Why are AM/FM Tuners So Expensive?

I'm referring to NAD, Rotel, etc...

Are they really that much better than what comes in a mass-market receiver?

Interesting question.Not sure if I could answer technical reasons why but I think that the mass market maufacturers have given up as there is no market.When folks bought intergrated amps 15 years ago the lower end folks all had 'em.Now it's less demand ergo less supply and more dough.But I can tell you that they vary quite a bit in quality.People really into radio still want old McIntosh or pay up to $7500 for a Magnum Dynalab.I have a cult piece a Yamaha T2 which was $750 new 10 years ago and quite prized.I think the best less expensive one out there is the NAD.I think they still use Schotz noise reduction and they are highly selective.They may not pull in te more disatnt stations but the ones they do they lock hard onto them, with a good clean signal.A very good used one (and I know there is oone up on Audiogon now) is the mid 80's Nakamichi with Schotz circutry.I used to sell them in Boston and they work great.See if you can knock the guy down and I think it will blow away any new $300 tuner.
I don't know why NAD, Rotel or other tuners are more expensive than, say, a Denon TU-260 II, since most tuners use the same front-end electronics.... You're probably paying for the name. To me, being an ex-radio-technician, there is absolutely no point in paying a lot of money for a tuner. Most radio-broadcasts are so heavily processed you're mother wouldn't recognize you if you we're being interviewed....
If you are anywhere near Madison, WI and you want to see what a good FM tuner can do drop me a note and maybe we can arrange a time for you audition several tuners at one time. Now back to the reason it may be little difference what FM tuner you own before long: The biggest problem is that almost all radio stations are owned by a handful of corporate interests (click here for details). These stations put out one voice opinions (those of the owner) across hundreds of stations at a time, use statistical models to create their cookie cutter programming, and then deliver it in compressed (sonically flat and truncated sound) to you so that the transmission carries farther. Garbage is accelerating and so is "our" governments support of it (again see link above). However, if you get a good TRUELY community owned radio station (such as WORT FM in Madison, WI or click here) you can get diverse viewpoints, freedom of ideas, and an incredible exposure to vast array of music types. If you have a chance to hear a good community owned radio station you will understand and hear the difference. If you want to really be shocked, assuming you have not heard one, pick up a recently aligned good tube tuner with NOS Mullard Gold Pin or better Telefunken tubes (I have ditched the Magnum Dynalabs, Audiolab 8000t, Rotel RHT-10 etc solid state tuners for the tube guys. Maybe the MD 108 is exceptional but have not had a chance to hear one). Some good candidates include: McIntosh MR-67, MR-71 (nothing beyond the 71 for best 3D sound), Fisher FM-200B or FM-1000, Citation iiix (not the iii),Scott 350B, Marantz 10B.
I too have heard good things about the Nak ST-7 that is currently listed for sale.

Just to clarify something, as a fellow T-2 owner, this did list for $750, but was first produced in 1978, which is over 20 years ago vs. the 10 years mentioned.

BDAY, if you are in the market for a new tuner, I suggest, as many others do on here, that you spend some time on the following site. http://www.geocities.com/tunerinfo/

And to answer your question, I personally have not done head-to-head with a tuner vs. receiver, but a little research will prove this to be undoubtedly true.

A good tuner and antenna setup may surprise you.
I had one of the original NAD tuners and also a NAD receiver. They sounded bland & generic even on a low wattage fm college station. I now have a Mcintosh MR-67 in need of work that sounds better than any of the ss tuners that I have heard. Of course there are only 1 or 2 stations that are listenable in my area, most of the stations are krappe' and any tuner would do.
Given the quality of almost all AM and FM broadcasts today, it does not make any sense to spend a lot of money on a tuner. There are still a few cities which have FM stations that broadcast reasonably high quality programs (New York City and Chicago among them), but unless you have access to those stations, save your money.

One of the best, inexpensive tuners that was sold in the late 1980's and early 1990's was the NEC T-6E. I owned one, and was astounded by the quality of its reception, transparency, and soundstaging. If you can find one used, they are a fine buy at around $75.
I love my FM tuner!! Having never owned one, I took the plunge on a M-I-N-T (been in a box for ~ 15 years, according to previous owner) Accuphase T-101 for ~ $500 USD. FM rocks!!!!!, and this is one gorgeous tuner- all silver with green meters and everything! Sound is fabulous- no complaints whatsoever.

