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  1. #1

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    Question FM tuners, old vs newer

    a few months ago i bought a Pioneer TX-9500II tuner off ebay. Lovely silver faced tuner.. sounds better than any FM tuner I have ever heard. It's unmoded. strickly stock here baby. ;) (Some people consider this tuner to be one of the best tuners Pioneer ever built).

    Anyway... tonight i was listening to the tuner for a good hour using my new IXOS headphones. Good sounds coming through the headphones from the tuner..

    then for some odd reason I took the headphones and plugged them into the home theater Marantz receiver downstairs. blech is all i heard.

    It sounded lifeless, flat, hissy, static up the ying yang. Just really bad. I have a powered antenna with rabbit ears hooked up to the receiver too.

    I guess my question is this.... why don't modern day receivers/tuners have switches like my old Pioneer does? The 2 step muting switch on the Pioneer, really does work. I don't hear any hiss, or static, etc... Are todays tuners that are built into a receiver just a afterthought? no real money is spent on the tuner portion of a receiver.

    I guess a stand alone tuner is going to be miles ahead of it's all in one receiver... because it's only got one function and doesn't contain any amps, video switching to interfere with the outcome.

    I never knew FM radio could sound so good.. but it only sounds this way.... from a stand alone FM tuner.

    Another vote for seperates.

    Do any of you use a seperate tuner in any of your systems? I highly recommend giving it a listen. I was quite surprised to hear the big difference. No mo static in the attic.
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  2. #2

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    I use a late 1950's era Sherwood S-3000 monaural tube FM tuner. It's not as sensitive or selective as the 'best' component tuners, but it's wonderful sounding and available inexpensively. I got mine for $30 in excellent condition in its original box at an antique radio fleamarket.

    This tuner, like many of its era, has an FM detector output so that an outboard stereo MPX adaptor can be added... but I am just as happy to listen in mono.

    The Pioneer TX-9500 is indeed held in high regard, as were the better Kenwoods of the same era. Indeed, kenwood was and still is first and foremost an RF (radio) company, so that should come as no surprise.

    There are a couple of excellent FM tuner resources online. Take a look at http://www.fmtunerinfo.com/ and learn lots more if you're interested. There is also an FM tuner group on Yahoo.

    PS. The only trick with FM is to find a good-sounding station!
    Last edited by mhardy6647; 07-21-2004 at 12:55 PM.
    all the best,
    mrh

  3. #3

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    I was using a pioneer vsx-4400 back in the late 80's/early 90's and the tuner in that receiver was awesome. I still have the receiver and once in a while I give it a little run.

    I also had a pioneer deck in my car with a supertunerIII.....another excellent tuner.
    Receiver: harmankardon AVR235
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  4. #4

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    The tuner section of my Kenwood KR-9600 from 1978 almost equals the performance of my Carver TX-11b. You just can't beat the classics! :)
    Main System: Polk SDA SRS 1.2 Speakers, Sunfire Signature 600~two Amp, Carver C-16 Preamp, Carver TX-11b Tuner, Marantz 6350Q TT, Philips CDR-775 Recorder, Teac V-707RX Cassette Deck, Signal Cable Double Run Speaker Cable

    Upstairs Den: Marantz 2325 Receiver, Marantz 5220 Cassette Deck, Marantz HD-880 Speakers, Marantz 6370Q TT

    Exercise (Kabuki speaker) Room: Kenwood KR-9600 Receiver, Pioneer CS-99a Speakers, Sansui SP-X9000 Speakers (not pretty, but LOUD! :) )

  5. #5

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    The Siemens RH 777.....have used it for quite a few years, still compare its performance to tuners I come across, whatever I remember of it (stellar!)....cos I dont have it here in the USA, its back home......I will swear by it any day. Its not common around this part of the world though.
    Check the unit out here, I just found one on Ebay (de)......(no afiil, not an ad for the auction but just for purposes of illustration)

    http://cgi.ebay.de/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?...sPageName=WDVW
    Last edited by radkrisdoc; 07-20-2004 at 07:38 PM.

  6. #6
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    I definitely agree, Danger Boy, the classic tuners can really sound excellent, warm smooth, quiet and very sensitive and selective. The problem might be that receiver companies can now use a few LSI (large scale integrated circuits) to give the complete tuner section. Before, the tuner actually had to be designed by the manufacturer, now they buy a few chips and ta da, it's a tuner. You can't blame the manufacturer, with all of the other hundreds of circuits they have to think of, remote control, digital processing, seven amplifiers, there's not much room, in the budget, for tuner design. The same for the turntable pre-amp, a single inexpensive IC for the entire phono stage.
    Take care, Ken

  7. #7

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    In my system I use and old Pioneer TX-6800 for a bit of FM and AM. For FM I usually use my old Harmon Kardon Citation 18 tuner. The reason I do this is because the tuner in my newly ugraded B&K Pre/Pro (upgraded to ref 50 specs) has a tuner that just plain sucks. I get better sound and reception from a hand held portable radio. The manufactures out there just can't believe that any of us actually want to listen to the radio so they put in the cheapest tuner possible. Old stuff can be wonderful. There is also a good case to be made that analog tuners sound better than digital tuners.
    Phil

  8. #8

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    Originally posted by Phil Dawson
    There is also a good case to be made that analog tuners sound better than digital tuners.
    Phil
    hear, hear!!

