What are the Best FM tuners?

This is an often asked question. This is my current list of favorites:
A. Good out of the box, judging sound quality only, not in order of preference because each has merits:

1. Very rare Accuphase T-103
2. 1 out of 10 Tandberg TPT 3001As
3. Onkyo T-909
4. Bogen TP-100
5. Akai AT-S7
6. JVC FX-1100B
7. NEC T-710
8. Onix Audio BWD-1
9. Kenwood KT-990D
10.Crown FM-2
11.Marantz ST-17
12.Sim Audio "Moon"

B. Modified tuners, both RF and audio performance, in order of preference:

1. Kenwood KT-727
2. Kenwood KT-3200D
3. NEC T-6E
4. SAE 8000
5. Accuphase T-101
6. Sony ST-S550ES
7. Onkyo T-4500
8. Tandberg TPT-3011A
9. McIntosh MR-74
10.Luxman T-110
11.Onkyo T-909
12.MD-102, early version

Sure, there are others -- and you may have your own opinions -- but these have proven to be excellent choices over the past 20 years.
Hi, you left out a couple.
First, I used to own a Kenwood KT-990D, and it was
okay, but NOT great. There was still alot of FM noise
even when I swiched from wide to narrow. And both
of the radio stations that I listed to were less
than 30 miles away. ALSO, NO FM HIGH BLEND CONTROL.
Second, you left out the Yamaha TX-1000.
I got that AFTER the Kenwood, and did ALOT better.
Also, the Yamaha TX-1000 and TX-950 have a
FINE TUNING AJUSTMENT on them, so that when you`re
listening to say 97.9 you could use the
FINE TUNING CONTROL and listen to 97.92 That`s
where I got the BEST signal.
Also, you left out the Sony ES SA5ES tuner.
Again, the best that Sony EVER made,
BUT I DON`T think it has a fine tuning control.
Just my .02.
For those of you not familiar with Don Scott, he is a legendary FM Tuner authority, specialist and modifier; and moreover is honest and decent to a fault. I feel exceptionally privileged to have purchased a NEC T-710 from him that he further modified for even better sonic performance. At its best, this is what the hobby is about.
Where does my MD100 fit in? I found it a bit bright, so tamed it a little with Harm Tech Truthlink XLRs. Any easy DIY mods? Thanks. Ern
For my is the Linn Kremlin. The sound is very close to that of a cd. Hector
you might want to narrow your question... some tuners sound better (the more sought-after vintage tube models like the marantz 10B, mcintosh mr-71, scott 350B/C. some are better at pulling in distant stations (pioneer F93 - but it doesn't sound that great...). some have great bass (mcintosh mr 7083). others that are often put on 'best' lists are meridien 604, accuphase 109 ($$$$!), rotel rht10, creek T43. also, if you go with a tube/vintage model, getting it aligned is ESSENTIAL.
My 2 Cents worth....Fisher FMR-1 Broadcast, Fisherdoc restored of course. Also, McIntosh Mr-78.
No list of the best FM tuners should be without the Sequerra. At the time it was introduced, it was arguably the best FM tuner in the world -- and it is still in the very top rank.
One really has to be specific in what "best" means.
Some tuners are better in pulling in distant stations ("Dx'ing) Some are better sounding (but are not great in pulling in distant stations.) Some are better for popular and rock stations (where the radio stations often juice the sound). Others are better for classical stations (with an unmodified sound.)
I live 30 miles from New York City on a hill and leave my tuner set on a classical WQXR. For my application, a vintage tube Scott 350 is great. Many of the tuners on your list would not sound nearly as good.
One error; the Kenwood KT-3200D should read KT-3300D. Please note my last sentence. "Sure there are others...."
For instance, I have had a few Fisher KM-60s and R-200s, with several capacitor, resistor, and tube-type changes in the audio output sections, sound like the announcer was sitting in the room. Some MR-71s sound great also.
My point was not to declare what is the best in the world, just ones I think were outstanding. Your opinions are worth something too.
I'll second the Linn Kremlin, a GREAT digital tuner!
What about Sansui TU-9900 ?
I owned a Mac 77, 78, Kenwood 917, Sansui 9900, and a Sansui TUX-1. The X1 makes the rest look sick, except the 9900 is close but no cigar. I even had my own shootout with all four. A totaly invalid shootout because I do not know of each ones alignment.
Bpaulovich --- Good point you make of coming to conclusions with tuners having questionable alignments and having only one sample of a tuner on hand for evaluation. This often accounts for wrong conclusions. I just finished two TU-X1s: alignment, IEC jack, lamps. One also had a problem in the first RF stage, the second one was more sensitive but the AM had some problems. Of three recent TU-9900s, only one was a killer. The best audio I have obtained from a Sansui is from a modified TU-417 and similar TU 317. The bass is so good and extended that air conditioning rumble on many classical programs can be heard. This does not happen often on any tuner. One owner tossed in the towel on his MR-80 in favor of the much cheaper TU-317. Also, the TU-417 and TU-317 need an additional IF filter to snuff up selectivity.
Thank you for your valued input.
though i hate to sound like a proud modder / owner, i am willing to put my recently aligned kenwood kt-8300 up against most anything. it just plain embarassed (stock) a mac mr-65 i used to own, and the mods i made (well documented on the FM yahoo board and fmtunerinfo's web site) really made a helluva difference. when live local broadcasts come in (studio banter, etc), its spooky real.

