS versions have a somewhat better extension. But try some vintage RCV - MCintosh, Marantz, Scott,Fisher...
You don't indicate where you live, but unless you are in a large metro area with at least several top-notch FM stations, don't spend a bunch of money on a tuner. The overall programming and broadcast quality for FM has declined steadily for years, and there aren't more than a dozen metro areas in the country with FM stations that are good enough to merit a high-quality tuner. Infact, you might be best advised to consider getting one of the new digital radio satellite services, which cost around $12 a month. They have a much wider range of music choices, and the reception quality and content is superior to the FM stations in 95% of the country.
If you are going to buy a used FM tuner, you should consider some of the better analog tuners that were made in the late 1980's. Some of the Sansui and Pioneer analog tuners were quite good, as were the lower-cost Tandbergs. Most of the digitally-synthesized tuners within your budget built between 1990 and today have pretty similar performance specs. The NAD tuners are respectable, as are Adcom, Proton, and NEC (the NEC T-6E and T-6F were really excellent tuners for the money, but they are hard to find on the used market).
Which digital radio services have you tried, and how is the fidelity compared to good fm? My only experience with this was years ago, when I signed up for a cable tv service because they had several dozen digital music-only channels sorted by format. It came with its own converter box but I was also able to run it through an outboard processor. Problem was, the fidelity was so poor regardless of processor that I just gave up on it. It was literally unlistenable, vastly worse than even mediocre fm. I was wondering if things have improved since then, or whether I was just unlucky with my particular provider.
If you have any experience with the new satellite-based services, that would be especially interesting as we do not have cable out this far. I'm just curious whether any of these services even deliver a signal comparable to redbook cd, or if they have sacrificed the bandwidth so badly that there is no hope.
I would be curious to read the opinions of those that have compared XM / Sirius in one's house to the music stations broadcast on satelite TV and / or commercial broadcast FM. Given that Peregrine is starting from scratch, it might be nice for others that have access to all three to offer some feedback. Sean