When you say expensive, what do you mean exactly?? I say this because while today's NEWER high-end tuners tend to be pretty expensive, you really don't have to pay an arm and a leg for a tuner if you just want one. But if you to hear some quality right along with the radio signal that you will receive off the air, then yes, tuners are going to be expensive as well. And another reason why this is so is supply and demand. Because there are FM purists that are out there who are in pursuit of the best sound they can get off of FM, and stand alone tuners tend to be scarce today, that may be the reason why tuners are expensive the way that they are. But like I said again, there are a sea full of used analog/digital tuners out there either in pawn shops or in audio consignment shops, and I am willing to bet that you can probably land one for about a song. I'd say that anywhere from $75.00 to no more than $125.00 should be more than enough for you to land a used inexpensive tuner. But now, if you want something decent like an older McIntosh MR-67, MR-71 or a cult classic like a 1965 vintage Marantz 10B, they are going to cost you quite a bit. The reason being is because of the inheret design of these tuners when they were out years ago, and the performance level of them as well. These tuners were so good back then, that they will trounce whatever is new and available today. And for those VERY reasons, they tend to be highly sought after, but very hard to find. And when you finally come across one, those tuners are going to command a steep price then. I happen to have a Magnum Dynalab FT-101 (not the FT-101A..... the original FT-101), and I also must mention that I am also in love with it. Now I don't know how it will stack up when it is compared to say....... a McIntosh MR-71 or a Marantz 10B. But I do know that it will stomp the living s**t out of anything that is out there today as far as sensitivity, selectivity, FM quieting and sound quality is concerned. NAD's and Rotels, or what have you need not apply. The Magnum Dynalab FT-101 had a list price of just $500.00 back in 1985 (when it was new). I paid at least that much for it two years ago when I bought mine, and I bought it used. So that alone should tell you how much they are sought after, and how well they tend to hold their value. Newer equivilants will cost $1,000.00 today. Pretty astounding when in fact you could've gotten THAT VERY same tuner for half that amount almost two decades ago. But again, try the pawn shops or the consignment shops. You may be able to find a decent used one for around $100.00 or so (give or take $25.00), and you never know, you may find a "diamond in the rough" out there somewhere.

Good Luck........

How does the Yamaha TX 2000 compare to the T2???
For a lot of information on vintage and some recent tuners check out.
I'm interested to see if/when XM and Serius come out with audiophile-quality rack-sized units, rather than just the car radio pieces they have out now. I'd pay a pretty penny for a well-developed digital tuner that looked good in my system.
Older analog tuners (Luxman, Yamaha, etc.) with all discrete components sound much better than most of today's tuners. Their selectivity is great rejecting reflecting signals far better.
Speaking of components; Mike Creek uses a FM chipset that was made for high-end car stereos, in his current T43 Tuner. He found it to be superior to anything made for (home) audio. I guess it is no accident that it seems like FM stations come in better in the car. The Cambridge Audio T500 Tuner (designed by Mike Creek) has the same chipset.
Thanks for the website lead. The Yamaha TX2000 wasn't listed there but from what I have gathered from other sources it was one above the TX1000 or top of the line in 1989 and retailed for $750.00. It has a silver front with wood sides and the bottom has a full sheet of copper to act as shielding. It also has a swinging operation panel that pivotes to reveal several buttons and it has the Computer Servo Lock System. I thought I would share this since I found it and was the one who was asking.
The person responsible for that tuner website is Eric Fader. His email address may be on that site, if you have questions on a tuner not listed. He also has other resources like Don Scott.
Hi guys - We don't list the TX-2000 on TunerInfo because no panelist or contributor has used it. Lngbruno's info on it is correct. My guess is it's probably similar to the TX-1000, performance-wise, with more bells and whistles. There is indeed an email address on TunerInfo for questions or contributions, but I would encourage anyone with a question of general interest to post it in our Yahoo discussion group (you can get there via a link on our site). There are over 200 group members, including some really smart guys, and there's a decent chance that one of them at one time has used whatever piece of equipment you might ask about. -Eric
Check out www.geocities.com/tunerinfo
I gotta agree with Celtic. I have a couple of older anaolg tuners. Even my old Sony tuner (1979 vintage ST-3950SD)sounds as good and locks in a station as well as tuners I've heard that sell for ridiculous prices. Ya gotta turn the knob and no pre-sets, but if you're on a somewhat limited budget, it frees up a few more dollars for something worthwhile.