stock, the tuner is thin and SS-sounding. w/ mods, its a different story. and fwiw, the choice in parts used was of tremendous importance.
I just finished upgrading three TU-9900s. One of them is probably one of the best tuners ever: great stereo, treble and bass extensions, and reception capabilities.
NEC T-710
Sansui 1st because it has always sounded the same from new.
NEC 2nd because nobody has heard of it & it is so clean & accurate.
Kenwood 3rd only because it probably needs a retuning
( it has never been touched inside )
I would like this to become my favorite because it is so well built, solid etc.
what in your opinion is the best remote control tuner available? thanks
You might want to check out www.fmtuner.com

Lots of info there.
i currently have a sansui 417 an amber model 7 and THE hitachi FT 5500 MARK11
HAD THE AMBER FOR YEARS THOUGHT it was the best the sansui moved it too the surround sound system
the hitachi though has cd quality sound reproduction- i no longer listen to either of the others.
No one else has said it yet,so I will say it.

No tuner is better that its antenna and the quality of the broadcast signal.

It is by no means the best,but I like the flywheel accuracy tuning on my Matantz ST-17. It's connected to a chimney mounted,turnstile style,multi-directional antenna from Radio Shack. It's a good antenna for about 30-40 miles,line of sight.
I have listened to many, but the Sansui TU-9900 is my personal favorite beating many Kenwoods, Tandbergs, Pioneers, Denons, Sonys, and three other Sansuis. Very tough to beat IMO
I also have a Sansui 9900, modded, currently hooked to an MD ST-2 whip antenna on the roof, run through an MD-205 Signal Sleuth. It pulls stations about 40 miles away and the sound is very good.

Currently pondering the merits of replacing the ST-2 with an MD-6 Yagi antenna I just purchased(before I discovered how well the MD-205 worked with the Sansui), but am torn between "leaving well enough alone" and the brain damage involved in modifying brackets, etc to install the MD-6.


Put up the MD-6 - no looking back. Station pull increased, as did clarity, dynamics, etc. Put an Epiphany PC on it and some Virtual Dynamics Revelation ICs and now have sound rivaling my CD player! Pretty sweet tuna.... I suppose there's always something better....
I have a Sansui 9900 and it is better than any tuner I have personally used including Fishers (tube) Marantz 2110, various Denons and a vintage Dyna FM3. wfc
I recently upgraded a Nikko Gamma 5: additional IF filter, swapping out one linear-phase IF modules in favor of two standard ceramic IF filters, improved audio output IC, better audio output caps, improved high blend. It is hard to believe it gets much better -- WOW! 35-40dB adjacent-channel selectivity in Narrow with no ill effects.
Don - I just today hooked up the Nikko Gamma 5 that you sent to me. I'm running it without the Winegard Yagi antenna, which I just recieved today. Initial impressions - WOW!!! It's receiving many stations with 75' of coax just coiled and laying on the ground level floor. I'll check back in once I have the antenna rigged.
Regards, Mike
Hi BdScott,
I have a stock H/K Citation Eighteen tuner that I like very much. Are there any mods available that will focus on improving the sonics? I believe this was manufactured @1977.Thanks.
There are so many good tuners when properly aligned, with many subtle differences. And making a considerable investment in a tuner doesn't always mean that you will get better sound.

If you live in an area where you receive many stations without reception problems, a simple and inexpensive tuner with clean circuit topology is all that's needed.

I have such reception and have found that inexpensive tuners like my NAD 402 and Sansui TU- 217 perform quite well, and sound great.

Some of my other tuners have better DX'ing capablities, but they're really unncessary here.

I have owned many excellent tuners over the past few decades including a 10B and Sequerra FM Studio. However, for less than the price of one of these I have more than ten tuners that are all great performers. And with vintage gear like this, it's nice to have so many pieces of equipment so that you don't over tax them.

Vintage gear's not meant to be a "daily driver" so to speak. It's meant to be used sparingly like a classic automobile.

Some of my tuners:

ReVox B261
McIntosh MR-65B
Tandberg 3011A
Sansui TU-217
NAD 402
Pilot MKIV

Three recent purchases which are on the way:

Kenwood KT-5300
Pioneer TX-7800
Yamaha T-1

And I am still at least $500 away from what it would cost for a nice Marantz 10B these days.

Sold my rack mounted 10B back in the mid 1990's for $1800. Given inflation (thanks to the Federal Reserve Bank) that would equate to about two and half grand these days.