    Why is that? That in even flagship receivers.. the tuner is most always the weakest link. Even with a good antenna, modern day tuners built into a receiver, leave a lot to be desired.

    Do many manufactures these days even make a decent stand alone tuner? Does Sony, Onkyo, HK, Denon, anyone?
    PolkFest 2012, who's going>?
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  9. #9

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    Well, there's Magnum Dynalab :-)

    http://www.magnumdynalab.com/home.html
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    all the best,
    mrh

  10. #10

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    OH NO!
    Comparing tuners to the cra*&% found in receivers is sacrilege lol.....tuners come in different shapes and sizes, Im talking about the innards......the so called FM tuners found in receivers are just small modules. Did you know that there are single chips which can accomplish a big TX-9500's job? In making it accomplish that feat the designers have traded off performance.
    Receivers (any receiver, flagships included) are space efficient designs. Period. Even if it is the flagship, the manufacturer does not have space. Not as much as separates would allow.
    Analog tuners have one great advantage that I like. The ones that use discrete transistors are the best. They are easily serviceable, upgradeable and sound awesome.
    Digital tuners sometimes go obsolete due to obsolete parts, esp the microcontroller. Try to search for the microcontroller in any ES tuner like the 555ES or the 444ES (the older ones....just to see how long they remain current)....I doubt it will be available anywhere.
    Back to analog, I would suggest improving the RF performance by upgrading the transistors in the front end. MOSFET or bipolar, there are definite upgrade options available these days. Better RF performance will result in improved sound....better S/N ratio even for weak stations.

  11. #11

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    how do i go about finding someone who will do the mods or upgrades to my 9500II? who knows what the hell they're doing? I can't do them myself. I know that already.
    PolkFest 2012, who's going>?
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  12. #12

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    well, for repair/realignment/mods to your TX9500II, you could look here:

    http://www.fmtunerinfo.com/#repairs

    or here:

    http://www.antennaperformance.com
    Last edited by mhardy6647; 07-22-2004 at 08:52 PM.
    all the best,
    mrh

  13. #13
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    I picked up a Yamaha CT610 II analog "tuna" from Russman this past week. Thanks Russ!

    Although it may be a modest tuner to some of the hardcore tuner crowd, I think this tuner rocks. It picks up stations 60 miles away whereas none of my other tuners in modern receivers (B&K, Rotel, Onkyo) were able to do that.

    Analog tuners are not for the lazy folk for sure as you have to get up and go change the station. But it does have it's advantages in being able to "dial-in" for the best reception. Yes, I'm also a "single" cd player type dude as well...

    I've been comparing the sound quality of the analog Yamaha to Sirius satellite tonight. The Yamaha sounds warm with nice body and seperation to the music whereas the Sirius sounds more digital or mp3 sounding to me. Arrgghhh just lost the satellite signal again
    Sirius dropouts are just too regular..

    This tuner is making me think about getting rid of Sirius... I'm still waiting for my rebates and its been 8 months! I think its time for C' Ya later Sirius...

  15. #15
    Polk-a-dweeb
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    As good as some tuners sound, you're still limited to the frequencies available from the broadcaster. You aren't going to get 20-20khz from "old" FM radio stations. Sirius and XM are a better option for a fuller sound.
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    Actually you won't ever get 20-20k from any broadcast stereo multiplex FM. The stereo pilot signal is 19 kHz, and thus all tuners roll off AF response sharply above 15 kHz.
    all the best,
    mrh

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    Antennas have a couple things to do with performance also. They should complement the tuner, as oppossed to simply make the fuzz louder.

  18. #18
    Polk-a-dweeb
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    Originally posted by mhardy6647
    Actually you won't ever get 20-20k from any broadcast stereo multiplex FM.

    Agreed. All I'm saying is that a listener is going to be limited to whats being broadcast by their local stations. HD Radio is the next step in radio. Better sound on both the AM and FM bands.
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  19. #19

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    True enough. And the biggest problem (IMO) isn't the frequency response per se but rather the compression and limiting that wring most of the dynamic range out of the program material :-(

    Some of the college and nonprofit stations still sound pretty good... especially live or taped-live broadcasts.
    all the best,
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  20. #20

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    Antennas have a couple things to do with performance also.
    That has me scratching my head a bit. Need to play around with them some more, but I have two different types of Terk antennas that I hooked up to the vintage Yamaha tuner and it didn't like them. Good 'ole rabbit ears antenna seems to work great.

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