I'm wondering if anyone has listened to the Accupahase T-1000 tuner. It's a pricey puppy!
Here's a link to some info on the FM Tuner Info site:


jeez- sounds like they like it a lot.
I've had an Accuphase T-1000 for about 3 months. I've previously used a Luxman T-117, a Luxman T-12, and a Marantz 20B. The Accuphase is in an entirely different league. Believe me when I say it actually sounds better than my Levinson 390s cd player in some cases (probably more a reflection of variation in cd quality than the player). I still don't see how a tuner can have such solid bass, crystal clear highs, stellar imaging, and continue to sound good for hours. Even at $5K, it could actually be considered good value, when you look at what a lot people pay for a lot of other components.
Recently I have been listening to a audio horizons modded sansui 9900. Absolute addicted and analog sounding music, so much so I spent more time listening to it than on my turntable ( sonically still my prefer choice) or CD which cost 10-30x more. Looking forward to an accuphase 1000, marantz 20b or do u think there is any tube tuner anybody can recommend that in your opinion is better than a modded sansui 9900? Happy listening
I have an Audio Horizon modded H/K Citation Eighteen tuner that I'm absolutely enamored with. I just hope that standard FM broadcasting will be around for awhile longer. (O:
The best are tubed Fm tuners, hands down. Then get the upgrades and the rest is left in the dust. Also, the simply tubed circuits generally sound the best.
Sequerra Moodel 1 FM Tuner
Check out the MD 109- it is pricey but some have said it sounds better than a 20k analog front end. At the price of a good new car it should be.
I say its better than any analogue front end, and dont forget most anolog front ends cost more than the 109 !!!

considering the table, arm, cartridge, phono stages !
I can assemble a dozen analog front ends for the price of an MD-109 and each one will crush it.

Disclaimer: MD-109 retailer
I have a Luxman T-03L that sounds better than any other tuner i have heard.And i have listened to many tuners.
I just replaced my uber-expensive Magnum Dynalab MD-108 with NOS tubes with a surprisingly enjoyable vintage Sansui TU-919. The Sansui has not been modded and sounds great as-is.
Sansui TU-X1. Haven't heard anything close. A huge rare piece that weighs 30 pounds. Sounded great when bought used. Upgraded by Ken at Stereo Surgeon in CT. Simply incredible sound from live broadcasts off WQXR in NYC (despite their move to the end of the dial). Previously owned Pioneer TX-9100 and modded Sansui 717. Agree with everyone that vintage Sansui crushes any current models.
Sam Tellig in Stereophile raved re the sub $100 Sony.
Since no one else has mentioned it, I recently replaced my Accuphase T101 with an Accuphase T100. A substantial improvement - not as 'bright', better bass, and more highly resolved. Better reception as well. On those occasions when the signal is high quality it approaches the general quality of the other sources I have. FWIW.
Newbee -- Enjoy the new Accuphase!

Re my own tuner experiences, I'll quote from myself in another tuner thread:
I've been through about a dozen tuners over the years, mostly vintage tube units, but a few modern ones as well including a Carver TX-11. The vintage ones include a REL (Radio Engineering Laboratories) Precedent (from 1954), two different Marantz 10B's, a McIntosh MR71, and numerous Scott and Fisher units.

By far the one with the best sound quality has been the now 55-year old REL Precedent (with a Scott or Fisher multiplex adapter to decode the stereo). The best in terms of station-getting ability have been the REL and the 10B's, which I found to be about equal (both significantly better than the Carver unit, which has proprietary digital processing claimed to provide extra-special sensitivity).
The REL is the one I've kept in my main system, and I've sold most of the others. Although ever since I acquired it about 18 years ago, it unfortunately only feels like working properly on some days and not on others (I think it has a problem with a diode or capacitor in the detector circuit). But when it cooperates I couldn't ask for more.

Here's a pic from this link of someone else's REL.

-- Al
McImtosh MR78
McIntosh MR85
The Marantz 10B tuner is my personal favorite. While there have been numerous design innovations since the 1960s --the Schotz front end, for example-- Dick Sequerra's design for Saul Marantz has done something that I've not heard another tuner do.
Often I listen in the dark, when sense cues can take on a 'heightened' feeling, but while listening during the day, I became absorbed in my work while the tuner was on. Several times, while alone I was startled back to awareness by feeling there was someone in the room with me.
The audio cues that lead to that kind of experience are very subtle and complex. The fact that I was startled, literally to the point of having the hair on my neck stand up, attests to the realism of the presentation possible with the Marantz 10B.
Sometimes a component attains highly respected status without cause; in my estimation the Marantz 10B tuner is justifiably worthy of its accolades.
"Sam Tellig in Stereophile raved re the sub $100 Sony."

I respectfully disagree about the Sony. True, for the price it really grabs stations, but the tone/fidelity/sound stage/presence is just not in league with the best (albeit much more expensive) audiophile tuners. IMO. Sam loves to rave. Proof? See his review of the LFD Zero Mk III. Case closed. I have a theory that most Hi-Fi reviewers really want to be writing fiction, and the rest are co-mingling wine reviews with their audio reviews. Just kidding!
for the price you can't go past the rotel r-t 1080,love it.
Bogen, really? It seems to be designed as an after-thought add-on for PA systems, how did it end up being a 'contender'?